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July 29, 2004

UP North

Split Rock Lighthouse (2).jpg

Cindy and I are leaving this Friday for the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, where we'll camp on the Lake Superior shore in a town called Grand Marais, and make side trips from there. It's an area with spectacular vistas, and not very many people. The town has a large bay that is warm enough to comfortably swim in, while the rest of Lake Superior is not, even in August. But it is the Big Water that draws us back there.

There are a few touristy things to do, like seeing the Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore, but this trip for us is mostly about doing nothing. I'm taking along all of my long-delayed offline reading material. My only concern about the outside world will be staying on top of how the Indians are doing.

We can actually pick up AM 1100 WTAM out of Cleveland on a clear night, even up on the northern shore of the UP, so sometimes I can listen to the game fading in and out. That's a good thing, because I always say the only newspaper you can get in Grand Marais is the USA Yesterday, at least as far as baseball scores are concerned. They get an early edition of the paper that doesn't have the previous night's baseball results, so I have to wait for Thursday's paper to get Tuesday's score. I'm used to Internet immediacy. This does not sit well with me.

I think I need a vacation. Wizblog will be inactive for the week.

July 27, 2004

Who Knew?

Michael Moore's inspiration was H.L. Mencken

Coco and Wick

- It's great to see Coco Crisp responding so nicely to Grady Sizemore nipping at his heels. Career game tonight for him.

- It had to be sweet for G.M. Mark Shapiro to see the reconstructed Bob Wickman throwing 94 mph and striking out the side in the ninth tonight. Shapiro has been criticized locally for passing on signing Ugueth Urbina this spring. Urbina got off to a fast start, but the bloom is almost off his rose in Detroit now, and he is being showcased for a possible trade before the deadline. So Shapiro and Wedge had to survive 100 games without a closer, but it's possible that they now have the guy they wanted all along in the likeable and tenacious Wickman. If his elbow stays attached for two more months, the team could win 85-88 games. The Twins will probably pull away to win the division, but I'll be glad to still be checking the standings in August. This year.

- And is it just me, or is there some serious bonding going on between these young Indians players? I can't recall seeing any team in recent years that seemed so genuinely tight with each other, and it's been cool to watch it evolve. Credit Wedge for fostering this atmosphere, and then for focusing the youth and talent on taking his plan onto the field every day and executing it.

- I'd been hoping Shapiro would try to add at least one veteran player who would be a positive influence on our kids for 60 games, not to mention a signal of management's confidence that we could make a run at the Twins or White Sox if the stars align just so. I still hope that happens (the veteran acquisition that is) but Wickman can be that "new" veteran guy we need in the clubhouse. His personality is suited to rallying a group of kids around him in a pressurized stretch run, in which he is the man to "finish."

- So if I'm Shapiro, I guess I'm trying to decide if going outside the organization for a starting pitcher who gives us a better chance to win every five days than Scott Elarton, is preferable to bringing up say, Kyle Denney (7-2, 4.04 ERA) from Buffalo to pitch in what could turn into a pennant race. If we wait long to see if it will indeed be a pennant race, it probably won't be. Give me a veteran starter, and save Denney (or Jeremy Guthrie) for September call-ups.

- Here's the latest Minor League Report for games through Monday 7/26. YTD stats for every minor leaguer in the Indians system are included (in PDF format).

Keeping Score

Some numbers on the Arab-Israeli conflict, from Dennis Prager.

"Social Fashion"

Not a parody. And only $15 too.

July 26, 2004

It's Not A War on "Terror"

It's a war on militant Islam. Andrew C. McCarthy, at NRO:

We have been so paralyzed by the fear of being portrayed as an enemy of Islam — as an enemy of a creed practiced by perhaps a billion people worldwide — that we've lost our voice on a very salient question: What will be the Islam of the 21st century? Will it be the Islam of the militants, or the Islam of the moderates? That's the reality we need to grapple with...

We are not helping the authentic moderates if we avoid having the conversation that so needs to be had if the militants hiding in the weeds we've created are going to be exposed and marginalized. If we fail to be critical, if we fail to provoke that discussion, it will continue to be militants who hold positions of influence and who control indoctrination in communities, madrassas, prisons, and other settings where the young, the vulnerable, and the alienated are searching for direction...

Some suggest that our situation might benefit from making accommodations — policy concessions that might mollify the militants and miraculously change their attitude toward us. But let's think about a five-year-old Muslim boy who has already gotten a sizable dose of the venom that is found in the madrassas and the Arabic media.

I can assure you that that five-year-old kid does not hate American foreign policy in the Persian Gulf. He does not hate the intractable nature of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. What he hates is Jews. What he hates is Americans. It is in the water he drinks and the air he breathes. Sure, as he grows, he'll eventually be taught to hate American foreign policy and what he'll forever be told is the "Israeli occupation." But those abstractions are not the source of the child's hatred, and changing them won't make the hatred go away — the hatred that fuels the killing.

Rarified Air

The Indians could end the season looking up at the .500 mark and nobody would be surprised. But if the turnaround of this team goes on from here as planned, players and fans alike might one day remember that the weekend they finally crawled over the mediocrity mark was the weekend that Grady Sizemore debuted in a big league uniform, and think it not a coincidence.

No, it's not like he carried the team to four straight wins over the Royals. In fact, he looked decidedly like a 21 year-old rookie in his first couple of games, getting picked off of second following his first major league hit, and overthrowing a cutoff man on one of his first tests in center field. Still The Kid, as he will doubtless be tagged, looks like the real thing. He was overmatched more than once by big-league pitching this weekend, but he looked like he had ice water in his veins when he won the game with a walk-off base hit yesterday.

Sizemore hit safely in all four games with KC, getting his first home run this afternoon. He looks very solid in the outfield (one error in 93 games at AAA Buffalo) and all the things we've heard about his full-go-all-the-time playing style are evident immediately. He has already come close to beating out several routine infield grounders because he is so fast, and he runs so hard. In the process of getting thrown out easily at home trying to score the tying run on Saturday, he dropped a shoulder into the catcher in a move worthy of Bo Jackson running off tackle.

He then continued to belie his tender years by having the cool to minimize the whole thing in locker room interviews, saying graciously of Royals catcher John Buck "He didn't budge,...I'm sure he didn't feel a thing." The kid has "special" written all over him.

July 25, 2004

Hating America

Carve out a few minutes to read this excellent essay by Bruce Bawer at Hudson Review.com. It defies effective excerpting, and I'd call it "a must read", but I don't use that kind of hackneyed bloggage....much. (via Arts & Letters Daily)

July 24, 2004

Inside Kimland


The other day James Taranto linked to the fascinating photoessays of one Scott Fisher, an American living in South Korea, who gives us a rare look at the North from a "tourist" perspective. In a series of eleven articles, starting with this introduction to the trip north, Fisher photographs and vividly describes all that he is permitted to see. Fisher tries to ditch the Guides and engage regular people in his fluent Korean at every opportunity. On a trip to see The Monuments of Kimland, Fisher encounters a rare curiosity in a conversation with the Tour Guide:

At first she was reluctant, saying her English wasn't very good. I persisted and she finally relented, once the idea of a white person speaking Korean worked its way past her preconceptions.

We started by talking about her job and whether a lot of people were coming for the Arirang Festival. As we talked she was walking me around the corner of the building, out of earshot of the others.

Once we were away from the others the questions came pouring out. "What's life like in the South? Why do you live there? What's it like living there? What about your students (I'd told her I teach at a university) - what are they like? What do people in the South say about the North?" The woman was full of curiosity about life across the border, barely two hours south of where we were standing. Our conversation lasted about 10 minutes. Mostly with her asking questions about the outside world, especially the South. I found it odd that she was asking an American so many questions about South Korea but she just seemed curious about what life was 'really' like on the other half of the Korean peninsula. As a guide she'd had much more interaction with outsiders than the average DPRK citizen. I guess this inkling of forbidden knowledge is what drove her to take a chance and try to find out a bit more about the outside world.

Later, as I met and tried to talk with other people in a similar way, I realized how unique this woman was. First, she allowed herself to wander away from the group with me, knowing full well others would see, if not hear. Second, she was brimming with questions and curiosity. Something I never got from anyone else the whole trip. Finally, once we were out of earshot, she totally dropped the endless Kim is great droning in favor of just having a 'normal' conversation. Every other time I was able to pull someone aside it just ended up in a fit of ideological proselytizing. Perhaps the independence of the Juche Tower had worn off on her.

Fisher gets a lesson on the evils of the United States during his trip to the DMZ, and the photos of the Arirang Festival are well worth the click. (See the index at the bottom of each page for links to the other articles.)

Pejman Reviews "My Life"

Pejman is a braver man than I. He plowed through Bill Clinton's memoirs, and writes an entertaining review.

Iraq - Al Qaeda Links, Part XXVIII

The 9/11 Commission Report has put to rest several persistent myths propogated by the media and the Mooreites, among them the "no links between Iraq and Al Qaeda" canard. The ever-reliable Stephen Hayes, who has been on this beat for well over a year, shows how the report documents the many contacts, meetings and involvements tying Iraq to Osama bin Laden's group:

Parts of the report and the public statements of commissioners do, however, broaden the public understanding of the Iraq-al Qaeda relationship. Taken together, they render laughable the arguments of those who still maintain there was "no connection."

Of particular interest are assessments of the Clinton administration and former White House counterterrorism official Richard Clarke, whose credibility is reaching Joe Wilson lows. It was Clarke who famously declared on March 21, 2004: "There's absolutely no evidence that Iraq was supporting al Qaeda. Ever."

The report notes that the Clinton Justice Department included the Iraq-al Qaeda connection in its spring 1998 sealed indictment of Osama bin Laden. That indictment came before the al Qaeda attacks on U.S. embassies in East Africa--after which numerous Clinton officials cited an Iraqi connection to the al Shifa pharmaceutical plant in Khartoum, destroyed by the United States in response to those al Qaeda attacks. The relevant paragraph of the indictment reads:

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.

According to the 9/11 Commission report, quoting from an email from Clarke to former National Security Adviser Sandy Berger on November 4, 1998:

This passage led Clarke, who for years had read intelligence reports on Iraqi-Sudanese cooperation on chemical weapons, to speculate to Berger that a large Iraqi presence at chemical facilities in Khartoum was "probably the direct result of the Iraq-al Qida (sic) agreement". Clarke added that VX precursor traces found near al Shifa were the "exact formula used by Iraq."

No evidence? Ever?

Here is yet more documentation from the 9/11 Report, in The Weekly Standard. And here's Byron York's summary at NRO.

Multiculturalism Waning?

Theodore Dalrymple explains how multiculturalism, at least in Great Britain, is "losing its luster". From the new City Journal.

July 23, 2004

Flight 327 Band Identified

The mystery of the 14 Syrians aboard Flight 327 has been pretty much resolved by Clint Taylor, a Ph.D. student and radio station news director at Stanford University. Michelle Malkin has it all covered.

UPDATE 7/24: Wait, it's not over yet. You say their visas were expired?

Bush at the Urban League

From President Bush's remarks to the 2004 National Urban League Conference, this appeal for the votes of African-Americans:

I'm here to say that there is an alternative this year. There is an alternative that has had a record that is easy to see. If you dream of starting a small business and building a nest egg and passing something of value to your children, take a look at my agenda. If you believe schools should meet high standards instead of making excuses, take a look at my agenda. If you believe the institutions of marriage and family are worth defending and need defending today, take a look at my agenda. (Applause.)

If you believe in building a culture of life in America, take a look at my agenda. If you believe in a tireless fight against crime and drugs, take a look at this agenda. If you believe that our men and women in uniform should be respected and supported 100 percent of the time, take a look at my agenda. (Applause.)

If you're struggling to get into the middle class and you feel like you're paying plenty of taxes, take a look at my agenda. (Applause.)

If you're a small business owner who is trying to expand your job base and are worried about excessive lawsuits, increasing taxes and over-regulation, take a look at this agenda. (Applause.)

And finally, if you believe in the power of faith and compassion to defeat violence and despair and hopelessness, I hope you take a look at where I stand. (Applause.)

You see, I believe in my heart that the Republican party, the party of Lincoln and Frederick Douglass, is not complete without the perspective and support and contribution of African Americans. (Applause.)

And I believe in my heart that the policies and actions of this administration, policies that empower individuals and help communities, that lift up free enterprise and respect and honor the family, those policies are good for the nation as a whole. That's what I believe. And I'm here to thank you for giving me a chance to come and express those beliefs.

I'm proud to be with an organization that does so good, so much good for the American people. I'm honored that your Chairman would extend an invitation to me. Thanks for coming, and may God bless you and may God continue to bless the country. (Applause.)

Open Letter To The Democrats

William J. Bennett implores his old Party to...

Go back to your roots as you plan your speeches for Boston, as you prepare your campaign to replace President Bush. Re-embrace your concern for human rights abroad with your willingness to use force to defend those rights. Propose alternative foreign-policy strategies that can build off of our successes in Iraq and Afghanistan — and cease labeling those successes as failures. Restore the proper and respectful role of your partisan duties with legitimate differences of opinion that do not give doubts as to your principles. In the end, let 'er rip, but do not — for the sake of your party, for the sake of your country — abuse your partisan role to further divide our nation, or our reputation abroad.

July 22, 2004

Russian Officials Shred Kyoto

Lots of posts started and not finished, and I'm crashing early tonight, but I was just completely blown away by this statement from Andrei Illarionov, the chief economic advisor to Russian President Vladimir Putin, on the just ended Seminar on Climate Change and the Kyoto Protocol in Moscow.

Illarionov speaks passionately on behalf of Russian scientists who know that the scientific basis for Kyoto is nonsense on stilts, and who refuse to compromise their integrity so that the EU and other unaccountable international elites can get on with the business of dismantling capitalism and economic freedom. The behavior of the British scientific community was shameful, and speaks to the bankruptcy of their science. A few excerpts follow, but please RTWT.

Nine months ago, at an international climate change conference in Moscow, ten questions concerning the essence of the Kyoto Protocol and its underlying theory were submitted to the IPCC. We were told that the reply would be given within several days. Nine months have passed since then but there has been no reply, even though we have repeated our inquiries on these and the growing number of other related questions.

Instead of getting replies to our questions, we kept on hearing that replies did not matter. What was important is that whether or not Russia trusts Britain, the European Union and the countries that have Ratified the Kyoto Protocol and that have been exerting unprecedented pressure on Russia to ratify it...

Basically, none of the assertions made in the Kyoto Protocol and the "scientific" theory on which the Kyoto Protocol is based been borne out by actual data. We are not seeing any high frequency of emergency situations or events. There has been no increase in the number of floods. Just as there has been no increase in the number of droughts. We can see that the speed of the wind in the hails in some areas is decreasing contrary to the statements made by the people who support the Kyoto Protocol. We are not witnessing a higher incidence of contagious diseases, and if there is a rise, it has nothing to do with climate change...

The statistical data underpinning these documents and issued in millions of copies are often considerably distorted if not falsified.

So the British had a hissy fit...

...they revealed an absolute - and I stress, absolute inability to answer questions concerning the alleged professional activities of the authors of these papers. Not only the ten questions that were published nine months ago, but not a single question asked during this two-day seminar by participants in the seminar, both Russian and foreign, were answered.

When it became clear that they could not provide a substantive answer to a question, three devices were used. And I have to say it now although has not direct bearing on the Kyoto Protocol and the content of the extremely interesting presentations made during the past two days. The British participants insisted on introducing censorship during the holding of this seminar. The chief science adviser to the British government, Mr. King, demanded in the form of an ultimatum at the beginning of yesterday that the program of the seminar be changed and he presented an ultimatum demanding that about two-third of the participants not be given the floor.

Then he unabashedly calls the driving ideology behind radical environmentalism by its name, and rails at those who condescend to Russia:

The next point brings us directly to the Kyoto Protocol, or more specifically, to the ideological and philosophical basis on which it is built. That ideological base can be juxtaposed and compared, as Professor Reiter has done just now, with man-hating totalitarian ideology with which we had the bad fortune to deal during the 20th century, such as National Socialism, Marxism, Eugenics, Lysenkovism and so on. All methods of distorting information existing in the world have been committed to prove the alleged validity of these theories. Misinformation, falsification, fabrication, mythology, propaganda. Because what is offered cannot be qualified in any other way than myth, nonsense and absurdity.

These guys know totalitarianism when they see it.

This is not a simple war. Like any war it cannot be easy and simple. Regrettably like any war it has its losses and victims, and we must understand that. The main thing is that we have now obvious evidence that we have got over the past two days, although we had some hints before that time, and it was the approach to Russia practiced by some people attending the seminar, an approach to Russia as a kind of banana republic, an approach to a country that is not a colony yet but about to become it as soon as it ratifies the document. At least we now know how people in colony feel towards other people who are trying to make them a colony.


(via Lopsided Poopdeck)

July 20, 2004

Scare Tactics

Tim Noah of Slate uses the subhead "Re-elect Bush, and you might get Jerry Springer, too." for his article on the 2004 electoral battle for Ohio. The premise is a bit lame; that in an Ohio Democratic Party humiliated by a Bush victory here "there will be no Democrat powerful enough to dissuade Springer from running, or to dissuade party leaders from supporting him." Outside of Noah's pep talk to Ohio voters, you know - avoid being a national laughingstock by voting Kerry - the piece is a pretty good look at the Dems' strategy for winning here.

Webb Hubbell Redux

It may all turn out to be just a bureaucratic snafu.

For now though, there's lots of buzz on the Berger revelations. Stick with Glenn and just keep scrolling for links and comment. And Michelle Malkin wonders why anyone would be surprised at a story about "files" turning up missing involving a Clinton administration official.

People are scratching their heads over "what the $#@&" Berger's motive could have been. Was he gathering info to embarrass the Bush campaign or info to help the Kerry campaign? The point is made that in October of 2003 Kerry wasn't even the favorite for the nomination yet.

I'm more inclined to think it was an attempt at more airbrushing of the Clinton administration's history. Perhaps Berger was covering his own butt. He was, after all, the man who turned down Osama bin Laden's head on a platter because he wasn't sure he could get a conviction in court.

But I suspect bigger butts were being covered by Berger's theft. Disclosures of any advance knowledge of the presence of Al Qaeda operatives in the U.S., for example, and accompanying inaction by the Clinton people would be a killer for any Democrat's credibility on national security matters this November.

It seems like when the Clintons' asses get too close to the fire, someone has to "take one for the team", just as Webb Hubbell had to do back in the day. This is excerpted from an AIM article on earlier Clinton scandals:

The risk that was taken and the effort that was put into raising the money to buy Hubbell's silence indicates that someone placed a high value on the information he had. The Government Reform Committee released a taped phone conversation between Hubbell and his wife when he was in prison. On the tape, Hubbell's wife tells him that the White House is pressuring her to get him to drop his plan to counter sue his former law firm. She tells him that she will lose her well-paid job at the Department of the Interior if he goes ahead with the lawsuit. Hubbell tells her, "I'm hearing the squeeze play. So I need to roll over one more time."

Is Berger "rolling over" to protect his party?

I caught Rush in the car at lunch today musing that had this story involved current NSA Condoleeza Rice, that she would already be in an orange jumpsuit in the cell next to Martha Stewart, and the Democrats would be drafting articles of impeachment. (paraphrasing there) Well at least it would have rated something flashier than page 17 of the N.Y. Times.

And one blog commenter noted the uniqueness of a Clinton administration official getting in trouble for what he put INTO his pants.

Dan Drezner gives good comment, and Andrew Sullivan says prosecute him aggresively. A friend pointed out to me today that any Justice Dept. charges now would put the spotlight on Ashcroft, and make Berger a sympathetic figure as a result. Bad move. I think he should just be left to squirm for a while. He can ask Joe Wilson how it feels.

UPDATE 7/21: The WSJ calls for the release of the documents in question:

If it's all as innocent as Mr. Berger's friends are saying, there's no reason not to make them public. But there are good reasons for questioning Mr. Berger's dog-ate-my-homework explanation. To begin with, he was not simply preparing for his testimony before the 9/11 Commission. He was the point man for the Clinton Administration, reviewing and selecting the documents to be turned over to the Commission...

...Attorney General John Ashcroft... recommended that the Commission "study carefully" the after-action memo. He described it as laying out vulnerabilities and calling for aggressive remedies of the type he and the Bush Administration have been criticized for. Mr. Ashcroft further noted that when he took office, this "highly classified review" was "not among" the items he was briefed on during the transition.

So, not only did the Clintons fail to act responsibly on the recommendations and warnings of their own advisors on terrorism, it appears they may have failed to brief the incoming Bush administration on the situation. Release the originals of the pilfered documents, and let the people render their judgment on the Clinton administration's behavior.

Coming Out Party II

Friday night it was Victor Martinez serving notice on Major League Baseball that he has arrived. Last night and again this afternoon, Travis Hafner did likewise. I watched last night and was able to see much of the game after work today, and Hafner was simply incredible. His combined line for the two games; 7 for 8, 5 homers, 11 RBI, 5 runs scored, tying numerous records along the way. He equaled the 74 year old team record of Earl Averill for 11 RBI in a two consecutive games, and five homers in consecutive games ties a couple dozen other guys. Oh, by the way, Victor chipped in with 3-5, a 3-run homer and four RBI.

The thing I like about Hafner and Martinez is that they seem to be .300 hitters first, and power hitters second. With less than three years of major league experience between them, it's scary to think how good they could be when they figure out what's going on.

July 19, 2004

Terror In The Skies - Update

Annie Jacobsen has a follow-up article to the one referenced in this earlier post about her adventure aboard a Detroit to L.A. flight with some strange-acting Middle Eastern men. And Glenn links to some interesting articles that suggest we are still way too lax about security issues.

July 17, 2004

Routine Surgery?

"Crazed" and "surgeon", two words not often associated. But never say never. (via Dave Barry Blog)

The ICJ's Travesty

Here's part of Charles Krauthammmer's column on the International Court of Justice decision.

Among various principles invoked by the International Court of Justice in its highly publicized decision on Israel's security fence is this one: It is a violation of international law for Jews to be living in the Jewish quarter of Jerusalem. If this sounds absurd to you -- Jews have been inhabiting the Old City of Jerusalem since it became their capital 3,000 years ago -- it is. And it shows the lengths to which the United Nations and its associate institutions, including this kangaroo court, will go to condemn Israel.

The court's main business was to order Israel to tear down the security fence separating Israelis from Palestinians. The fence is only one-quarter built, and yet it has already resulted in an astonishing reduction in suicide attacks in Israel. In the past four months, two Israelis have died in suicide attacks, compared with 166 killed in the same time frame at the height of the terrorism.

But what are 164 dead Jews to this court? Israel finally finds a way to stop terrorism, and 14 eminences sitting in The Hague rule it illegal -- in a 64-page opinion in which the word terrorism appears not once (except when citing Israeli claims)

Browns Bracing For Postons

Len Pasquarelli says there's no movement in the contract talks for some of the biggest unsigned "franchise" players in the NFL:

... for the five unsigned veterans who carry the franchise tag and the club negotiators who must hammer out a way to bridge the huge negotiation differences that always seem to exist, things figure to get ugly in coming weeks. Realistically, no one should count on any of the unsigned franchise players -- offensive tackles Walter Jones (Seattle) and Orlando Pace (St. Louis), corners Charles Woodson (Oakland) and Chris McAlister (Baltimore), and linebacker Julian Peterson (San Francisco) -- being in training camp on time for the first night's bed check...
One common thread for Pace, Woodson and Peterson: All are represented by brothers Carl Poston and Kevin Poston, whose names send chills up the spines of club officials. The Postons, in the past at least, have never demonstrated a qualm about keeping a player out of camp. In many cases, like that of Pace, their contract proposals are unrealistic. All the better, perhaps, for the three teams that have to deal with the Postons to just face the poison as quickly as possible. Unfortunately, that hasn't happened yet, and likely won't.

"Poison", "hardball", "the Darth Vaders of football agents", "an abomination to the league itself", "no bigger boil on the backside of the NFL", "the cancer of the Poston brothers...", "a horse's ass". These are some of the references to Carl and Kevin Poston from a quick online search on their names. Granted, those aren't the words of NFL General Managers. They're the words of journalists, Internet columnists and commentators. But it's hard to find someone who has anything good to say about them. And when team officials do speak up it's usually in frustration. Rams President Jay Zygmunt, referring to the Postons' proposal for Orlando Pace, said "It's not an offer; it's a ransom note." Kevin Poston defends himself in this Argus article:

"My job is to work for my clients," Kevin Poston said. "I happen to have some very good young clients. A lot of it is very unfair. My job is to get my guy fair market value, not to squeeze blood out of a turnip. There's nothing evil about me. I've got a family like everybody else. I've got kids. I think that's a very unfair assessment."

Carl and Kevin Poston, profiled here in the Saginaw News, made a big splash in athlete representation with Penny Hardaway, and have since added big stars like Pace and Charles Woodson to the firm. But they are known for hardball tactics and long holdouts, and are seen by many around the NFL as a pernicious influence. For better or for worse, they make the list of Sports Illustrated's Top 100 Most Influential Minorities in Sports, coming in at Nos. 64 and 65. I have not heard anyone suggest that they are anything but effective in achieving good contracts for their clients. But they often cost those players and their teams valuable practice time, and manage to alienate both teams and players with their tactics. This has made the franchise tag option the court of last resort for NFL teams negotiating for the Postons' clients. The teams feel forced to use it because the demands of the Postons are often too outrageous to even consider. In most cases, both player and team would prefer to sign a long-term contract, but the agents are in the way. Orlando Pace for one has considered dumping the Postons as his agents in order to resolve his longstanding dispute with the Rams. And the 49ers would like to keep Julian Peterson, as this "49er Commentary" says:

General Manager Terry Donahue really likes Julian Peterson and considers him a part of the future for the franchise to build around. However no matter how much he thinks of Julian it doesn't equal the greed that breaths in the lungs of the Poston brothers.

Tough stuff. But with the Postons, it often gets ugly. Mark Stone at FootballHuddles.com lists some of the nasty high-profile cases involving the Postons' clients:

Julian Peterson is threatening to hold out for over 10 million dollars in San Francisco, wanting to be paid like Ray Lewis of the Baltimore Ravens.

Orlando Pace wants to be a 10 million dollar offensive-lineman.

Lavarr Arrington files a grievance the Washington Redskins over a 6.5 million dollar contract dispute.

Charles Woodson almost single-handedly forced a coaching change in Oakland, rescued only by a poor season by the Silver and Black.

Ty Law finally agreed to play under a 7 million dollar contract, but not before accusing the media of turning the story into a "I never said that" claim.

All of the above players have one thing in common: their agents, Carl and Kevin Poston...

...Even the NFLPA is contemplating taking action against Carl Poston, in light of the grievance that he and his client, Lavarr Arrington brought up against the Washington Redskins. While the NFLPA says they’re doing everything they can to settle the issue between Arrington and the Redskins, the Poston issue is one that not even the NFLPA is sure what to do about.

Washington Redskins officials have made no secret of the fact that they passed on Winslow with the 5th pick in the draft because they didn't want to go around again with the Postons after the ugliness of the Lavar Arrington lawsuit situation. Some teams are deciding it's just not worth it. Green Bay had a bad holdout with Terrell Buckley, an early client in the Postons' career as agents:

Asked if he believes NFL teams would turn their back on a player because he was represented by the Postons, (then-Packers G.M. Ron) Wolf said, "I don't know if they do, but I would."

So some of the most contentious, bitter and protracted negotiations in the NFL today involve the brothers Poston, and they'll soon be sitting down with the Cleveland Browns to negotiate for Kellen Winslow Jr. The Poston brothers have got to be licking their chops. The two members of the Browns front office most experienced at player contract negotiations and salary cap management, President Carmen Policy and attorney Lal Heneghan, have both been sacked in the recent housecleaning establishing Butch Davis as the Master of All He Sees. Owner Randy Lerner personally intervened to help end the Dennis Northcutt fiasco, and it looks like he'll be front-and-center for the franchise in their dealings with the Postons. No telling yet how capable or involved John Collins will be. He was a rising marketing executive with the NFL office and was hired as President when Policy was ousted. With that as the backdrop to the upcoming fight negotiations, I like the Postons in a TKO.

So what can the Browns expect? The Postons have already weighed in on what their negotiating posture will be. From a piece in The Tennessean:

Kevin Poston already has fired the first verbal warning shot. He said Winslow Jr. should be paid like the draft's first pick overall because some teams may have had him as the top player on the board and then compared Winslow Jr. to LeBron James.

"He's an unbelievable talent, a star in the making," Kevin Poston said. "The bottom line is the Browns know how good Kellen is and was projected to be, and my job is to make sure he gets his fair market value."

The Browns have of course already invested a lot in the selection of Kellen Winslow Jr. Way back in January this blogger noted the hiring of Rob Chudzinski, former Offensive Coordinator for Winslow at U. of Miami to be the Browns' new tight ends coach as a sign the Browns planned to take Winslow Jr. (Yeah, I know...rocket science..)

Then they got so nervous with one selection to go on Draft Day that they traded a second round pick, the 37th overall, just to move up one spot to assure themselves of the Winslow selection. In the mini-camps the kid has looked ready to start, contribute, and maybe even "star" for a team largely devoid of offensive difference-makers. The Browns front office is fairly desperate to avoid alienating fans and media following a miserable 5-11 season in 2003, and may be inclined to just roll over for the Postons' proposal, just to keep the peace and get him into camp on time.

But it won't be that easy. The NFL has a fairly well-defined "slotting" system when it comes to negotiations for 1st Round draft choices, especially the top 10 or so players. There's no quicker way for a team to alienate their NFL lodge brothers than to opt out of the tap dance that teams and agents do each year to make sure the 4th pick gets more than the 5th pick, and less than the 3rd pick, etc.

In clients like Woodson(4th overall), Charles Rodgers (2nd overall), and Pace (1st overall), the Postons have plenty of experience dealing at that elite level. The Browns, with their experienced negotiators gone, appear to be approaching the negotiating table armed with a popgun to try to take down a grizzly bear. Not too many first rounders actually end up sitting out regular season games in contract disputes. And I think that too much is made of the supposed ill effects of training camp holdouts.

That said, a lengthy Poston-style holdout for Winslow seems almost guaranteed unless the Browns completely cave. I think a complete rollover is unlikely though. The team has to be aware that officials around the league have been wondering what the hell is going on in Berea, so they're sure to act like a responsible lodge brother should, and try to "slot" Winslow's contract accordingly. The Poston brothers are poised and ready to do business as only they do it. Pasquarelli said to prepare for a "long hot summer."

UPDATE 7/18: After posting this late Saturday, I get up to find a feature on the Poston brothers by Browns beat writer Mary Kay Cabot in the Sunday Plain Dealer. Cabot does manage to find some positive quotes about them, which is more than I turned up. It strikes me as a bit of a "puff piece" on these guys though. The article's angle is how the wholesome upbringing of the Postons gives them the strength to deal with the nasty things people say about them. Somewhat less emphasis is given to the actions and tactics of the Postons that are the reasons people are saying those things.


Jake Westbrook has to wonder what he did wrong to get the start last night instead of tonight. Westbrook pitched a complete game Thursday in Seattle, but hung one curve ball in the seventh inning, and Mariners rookie Justin Leone hit it for a 2-run homer that beat the Indians 2-1.

Tonight, Indians starter Cliff Lee also made a mistake to Leone, who crushed it for a 3-run homer. The difference is that tonight the Indians tied a team record with eight home runs, piled up 21 hits, and wiped out the Mariners, 18-6.

All-Star catcher Victor Martinez crushed three home runs and drove in seven runs in a 5 for 5 performance. I don't often use blog posts to report on Indians games. But this was a coming out party for a future star in Martinez, and an unbelievable overall offensive show in what is supposed to be a pitcher's park. Lee goes to 10-1, the Sox and Twins both lose, and Lawton, Martinez and Blake go back to back to back with homers. If that doesn't rate a post, what does?

July 16, 2004

59 Deceits

A new and improved version of the essay by Dave Kopel documenting the deceits of Michael Moore's Fahrenheit 911 is now online. Kopel has refined the piece based on additions and clarifications from readers, resulting in an increase from the original "56 Deceits". In the spirit of fairness, Kopel posts links to the replies and rebuttals of Moore to some of the more common claims of deceit in the film, and he welcomes additional feedback.

O'Rourke Reviewed

In a review of his new book "Peace Kills: America's Fun New Imperialism", P.J. O'Rourke worries about the trend toward statism in America:

"Put together the natural tendency of the state to grow and the American tendency to butt into people’s personal lives, and, I don't foresee a disaster, but I do foresee greater and greater annoyances of the zero tolerance kind," he continued. "You know, have you taken a drink in the last week? You lose your driver's license. Fail to put a seatbelt on your kid while in your home and custody is taken. That sort of thing. All for our own good, of course."

America is still where it’s at, though, O'Rourke quickly pointed out.

"It's true that Europeans, despite often overbearing governments, do have a way of minding their own business about other people's personal lives," he said, laughing. "Unless you're Jewish or something."

UPDATE 7/18: So, you think the day O'Rourke describes is pretty far away? Check this out. (via The Corner)

Scary Airline Story

A first person account of a harrowing four hour plane ride is causing a buzz in the blogosphere today. "Terror in the Skies -- Again?" by Annie Jacobsen appeared at Front Page Magazine this morning and I must admit it made for intriguing reading. 14 Middle Eastern-looking men boarded a Detroit to L.A. flight, some in a group, others individually, and carried on in ways that the writer thought suspicious:

another man from the group stood up and took something from his carry-on in the overhead bin. It was about a foot long and was rolled in cloth. He headed toward the back of the cabin with the object. Five minutes later, several more of the Middle Eastern men began using the forward lavatory consecutively. In the back, several of the men stood up and used the back lavatory consecutively as well.

For the next hour, the men congregated in groups of two and three at the back of the plane for varying periods of time. Meanwhile, in the first class cabin, just a foot or so from the cockpit door, the man with the dark suit – still wearing sunglasses – was also standing.

Jacobsen, who was on board with her husband and young son, was petrified. Her piece is worth reading in full, complete with federal marshalls on board the flight, and dozens of dark suits swarming the airport upon arrival. But the story ends rather harmlessly, and I had to wonder if the writer had overblown the whole thing to make a compelling story out of it.

Writer extraordinaire and nascent blogger Michelle Malkin got involved and started making phone calls to confirm some of Jacobsen's facts. She added another post later on in the day with additional information.

Donald Sensing is skeptical about the malign nature of the whole incident, and he has some even-handed comments on the issue:

This is the mighty thin gruel from which Annie constructs a banquet of a near-death experience. Even a McDonald's bag, carried by one of the Arabs, becomes ominous:

But once we were in the air and the seatbelt sign was turned off, the unusual activity began. The man in the yellow T-shirt got out of his seat and went to the lavatory at the front of coach -- taking his full McDonald's bag with him. When he came out of the lavatory he still had the McDonald's bag, but it was now almost empty. He walked down the aisle to the back of the plane, still holding the bag. When he passed two of the men sitting mid-cabin, he gave a thumbs-up sign. When he returned to his seat, he no longer had the McDonald's bag.

Hmm... The bag was full, then it was "almost empty," then it was gone. Sounds like what happens to my McDonalds bag when I finish eating.

Her whole story is rich with such innuendo, after which we learn that nothing happened.

It turns out that the men were a band, a musical group flying to L.A. to do a gig. They may or may not have had any other agenda. All the men were detained and questioned by the FBI and other officials, and were cleared to go.

For my part, I'm glad to hear that the feds were all over this case, and naturally just as glad that it ended without incident, even if it wasn't completely innocent. Were these guys "casing" the flight, just as the 9/11 hijackers did before their date with the 72 virgins?

We sure don't know the answer to that question right now, but what we do know is that our security on U.S. airlines is still a secondary priority to political correctness. This excerpt from the congressional testimony of Michael Smerconish, quotes Secretary John Lehman on the ridiculous Dept. of Transportation rule that punishes airlines if they dare to pay too much attention to say, young Middle Eastern males for an example: (via Malkin)

"We had testimony a couple of months ago from the past president of United, and current president of American Airlines that kind of shocked us all. They said under oath that, indeed, the Department of Transportation continued to fine any airline that was caught having more than two people of the same ethnic persuasion in a secondary line for questioning, including, and especially, two Arabs."

I then asked him about the role of political correctness, and he said:

"That is really the source, because of this political correctness that became so entrenched in the 1990’s, and continues in [the] current Administration. No one approves of racial profiling, that is not the issue. The fact is that Norwegian women are not, and 85-year-old ladies with aluminum walkers are not, the source of the terrorist threat. The fact is that our enemy is the violent Islamic extremists, and the overwhelming number of people that one need to worry about are young Arab males, and to ask them a couple of extra questions seems to me to be common sense, yet if an airline does that in numbers that are more than proportionate to their number in a particular line, then they get fined and that is why you see so many blue-haired old ladies and people that are clearly not of Middle Eastern extraction being hauled out in such numbers because otherwise they get fined."

Good plan guys. Hire more people to increase security, and then take away any latitude for them to use their judgment, their instincts or their experience to help keep airline passengers safe. We are all inconvenienced these days in the interest of security, at airports, sporting events and public gatherings of all types. It's insane to pretend that we aren't primarily concerned about the actions of young Arab males, and to take this pose strictly for appearances' sake, sacrificing necessary caution and diligence in the process.

July 15, 2004

Piano Juggler

No, he doesn't juggle pianos. It's something else.

More Tokenism Not Needed

John McWhorter says Bush was right to decline to speak to the NAACP. (free registration required)

Mfume and the NAACP's anger-based politics imply that black success can only be accidental unless the playing field is completely level. Instead of insisting on that, they should be working on specific cures to specific ills: creating a culture of achievement among black students, addressing the AIDS crisis in black communities and fostering constructive relationships between police forces and residents of minority neighborhoods.

These real problems are being addressed, but not by the NAACP. The National Urban League forges ties between blacks and corporate America. The Rev. Eugene Rivers' Ten-Point Coalition is spreading from Boston to other cities, getting wayward black youth off of the streets and into constructive lives. Operation Hope in Los Angeles helps poor minorities get home loans. Geoffrey Canada has the nation's attention with his Harlem Children's Zone program, blanketing 60 underprivileged blocks with a raft of uplift programs presented to each resident in the district, door by door.

There was a time when there couldn't be a discussion of racial issues without mentioning the NAACP. ...What innovative and sustained race initiative has the NAACP directed lately?...

The measure of Bush's commitment to African American issues is disconnected from any gestures he makes to the NAACP. The only reason for him to speak at its annual convention would have been as a token gesture. But beside the fact that black Americans have endured quite enough tokenism, why should Bush court an organization whose national leaders regularly rake him over the coals?

July 13, 2004

Bush Speech

The President needs to do more of this. That is, defend his record and remind Americans of the huge progress we have made against terrorism on his watch. Now if only the media would cover his speeches...

I've been thinking about some campaign slogans to help combat the relentless carping about the conduct of the terror war that was dropped in Bush's lap by years of appeasement and then the 9/11 attacks. How's this for starters?

"We freed 50 million people! Does that count for anything?"

July 12, 2004

Safire on Kofigate

William Safire throws out a challenge to journalists to get their butts in gear and report on the Oil-For-Food scandal, which he refers to as "Kofigate":

These investigations were triggered by the press. But why should competitive journalists wait months for official leaks? Bankers, traders and honest U.N. underlings are eager to whis-tleblow; shoe-leather reporting is required to hot-foot the watchmen now that they are finally awake.


It's distressing to see the Kerry campaign picking up on the "disenfranchisement" canard from the Election of 2000. Once again...and it can't be done too many times, Peter Kirsanow, a member of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, debunks the myth. One would think that the 20-point win by Jeb Bush in 2002 would have disabused Democrats of the notion that this is a winning electoral issue for them in Florida. Maybe their polling tells them that these lies and distortions will work for them nationally. Which of course doesn't make them anything other than lies and distortions. But they obviously don't care.

July 10, 2004

Europe Falls Behind

Some of the key technological developments driving the Internet boom originated in Europe; the HTML-standard and the Linux operating system to name a couple. But Europe has lagged behind the U.S. in putting the Net to use, as the success of Yahoo, Google and Amazon among others demonstrates. Especially in the intellectual journals, but in mainstream media as well, Europeans haven't learned to make more content available to readers for free as a way to drive traffic. Once you have traffic, there are a multitude of ways to make the venture profitable. An interesting article from a European e-zine that urges the Euros to get their act together. (via aldaily.com)

A Hit in Moscow

Roger Simon comments on the murder of Paul Klebnikov, the American editor of the Russian edition of Forbes Magazine. Simon asks...

Who did it? The Russian Mafia comes to mind -- Klebnikov was the author of a book on tycoon Boris Berezovsky. But he also wrote an article last year about the "Millionaire Mullahs" of Iran, which began this way:

A looming nuclear threat to the rest of the world, Iran is robbing its own people of prosperity. But the men at the top are getting extremely rich.

Wilson Caught In Lies

While it's not exactly a news flash that Joe Wilson is a self-promoting partisan hack, this story in the Washington Post, (via Andrew Sullivan) pretty much seals the case that he is also a serial liar.

On the matter of whether Wilson's wife, CIA agent Valerie Plame, recommended him for the investigative mission to Niger, apparently it depends on what the definition of the word "recommendation" is:

The report states that a CIA official told the Senate committee that Plame "offered up" Wilson's name for the Niger trip, then on Feb. 12, 2002, sent a memo to a deputy chief in the CIA's Directorate of Operations saying her husband "has good relations with both the PM [prime minister] and the former Minister of Mines (not to mention lots of French contacts), both of whom could possibly shed light on this sort of activity." The next day, the operations official cabled an overseas officer seeking concurrence with the idea of sending Wilson, the report said.

Wilson has asserted that his wife was not involved in the decision to send him to Niger.

"Valerie had nothing to do with the matter," Wilson wrote in a memoir published this year. "She definitely had not proposed that I make the trip."

Wilson stood by his assertion in an interview yesterday, saying Plame was not the person who made the decision to send him. Of her memo, he said: "I don't see it as a recommendation to send me."

More importantly, it appears Wilson also lied about the actual substance of his mission and misrepresented his findings:

The report also said Wilson provided misleading information to The Washington Post last June. He said then that he concluded the Niger intelligence was based on documents that had clearly been forged because "the dates were wrong and the names were wrong."

"Committee staff asked how the former ambassador could have come to the conclusion that the 'dates were wrong and the names were wrong' when he had never seen the CIA reports and had no knowledge of what names and dates were in the reports," the Senate panel said. Wilson told the panel he may have been confused and may have "misspoken" to reporters. The documents -- purported sales agreements between Niger and Iraq -- were not in U.S. hands until eight months after Wilson made his trip to Niger.

Doubtless Wilson would be furious and offended if anyone were to question his patriotism. His trip served its purpose, however. He was able to tell enough lies to temporarily hurt George Bush politically with the "yellowcake" flap from the State of the Union speech, and garner himself enough notoriety to get a book into print. To hell with truth and national security. What a scumbag.

UPDATE 7/10: Power Line comments in "Joe Wilson, Liar" that what Wilson actually told the CIA about his findings is the opposite of what he wrote in his New York Times op-ed:

So: what Wilson actually told the CIA, contrary to his own oft-repeated claims, is that he was told by the former mining minister of Niger that in 1998, Iraq had tried to buy 400 tons of uranium from that country, and that Iraq's overture was renewed the following year. What Wilson reported to the CIA was exactly the same as what President Bush said in his 2003 State of the Union address: there was evidence that Iraq had tried to buy uranium in Africa.

Perhaps he just "misspoke".

What's A Matta?

Thad Matta was introduced as the new head basketball coach at Ohio State on Thursday, and the consensus reaction seems to be that A.D. Andy Geiger made a great hire.

Here's the coverage from ESPN and the Plain Dealer, along with Dick Vitale's take.

From insiders.com, here's what other coaches are saying about the Matta hire, along with comments from current Buckeye players.

World's Tallest Man

I guess this 8'2" Ukrainian guy doesn't know how important it is that he get himself into the Guinness Book of World Records. There he could have an online video right alongside the world's "Furthest Eyeball Popper". Guinness spokeswoman Kate White said. "We have contacted Stadnik, but he seems like a very shy guy. He doesn't want us around. So we have to stick to what we have."

Merloni On Ice

Jacobs Field magic is back, for at least one night. There hasn't been much late-inning celebrating going on lately:

Cleveland had been 0-30 when it trailed going into the ninth before the comeback, which ended with Merloni surrounded by a dancing mob of Indians.

"My first walk-off hit ever," Merloni said. "It's kind of a ritual here to get beat up when you do it. I've got to go ice down."

Stephen Hayes Unmasks Sen. Levin

Demagoguery apparently just isn't what it used to be. When an influential senator distorts the past claims and statements of the president and administration officials these days, he can count on bloggers and a few exceptional print journalists to hold him to account for his words, including those from one month or one year ago. And of course there's the historical record of actual administration statements.

Lots of American citizens never knew, or don't remember exactly what Bush and Rice and Cheney and Powell said 2-3 years ago about the nature of the relationships and links between Saddam's Iraq and terrorist organizations including Al Qaeda and the possibility of their involvement in the 9/11 attacks. So Sen. Carl Levin and other designated Democratic mouthpieces try to fill that void with distortions and politically motivated propaganda.

So Stephen Hayes reminds us what they all said. And the evidence is revealing about who is misleading whom:

Levin's continuing attempt to discredit the administration on the Iraq-al Qaeda connection is meeting resistance from unexpected quarters. The New York Times's Thom Shanker reported on the connection on June 25, 2004. Shanker wrote about an Iraqi Intelligence document discussing potential Iraq-al Qaeda collaboration in Saudi Arabia.

Among the stunning revelations in the document: bin Laden "requested joint operations against foreign forces" in Saudi Arabia; that Iraqi Intelligence officials sought to maintain the "relationship" after bin Laden left Sudan; that "cooperation between the two organizations should be allowed to develop freely through discussion and agreement."

Those words--"joint operations" and "the relationship" and "cooperation"--come not from the Bush administration, but from Iraqi intelligence. They expand on our understanding of the Iraq-al Qaeda connection and, if anything, suggest that the Bush administration and the U.S. intelligence community may have actually understated the relationship.

Levin's preemptive report is indeed revealing, but not in the way he intends. We have a much clearer picture of who, exactly, is exaggerating intelligence to score political points.

UPDATE 7/10: Speaking of remembering what people said way back when, Hayes follows up with another Weekly Standard piece, this time comparing older John Edwards quotes in support of the Iraq liberation to more recent statements about "needless" war. From an appearance on Harball with Chris Matthews:

MATTHEWS: Were we right to go to this war alone, basically without the Europeans behind us? Was that something we had to do?

EDWARDS: I think that we were right to go. I think we were right to go to the
United Nations. I think we couldn't let those who could veto in the Security Council hold us hostage. And I think Saddam Hussein being gone is good. Good for the American people, good for the security of that region of the world, and good for the Iraqi people.

MATTHEWS: If you think the decision, which was made by the president, when basically he saw the French weren't with us and the Germans and the Russians weren't with us, was he right to say, "We're going anyway"?

EDWARDS: I stand behind my support of that, yes.

Does Edwards still believe that he wasn't "misled"? That the Iraq war was a necessary component of the broader war on terror? That President Bush was right to refuse to be held "hostage" by the U.N.?

Judging from remarks he made in his first full day as a candidate for vice president, the answer to questions two and three is "no."

"With John Kerry as president of the United States no young American will ever go to war needlessly because America has decided to go it alone."

How long will it take Edwards to claim that he, too, was "misled" by the Bush administration?

July 9, 2004

U.S. Amnesia

A terrific column by Charles Krauthammer highlighting how close we are to being back into pre-9/11 complacency:

Here we are at the crux of a debate over the United States' aggressive interventionism of the past few years. Is Islamic radicalism in potential alliance with terrorist states that possess such weapons a threat to the very existence (hence: "existential") of the United States and of civilization itself?

On Sept. 12, 2001, and for many months after, that proposition was so self-evident that it commanded near unanimous support. With time -- three years in which, contrary to every expectation and prediction, the second shoe never dropped -- that consensus has evaporated.

The new idea, expressed by Blix representing the decadent European left, and recently amplified by Michael Moore representing the paranoid American left, is that this existential threat is vastly overblown. Indeed, deliberately overblown by a corrupt/clueless (take your pick) President Bush to justify American aggression for reasons of . . . and here is where the left gets a little fuzzy, not quite being able to decide whether American aggression is intended simply to enrich multinational corporations -- or maybe just Halliburton alone -- with fat war contracts, distract from alleged failure in Afghanistan, satisfy some primal masculine urge or boost poll ratings.

Hoping For Imperfect Justice

From "The Trial of Saddam", an Opinionjournal.com op-ed by Alan Dershowitz:

Nuremberg taught us that even victor's justice can be relatively fair. There is a vast difference between imperfect justice, which is what Nuremberg was, and perfect injustice, which is what Stalin inflicted on those Nazi prisoners he simply had shot.

This a few days old but I thought it was worth a post. Dershowitz is simply hoping for a process that is fairly "transparent", and of course avoids even the appearance of "an American thumb on the scales".

July 8, 2004

Good News From Iraq - Part V

Chrenkoff is getting really good at this

July 7, 2004

Volcker Sounds Serious

It does sound like Paul Volcker has assembled an experienced and capable team for the Oil-For-Food program investigation. Read his opinionjournal.com essay here.

July 6, 2004

Pejman on Edwards

I believe that Pejman has rounded up, linked and astutely commented on every word that was written or spoken today about John Edwards on the day he was announced as the running mate of John Kerry. Well, pretty close anyway. Included are "keeper" links to Edwards historical positions on issues. Pejman calls him "a protectionist with a pretty face". Yes, and one who might continue on his divisive "Two Americas" theme if someone doesn't rein him in. The Democrats went with a face (with good hair as well) and a great stump speaker instead of doing the more responsible thing. Excerpting Pejman:

What matters regarding the Vice Presidential choice is that this was Kerry's first--and unless he is elected, only--chance to make a Presidential decision. He could have signalled his seriousness about having a person qualified to step into the Presidency should something happen to Kerry. It's not an academic exercise--especially given the effort of the 9/11 terrorists to decapitate the government. Kerry could have also shown that he was responsible enough to have a Vice President with strong national security credentials who would be a crucial and valuable advisor in the war on terrorism--regardless of whether that Vice President ended up being President.

Instead, we got the Democrats' version of Dan Quayle. And given the fact that Quayle (who I was never a fan of) served twelve years in Congress before ascending to the Vice Presidency (as opposed to Edwards's five and a half years), it might be said that we got Quayle Light.

Great blog, Pejmanesque.

UPDATE: At Power Line, deacon seems to disagree, with a left-handed compliment to Edwards. On his national security credentials among Democrats...

Edwards was a better than average choice among the Democratic contenders in this regard. Why? Because the Democratic party is so diseased that experience with foreign policy and national security issues is generally a dangerous thing (think Joe Biden). For Democrats, sophistication in these areas usually manifests itself in doubts about the U.S. as a force for good in the world and distrust of the exercise of U.S. power (think John Kerry). Hence, the preference for foreign interventions that seem to have little to do with American interests and, if our interests are at stake, the imperative of approval by international organizations.

I get the impression that Edwards, precisely because he hadn't paid much attention to these matters until quite recently, missed this indoctrination. He was too busy becoming rich to develop the appropriate level of skepticism about our country.

July 5, 2004


A new web site with a mission to communicate, among other things, some of the positive things happening in Iraq, and the gratitude of the Iraqi people for their liberation. It's called untoldiraq.org and is operated by the IAFA:

The Iraq-America Freedom Alliance (IAFA) is a coalition of Americans and Iraqis committed to fostering goodwill between our nations and winning the war on terror. IAFA will provide Americans a fuller picture of Iraq and give voice to some of the many Iraqis grateful for their newfound freedom.

Baby steps.

July 4, 2004


All four Indians selected to the All-Star team were elected by a vote of the players, managers and coaches. That means a lot. The fans who vote on the starters sometimes make mistakes (Jason Giambi) but these guys know who's playing well.

Congratulations to C.C. Sabathia, Ronnie Belliard, Matt Lawton, and Victor Martinez.

A fifth, Travis Hafner, is one of five finalists for the final roster spot to be determined by an Internet vote by fans.

I admit I'm stunned by this. Already I heard a network radio sports guy whining about the good players who didn't make it, "but we've got four Indians". I assumed that Martinez and Sabathia would be selected, but figured that C.C. might elect to rest his shaky shoulder instead, leaving us with only one representative in the game. (Had they not both been named, the investigation would by now be underway.)

And who can argue that the numbers posted by both Lawton (.317, 62 runs, 14 HR, 48 RBI, 15 SB) and Belliard (.316, 48 R, 34 RBI, 25 2B, 5 HR) aren't All-Star caliber? It's a tribute to the Indians players from their peers. That's pretty cool.

I can't post good stuff about the Indians without also acknowledging another gut-wrenching, teeth-gnashing, giveaway loss today, wasting another stellar start by Jake Westbrook. Patience, my boy.

WOC Report on Darfur,Sudan

Winds of Change has a thorough report on Darfur in the Sudan, including links to relief agencies active in the humanitarian effort. And it turns out it was just a coincidence that an entire refugee camp was moved the night before Kofi Annan was scheduled to visit it. The government did it because they realized that conditions were bad in the camp. Oh.

Happy 4th of July

D.I.Y. Fireworks

Publisher Revokes Hillary Advance

For the common good, the inimitable Scrappleface

56 Deceits in Fahrenheit 911

A compilation by Dave Kopel, soon to be published at NRO. (via Curmudgeonly and Skeptical)

A Man and a Cow

This is a very funny film clip, the source of which I don't know, except that I found it at Coolios.

July 3, 2004


More "lessons from Iraq" from Victor Davis Hanson:

...we underestimated homegrown opposition to the war. Thus we saw little reason to confront it intellectually or morally. Assuming few here could identify with fascism, gender apartheid, terrorism, and intolerance, we forgot that forty years of postcolonial studies, multiculturalism, cultural relativism, and aristocratic pacifism in our schools and public discourse had imbued a real mistrust of the United States that was far stronger than any ideological revulsion to Islamic fascism. Shrill Deanism morphed into conspiratorial Moorism and finally ended up as the canonical outrage of the Democratic Party...

... Let us face it: the Left in this country has gone absolutely crazy...

(via RealClearPolitics)

Ahem, WMD in Iraq

Warheads found in Iraq containing chemical weapons.

The warheads all contained cyclosarin, multinational force commander Polish Gen. Mieczyslaw Bieniek said.

"Laboratory tests showed the presence in them of cyclosarin, a very toxic gas, five times stronger than sarin and five times more durable," Bieniek told Poland's TVN24 at the force's Camp Babylon headquarters.

The administration is not hyping this find as a vindication of their prewar intelligence...yet. But this case has to get a bigger profile over the next week or so. Since the press and the President's opponents have built their case for "Bush lied" around the erstwhile failure to locate actual WMD, this story can't just be ignored, can it? Minimized, marginalized, "yes, butted" maybe. But they can't pretend it didn't happen. (via Power Line)

Steyn's Lessons of Iraq

America has no appetite for imperialism. The downside of that is that it leaves imperialism to others perhaps more malign. Read all of Mark Steyn's " Now it's up to the Iraqis ":

So what happens when a scrupulously non-imperial country finds itself as the hyperpower in a unipolar world? Well, you get a two-month presence in Liberia and a 15-month colonial administration in Iraq. The first wasn’t enough, the second may well be. But neither settles the credibility issue. Around the globe, America’s principled rejection of conventional imperialism is seen as softness and decadence. As a practical matter, it means that nation-building is invariably left to global agencies and multilateral institutions antipathetic to America and to American values. And, as I wrote before the Iraq war, in such a world it’s easy for the ersatz allies to present each and every American victory as some kind of terrible defeat. As we’ve learnt this last year, if there is a ‘white man’s burden’ in 2004, it’s not the burden of doing one’s bit for the natives, but doing so under a hail of continual sniping from Chirac, Schröder, the Belgian guy, Kofi, Oxfam, Human Rights Watch, the BBC and a gazillion others.

You'll have to click the link to read the slam on Michael Moore. I don't want to encourage that sort of thing here at Wizblog.

July 2, 2004

Hovering at .500

Okay, Sean Casey and Ken Griffey Jr. sat it out, but it was a satisfying 15-2 drilling of the Cincinnati Reds tonight. I'm working on a halfway-point post for the Indians, and trying to come up with a description for this team. Resilient, obviously. Flawed, but tough. It's too depressing to calculate where they'd be in the standings with even an average bullpen. So how do these guys keep their heads up? Bud Shaw says they're hungry:

It doesn't hurt either that the Indians roster is composed of players mostly too busy trying to establish themselves in the major leagues to get demoralized. Depression for them is the mildest, clearest baseball night in Buffalo. No matter how bad the losses are here, they remain major-league losses.

In more ways than one, of course.

The Indians have lost 19 games when they've been tied or held the lead in the seventh inning on. Nine times on the road a walk-off hit beat them, including five home runs. Yet a day off came Monday without any appearances on "Dr. Phil."

Credit Wedge. He has them buying into his plan for every game. As hitters they work counts, and hit "smart" more often than not. And as young as the team is, Wedge has them level-headed and playing like professionals. There are no hotheads or hotdogs on this team since they kissed off Milton Bradley. The budding, real friendships between players on the team are palpable when you watch them on TV. Casey Blake embracing, and hugging Ben Broussard the other night after the latter's grand slam broke him out of a long slump was touching.

And when will a beat reporter get the story on all these complicated dugout handshake/salute rituals when they're celebrating something? I mean we've seen this stuff before but these young Indians players are making it an art form. Seems like Victor Martinez and Ronnie Belliard are often at the heart of it, but they're all involved. They keep coming up with new and more involved handshakes all the time. They're having a blast with it.

You could make the case that this kind of behavior refutes my statement above that they play like professionals beyond their years, with no "hotdogs" and all. But as a fan I find the dugout antics endearing and funny. Perhaps the opponents feel differently but to me it's players having fun and growing together as friends and teammates.

As corny and cliché as that sounds, so far Wedge has managed to pull it off, at least in terms of the attitude, effort and morale of his team. Now, about that closer...


A powerful statement of American exceptionalism and a warning of culture war by Thomas Sowell.

Nothing is easier than to take for granted what we are used to, and to imagine that it is more or less natural, so that it requires no explanation. Instead, many Americans demand explanations of why things are not even better and express indignation that they are not.

Some people think the issue is whether the glass is half empty or half full. More fundamentally, the question is whether the glass started out empty or started out full.

Those who are constantly looking for the "root causes" of poverty, of crime, and of other national and international problems act as if prosperity and law-abiding behavior were so natural that it is their absence that has to be explained. But a casual glance around the world today, or back through history, would dispel any notion that good things just happen naturally, much less inevitably.


Ann Coulter dices and slices in a Townhall column called "Saddam In Custody - Moore, Soros, Dean Still At Large"

According to a recent New York Times poll, after $60 million in warm and fuzzy TV ads about Kerry, 40 percent of Americans have no opinion of him. In other words, the ads are working! So Kerry will be sitting out the actual campaign this year.

But he's got a lot of surrogates campaigning for him. There's Michael Moore, who has said he hopes more Americans will die in Iraq. His movie, "Fahrenheit 7/11" as we call it, apparently supports the Times' view that life in Iraq was better, sunnier, happier under Saddam Hussein. Moore has also accused the American people of being the stupidest, most naive people on the face of the Earth. And after last weekend, he's got the box office numbers to prove it!

I can't stop. Even though it's shooting fish in a barrel. I'll get help.

July 1, 2004

Rosett - UNSCAM

Roger Simon may have started the "Claudia Rosett For Pulitzer" movement, but I'm a charter member. This piece for Fox is the story of a bribe paid by a Russian businessman to Saddam Hussein. He didn't get his oil, and he wanted his money back. Rosett explains how Benon Sevan, U.N. overseer of the Oil-For-Food program responded to that demand, and the evidence of the illegal deal:

But did he write immediately to inform the Security Council, which oversaw the program? Did he alert any independent auditing or investigative authority?

Evidently not. First, and foremost, Sevan wrote to Saddam's U.N. ambassador, Mohammed Aldouri, attaching Luguev's complaint. Sevan warned Aldouri: "I am duty bound to bring the matter to the attention of the Security Council Committee." Sevan then added a crucial sentence: "Prior to doing so, however, I should like to receive most urgently the views and comments of the Government of Iraq on the information provided by Lakia SARL."

He asked for a response within one week.

In other words, in the interest of what one can only suppose was routine information-gathering at the United Nations, Sevan's first move was, in effect, to give Baghdad a week's notice to bury the evidence and prepare a reply.

And I revisited this earlier column in which Rosett cuts to the chase on the U.N.:

What's missing at the U.N. is not another survey by another consulting firm, or another 90-page report, or another investigation which serves chiefly to pre-empt criticism while fixing not much. The basic flaws are simple: Anytime you create a large institution, accord it great privileges of secrecy, give it a big budget, and have it run by someone immune from any sane standard of accountability, you are likely to get a corrupt organization. And unless the ground rules change, Mr. Annan's tactic of exhorting senior staff to be more accountable has about as much chance of success as Mikhail Gorbachev's efforts in the 1980s to fix the U.S.S.R. by telling Soviet citizens to stop drinking.

The problem with the Secretariat isn't "tone" at the top. It's accountability at the top, and secrecy throughout. Perhaps a leader with the character of a Churchill or a Reagan would be willing to address that failing directly--and put his job on the line to push for change. Mr. Annan prefers to issue reports.

Someone needs to help this institution, and it's not a consulting team hired by the same institution, nor is it a batch of investigators operating under terms defined by the U.N., nor is it a grand gathering of staff members being urged to risk reprisals by telling tales of earlier reprisals. A better place to start is the proposal by Sen. John Ensign that the U.S. withhold part of the U.N.'s budget until the institution comes clean on Oil for Food. Better yet would be to tackle the system that engendered Oil for Food. To do that would probably require setting up a competing international institution, based on openness and accountability--and give the U.N. a run for its money. For now, 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.