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August 31, 2004

Also in New York City....

So they tell me there were a couple of other things going on in New York City tonight besides the Indians-Yankees game. (I might have mentioned earlier that the Indians handed the Yankees their worst loss in history tonight, by a score of 22-0. That's right, 22-0. Worst ever. Tonight. Indians. Did I mention the score?)

I switched over to the convention coverage in time to see most of Arnold's stirring speech. I haven't seen the full text posted anywhere yet, but he really had the place charged up. There was nothing forced or insincere about his message tonight. (Frist, for example, seemed wooden by comparison, and the less said about the Bush twins the better.) But Arnold was at ease and positively beaming. I was proud of him, especially of his message of hope and promise for his fellow immigrants and his welcome to them on behalf of the Party.

If you missed Rudy Giuliani's speech last night, as I did, here are some selected highlights from FPM. And Power Line has some video from Night One.

UPDATE 9/1: Here's the text of Arnold's remarks.


Let me type that again.


The New York Yankees had never before lost a game by more than 18 runs. Yes folks, this was the WORST LOSS EVER BY THE YANKEES!

I was able to watch this game from the start, and after the Indians scored three runs in each of the first three innings, I couldn't possibly stop watching. For some reason I kept saying "Sweet!" over and over again.

The headline tomorrow might well have been "Vizquel Vanquishes Vasquez" had it not been such a total team blowout. Omar's AL record-tying 6 hits will be somewhat overshadowed by the margin of victory and the ongoing Yankees fade. It looks like Omar will be gone after this year, so I'm going to savor these last 29 games watching him as an Indian. The good news is that his probable replacement, Jhonny Peralta, won the Class AAA International League MVP Award today.

I think my credentials as a Yankee-Hater are pretty well documented here at Wizblog, but Jim Caple sets a wonderful example for all of us. This game could well bump something off of The List.

Excuse me. Gotta go watch SportsCenter.

UPDATE 9/1: The view from a Red Sox fan.

August 30, 2004

Be A Sport

I learned today from this Dan Drezner post that Sports Illustrated has a blog. What took them so long? This time the argument is about what should or shouldn't be an Olympic sport, but it's really a rehash of the old debate about what is a sport in the first place. Here is the premise of SI blogger Josh Elliott, (who irritatingly refers to himself in the inanimate third person as "The Blog" or "this Blog"....only Dave Barry can get away with that day in and day out):

No athletic event that is judged belongs in the Olympics.

And no exceptions: No gymnastics. No ice skating or boxing. No synchronized swimming or diving. If it can't be won on the track, in the lane lines or with one more goal than the other folks, it has no place in the world's premier festival of sport, one that purports to give us the world's greatest champions. For if a win can't be unquestionably achieved, what's it worth, really? Without an objective, inarguable method for determining victory and defeat, the very meaning of the competition is lost. (After all, this isn't my niece's toddler soccer league, where one team scores 49 goals and the other scores two, then the exhausted competitors are told, Saturday after disillusioning Saturday, that it was a tie.) Without an absolutely certain outcome, an event such as, say, the men's gymnastics all-around, isn't a sport at all. It's a talent show.

Exhibit 'A' for "that Blog" is U.S. gymnast Paul Hamm and his tainted Gold Medal. Anything with judges, he says, must go. He offers the 1500-meter run as one event evidently pure enough to merit continued Olympic competition, as well as those pure SI-type sports won "with one more goal than the other folks".

To me, his argument ignores the fact that many of those "one more goal" events, including baseball and basketball, are influenced and often have their outcomes decided by the flawed, subjective judgments of human officials, referees, umpires, etc.

A short 32 years ago in Olympic competition, the basketball referees didn't like the outcome of the Gold Medal game, so they decided to play the last few seconds over again so that the U.S.S.R. would win. How is that any different from having questionble judgments made in the scoring of the uneven parallel bars? Even events seemingly as clear cut as track and field competitions can see the "best team" fail to win if one official thinks he sees a faulty baton pass or a lane violation.

He'll certainly get an argument from me if he tries to say that boxing isn't a sport because it uses judges. That said, some of the most egregious displays of politics contaminating sports were the screw jobs done to American boxers by Soviet bloc judges in bouts with Cubans or Eastern Europeans in the 70's and 80's.

However, he'll get no argument on the matter of syncronized swimming or ice skating not being "sports", as I understand the concept. In these "contests", which I would liken more to musical competitions, the winner is determined solely by the judges opinion of which individual or team is better at whatever skill is being measured, and there is no real head-to-head event of any sort. (BTW, I'm undecided about Auto Racing. There is a competition, and I guess drivers are athletes of a sort. But you could say the same about WWF, couldn't you?)

It's just that when you start talking about a win that must be "unquestionably achieved", or "an...inarguable method for determining victory and defeat", that bar is set pretty high. See Drezner's take too, and those of his commenters.

August 29, 2004

Steyn's Take - Election 2004

Mark Steyn:

In this election, it's more important to make sure none of your party's base vote stays home. The problem for Kerry is that Bush's base includes alienated Democrats. Al Gore lost in 2000 because he had no appeal to white rural males. That's what cost him his own state of Tennessee, among others.

Does anyone seriously think Kerry appeals to white rural males? A poll in The Los Angeles Times shows that 3 per cent of Republicans are voting for Kerry, but 15 per cent of Democrats - mainly "conservative Democrats" - are planning to vote for Bush. A crucial sliver of Democrats seem to recoil from Kerry the way effete elite Europeans recoil from Bush. Unfortunately the former, unlike the latter, can vote.

France Tough on Terrorists

No, there's no punch line ...

Since 1995, when an Algerian Islamist group called GIA killed eight people with a nail bomb in the Paris Metro, there has not been a single terrorist incident in France. This is not because Jacques Chirac's government takes an obsequious line toward Yasser Arafat, or because it did Saddam Hussein's bidding at the UN, or because it undermines US foreign policy at every turn.

Rather, it is because the French fight Islamic militants in ways that would make Israeli Shin Bit chief Avi Dichter proud and US Attorney General John Ashcroft envious.

Deportation, imprisonment for years without trial, torture. I must say I wasn't aware that the French had a reputation for being that tough, what with all the Euro-whining about Guantanamo.

Bret Stephens explains by making some interesting observations about the disconnect in France (and elsewhere in Europe) between the attitudes of its citizens, and the policies of its government:

If, for instance, America feels strongly enough about human-rights abuses in China, it can take measures - trade sanctions, arms sales to Taiwan, etc. - which the Chinese are bound to feel keenly. For the better part of past 50 years, neither the French nor Europeans generally have had this luxury. The average Belgian may feel quite strongly about human-rights abuses in China. But the chances that his attitude will translate into some kind of meaningful policy are effectively zero.

The result is what one might call attitude inflation, which in turn arises from the de-linking of attitude from policy. That is, if you don't actually have to do something about your attitudes you're likelier to have more of them, and they are bound to be both more extravagant and more unrealistic. People who are in no position to end world hunger and bring about peace in the Middle East can endlessly carry on about ending world hunger and bringing peace to the Middle East. Doing so means only that they're declaring themselves the sorts of folk who deplore hunger and war. But statesmen who must actually wrestle with issues of cost, capacity, local difficulties and unintended consequences tend to have more realistic, and therefore restrained, attitudes.

(via Arts & Letters Daily)

August 28, 2004

Cleveland Kid Wins Gold

Congratulations to Tim Mack, a St. Ignatius High School graduate and onetime Malone College student for winning the Gold Medal in the Pole Vault yesterday in Athens, seting an Olympic record and a personal best in the process. The PD's Bill Livingston is at his best in today's story on Mack.

Greatest Wrestler Ever?

Cael Sanderson. Better than Dan Gable? It's debatable, but this is persuasive.

Another Campaign Theme Taking Shrapnel

Robert Tagorda:

In April, the Democratic-controlled California Assembly asked the nonpartisan Public Policy Institute of California to examine the economic impact of offshore outsourcing. The study found that, while there is too little information to make definitive conclusions, the phenomenon is less problematic than many believe. In fact, it noted that, "because of the dynamics of the U.S. economy and offshoring's expected effect on productivity, the overall, longer-run effect of offshoring may be to increase living standards at home."

How did the Assembly react to these findings? It stalled the release of the report.

And why not? The timing is perfectly lousy for a report minimizing the negative effects of offshoring, even suggesting that it may help, given the Kerry campaign's drumbeat on the issue in recent days.

Bob links to this Dan Drezner post, and so backwards through the blogosphere to Virginia Postrel and others. Drezner's earlier, more detailed discussion of outsourcing in the Financial Times should be required reading for all outsourcing Chicken Littles. See also Brink Lindsey's essay.

Bloggers With Resumés

"Mainstream" journalists and pundits continue to turn to blogging as an additional outlet for their commentary. Weekly Standard writers Jonathan Last, Victorino Matus and David Skinner have joined the blogosphere with a site they originally called "The Sub Standard", but that they have now retitled as Galley Slaves.

And Townhall.com contributor David Limbaugh also has a new blog up. In this post he takes issue with the widely accepted media premise that Bush has completely mishandled Iraq, and that it is a major political "negative" for him in the campaign.

Oil and Energy Independence

Two recent articles dealing with the mixture of oil and politics agree on at least one thing. John Kerry's "plan" to achieve "energy independence" is considered a joke by anyone with a passing knowledge of the energy industry. From an NRO commentary by Jerry Taylor:

While energy independence is not a new idea — it's been embraced to varying degrees by every single national politician (including President Bush!) over the last 30 years — it's the sort of thing that sounds good at first blush but looks ridiculous the more you think about it. Actually, characterizing the idea as ridiculous is charitable. "Asinine" was the word used by one of Kerry's own energy advisers in the New York Times recently in the course of lamenting the direction his candidate was taking on the campaign trail.

First off, energy independence won't do any good whatsoever unless we either stop using petroleum products altogether or, alternatively, ban all imports and exports of oil, gasoline, and the like. That's because moving oil around the globe is so cheap and easy that a shortage of oil anywhere in the world increases the price of oil everywhere in the world.

Irwin Stelzer outlines key points in the Kerry plan with a similar conclusion:

Kerry is proposing to denude American dinner tables of corn by converting the nation's crop to expensive methanol, along with somehow forcing consumers to pay for expensive solar power, and effectively foreclosing the nuclear option by opposing a bill he once supported that would create a storage site for nuclear waste in Nevada's Yucca mountain, a state with five up-for-grabs electoral votes. How this will allow Kerry to achieve his stated goal of "energy independence" remains a mystery to all serious observers of the energy scene.

Where the two writers part company somewhat is on the issue of whether or not the political motives of oil producers trump their economic/profit motives. Taylor says that has never happened, at least within OPEC:

Are we then "dangerously beholden" to the Saudis and the rest of OPEC, as Senator Kerry claims? No more than we are "dangerously beholden" to the guys who run grocery stores. Sure, we need the oil to keep the economy going, but the Saudis (like most of the rest of OPEC) need the revenues produced by the oil trade to keep from starving. Given the lack of any other particularly profitable industry within Arab OPEC member states, oil producers need the money generated by oil sales more than oil consumers need the petroleum.

That explains why over the entire history of the cartel, not once has an OPEC member state chosen to pursue political objectives rather than profit maximizing objectives when making decisions about oil production. The idea that oil sheiks decide how much to pump based on their feelings towards the West is a self-serving myth perpetuated by oil regimes that want foreign-policy brownie points for doing what they must do regardless.

Stelzer looks at the political situations in three key oil-producing nations and says that, if political considerations haven't trumped economics before, they are about to start:

Unfortunately, concentration on daily price movements diverts attention from the more threatening changes taking place in oil markets.

Most important is the realization by consuming countries that the internal political dynamics of their producer-suppliers trumps the needs of customers every time. Consider three of the world's largest producers, sitting on some 40 percent of the world's reserves: Russia, Saudi Arabia, and Venezuela.

Media Follows

Jonathan Last tells how the mainstream media was dragged, kicking and screaming, into coverage of the Kerry-swiftboat story.

August 27, 2004

Ruckus at GOP Convention

The Ruckus Society, a leftist organization that advocates violence, destruction of property, and other "direct action" to promote what they laughably call "progressive politics" will be in attendance at the Republican convention this week to do their thing. Lowell Ponte's article at FPM gets into who they are, and how the Teresa Heinz Kerry-controlled foundation helps to fund them. In fact, one Ruckus-trained activist is actually a key member of the Kerry-Edwards campaign team:

At the 2000 Republican Convention in Philadelphia, Ruckus-trained leftists planned to bring the city to a halt with rioting. Well-prepared police stopped them, and in the process seized improvised weapons, gasoline-soaked rags, and piano wire that the protestors intended to string across streets to trip police horses. In the melee 23 police cars were damaged and 15 officers were injured..

...One such leftwing activist is Zack Exley, who was trained by and has worked as a “workshop facilitator” for The Ruckus Society.

Since April 2004 Exley has been the Director of Online Communications and Online Organizing for the John Kerry-John Edwards 2004 presidential campaign organization. Are Senator Kerry (and the Secret Service agents who protect him) aware of Exley’s training with and for this law-breaking violent anarchist group, and of its links to members of domestic terrorist organizations?...

Can Senator Kerry be trusted to fight terrorism if he knowingly employs as one of his highest campaign staffers an extremist who has been involved with the Ruckus Society, whose leader was arrested for alleged activities involved with trying to disrupt the 2000 Republican National Convention, and that has trained radicals planning to disrupt the 2004 Republican National Convention?

A companion piece at Front Page on the Looney Left's planned violence and destruction for the GOP Convention, identifies Jamie Moran, founder of the "RNC Not Welcome" website, as one of the ringleaders of the left's attempt to silence voices with which they don't agree.

Moran has made it clear it is violence he intends to bring to the Big Apple. Moran was even more forthcoming in the Guardian. “We want to make their stay here is miserable as possible,” he told the British paper. “I'd like to see all the Republican events -- teas, backslapping lunches -- disrupted. I'd like to see corporations involved in the Iraq reconstruction get targeted -- anything from occupation to property destruction.” (Emphasis added.)

Moran's group promises to “liberate” New York City from Republicans.

In the New York Times, the world's most influential newspaper, he branded all police precautions about the protests as “fear mongering.” But in the same article, Moran praised the success of the violent 1999 WTO protests in Seattle, boasting that “direct action gets the goods.” Perhaps that gives a hint as to what he has planned.

While it is frightening enough that such people want to incite an internal communist insurrection, one can only imagine the sort of “direct action” plans they intend to use in New York to help bring this about. Already, the FBI has warned that some activist websites are listing Molotov cocktails, slingshots and bolt cutters as “offensive weapons” protestors should bring with them to the RNC.

Oh yes, they also plan to bring marbles to throw in the path of police horses in an attempt to injure the horses and their police riders. At least some of these groups are honest about their goals and their intended methods:

One of the most hyped events at the protest will be a conference entitled, "Life After Capitalism" which seeks, "to bring together and give voice to the (non-sectarian) anti-capitalist left in the United States." The group publicly states on its website that these protests intend to send a message far beyond the 2004 election: "What we face are institutional problems, problems which will only be challenged and ultimately overcome by imaginative and broad based social movements - not ballot boxes."

Is it okay for us to question their patriotism now?

Where's David?

Time magazine has produced a fairly long piece on the growth of conservatism on college campuses. Though better than I expected, it's still got plenty of tired stereotypes, like assuming that certain college students' principled opposition to racial preferences, or to abortion, necessarily places them on the political "right".

But my overriding thought upon finishing it was to wonder how Time could purport to cover this topic with no reference whatsoever to David Horowitz. Not only is Horowitz a conservative intellectual icon, but he has a high profile on college campuses as a speaker and academic freedom activist. His Students for Academic Freedom is a force for focusing attention on the issue of academic diversity on American college campuses, and taking positive steps to create an environment on campuses in which noone's speech is marginalized or intimidated.

Horowitz's issues, from opposition to reparations for slavery, to the "Campus Blacklist", have made him a lightning rod for left-liberal attacks. His willingness to take the debate to the campus, and win, has forced the academic left to look in the mirror, especially at the skin-deep nature of their diversity. That is why he is opposed so furiously by campus leftists and faculty, and wrongly portrayed by them as an extremist and a divisive ideologue.

His exclusion by Time can only be intentional. Their article is weaker for their unwillingness to acknowledge his influence.

Victor's Shakes

Just got home from watching the Indians hit four homers, two triples and three doubles...and still lose to the White Sox. It's still all about pitching, isn't it? We were five minutes late getting into Jacobs Field and it was 4-0 before our seats were warm. All hope is now gone for the team's chances to win the division, so these last 33 games are just for the growth of our young players. My 80-win prediction from March isn't looking too bad right about now.

Some time ago I had wondered about all the different complicated handshakes I had observed in the Indians dugout, and suggested that some beat writer for the team investigate for us inquiring minds.

I did read later that Victor Martinez was behind the handshake deal, and that he had different handshakes for different players. What I didn't know is that he has 24 of them, one for each teammate. It took a national writer to get to the bottom of it in a nice tribute to a budding star.

August 24, 2004

Kerry Credibility Watch

Some of the best stuff I've read about the controversy involving John Kerry's service in Vietnam I read today. First, try out this piece by Michael Novak

The title of their book is to be taken seriously: Unfit for Command. Kerry's revisionism about his own past and the meaning of the war in Vietnam cannot be allowed to go unchallenged. History hasn't been kind to Kerry's view that the Vietnamese did not care about the difference between democracy and Communism. More than a million and a half boat people gave the lie to that, as does the comparative misery of Vietnam today.

The Swift Boat Vets and hundreds of thousands of others came home from Vietnam and no one honored them; some insulted them, and even their children and families looked at them with questions in their eyes - questions induced by the public proclamations of John Kerry and others like him. Kerry's testimony before the Senate called them, and the whole structure of command, indeed the whole country, hypocritical, self-interested, even criminal.

As one vet said recently, John Kerry gave the enemy the words it was torturing soldiers to sign their names to - that they were war criminals.

To this day, John Kerry has not said publicly that his friends among the Swift Boat Vets were not war criminals. He has not apologized. In his debate with the young John O'Neill on the Dick Cavett show in 1971, Kerry could not cite a single case of a war crime committed by the Swift Boat veterans. Yet Kerry has never attempted to give his band of brothers their honor back.

Here are some of Christopher Hitchens' thoughts:

John Kerry actually claims to have shot a fleeing Viet Cong soldier from the riverbank, something that I personally would have kept very quiet about. He used to claim that he was a witness to, and almost a participant in, much worse than that. So what if he has been telling the absolute truth all along? In what sense, in other words, does his participation in a shameful war qualify him to be president of the United States? This was a combat of more than 30 years ago, fought with a largely drafted army using indiscriminate tactics and weaponry against a deep-rooted and long-running domestic insurgency. (Agent Orange, for example, was employed to destroy the vegetation in the Mekong Delta and make life easier for the Swift boats.) The experience of having fought in such a war is absolutely useless to any American today and has no bearing on any thinkable fight in which the United States could now become engaged. Thus, only the "character" issues involved are of any weight, and these are extremely difficult and subjective matters. If Kerry doesn't like people disputing his own version of his own gallantry, then it was highly incautious of him to have made it the centerpiece of his appeal.

Today, in a laudable attempt at balance, the Washington Post carried Joshua Muravchik's article, "Kerry's Cambodia Whopper". Among other things it demonstrates that Kerry's credibility problems have little to do with anything that George Bush or his campaign staff have done:

However seared he was, Kerry's spokesmen now say his memory was faulty. When the Swift boat veterans who oppose Kerry presented statements from his commanders and members of his unit denying that his boat entered Cambodia, none of Kerry's shipmates came forward, as they had on other issues, to corroborate his account. Two weeks ago Kerry's spokesmen began to backtrack. First, one campaign aide explained that Kerry had patrolled the Mekong Delta somewhere "between" Cambodia and Vietnam. But there is no between; there is a border. Then another spokesman told reporters that Kerry had been "near Cambodia." But the point of Kerry's 1986 speech was that he personally had taken part in a secret and illegal war in a neutral country. That was only true if he was "in Cambodia," as he had often said he was. If he was merely "near," then his deliberate misstatement falsified the entire speech.

And John O'Sullivan says that Sunday's Washington Post coverage of the story...

effectively routed the idea that the swift boat veterans were Republican stooges -- their campaign, said the Post, was inspired by their anger at what Kerry had said when he returned from Vietnam.

That is the albatross around Kerry's neck: There are no disputes over what he then said -- namely, that U.S. armed forces were daily carrying out the most horrendous war crimes in Vietnam with the knowledge of their senior military commanders. He is captured on film saying it to the Congress. Excerpts from it are shown on the second veterans' TV ad, interspersed with comments from Vietnam POWs who complain that they were tortured by the North Vietnamese to get them to say what Kerry said for nothing.

Well, not for nothing exactly. Kerry's testimony, given at a time when the Democrats were fiercely anti-war, was a large stepping stone to his present eminence. But the contradictions of being a war hero and an anti-war hero have finally caught up with him. That is why the swift boat veterans will ignore pleas from Bush or anyone else to halt their campaign. And why that campaign will dominate the election for some time yet -- whatever the papers say. Or don't say.

Here's Newsweek's article from their new issue, and be sure to read Michael Barone in U.S. News and World Report.

Finally, James Taranto in BOTW:

Has anyone stopped to ponder just how pathetic this is? For years we've been hearing from the Democrats that President Bush is a dummy, an illegitimate president, a liar, a military deserter, a "moral coward" and another Hitler--but now Kerry is begging Bush to use his moral authority to get him out of a fix that he himself created by running a campaign based almost entirely on "war hero" braggadocio.

Bush, of course, is wise not to do so. This isn't his battle; it's Kerry vs. Vietnam veterans--and Bush, as the Democrats never tire of reminding us, is not a Vietnam vet. The president has graciously given Kerry the benefit of the doubt, as the Times notes:

Asked if Mr. Kerry had lied about his war record, Mr. Bush said, "Mr. Kerry served admirably and he ought to be proud of his record."

That's real class. But it can't be emphasized enough that the same is true of the men who make up the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth. Over the years Kerry has trashed them, first as war criminals and now as liars--but in terms of service to their country, every member of this group is at least Kerry's equal. It wouldn't hurt if President Bush, without endorsing their charges against Kerry, said a good word about their service in Vietnam.

Stay on top of the story by checking in regularly with the bloggers that are on the beat. At the head of the class are Captain's Quarters, Power Line, and of course Instapundit. And for what's being said by the national press and opinion journalists, stop every day at RealClearPolitics.

Hate Crime Hoaxer Convicted

Back in March we covered the story of a visiting professor who couldn't find enough hate on the Claremont College campus, so she staged a hate crime of her own. After her lecture on racial intolerance, Kerri Dunn painted racist graffiti on her car and slashed her own tires before reporting the incident to the police, apparently to highlight the urgent need for lecturers such as herself on campus. After all, without hate crimes, what's a lecturer on racial intolerance to do for employment?

Now Ms. Dunn has been convicted of lying to police and attempted insurance fraud, and faces a prison term of up to three years. Good. She damaged the reputations of the Claremont students, cost students and their parents thousands of dollars in time lost from their educational pursuits, and raised the level of public cynicism regarding possible future cases of actual racial intolerance.

The acts of lying to police and committing insurance fraud are the crimes, Ms. Dunn. What you were thinking about, or whom you were "hating" when you committed them should not be at issue.

Get it?

August 23, 2004

Kerry To The Rescue

This excerpt from John O'Neill's bestselling book, Unfit For Command, tells the story of John Kerry's rescue of Jim Rassmann. Certainly Kerry's misleading account of the day's events is a fair topic for exploration and debate, especially in view of Kerry's hyping of the story during the Democratic Convention. Neither Kerry or his campaign has bothered to address the substance of the case presented by the SBVT, preferring instead to take the position (also reflexively assumed by the press) that the refutations of Kerry's version of the story are nothing more than a "smear".

Sobering Take on U.S. Economic Future

If you're having a bad day, you might want to wait a while to read "Riding for a Fall" by Peter G. Peterson in the new issue of Foreign Affairs. Here's the summary:

Three long-term trends are threatening to bankrupt America: the burgeoning costs of waging the war on terrorism, the U.S. economy's increasing reliance on foreign capital, and rapid aging throughout the developed world. Washington must understand that committing the United States to a broader global role while ignoring the financial costs of doing so is deeply irresponsible.

This is not a partisan slam on the policies of the Bush administration, but rather an attempted wake-up call to all policy-makers, Congress, and the American people to begin a frank dialogue about the problems we face, and to take responsible steps to remedy them..

The United States would greatly benefit from a serious and realistic discussion of the total cost of its long-term security agenda. It is a discussion that would lend welcome urgency to efforts to control the federal deficit, and, in particular, to reform ballooning entitlement programs. It is a discussion that would reconnect the domestic and foreign policy communities by requiring every policymaker to make a tradeoff: "How much am I willing to pay in tax hikes or benefit cuts in order to fund my security priorities?" Most of all, it is a discussion that ordinary Americans would welcome. People know in their personal and family lives that they cannot call for new sacrifices or promise new benefits without carefully considering the consequences. Why, they wonder, should things be any different in national life?

(via RealClearPolitics)


Fish dinner (2).jpg

For no reason.

August 22, 2004

Top 527 Contributors

Power Line links to a listing of the top contributors to 527 committees. Turns out that 24 of the top 25 big money contributors to 527's are Democrats. You know, the party of the little guy, and the billionaire candidate.

Back in March, David Tell tried his best to put into understandable English what 527 organizations are all about. It's worth looking at again as Kerry and his party cry foul about the swift boat vets and their advertisement, which cost chump change compared to the tens of millions spent by Democratic 527's on ads portraying Bush as a liar, a deserter, The Fuhrer, you name it.

According to Democrats, their 527 groups deserve to be heard, the flimsiness of their evidence and the distortions of reality in their charges notwithstanding. The swift boat group however, should be silenced, by the FEC if necessary. What next? Book burnings?

August 20, 2004

Malkin vs. Matthews

Michelle Malkin recounts her rude treatment yesterday by MSNBC's Hardball host, Spittin' Chris Matthews. I heard some audio segments from the show today in which Matthews simply would not allow Michelle to finish a thought or a sentence, so uncomfortable was he with his own lame position, which included trying to put the swift boat officers' words into Michelle's mouth, and/or make her an administration spokesperson, (she had read the book being discussed, while he had not.)

As always, Malkin acquitted herself well, and I was glad that she was then given a forum to state her case (and plug her new book) today as a rare guest on Rush's show. After looking at the transcript of the Hardball show, it's clear that Michelle was in a battle of wits with an unarmed opponent. Bravo, MM.

UPDATE 8/23: Michelle links to this "Day By Day" cartoon by Chris Muir

Shades Of Nothing

Wretchard wrestles with the definitions of nihilism and antinomianism in his latest Belmont Club post, and concludes:

In the current context, radical Islamists are better characterized as antinomians than nihilists. Having been anointed by Allah, they may perform any act, tell any lie, do anything and still regard themselves as being in the right. The Western Left on the other hand is philosophically much closer to nihilism. Nothing is inherently true and that makes it possible for a Leftist to believe two contradictory things simultaneously. Orwell gave this process a name: doublethink. In this mental universe one can burn the Flag and insist on its protection; work to destroy the Constitution and claim Constitutional liberty to do it; march in a Gay Pride parade in the morning and in a fundamentalist Islamic rally in the afternoon. Both are mentally wonderful places to be for those who wish to always be right; the first by definition and the second by virtue of the fact that wrong cannot exist. Personally, I wouldn't want to live there.

Darfur Disaster

The ongoing conflict in Sudan is put into historical context and the very limited options for resolving it are explored in this excellent piece from the New York Review of Books. (via aldaily.com)

Tax Cut Realities

Two good stories on the economy at NRO today. First, Stephen Moore demolishes the Democrats' contention that the Bush tax cuts benefitted the rich at the expense of the middle and lower classes:

A recent report from the Treasury Department confirms that the rich are paying a bigger share of taxes than they would if the Bush tax cuts hadn’t passed. The Treasury estimates that the top 1 percent of earners will pay about 32.3 percent of taxes this year, which is the same as the CBO estimate. The Treasury also estimates, however, that absent the tax cuts, the top 1 percent would be paying only 30.5 percent of taxes, down 10 percent from 2001.

The Treasury data confirm that the real impact of the tax cuts on the rich has been precisely the opposite of what the CBO study suggests. By resuscitating the economy and spurring a turnaround in income growth, the tax cuts have increased the share paid by the rich. Real income growth has increased significantly since the 2003 tax cuts were passed, increasing at faster than a 6 percent rate in the first two quarters of 2004. With the economy now growing more quickly, we can expect the tax shares paid by high-income groups to increase.

Then Donald Luskin demonstrates that the losses in average income experienced by Americans from 2000 to 2002, which is cited by Democrats as evidence of a "middle class squeeze", is actually accounted for entirely by income losses for Americans earning more than $1 million per year. The lowest income category shrank during that period, and the middle classes grew significantly...

It’s plain as day: The richer you were, the worse you got hit. So why wasn’t the headline “The Rich Get Poorer, and The Poor Get Richer”? Because the Times and the rest of the liberal establishment will never admit that such a thing occurred during George W. Bush’s presidency.

August 19, 2004

Thugs In Victory

All is not well in Venezuela. There are calls for an investigation of the vote, since many pre-election polls had the recall of Chavez winning by a margin of 12-18 percentage points. The Providence Journal says there is reason to be skeptical of the election outcome:

On the eve of the balloting, polling stations were reassigned in areas with heavy concentrations of anti-Chavez voters ... sometimes hours away.

Fingerprint scanners malfunctioned, causing delays and discouraging voters. Supporters of the petition for the president's recall were not allowed to be present when the ballots were counted, and the state election agency would not authorize audits of paper receipts issued by electronic machines.

Independent exit polls had shown a clear majority of Venezuelans favoring the recall, but the official results were almost mirror images of the exit figures....Not least, and most suspicious, fewer people voted to recall Hugo Chavez than had signed the referendum petition last fall.

An audit is now underway. From opinionjournal.com, Thor Halvorssen describes the post-referendum behavior of the Chavez regime soldiers:
CARACAS, Venezuela--On Monday afternoon, dozens of people assembled in the Altamira Plaza, a public square in a residential neighborhood here that has come to symbolize nonviolent dissent in Venezuela. The crowd was there to question the accuracy of the results that announced a triumph for President Hugo Chávez in Sunday's recall referendum.

Within one hour of the gathering, just over 100 of Lt. Col. Chávez's supporters, many of them brandishing his trademark army parachutist beret, began moving down the main avenue towards the crowd in the square. Encouraged by their leader's victory, this bully-boy group had been marching through opposition neighborhoods all day. They were led by men on motorcycles with two-way radios. From afar they began to taunt the crowd in the square, chanting, "We own this country now," and ordering the people in the opposition crowd to return to their homes. All of this was transmitted live by the local news station. The Chávez group threw bottles and rocks at the crowd. Moments later a young woman in the square screamed for the crowd to get down as three of the men with walkie-talkies, wearing red T-shirts with the insignia of the government-funded "Bolivarian Circle," revealed their firearms. They began shooting indiscriminately into the multitude.

A 61-year-old grandmother was shot in the back as she ran for cover. The bullet ripped through her aorta, kidney and stomach. She later bled to death in the emergency room. An opposition congressman was shot in the shoulder and remains in critical care. Eight others suffered severe gunshot wounds. Hilda Mendoza Denham, a British subject visiting Caracas for her mother's 80th birthday, was shot at close range with hollow-point bullets from a high-caliber pistol. She now lies sedated in a hospital bed after a long and complicated operation. She is my mother.

I spoke with her minutes before the doctors cut open her wounds. She looked at me, frightened and traumatized, and sobbed: "I was sure they were going to kill me, they just kept shooting at me."

Jimmy Carter, the man who said we could trust North Korea in 1994, has given his assurances that the election result is legitimate.

August 18, 2004

We Have An Identity, Thank You

Today was ESPN.com's day to feature the Browns Training Camp and 2004 season outlook. Len Pasquarelli and I agree on the early returns on Kellen Winslow Jr.:

Ah, yes, Winslow The Younger. The "Warrior." The "Promised One." The callow rookie who, on Tuesday between practices, suggested that his teammates need to match his intensity level. The guy with the physical skills of a future Hall of Fame inductee and a player who might just redefine the position, but a young man whose tongue keeps flapping while his brain is apparently in neutral.


I realize that the team needs players with spirit and intensity. I was prepared months ago to set aside my own prior observations that Winslow might just be a complete jerk as nothing but an intense pro-Buckeye bias. I allowed that he was, after all, only 20 years old and would doubtless mature once he donned the orange helmet.

So with the ink not yet dry on a check for $16 million in signing bonus, Winslow takes the field for the Browns first exhibition game. It's his first chance to make an impression on the Cleveland fans. He catches one pass, but a few plays later he tangles with an opponent after a play, grabs and twists the player's facemask, and throws a roundhouse punch at his head. He is deservedly penalized for 15 yards, costing the team their only real shot at a touchdown in the game, and is sent to the sidelines.

Incredibly, in the aftermath of this stupid and embarrassing behavior, the incident is now being spun by some teammates and writers as simply "intensity".

"That's just the way I play," Winslow said Tuesday. "I know only speed." The guy brings his "A" game to work every day. In his case, "A" means attitude. He wants his teammates to follow his lead.

So hungry is this football market for "Ozzie Newsome II", or anything that might help us win, that we have redefined unsportsmanlike conduct as "bringing one's 'A' Game". I observe lots of college and NFL players who play an all-out-all-the-time, "one speed" brand of aggressive football without committing personal fouls and verbally taunting opposing players. It's hustle. It's emotion channelled into intense physical play. It's a demonstration of one's love for the game, which is after all just a game, not a war.

The spin by team officials and players is understandable, if regrettable. They need a love affair between the fans and, well...anybody on this team. With Winslow off to a start that makes him appear, shall we say, less than likeable, the strategy is to portray his behavior as something that more, not fewer Browns players should engage in. When it was suggested that his aggressiveness had rubbed off on some of his teammates, the thought seemed to please the rookie:

"I just think we want a name for ourselves," he said. "We just need change around here. Just going 100 percent every play. Making an identity for ourselves."
Nope. Not the kind of identity I'm looking for as a lifelong Browns fan. Show this guy some game film of Jim Brown, Paul Warfield, Ozzie Newsome, Leroy Kelly, or Clay Matthews. Were those guys intense enough for you, Kellen? They represent our team's identity.

A caller to a radio talk show on Monday shrugged off the incident, and I guess maybe I should too. He reminded the listening audience that when we take the field in the opener with Baltimore, we'll be lining up against one guy who is accused of conspiring to distribute large amounts of cocaine, and another who was involved in the knife-murders of two young men. Should the Browns strive to be more like those guys? They won the Division last year.

I'm not giving up on Winslow. All rookies make dumb mistakes. But let's stop making excuses for inexcusable behavior. You're a Cleveland Brown now, Mr. Winslow. From Paul Brown to Otto Graham to Frank Ryan to Bernie Kosar, being a Brown has meant being a class act. Get with the program, rook.

New To The Blogroll

Take a look at Digitus, Finger & Co., a blog by Neil Uchitel, with whom we recently swapped links. Neil has been excerpting and commenting on Ken Timmerman's book "The French Betrayal of America", here, and here. The Chirac-in-Bed-with-Saddam theme, and the Timmerman book have been featured in one post or another around here as well. I like what I've read of Neil's stuff so far.

Also new in the right hand column is Rosenblog, by Seattle-based journalist Matt Rosenberg. I first saw him at NRO but he's published all over the place. Stop and say hey. (If nothing else, admire the creative genius he demonstrated in naming his blog)

A few other recent aditions to the blogroll:

The Commons (featuring Iain Murray and Jonathan Adler, among others.)

Captain's Quarters

Michelle Malkin

The Conservative Brotherhood

The Hatemongers Quarterly

Growth By Conquest

According to Lawrence Auster, there's nothing about conquest, coercion or deception that is inconsistent with the basic strategy of Islam for moving toward an Islamic society. We give ourselves too much credit for influencing the tactics and decisions of the Islamist movement. From his FPM article The Key to Jihadist Ideology and Strategy:

People on the anti-war left believe that Al Qaeda attacked us because we're imperialist, or because we're racist, or because we don't do enough for Third-World hunger (yes, there are people who actually believe the hunger argument; most of them are Episcopalians). By contrast, many people on the pro-war right, especially President Bush, believe that the Islamists hate us for our freedoms, opportunities, and overall success as a society. In other words, the left believes that the Islamists hate us for our sins, and the right believes that they hate us for our virtues. Both sides commit the same narcissistic fallacy of thinking that the Islamist holy war against the West revolves solely around ourselves, around the moral drama of our goodness or our wickedness, rather than having something to do with Islam itself.

August 17, 2004

Podhoretz: World War IV

An essay on the War on Terror by the incomparable Norman Podhoretz, from Commentary, the magazine he edited for 35 years or so. From the introduction to a piece that is subtitled "How It Started, What It Means, and Why We Have to Win":

...we are only in the very early stages of what promises to be a very long war, and Iraq is only the second front to have been opened in that war: the second scene, so to speak, of the first act of a five-act play. In World War II and then in World War III, we persisted in spite of impatience, discouragement, and opposition for as long as it took to win, and this is exactly what we have been called upon to do today in World War IV.

For today, no less than in those titanic conflicts, we are up against a truly malignant force in radical Islamism and in the states breeding, sheltering, or financing its terrorist armory. This new enemy has already attacked us on our own soil—a feat neither Nazi Germany nor Soviet Russia ever managed to pull off—and openly announces his intention to hit us again, only this time with weapons of infinitely greater and deadlier power than those used on 9/11. His objective is not merely to murder as many of us as possible and to conquer our land. Like the Nazis and Communists before him, he is dedicated to the destruction of everything good for which America stands. It is this, then, that (to paraphrase George W. Bush and a long string of his predecessors, Republican and Democratic alike) we in our turn, no less than the "greatest generation" of the 1940’s and its spiritual progeny of the 1950’s and after, have a responsibility to uphold and are privileged to defend.

August 16, 2004

Why Did The Forest Cross The Road?

Check out this amazing video of a landslide in Japan. (via Coolios)

Bush Bashing Books

George Shadroui examines the phenomenon of Bush-hatred as expressed in the avalanche of books it has engendered. He pays particular attention to the two most influential of the books, those by Richard Clarke and Joe Wilson. Along the way he explodes myths and exposes the rank partisanship of the attacks by the Left on issues ranging from Kyoto to Halliburton to Enron. A pretty long piece, but one that might be a "keeper" for later in the campaign.

Jonah Goldberg has some thoughts on Bush-hatred and how the Bush campaign has so far failed to capitalize politically (as Clinton did) on the fact that most of Middle America is repelled by this extremist "hate" rhetoric.

Chrenkoff's Good News

Please read "Good News From Iraq, Part 8", from blogger Arthur Chrenkoff, who continues to fill the void created by our media's reluctance to report positive developments in Iraq. They have an election to win, you understand.

August 15, 2004

Sleep Tight

With the Quantum Sleeper, you'll have no more worries about bio-terror, natural disasters, or armed marauders disturbing your slumber. Just lie down and pull up the bulletproof cover.

Saudis Covertly Fund Shills

Daniel Pipes exposes the way that the Saudis influence U.S. public opinion by providing "speakers" on Saudi Arabia who are secretly on the Saudi payroll. Check out also his more involved National Interest article on the corrupt U.S.- Saudi relationship. (via LGF)

From The Air

Aerial1 (2).jpg

Some pretty cool aerial photography. (via flabber.nl)

Here are some more from way up.

August 14, 2004

"Democracy Inaction"

Who says MoveOn.org is beyond parody? Here's just one item from the new site MoveOnPlease.org:

Everything Bad Fault Of Rumsfeld

Scientists have found Secretary of Defense, Donald Rumsfeld, genetically culpable for every contrary event and effect in modern history, including morbid obesity, the Philadelphia Phillies' 23 game losing streak in 1959 and Carrot Top.

Studies revealed even more daunting scenarios as the Rumsfeld-effect not only results from direct contact, but that second-hand liason with the Secretary of Evil can cause severe conservative conjunctivitis. Los Angeles restaurants and bars have recently banned Rumsfeld, and any talk of Rumsfeld, except for restricted outdoor areas.


(via dgci)

What A "Sensitive" War Looks Like

Denis Boyles on how John Kerry's "sensitive" foreign policy would work. One need look no further than Sudan: (ellipses mine - Ed.)

For a good example of how a sensitive, Frenchified foreign policy works, let's look at the warring, unhappy natives in faraway Darfur, a dusty stretch of the Sudanese way-outback. According to the U.S. Congress, there's a genocide going on in Darfur, and if we apply John Kerry's secret plan, it's all being handled just right...

About two years ago, this long-running conflict appeared likely to eventually morph into an Ethiopian-scale disaster, something that would require the intervention of, like, rock stars or something if disaster were to be averted. For months, NGOs and various U.N. agencies, along with the Bush administration, kept warning that things were going to go very south in Darfur.

When the number of displaced reached a million or so, and when the dead numbered in the tens of thousands, and when the victims of rape and mutilation could no longer be counted at all, and when the entire population stood at the brink of starvation, and when all the rock stars were busy planning to go out pimping for Kerry, the U.S. did what John Kerry says we should always in order to wage a more sensitive campaign for democracy and justice. America went to the U.N. The Daily Telegraph reported that the U.S. secretary of State stood in the middle of a big Sudanese nowhere, spoke softly, and threatened the killers with the big Nerf stick: knock it off, he said, or face the wrath of the U.N....

The U.S. wanted to move decisively, but the resolution offered by the Bush administration went off the tracks because it contained the word "sanctions." "Sanctions" is not a sensitive word... Who on the Security Council had objected to the word "sanctions" and thrown the process into the slow lane? And why?

I'll spoil the suspense here, because you already know the answer. It was the French, of course....The Sudan sits on what some experts think is a pool of oil the size of Araby, practically. And, as the BBC later nearly misreported...the French have an oil deal with Sudan, just as they did with the Iraqis.

France is not our ally. France acts in the interests of France. Why would we expect anything else? They stood to make billions in revenues on Iraqi oil fields if Saddam had stayed in power. They have similar dollars at stake in Sudan, and everything could proceed according to plan if the pesky United States would quit harping about a little genocide.

N.Y. Times On Oil-For-Food

Maybe the relentless pursuit of the Oil-For-Food scandal story by Claudia Rosett has shamed the N.Y. Times into some increased attention to the biggest fraud in history. Early in this excellent article by Susan Sachs and Judith Miller, they get right to the point: (free registration required)

Multiple investigations now under way in Washington and Iraq and at the United Nations all center on one straightforward question: How did Mr. Hussein amass so much money while under international sanctions? An examination of the program, the largest in the United Nations' history, suggests an equally straightforward answer: The United Nations let him do it.

"Everybody said it was a terrible shame and against international law, but there was really no enthusiasm to tackle it," said Peter van Walsum, a Dutch diplomat who headed the Iraq sanctions committee in 1999 and 2000, recalling the discussions of illegal oil surcharges. "We never had clear decisions on anything. So we just in effect condoned things."

It's Official

Tribe Fever is back.

I haven't had much to say in this space recently about the Indians spurt to within striking distance of the Central Division lead. They have been known to tank immediately after some of my more fawningly optimistic posts, and I'm a superstitious soul where my home teams are concerned.

I have also expressed my chagrin at the lack of enthusiasm and spirit in the Jacobs Field crowds, especially this year and in 2003. It has seemed like everyone forgot how much the packed house and the relentless, deafening support of the crowd helped the team win so much in the 90's. Back then the organization didn't have to display the pathetic "Make Some Noise!" instructions on the scoreboard at key moments so the fans would know what to do.

But something has been happening the last few nights that makes me think that, not only can this team's hot streak survive a Wizblog jinx, but that the fans of Cleveland are reawakening to embrace a whole new group of kids, over-achievers this time, and the "chemistry" at the Jake is once again palpable.

A few weeks ago, the team had battled back from several games under .500, and were coming home on a roll from a road trip to face off with the Chicago White Sox in a big two-game series. The stage was set for them to make a statement that they could contend for the Division title. Well, they proceeded to lay a big fat egg, getting shut out on consecutive nights by Freddy Garcia and Mark Buehrle.

That el foldo had been on my mind as the big series with the Twins loomed this weekend. I was at the ballpark last night, and in the early part of the game, with the Indians down 2-0, the crowd was disappointing, not only in numbers (23,000) considering the hot streak, but also in terms of spunk.

Ben Broussard's tie-breaking, pinch-hit grand slam put a charge into them though, and the feeling carried over to tonight's game, when the buzz from the 90's seemed to be back, right from the start. Broussard's buzz continued as well, when he jacked a monster home run in the first inning to just about end the suspense right there, putting the Indians up 5-0.

My standard line (and my sincere feeling) in the last few weeks has been that the Twins will probably still pull away to win the Central, having the superior pitching and an array of veterans and solid young hitters. But then, back in March I predicted that the Indians would finish two games under .500, and that the Royals had the best team in the division. Nostradamus I ain't.

The 2004 Twins are without A.J. Pierzynski and Doug Mientkiewicz, two veteran leaders from previous years, and the team I saw tonight didn't have the look of a cinch pennant winner, talented though they may be. The Indians still haven't made a signifcant move to get better for the stretch run, (and if other teams are holding out for Grady Sizemore or Brandon Phillips in trade deals, then I hope we stand pat.) We're not even at the three-quarter pole, and I'm not marking off playoff game dates on my calendar yet, but Shapiro and Wedge have something special going on here, even if it doesn't bear fruit this season. Pretty soon the national media may be forced to sit up and take notice.

August 13, 2004

Kerry-Cambodia Story

Glenn Reynolds has been all over the story of John Kerry's dishonest yarn-spinning about secret missions and gunfights in Cambodia in 1968. Start here, and follow up here, here, and here to get reaction from "New Media" while we wait to see if "Old Media" will deign to cover the story at all.

UPDATE 8/14: More from Captain Ed on what looks like a long-running deception by Kerry regarding David Alston, one of Kerry's supporters who spoke at the convention. Lots more coverage of the story at Ed's place, Captains Quarters. See also Dave Kopel's summary.

Trashing A Good Economy

The best kept secrets in America are that the economy is growing rapidly, unemployment is low, and good-paying jobs are leading the way in job creation. Contributing to the distortion is the rhetoric of the Kerry campaign. Donald Luskin at NRO:

For example, he claimed that “here at home, wages are falling.” That’s a lie. According to official numbers from the Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics, average hourly earnings have risen 2.1 percent after adjustment for inflation since George W. Bush took office. Over the comparable period in President Clinton’s first term, they rose only four-tenths of one percent.

In the same speech Kerry claimed that the new jobs created during Bush’s first term “pay $9,000 less than the jobs that have been lost.” That’s a lie, too. Any honest economist could have told Kerry that statistics are detailed enough to prove that such a specific claim simply does not exist. Kerry, however, sourced his number from the liberal big-labor-backed think tank, the Economic Policy Institute. The EPI’s number is based on nothing better than Bureau of Labor Statistics data on changing employment levels in broad industry groups — statistics that say absolutely nothing about the relative value of jobs gained and lost. That $9,000 number might just as well have been pulled from thin air.

If Kerry was after the truth, he could have looked to the non-partisan Annenberg Public Policy Center of the University of Pennsylvania. Annenberg has obtained better data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics that breaks down job gains and losses by specific occupations, not just broad industry groups. This data shows “strong growth in higher-paying employment categories over the past year — more than 1.1 million gained — and stagnation in lower-paying job categories.” But, of course, we don’t hear Kerry quoting this research.

Let’s get real. While it would be nice to have the unemployment rate back down to 3.8 percent — where it briefly stood for one manic month four years ago at about the same time the Nasdaq was at 5,000 — at 5.5 percent today, it is better than the average rate of the past half century. More, the current unemployment rate is exactly where it was at the comparable point of the “Clinton prosperity,” those halcyon days that Democrats never stop waxing nostalgic about.

And in terms of overall economic growth, you don’t have to be nostalgic. These are the good old days. Gross domestic product adjusted for inflation has grown over the last twelve months at a faster clip than during any twelve-month period of the eight-year Clinton administration.

And if this economy is so bad, just what is John Kerry going to do to fix it? Well, we know he’s going to raise taxes on those he calls “America’s wealthiest people.” In case you can’t break this code, he’s talking about you.

Hanson on Bush Hatred

George Bush has turned his back on the Eastern elite. He doesn't care what they think, and he doesn't seek their approval. That's a big part of what makes them loathe him. From Victor Davis Hanson:

George Bush is a traitor of the most frightening sort to his class: He is not an ideological tribune like Roosevelt or Kennedy, but someone far worse, who seems to dislike the entire baggage of sophisticated, highbrow society. An Eastern blueblood who initially did all the right things — Prep School, the Ivy league, Skull and Bones — he then, accent and all, not only went back to rural Texas, but embraced a popular culture antithetical to the preppie, wonkish, aristocratic world of the East Coast elite...

In short, the Left hates George W. Bush for who he is rather than what he does. Southern conservatism, evangelical Christianity, a black-and-white worldview, and a wealthy man's disdain for elite culture — none by itself earns hatred, of course, but each is a force multiplier of the other and so helps explain the evolution of disagreement into pathological venom.

August 11, 2004

Come Clean

It's time for the United Nations to quit playing games with the documents relating to the Oil-For-Food affair. Kudos, as ever, to Claudia Rosett, for keeping the heat on the players in the various investigations of UNSCAM.

August 10, 2004

Warning: Vacation Pics

I mentioned that we were going to camp for a week in Grand Marais, Michigan, up on the U.P. on Lake Superior. And I've got some pictures up online now, if you've never been in the neighborhood and want to check it out. Without getting into a travelogue, I'll just say that we were treated to a week straight of sunny 78-degree days, and averaged 10 hours of sleep per 55-degree night. We managed quite nicely the complete withdrawal from cell phones and the Internet, and outside of two day-long side trips, we stuck around town (pop.350), cooked over an open fire, and did little other than read and walk the beach.

We didn't encounter any of the black bear or wolves that inhabit the thick pine and birch forests we were visiting, and the only porcupines we saw were of the roadkill variety. Driving through some of the small Upper Peninsula towns, it seemed it could just as easily have been 1954 as a half-century later. The disconnect about this area is that it is so strikingly beautiful, and yet so desolate and underutilized as a resource, at least by human beings. Cindy and I talked about how the isolation is part of what makes this place we love seem like it's "ours", because it so manifestly "belongs" to no one else.

W's Blog A Threat To Security

Something else I missed while on my 10 day isolation from the Internet. Who knew the President has a blog? (Hat tip to my son, Andy) My favorite bit from George's web journal (according to The Onion):

"Talking to Cheney and I realized I forgot the nuclear launch codes again. It's so simple too. My birthday, Dad's birthday, and 1776. Sounds easy, I know, but there's so much going on lately I can't keep anything straight. I'll say them over and over tonight while I'm going to sleep. That helps me remember things sometime. Tends to piss Laura off, tho. She's been so on the rag with all of the campaign stuff we have to do."

August 9, 2004

Vietnam Today - Jacoby

Jeff Jacoby thinks we've put too much emphasis on John Kerry's four short months in Vietnam 30 years ago and not enough on what the living conditions are for the 80 million Vietnamese citizens today:

Few Americans have made an issue of Vietnam's harsh denial of political and religious liberty. One who has is Representative Chris Smith of New Jersey, an outspoken defender of human rights worldwide and author of a bill linking growth in US aid to Vietnam to "substantial progress" in Vietnam's human rights record. Smith's bill, the Vietnam Human Rights Act, passed the House by an overwhelming 410-1 vote in 2001. But it never got a hearing or a vote in the Senate, where it was blocked by the then-chairman of the East Asian and Pacific Affairs subcommittee -- John Kerry.

August 8, 2004

Connecting Dots

Claudia Rosett asks if it's not too far-fetched to wonder if it's a complete coincidence that Osama bin Laden's finances got healthy in a hurry about the same time that Saddam Hussein came into a few billion extra dollars. (This article is a few days old, but I had missed it while I was out of town, and wanted to maintain my habit of posting anything Ms. Rosett has to say on the Oil-For-Food scandal.)

Humor For Married People

I like Larry Miller.

Chrenkoff's "Good News"

We're back from 10 days in the wilderness with much to catch up on. More on the trip later, but I wanted to get Arthur Chrenkoff's latest update posted. Here's "Good News From Iraq, Part 7". It's not a counterweight to the doom and gloom of the media, but it's a start...

Over a month into sovereignty and Iraq still continues to generate a flood of bad news stories, at least as far as the mainstream media are concerned. Foreign workers keep getting kidnapped and occasionally executed; terrorist bombs continue to explode throughout Baghdad and other cities, although the victims are now overwhelmingly Iraqi civilians. Meanwhile, on the other side of the world, learned commissions deliver their reports, providing the media with fresh opportunities to talk about intelligence failures and strategic blunders.

And yet, for every foreigner taken hostage there are stories of hundreds of Iraqis who can now enjoy in many different ways their regained liberty. For every terrorist attack with all its terror and bloodshed there are countless stories of courage, determination, and resourcefulness on the part of the Iraqi people. And for every intelligence failure by the government agencies then, there is an intelligence failure by the media now. Which is why you are likely to have recently missed some of the stories below.

Check it out, and follow some links.