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February 28, 2005


Amidst an orgy of media overreporting and unconcealed glee over Maurice Clarett's NFL combine performance, ESPN The Magazine, the outfit that always wants to give Clarett one more benefit of the doubt, has the inside story of why he ran a fullback-like 40 yard dash time on Saturday. He had lifted weights, he had bulked up, he was weakened by last-minute weight loss, he was stressed out, he was nervous, blah, blah..

It was a little more difficult for the ever-credulous magazine to come up with an excuse for Clarett quitting and refusing to complete the combine drills after the bad 40 times. Reports from coaches and scouts had them far more concerned about this recurring character flaw than they were about the slow 40's.

The press does give undue weight to Clarett's every move. There were some other players at the combine, yes? (We Buckeye bloggers on the other hand, are expected to report on MoC's antics, out of spite if nothing else.) I've been sensing a kind of league-wide NFL vendetta against Clarett that had me wondering the other day if it might even extend to some slow stopwatch fingers at the combines, so surprising were the 40 times. But that's just nuts, right? OK, right.

I still think that Clarett has 1st round talent. Some coach will decide that he can reach this kid and tap into that talent, and take a flyer on him. At some point along the way, that coach will probably regret having done so, because Clarett isn't likely to stop being a combative, angry, self-centered media hound overnight. But if it's a good match, he will become a productive NFL back

February 27, 2005

More HST Bloggage

There are some great posts and lively commenting going on at Chicago Boyz on the life and work of Hunter S. Thompson and the lessons of the Sixties. Start here if you're into in such things, and be sure to check this post by Lexington Green. Here's a taste of Green's HST:

...he is a significant figure in American culture, and is way beyond political ideology...His late ravings were not worth reading, but that doesn't take away from his achievement. His first book, and my favorite one, Hells Angels, is at least as much a warning about violent anarchy as it is a celebration, and HST's ruthless accuracy in depicting it, including his own foolhardiness getting involved with them, is the key to the book. He loves the Angels because they don't give a damn and they do whatever they want, and live lives of total licentious individualism, and they drive their bikes at death-defying and death-inducing speed because they want to, man, you got a problem with that? And, but for pure luck, one of them would have literally bashed his brains out with a rock. And he rightly says that they need to be exterminated. He doesn't bother to resolve all this. He just gets on his motorcycle, and goes 100.

There is a pathologically extreme version of American individualism and freedom, and HST personified that, and this is captured especially in his Fear and Loathing books. That was a subcurrent in hippiedom which I cannot entirely detest since I feel its appeal. Most people outgrew it. HST never did.

February 26, 2005

Low Pressure

The good news is the Browns have the third pick in the NFL Draft. The bad news is they'll probably end up using that pick on a player who they might be just as likely to get 8th or 11th, so devoid is this draft of "Top Five" caliber talent. At least that's what Len Pasquarelli's survey said:

Every draft is about options. But if a quick survey Thursday of general managers, head coaches and owners resulted in anything remotely legitimate, it is this: Neither the 49ers nor any other team in the top five will have the option of trading down in the first round because no one is anxious to deal up.

Over the last several drafts, there has been a perception at combine time that the player chosen with the 20th overall pick might be just as good as the one chosen with, say, the fifth spot in the first round, and there has been some validity to that. Such a feeling is particularly palpable here, as personnel directors and scouts stroll the corridors of the Indiana Convention Center, already convinced that holding the rights to a top-10 pick in the 2005 lottery is like owning the deed to 10 acres of swampland.

Compounding the Browns' problem is that it's a particularly weak draft in offensive linemen, the team's critical area of need. If we can't trade down, and we're going to be overpaying no matter who we select, why not just draft this guy , Alex Barron, the best left tackle in the draft. Unless you sign a top free agent left tackle, you can't wait another year to address that position with a long term solution. Somehow I think that if we keep the third pick, we're more likely to see Antrell Rolle, Braylon Edwards or Alex Smith as the selection.

The Browns have a recent track record of drafting people with Top Five picks that they felt would become special players, only to be consistently wrong. Now they are facing the prospect of having to draft in the top five without even that expectation. I guess that kind of takes the pressure off. I am comforted by my sense that, even though Phil Savage is only 37, we finally have grownups in charge of running the team.

Pasquarelli's article has loads of stuff on free agency, trades and player moves. He suggests the Browns may be inquiring about New England backup QB Rohan Davey, after also putting out feelers to Tampa Bay about acquiring Chris Simms.

It's a love-hate thing with me and ESPN.com. I lot of things they do annoy me. (Like singling out Ohio State for scrutiny in college athletics. Like covering up half their home page with pop-up advertisements. Like charging money to read every utterance of Mel Kiper Jr.) But I love the site for what I think it is; the unrivaled resource for online sports information and opinion. FWIW.

Pasquarelli's running mate, John Clayton has a piece on the attempted re-invention of Maurice Clarett. This may be the shortest story of the NFL season. I just heard that MoC ran 4.74 and a 4.82 in the forty -yard dash at the combine workouts today, pretty much consigning him to the draft's second day, unless he can improve significantly on those times in private workouts. I had been predicting 3rd round for Clarett, thinking some G.M. would roll the dice on a guy with "big upside", but that upside is getting harder and harder to make out in the distance. To be fair, Clarett was never a "speed" guy, like between 4.5 and 4.6, but you almost never saw him get caught from behind. Still, those forty times today are shocking for a guy who has had nothing to do for two years except to prepare for this day.

Ohio For Blackwell

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Wizblog has joined the Ohio For Blackwell blog as member and contributor. This new venture, conceived and created by Matt Naugle of The Open End, will work in support of the candidacy of Republican Ken Blackwell for Governor of Ohio in 2006. Here is the official Blackwell For Governor-2006 website.

By all indications, Mr. Blackwell has become the frontrunner for the Republican nomination. A December poll showed him surging past Betty Montgomery and Jim Petro, his two principal GOP primary challengers. But recent reports indicate that Petro is ahead of Blackwell in fundraising and has recently hired the head of George Bush's Ohio campaign to manage his run for Governor.

I am supporting Blackwell because I believe we need a conservative in the Governor's office in this state, not just a Republican. The Taft administration has been a disaster for the state in terms of tax policy and it's failure to attract and retain business and jobs. Blackwell is campaigning on a platform of tax reform, budget restraint and a pro-business climate aimed at job creation. I'm not naive about any candidates' ability to deliver on all of his pledges, but so far, Mr. Blackwell has shown me that he may just possess the personal charisma and the political skills to actually pull off a good portion of his proposed agenda.

I must admit that before he held state office as Treasurer and then Secretary of State in Ohio, I was not really aware of his resumé. Here is just one section of Ken Blackwell's very impressive bio:

Mr. Blackwell's public service includes terms as Mayor of Cincinnati, an undersecretary at the U.S. Department of Housing & Urban Development, U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Human Rights Commission, and Treasurer of the State of Ohio. He is currently a vice president of the National Association of Secretaries of State, a member of the board of directors of the Campaign Finance Institute in Washington, D.C., a member of the Advisory Panel of the Federal Elections Commission, and a member of the board of directors of the John M. Ashbrook Center for Public Affairs (Ashland University). He is president of the National Electronic Commerce Coordinating Council, a member of the Harvard Policy Group on Network-Enabled Services and Government, and a member of the Advisory Board of The Princeton Review.

The members of the Ohio For Blackwell blog are listed under the Blackwell banner on the blogroll at right. Visit often for campaign news and information. There are already a number of great posts up there to kick things off. Many thanks to Matt for his vision and hard work. Volunteer to help in the official Blackwell campaign here.


February 25, 2005

1/30/05 - Turning Point

Bill Kristol's editorial on the significance of the Iraqi elections features several grudging admissions from opponents of the Iraq invasion that, just maybe, Bush was right.

Let Me Count The Ways

So it's been well established that Ward Churchill is a liar and a fraud. But it turns out that his lying and fraud are multi-layered, and even more shameless than we had imagined. Michelle Malkin has all the details of the latest disclosures.

Not News

There's no real news to report from Spring Training outside of drug use denials, so Jim Caple makes some up:

ATLANTA: Pitching coach Leo Mazzone picked up two hitchhikers on his way to the ballpark one morning, and by noon had taught them how to hit 90 on the radar gun and throw curveballs that roll off the table. They are expected to crack the rotation and win 15 games apiece...

NEW YORK YANKEES: Even though he was the first to mention a powerful and sudden odor in the vicinity of his locker, 1B Jason Giambi refused to admit he cut the cheese, with his lawyers claiming that "just because he smelt it, it does not in any way prove that he in fact dealt it."

February 24, 2005


If you've missed Susan Estrich's silly email war with the L.A. Times' Michael Kinsley over the lack of female op-ed writers on the Times editorial pages, not to worry, you can catch up in a hurry. But you really should read Heather Mac Donald's column at City Journal today in which she demonstrates why she gets op-ed gigs at the Times, and proves there's no such thing as "the woman's perspective".

It is curious how feminists, when crossed, turn into shrill, hysterical harpies—or, in the case of MIT’s Nancy Hopkins, delicate flowers who collapse at the slightest provocation—precisely the images of women that they claim patriarchal sexists have fabricated to keep them down. Actually, Estrich’s hissy fit is more histrionic than anything the most bitter misogynist could come up with on his own...

..."Women’s liberation," for the radical feminists, means liberation to think like a robot, mindlessly following the dictates of the victimologists. But if all bona fide women think alike, then publishing one female writer every year or so should suffice, since we know in advance what she will say.

Read it all. Game. Set. Match. (via RCP)

Long Serve

Tennis court.JPG

Andre Agassi and Roger Federer try out the surface on the world's highest tennis court at the Burj Al Arab hotel in Dubai. More pics here.


Thomas Sowell:

If the government gave a $5,000 subsidy to anyone who buys an automobile, do you doubt that the price of automobiles would go up -- perhaps by $5,000? Why then does no one see any connection between government subsidies to college students and rising tuition?

Peggy Noonan

Hillary. Forget her prepared speeches, put aside her moderate statements on Iraq and abortion. This is how you know she's running for president in 2008. Ten days ago a reporter interviewed her in the halls of the Senate...and asked if she planned to run for president. She did not say, "I'm too busy serving the people of New York to think about the future." She did not say, "Oh, I already have a heckuva lot on my plate." She said, "I have more than I can say grace over right now."

I have more than I can say grace over right now. What a wonderfully premeditated ad lib for the Age of Red State Dominance. I suggested a few weeks ago that Mrs. Clinton was about to get very, very religious. But her words came across as pious and smarmy, like Tammy Faye with a law degree. Maybe she still thinks in stereotypes; maybe she thinks that's what little Christian ladies talk like while they stay home baking cookies. Whatever, it was almost as good as her saying, "I'm running, is this not obvious to even the slowest of you?"

A reader of Jay Nordlinger's Impromptus column submitted the most egregious violation ever of that old grammatical rule..."never use a preposition to end a sentence with".

...Remember the old sentence that ends in not one but five prepositions? A kid sends Mommy downstairs for a bedtime reading book. She gets the wrong one, so the kid says, 'What did you bring that book I don't want to be read to out of up for?'"

Ann Coulter:

First, liberals claimed Gannon was a White House plant who received a press pass so that he could ask softball questions � a perk reserved for New York Times reporters during the Clinton years. Their proof was that while "real" journalists (like Jayson Blair) were being denied press passes, Gannon had one, even though he writes for a website that no one has ever heard of � but still big enough to be a target of liberal hatred! (By the way, if writing for a news organization with no viewers is grounds for being denied a press pass, why do MSNBC reporters have them?)

PC Sins?

An observation from the Dead Tree edition of this week's National Review that I thought was worth re-posting here just to kick up a little introspection in you readers...(yes, I still suspect there may be readers..)

The Seven Deadly Sins are Pride, Envy, Wrath, Sloth, Lust, Avarice, and Gluttony, traditionally remembered with the aid of the acronym PEWSLAG. Well, goodbye PEWSLAG, hello CABDHGS. A polling organization in Britain asked a thousand citizens to modernize the list. The new deadlies are, in descending order of sinfulness: Cruelty, Adultery, Bigotry, Dishonesty, Hypocrisy, Greed, and Selfishness. Note the interesting shift of emphasis visible here. Formerly the essence of sin lay in offending God by failing to curb one’s lower nature. Nowadays sin means causing pain or mental distress to other people. To put it another way, virtue used to consist in moral cultivation of the self; now it consists in being nice. Something has been lost here, surely.

February 23, 2005

Advertisement For Bush Doctrine

The most influential surviving Lebanese advocate for independence from Syria is Walid Jumblatt, the Druze Muslim community leader. Jim Geraghty points to this Jumblatt quote in the WaPo article by David Ignatius today as something the Bush administration "should be shouting from the White House rooftop..."

"It's strange for me to say it, but this process of change has started because of the American invasion of Iraq," explains Jumblatt. "I was cynical about Iraq. But when I saw the Iraqi people voting three weeks ago, 8 million of them, it was the start of a new Arab world." Jumblatt says this spark of democratic revolt is spreading. "The Syrian people, the Egyptian people, all say that something is changing. The Berlin Wall has fallen. We can see it."

It's obviously way too early for gloating or "I told you so's", but it must be terribly galling for the Bush-haters to see the trends in the Middle East beginning to break much as George Bush suggested they might if we were able to plant the seed of democracy in Iraq. They are loathe to credit this President for any positive development, but Bush's leadership is so clearly the catalyst for the liberalization movements in the region, that it's getting tough for even the most rabid of partisans to deny it. The fallback position then, is likely to be ignoring it.

Slamming LeBron

I think Skip Bayless is trying a little too hard to be controversial, or even to come up with a column topic, as he knocks LeBron for passing on the Slam-Dunk Contest at the NBA All-Star Weekend.

I mean just because the kid has had a sore ankle for a few weeks, and had to get an IV in the middle of the last game before the All-Star break due to the flu, doesn't mean Skip is going to cut him any slack. Sheesh. He was already dealing with the Sports Illustrated cover jinx, for cryin' out loud.

Sunni Desperation

Read Belmont Club on the weakening Iraqi insurgency and the last-minute move by Sunni leaders to try to have some influence in the new government.

Rumor Mill

Ace of Spades isn't buying into the Condi for Cheney rumor. Just reporting on it.

February 22, 2005

HST - "He Was Tormented"

Stephen Schwartz on Hunter S. Thompson:

One must imagine that in his own middle '60s Hunter Thompson looked into the mirror and saw that nobody needed a gonzo interpretation of the world after September 11, that nobody was amused by his capacity to survive fatal doses of sinister concoctions, and that, increasingly, nobody knew or cared who he was.

I just remember reading the series "Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail" in Rolling Stone in 1972, as a college kid. Looking back now, I think some of his appeal was that with all the truly stupid and self-destructive behaviors I was engaging in, he made me look sane and sober by comparison.

Here's the NY Times obit , and more remembrances and tributes here at www.gonzo.org.

UPDATE 2/23: Tom Wolfe remembers Thompson:

Hunter's life, like his work, was one long barbaric yawp, to use Whitman's term, of the drug-fueled freedom from and mockery of all conventional proprieties that began in the 1960s. In that enterprise Hunter was something entirely new, something unique in our literary history. When I included an excerpt from "The Hell's Angels" in a 1973 anthology called "The New Journalism," he said he wasn't part of anybody's group. He wrote "gonzo." He was sui generis. And that he was.

Yet he was also part of a century-old tradition in American letters, the tradition of Mark Twain, Artemus Ward and Petroleum V. Nasby, comic writers who mined the human comedy of a new chapter in the history of the West, namely, the American story, and wrote in a form that was part journalism and part personal memoir admixed with powers of wild invention, and wilder rhetoric inspired by the bizarre exuberance of a young civilization. No one categorization covers this new form unless it is Hunter Thompson's own word, gonzo. If so, in the 19th century Mark Twain was king of all the gonzo-writers. In the 20th century it was Hunter Thompson, whom I would nominate as the century's greatest comic writer in the English language.

More great HST stories from Austin Ruse.

Attribution in A Swarm

Rodger Morrow wades into tough questions of journalistic ethics concerning the practice of various writers, pundits or "big" bloggers borrowing (OK, ripping off) ideas or angles from lesser-read bloggers without attribution. Rodger feels snakebit himself lately, and with good reason I think. But he's also sensitive to the difficulty of attributing any single idea in this "blogswarm", echo-chamber environment, which is...

...making authorship more diffuse and anonymous—and transforming the would-be blogopolis into something more akin to a massive focus group...

It's probably tough for someone who draws a paycheck for writing to admit their story angle came from a blogger somewhere. But that doesn't make it fair that, as Morrow says...

...blogs are fast becoming the Kazaa of the paid punditocracy—where sampling is welcomed and payment of artist royalties conveniently ignored.

Take heart Rodger, not only that you have words worth stealing, but that if your blog is in fact in that "lesser-read" category, it won't be there for long.

February 21, 2005

Ohioan Guilty In Vote Fraud Case

You may have missed this story the other day like I did. Remember the guy who was reportedly paid in crack cocaine by a volunteer for the NAACP Voter Fund during the fall presidential campaign?

DEFIANCE - Two months after pleading not guilty to faking voter registration forms in exchange for crack cocaine, a Defiance man has pleaded guilty to 10 counts of false registration.

Chad Staton, 22, of Stratton Street appeared in Defiance County Common Pleas Court Thursday to enter pleas to the 10 counts of the fifth-degree felony. In December, a grand jury returned indictments against him for filing forms in the names of Mary Poppins, Michael Jackson, Janet Jackson, Michael Jordan, Dick Tracy, Jeffrey Dahmer, Brett Favre, George Foreman, Maria Lopez, and George Lopez.

Each offense could result in a fine of $2,500 and/or imprisonment for up to 12 months.

As to what became of the woman volunteer, this is the way it was reported in the Dec. 8, 2004 story of Staton's indictment. On the same day Staton was indicted...

...in a strange twist, the Toledo woman who claimed she had given him crack for the voters he registered, was found dead the same day in her home from an apparent drug overdose.

Georgianne Pitts, 41, was found dead in her home, Toledo police said yesterday. The police crime log said her death appeared to be an overdose, but the Lucas County coroner's office, which conducted an autopsy Monday, did not release the cause of death pending toxicology test results...

In the end, "the coroner's office ruled her cause of death as an accidental overdose of a prescription medication". It's sad. 41 is too young to die. What's more, had she lived she might have been able to direct attention up the NAACP/DNC food chain to the people giving their blessing to the operation. She might have made an explosive witness.

(hat tip: Randy)

Confronting Putin

I've heard a few pundits say this weekend that the most important meeting President Bush will have in Europe this week is the one with Vladimir Putin in Bratislava. The chumminess that characterized their earlier meetings is likely to be history if Bush does what he should do, which is to be critical, in public as well as in private, of the Russian leader's brutal repression of individual, economic and press freedoms in Russia and in other post-Soviet states. He has strangled Russian democracy in the cradle, and we cannot continue to pretend that Putin's Russia is an ally of this country. Good luck, Mr. Bush.

Bruce P. Jackson delivered this sobering assessment of Putin's crackdown and Russian democracy's demise to the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations. Here's an excerpt, but read it all, along with this companion piece, also in The Weekly Standard.

5) Of all the areas where the Russian Government has suppressed the possibility of democracy, it has been most comprehensive and ruthless in its attack on independent media. All significant television and radio stations are now under state control. The editor-in-chief of Izvestia was fired for attempting to cover the tragic terrorist attack on the school children of Beslan, and two journalists attempting to travel to Beslan appear to have been drugged by security services. The state of journalism in Russia is so precarious that Amnesty International has just reported that security services are targeting independent journalists for harassment, disappearances and killing. It should surprise no one that the distinguished Committee to Protect Journalists lists Russia as one of the World's Worst Places to Be a Journalist in its annual survey.

6) Among the most alarming of recent developments, however, is the return of the KGB to power in the Presidential Administration. According to Olga Kryshtanovskaya, a leading Russian sociologist, former KGB officers are regaining power at every level of government and now account for 70% of regional government leaders. Other analysts state that the number of former secret police in Putin's government is 300% greater than the number in the Gorbachev government. In this situation, there is a high probability that military and security services would be used to suppress civil dissent and, indeed, are already being used to this effect.

If the conditions which supported democratic change and reform in Georgia and Ukraine are any guide, President Putin has orchestrated a sustained and methodical campaign to eliminate not only democratic forces in civil and political life, but also the possibility of such forces arising again in the future. I do not think that it is accurate to say that democracy is in retreat in Russia. Democracy has been assassinated in Russia...

...To put it bluntly, the growing view in Putin's inner circle is that in order to regain the status of a world power in the 21st century, Russia must be undemocratic at home (in order to consolidate the power of the state) and it must be anti-democratic in its "near abroad" (in order to block the entry of perceived political competitors, such as the European Union or NATO, invited into post-Soviet space by new democracies.) The war on terror is not central to this calculation and is little more than something to discuss with credulous Americans from time to time.

February 20, 2005


A mesmerizing timewaster. Just what most of us need.

Lebanon Linkfest

Nobody does it like Chrenkoff. Here's his summary of the news and commentary on recent events in Lebanon in the aftermath of the assassination of Rafik Hariri.

How Low Can They Go?

To this point, the Jeff Gannon/Jim Guckert non-story hasn't been a topic for this blog, because in and of itself, the "controversy" was entirely manufactured by opponents of George Bush. My thoughts on the matter are mirrored nicely though, in this terrific post by John Hindraker at Power Line.

What Needs To Be Said

Here is a suggested script for President Bush to use on his trip to Europe, courtesy of Denis Boyles, who covers the European press for NRO.

February 19, 2005

Annan Can't Duck Blame With Silence

Claudia Rosett, who was reporting on Oil-For-Food when virtually no one else in the mainstream press was doing so, has a new piece up at TNR. Kofi Annan must ultimately bear responsibility for this ripoff of Iraqi billions, says Rosett:

Over the past year, as each fresh Oil-for-Food revelation has hit the headlines, Annan has professed himself "surprised," "disappointed," and, most recently, "shocked." Along the way, his Secretariat has sent out hush letters to contractors, such as the inspectors hired by the Secretariat to monitor aspects of Oil-for-Food. Meanwhile, his senior p.r. staffers have produced a barrage of statements, articles, and letters to the editor explaining that the prime culprit was Saddam Hussein (fair enough, except the point was for the United Nations to oversee him); arguing that, within the U.N. sphere, the Security Council, not the Secretariat, was mainly to blame (but it was Annan whose Secretariat hired the inspectors and had the big budget to keep tabs); and that the Secretariat just followed orders and had no real say in the program (but Annan actively pushed to expand it, handpicked the now-disgraced Sevan to run it, and signed off personally on every six-month phase of the program, recommending to the Security Council that it be continued).

Best when served whole.

Big Pharma

I've been paying more attention to stories on prescription drugs recently, for all kinds of reasons. My mom will be 90 this year, and in recent years her prescription drug insurance limits for the calendar year are exceeded by about St. Patrick's Day, so we've been exploring ways to manage those costs better.

And the anti-inflammatories I've been taking for years so I can play sports and pretend I'm not 52 are now putting me at risk of heart attack or stroke, if new studies are to be believed. On top of that, we're warned that if you think Social Security is going to bankrupt us, just wait till you see the government tab for the new prescription drug entitlement.

A new article by Dick Meyer of CBS News says we're often too quick to put the black hat on the pharmaceutical companies. A large part of the problem is our own expectations, of drugs and of government.

The population of Western nations at the start of the 21st century is by far the healthiest population in human history. We take that for granted. We routinely expect what in truth are medical miracles. And we expect these miracles to come for free - and risk-free. Reality, of course, doesn't work that way. And so we affix blame: on insurance companies, on HMOs, on doctors, but mostly, these days, on drug companies.

We expect drug companies to be altruistic, not to be motivated by profits, unless, of course, we have pharmaceuticals in our union pension plan or 401(k). We expect them to invent in just a few years medicines that will be used for decades without side effects. We expect perfect regulation of these companies. And we expect that if anything ever goes wrong, we should be able to sue the pants off the drug companies and get compensated.

Meyer links to an October 2004 New Yorker article by Malcolm Gladwell that I had missed when it came out, but I found it full of good insights and information. Here's an excerpt on the ways that prevalence and volume of drug use impact on the overall increase in the cost of drugs as much as, or more than price:

In 2003, the amount that Americans spent on cholesterol-lowering drugs rose 23.8 per cent, and similar increases are forecast for the next few years. Why the increase? Well, the baby boomers are aging, and so are at greater risk for heart attacks. The incidence of obesity is increasing. In 2002, the National Institutes of Health lowered the thresholds for when people with high cholesterol ought to start taking drugs like Lipitor and Mevacor. In combination, those factors are having an enormous impact on both the prevalence and the intensity of cholesterol treatment. All told, prescription-drug spending in the United States rose 9.1 per cent last year. Only three of those percentage points were due to price increases, however, which means that inflation was about the same in the drug sector as it was in the over-all economy. Angell’s book and almost every other account of the prescription-drug crisis take it for granted that cost increases are evidence of how we’ve been cheated by the industry. In fact, drug expenditures are rising rapidly in the United States not so much because we’re being charged more for prescription drugs but because more people are taking more medications in more expensive combinations. It’s not price that matters; it’s volume.

This is a critical fact, and it ought to fundamentally change the way we think about the problem of drug costs. Last year, hospital expenditures rose by the same amount as drug expenditures—nine per cent. Yet almost all of that (eight percentage points) was due to inflation. That’s something to be upset about: when it comes to hospital services, we’re spending more and getting less. When it comes to drugs, though, we’re spending more and we’re getting more, and that makes the question of how we ought to respond to rising drug costs a little more ambiguous.

This whole piece is excellent (it made David Brooks' list of best essays of the year) so take a look.

They're Victims Too

Nazis are people too. Try to have a little compassion, people. Watch this Public Service Announcement, and then just do what you can.

Good Choice?

Ralph Peters and Fred Kaplan agree that John Negroponte is a promising choice as George Bush's new NID. Here's Kaplan:

It took more than two months for President Bush to find a willing candidate for this post. Reportedly three people turned him down. One of them was Robert Gates, who had been his father's CIA director. The fact that he even considered Gates was pretty fair evidence that Bush sees the NID as a purely advisory slot, to be filled by a loyal, respected fellow who has no access to real power—Gates has been out of government for over a decade—and probably no itch to grab any.

Yet now Bush has gone and picked someone who might actually turn the NID into at least a force of influence, if not quite a powerhouse. For the past six months, Negroponte has been ambassador to Iraq. By some accounts, and some measures, he's done a remarkable job, transforming Baghdad's "green zone" from the den of corruption and cronyism—which marked Paul Bremer's Coalition Provisional Authority—into a highly professional U.S. Embassy. Before Baghdad, Negroponte was the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations and, back in the 1980s, ambassador to Honduras. He knows how to run a complex operation.

Both are worth a look. Kaplan's piece is better if you only have time for one.

Big Trouble

Bloglines is temporarily down with technical difficulty. My son is probably climbing the walls. "My Feeds...I need my feeds!"

Just remember Andy, way back when people used "bookmarks". You know, when your computer and your keyboard and your mouse had cords? And I know you probably have two or three backup aggregators anyway. Besides, how long could they be down? Tick, tick...

February 18, 2005

LJ At 20

LeBron James' numbers are compared to those of Michael Jordan, Dr. J, Magic Johnson and Kobe Bryant for their first 125 games in the NBA. (.pdf file) You'd have to say James fares well by comparison. Jordan averaged more points, and Magic's numbers were comparable, but don't forget those guys played three and two years respectively of college basketball. This kid's 20! Kobe's stats don't even belong in the conversation. I'd be interersted to see Larry Bird's early career numbers.

Also check out Terry Pluto's column about Lebron in the early days of junior high and high school.

UPDATE: How did I miss this? Marc Stein of ESPN.com has a glowing report on LeBron at 20, complete with quotes from MJ and Magic. For example:

Says Magic: "I see a little bit of Michael in him, and I see a little bit of me in him. Now he needs to win championships like Michael and I did, and I'm sure one day that will happen."

In Cleveland?

The city that shudders if someone merely whispers the initials M and J together?

"I think the most important thing was Mike's tenacity," Silas says. "He wanted to win — he wanted to destroy his opponent — and LeBron is developing that. And once that comes, there's no stopping him."

Says Jordan: "The comparisons, I don't think they're coming from LeBron. I think he welcomes that, as I did when I was compared with Doctor J, but I think he's just trying to be LeBron."

Sounds like it.

"I'm in control of my destiny," James says. "When I'll be done playing, I don't want people to say, 'Well, he ended up the same way as this person or that player.' I want people to say, 'LeBron James did it his way, and now he's a legend.'"

"In time," Orlando's Hill believes, "...I think people will be saying 'The Next LeBron.'"

Maybe not by Monday, but check back in June.

No Such Thing As Too Much

Pitching, that is. CIR takes a look at the Indians pitching staff as they arrive at Spring Training.

February 17, 2005

Peggy Gets It

Somewhere today I saw this Peggy Noonan column referred to as an "olive branch" to the blogosphere from the Wall Street Journal. Whether or not that's what it was, after the WSJ lectured and condescended to bloggers on matters of judgment and journalism, it good to know that at least Peggy gets blogs.

...Bloggers are...selling the smartest take on a story. They're selling an original insight, a new area of inquiry. Mickey Kaus of Kausfiles has his bright take, Andrew Sullivan had his, InstaPundit has his. They're all selling their shrewdness, experience, depth. This too is a public service....And they're doing it free. That is, the Times costs me a dollar and so does the Journal, but Kausfiles doesn't cost a dime. This too is a public service.

...It is not true that there are no controls. It is not true that the blogosphere is the Wild West. What governs members of the blogosphere is what governs to some degree members of the MSM, and that is the desire for status and respect. In the blogosphere you lose both if you put forward as fact information that is incorrect, specious or cooked. You lose status and respect if your take on a story that is patently stupid. You lose status and respect if you are unprofessional or deliberately misleading. And once you've lost a sufficient amount of status and respect, none of the other bloggers link to you anymore or raise your name in their arguments. And you're over. The great correcting mechanism for people on the Web is people on the Web.(ellipses mine - Ed.)

How true that is, and it helps make a related point. The backlash rhetoric from media people in the Jordan matter about "right-wing lynch mobs" and "salivating morons" and such seems utterly silly to anyone who actually reads the blogs of the core group of people who did the bulk of the reporting on the Jordan story. I'm talking about Hugh Hewitt, Michelle Malkin, Ed Morrissey, the Power Line guys, La Shawn Barber, Jim Geraghty, Bill Roggio. These are not people who traffic in name-calling and vitriol and slime, and they don't have much time for those who do. This not to say that the slimers aren't out there, just beware of frightened or ignorant blogophobes painting with broad brushes.

The notion that mainstream journalists have standards and accountability and bloggers do not is now rightly greeted with hoots and howls by anyone who hasn't been asleep at the mouse (or hasn't read a newspaper) for five years. Blogger-bashers who love to draw a clear line of distinction between "professional" journalists and bloggers betray their cluelessness at the outset anyway. While some bloggers have used their exposure to boost them into mainstream writing gigs, more often professional writers, journalists, critics, authors and editors have either "graduated" to blogging from careers with impeccable mainstream credentials, or are doing it, as they say, on the side. And many of these people are right at the heart of the blogging enterprise. The list in this category is too long to do justice to here, but a few come to mind, like of course Andrew Sullivan, and David Horowitz, Roger Simon, Terry Teachout, Michelle Malkin, Victor Davis Hanson, Jeff Jarvis, plus other accomplished writers who are blogging while attached to "mainstream" publications, like Jim Geraghty, Jonathan Last, Virginia Postrel, Matthew Yglesias, Roger Kimball , James Taranto, and the Corner crew for starters. The lines are blurring more each day as MSM companies establish blogs or reasonable facsimiles. The stereotype of the pajama-clad wannabe doesn't hold.

And none of this is to slight the many other smart, engaged and talented people whose notoriety has come primarily from their blogs. They are credentialed and respectable in their own right, as Hugh Hewitt helps to demonstrate here. There's a reason they are widely read and appreciated, and it's not because they are vicious, knuckle-dragging, partisan hacks. In fact, as wild and wooly as it can get, there's a certain comity and neighborliness about the blogosphere that certain MSM journalists would do well to emulate. It manifests in a general politeness that gives "hat tips", admits errors, links to sources, welcomes comments and email, says thanks, and only occasionally directs the reader to the Tip Jar. Every day I wonder how I got along before this smorgasbord of quality writing and information was at my fingertips.

Now I realize I'm setting myself up here for reminders of the many rude, thoughtless and profane exceptions to the above statement, but that is a testament mostly to the breadth and diversity of a booming medium. From where I sit, I don't see an awful lot of "salivating" in my blogosphere. What I see is a remarkable citizen's conversation. Even those of us out here on the edge, who count our hits in hundreds instead of tens of thousands per day, have a voice in that raucous but healthy conversation. And Peggy Noonan gets that, which is a good thing.

Peggy Noonan. This too is a public service.

Morrissey at TWS

Ed Morrissey of Captains Quarters, here writing at The Weekly Standard, traces the role of blogs in the Eason Jordan matter. Well said, Ed.

Morrissey's summary really brings home the point that this whole affair is less about what bloggers did, and more about what major media didn't do. Jordan's statements were not an incidental rhetorical faux pas that was blown into something greater than that by partisan bloggers. They were just the latest in a longer pattern of inflammatory and unsubstantiated claims and distortions, which more than justify his termination from CNN. He knew that. CNN knew that, and that's what happened. That leaves who as clueless? No wonder they're bitchy.

If this had been a partisan blogger witch hunt, as it is being portrayed by the scoopees in the major media, we would have already seen the video. In fact,you can boil down all the rightwing knuckledragging, pajamahadeen wrath of the last two weeks into three simple words: Show the video. Partisan stuff.

February 16, 2005

CBS Execs Not Going Quietly

As leaked by Drudge yesterday and reported in detail in today's New York Observer, three of the CBS executives who were asked to resign in the so-called Rathergate investigation have refused to leave their positions and have retained attorneys to fight the network. Let the shit begin to hit the fan.

February 15, 2005

Not A Good Day For Surfing?

Not A Good Day For Surfing.bmp

This photo was emailed to me today, and I wanted to post it, but also wanted to attribute it properly. It's by Kurt Jones, from his Surfshooter.com site, and I'm glad I checked it out. I immediately thought "shark", and then I thought it might be a fake. Wrong on both counts.

Reality Therapy

So I'm in full baseball fever mode these days, and picked up The Sporting News preseason baseball magazine at the newsstand today. I'm waiting till Opening Day to make my official prediction for the number of Indians victories in 2005, but I've made no secret of my optimism about the season. I've convinced myself that the team can contend for win the Central Division title. So I don't want to say that the Sporting News magazine discouraged me, because it couldn't do that. I'm jazzed. But maybe it splashed a little cold water on my face and got me thinking about, well...reality.

For starters, let me say that I hold The Sporting News in high regard generally, and prefer most of their publications to the competition. I don't track the "batting average" of their predictions, but my sense is that they're among the more credible prognosticators. TSN had six experts pick all of the division races, (and the rest of the playoffs and Series). All six experts picked the Twins to win the Central. However, four of the six picked the Indians to finish second, one picked them third, and one fourth. (FYI, five of the six picked the Yankees to win it all.)

So, about that reality thing. Part of what has me worried is taking another look at the Twins rotation and lineup and closer. It's better than I thought it was going to be. I keep thinking we have the best rotation in the division 1 through 5, but Santana, Radke, Carlos Silva (forgot about him), Kyle Lohse, and Joe Mays ain't chopped liver. Their lineup is young, like ours, but there are lots of guys who figure to get nothing but better this year; Lew Ford, Justin Morneau, Joe Mauer, Michael Cuddyer. Then there's Shannon Stewart, Torii Hunter, Jacques Jones. Tough. Closer? Joe Nathan. Tough.

If their rotation is good, Chicago's is better. Buehrle, Freddy Garcia, El Duque Hernandez, Jose Contreras, and Jon Garland. I'll spare you their lineup because it doesn't approach either ours or the Twins as an everyday group, though they did pick up A.(for a-hole) J. Pierzynski and Jermaine Dye. Again though, their closer Takatsu, is not a question mark like ours is.

And the problem is that there are a whole bunch of question marks for the Indians that just don't seem to be there for the Twins. Some of the following are paraphrasing concerns raised by the writeup in the TSN magazine section on the Indians and shared by me, and others are strictly my observations.

1) The Manager: Under Wedge the team has been inconsistent and streaky. (There are lots of good things to say about Wedge, but this is about concerns and question marks, OK?) The Indians have not been a good baserunning team under Wedge. At the crucial moment last year, down only a game to the Twins in early to mid-August, they swooned into a nine game losing streak. How much of this is attributable to the overall team youth and inexperience (or the manager's youth and inexperience?) is something we should begin to find out about this season. The fact that this is "a young team", while still true, must cease being an excuse on a day in - day out basis this year. I like Wedge as a manager, but we're talking about matching up with the Twins here (and ultimately, the Red Sox and Yankees) and right now Gardenhire has to be given the edge until Wedge starts to show he can get smarter, more consistent play from his guys when it counts.

2) The Outfield: On paper this is not even close. Assuming Juan Gonzalez' back allows him to play, the Indians will be starting a 35 year-old outfielder who managed to play only 33 games last year, and whose numbers have declined sharply over the last three seasons. Casey Blake is a good hitter, but has never played a major league game in the outfield, and Coco Crisp is a kid with only two years of experience and while he's an excellent defensive player he has a relatively weak arm. The Twins have Torii Hunter, Jacques Jones and Shannon Stewart, with Lew Ford and Michael Restovich coming off the bench. Even if we substitute the budding star Grady Sizemore for the aging Gonzalez, we're adding a green rookie, getting younger and delaying winning. Remember, we're talking about trying to win this year, not just long term. (I am on record as strongly favoring getting the first full ML season for Sizemore out of the way now, and letting Juan be Gone-zalez.)

3) The Shortstop: Omar is gone. We will be starting a very talented player at shortstop, whether that turns out to be Jhonny (watch where you put that "h") Peralta or Brandon Phillips. But either way, we will be taking some lumps defensively compared to past years if only because we are replacing the best defensive shortstop to ever walk the planet. Oh yeah, Omar also hit over .300 last year, and led the team in sacrifice bunts, etc. etc. Peralta will probably provide more power and probably more RBI, but the pressure will be on. To be fair, the Twins will be starting a different shortstop as well in Juan Castro, who is only a .226 hitter lifetime. Still, he's an upgrade over the lifeless Christian Guzman.

4) The Closer: The Twins - Joe Nathan: 2004 stats - 72 innings pitched, 89 strikeouts. 44 saves in 47 save opportunities, 1.62 ERA. All Star. The Indians - Bob Wickman: Missed the entire season in 2003 and came back late in 2004 to finish the year with 13 saves in 14 save opportunities while nursing a right elbow still not 100% recovered from major surgery. Has tremendous guts, heart, leadership abilities, a surgically repaired elbow, and a knack for giving up a few base hits and making every save an adventure. Who knows?

5) The Rotation: Even with the question mark of our other bad elbow, Kevin Millwood's, I like our rotation better than the Twins group. But if Millwood can't go all the way to October, we're going with a much less experienced starter every fifth day (Stanford, Davis, Guthrie, Traber, Tadano??), and so we must include this group in our list of question marks.

I guess that's about it. Two bum elbows, a green shortstop, an aging ex-MVP hoping to stay healthy, a lack of power from the corner positions, a revamped bullpen. Incredibly, I think our bullpen is less a question than any of these other issues. I'm confident we'll be much stronger and more consistent there (assuming Wickman's continued good health).

And the everyday lineup looks so good offensively that I simply must include it here, along with last years numbers, just to make myself feel better. (see my previous post before I was taken down a peg by reality)

Coco Crisp CF --- .297, 15 HR, 71 RBI
Ronnie Belliard 2B --- .282, 12 HR, 70 RBI
Juan Gonzalez RF --- .276, 5 HR, 17 RBI (33 games)
Victor Martinez C --- .283, 23 HR, 108 RBI
Travis Hafner DH --- .311, 28 HR, 109 RBI
Casey Blake LF --- .271, 28 HR, 88 RBI
Ben Broussard 1B --- .285, 17 HR, 82 RBI
Aaron Boone 3B --- .267, 24 HR, 96 RBI (2003)
Jhonny Peralta SS --- .326, 15 HR, 86 RBI (AAA)

I think I've been able to get all that negativism out of my system now. On paper, we shouldn't be able to win the division. Most of the experts say we won't win the division. I think we've got them right about where we want them.

A Bunch Of Thugs

The blue helmets never seem to leave anyplace. It's a jobs program. It's an illicit cash cow. It's a sex playground, consensual and otherwise. Here are some excerpts from Mark Steyn's Telegraph column:

If you don't want to bulk up your pension by skimming the Oil-for-Food programme, don't worry, whatever your bag, the UN can find somewhere that suits - in West Africa, it's Sex-for-Food, with aid workers demanding sexual services from locals as young as four; in Cambodia, it's drug dealing; in Kenya, it's the refugee extortion racket; in the Balkans, sex slaves...

...In Congo, the UN has now forbidden all contact between its forces and the natives. The rest of the world should be so lucky...

The child sex racket is only the most extreme example of what's wrong with the UN approach to the world. Developed peoples value resilience: when disaster strikes, you bounce back. A hurricane flattens Florida, you patch things up and reopen. As the New Colonial Class, the UN doesn't look at it like that: when disaster strikes, it just proves you and your countrymen are children who need to be taken under the transnational wing.

The folks that have been under the UN wing the longest - indeed, the only ones with their own permanent UN agency and semi-centenarian "refugee camps" - are the most comprehensively wrecked people on the face of the earth: the Palestinians. UN territories like Kosovo are the global equivalent of inner-city council estates with the blue helmets as local enforcers for the absentee slum landlord. By contrast, a couple of years after imperialist warmonger Bush showed up, Afghanistan and Iraq have elections, presidents and prime ministers.

More commentary on U.N. worker sex abuse from Michelle Malkin.

Barone Gets It

Michael Barone is one "mainstream" guy who understands the impact of blogs on politics. The last paragraph of this piece has been floated all over the right hemisphere of the blog world, but it's all good.

Chrenkoff's GNFI Part 21

Like clockwork, Arthur Chrenkoff delivers. Thank you again Arthur, for your tireless effort. If there were a bloggers' Pulitzer, you'd be the man.

February 14, 2005

Blogswarm Backlash

The predictable major media reverberations have begun in reaction to the resignation of CNN's Eason Jordan. The bloggers who challenged Jordan to a) insist on the release of the video of his remarks at Davos and/or b) put forth evidence of his charges that the U.S. military targeted and killed journalists in Iraq, are themselves being accused of unaccountability and "lynch mob" tactics. And those are the nice things being said about them.

Members of the left, including certain liberal bloggers and Democratic members of Congress, Barney Frank and Sen. Chris Dodd, who were present when the remarks were made and have also spoken out in opposition to them, are apparently excused from the lynch mob accusations. They are inconvenient to the righteous fury of the hard-left.

I'll defer to the people who have been covering the story from the outset to bring you the MSM reaction to it, after just a couple of observations. First, observe the scramble to put the focus on the messenger rather than the message. I heard Bob Zelnick on Fox News this evening make the statement that blaming bloggers for what happened to Eason Jordan is analogous to complaining that a burglar was caught by an alert citizen instead of by the police.

It's embarrassing to have to report a story as important as the resignation of the head of CNN News, when you must admit that you considered the story that caused the resignation to be less than newsworthy for a week or so. So it must be the bloggers' fault. And whatever Jordan said he didn't deserve to be fired. (Depending on what suits their spin, he either "resigned" in a noble gesture to save the network from further embarrassment, or he was "lynched" by bloggers. Or both.) My suspicion is that CNN executives saw the video and didn't want anyone else to.

I would then just note the ongoing irony that the same people who most loudly lament the declining image of the United States in the world, are those who are working hardest to present the most negative picture of our country, our military and our leadership, often through the use of the worst kinds of distortions and slanders. Hey, whatever gets you the approving nods and murmurs from the Europeans and Arabs at Davos.

But back to the "salivating morons" and "bible-thumping knuckledraggers" of the right side of the blogosphere who somehow forced CNN to pull the trigger on Eason Jordan.

Michelle Malkin has some of the reaction in her piece in today's NY Post online. And it is simply not possible to get any better or more thorough, link-rich roundup posts than what Michelle puts together.

Ed Morrissey of Captains Quarters was interviewed for today's New York Times article on the blogs' effect on the resignation, and thinks he was treated fairly, and that the piece was pretty balanced. He does take issue with the fact that most major media, including the Times, have completely ignored Jordan's previous, and equally unsubstantiated statements on the targeting of journalists by U.S. troops. Read Ed's whole post here.

Check out also Andrew McCarthy at NRO commenting on the WSJ's treatment of the reporting on the scandal, and Power Line's look back at Eason Jordan's previous slanders of the U.S. military.

Get through that stuff and you'll be up to speed.

February 13, 2005

Crennel Examined

Mary Kay Cabot has an interesting profile of new Browns coach Romeo Crennel in today's PD. Then Tony Grossi speculates on the new man's emphasis on "character" players, and his preference for the 3-4 defense. And Marla Ridenour of the Beacon Journal has her own "up close and personal" feature on Crennel in the Sunday edition.

Saddam - Al Qaeda Debate

Dr. Robert Leiken and Dr. Laurie Mylroie square off in this Frontpage Symposium on the connection between Saddam's Iraq and bin Laden's Al Qaeda. There are two other participants who largely get lost in the shuffle of this long dialogue between Mylroie, who makes the case for significant Iraqi involvement in the terrorist attacks on the U.S., and Leiken, who minimizes the Iraqi role.

It seems to me they're arguing mostly over the degree of Saddam's influence, since neither party can prove direct Iraqi involvement in the 9/11 attacks, nor does either of them deny that Iraqi Intelligence Service agents met on multiple occasions with bin Laden in the mid-90's to discuss cooperative operations.

If you can get past the personal and professional criticisms that the two debaters engage in about the other, what's left is a fascinating look at some of the major players in recent anti-American terrorism, and the battle we are waging against them. Recommended reading.

Super Bowl Commercials

It wasn't a great year for Super Bowl ads, but if you care to you can watch them all again here.

Incumbent Protection Racket

There was entirely too much free speech going on in the last election, and Congress aims to do something about it. In a TCS column, Ryan Sager says the proposed Senate bill is all about protecting incumbents:

Last week, a bill was introduced in the Senate that would force 527s to register with the Federal Election Commission and restrict the groups' ability to raise and spend money.

The bill enjoys the support of Trent Lott, who had been one of 41 senators to vote against McCain-Feingold. Now, however, he's decided that any money given by wealthy individuals is "sewer money."

And why is this money so dirty suddenly?

"It was an unintended consequence of McCain-Feingold. Instead of going to the parties, rich people are putting money into these 527s in the dark of night," Lott told the Sun Herald in Biloxi, Miss.

In other words, some of those rich people might be trying to throw out incumbents.

McCain is even more blatant about the incumbent-protection angle. As The Washington Times reported last week, "McCain said lawmakers should support the bill out of self-interest, because it would prevent a rich activist from trying to defeat an incumbent by directing money into a political race through a 527 organization."

"That should alarm every federally elected member of Congress," McCain said.

Indeed, it certainly does.

Google Blogger Canned

Mark Jen lasted only 11 days in his new job with Google. Along with some insider talk about the company and their products, Jen had used his blog to post a comparison of compensation packages with his former employer, Microsoft, concluding that Google came up a bit short. A January 26 post admitted that he had taken down some content that probably shouldn't have been posted, but denied he was asked to do it by his Google superiors. In fact he said the company had "been pretty cool about all this". Last Friday the company ran out of "cool".

14 Minutes And Counting

Ann Coulter on the authenticity of Ward Churchill:

In light of the fact that Churchill's entire persona, political activism, curriculum vitae, writings and university positions are based on his claim that he's an Indian, it's rather churlish of him to complain when people ask if he really is one. But whenever he is questioned about his heritage, Churchill rails that inquiries into his ancestry are "absolutely indefensible."

Churchill has gone from claiming he is one-eighth Indian "on a good day" to claiming he is "three-sixteenths Cherokee," to claiming he is one-sixty-fourth Cherokee through a Revolutionary War era ancestor named Joshua Tyner. (At least he's not posing as a phony Indian math professor.) A recent investigation by The Denver Post revealed that Tyner's father was indeed married to a Cherokee. But that was only after Joshua's mother –- and Churchill's relative -– was scalped by Indians.

By now, all that's left of Churchill's claim to Indian ancestry is his assertion: "It is just something that was common knowledge in my family." (That, and his souvenir foam-rubber "tommyhawk" he bought at Turner Field in Atlanta.)

Worst Weatherman Ever

I had always heard that Athens, Ohio was a focal point for marijuana cultivation, distribution, and of course, consumption. Watch this TV Weatherman and tell me if you think it's merely coincidence. I think not.

February 12, 2005

Fallacies Of Yalta

An article by Arthur Herman says that Bush's foreign policy vision is addressing some of the fallacies of the Yalta summit:

On February 11, 1945, World War II's "Big Three" — Franklin Roosevelt, Winston Churchill, and Joseph Stalin — ended their final summit in the Crimean seaside town of Yalta. President Bush never mentioned Yalta in his inaugural address or in his State of the Union speech; but the truth is that his vision of the future means undoing what happened at that meeting 60 years ago. Happily, two parts of Yalta's legacy — the Cold War and a Russian empire in Eastern Europe — are already history. But we are still haunted by the rest, from the prison camps of North Korea to a discredited United Nations, and the diplomatic fallacies that spawned them.

February 11, 2005

Cutting Out The Middleman

Also from Ace, comes the observation that the Eason Jordan resignation has the blogosphere in uncharted waters:

Look Ma, No MSM Involvement

Previously the blogosphere and alternative media generally have pushed stories into the MSM-- and only then did some sort of action/attention result.

But the media has all but completely embargoed this story-- until now, as Eason Jordan steps down.

No mainstream media involvement. No pushing a story into the papers.

Not even any help from Drudge.

We cut out the middlemen this time and went straight from pushing a story ourselves to actual resolution.

That's something.

And Decision '08 agrees it was different this time, and will likely never be the same:

No, this one is different. This time it was the bloggers, and the bloggers alone, that pushed this man out. That will be heady stuff for some; it will scare the pants off of others...but what does it mean, really? Have we entered an era where our lives can be destroyed by a pack of wolves hacking at their keyboards with no oversight, no editors, and no accountability? Or does it mean that we've entered a brave new world where the MSM has become irrelevant?

I would argue that neither of those extremes is the case. What has been shown, though, is that the mass media, mainstream media, MSM, whatever you want to call it, is being held to account as never before by the strong force of individual citizens who won't settle for sloppy research and inflammatory comments without foundation, particularly from those with a wide national reach, such as Rather and Eason.

The Jordan Resignation

Jim Geraghty has been in the forefront on the Eason Jordan story all along, and has a roundup of some reaction to Jordan's resignation today. More coverage from Instapundit here. And at the Easongate blog, Bill Roggio continues to call for the release of the video of Jordan's comments from Davos.

For the uninitiated, some context and an Easongate primer, from Michelle Malkin.

In addition to all of the aforementioned bloggers, the contributions of Ed Morrissey, Hugh Hewitt, and La Shawn Barber to the reporting on the Jordan affair should be saluted as well.

Please don't confuse this bit of appreciation with hubris or triumphalism.

UPDATE 2/11: Here's Michelle Malkin's Easongate Retrospective.

But Seriously Folks....

I'm not making this up....

The Raelians are making Ward Churchill an Honorary Priest in the International Raelian Movement. If that rings a bell, you may recall that these are the people who claim to have cloned a human baby, and who believe that humans were created through cloning by aliens.

The Raelians have decided to make Ward Churchill one of them.

Talk about being beyond parody.

(via Ace of Spades HQ)

Waving The Bloody Sock

"Bodily fluids are not usually a big part of our collection" , said Hall of Fame vice-president Jeff Idelson.

Despite this time-honored tradition, Curt Schilling's bloody sock is going to Cooperstown. (via Ben Maller)

February 10, 2005

Rep. Penny (D-MN)

A Democratic Congressman speaks out for Social Security reform. So that's one...
(via RCP)


This basketball / gymnastics video was emailed to me, and then I found it on the web today, via Off Wing Opinion. In fact, it wasn't really a "swish". If you watch the girl's reaction afterwards, it looks like she caught a little rim.

Got Nukes?

North Korea has made its first public announcemment that it posesses nuclear weapons. Hugh Hewitt hopes this dampens the enthusiasm for what he calls "the Clinton-Albright policy of carrot and carrot" as a viable policy toward Iran:

Now, would the people urging carrot and carrot for Iran please explain how the result would be any different there than it has turned out to be in North Korea?

No word yet from the North Korean government if they have figured out a way to feed their people with nuclear weapons.

UPDATE 2/10: Claudia Rosett in today's OpinionJournal.

Yahoo Desktop with X1

Almost a year ago I raved in this space about a desktop search product called X1 that I had found to be a great help to me in my line of work. It was well worth the $99 price tag for me because it quickly proved that it could make me many times that amount just by keyword searching, finding and organizing email, attachments, and all kinds of files on my hard drive that I had no way of retrieving up to that point.

Since that time of course, desktop search products have come to be in wide use and are now free, led by Google Desktop, which I have used myself for a few months now on my home computer.

So I was intrigued when Yahoo recently announce that it was partnering with the X1 software people in its entry into the Desktop Search world, because I had noticed several features lacking in Google Desktop that were things I liked about X1. One important example is the ability X1 has to keyword search the full text of email attachments, something Google Desktop does not do (as far as I can tell).

To cut to the chase, Yahoo Desktop Search now is X1 software, and of course it's now free. The good news is that I'm able to have the same functionality on my home computer that I have found so helpful for the past year using X1 at work, and I don't have to spring for another $99 to get it.

Another important advantage of the Yahoo/X1 product is that it allows you to preview any file that you find in a search, (including viewing video files) from within the application, and to perform any number of operations on that file (print, move, open, go to folder, etc.) without leaving the application. It doesn't have that familiar Google search results interface to which we have all become so accustomed, but the product seems to me much more versatile and complete than the Google entry. See for yourself. There's no reason not to have both installed and available to use.

More Stern Words

Some of Jeff Goldstein's Protein Wisdom:

UNimpressive: "Annan Suspends Oil-For-Food Program Chief"

From the AP:

Secretary-General Kofi Annan suspended the head of the U.N. oil-for-food program in Iraq and a senior official who dealt with contracts, following an independent investigation that accused them of misconduct, a spokesman said Monday.

Benon Sevan, who was in charge of the $64 billion humanitarian program, and Joseph Stephanides, who heads the U.N. Security Council Affairs Division, were told Friday that they had been suspended with pay, spokesman Fred Eckhard said.

[...] “I called them each separately and told them—in the most severe of my disappointed voices—that they were suspended effective immediately, and that we would be sending out a letter within the week,” Mr. Annan told reporters. “I told them that the letters would spell out our disappointment, and that we would not hesitate to couch said disappointment in the most severe of rhetorical tones.”

Asked how Mr Sevan and Mr Stephanides reacted to the news, Annan was pensive: “They were disappointed, I think. Until they found out they’d still be paid. Once they heard that they cheered right up and asked if I wouldn’t mind sending over a couple of hookers. Which I did. But not the expensive kind.

“So, y’know. Take that, rulebreakers."

Peter Paul And Hillary

The New York Times' headline makes it sound like "an administrative snafu". "Lesson of Clinton Fund-Raiser: Double-Check That Donor List"

As if Peter Paul had been some guy who slipped in under the radar to contribute to the Clinton campaign. In 2000 Peter Paul hosted and largely paid for a $2 million bash honoring Bill's Presidency and boosting Hillary's Senate campaign. David Rosen, then finance director of Hillary Clinton's Senate campaign, is now under indictment for lying to the election commission, after having understated the cost of the event by more than a million dollars:

Is Peter Paul, convicted felon and Clinton friend, giving up Mr. Rosen as a way to get favorable treatment on newer felony charges he is now facing? Having posed for pictures with Peter Paul, and handwritten him a thank you note, could Hillary have turned on him any faster?

Mr. Paul said he began having misgivings about the Clintons in the months after the event. "The knee-jerk reaction was to distance themselves from me when my 25-year-old record was exposed," he said in an interview. "This was something that I heard came from their press office. I don't know how much Mrs. Clinton was involved in the decision. But once they said they didn't know me, their flag was planted and they didn't have much wiggle room."...

Add Peter Paul to the list of Clinton associates that were "friends" until their money or their usefulness ran out.

As for the event itself, Mr. Rosen acknowledged that it was "great," as he put it. "But I still think I need therapy for having dealt with these guys," he said, referring to Mr. Paul and his associates.

Read the whole bizarre story, and reminisce about the 90's.

As an aside, it's always interesting to note the varying Times treatment of gadfly attorney Larry Klayman and his Judicial Watch legal group, depending on whose ox is being gored. In this case, Judicial Watch is representing erstwhile Clinton friend, but now potential menace Peter Paul. Consequently Judicial Watch is described as "a conservative legal group that has dogged the Clintons for years". As true as that "dogging" of the Clintons was, when Klayman is dogging Republicans, the preferred description is along the lines of "watchdog legal group" or some such. (And if they didn't archive all their priceless prose, I'd be inclined to dig for examples).

(article pasted in full at the link below, since NYT archives after a couple of days)

The New York Times

February 9, 2005

Lesson of Clinton Fund-Raiser: Double-Check That Donor List


WASHINGTON, Feb. 8 - In August 2000, Bill and Hillary Clinton attended a Hollywood fund-raiser billed as a tribute to a president ready to leave the White House after eight years and a first lady seeking to establish herself as a force of her own in American politics.

The guest list reflected the glitter of the occasion: Cher, Diana Ross, Brad Pitt and Patti LaBelle, to name just a few. But a person who later emerged as perhaps the most memorable - to the Clintons and their associates, anyway - was a well-connected figure with a checkered past who helped organize the event. He is Peter Paul, a man who pleaded guilty to cocaine possession and trying to defraud Fidel Castro's government out of millions of dollars in 1979, among other things.

Mr. Paul said he spent nearly $2 million of his own on the fund-raiser as a way to curry favor with Mr. Clinton, and photographs show him chatting with Mr. Clinton at a dinner table, having a discussion with Mrs. Clinton and striking poses for the camera with both of them.

Associates of the Clintons say the couple did not know of Mr. Paul's troubled past at the time, and in the months after the event, Mr. Paul turned on the Clintons, later urging investigators to look into the fund-raiser.

Last month, the federal investigation produced an indictment charging that the cost of the affair had been underreported.

The case offers a bizarre and tangled tale of how Mr. Paul, a smooth operator with myriad connections and a troubled past, got so close to America's first couple in a political culture dominated by money. It also shows the continuing effort of a longtime nemesis of the Clintons, Judicial Watch, a conservative legal group, to make legal trouble for the couple.

A spokesman for the Justice Department, Bryan Sierra, said in a recent interview that Mrs. Clinton was not a subject of the investigation that led to the indictment, which named not Mr. Paul, but another person connected to the event, David Rosen, the finance director of Mrs. Clinton's Senate campaign, who is accused of underreporting the cost of the fund-raiser. No one else has been accused of any wrongdoing arising from the accusations.

Beyond that, people involved in Mrs. Clinton's 2000 campaign expressed bafflement at the indictment, not only noting that prosecutors had failed to state Mr. Rosen's motive but also arguing that Mr. Rosen did not, in fact, have a motive, since underreporting the contributions would not have produced any financial benefit for Mrs. Clinton's campaign under a complicated series of campaign-finance rules.

But one official at the Federal Election Commission disagreed, saying that there was a possible advantage to underreporting such contributions in a case like this: to have more money to spend on the campaign itself.

In addition, Clinton advisers say that Mrs. Clinton's campaign had no idea about Mr. Paul's troubled past until after the gala - and that Mr. Paul was involved only because of his association with a successful Internet company he started with the co-creator of Spider-Man, Stan Lee, who was listed as one of the co-hosts of the event. One Clinton adviser described Mr. Lee as "an American icon."

Mrs. Clinton's advisers referred questions to David Kendall, a lawyer for the Clintons. Mr. Kendall dismissed Mr. Paul's claim that a deal had been struck to have the President assist Mr. Paul in his business dealings provided that Mr. Paul raised money for Mrs. Clinton's campaign. "There was never any kind of quid pro quo," he said.

During an interview he gave to The New York Times in 2001, Mr. Rosen himself expressed bewilderment at how far Mr. Paul got. "I've never seen a guy like this," Mr. Rosen said. "I wish I'd never bumped into him in the first place." Mr. Rosen did not return two more recent phone calls requesting comment on the matter.

Mr. Paul's past is certainly colorful. Two decades ago, he served 42 months in federal prison and his law license was suspended after he pleaded guilty to cocaine possession and trying to defraud the Cuban government out of $8.7 million in a complicated scheme involving coffee sales to the Soviet Union from Cuba.

By 1999, Mr. Paul teamed up with Mr. Lee to create Stan Lee Media, a multimedia company based in the San Fernando Valley that, among other things, introduced animated superheroes on the Internet.

He got involved in Democratic politics afterward, donating money at the suggestion of Aaron Tonken, also a fund-raiser, who told him that that would be a good way to raise the profile of his company, according to Mr. Paul and his legal representatives at Judicial Watch, a conservative legal group that has dogged the Clintons for years and has been representing Mr. Paul. (Among the ideas Mr. Paul had was trying to get Mr. Clinton to serve on the board of his company, he said.)

It was then that Mr. Paul claims he began having discussions with Democratic operatives close to the Clintons, including Mr. Rosen, about how to get Mr. Clinton to help bolster the image of Stan Lee Media after he left office.

Mr. Paul claims that he was eventually told by Mr. Rosen and Jim Levin, a former Chicago strip club owner who was a major Clinton donor, that the best way to win favor with Mr. Clinton was to raise money for Mrs. Clinton's Senate campaign in New York. The idea for the fund-raiser was subsequently born.

"My motivation had nothing to do with getting Hillary elected senator," Mr. Paul said the other day in an interview from his home in North Carolina, where he is under house arrest in a separate case. "I could care less about that. My motivation was to do this as a favor to Bill to demonstrate my good faith."

By nearly any measure, the Aug. 12 fund-raiser Mr. Paul organized - billed as The Hollywood Gala Salute to William Jefferson Clinton - was a success. It drew some of the biggest names in the entertainment industry, including Gregory Peck, John Travolta, Melissa Etheridge and Muhammad Ali. And it raised more than $1 million, according to the indictment against Mr. Rosen.

It was such a popular affair that Democrats close to Al Gore, who was running for president at the time, complained that the Clintons were upstaging Mr. Gore at the same time he was set to be nominated at the Democratic National Convention in Los Angeles.

"It was the most spectacular event that I organized in my life," Mr. Tonken recalled in a telephone interview from federal prison, where he is serving a sentence for defrauding donors of charity events he organized. "I thought if I could pull this event off, it would be the highlight of my career."

Mr. Paul even has personal thank-you notes from both Clintons afterward, as well as photographs of him and the Clintons at the affair. Judicial Watch provided those items to The New York Times.

"Thank you so very much for hosting Saturday night's tribute to the President and for everything you did to make it the great occasion that it was," Mrs. Clinton said in a note to Mr. Paul dated Aug. 18, 2000. "We will remember it always."

But not long after the Aug. 12 event, Mrs. Clinton's campaign appeared to begin distancing itself from Mr. Paul as disclosures of his previous felony convictions surfaced publicly. On Aug. 16, a spokesman for Mrs. Clinton's campaign told The Washington Post that the campaign would return $2,000 in campaign donations that Mr. Paul had directly made.

Mr. Paul said he began having misgivings about the Clintons in the months after the event. "The knee-jerk reaction was to distance themselves from me when my 25-year-old record was exposed," he said in an interview. "This was something that I heard came from their press office. I don't know how much Mrs. Clinton was involved in the decision. But once they said they didn't know me, their flag was planted and they didn't have much wiggle room."

In early 2001, Stan Lee Media declared bankruptcy, according to Mr. Paul. Federal investigators soon began asking questions about the company's demise. Around that time, Mr. Paul boarded a plane to Brazil, where he says he had a home and a business.

(Eventually, in June 2001, Mr. Paul and three other men were indicted on charges that they inflated the stock of Stan Lee Media and then sold it for a profit. He was extradited to the United States in August 2001.)

Mr. Paul says that he went public with his concerns about financial matters involving Mr. Rosen and the Clinton campaign after discovering irregularities in the financial disclosure statements filed by the campaign. But allies of the Clintons say he made the accusations in an attempt to cut a deal with prosecutors investigating the financial improprieties at Stan Lee Media.

Mr. Paul's charges did not appear to go anywhere for years.

Then last month, federal prosecutors unsealed an indictment of Mr. Rosen by a grand jury in California, accusing him of falsely reporting that the August 2000 gala cost $401,419 when it actually cost at least $1.2 million. While the indictment does not mention Mr. Paul by name, it said the event was paid for with more than $1.1 million worth of "in-kind" contributions of goods and services from an unidentified donor.

As a professional fund-raiser and the chief finance director for the campaign, Mr. Rosen was responsible for all planning and costs for the event, according to the indictment. Mr. Rosen is also accused of obtaining and delivering a false invoice stating that the cost of the concert part of the event was $200,000, when in fact it actually cost more than $600,000, according to the indictment. Mr. Rosen faces four counts of lying to the election commission. Each count carries a penalty of up to five years in prison and up to $250,000 in fines upon conviction.

In an interview, Mr. Rosen's lawyer, Paul Sandler, would not discuss the case other than to say: "He's innocent and we will present our case in court." But in a 2001 interview with The New York Times, Mr. Rosen said that Mr. Paul was making the accusations against him and the Clinton campaign as "a way to get immunity" from the charges he might face in the investigation involving Stan Lee Media.

"He's a desperate man," Mr. Rosen said of Mr. Paul at the time.

He also said that since Mr. Paul had organized the event, it was up to him to disclose the costs of the event to campaign officials. "It's their responsibility to report the contributions," he said.

As for the event itself, Mr. Rosen acknowledged that it was "great," as he put it. "But I still think I need therapy for having dealt with these guys," he said, referring to Mr. Paul and his associates.

Even Mr. Paul's former associate, Mr. Tonken, says he believes that Mr. Paul's accusations against the Clintons were an attempt to cut a deal with federal investigators looking into the financial improprieties at Stan Lee Media. "I know David Rosen personally and he is a good person," Mr. Tonken said. "Paul knew that he had to give up Mrs. Clinton to save himself."

But Mr. Paul, who said he was cooperating with investigators, is sticking to his story. "I came forward as soon as I found out that my contribution hadn't been reported at all," he said.

February 8, 2005

Welcome Romeo, Honeymoon's Over

Romeo Crennel came back to Cleveland today, this time for five years, 11 million dollars, and the chance he's waited for his whole career. While he says he "wouldn't mind being considered a genius" when asked about being compared to Belichick, it's apparent that he's intent on carving out his own legend and bringing a different style to the job.

The first exposure to Crennel reveals a warmth and a kind of calm that we never saw in Belichick. I guess that could reflect the 20 year difference in the ages of the two men when they took over the reins of the Cleveland Browns, but I suspect it's more than that. One hopes Crennel learned some of Belichick's lessons about fan and media relations right along with Bill, but it also seems Crennel comes with much less of a personality deficit than Belichick had back then.

Predictably, the "black coach" questions were tossed out by the reporters at the press conference today, and Crennel handled them as deftly and graciously as one can. I wondered if he has any idea how little Cleveland cares what color he is. This is old hat for us. Talk about "been there, done that". (See "first black mayor" and "first black manager") Let's get on with it.

Browns fortunes have nowhere to go but up. Fans are understandably jaded. We've been done in by carpetbagging New York ad men, fast-talking lawyers and good ol' Southern boys for 40 years. It's exciting to have two "stand up" guys at the helm in Phil Savage and Romeo Crennel, that also have NFL track records and an appreciation for the hunger of Cleveland fans. No less important is an owner who's a legitimate billionaire and who grew up a Browns fan. But I hope they'll understand if we adopt a "show me" attitude this time around.

Savage suggested in an interview today that he thinks the Browns are two drafts (and free agency periods) away from having the team retooled. For my part, I'll settle for 7 or 8 wins next year, and a split with the Steelers. That seems fair. Then on to the playoffs in '06.

Or else what?

Sternly worded posts to an obscure blog will be forthcoming, that's what. That ought to do it.

Hell Week For Dems

With the Boxer and Byrd attack on Condi Rice, Kennedy's assault on the morale of U.S. soldiers, and John Kerry's ongoing incoherence, Noemie Emery thinks Democrats had a pretty tough week.

For mysterious reasons best known to themselves, a small diehard clique of old-line insurgents hiding out in the depths of the U.S. Senate decided to make confirmation hearings for Condoleezza Rice the venue of a bomb-throwing session, on the basis of two cherished liberal theories: one, that the war in Iraq is an utter catastrophe; and two, that while criticism of liberal nonwhites and women is always racist and sexist in nature, nonwhites and women who are right-wing or centrist are less than "authentic," and therefore deserve what they get. Thus, Margaret Carlson in the Los Angeles Times found nothing amiss in Boxer's calling Rice a liar and a lackey, but insisted Boxer's critics were somehow attacking all women.

More Tools

It's official. Google Maps rocks. Of course on the Google Cool-Meter it's a notch or two below Keyhole. However, at this rate Google should rule the planet by about 2009. (via Blake Ross, via Andy)

What Google Wants With Firefox

Tech blogger and all around web guru Andy Wismar has some ideas on that. He's my kid, and I read his blog till my eyes glaze over or my head spins or both, which normally takes about five minutes. But I always find something that I can use.

While we're there, a tougher question is "What Ask Jeeves wants with Bloglines?"

Eason Update

For the latest on Jordan Eason, see Jim Geraghty at TKS here, here and here. Also major kudos to Michelle Malkin and Hugh Hewitt for their ongoing Eason bloggage. Howard Kurtz finally jumps in with the first major media attention to the issue.

February 7, 2005

Monday Night Fights

Jonah Calls Out Juan Cole

Moyers Mauled By Power Line

Kofi Bitch Slaps Sevan

In Case You Missed It

The Super Bowl ad by Anheuser-Busch. Well done! (via a Michelle Malkin post with examples good and bad of how we treat our returning soldiers)

Eason Jordan Buffet

La Shawn Barber and Hugh Hewitt have thorough roundups on the controversy over CNN executive Eason Jordan's WEF comments. This story can't stay under wraps much longer, can it?

February 6, 2005

Norm Geras Profile

Dr. Norman Geras, author of Normblog and a Wizblog favorite, is profiled in this TimesOnline feature. Geras is a British liberal academic, (even, I now find out, a Marxist) who since I first discovered his site I have appreciated as a thoughtful and sensible blogger, and an enviable writer, who contributes unique and often provocative content to the blogosphere. The British left has turned on him of course, because he supported regime change in Iraq, and the Times piece relies too much on his critics to present a very fair picture, at least from where I sit. What's worse, they called him "obscure". You go, Norm.

Browns Offer, Crennel Accepts

That didn't take long. It was the world's worst kept secret anyway. Within an hour of the end of the Super Bowl, Romeo Crennel was offered, and accepted the head coaching job of the Cleveland Browns. From the team's web site:

The Browns offered the job to New England defensive coordinator Romeo Crennel shortly after Super Bowl XXXIX and he accepted.

Negotiations between the Browns and Crennel's agent, Joe Linta, were to begin Monday at the team's Berea, Ohio, facility.

The Browns hope to announce Crennel's hiring on Tuesday or Wednesday, and then let him start building a staff.

It's apparent that the principals in this deal have been winking at the NFL prohibition on contacts between teams and coaches still involved in playoff games. Crennel's interest in Maurice Carthon as his offensive coordinator has been reported for several days now, and no doubt other conversations relating to the building of a coaching staff for Crennel's Browns are ongoing.

The NFL office is aware that their "hands off" policy has as much downside as it does benefit. It may well have cost Crennel a previous shot at a head coaching job, since teams don't want to wait around till February to get their new man in place, even though some of the most desireable candidates are on Super Bowl coaching staffs.

Patriots offensive cooordinator Charlie Weis, who weeks ago accepted the head job at Notre Dame, doesn't seem to have been negatively affected by having his new gig lined up before the playoffs ended. I'm not sure what the NFL considers to be the benefits of keeping this policy in place, other than avoiding the possible perception of a conflict of interest, which seems pretty weak especially when a team is in the Super Bowl.

So instead of enforcing their rules, the Browns and Crennel wink at the policy, and the NFL winks back.

More Steyn

Please read all of Mark Steyn's Telegraph column even though I've excerpted two segments of it here:

At tough times in my life, with the landlord tossing my clothes and record collection out on to the street, I could have used an aunt like Benon Sevan's. Asked to account for the appearance in his bank account of a certain $160,000, Mr Sevan, executive director of the UN Oil-for-Food programme, said it was a gift from his aunt. Lucky Sevan, eh? None of my aunts ever had that much of the folding stuff on tap.

And nor, it seems, did Mr Sevan's. She lived in a modest two-room flat back in Cyprus and her own bank accounts gave no indication of spare six-figure sums. Nonetheless, if a respected UN diplomat says he got 160,000 bucks from Auntie, we'll just have to take his word for it. Paul Volcker's committee of investigation did plan to ask the old lady to confirm her nephew's version of events, but, before they could, she fell down an elevator shaft and died...

...If Paul Volcker's preliminary report on Oil-for-Food dealt with the organisation's unofficial interests, the UN's other report of the week accurately captured their blithe insouciance to their official one. As you may have noticed, the good people of Darfur have been fortunate enough not to attract the attention of the arrogant cowboy unilateralist Bush and have instead fallen under the care of the Polly Toynbee-Clare Short-approved multilateral compassion set. So, after months of expressing deep concern, grave concern, deep concern over the graves and deep grave concern over whether the graves were deep enough, Kofi Annan managed to persuade the UN to set up a committee to look into what's going on in Darfur. They've just reported back that it's not genocide.

That's great news, isn't it? For as yet another Annan-appointed UN committee boldly declared in December: "Genocide anywhere is a threat to the security of all and should never be tolerated." So thank goodness this isn't genocide. Instead, it's just 70,000 corpses who all happen to be from the same ethnic group – which means the UN can go on tolerating it until everyone's dead, and Polly and Clare don't have to worry their pretty little heads about it.

February 5, 2005

Best Of Hubble

This Hubble telescope slideshow brings to mind the old Moody Blues song "Don't You Feel Small?" (via Normblog)

RMG - Put Iraqi Debate on TV

I have long found the writing of Reuel Marc Gerecht to be among the most sensible, balanced and intelligent of the Middle East commentators I've read. His Weekly Standard essay "Birth of a Democracy" is a terrific example. He says the internal constitutional debate in Iraq should be seen by as much of the Middle East as possible. If the recent election can help inspire democracy movements in places like Egypt and Iran, it's even more important to let the rest of the region see Iraqis debating their own issues, solving their own problems, and writing their own laws:

Just imagine the possibilities of pan-Arab dialogue when Iraq begins to broadcast the debates within the new national assembly. And remember, the Iraqi national assembly, not the new president, prime minister, and other cabinet officials, is likely to remain the real power center in Iraq, at least until a new constitution is written. Iraqis are a diverse people--though not as diverse as many civil-war-is-here! Western commentators would like us to believe--and they will have vivid arguments about what belongs in their basic law. It will not be hard for Arabs elsewhere, even for the most Shiite-cursing, American-hating Arab Sunnis who loathe the American-supported dictators above them, to find common ground and aspirations in these debates, which will likely be the most momentous since Egypt's literary and political elite started taking aim at (and advantage of) British dominion over the Nile Valley in the early twentieth century. If the Bush White House were wise, it would ensure that all parliamentary debates are accessible free via satellite throughout the entire Middle East. Such Iraqi C-SPAN coverage could possibly have enormous repercussions. For just a bit of extra money, Washington should dub all of the proceedings into Persian, remembering that Baghdad's echo is easily as loud in Tehran as it is in Amman and Cairo. The president has stated that he wants to stand by those who want to stand by democratic values. This is easily the cheapest and one of the most effective ways of building pressure for democratic reform.

Gerecht disagrees with some American liberals (presumably Lawrence Kaplan, for starters) who see the election of the Shia-dominated slate as signaling the end of "liberalism" for Iraq:

...contrary to the rising chorus of Democratic commentary on the Iraqi elections, Iran was the biggest loser last Sunday. The United Iraqi Alliance, which seems certain to capture the lion's share of the vote, is not at all "pro-Iranian." Neither is it any less "pro-American" than Prime Minister Iyad Allawi's al-Iraqiyya list, unless you mean that the various members of the Alliance have been and will continue to be less inclined to chat amicably with the Central Intelligence Agency, which has been a longtime backer of Allawi and his Iraqi National Accord. (This is not to suggest at all that Allawi is a CIA poodle.)...

...Primary point to remember: Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani, who is now certainly the most senior Shiite cleric in both Iraq and Iran, who is of Iranian birth and early education, has embraced a democratic political creed that is anathema to the ruling mullahs of Tehran. Ali Khamenei, Iran's senior political cleric, is in a real pickle since he cannot openly challenge Sistani and his embrace of democracy. Iran's relations with the new Iraq would cease to exist...Sistani and his men know very well that the political game they play in Iraq will have repercussions throughout the Arab world and Iran. He and his men are not rash, but there will be no tears shed on their side if Iraq's political advancement convulses those clerics in Iran who believe in theocracy.

Gerecht emphasizes the monumental importance of keeping Sistani alive and well. Right now it seems he's the glue holding the fragile democracy together, and as such he'd have to be target #1 for the enemies of that democracy. Read the whole thing.

Related reading: Here's Gerecht's pre-election piece on Iraq.

UPDATE 2/5: In a comment at The Corner, Iran expert Michael Ledeen makes a similar point about the Sistani slate NOT being a pro-theocracy group

Jordan Eason Blackout

Look no further than Hugh Hewitt's blog for the Jordan Eason story and the blogosphere reaction to it. Keep scrolling. Word is the lid could be blown off of the story this weekend despite the MSM news blackout so far. Hugh will be on Chris Matthews show on Sunday (at 1 a.m. here in Ohio) Is there anything else going on this Sunday?

February 4, 2005

Ward Churchill

We touched just briefly on the story of the wacko University of Colorado professor the other day, but Belmont Club now has "The Ward Churchill Story" up for your perusal, supplemented now by Part Two, focusing on the U. of C.'s reaction to the controversy.

Wretchard suggests that Churchill's apparent exposure as a fraud (or worse) may not impact on the school's decision on whether or not the content of his speech has First Amendment protections. They should take one thing at a time. The right side of the blogosphere doesn't seem to be calling for Churchill's dismisal over his reprehensible rhetoric, as Glenn Reynolds notes. (Another great link-rich update from Glenn here.)

The best possible result is to have the man's words, credentials and background exposed to the light of day, even if the publicity that it gives him results in undeserved celebrity. Then let the parents of UC students decide if they want to spend their hard-earned money to have their kids fed this line of crap in Ethnic Studies class. Let the school's financial contributors, administrators and alumni decide if they want to put forth Ward Churchill as a representative of their university.

If it can be proven that he lied about being an American Indian in the first place, as seems quite plausible now, they would likely be justified in firing him on the basis of fraud. But his freedom to speak his little mind without losing his job should be defended staunchly by all conservatives on principle. Right now he serves our cause wonderfully as an example of the academic Left.

UPDATE 2/6: Roger Kimball weighs in eloquently (as always).

Yes, It's A Crisis

I still reserve the cliché "must read" for only the very best stuff. That is Karl Zinsmeister's AEI essay "Take Ownership". No excerpts. Read it all.

Imperial Collapse?

Rumors of American decline may be a bit exaggerated, according to Victor Davis Hanson.

Conquest on Democracy

A timely piece by Robert Conquest in The National Interest...

"Democracy" is often given as the essential definition of Western political culture. At the same time, it is applied to other areas of the world in a formal and misleading way. So we are told to regard more or less uncritically the legitimacy of any regime in which a majority has thus won an election. But "democracy" did not develop or become viable in the West until quite a time after a law-and-liberty polity had emerged. Habeas corpus, the jury system and the rule of law were not products of "democracy", but of a long effort, from medieval times, to curb the power of the English executive. And democracy can only be seen in any positive or laudable sense if it emerges from and is an aspect of the law-and-liberty tradition...

...in the West it has been tradition that has been generally determinant of public policy. Habituation is more central to a viable constitution than any other factor. Even the Western "democracies" are not exactly models of societies generated by the word, the abstract idea. Still they, or some of them, roughly embody the concept, as we know it, and at least are basically consensual and plural--the product of at best a long evolution.

The countries without at least a particle of that background or evolution cannot be expected to become instant democracies; and if they do not live up to it, they will unavoidably be, with their Western sponsors, denounced as failures. Democracy in any Western sense is not easily constructed or imposed. The experience of Haiti should be enough comment. (via aldaily.com)

Read to the end. The last four paragraphs are the best.

Nice Move

Browns Send Marines To Super Bowl:

The Browns are donating 50 Super Bowl tickets to U.S. Marines who have just returned from Iraq and Afghanistan or are about to be deployed there.

The gesture is part of the Browns' Hats off to Heroes program, which honors those who contribute to the betterment of society. The Marines were chosen because late Browns owner Al Lerner was a former Marine.

Europe In Trouble

Writing in the February Commentary, Arthur Waldron is candid, but guardedly optimistic about the prospects of Europe successfully dealing with their problems of demographics, self-defense, and economy. Having been jarred out of their collective terror-denial mindset by the Van Gogh murder, Waldron suggests they might benefit by buying into some of that Bush Doctrine. Of course they'll have to find something else to call it:

We hear a great deal about European values, and how they differ from their inferior American counterparts. But in practice what we see in Europe day to day is a series of low-minded attempts by member states to use the EU for their own narrow purposes, or groups of states insisting on the indefinite postponement of pressing continental issues. These can never constitute a moral compass, let alone a direction forward.

West European capitals today tend not to grasp the degree to which the world is moving toward the ideals of economic and political freedom. Central and East Europeans are miles ahead on this point, as has become clear with the rapid expansion of the EU and the emergence of ideological differences between what Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld termed "old" and "new" Europe. Reactions to the Ukrainian crisis, as I have already suggested, underscored the difference; new Europeans instantly grasped its significance, old Europeans fell back into silence. As a letter writer to the Guardian observed, "Clearly it still only takes a growl from Russia for Western Europe to abandon all support for human rights on its eastern borders." One might add that it likewise takes only a growl from Beijing to silence any protest at Chinese actions which, if carried out far more gently by white people, would most certainly be labeled war crimes.

The noble values of economic and political freedom, pioneered by Western Europe, are in low repute in Western Europe, though they are plainly what should serve as the EU’s missing ideological cement.

February 3, 2005

The Comma-ists

Check out The Diplomad's post on what he calls "the Comma-ists", or what have also been called the "yes, buts". They are mostly politicians on the American left who would rather stick needles in their eyes than admit that George Bush has accomplished anything positive in Iraq.

February 2, 2005

OSU 2005 Recruits

The Buckeyes wrapped up their 2005 football recruiting class today with the commitment of Lawrence Wilson, a defensive end from Akron St. Vincent-St. Mary. The class, which should remain ranked in the Top 10 in the nation, is profiled here, courtesy of Bucknuts.com.

Baseball Stuff

I got the fever bad. Here are John Sickels Top 10 Prospects for baseball in 2005 (actually 20, it turns out). Note young Tribe phenom Adam Miller ranked #2 among pitchers.

And yes, I do spend time on sports sites other than ESPN.com, it just doesn't seem like it sometimes. Like now. Here's Jayson Stark's compendium of Useless Information. Here's more of the same.

Over at Off Wing Opinion, Eric McErlain has a good roundup of news and comment on the Washington Nationals. That's right, get used to it. The Washington Nationals. At least we no longer have a baseball team named after a world's fair that happened 38 years ago. By the way, Eric has a nice selection of baseball blogs on his blogroll if you're as hungry for baseball talk as I am.

February 1, 2005

Crennel Speaks

Romeo Crennel was allowed to speak to the media today, which is more than Head Coach Bill Belichick normally permits him to do during the season. Crennel talked about his interview with the Browns, and the type of system he would like to run if he had a head coaching job somewhere someday:

Crennel said his team’s offense would be similar to the one run by New England and the Giants, places he has coached.

"We have been a flexible offense, primarily a two-back offense with the ability to use multiple personnel groups to try to spread the field, get isolations," Crennel said. "You’d like to be able to run the ball, use play-action passes and throw the ball when you want to – throw the ball down the field."

Defensively, he favors the three-four.

"It’s been good to me," he said.

North Korean Regime Collapsing?

The Sunday Times Online has a piece on the Kim Jong-il regime that suggests it may be imploding from the force of its own utter failure. Kim's forces seem less able, or perhaps less willing, to enforce prohibitions on defection or criticism of the Leader:

Word has spread like wildfire of the Christian underground that helps fugitives to reach South Korea. People who lived in silent fear now dare to speak about escape. The regime has almost given up trying to stop them going, although it can savagely punish those caught and sent back.

“Everybody knows there is a way out,” said a woman, who for obvious reasons cannot be identified but who spoke in front of several witnesses.

“They know there is a Christian network to put them in contact with the underground, to break into embassies in Beijing or to get into Vietnam. They know, but you have to pay a lot of money to middlemen who have the Christian contacts.”

Her knowledge was remarkable. North Korean newspapers are stifled by state control. Televisions receive only one channel which is devoted to the Dear Leader’s deeds. Radios are fixed to a single frequency. For most citizens the internet is just a word.

Yet North Koreans confirmed that they knew that escapers to China should look for buildings displaying a Christian cross and should ask among Korean speakers for people who knew the word of Jesus.

“The information blockade is like a dam and when it bursts there will be a great wave,” said Shin, the crusading pastor.

(via AS)

A couple of previous posts on N. Korea:

Inside Kimland

Report on N. Korea Prison Camps

Moving Goalposts

The same might be said of Mark Steyn as was once remarked by a sportscaster about running back Earl Campbell..."He may not be in a class by himself, but it sure doesn't take long to call the roll". Here's his latest column in The Australian:

And so the "looming Iraqi election fiasco" joins "the brutal Afghan winter" and "the brutal Iraqi summer" and "the seething Arab street" and all the other junk in the overflowing trash can of post-9/11 Western media fictions. The sight of millions of brave voters emerging from polling stations holding high their purple dye-stained fingers was so inspiring that, from America's Democratic Party to European protest rallies, opponents of the war waited, oh, all of three minutes before flipping the Iraqis their own fingers, undyed.

"No one in the United States should try to over-hype this election," warned John Kerry yesterday before embarking on the world champion limbo dance of Iraqi election under-hyping.

He has a point. One vote does not a functioning democracy make. To be a truly advanced, sophisticated democracy you need an opposition party that knows how to react to good news by sounding whiny and grudging and moving the goalposts. "The real test is not the election," he declared, airily swatting aside 8 million voters. "The real test is . . ."

I dozed off at that point, so I'm unable to tell you what moved goalposts the senator inserted. But no doubt they involved, as they always do, the Bush administration needing to "reach out" more effectively to involve the "international community". "International community", by the way, doesn't mean Tony Blair, John Howard, the Poles, Japan, India, Fiji, et al but Jacques Chirac and Kofi Annan, a pantomime horse in which both men are playing the rear end. But, in an advanced, sophisticated democracy, that's how we define the "international community": no matter how many foreigners are in your coalition, it's unilateral unless Jacques is on board.

Super Bowl QB's

Page 2 is rating the quarterbacks who have played in the Super Bowl, from 1 through 80. One surprise is that Phil Simms isn't Number 1. But it's no surprise that three of the Top Ten are Joe Montana.