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April 30, 2005

Sgrena Story Takes A Hit

Go figure. Looks like American soldiers didn't just open fire on a car moseying up to their airport checkpoint at a reasonable speed of 30 mph, as Italian journalist Giuliana Sgrena has maintained since the March 4 incident that wounded her and killed her rescuer, Nicola Calipari. Ed Morrissey has more in this Captains Quarters post. CBS News has reported that their Pentagon sources say U.S. satellite data now proves that the car was traveling at over 60 mph approaching the heavily guarded Baghdad airport checkpoint.

It should be noted I suppose, that this is the same CBS News that gave us the Texas Air National Guard documents. Once their journalistic integrity is shown to be in tatters, I guess all stories deserve a healthy dose of skepticism, even if we are pleased with their content. It will be interesting to see if this satellite evidence is confirmed elsewhere in the media.

In an article that doesn't mention the satellite evidence, the New York Times has the results of the U.S.-Italian investigation from a report released today:

The report...asserts that the Italians ignored repeated warnings from American soldiers as they sped onto a part of the Baghdad airport road where soldiers are on a constant state of high alert because of the extraordinary risk of suicide car bombs and other insurgent attacks.

According to the report, 11 bullets fired by one American soldier hit the Italians' car, killing Mr. Calipari, after the car failed to heed the warnings. The car was traveling about 50 miles per hour - faster than other cars that night - as it approached the checkpoint and did not slow until struck by the bullets, the report said.

The driver "was dealing with multiple distractions including talking on the phone while driving, the conversation in the back seat, trying to listen for threats, driving on a wet road, focusing on tasks to be accomplished, the need to get to the airport, and the excited and tense atmosphere in the car," the report found. He shouted, "They are attacking us" into his phone when the firing began, the report said, adding that it was "highly unlikely" that any shots were fired after the car stopped. The fusillade lasted four seconds, it said.

The soldier who fired the shots complied with the military's rules of engagement, the report concluded. "After operating the spotlight, and perceiving the oncoming vehicle as a threat, he fired to disable it and did not intend to harm anyone," it said.

This Boston Globe article contains a timeline of the events surrounding the checkpoint shooting as well as more details on the shooting itself.

The Italians were furious after a report came out the other day exonerating the American soldiers and recommending that they not be disciplined in any way. One hopes that the investigators on the Italian side will be able to convince their countrymen and media people that the satellite video is conclusive, and that Sgrena was lying about the circumstances of the incident. I don't suppose we should expect apologies from the Italians, despite the nasty accusations and conspiracy rhetoric we've been hearing since March 4. I for one would settle for them just shutting up.

(As is my customary practice with NYT articles, the full text is reproduced at the link below - DW)

UPDATE 5/1: Michelle Malkin has a terrific roundup of links and comments on all the latest developments in the Sgrena story

The New York Times May 1, 2005 Ex-Hostage's Italian Driver Ignored Warning, U.S. Says By RICHARD A. OPPEL Jr. and ROBERT F. WORTH

BAGHDAD, Iraq, April 30 - The car carrying the Italian journalist Giuliana Sgrena that was struck with a deadly hail of gunfire as it sped toward Baghdad International Airport on March 4 ignored warnings from American soldiers who used a spotlight, a green laser pointer and warning shots to try to stop it as it approached a checkpoint, the American military said in a report released Saturday evening.

The gunfire killed Nicola Calipari, an Italian intelligence agent who was in the back seat with Ms. Sgrena. The driver and Ms. Sgrena were wounded. Lt. Gen. John R. Vines, the ground commander in Iraq, has approved a recommendation that soldiers involved in the shooting not be disciplined, the military said.

The report's exoneration of the soldiers, which was made public last week, angered Italian officials and threatened to further inflame relations between the United States and Italy, one of its staunchest allies in the war in Iraq. The findings have created a political problem for the Italian prime minister, Silvio Berlusconi, who faces a public upset by the incident at a time when his own fortunes are sagging.

Italy has kept 3,000 troops in Iraq, but Mr. Berlusconi has suggested that Italy might begin withdrawing them by September.

Italian officials have disputed preliminary accounts of the shooting, provided last month by the United States, and Italy is pressing its own investigation. Ms. Sgrena has also challenged the United States' account, saying the car approached the checkpoint at a moderate speed and was not given any warnings.

Ms. Sgrena, a reporter for the left-wing daily newspaper Il Manifesto, was abducted Feb. 4 in Baghdad and released March 4, less than one hour before she and her rescuers made their trip to the airport. American officials have said the checkpoint was established temporarily to help provide security for the United States ambassador, John D. Negroponte, who was meeting with the top military commander in Iraq. Mr. Negroponte has since been appointed director of national intelligence.

The incident helped focus attention on the risks that Iraqis face at American checkpoints, where human rights groups say many Iraqis have been accidentally wounded or killed.

The report, which had many blacked-out parts, is the American military's first detailed account of the events. It asserts that the Italians ignored repeated warnings from American soldiers as they sped onto a part of the Baghdad airport road where soldiers are on a constant state of high alert because of the extraordinary risk of suicide car bombs and other insurgent attacks.

According to the report, 11 bullets fired by one American soldier hit the Italians' car, killing Mr. Calipari, after the car failed to heed the warnings. The car was traveling about 50 miles per hour - faster than other cars that night - as it approached the checkpoint and did not slow until struck by the bullets, the report said.

The driver "was dealing with multiple distractions including talking on the phone while driving, the conversation in the back seat, trying to listen for threats, driving on a wet road, focusing on tasks to be accomplished, the need to get to the airport, and the excited and tense atmosphere in the car," the report found. He shouted, "They are attacking us" into his phone when the firing began, the report said, adding that it was "highly unlikely" that any shots were fired after the car stopped. The fusillade lasted four seconds, it said.

The soldier who fired the shots complied with the military's rules of engagement, the report concluded. "After operating the spotlight, and perceiving the oncoming vehicle as a threat, he fired to disable it and did not intend to harm anyone," it said.

The report also asserted that the United States military "was totally unaware of the recovery and transport of Ms. Sgrena" until after the shooting. It said the troops stationed at the checkpoint were on their first full day on shift there and "lacked experience in issuing operational orders and in battle tracking security forces" at checkpoints.

The report also found that a senior commander in the American-led alliance who was at a military base near the site of the shooting, identified only as a major general, was aware something was under way involving the journalist. Just 20 minutes before the shooting, the commander confirmed to his aide, an unidentified captain, that an operation was under way. But the general said, "It is best if no one knows."

While finding that the soldiers were not culpable, the report recommended taking steps to better inform Iraqis and other drivers about how to approach checkpoints, echoing calls made by critics since the incident. The report also recommended that the military use more signs and enhanced lighting to warn drivers that they are approaching a checkpoint.

April 29, 2005

Saudi Pilots Visiting Mexico

Somehow I had missed this news item until I read it in the new dead tree edition of National Review:

A couple of weeks ago, Flight KLM 685 took off from Amsterdam, headed for Mexico City with 278 passengers on board. It was a direct flight, Holland to Mexico, but because it was scheduled to cross U.S. airspace, the Mexican authorities forwarded the flight manifest to our Department of Homeland Security. It turned out that two of the passengers, both from Saudi Arabia, raised a number of red flags on Homeland Security databases. Both of them had attended the same Arizona flight school as 9/11 hijacker Hani Hanjour. Taking a break from bureaucratic infighting to safeguard the U.S. public for once, Homeland Security denied the plane overfly rights. The Canadians, told of the situation, denied landing rights, so KLM 685 had to turn in mid-Atlantic and head back to Amsterdam. Now, why would two (possible) Qaedists want to go to Mexico City? Claimed the suspects: To visit their sick father, an ex-Saudi diplomat, who lives there. This claim is fishy. And we do not know whether, supposing the two men had reached Mexico, they might shortly thereafter have shown up in the U.S. Given the state of our southern border, there would have been very little to stop them.

April 28, 2005

New Guys In Orange Hats

I'm realizing that the fact I haven't been compelled to weigh in on the Browns draft is itself good news. No fifth round long-snappers to be incredulous about. No players from 0-11 Division II teams. Grownups in charge.

I like the four picks I had heard of, and I'm intrigued by a couple of the others. I love Braylon Edwards even if he is from that school up north, and both he and Pool seem like bright, charismatic kids. Savage drafted players from major football programs who were productive in college. And he seems to have gone for intelligence along with athleticism.

By the way, slap me if I ever again predict major trade activity in the first round. It's just not often done, and you can understand why not. As much as Savage, as just one example, might have benefitted by trading down, the lure of a talent like Edwards is tough to resist. There's lots of potential P.R. downside if he passes on Edwards and he goes on to be a perennial Pro-Bowler elsewhere. That, and it sounds like Savage's phone wasn't exactly ringing off the hook.

After the two good Oklahoma defensive backs, he grabbed a couple players for Romeo Crennel's 3-4 defense that Crennel hopes can become his Mike Vrabel-type players. It looks like David McMillan and Nick Speegle will be looked at for the DE/OLB positions. I was knocked out by Speegle's "measurables", a reported 4.5 40 time and 38 1/2 in. vertical leap at 6'6" 245 lbs.? He has my attention at outside linebacker immediately.

Of course Charlie Frye could make this draft special, if he turns out to be a solid starting quarterback in the NFL. I remember seeing him give the Buckeyes all they wanted as a true freshman playing in his 3rd game for Akron U. The Zips lost 28-14, but Frye had them in the game till the fourth quarter, a game in which they had no business being that close. Maybe we'll get lucky.

Good news too that they signed Buckeye Simon Fraser. He's another big, rangy DE that plays the run well, and I would think has a real chance to make the team. The number of free agents that end up making this team will be a good indication if Savage's still has that much-touted nose for talent. I hope he has a "sleeper" offensive tackle or two in mind.

I was surprised that they didn't address the offensive line earlier, but I understand that after Frye and Edwards, they had to fill some of the many holes on defense. We're still only one-deep on the offensive line, and so the four of five guys that stick with the team as backups HAVE to be upgrades over last year's bench. They're carrying guys like Sterling Harris and Javiar Collins on the roster, huge guys with some NFL experience, but they're not Savage's guys, so we'll see if they are moved out.

Here's what some of the pundits and draft observers had to say about Savage's first Browns draft.

UPDATE 4/28: Fox Sports has put out their early ranking of players for the 2006 Draft. They are smart enough to have A.J. Hawk in the Top 5, and Bobby Carpenter also in the first round. But what are they thinking putting Teddy Ginn Jr. on that list? I realize that after he wins the Heisman, there will be a lot of talk about his pro career, but he's a true sophomore this season, and thus ineligible for the draft until 2007.

UPDATE 4/28: D'oh. I just went back and noticed that the Fox headline says "...for 2006 (and Beyond)". But I was only slightly kidding about that Heisman for Ginn.

BNP Role in Oil-For-Food

Tomorrow, Dana Rohrabacher and the House Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations start looking into the French Bank BNP's involvement in the U.N. Oil-For-Food program. Claudia Rosett is on top of it.

April 26, 2005

Podscope Launches

I'm easily amazed (see Keyhole.com) but this new search engine is very cool. Just launched today, it's called Podscope, and it searches the actual audio content of online podcasts and other audio files for the text of your search words, and delivers the results complete with an online audio player and download capability. You'll need to find someone way smarter than me to ask how the hell they do this. Oh, and as you might have guessed, there's a Podscope Blog.

Blogging and Business

Business Week's cover story this week is about blogs, and their application to the business world. Somewhere in the process of doing the story BW decided to start their own.

Guess the Google

Saw this game linked over at Silflay Hraka. I won't admit how bad I was at it on my first try. See if you've got what it takes to Guess-the-Google.

April 25, 2005

Clint vs. Chirac

As his country inches toward rejection of his beloved E.U. Constitution, Jacques Chirac held a televised "town hall" type meeting to discuss the issue with young people. As Christopher Caldwell reports, it's not working. In fact, people didn't even watch. How funny is this little cultural factoid?

Opposition to the E.U. constitution actually rose after his intervention, according to overnight polling--from 53 percent to 56 percent. What may have been most unnerving to Chirac is how few people felt they needed to hear his views on France's most important constitutional debate in almost 50 years. According to the daily Libération, the broadcast got only 7.4 million viewers nationwide, nosing past Clint Eastwood's Pale Rider, which got 6.4 million on another channel.

Ah, the sophistication of the French.

Why Hillary Did It

Dick Morris explains how and why Hillary Clinton's campaign finance manager David Rosen underreported the actual costs of a fundraising event by over a million dollars, and how her campaign benefited from the crime. Her only defense against charges that she was herself guilty of a crime would be to show that she didn't know what was going on.


Rosen is facing a possible 15 year prison term, but he could serve up Hillary to federal prosecutors to try to stay out of jail. I can't help wondering if the Clinton gang has threatened any members of his family yet or strangled his cat or something. Why would anyone think they don't still play for keeps?

Big Fat Lies

Just because they've found that the obesity problem in the U.S. is only one fourteenth as bad as they have been saying it is for years, the Centers for Disease Control doesn't plan to change the way they provide information to the public on the issue. A couple of columns from TCS sum up the science at the heart of a new report, and the political and bureaucratic inertia that make it unlikely the CDC will change course significantly as a result of its findings. An excerpt from John Luik's piece:

...in a study released this week by the CDC and published in the Journal of the American Medical Association ("Excess Deaths Associated with Underweight, Overweight, and Obesity"), the public health community has finally owned up to their massive fib by acknowledging that the number of deaths due to obesity in the US is closer to 26,000 not 400,000 as previously reported.

Apart from this huge downward revision in the numbers of people supposedly dying from fat, there are several things in this study which signal the end of any legitimate linkage between obesity and premature death. First, for the merely overweight with BMI's from 25-30 there is no excess mortality. In fact, being overweight was "associated with a slight reduction in mortality relative to the normal weight category." Being overweight not only does not lead to premature death, something that dozens of other studies from around the world have been saying for the last 30 years, but it also carries less risk from premature death than being "normal" weight. In other words the overweight=early death "fact" proclaimed by the public health community is simply not true.

So are they correcting the record? Radley Balko says it seems the folks at CDC don't want to let science get in the way of their mission:

"We misled you. And we plan to keep on misleading you."

That's essentially what the Centers for Disease Control announced this week. The agency said Tuesday that it has greatly over-exaggerated the number of lives lost each year to obesity. After years of putting the figure somewhere between 300,000 and 400,000, the agency now says the net number is just under 26,000, meaning the government has been telling us obesity is fourteen times the threat it actually is, leading policymakers at all levels of governance to prescribe all matter of intrusive, expensive, choice-restrictive public policies aimed at addressing it...

...Even worse, just as critics of the obesity hysteria have been saying all along, the CDC's latest data suggests there may be a mild protective effect associated with being modestly overweight, particularly among the elderly. That means the incessant calls from government officials and nutrition activists for us to "shape up" may bode ill-health for many Americans.

If all of that weren't bad enough, press reports indicate the CDC will still continue to spend millions of taxpayer dollars on anti-obesity programs, and will not be using the new data in those programs...

...Oddly enough, after years of spouting the flimsy 300,000 and 400,000 figures, Dixie Snider, the CDC's chief science officer, told the New York Times that it's "too early in the science" for the agency to embrace the new study. Of course, when it comes to invasive, hands-on government programs aimed at curbing obesity, nutrition activists and government officials don't seem nearly as concerned with accuracy. Robert Wood Johnson Foundation President Risa Lavizzo-Mouro told the crowd at a Time-ABC News obesity summit last June that when it comes to public policy and obesity, "we need to act ahead of the science." Even, I guess, if it means acting in ways that are counterproductive.

And Balko then makes the common sense libertarian argument about intrusive, meddling government:

There are several lessons to learn from the CDC's striking admission of error. First, government shouldn't "act ahead of the science." It shouldn't even act if and when the science becomes conclusive. Instead, we as individuals should make ourselves aware of the science, then make our own decisions accordingly, free from the reach of meddling busybodies. If you want to buy into the latest study, and abstain from whatever the latest headlines say will give you cancer or stroke, by all means, go for it. But let's leave that decision up to individuals.

Second, the media need to be much, much more skeptical about research announcing the latest health scare. Americans have been getting fatter for thirty years. Yet we're healthier than we've ever been before. Life expectancy last year was the highest it's ever been, across all demographic groups. Heart disease and cancer -- two diseases we've been told are closely linked to obesity -- are in rapid decline. Yet with just a few exceptions, the constant media drumbeat has been about how the obesity "epidemic" promises a looming healthcare catastrophe. Well, where is it?

Michael Goldfarb wonders if "obesity epidemic" crusader Bill Maher will notice.

April 24, 2005

OSU Spring Game Recap

Well, the actual weather matched the miserable forecast for Ohio State's Spring Game on Saturday, but at least those of us who showed up were dressed for it. They announced the attendance as 33,000, but that must have been the number of tickets sold, because I don't think there were more 15,000 soggy butts in the seats. (I see now that the bucknuts.com article says 22,649 were there...must have been all those people tucked up under the cover of B-deck staying dry). And the story of the long, wet afternoon was that the offense was as sloppy as the weather.

First the disclaimers. Conditions were dicey, although the field was in great shape and it held up well as play went along. The rain was a light drizzle but it was really windy and only about 35 degrees. On top of that, it's hard to expect things to click smoothly on offense when you've got half the starters playing for the Scarlet and half for the Gray. The coaches only had about 15-16 plays in for the game, and the key starters were only permitted to play about two quarters. Oh yeah, and the Bucks have a whole lot of talent on defense.

Last year's Michigan game and the Alamo Bowl win showed the speed and offensive weaponry that this team can muster. The lopsided score of last week's Jersey Scrimmage was in favor of the offense, and had raised fans' hopes that the end of the 2004 season wasn't a fluke. And I really don't think it was, but yesterday's offensive performance was anything but a confidence booster, especially in the passing game.

Justin Zwick had an awful first half in almost every way as the QB for the Scarlet. Poor mechanics, poor decision-making and just plain bad throws. He was rushed effectively at times, but at other times he had plenty of time to throw and just threw badly. In his defense, he came back out after having sat out the third quarter, and made some good throws in the fourth. I wonder about his confidence, though. This game could not have helped it much.

Troy Smith quarterbacked the Gray, and while he did some of the scrambling things that make him the preferred choice for the Buckeyes, his arm also was erratic and his decision-making less than sure. He threw one interception while under a heavy rush, and generally didn't look good trying to throw on the run.

Backup Todd Boeckman didn't have the numbers to turn anyone's head (4 of 12 for 18 yards) but he looked poised, moved well, and threw a nice TD to Tony Gonzalez. His arm looked more accurate than the two juniors on this day, and TE Rory Nichol dropped three passes that would have made Boeckman's stats look better.

There were three primary areas of concern for me coming into this game that I wanted to pay particular attention to as things went along;

-Could the running game be effective with Tony Pittman as the starter, and what would our first good look at backup redshirt freshman Eric Haw tell us about his ability?

-Who would take over the boundary cornerback position to replace Dustin Fox? Would it be Tyler Everett, or would underclassmen Sirjo Welch or Shaun Lane take the lead at that spot?

-How much would we miss placekicker Mike Nugent and long-snapper Kyle Andrews on special teams?

The answers at the running back position were encouraging. Tony Pittman looked very good, showing a good burst through the holes and the strength to break some tackles. He got ouside a couple of times and made some defenders miss. They ran mostly "stretch" plays and simple off-tackle stuff, but the O-Line blocking was good and Pittman showed why he's the starter.

Haw looked a bit tentative at first, and may have missed a couple of reads early that might have sprung him for longer gains, but he really picked it up in the second half. He has added some pounds since last Spring, up to about 6'1", 210, and he's still very fast, which he showed on a sprint to the corner on his 10 yd. TD run. He broke tackles and showed he knows how to lower the shoulder and drive through the contact, consistently falling forward for extra yardage. Haw ended up with 86 yds on 16 carries and the TD. Add incoming freshman speedster Maurice Wells to this duo, and the RB position should be in good shape, even though with a sophomore and two freshmen we are pretty young and green.

At cornerback, I had heard that Tyler Everett was going to get limited action in this game, and to be honest I don't recall seeing much of him on the field. He is the favorite to be the starter, based on experience and speed, but most of that experience is at safety or nickel back, so he is still an unproven corner. Sirjo Welch and Shaun Lane played quite well, with both getting lots of action. Lane had an interception of Troy Smith that was thrown right to him, but it was the result of a good read, and he returned it nicely. Lane also had the best kickoff return of the day, and I hope we see more of him there. Welch, who was last season's punt coverage demon, also looked good at corner, making several outstanding tackles and not getting burned in coverage.

The surprise of the day was Ted Ginn Jr. getting some time at cornerback, especially in the Red Zone. He played about 5-6 plays at CB, and I don't believe he had more than one pass thrown in his area. After the game Coach Tressel was quoted as saying "That's something he has the capability of doing. One way or another, we're going to get comfortable at that position." Ginn or no Ginn, I'm comfortable based on what I saw yesterday.

If anything gives me pause about predicting a Top 5 finish for the 2005 Buckeyes, it's the kicking game. We didn't get much of a chance to see Josh Huston, the favorite at the moment to replace All- American PK Mike Nugent, because the Scarlet barely crossed midfield until the fourth quarter, and then a bad snap cost him his only extra point attempt. I don't know the name of the guy who was long-snapping for the Scarlet, but he better hope Tressel doesn't either. It is no exaggeration to say he did not have a single decent snap on a punt, and the Scarlet team did little all day but punt. Only one went over the punter's head, (resulting in a Gray TD) but he made the Scarlet punter look like a soccer goalie the rest of the day, diving for save after save. I'm just hoping the first stringer was on the Gray team. And by the way, the punting was consistently mediocre on both sides, so the coach who is fond of saying that "the punt is the most important play in football" may be having some sleepless nights this summer.

Upperclassmen like OT Rob Sims and LB's A.J. Hawk and Bobby Carpenter played well in limited action, and the fans saw only one run (a 13 yd. reverse) and one catch (5 yds.) by Ted Ginn Jr. in addition to his CB work, but several other guys had terrific games that deserve special mention. That group included the entire set of backup linebackers, so fans can rest assured that those positions will be in good hands when Hawk and Carpenter both go in the first round of the 2006 NFL Draft. My stars of the game:

-LB Marcus Freeman has a new number (#1) and looks like a tackling machine. I have yet to see someone break a tackle once Marcus has his mitts on him. He's strong and just seems instinctive, and he's around the ball all the time.

-LB Chad Hoobler is a smallish (6'3", 215 lbs.)inside linebacker, but he makes plays all over the field. He's fast, a sure tackler and always seems to make plays when he drops into pass coverage. Bucknuts personnel guru Duane Long loves Hoobler, and said yesterday he will be better than Andy Katzenmoyer. Yesterday, he showed flashes of that kind of ability.

-LB/S Curt Lukens had quite a few tackles yesterday, and made some good plays in pass coverage as well. He may be in between positions, but his message yesterday was "just get me on the field".

Stong performances were also noticeable from LB Curtis Terry, DE's Jay Richardson and David Patterson, CB's Shaun Lane and Sirjo Welch, WR's Devon Lyons, Tony Gonzalez, OL's Steve Rehring, Rob Sims, and T.J. Downing, RB's Haw and Pittman, and FB Brandon Schnittker. Also, pre-freshman Jimmy Cordle, who graduated from high school in January and enrolled early at OSU, played center for the Gray for a good portion of the game and held his own like a veteran. Remember that name.

Two guys who didn't necessarily have standout games, but are still players to watch are TE Marcel Frost and WR Albert Dukes. Both are redshirt freshmen, and both have stardom written all over them. Dukes dropped one catchable ball yesterday, and fumbled another one after the catch, but still showed fluid moves, and great athletic ability and speed. He'll probably be the fifth or sixth WR option this year, but look out in '06.

Frost is a big, athletic tight end who was a basketball star at power forward in H.S. (think Ricky Dudley body type). His speed and hands will make defenses who are already nervous about Smith, Ginn, Holmes, Gonzalez, Haw and Pittman, become absolutely petrified. He caught a TD pass from Smith yesterday that was first tipped by Hoobler, and then bounced off his own helmet before he snatched it out of the air. He had ten catches and a TD in last week's Jersey Scrimmage, and lack of experience is the only thing that can slow him down. You'll be hearing a lot more from Marcel Frost this season.

Low point of the day was the classless behavior of some "fans" who booed the lackluster showing by Justin Zwick. This is a guy who has shown nothing but class and loyalty to the program for his entire three years at OSU. He played hurt in the bowl game last year and turned in a gutsy, winning performance anyway, at a time when the program and the school needed a morale boost. As if there would ever be a justification for booing a player in the Spring Game anyway. Sheesh!

The day was topped off with a massive cheeseburger at Thurman Cafe in German Village afterwards. My first ever Thurman Burger, and assuredly not my last.

A couple of items lifted from the Dayton Daily News article on the game. (link requires free registration)

- Ohio State sports information director Steve Snapp has held his job for 33 years. Asked where Saturday's weather ranked in spring-game annals during his tenure, Snapp said, "Thirty-third."

- The Buckeyes limited their regulars to no more than about two quarters. Linebacker Bobby Carpenter tried to sneak back on the field by changing jerseys with a teammate, but he was busted by coach Jim Tressel.

"I spent more time as a policeman than I did watching drives," Tressel said.

Special acknowledgement to Gary Housteau of Bucknuts.com and Jim Davidson of The O-Zone for all the photography. Links to their full Photo Galleries below.

Other OSU Spring Game coverage:

PD article

Gary Housteau's Photo Page

Bill Livingston

O-Zone Spring Game Photo Gallery by Jim Davidson

O-Zone article

Bolton Vote Set For May 12

More commentary on the nomination of John Bolton to be the U.S. ambassador to the U.N.

First, this quote from Stephen Hayes' account is revealing:

Senate Democrats on the Foreign Relations Committee spent much of last Tuesday afternoon shouting down their opponents, gesticulating wildly, interrupting speakers, and making unsubstantiated claims--all of this in an effort to delay a vote on the Bolton nomination. He is unfit for the job, they claim, because over the course of his career Bolton is alleged to have shouted down his opponents, gesticulated wildly, interrupted speakers, and made unsubstantiated claims. Washington at its finest.

Lawrence Eagleburger sees little substance in Democrats' objections to Bolton.

And Mona Charen says Bolton's crime is possession of common sense.

Democrats have bought enough time to keep looking for substantive dirt on Bolton before the May 12 vote. Look for a report that he once talked back to his Mommy after jaywalking on the way home from school.

April 22, 2005

April In Ohio

The forecast for the Ohio State Spring Game tomorrow in Columbus is for a high of 45 degrees, a low of 32, with a 90% chance of rain, possibly turning to snow. Lovely. I'll bundle up and bring back a full report for the Buckeye faithful.

It's The Parenting

The backlash against Bill Cosby from some quarters has been intense at times for his suggestion that black parents are largely responsible for the educational underachievement of their children. But other commentators black and white have stepped forward to say he's right, that it really is about the parenting.

Kay Hymowitz writes about a number of cultural differences in parenting, including the level of "child-centeredness" in the household, that have an effect on vocabulary and eventual educational performance and social development. I won't even try to excerpt her excellent City Journal article, just strongly recommend reading it all.

Killing the Barrett Report

Why are John Kerry and two other Democratic Senators trying to defund the Independent Counsel investigation by David Barrett when all that's left to do is release the already completed final report? Because the report is likely to be embarrassing to Democrats, that's why. And because the law firm representing the original subject of the investigation, Clinton Cabinet official Henry Cisneros, has already filed 190 motions and appeals to delay or squelch the report, and they must be running out of ideas. Here's today's WSJ editorial with more details.

It's Not About Management Style

In case you missed Taranto's BOTW yesterday, don't. For those with bad memories, Taranto points out that Congressional Democrats, almost to a person, opposed the U.N.'s request for assistance in ousting Saddam from Kuwait. So it's not Bolton's unwillingness to just follow the U.N. wherever it leads that they object to. They've done their share of that:

...their real objection to Bolton is ideological, not temperamental: They take issue with his view of the U.N...

...The classic example of the U.S. leading the U.N. was the first Gulf War. In November 1990 the Security Council passed Resolution 678, which authorized member states "to use all necessary means," including military force, to liberate Kuwait, then under occupation by Saddam Hussein's Iraq. The resolution also "request[ed] all States to provide appropriate support" to that end.

In January 1991 Congress obliged. The House voted 250-183, with 179 Democrats voting "no," to authorize U.S. military force. The Senate vote was 52-47, with 45 Democrats voting "no." Only 86 House Democrats and 10 Senate Democrats voted in favor...

...So the U.N. gave the thumbs-up for military force and asked for help, and most Democrats balked. Only a handful of lawmakers, including Sen. Jim Jeffords, ex-Sen. Bob Graham, Reps. John Dingell and Jim Leach and a few other House members (along with Al Gore), took what might be considered the consistent pro-U.N. position, supporting the liberation of Kuwait but not Iraq. Most Dems who now pose as champions of the U.N. showed their disdain for the world body by voting to refuse its request for help in 1991.

It seems fair to conclude, then, that most liberal Democrats, like Bolton, are pro-U.N. only when it suits their purposes--and that their purposes are the opposite of Bolton's. That is, for the Democratic left, the U.N. is useful and worthy of respect only insofar as it acts as an obstacle to American leadership and an opponent of American interests.

My excerpts don't do him justice. Read it all.

UPDATE 4/22: Rich Lowry on the Democrat's smear campaign against Bolton.

April 21, 2005

Feel Good....Please

George Will has a terrific piece in yesterday's WaPo on "therapism", the cultural trend that emphasizes the "values" of self-esteem, minimizing stress and the identification and venting of one's "feelings". In "Have A Nice Day, Or Else" , Will cites an example that blew my mind from a new book by Christina Hoff Sommers and Sally Satel:

In 2001 the Girl Scouts, illustrating what Sommers and Satel say is the assumption that children are "combustible bundles of frayed nerves," introduced, for girls 8 to 11, a "Stress Less Badge" adorned with an embroidered hammock. It can be earned by practicing "focused breathing," keeping a "feelings diary," burning scented candles and exchanging foot massages.

Am I correct in assuming that the Scouts are no longer referring to these things as "merit" badges? Think of the potential for damaged self-esteem if one Scout had more of them than another.

UPDATE 4/26: Sommers and Satel are interviewed by Pia Catton for AEI about therapism and their new book. (via RCP)

April 20, 2005

"Others Unknown" Still Haunt OKC

I'm a couple of days late for the 10th anniversary of the OKC bombing, but then the FBI is ten years late leveling with the American people about who was involved along with Timothy McVeigh and Terry Nichols in the plot to bomb the Murrah Building. Rich at Bizblogger has a post up called "Decade of Deceit: The Oklahoma City Bombing" that's worth reading in full.

He focuses on the body of work of Jayna Davis, the Oklahoma City television reporter who has covered the case from the day of the bombing, and has linked McVeigh and Nichols to several Middle Eastern men with ties to Iraqi Intelligence. Rich's post summarizes some of Davis' findings as follows:

Jayna Davis compiled the following evidence over the past decade: 1) Twenty-six sworn affidavits from eyewitnesses who implicate specific Arab men acting in collusion with McVeigh and Nichols during various stages of the bombing plot. 2) Classified government intelligence reports that tie Middle Eastern terrorist organizations to the attack. 3) Court documents, public records and statements by law enforcement and intelligence sources that have independently corroborated the eyewitnesses’ testimonies. The findings have been documented through nearly seventy hours of videotaped interviews, recorded phone conversations, and hundreds of pages of transcripts.

Davis’ evidence pointed to a network of foreign terrorists who were complicit in the bombing, including a former Iraqi soldier named Hussain Al-Hussaini who was identified by several independent witnesses as fitting the description of John Doe 2 with McVeigh in the Ryder truck the morning of the bombing.

On several occasions, Davis attempted to present her evidence to the FBI, but was continually refused. In 1997, she met with an FBI agent to surrender all witness statements and hundreds of pages of supporting information that validated critical aspects of their testimonies. The FBI, however, categorically refused to accept the evidence. The DOJ apparently did not want any more “documents for discovery” to turn over to the defense teams.

Here is a more complete summary of Jayna Davis' reporting, which Wizblog first linked to in this post almost two years ago, and another later in 2003. There was talk at the time that the FBI might be asked to reopen the investigation in light of the Davis evidence, but it was a pipedream then, as it is now, to suggest the FBI would willingly investigate their own corruption and/or incompetence in the OKC investigation, other than to whitewash themselves again.

But it appears a couple of things have once again rekindled some interest in taking another look at the case. First is the publication and subsequent success of Jayna Davis' book, "The Third Terrorist:The Middle East Connection to the Oklahoma City Bombing". This has grabbed the attention of California Congressman Dana Rohrabacher, who is making noises about a possible investigation. I am not aware of the status of this attempt to start over with a Congressional probe, but ten years has taught me to be skeptical about the chances of any such meaningful truth-telling.

Just as happened in the case of TWA 800 just over a year later, people whose eyewitness testimony proved inconvenient to the direction the government wanted the investigation to go were simply ignored. Any admission of terrorist involvement in either attack would have required an immediate military response of some sort from Bill Clinton. So "right-wingers" and spontaneous sparks got the blame.

I remain convinced that if the mature blogosphere of 2005 had existed in the mid-90's, it would have been impossible for the government and the MSM to stonewall these stories. And now it seems that the political will to pick the scabs off those old wounds does not exist in Congress, and certainly does not exist in the Bush administration.


Pope Blogging After All

As usual, over at RCP, you can sample a wide swath of opinion and commentary, this time on the election of Pope Benedict XVI, from Michael Novak's "pro", to Andrew Sullivan's "con", and everything in between. One angle I hadn't thought about was in this lead to the Telegraph article:

For the past 25 years, a meeting took place each week which defied the history of the 20th century. A Pole and a German met in peace to discuss the will of God. Every Friday, Pope John Paul II, the Pole, sat with Josef Ratzinger, the head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, alone. Now the Pole is dead, and the German is Pope.

In some ways, it is even more extraordinary to have a German Pope than it was to have a Polish one. Much of Polish society retained its Catholic integrity under Communist persecution. Most of German society succumbed to Hitler, compromising itself.

To choose a man brought up at that time and in that place is to state that the most corrupted human society can be redeemed. If the world accepts the new Pope, Germany's atonement will be recognised and its honour among the nations will be restored.

April 19, 2005

Draft Info

The NFL pre-draft maneuvering has begun, with Washington acquiring another first round pick from Denver in a trade in which Washington gives up their 2006 first-rounder, among other picks. One of the sites I use to follow the draft is a Canadian-based web site called the the Great Blue North Draft Report. The main page is written in a daily diary/blog format with the latest rumors and amateur speculation. That appeals to me since that's essentially what the rest of us are doing too. A lot of the other "experts" just take themselves entirely too seriously.

For starters, it's tough just keeping up with the personnel changes in the NFL in the off-season, so GBN's Free Agency Scoreboard is a helpful, at-a-glance summary. Their Mock Draft has a lot of trades factored into it, and I think they're probably right about that happening, although maybe not quite as many as are projected here. And the links page is an excellent portal to other NFL Draft information and speculation. At the moment, GBN has the Browns trading down to #7 and taking Shawne Merriman. I'd be very happy with that scenario.

All the people who have been saying for weeks how hard it will be for the top three teams to trade down may be proven wrong by Saturday, especially if the two QB's go 1-2, and the Browns are left holding the pick that so many teams want to use on Braylon Edwards. As far as I can see, the worst case scenario for Cleveland is if Alex Smith and Edwards end up going 1-2, either through trades or not, and we're left with minimal leverage since the two hottest commodities will be gone.

Why am I feeling inadequate for blogging about the Draft instead of the Pope?

April 18, 2005

On Tour With Ward Churchill

Matt Labash is on the Ward Churchill beat for The Weekly Standard, and he files his report with his customary biting wit and sarcasm. Read it all, but here are some priceless excerpts:

Inside the Women's Building auditorium, I take my seat in the media balcony, "media" being used loosely to describe the people who point their cameras Churchill's way, then applaud everything he says. Below us is a mass of the usual suspects: the masked banditos, the grown men wearing chicken heads in homage to Churchill's book title, the tie-dyed frizz-balls who look like spokesmodels for Cherry Garcia ice cream, all emitting the dank human musk that is common in rooms full of people who are so concerned about the military-industrial complex that they don't have time to concern themselves with doing laundry...

Later, interviewing Churchill one on one, it gets a little ugly...

...I ask if he's an anarchist, and though they have an affinity, he says no. He's an Indigenist. Not quite sure what that entails, I ask him to explain. He's a wordy bugger, and goes on for a good while about a "consciously synchronous level of population" and a "latitude of action that is governed in a self-regulating manner" and a "unity in the differentiation that's consonant with natural order." I figure this would all go down a lot easier if I'd first eaten peyote...

...He insults my helter-skelter interview techniques, and questions whether I know anything about history. I insult his books, suggesting real scholars cite people other than Noam Chomsky and Ramsey Clark in their footnotes. Twice, Churchill storms out as if he's ended the interview (in fact, he just needed a Pall Mall). After growing frustrated at my increasingly frequent interjections, as I attempt to turn his dreary monologues into robust dialogues, he grabs my tape recorder once, and lunges for it another time, before I tell him to step back. When I follow him outside for a smoke break, he grows so frustrated at what he regards as my complete ignorance that he commands me to turn off my tape recorder, orders us off the record, and engages me in an exchange that journalistic convention forbids me to report, but which involves lots of colorful language on both sides.

We patch things up, for the most part. And by the end of the evening, I again posit to Churchill that he knows no transgression unless it's American transgression, that his calculus considers only the wars we've fought, but never the wars the world never had to fight as a result of American might. I tell him that communism, which set into motion so many of the American policies he detests, was no joke--it took the lives of 100 million people. At this, he blanches. "You don't really want to sit here and get into an arithmetical tally of who killed more people. Both have killed astronomical numbers of people in order to maintain themselves. Neither is defensible. The Soviet Union, however, has the virtue at this point of not being here anymore. The United States cannot claim that credit."

As I settle the check, and Churchill and his wife get up to leave, he says offhandedly, "Oh, and one more thing: F--you." I think he's joking, but in case he's not, on behalf of the little Eichmanns, I offer back with relish, "F--you too."

April 17, 2005

Filibuster Myths

A fairly concise and well-stated debunking of some of the arguments being made to justify the Democrats' obstruction of Senate votes on judicial nominees, by Wendy E. Long.

Iraq Analysis

Two pretty good pieces of commentary on the progress in Iraq. First, this Newsday report, and then Andrew Sullivan's take in the Sunday Times.

April 15, 2005

In The Dark

The new Browns management team of Phil Savage and Coach Romeo Crennel aren't giving any clues as to what they'll do next Saturday with the 3rd pick in the NFL Draft. This mock draft is accompanied by some speculation about the Browns decision, but I hope it's off base. The conventional wisdom nationally seems to be that the team will select one of the two top quarterbacks, Aaron Rogers or Alex Smith, if either one is still available at #3.

Trying to dissect Savage and Crennel's collective thought process is fast becoming sport. The fact that the team allowed both Jeff Garcia and Kelly Holcomb to escape C-Town, while signing 33-year-old Seahawks backup Trent Dilfer to compete for a starting job next year suggests that drafting a quarterback early on April 23rd is exactly what the team is preparing to do.

Fans and writers closer to home who are still stinging from the Couch debacle, and who realize how many other holes this team has, are doubting that the team will pull the trigger on a QB with the 3rd pick in this draft. In fact, in Terry Pluto's case I would call it more like begging the team to go a different direction. He's right. Addressing the quarterback position can wait until a later round, if not until 2006.

Although I hope that Savage and Crennel will do what they feel they need to do for this team without regard to what fan reaction is likely to be, they must sense that a pick at any other position in the first round will take the heat off of them by an order of magnitude. The point may be moot anyway, because Miami needs a QB as much as they need a running back, and many people feel Nick Saban will take Alex Smith as soon as the 49ers grab Rodgers.

We do know that the team has looked extensively at Michigan WR Braylon Edwards as well as the two QB's. Savage joked the other day about "going to the Wishbone" when it was noted that the best players available on many scouts' boards when the Browns pick comes up are likely to be the running backs Ronnie Brown, Cedric Benson and Cadillac Williams. With Drohns and Suggs already on board, that is clearly not our primary area of need.

But if Savage has made anything clear in the pre-Draft discussion, it is that he goes by "the board" with almost no exceptions. He rates the players before the draft, and then follows his ratings on draft day without deviating from the rankings. He doesn't care where all the "experts" have players rated, nor does he pay a lot of attention to what specific position needs the team has. Presumably this will be even more the case here with the Browns, where there are talent shortages all over the place.

All the talk in the past few weeks has been about how difficult it will be to trade down from the top five spots in this draft due to the absence of true "blue-chip" players. But we do know that both Minnesota(7th) and Washington(9th) are dying to get either Edwards or USC's Mike Williams, and at least one of them is likely to be disappointed unless they move up. We also know what a patient man Redskins owner Daniel Snyder is. That's who I'd have on my speed-dial next Saturday morning if I'm Phil Savage.

As far as my own semi-educated opinions on personnel, I'll break it down into two categories. If we stay at #3, I'd prefer, in approximate order of preference, Antrell Rolle, Shawne Merriman, Pacman Jones, Braylon Edwards, or Mike Williams.

If we are able to trade down, to perhaps as far as picks 12-15, I'd go for Merriman if he lasts that long, or to one of the OT's, Alex Barron or Jamaal Brown. I also would like Erasmus James or Mark Clayton if we're picking lower in the round. We also know that the team has had "The Freak", Matt Jones in for a personal workout this past week. Maybe they're thinking pick #34 for him?

In any event, I'll be catching it from a distance. Come Saturday 4/23, I'll be in the Horseshoe watching the Buckeyes Spring Game. Last year OSU cooperated with those of us who have divided loyalties by posting the NFL first round picks on the scoreboard as they were selected. But it's not a tough call to make. Watch a four-hour first round on ESPN or watch Teddy Ginn Jr. live and in person?

Diversity's Backlash

What Jonah Goldberg calls "The darker side of quotas" is the glaringly obvious fact that "the diversity "racket" discriminates against some minorities for the benefit of other minorities." That is, it is principally Asians who are discriminated against when preferences in the form of lowered college admission standards are extended to blacks and Hispanics.

It's too bad that it takes this kind of consequence to make some people realize that there might be something wrong with institutionalizing in our college admissions system that which is rightly illegal in most every other area of our society; racial discrimination.

As Goldberg points out, it is an issue of supply, not demand where the numbers of qualified blacks and Hispanics applying to top schools are concerned. Nobody seriously thinks that in the absence of racial preferences, the admissions representatives of our nation's colleges would discriminate against qualified minorities.

And it's not even like the elite schools are providing opportunities for the economically disadvantaged either. Statistics show that the large majority of blacks and Hispanics admitted to elite schools under racial preferences come from the middle and upper socioeconomic levels, just like their white and Asian counterparts. Excerpted from Jonah:

...this quest to make all of our major institutions "look like America" is still basically arbitrary and unfair. It's simply absurd to think that the distribution of Chinese, black, white, Hispanic, Indian, Jewish, Hmong and so forth in the society can or should be replicated at a given university. Indian-Americans, for example, are hugely over-represented in the ranks of hotel and motel owners in the United States. Harvard President Larry Summers got in a lot of hot water for thinking out loud about why women were underrepresented at the highest reaches of science. But his observations that Catholics are underrepresented in investment banking, and that Jews are underrepresented in farming, went largely unnoticed.

So what? None of these things suggests that these fields are hothouses of bigotry. Instead, it demonstrates that there are all sorts of reasons, some good, some bad, for the distributions of ethnicities in this country.

Google Sightseeing

A site for viewing famous and not so famous places now that Google Maps has satellite images.

April 14, 2005

Sports Shorts

The smallest crowd in the history of Jacobs Field (12,470) saw the Indians salvage one game from the White Sox series. Cindy and I froze up there last night as a part of a crowd only slightly larger than that...for 10 innings no less. The Wahoos are not exactly bolting from the starting gate. They have the lowest batting average in baseball, and have made at least one error in every game.

News Flash! ESPN.com has an article about bad behavior by student athletes and a lack of discipline by coaches in college football and the words "Ohio State" appear nowhere in the text. And the Buckeyes are looking for a new Defensive Coordinator (again), as Mark Snyder has been named Head Coach at his alma mater, Marshall University.

The Browns' 2005 schedule is out, and they are playing home games on Christmas Eve (Steelers) and New Years Day (Ravens). So I'll be freezing down on the lakefront instead of curled up in front of my TV watching bowl games on 1/1. It'll be worth it if the Browns can take down The Murderer and the rest of the Ravens, maybe even knocking them out of the playoffs or something?? (Such are the lowered expectations of Browns fans.)

Liberal Argument - Throw Food

Ann Coulter

Liberals enjoy claiming that they are intellectuals, thrilled to engage in a battle of wits. This, they believe, distinguishes them from conservatives, who are religious fanatics who react with impotent rage to opposing ideas...

...Last October, two liberals responded to my speech at the University of Arizona – during question and answer, no less – by charging the stage and throwing two pies at me from a few yards away. Fortunately for me, liberals not only argue like liberals, they also throw like girls...

...On March 29, liberals' intellectual retort to a speech by William Kristol at Earlham College was to throw a pie. On March 31, liberals enjoyed the hurly-burly of political debate with Pat Buchanan at Western Michigan University by throwing salad dressing. On April 6, liberals engaged David Horowitz on his ideas at Butler University by throwing a pie at him.

If you close your eyes, it's almost like you're listening to Ludwig Wittgenstein!

China Unrest

A good roundup from Publius Pundit on growing resistance to the regime in China. (via Glenn)


Thank you, David Brooks. The Times online articles go away in a few days so I will excerpt this one liberally, (wink, wink).

Loudly, With a Big Stick


I don't like John Bolton's management style. Nor am I a big fan of his foreign policy views. He doesn't really believe in using U.S. power to end genocide or promote democracy.

But it is ridiculous to say he doesn't believe in the United Nations. This is a canard spread by journalists who haven't bothered to read his stuff and by crafty politicians who aren't willing to say what the Bolton debate is really about.

The Bolton controversy isn't about whether we believe in the U.N. mission. It's about which U.N. mission we believe in.

From the start, the U.N. has had two rival missions. Some people saw it as a place where sovereign nations could work together to solve problems. But other people saw it as the beginnings of a world government.

This world government dream crashed on the rocks of reality, but as Jeremy Rabkin of Cornell has observed, the federalist idea has been replaced by a squishier but equally pervasive concept: the dream of "global governance."

The people who talk about global governance begin with the same premises as the world government types: the belief that a world of separate nations, living by the law of the jungle, will inevitably be a violent world. Instead, these people believe, some supranational authority should be set up to settle international disputes by rule of law.

They know we're not close to a global version of the European superstate. So they are content to champion creeping institutions like the International Criminal Court. They treat U.N. General Assembly resolutions as an emerging body of international law. They seek to foment a social atmosphere in which positions taken by multilateral organizations are deemed to have more "legitimacy" than positions taken by democratic nations.

John Bolton is just the guy to explain why this vaporous global-governance notion is a dangerous illusion, and that we Americans, like most other peoples, will never accept it.

We'll never accept it, first, because it is undemocratic. It is impossible to set up legitimate global authorities because there is no global democracy, no sense of common peoplehood and trust. So multilateral organizations can never look like legislatures, with open debate, up or down votes and the losers accepting majority decisions.

Instead, they look like meetings of unelected elites, of technocrats who make decisions in secret and who rely upon intentionally impenetrable language, who settle differences through arcane fudges. Americans, like most peoples, will never surrender even a bit of their national democracy for the sake of multilateral technocracy.

Second, we will never accept global governance because it inevitably devolves into corruption. The panoply of U.N. scandals flows from a single source: the lack of democratic accountability. These supranational organizations exist in their own insular, self-indulgent aerie.

We will never accept global governance, third, because we love our Constitution and will never grant any other law supremacy over it. Like most peoples (Europeans are the exception), we will never allow transnational organizations to overrule our own laws, regulations and precedents. We think our Constitution is superior to the sloppy authority granted to, say, the International Criminal Court.

Fourth, we understand that these mushy international organizations liberate the barbaric and handcuff the civilized. Bodies like the U.N. can toss hapless resolutions at the Milosevics, the Saddams or the butchers of Darfur, but they can do nothing to restrain them. Meanwhile, the forces of decency can be paralyzed as they wait for "the international community."

Fifth, we know that when push comes to shove, all the grand talk about international norms is often just a cover for opposing the global elite's bêtes noires of the moment - usually the U.S. or Israel. We will never grant legitimacy to forums that are so often manipulated for partisan ends.

John Bolton is in a good position to make these and other points. He helped reverse the U.N.'s Zionism-is-racism resolution. He led the U.S. rejection of the International Criminal Court. Time and time again, he has pointed out that the U.N. can be an effective forum where nations can go to work together, but it can never be a legitimate supranational authority in its own right.

Sometimes it takes sharp elbows to assert independence. But this is certain: We will never be so seduced by vapid pieties about global cooperation that we'll join a system that is both unworkable and undemocratic.

April 12, 2005

Enough Already

Let's give Yankee Hating a rest. I'm not quite ready to start fawning over the Yanks as "classy", but I'd rather read 86 Reasons to Hate the Red Sox. Some samples:

16. Hating Bill Buckner for 18 years.

17. Suddenly forgiving Bill Buckner, as if you haven't loathed every fiber of his soul for the past 18 years.

28. The documentaries.

29. The HBO specials.

30. The ESPN specials. OK, we get the picture: Red Sox fans, prior to last season, had suffered immense, gut-wrenching, knee-dropping pain.

Without Delay

Here's FPM's Richard Poe on the incessant campaign by the Left to destroy Tom Delay.

April 11, 2005

Arab-Israeli Mythology

Caroline B. Glick's Townhall columns have become a regular read for me. She is providing better information and clearer analysis on Israeli-Palestinian issues than any other regular columnist I'm aware of. Her latest wonders aloud why the U.S. and Israel are basing their policies on premises that are "mythological", and don't reflect observable reality:

The view among American policymakers and Israeli Foreign Ministry types, both egged on by their ideological bedfellows in Europe and the international Left is based on two presumptions. The first is that the Palestinian conflict with Israel is the cause of the Arab conflict with Israel. The second is that the Palestinians are weak and the Israelis are strong and that the way to solve the conflict is to strengthen the Palestinians and weaken Israel.

The second presumption is what leads both Israeli and American foreign policy elites to advocate Israeli surrender of land and rights to the Palestinians and to support Palestinian acquisition of arms, money and sovereignty...

...by internalizing the view that the Palestinian conflict is the source of the Arab conflict with Israel and that the way to solve the Palestinian conflict is to empower the Palestinians at Israel's expense, both Israel and the US are initiating policies that distance rather than advance their stated goals of peace and security through the democratization of Palestinian society and the Arab world writ large. This is so because the guiding presumptions themselves are not simply wrong, but are the polar opposites of the facts on the ground.

These facts are that the Palestinian conflict with Israel is largely a direct result of the Arab world's rejection of Israel's right to exist. And weakening Israel, by strengthening the Palestinians or in any other manner advances none of these goals.

Caroline B. Glick Townhall Archive

From The Edge

One blogger described Edge.org as a site featuring "really smart people with a lot of time on their hands". So it is with this recent conversation, in which Simon Baron-Cohen talks about his research into the possible effects of fetal testosterone on the incidence of autism, and which also includes a discussion of possible cognitive differences between males and females. And no, he has not been vilified or asked to resign from his position by a group from the faculty of Harvard. In fact, some Harvard faculty members are among the "really smart people" who comment respectfully on his work. I had to wonder where these reasonable folks were when the PC police at Harvard were having Lawrence Summers for lunch.

Simon Baron-Cohen is Professor of Developmental Psychopathology and Director of the Autism Research Centre at Cambridge University. In this Edge feature, he presents his new Assortative Mating Theory which connects his two fields of research: the characteristics of autism in terms of understanding what's going on in the brain and the causes of the condition; and understanding the differences between males and females.

"My new theory is that it's not just a genetic condition," he says, "but it might be the result of two particular types of parents, who are both contributing genes. This might be controversially received. This is because there are a number of different theories out there — one of which is an environmental theory, such as autism being caused by vaccine damage — the MMR vaccine (the measles, mumps, and rubella combination vaccine). Another environmental theory is that autism is due to toxic levels of mercury building up in the child's brain. But the genetic theory has a lot of evidence, and what we are now testing is that if two "systemizers" have a child, this will increase the risk of the child having autism. That's it in a nutshell.

As to research into sex differences:

One experiment we conducted here in Cambridge was at the local maternity hospital. Essentially we wanted to find out whether sex differences that you observe later in life could be traced back to birth, to see if such differences are present at birth. In this experiment we looked at just over one hundred newborn babies, 24 hours old, which was the youngest we could see them, and we presented each baby with a human face to look at, and then a mechanical mobile suspended above the crib. Each baby got to see both objects...

... The results of the experiment were that we found more boys than girls looked longer at the mechanical mobile. And more girls than boys looked longer at the human face. Given that it was a sex difference that emerged at birth, it means that you can't attribute the difference to experience or culture. Twenty-four hours old. Now you might say, well, they're not exactly new-born, it would have been better to get them at 24 minutes old — or even younger. But obviously we had to respect the wishes of the parents and the doctors to let the baby relax after the trauma of being born. And let the parents get to know their baby. So strictly speaking, it might have been one day of social experience. But nonetheless, this difference is emerging so early that suggests it's at least partly biological...

...Baron-Cohen realizes that his theory might raise anxieties. "Just because it's potentially controversial," he says, "doesn't mean that we shouldn't investigate it. And there are ways that you can investigate it empirically."

One of those Harvard faculty types, Psychologist Marc D. Hauser responds;

"It is hard to imagine anyone living today disagreeing with Baron-Cohen's starting premise that there are biological differences between the sexes. Even the staunchest cultural relativists have to acknowledge that there are differences in the sex chromosomes and hormonal titers that lead directly to differences in our anatomy.

Uh oh...I'm starting to feel nauseous.

Another Harvard Psychologist, Stephen Pinker quipped:

I was amused to read that "It may be simply that the climate has now changed, and that people are much willing to accept that there are sex differences in the mind, and that these might even be partly biological." Was this interview conducted before the event that is coming to be known as "1/14"?

Read it all. It's fascinating stuff. (via aldaily.com)

One of the highlights of my web year so far, and also my introduction to edge.org, was their "2005 Question of the Year" feature, in which 120 contributors weigh in on the question: "What do you believe is true, even though you cannot prove it?" As I advised in my original post on this....pack a lunch.

Half Full

The Tribe opens at home Monday with a 3-3 record after Sunday's 7-6 win in Detroit, but so far they haven't looked like a team that's going to win 90 games. But 3-3 starts to look a bit better when you consider these three things:

1)They haven't played a home game yet.
2)They haven't had their best starting pitcher yet.
3)Several key hitters haven't started to hit yet (Martinez, Hafner, Blake)

A couple of other observations;
- Despite Wickman's one-game blowup, the bullpen looks to be way, way better than last year.
- I'm worried about his glove too, but I hope fans give Jhonny Peralta a chance before they start clamoring for Alex Cora to play short every day.
- I love Alex Cora.
- Josh Bard has to be the slowest baseball player since John Romano.

I realize it's ridiculous to begin looking for trends after only six games, but it's either that or work on my taxes. It's not too early to start on that, is it?

April 9, 2005

One Minute Rest

40 points, 10 rebounds, 10 assists. LeBron James is trying to carry the Cavaliers into the playoffs on his back. Unlike several recent games, LeBron didn't play the entire 48 minutes. It took only 47 tonight for him to record his third triple-double of the season.

Just Do It

You can't possibly read everything written about John Paul II in the past two weeks, even if you wanted to. But it would be a shame if you missed "John Paul the Great", by First Things editor Joseph Bottum.

Washington Election Debacle

Michelle Malkin has a recap of recent developments in the November 2004 election mess in Washington State.

April 7, 2005

Two Cheers

Michael Ledeen finds much to like about the Silberman-Robb Commission Report, including some refreshing candor about the "culture" of the intelligence community...

...the very best thing is that they recognize that intelligence is more an art than a science, and they therefore rightly insist that the success or failure of the intelligence community will ultimately depend on the quality of the people and how they are treated. I can’t remember the last time that was said in a public document, or even in the mounting pile of commentary on the report, and it’s really the most important thing. Silberman/Robb say it, say it often, and try to figure out how best to do it. They recognize that the culture of the community is rotten — the results speak for themselves, after all — and they suggest ways to retain talented people, ranging from attractive side benefits like travel, sabbaticals, and greater opportunities to mix with the outside intellectual world.

He did say "two cheers". Read it all to see where Ledeen parts company with the report.



This time last year he was in high school, but they're already using the "H" word when they talk about the Buckeyes' Ted Ginn Jr.

Before Anyone Was Watching

A Karol Wojtyla story. (via Just One Minute)

(since the NYT archives online articles after a few days, the full text can be accessed at the link below - DW)

The Polish Seminary Student and the Jewish Girl He Saved


Published: April 6, 2005

International Herald Tribune

Here is a family story of Pope John Paul II, an intimate tale of his humanity.

During the summer of 1942, two women in Krakow, Poland, were denounced as Jews, taken to the city's prison, held there for a few months and then sent to the Belzec death camp, where in October they were killed in primitive Nazi gas chambers by carbon monoxide from diesel engines.

Their names were Frimeta Gelband and Salomea Zierer; they were sisters. As it happens, Frimeta was my wife's grandmother. Salomea - known as Salla - had two daughters, one of whom survived the war and one of whom did not.

The elder of these daughters was Edith Zierer. In January 1945, at age 13, she emerged from a Nazi labor camp in Czestochowa, Poland, a waif on the verge of death. Separated from her family, unaware that her mother had been killed by the Germans, she could scarcely walk.

But walk she did, to a train station, where she climbed onto a coal wagon. The train moved slowly, the wind cut through her. When the cold became too much to bear, she got down at a village called Jedrzejow. In a corner of the station, she sat. Nobody looked at her, a girl in the striped and numbered uniform of a prisoner, late in a terrible war. Unable to move, Edith waited.

Death was approaching, but a young man approached first, "very good looking," as she recalled, and vigorous. He wore a long robe and appeared to be a priest. "Why are you here?" he asked. "What are you doing?" Edith said she was trying to get to Krakow to find her parents.

The man disappeared. He came back with a cup of tea. Edith drank. He said he could help her get to Krakow. Again the mysterious benefactor went away, returning with bread and cheese. They talked about the advancing Soviet Army. Edith said she believed that her parents and younger sister, Judith, were alive.

"Try to stand," the man said. Edith tried and failed. He carried her to another village, where he put her in the cattle car of a train bound for Krakow. Another family was there. The man got in beside Edith, covered her with his cloak and made a small fire.

His name, he told Edith, was Karol Wojtyla. Although she took him for a priest, he was still a seminarian who would not be ordained until the next year. Thirty-three more years would pass before he became Pope John Paul II and embarked on a papacy that would help break the Communist hold on Central Europe and so transform the world.

What moved this young seminarian to save the life of a lost Jewish girl cannot be known. But it is clear that his was an act of humanity made as the two great mass movements of the 20th century, the twin totalitarianisms of Fascism and Communism, bore down on his nation, Poland.

Here were two people in a ravaged land, a 24-year-old Catholic and a 13-year-old Jew. The future pope had already lost his mother, father and brother. Edith, although she did not know it yet, had already lost her mother at Belzec, her father at Maidanek and her little sister at Auschwitz. They could not have been more alone.

Pope John Paul II is widely viewed as having been a man of unshakable convictions that some found old-fashioned or rigid. But perhaps he offered his truth with the same simplicity and directness he showed in proffering tea and bread and shelter from cold to an abandoned Jewish girl in 1945, when nobody was watching.

It was based in the belief that, as he once put it, "a degradation, indeed a pulverization, of the fundamental uniqueness of each human being" was at the root of the mass movements of the 20th century, Communism and Fascism.

Stalin once contemptuously asked, "How many divisions has the pope?" Starting with his 1979 visit to Poland, John Paul gave an answer.

Perhaps the strength that enabled him to play a central role in ending Communism and the strength that led him to save Edith Zierer did not differ fundamentally. Like his healing ecumenism, those acts required the courage born of a core certitude.

Edith fled from Karol Wojtyla when they arrived at Krakow in 1945. The family on the train, also Jews, had warned her that he might take her off to "the cloisters." She recalls him calling out, "Edyta, Edyta!" - the Polish form of her name - as she hid behind large containers of milk.

But hiding was not forgetting. She wrote his name in a diary, her savior, and in 1978, when she read in a copy of Paris-Match that he had become pope, she broke into tears. By then Edith Zierer was in Haifa, Israel, where she now lives.

Letters to him went unanswered. But at last, in 1997, she received a letter from the Vatican in which the pope recalled their meeting. A year later they met again at the Vatican. Edith thanked the pope for saving her. He put one hand on her head, another hand in hers, and blessed her. As she parted, he said, "Come back, my child."


What went around yesterday, came around today.

The Day Communism Died

Peggy Noonan:

...it was a redeclaration of the Polish spirit, which is a free spirit. And those who were there went home a different people, a people who saw themselves differently, not as victims of history but as strugglers for Christ.

Another crucial thing happened, after the mass was over. Everyone who was there went home and turned on the news that night to see the pictures of the incredible crowd and the incredible pope. But state-controlled TV did not show the crowds. They did a brief report that showed a shot of the pope standing and speaking for a second or two. State television did not acknowledge or admit what a phenomenon John Paul's visit was, or what it had unleashed.

The people who had been at the mass could compare the reality they had witnessed with their own eyes with the propaganda their media reported. They could see the discrepancy. This left the people of Poland able to say at once and together, definitively, with no room for argument: It's all lies. Everything this government says is a lie. Everything it is is a lie.

Whatever legitimacy the government could pretend to, it began to lose. One by one the people of Poland said to themselves, or for themselves within themselves: It is over.

And when 10 million Poles said that to themselves, it was over in Poland. And when it was over in Poland, it was over in Eastern Europe. And when it was over in Eastern Europe, it was over in the Soviet Union. And when it was over in the Soviet Union, well, it was over.

It Helps To Be A Sheik

Looking for a retirement place, or just an investment property? Check out a new development off the coast of Dubai, where you can build on your own island in a place they have humbly named The World.

Media Still Ignores Assassination Story


Back in 1981, the idea that Moscow could have ordered the assassination of the Pope didn't fit the "prevailing paradigms" of either the New York Times or the CIA. For the Times to tailor their news coverage to comport with their biases is expected. It's more dangerous when the Agency lets their "culture" dictate which evidence they take seriously. Thomas Joscelyn looks at the way the CIA treated the "Crime of the Century" more than 20 years ago:

A stunning revalation buzzed throughout Italy last week. According to two Italian newspapers, German government officials had found proof that the Soviet Union ordered the May 13, 1981 assassination attempt on Pope John Paul II. The recently discovered documents--which are mainly correspondences between East German Stasi spies and their Bulgarian counterparts--reportedly discuss the Soviet assassination order as well as efforts to cover-up any traces of involvement by Bulgaria's spooks.

If the documents are as advertised, then they put an end to one of the great whodunits of the 20th century. The U.S. media has all but ignored this incredible story; which isn't, actually, much of a surprise.

Indeed, the elite media in this country never wanted to investigate the threads of evidence pointing to Bulgarian, and thus Soviet, involvement. What is surprising, however, is that in one of the greatest U.S. intelligence failures of all-time, neither did the CIA...

...The CIA...did not want to investigate the possibility of Soviet complicity, or--even worse--the possibility that the Soviets had actually ordered the false flag operation. The idea of a state-sponsored terrorist attack, especially ordered by the Soviet Union, went against the agency's prevailing paradigm for understanding terrorist actions. Proof of Bulgarian-Soviet involvement may also have jeopardized the dove's desire for détente....

In another good piece on the topic from the Washington Times, Arnaud de Borchgrave says there were problems with the "right-wing, neo-Nazi" angle right away:

Mainstream media quickly assumed the plot was the work of Turkish terrorists known as the Gray Wolves, a neo-Nazi group of former military and Islamist extremists. What was suspicious about this story is that it surfaced within hours of the arrest of Ali Agca. One investigative reporter suspected the Gray Wolves were brought in as plausible deniability for the real culprits.

Claire Sterling, a prize-winning journalist and author, had just published 'The Terror Network' when Ali Agca tried to kill the pope. Her articles were widely published in major U.S. magazines as she used her Rome base for 30 years to report in Europe, the Middle East, Africa and Southeast Asia.

Miss Sterling quickly saw the Bulgarian connection when it became known Ali Agca had made several trips to Sofia, Bulgaria, and stayed in a hotel favored by the Bulgarian KGB (DS). In Rome, he had also had contacts with a Bulgarian agent whose cover was the Bulgarian national airline office. In an earlier incarnation, he had escaped from a Turkish jail where he had been serving time for killing a newspaper editor.

What's amazing to me is that John Paul II had long since visited, prayed with, and asked forgiveness for his would-be assassin by the time the proof of Ali Acga's sponsors' identity was made public.

But the example of the CIA's behavior in the case shows that the cultural problems we are trying to reform in the Agency today are not terribly new ones.

April 6, 2005

Hate Worthy Of A Prize

Power Line takes a look at the work of the cartoonist deemed worthy of the Pulitzer Prize this year:


Yup, that's right. The central symbol of the Christian faith, with its two billion adherents, is just a tool to ride herd on those poor Democrats. That's what happens to them, I guess, when they aren't being run over by construction equipment or set aflame by Vietnam veterans.

Am I missing something, or is this a pathetic body of work, as whiny, self-pitying and incompetent as it is hateful? It's of a piece, though, with the journalism that the Pulitzer committee found worthy of reward this year. Loyalty to the Democratic party and antipathy toward America are the only qualities that count.

That Hurts

Yesterday's loss was painful. Today's was rip-your-guts-out-throw-them-on-the-floor-and-stomp-all-over-them-painful.

Omar in Frisco

Omar Vizquel is off to a fast start as a Giant. Nice article in the Beacon today on how he's adjusting.

April 5, 2005

D'oh! Why Google Bought Keyhole

I've been raving about Keyhole to anyone who will listen for several months now. I hadn't heard of the company till Google bought them last Fall. But it kind of made sense. They had mapped the web, so why wouldn't they map the planet too?

I subscribed to the $30/year service so I could "fly" anywhere in the world, zoom in on the Eiffel Tower , or The Vatican , or just over to The Jake. I can scope out a golf course (in 2D of course), or "show" somebody the directions someplace instead of telling them, by navigating the entire route on the computer screen for them.

So I'm visiting my son's blog today, and he's all over the news. Google has incorporated Keyhole's satellite imagery into their Google Maps and Google Local products.

So now when you use Google Local to find a map with directions to a great Italian place to eat in Cleveland, you click on the Satellite button (at upper right), and get an actual photograph of the location, complete with zoom. Awesome.

Type your address into Google Maps and get a satellite view of your house instantly. The first thing I noticed looking at the shot of my own place in Google Maps was that the image they are using is a more recent photograph than the July 2002 image I get with my $30/year Keyhole subscription. So what's up with that?

It's bad enough that once again, "progress" means that some cool new tool I couldn't wait for, and therefore paid for, is now available free to the world. But I find I'm not even getting as good a product as the free version that's out there.

Perhaps my whining is premature. I noticed that the free version doesn't have the capability to zoom in as closely as the Keyhole product does. And of course, for now at least, Google Maps and Local are only available for the U.S. (no flying to Baghdad on a whim). And while you can click and drag to move around and explore outside of your original image, features like "tilt-view" and the slick navigational tools of Keyhole are not available in Maps or Local. Surely they'll get around to upgrading the image database for their paying customers, no?

Stopped by the Keyhole Community site and found out that a lot of folks are wondering and debating why they're paying for a service that is coming out in a free version. For the most part, they're coming to the same conclusions I am. The features of Keyhole make it worth the 30 bucks a year even if Google is using the technology to add value to their free products. Check out the free 1-week trial at Keyhole. Really.

UPDATE 4/6: Here's a news report on the new Google feature.

April 4, 2005

Afghanistan Today

Here's the report of a first-hand look by Vance Serchuk & Tom Donnelly of AEI at our nation-building effort in Afghanistan. It's tough and it's complicated, but it seems like we're doing more right than wrong so far. And we're going to be there for a while. Well worth your time.

Take A Number


If there's some kind of a blogosphere penalty I don't know about for linking to the New York Times on two successive posts, I'll just throw myself on the mercy of the court now.

What a great night to be watching sports on TV. Flipping from two intensely fought women's NCAA semi-finals, in which both underdogs came from large deficits to win, over to Randy Johnson's performance mowing down the vaunted Red Sox. What sport! I missed a big Cavs win altogether.

I really love the women's college game when it is played at the Sweet 16 level. I'm often convinced they play a better brand of basketball than the men, and the emotion and team spirit just gushes from these kids in a way that the men don't approach. I was naturally pulling for the Big Ten Spartans tonight, but even if I had been neutral I think their huge win and celebration over an icon like Pat Summitt and Tennessee would have had me wiping my eye anyway. Baylor is no less a compelling story. And let's face it. ESPN is good at this. Quality TV.

I'm really just stalling on making my Indians prediction official by committing to it here. We're starting the season even more under the radar because the Twins are everybody's darlings all of a sudden. First Gammons and now ESPN's Jayson Stark go on record saying the Twins can win it all. I don't think so.

I'm not convinced their 2-5 starters are that good, even though their ace and their closer are. I'll take the Yankees' with Johnson, Pavano, Mussina, and Brown with an everyday linep in which Giambi has to hit 7th all day long, if the Twins even make it to that series.

And anyway, all I'm required to do here is predict a total number of Tribe wins, and then if we win the division, we win it. I'm going with 90. I've been wavering anywhere from 87 on up, and my last minute optimism is kicking in. That's one more than any Plain Dealer writer had, though there were several at 89. Terry Pluto at the Beacon says 88 wins.

After that, who knows? I'm thinking the Red Sox may fade more than some people think, trying to replace Martinez and Lowe with David Wells and Matt Clement. Maybe the Wild Card is up for grabs, even if the Twins do win more than 90 ballgames and take the Central. Much stranger things have happened. Recently.

As I post, it's Opening Day, and I am officially jazzed. I look for our much-improved righthanded-hitting lineup of Crisp, Belliard, Boone, Blake, Martinez, Peralta with either Ludwick or Jose Hernandez to wear down Mark Buehrle in the Windy City this afternoon. One of ninety.

UPDATE 4/4: Or instead, maybe we'll get two lousy hits and get shut out in an incredibly fast 1 hour and 51 minute ballgame. One or the other.

April 3, 2005

Friedman's Flattened World

"This is not a test", says the New York Times' Tom Friedman of the challenges to America posed by the "flattening" of the world through new web technologies, globalization, "informing", open sourcing, and the access to these and other globe-flatteners by millions of educated young people in places other than the United States.

Our problems of relatively small numbers of science and technology graduates, along with our declining educational standards across the board are colliding with increasing competition from millions of Indians, Chinese and South Koreans who no longer even have to come to America in order to take away our jobs. Even though it breaks little new ground, it's a worthwhile article that's based on a new book by Friedman scheduled for release this week. A couple of excerpts (ellipses mine - DW):

Do you recall ''the IT revolution'' that the business press has been pushing for the last 20 years? Sorry to tell you this, but that was just the prologue. The last 20 years were about forging, sharpening and distributing all the new tools to collaborate and connect. Now the real information revolution is about to begin as all the complementarities among these collaborative tools start to converge...

...If this moment has any parallel in recent American history, it is the height of the cold war, around 1957, when the Soviet Union leapt ahead of America in the space race by putting up the Sputnik satellite. The main challenge then came from those who wanted to put up walls; the main challenge to America today comes from the fact that all the walls are being taken down and many other people can now compete and collaborate with us much more directly. The main challenge in that world was from those practicing extreme Communism, namely Russia, China and North Korea. The main challenge to America today is from those practicing extreme capitalism, namely China, India and South Korea. The main objective in that era was building a strong state, and the main objective in this era is building strong individuals...

...This quiet crisis is a product of three gaps now plaguing American society. The first is an ''ambition gap.'' Compared with the young, energetic Indians and Chinese, too many Americans have gotten too lazy. As David Rothkopf, a former official in the Clinton Commerce Department, puts it, ''The real entitlement we need to get rid of is our sense of entitlement.'' Second, we have a serious numbers gap building. We are not producing enough engineers and scientists. We used to make up for that by importing them from India and China, but in a flat world, where people can now stay home and compete with us, and in a post-9/11 world, where we are insanely keeping out many of the first-round intellectual draft choices in the world for exaggerated security reasons, we can no longer cover the gap. That's a key reason companies are looking abroad. The numbers are not here. And finally we are developing an education gap. Here is the dirty little secret that no C.E.O. wants to tell you: they are not just outsourcing to save on salary. They are doing it because they can often get better-skilled and more productive people than their American workers.

April 2, 2005

The Times Recalls Sidd Finch

A 20 year-old April Fools Day joke. (via Oxblog)

The Crack Of The Bat

I can almost hear it. Here's Peter Gammons' latest, on what the game needs. Plus all of Peter's predictions for final standings, individual awards, etc. He likes the Twins to win it all.


I'm just another interested observer of the European Union and the political and economic goings on in Europe in general, and I'm alternately amused and mortified by what I see. Two articles I read this week dovetail nicely to reveal the anti-democratic and anti-free market nature of the EU, and to show how that has been both by design and by evolution.

The first was a piece from the Telegraph on the way that Chirac and Schroeder have finally squashed the EU's "services directive", an entirely sensible policy that would have established a free market for fees and rates for all manner of professional services across the entire 25-nation European Union. In the end, they proved that they favor any policy that is good for the EU as a whole, as long as it first serves the interests of France and Germany, or more specifically, the short term political interests of Mr. Chirac and Mr. Schroeder:

The services directive, published in January 2004, was designed to help European companies win business in other EU countries by promoting lighter regulation and more competition, without let or hindrance by local professional associations or trade unions. The document aims to make good the promise of the EU's 1957 founding treaty: a "common market" for services as well as goods.

Today, services count for 70 per cent of European jobs and four out of every five new jobs. The EU's future depends on a dynamic service sector. But Europe is thick with cobwebs that restrict competition across borders. Copenhagen Economics, a research group, reckons the directive would create 600,000 jobs across the EU's 25 countries. But these would come at the expense of Old Europe.

Having fended off competition for five decades, Germany and France are now fighting to destroy it altogether. In the space of 14 months, the services directive has already been watered down 23 times, each waiver pandering to the inefficiencies of various countries. But even its remaining few teeth are too sharp for France or Germany. (via RCP)

Of course they're not the only ones who know what needs to be done, but can't summon the political will to do it. We have our own problems with out-of-control entitlements and all. But I get a kick out of the periodic spectacle of the French government tiptoeing up to the suggestion that just maybe the huge public sector might want to consider increasing the arduous 35-hour work week as one way to address the inefficiencies of the system and to help defuse the economic time bomb that is their "social model". They are inevitably answered by a nationwide hissy-fit shutdown of the public works and services sectors, to which the government always caves and begins anew to negotiate with the tantrum-throwers. As the Telegraph article put it:

The French are a lost tribe these days: they bemoan the decline of their country, yet take to the streets the moment any leader shows the gumption to do something about it.

The Telegraph bemoans the fact that Tony Blair and the UK have signed on to the trashing of the services directive in deference to Europe's "social model", which they refer to as "a euphemism for sclerotic economies, job-destroying labour regulations and enterprise-stifling welfare provisions". All of which is being imposed from above by unaccountable bureaucrats, who are just smarter and wiser than the common folks, thank you. No need to vote on it. Just move along.

It's the EUSSR.

In David Pryce-Jones' new article in National Review (not available online without a subscription to NR Digital) he cites the recent book "The Great Deception", by Christopher Booker and Richard North on the ways in which the EU mirrors the former Soviet state, its structure and its goals:

The last building blocks of the European Union are being set in place, and a weird unfathomable process it is too. A dozen of the 25 countries involved are to hold referendums to ratify the continent-wide constitution already approved by their leaders; the others are ramming the issue through by executive or legislative means. The majority of European governments, in other words, including the all-important German government, have found some way of avoiding the test of public opinion in order to consummate the federal empire now in full view...

...The consistent ambition of the Soviets, and the many Communist parties subservient to them, and fellow-traveling Socialists as well, was to weaken the American presence, and if possible, remove it altogether from the continent. One way or another, the EU has taken up where the Soviets left off, and is proving more successful: Look at the doubtful future of NATO, the growing European army, the relocation of American troops and bases out of Germany, Franco-German efforts to stymie the United States over Iraq, the lifting of the arms embargo on China, uncritical sponsorship of the PLO, and much else besides...

The other work cited by Pryce-Jones that describes what he calls "the structural deception of the EU project", is Vladimir Bukovsky's pamphlet, "EUSSR: The Soviet Roots of European Integration". After studying the personal papers of Mikhail Gorbackev in the Soviet archives, Bukovsky and his co-author Pavel Stroilov document the way the leaders of Western Europe paraded to Moscow and fawned over him;

...As befitted the despot in the Kremlin, Gorbachev was in the habit of receiving visitors from Western Europe, ministers and presidents in their own countries but all of them duly humble to be allowed to approach so close to absolute power. One and all, these visitors flattered Gorbachev. The Left everywhere, they agreed, was in crisis, because the experiment to build socialism had evidently failed and was in need of resuscitation...

Pryce-Jones concludes with these chilling thoughts:

Booker and North are right that the antecedents of the EU long predate Gorbachev, but Bukovsky and Stroilov are also right that the EU is a socialist construct, a statist collectivity comparable to the old USSR, complete with nomenklatura and an ideology aimed against the United States, on all of which the population at large has to be carefully protected from giving its true opinion.

Far-sightedly Bukovsky once predicted the demise of the Soviet Union. Seven of the 24 European commissioners today are former Communist apparatchiks, and in Bukovsky’s warning, “it remains to be seen what kind of Gulag the EU will create.” But the fate of all utopias is the same, he concludes, and “the EU will collapse very much like its prototype,” even though “in doing so it will bury us all under the rubble.” Still, he evidently hopes to activate public opinion in order to prevent the worst. Folly repeats itself but cannot crush the dissident spirit.

UPDATE 4/3: The Pryce-Jones piece is available online after all, at the Benador Associates website.

Rosett Rebuts

"Hell No" -- He's Not Exonerated

What emerges from the jumbled narrative of the Volcker interim report is a U.N. universe of forgetful officials, botched record-keeping, cronyism, and conflicts of interest so abundant they start to sound simply routine--which they apparently were. Most noteworthy is the volume of damning information whitewashed by bland wording, culminating in Volcker's judgment that in some respects Annan's performance was "inadequate." By such standards, the Titanic was "non-buoyant."

April 1, 2005

Peretz on Liberal Churlishness

My favorite liberal these days, that is after certain members of my immediate family, is Martin Peretz of The New Republic. Here's his latest challenge to the left, this time to take up their mantle and actually promote liberalism...or to stop sniping at Republican efforts to do it without them. Of the trend toward democratization in the Middle East, Peretz says...

...the situation is certainly complex. But complexity is not a warrant for despair. The significant fact is that Bush's obsession with the democratization of the region is working. Have Democrats begun to wonder how it came to pass that this noble cause became the work of Republicans? They should wonder if they care to regain power. They should recall that Clinton (and the sanctimonious Jimmy Carter even more so) had absolutely no interest in trying to modify the harsh political character of the Arab world. What they aspired to do was to mollify the dictators--to prefer the furthering of the peace process to the furthering of the conditions that make peace possible. The Democrats were the ones who were always elevating Arafat. He was at the very center of their road map. After he stalked out of a meeting room in Paris during cease-fire talks in late 2000, Albright actually ran in breathless pursuit to lure him back. It was the Democrats who perpetuated Arafat's demonic sway over the Palestinians, and it was the Democrats who sustained him among the other Arabs. And so the cause of Arab democracy was left for the Republicans to pursue...

...It has been heartening, in recent months, to watch some Democratic senators searching for ways out of the politics of churlishness. Some liberals appear to have understood that history is moving swiftly and in a good direction, and that history has no time for their old and mistaken suspicion of American power in the service of American values. One does not have to admire a lot about George W. Bush to admire what he has so far wrought. One need only be a thoughtful American with an interest in proliferating liberalism around the world. And, if liberals are unwilling to proliferate liberalism, then conservatives will. Rarely has there been a sweeter irony.

Please read it all.

It Wasn't A Bureaucratic Snafu After All

To say Sandy Berger's M.O. was Clintonian is, I suppose redundant. Or perhaps just obvious. You get caught pretty much red-handed breaking the law and showing contempt for the trust and authority vested in you by the citizenry; you lie about it and deny doing whatever it was you just got caught doing; you trot out colleagues and media types to vouch for your character and good intentions; you have a good laugh about it and then accuse your political opponents of dirty tricks and politically motivated leaks; you stall long enough to allow the publicity to die down, usually with the help of a cooperative press corps; your lawyers negotiate a slap-on-the-wrist penalty and you walk away without so much as a hair out of place; the public is kept in the dark about the details of the crime that you got away with.

We spent tens of millions of taxpayer dollars on the 9/11 Commission to try to ascertain what went wrong in the decade or so before the 9/11 attacks. A huge part of the story related to what the Clinton administration terrorism policy was for the eight years leading up to 2001. Sandy Berger has now admitted that he violated federal law by stealing copies of documents from the National Archives which contained handwritten notes by Clinton administration national security officials relative to their strategies and actions on the terrorism front, and destroyed them in the days immediately preceding his testimony to the 9/11 Commission. He admitted that he lied to investigators and to the American people in the aftermath of these events when he said the lifting of the documents was "inadvertent".

His penalty? A midemeanor conviction. A suspension of his security clearance for three years, after which it can presumably be reinstated. In other words, a joke. A farce. A finger in the people's eye.

Here's an excerpt from the WaPo account:

The terms of Berger's agreement required him to acknowledge to the Justice Department the circumstances of the episode. Rather than misplacing or unintentionally throwing away three of the five copies he took from the archives, as the former national security adviser earlier maintained, he shredded them with a pair of scissors late one evening at the downtown offices of his international consulting business.

The document, written by former National Security Council terrorism expert Richard A. Clarke, was an "after-action review" prepared in early 2000 detailing the administration's actions to thwart terrorist attacks during the millennium celebration. It contained considerable discussion about the administration's awareness of the rising threat of attacks on U.S. soil.

Archives officials have said previously that Berger had copies only, and that no original documents were lost. It remains unclear whether Berger knew that, or why he destroyed three versions of a document but left two other versions intact. Officials have said the five versions were largely similar, but contained slight variations as the after-action report moved around different agencies of the executive branch.

It wasn't really "unclear" at all why Berger destroyed three copies of one document and returned the other two copies intact. The ones with margin notations by Clinton officials that would be embarrassing to the Clinton people were destroyed, and the ones without them were not.

As you might imagine, the blogosphere is brimming with reaction. As John Cole says in his neat little wrapup, Berger's admission necessarily calls into question the veracity of his 9/11 Commission testimony and that of Richard Clarke, for starters.

More from Glenn, Power Line, and this from Jim Geraghty:

Now... what about this deafening silence that we have heard on this from Berger's associates, since this story first surfaced? Will we be seeing any criticism of him from former President Clinton, Madeline Albright, Hillary, John Kerry, or any other prominent Democrat? Is the perception that this is no big deal, standard operating procedure for that White House, and is something to be swept under the rug?

Do any Democrats want to confront the unpleasant truths of how the Clinton White House handled terrorism?

Because there were some facts out there that were so damning, Sandy Berger was willing to break the law to make sure the public never saw them.

I think it's important to remember that, then as now, Sandy Berger was just another stooge for the Clintons. He was the National Security Advisor for our nation at a time when the Clintons were altering longstanding national security policies in order to allow million dollar political donors like Bernard Schwartz of Loral Corp to transfer previously restricted missile technologies to the Communist Chinese government in exchange for a few million dollars of laundered cash for the 1996 Presidential campaign. Anyone with a shred of integrity or concern about our country's actual security would have resigned in protest then.