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July 30, 2005

Randy Lerner Interview

Browns Owner Randy Lerner talks about the team's approach to Kellen Winslow Jr.'s contract/injury situation, and about his new Head Coach and new quarterback in a wide-ranging interview...

Q: It has been reported that the team withheld Kellen Winslow’s $2-million signing bonus but didn’t go after any the money he has already been paid. What was the team’s philosophy?

A: The philosophy is that Phil feels he is a player that can contribute. That professional analysis has led to John and Trip trying to structure an understanding between Kellen, his family and his agent that would reflect our sense that he is going to be an important part of our team, but that we have had to manage our financial affairs, among others, differently given the accident.

That said, the communication is on-going. Whatever moves you see are consistent with those conversations. Those conversations are serious and happening now and Kellen and his family have been very communicative and direct and we’re working through it. We’ve had a lot of meetings and the goal is to try and avoid having a situation that doesn’t work out and doesn’t give him the opportunity to make a difference with the team. I think we’re doing that in good faith. I think the conversations have been productive.

Q: Is he going to have the ability to earn back any of the surrendered money?

We are currently discussing a structure that includes the ability to earn the lion’s share of what he could’ve made.

Q: If you’re too lenient, are you worried about taking the teeth out of that clause in the contract?

A: You definitely take the teeth out if you’re doing nothing other than saying, ‘Come back and make the same amount of money,’ but I don’t think this contract does that. I don’t think the new proposal does that. I think the new proposal defends the Browns and its rights, but also offers the opportunity for the player. It is a restructured fresh look at the facts. It is not us lying down.

Mandatory Rosett Post

Oil-For-Food. I'll continue to post it, as long as Claudia Rosett continues to report on it.

July 29, 2005

Let's Have The Answers

Andrew C. McCarthy agrees with Sen. Schumer that John Roberts should tell us his views on Roe v. Wade, among other things:

If you think Roe is good law, if you think it was well reasoned, if you think it reached the correct result, then you are basically saying that you think it is proper for a handful of lawyers, bereft of compelling precedent, and without competence in dynamic and relevant disciplines like medical technology (while unable institutionally to become competent by holding hearings like Congress does), to impose their policy preferences on the American people, and thus insulate those policy preferences from the democratic process.

Unfortunately, opportunity for reasoned debate on Roe has been overwhelmed by the disingenuous rights-rhetoric of the Left, abetted by the Right’s self-defeating complicity. In the current clime, saying “I think Roe was incorrectly decided,” reduces the declarant to a caricature Cro-Magnon who would have “women forced into back-alley abortions,” as Senator Ted Kennedy (D., Mass.) slanderously said of Judge Robert Bork nearly two decades ago.

In fact, all the statement really means is that the decision whether and under what circumstances to permit abortion — like every other issue the Constitution does not speak to directly — should be in the capable hands of Americans and the politicians accountable to them, rather than the judiciary. It is baffling that, in an age of judicial excess, conservatives continue to slog away in the abortion box rather than offering a different, resonant way for people who care about self-determination to think about Roe.

I don’t much care what Judge Roberts thinks about abortion. If Roe were reversed tomorrow, there would still be plenty of abortion. But it would be regulated by the people, not the judges. I would need to care about what Judge Roberts thinks of abortion about as much as I currently need to care what Justice Ginsburg or Justice Scalia thinks the drinking age in Connecticut should be — which is to say, not at all, because it’s frankly none of their business. That’s not what we hired them for.

But I care deeply what Judge Roberts thinks of Roe — because I care deeply about how he perceives the task of judging on the nation’s highest court.

Silliness In Response To Terror

Charles Krauthammer:

The American response to tightening up after London has been reflexive and idiotic: random bag checks in the New York subways. Random meaning that the people stopped are to be chosen numerically. One in every 5 or 10 or 20.

This is an obvious absurdity and everyone knows it. It recapitulates the appalling waste of effort and resources we see at airports every day when, for reasons of political correctness, 83-year-old grandmothers from Poughkeepsie are required to remove their shoes in the search for jihadists hungering for paradise.

The only good thing to be said for this ridiculous policy is that it testifies to the tolerance and good will of Americans, so intent on assuaging the feelings of minority fellow citizens that they are willing to undergo useless indignities and tolerate massive public waste.


Yesterday I posted the first half of the Baseball Hall of Fame prognostications of David Schoenfield of ESPN.com. Naming the first 20 current players who are likely to end up in Cooperstown was surely easier than picking numbers 20-40. And Schoenfield went way out on a limb in predicting Hall of Fame futures for guys who are still in their early 20's like Miguel Cabrera and Joe Mauer. That takes guts and counts on short memories, as he readily admits.

Because it's a debate I engage in fairly often, I was interested to see if he would list Omar Vizquel in his second 20, and sure enough, Omar came in at No. 39. And as always happens, Omar is compared with the great Ozzie Smith in terms of his Hall of Fame credentials and prospects. But just because he made Schoenfield's list doesn't mean I don't have anything to complain about. Who knew? First, here's what the writer had to say on Omar:

The way I see it, the cynical old-timers who hate all the pumped-up modern-day sluggers will vote for Omar, a symbol of the good old days when baseball was pure, when Hall of Famers played for the love of the game, when you actually had to be a good fielder to make a major-league team!

Does he deserve it? The obvious comparison, of course, isn't to his power-hitting contemporaries, but to The Wizard, Ozzie Smith, another light-hitting glove magician.

First, the hitting stats:

Player Hits Runs HR RBI AVG OBP SLG SB
Ozzie 2460 1257 28 793 .262 .337 .328 580
Omar 2248 1175 68 748 .275 .341 .359 332

Overall, pretty even. Both started out as terrible hitters (Ozzie hit .211 with 27 RBI in 1979, while Omar couldn't crack the .250 barrier until his fourth season) and eventually became good enough to post above-average OPS marks despite their lack of power. Ozzie became a little better at the plate, nine times posting an adjusted OPS of 90 or better; Omar has done that six times. Both were even traded early in their careers in lopsided deals (the Padres acquired Garry Templeton for Smith, while the Mariners acquired Felix Fermin and Reggie Jefferson for Vizquel).

In two other categories, Ozzie holds a more significant edge:

Gold Gloves:

Omar: 9
Ozzie: 13

All-Star appearances:

Omar: 3
Ozzie: 15

Ozzie is probably the greatest fielder at any position, ever. He was enormously popular with the fans. Vizquel only made three All-Star Games, but look who he was competing against: Ripken, Rodriguez, Jeter, Garciaparra and Tejada. Ozzie was battling Hubie Brooks and Rafael Ramirez for starting spots.

Vizquel might not be Ozzie, but that doesn't mean he won't make Cooperstown. He has the flair and reputation that go beyond numbers, and that should be enough to persuade the voters.

First, props to Schoenfield. He's right. Omar Vizquel belongs in the Hall of Fame.

The point about All-Star appearances is obviously right. You couldn't get Cal Ripken out of there with a crowbar for about 15 seasons. Maybe Omar could have persuaded a few more voters if he had been willing to do some cartwheel-to-backflip entrances onto the field like the showboating Smith used to do. Sure, the fans loved it, but that doesn't make it cool. And it had nothing whatsoever to do with baseball.

And as for Ozzie holding a "significant edge" over Omar in Gold Gloves won, while it's true enough, Schoenfield doesn't point out the number of other shortstops in the history of major league baseball who have won more Gold Gloves than Omar. That number is zero.

And remember too that the list of other stellar AL shortstops that Omar had to compete with to make the All Star Game is the same list he had to beat out for the Gold Glove, while Ozzie was fighting it out with the same group of lesser lights like Hubie Brooks and Rafael Ramirez for his Gold Gloves.

Schoenfield seems to conclude that, while the statistics are pretty close, he thinks Ozzie Smith is the better hitter, based I guess on having more seasons of a 90 plus adjusted OPS. But he forgets to mention the little detail that Omar is still playing, and that his career numbers are quite likely to surpass Smith's in the few categories in which he has not already done so.

Omar has about 200 fewer hits than Ozzie, but will almost surely surpass him if he plays out his current contract through 2007. Smith played three more seasons than Omar has, played in 340 more games, and batted 1500 more times to get those 200 hits. Omar trails in RBI by 45 and runs by 82. Ozzie is toast by the middle of next year. Omar already has more than double the homers of Smith and sports a .275 lifetime batting average, which is not only 13 points higher than Smith, but as I like to point out, it's only one point lower than Cal Ripken's lifetime average.

And just how is it that a player can honestly be called "light-hitting" when he amasses 2500 hits in his career, as Omar almost certainly will, no matter how superlative a defensive player he happens to be? Omar has more career doubles than Mickey Mantle, in fewer games played. Mark Belanger (1316 career hits) was a light-hitting shortstop with a great glove. Don't confuse him with Omar Vizquel, Mr. Schoenfield.

By the way, the career fielding percentage of "the greatest fielder at any position, ever" was .983, a figure matched exactly by Omar Vizquel. I saw enough of Ozzie Smith as a player to know he was a truly great defensive player, one that at that time I could say was probably the best defensive shortstop I had ever seen. But after watching Omar Vizquel for 1200 games, give or take, I am not persuaded that anyone was a "better" overall defensive shortstop than Vizquel in his prime. And the fielding percentage numbers bear that out.

Omar will probably be helped in the eventual HOF balloting by playing his final three seasons or so in the National League, where a whole different set of writers will get a chance to see him do his thing, and just maybe imagine what he was like in his prime.

Because even if his arm strength continues to ebb, and his speed goes the way of 39-year old men, they'll still see the glove. They'll see the way he hits behind the runner, gets down the sacrifice bunt, and drives in the runner from third with less than two outs. They'll see him make all the routine plays, and they'll see him make plays look routine that are anything but routine for most shortstops. And then maybe 8 or 10 times a year, they'll see a bare-handed play in the field that will blow their minds, and they'll know that nobody has ever done it better.

And he won't do it to please the crowd, though it undoubtedly will. He'll only do it when he knows that he has to, in order to get the out at first. And in that way, he'll set himself apart from a guy who did cartwheels and backflips into the Hall of Fame.

July 28, 2005

Taranto Redux

I'm getting a kick out of the retrospective on James Taranto's Best of the Web on the occasion of the blog's fifth anniversary. Part One ran yesterday, Part Two today, with the third installment coming tomorrow. I rarely missed BOTW throughout the Iraq war and the 2004 campaign. It's as much a daily habit as my morning coffee, and one of very few blogs that I recommend unreservedly to newcomers to the blogosphere.

Hall of Famers

ESPN's Page 2 considers which active major leaguers are most likely to end up with a bronze bust in Cooperstown, and David Schoenfield publishes his first 20 names today, along with his reasoning and the names of some also-rans. The second 20, coming Friday, will doubtless cause more debate. We'll see whether or not Schoenfield includes Omar Vizquel in that grouping before I make my annual case for Omar's Hall of Fame induction.

On the other side of the ledger, Page 2 has it's listing of the Top 10 Overpaid Players in MLB. The Tribe doesn't pay anybody enough money to have any of their disappointing players of 2005 make the list.

July 26, 2005

Does Federal Mean Forever?

The first I'd heard of the Government Reorganization and Program Performance Improvement Act of 2005 was in Cal Thomas' Townhall column yesterday. It's not the first time an idea like this has been floated in Congress, but that doesn't make it any less appealing this time around. The legislation would set up two new agencies:

The Sunset Commission would review the effectiveness of each federal program. Programs and agencies would automatically cease unless Congress took specific action to continue them. The Results Commission would work to uncover duplication of services in government programs, of which there are many.

The fact that such commissions are needed is an indication of the problem. Government programs are the only sign of eternal life on earth. Once they are created, they attract often-large constituencies that are ready to complain loudly about their "essential" services should anyone try to reduce their funding or, worse, end them altogether.

The administration that has shown no interest whatsoever in controlling federal spending for the past five years is behind this bill, according to Thomas. Let's hope so. Congress is likely to be about as excited about this legislation as they are about pushing for term limits. Here's some more detail from the OMB, and the endorsement of Citizens Against Government Waste.

July 25, 2005


I was reading Irwin Stelzer's Letter from Londonistan (at the suggestion of JVL at Galley Slaves), and realized that this statement early in the piece was speaking to me:

...it is important to scotch the myth that Britain and America have similar and equally effective responses to the terrorist attacks they have suffered. The hard fact is that America has decided that it is engaged in a war, while Britain has decided that it is confronted with what the leader of the Tory party (historically the foreign policy tough guys) calls a "criminal conspiracy" and the Economist calls a "'war on terror,'" complete with quotation marks. Put differently, 7/7 has evoked a policy response very different from 9/11.

All we heard in our media after 7/7 was how the stoic Brits insisted on getting on with their daily routines, not about to let the bombers keep them from their after-work pint or their morning tea. And I'm sure that the average person did respond in this way. Some with stoicism, some with anger, some with heroism, most with determination to carry on and not to let the terror succeed in its purpose. But Stelzer's piece is about the British government response, not that of the man-on-the-street. What I hadn't really grasped is the extent to which forces of multiculturalism have made the government impotent to act as if it is at war, or even to admit the existence of such a thing.

I suppose the differences in the responses to terror between the U.S. and Britain, as expressed in government policies, would be easier to understand if we could imagine that the 9/11 hijackers had been U.S. citizens living and working in Topeka.

One reason for the widely different responses is that America was attacked by foreigners, whereas Brits were horrified to learn that they had been attacked by fellow citizens. Americans know it is "us" against "them," whereas Brits know that "they" are also "us."

But the differences aren't all governmental, they're cultural...

British culture now dictates a confused response to terrorists. Start with the unwillingness of the majority of the British people to recognize that they are indeed in a war. The flak-jacketed, heavily armed men and women lining my road to Heathrow last week were cops, not troops. America is at war, Britain is playing cops and criminals. These are very different things, with important implications for policy...

...As if the decision to treat terror as a criminal matter did not place a large enough impediment in the path of the security forces, we have the infatuation of the British establishment with multiculturalism, and the pride with which its members and the left-wing press point out that 300 languages (soberer sources put the number at half that) are spoken in London.

The consequences of this equation of multiculturalism with the virtue of tolerance began with a refusal of the Blair government to get control of Britain's borders. As a result, there are hundreds of thousands--no one, including the government, knows for sure just how many--of illegal immigrants roaming around Britain. And many of these are not at all like the Mexicans who come to America to find work. They are attracted by the generous welfare payments to which they seem to have immediate and unrestricted access, and in many cases by the freedom to preach jihad.

Read it all, and while you're at it, check out this article by Daniel Pipes in The Australian a few days ago. Speaking of myth-busting, Pipes shoots down the common (I think) American perception that the British are tough on terror while the French are soft, "surrender-monkeys" where terrorists are concerned. Again it's the difference between what the society's elites think about such things and what the government actually does about them that may be the source of the misperception;

Thanks to the war in Iraq, much of the world sees the British Government as resolute and tough, the French one as appeasing and weak. But in another war, the one against terrorism and radical Islam, the reverse is true: France is the most stalwart nation in the West, even more so than the US, while Great Britain is the very most hapless...

Counterterrorism specialists disdain the British. Roger Cressey calls London "easily the most important jihadist hub in Western Europe". Steven Simon dismisses the British capital as "the Star Wars bar scene" of Islamic radicals. More brutally, an intelligence official said of last week's attacks: "The terrorists have come home. It is payback time for...an irresponsible policy."

While London hosts terrorists, Paris hosts a top-secret counterterrorism centre, code-named Alliance Base, whose existence was just revealed by The Washington Post. At the centre, six major Western governments since 2002 share intelligence and run counterterrorism operations (the latter makes it unique).

More broadly, President Jacques Chirac instructed French intelligence agencies just days after 9/11 to share terrorism data with their US counterparts "as if they were your own service". This co-operation is working: former acting CIA director John McLaughlin calls this bilateral intelligence tie "one of the best in the world". The British may have a special relationship with Washington in Iraq, but the French have one in the war on terror.

France accords terrorist suspects fewer rights than any other Western state, permitting interrogation without a lawyer, lengthy pre-trial incarcerations, and evidence acquired under dubious circumstances. Were he a terrorism suspect, says Evan Kohlmann, author of Al-Qaida's Jihad in Europe, he "would least like to be held under" the French system.

Sorry about that "surrender monkey" crack, monsieur.

China's War On Dissent

The Internet is making it increasingly hard for the Chinese Communist Party to keep a lid on political expression and dissent. Therefore they are cracking down to a degree not seen in recent decades. Chronicle.com has the story of Jiao Guobiao, a journalist, professor and advisor of graduate students who was fired from his job at Peking University for an essay he wrote that was critical of the government propaganda ministry. That wasn't even the tip of the iceberg:

Mr. Jiao is the latest casualty in the Chinese government's war against academic dissent, a campaign that has caught many scholars by surprise. Shortly before a new, younger generation of Chinese leaders took office in 2002, intellectuals in Beijing were hoping that Hu Jintao, who is now the country's president, would be a force for reform.

Since taking the reins of power, however, the new regime has launched a bitter attack on freedom of expression. Newspapers have been shut down, books banned, journalists and dissidents imprisoned, and scholars brought under increased pressure to toe the official line. The political situation is the worst it has been in years, many scholars say.

"I'm very pessimistic," says Xu Youyu, a researcher at the Institute of Philosophy at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences. "I'm sure that these harsh policies are not just for a short time."

The crackdown comes as a growing number of academics around the country are speaking out, in part thanks to new channels of expression like the Internet that the government finds difficult to control. Scholars are also abandoning research in the humanities in favor of the social sciences, and are thus more likely to be critical of their own society. Mr. Xu says that change dates back to the student protests of 1989, when Chinese soldiers opened fire on student activists and citizens.

And the repression of intellectuals has its historical precedents in China...

Intellectuals are well aware of the danger of speaking out in China, which has a long history of persecuting scholars.

Paul Ropp, a Clark University historian who is working on a book on dissent, says that throughout Chinese history the Confucian literati -- members of the scholar class who held positions in the imperial bureaucracy -- believed it their sacred duty to rectify abuses in government, even at the cost of their own lives. He cites the case of the Han historian Sima Qian (145-85 BC), who was given the option of committing suicide or facing castration for criticizing Emperor Han Wudi. (He chose castration.)

"It is too seldom recognized that all of these traditions have survived to the present day in the Chinese popular consciousness," Mr. Ropp says.

Intellectuals suffered bitterly when they were brutally denounced during the 1957 anti-rightist movement and the Cultural Revolution. During those "10 years of chaos," as China now calls the period, universities were closed throughout the country, books destroyed, and intellectuals persecuted and killed. Mao even once gushed about his mistreatment of intellectuals, boasting that he'd outdone the infamous Qin Shihuangdi, who buried hundreds of Confucian scholars alive in 215 BC.

"Well, and what was so remarkable about Qin Shihuangdi?" Mao is said to have asked a Communist Party gathering. "He executed 460 scholars. We executed 46,000 of them." The remarks were reportedly greeted with laughter.

yuk yuk


Len Pasquarelli's Tip Sheet provides what every NFL fan needs in late July. News. Any news. And Browns fans will be interested in Pasquarelli's feature article on the attempted comeback of Tim Couch.

July 24, 2005

Questions For Schumer

Sen. Chuck Schumer says he has lots of questions for John Roberts. You know, to make sure that his views on important issues are enough in tune ideologically with those of...well, Senator Schumer, to render him fit to serve the people of America on the Supreme Court.

University of Chicago law professor Richard A. Epstein has some questions of his own for Senator Schumer. He thinks it's fair for the Senator to come out and state exactly where he stands on some of the issues on which he demands a position from the nominee. It makes for interesting reading anyway.

Message Control

On the issue of Britain's resolve to stay the course in Iraq, I thought that the editorial by (London) Times Online's Gerard Baker was worth quoting at length...

It is true in an obvious sense that Iraq has increased our vulnerability; al-Qaeda and its allies play the game of international politics quite well. Their aim is to divide countries between and within themselves, to prise the timorous away from the struggle. Of course that makes London a target; they know full well that many in Britain’s elites are only too willing — wittingly or otherwise — to respond positively to their demands But Iraq has, I concede, made us more vulnerable in another sense. Invading Iraq has undoubtedly created in the minds of many millions of Muslims the idea that their people, their faith is under attack.

The right way to tackle that view is not to indulge it, sympathise with it or nurse it, but to correct it. The right way to deal with anti-American and anti-British sentiment in the Muslim world is not to pull out our troops from Iraq and beg forgiveness, but to continue to fight there on behalf of the majority of good Muslims for the kind of country they need and deserve.

And we must continue to explain what we are doing — to take on directly the outrageous falsehood that this is a fight between Islam and its enemy, and to point out to Muslims in London, Leeds, Karachi and Kandahar just how false this is.

It would help, for instance, to point out that in 1991 we liberated Kuwait, a Muslim country, from Saddam Hussein and that, in the process, saved the holiest sites in Islam — in Saudi Arabia — from falling under his heel too. That in Bosnia we intervened (belatedly) to save Muslims from being massacred by Christians; that we did the same again in Kosovo a few years later. And also that we are striving to create a state for Palestinians.

Above all we should point out that what we are fighting in Iraq is not some brave, popular “insurgency” struggling to free the Arab people from Western and Zionist oppression, but a coalition of some of the most vile individuals who have ever crawled the earth and who happily slaughter Muslim, Christian and Jew alike for their own ends.

That is what we are fighting against in Iraq. If doing that has really increased our vulnerability to attack, it should make us even more determined to prevail.

July 23, 2005

"Glorious Messiness"

Stuart Taylor's National Journal essay, "What Kind of Justice" makes clear just how difficult it is to make any categorical statements about what constitutes "judicial activism", and how mistaken it would be to presume that conservative justices are less likely to practice it than are more liberal ones. He notes also that the oft-stated reverence of some liberal judges for Supreme Court precedent sometimes goes out the window when it conflicts with their viewpoint of the moment.

All this and much more, in the context of the question of what kind of justice John Roberts is likely to be if he is confirmed to the Supreme Court. In short, it is a balanced look at a complicated topic, what Taylor refers to as "the glorious messiness of our constitutional democracy". It stood out to me amid the ocean of words being written on the Roberts nomination as one which manages to make a complex topic understandable for those of us who aren't lawyers or constitutional scholars, and does so without advancing a political agenda. Definitely worth your time to read it all.

(via RCP)

More Hayes-Joscelyn

In the continuing series from The Weekly Standard on Saddam-Al Qaeda links, comes another piece from Stephen Hayes and Thomas Joscelyn, this time on the role of Saddam Hussein in the creation of Iraq's Al Qaeda affiliate, Ansar al Islam.

July 21, 2005


Both Michelle Malkin and FPM's Ben Johnson have articles on why the FBI keeps files on Far Leftist groups and individuals. (Hint: They break laws). But that hasn't stopped them from being in a snit over it. Check out also this Malkin roundup.

July 20, 2005

Another In A Series

At the risk of sounding like a broken record, I am again posting and promoting the ongoing series of articles at The Daily Standard dealing with Saddam's connections to Al Qaeda and to Osama bin Laden. I can think of no issue more important at this moment than trying to make more people aware of the evidence, new and old, which refutes the commonly held misperception that the invasion of Iraq was based on a lie, and that Saddam had nothing to do with Al Qaeda or Islamist terror.

The Standard has been out front on this, with Stephen Hayes leading the way, for over two years. I was glad to hear Hayes on Michael Medved's radio show on the way home from work tonight, with Medved stressing the importance of Hayes' recent article with Thomas Joscelyn, and plugging Hayes book, "The Connection". I know too that my modest traffic here won't put a dent in the monumental project of spreading the word, but one does what one can, I suppose.

Tuesday Joscelyn was back with The Four Day War, a discussion of the Clinton administration's bombing raid on Iraq in December of 1998, and the fact that back then, there was fairly broad understanding if not consensus in world media, including the U.S., that a substantive relationship existed between Saddam and bin Laden. Here's a taste of Joscelyn's piece:

...as the current war in Iraq approached many forgot or ignored Saddam's response to the four-day war of December 1998. It is a shame because his response to that four-day bombing campaign--the largest since the first Gulf War--was telling. In his quest for revenge he had few options, but one of those was Osama bin Laden's al Qaeda.

Just days after Operation Desert Fox concluded one of Saddam's most loyal and trusted intelligence operatives, Faruq Hijazi, was dispatched to Afghanistan. He met with senior leaders from the Taliban and then with bin Laden and his cohorts on December 21.

While we cannot be sure what transpired at this meeting, we can be sure that it was not some benign event. In fact, within days of the meeting bin Laden loudly declared his opposition to the U.S.-led missile strikes on Iraq and called on all Muslims to strike U.S. and British targets, including civilians, around the world. According to press accounts at the time, bin Laden explained, "The British and the American people loudly declared their support for their leaders' decision to attack Iraq." He added that the citizens' support for their governments made it "the duty of Muslims to confront, fight, and kill" them.

Bin Laden's words sounded alarm bells around the world. Countless media outlets scurried to uncover the details of the relationship between Saddam's regime and al Qaeda. Dozens of news outlets--foreign and domestic--reported on the growing relationship and its ominous implications. When assessing any news account the reader must take all of the information with a grain of salt. But the sheer weight of the evidence reported from so many different sources paints a disturbing picture.

The meeting between Hijazi and bin Laden, it turned out, was not the first meeting between Saddam's envoys and al Qaeda. Nor were their conversations or cooperation limited to a few inconsequential contacts, as many in the U.S. intelligence community now claim. There were numerous reports that Saddam was training hundreds of al Qaeda operatives, that al Qaeda was receiving assistance in making chemical weapons in Sudan, that scores of Iraqi military officers had relocated to Afghanistan, and that Saddam might even use al Qaeda agents in a "false flag" operation against western targets.

The first alarm was rung by Milan's Corriere Della Sera on December 28. In the bluntest manner, the newspaper reported, "Saddam Hussein and Osama Bin Ladin have sealed a pact." Saddam's regime and bin Laden's global terrorist network had united against the common enemy, the U.S. and her allies. In preparation for the coming terrorist war, Saddam had even offered bin Laden safehaven.

And I was delighted to see blogfriend Dan Darling (of Regnum Crucis and Winds of Change fame) writing at The Standard with an article entitled "The Al-Douri Factor". I have long admired Dan's encyclopedic command of the names, places, factions and relationships among the Islamists, and his analysis is always fact-based and interesting. His article cites yet another example of Iraqi outreach to, and consultation with Al Qaeda, this time in the person of Izzat Ibrahim al-Douri.

It all makes for fascinating reading. That is, if your worldview isn't assaulted too heavily by consumption of the information.

Note: Does anyone under the age of thirty have any idea what the expression "sounding like a broken record" really means?

July 19, 2005


I have steered clear of the Plame-Wilson-Novak-Rove story (called "Nadagate" by NR's Ramesh Ponnuru) up to this point, mostly because the amount of press it has received is way over the top, and because anyone who has read much of anything about Joe Wilson and the Niger trip over the last two years knows that his credibility is lower than a snake's ass in a wagon rut. I thought that this was pretty much beyond dispute. Besides, there's a special counsel investigating the matter, and the incriminating fingers that matter have yet to be pointed at anyone.

But since Rove's involvement, consisting of his warning a reporter that Wilson had credibility problems, has become the Democrats' best available club with which to beat the Bush administration over the head, and media organs like Time magazine are cooperating so nicely in the dance, it's important to review some facts, dates, quotes and history.

A series of posts at The Corner yesterday provides some review for starters. So review the items there by John Podhoretz, Cliff May, and these observations from a reader.

Then read Andrew C. McCarthy's article, and Mark Levin's contribution, and you'll be up to speed with the single-handed National Review dismantling of the case against Karl Rove.

And finally, Edward Morrissey examines the double standard applied to administration whistle-blowers by the media, depending of course on whose ox is being gored.

UPDATE 7/23: Ben Johnson of FPM does some dismantling of his own of the Plame-Wilson case.

Ledeen x 2

Check out two terrific pieces by Michael Ledeen from the last few days. As always, his reporting on events in Iran is invested with his emotional sense of urgency on behalf of Iranian citizens who are suffering and dying at the mullahs' hands.

And now that the London bombers have turned out to be not only homegrown, but mostly educated, middle-class, "regular guys", Ledeen wonders why we're surprised. Excerpting... (ellipses mine)

Why were so many well-educated and well-informed people surprised, even shocked? Why were the facts ignored? Many of them have provided an "explanation": They believed that people raised in cultured, democratic, societies — whatever their ethnic background and whatever their political or religious beliefs — are immune to the emotional poisons that transform normal people into terrorists. No doubt the belief was, and in many cases remains, genuine. But this intellectual conceit — which underlies a vast multicultural enterprise that dominates media and schools and universities throughout the Western world — totally ignores the history of the West. It is as if fascism and Communism — products of the finest European societies — never happened, or that, even if they happened, they were anomalies...

George Orwell got it just right when, in the winter of 1940, he bitterly observed "highly civilized human beings are flying overhead, trying to kill me." He knew what his countrymen, and most of the intellectual elite of the West, have relegated to a quiet intellectual closet: that Hitler and Mussolini had created monstrous mass movements in two of the most civilized, and most cultured countries in Europe...

...Both fascism and Communism inspired mass murder and individual martyrdom for "the cause," just as radical Islam does today. Like Osama bin Laden and his ilk, Hitler and his cohorts raged against the democracies. Both blamed the free peoples for Germany’s and the Muslims’ misery and bragged of the superiority of Aryans and Muslims over decadent, corrupt, and self-indulgent free men and women...

There are many ideologies and many charismatic leaders who can inspire blind loyalty, often accompanied by equally blind hatred, even to the point of self-immolation. The operational model for the suicide terrorists of today comes from Japan’s kamikazes — soldiers from a highly civilized country — in the Second World War. Freedom and democracy do not protect us against such people; Indeed, in the past century, free nations elevated them to power, and kept them there until we dominated them. The evil can't be explained by economic misery, or social alienation, or even by the doctrines adopted by the terrorists. The problem lies within us.

Guy Stuff

It's 100 Things Every Guy Must Know, which apparently is the kind of useful information one gets from reading MAXIM regularly. I post it because there actually are some interesting factoids and oddities listed, and because I need to keep my Guy Card.

Tribe Folds

The Indians managed to stop the bleeding tonight, but if they had planned to make a statement coming out after the All-Star break, consider it made:

They're not a playoff team.

The team was literally and figuratively smacked in the mouth on their home field by the White Sox this past weekend, and sooner or later even longtime backers of Eric Wedge have to start looking in the manager's direction when the question asked is "What's wrong with the Indians?"

This team has repeatedly come up flat when the big series and the big games arrive. Expectations were high locally and nationally for this group in the Spring, and the Indians responded with a two-month hitting slump to start the season. I'm not suggesting that we have the same level of talent on the field that the top four or five teams in the American League are putting out there every day, but ultimately it is the manager's job to get the most out of the players abilities, to get them to play as a cohesive unit, to maximize the talent that he has. I have no sense yet that Eric Wedge is the right guy to do that for the Indians. So far, including last year, the flops and folds are too frequent and too glaring.

For whatever reason they don't seem to be playing with the emotion that we saw for much of last year, when it was a lack of pitching that kept them from being a winning team. The players say they like Wedge. Maybe that's part of the problem. Maybe he cares whether they like him or not, and lets it affect his judgment. That's a problem for a manager in almost any setting, baseball or business.

Remarkably, they're not out of the Wild Card chase yet, and if this team has proved anything, it's that they are streaky and unpredictable. But if they don't stop playing Lucy with that football to their fans' Charlie Brown, they'll start to reinforce that famous Cleveland pessimism, and make the fans believe, more than they already do, that we can't win the big game or the big series.

Eric Wedge is the key to turning this thing around, away from the notion that Cleveland is just a stopping point on the career path of the good players, on their way to a city and a team that has a chance to win it all. I hope he can do it, but for the first time, I'm having real doubts.

July 18, 2005

Hayes Follow-Up

As promised, Stephen Hayes is supplementing his important essay from last week (co-written with Thomas Joscelyn) on the substantial and longstanding links between Saddam Hussein's Iraq and Al Qaeda. Today's article wonders aloud why The DIA and CIA Go MIA.

One of the enduring mysteries of the Iraq-al Qaeda connection is why reporters have shown so little interest in covering it. The secret relationship between America's two most dangerous enemies and the results of their collaboration would seem to have many of the elements journalists look for in a potential story. And for many reporters at mainstream news outlets such as ABC News, Newsweek, and the Associated Press it was a familiar story. Journalists throughout the 1990s covered the Iraq-al Qaeda relationship with some regularity.

By early 1999, ABC News was running stories describing the "long relationship" between the Iraqi regime and al Qaeda. The Associated Press reported that the Iraqi regime had extended to bin Laden an offer of safehaven in Baghdad. The wire service was apparently so sure of its information that attribution was deemed unnecessary.

Among the many reasons journalists today don't seem particularly interested in covering the Iraq-al Qaeda connection, three stand out. First, the mainstream press long ago settled on a storyline to describe the case for the Iraq War: the Bush administration lied, or at least exaggerated, to take us to war. Second, the Bush administration is doing little to encourage journalists to write a corrective. Third, intelligence sources, as the DIA example makes clear, have no interest in setting the story straight.

The agenda of the media is at least familiar, if inexcusable. But the disinterest of the intelligence community in digging for answers which might potentially refute their earlier assessments is indeed frightening. It sounds like the same kind of groupthink, bureaucratic inertia and careerism in the intelligence community that was criticized by the 9/11 Commission.

Radosh Review

FrontPage Magazine has an excellent review of Ron Radosh and Allis Radosh's new book, Red Star Over Hollywood: The Film Colony's Long Romance With The Left. As he did earlier with his book on the Rosenbergs, Radosh has broken new ground with his research on the Hollywood Ten, according to reviewer Art Eckstein:

...in the end Party-members paid dearly for belonging to a secret organization. The hard fact is that there would have been no “naming of names” if the Party had not been a secret organization in the first place. This was later ruefully admitted even by prominent Party-member Paul Jarrico--and this turns out to have been the private opinion of the famous blacklistee Dalton Trumbo as well. Trumbo’s bitter remarks on Party secrecy have not been known before, and the bringing to light of material that for 50 years has lain unnoticed or ignored in Trumbo’s private files is a major scholarly contribution from the Radoshes.

"The question of a secret Communist Party lies at the heart of the Hollywood blacklist," Trumbo wrote in a 1958 memorandum which the Radoshes have now rescued from obscurity (pp. 219-222). Trumbo argued that there had been no need for the Party in the United States to maintain the rule of secrecy, since Party-members were not living under a despotic regime such as Czarist Russia, under the threat of torture and death, but were working for change in America’s open political market-place. Yet this was a distinction the Party refused to make. Party-members in the U.S., Trumbo said, "should have all been open Communists, or they should not have been members at all." What happened instead was that secret membership ultimately "destroyed them". The reason was that the moment of conscious choice whether to openly join an openly revolutionary party (with admitted risks to one’s career) was never permitted people; and when the illusion of secrecy collapsed and Party-members were then called before HUAC, "the quality of choice was radically changed for the worse. Instead of voluntary choice between party and career, they now faced compulsory choice between informing and the blacklist."

(credit to The Corner)

July 17, 2005

Hillary's Chances

I thought this Washington Monthly piece by Amy Sullivan, a Hillary admirer, made a reasonable case for why Mrs. Clinton would make a good president, while at the same time suggesting that she might not be the Democrats' best candidate to regain the White House. The bottom line is that her negatives are so high in all the polls (approx 40%) that it's going to be difficult to gain a high enough percentage of the "undecideds" to win a general election, much as Ms. Sullivan would like to see that happen.

Somehow, I just don't think she'll be the candidate. Too much baggage...mostly Bill, but also the lingering bad taste of the corruption of the first eight Clinton years. But there's already a lot of hype about the presumed frontrunners, Clinton and McCain, here referred to as "the most intoxicating figures in American politics today". If that's the choice in 2008, and I hope it is not, I might have to flip a coin.


It gets easier and easier not to blog once you've gone a few days without posting anything, and not only do you feel alright about it, but neither has the earth spun off its axis in the absence of your priceless commentary. Anyway, the blog has been the lower priority for a couple of weeks, but I plan to get back to some regular posting. Thanks for hanging in with me.

July 13, 2005

Extreme Liberationism

Bork on the Court

Once the justices depart, as most of them have, from the original understanding of the principles of the Constitution, they lack any guidance other than their own attempts at moral philosophy, a task for which they have not even minimal skills. Yet when it rules in the name of the Constitution, whether it rules truly or not, the court is the most powerful branch of government in domestic policy. The combination of absolute power, disdain for the historic Constitution, and philosophical incompetence is lethal.

July 11, 2005

Battling The CW

The more it becomes the conventional wisdom that there was no connection between Saddam Hussein's Iraq and the al Qaeda terror network, the more important it is to keep reminding, informing and hitting people over the head with the evidence if necessary. That is what Stephen Hayes did in his book The Connection, and that is what he continues to do in three recent articles at The Weekly Standard.

In "Rolling Rockefeller", Hayes feeds the Senator's own words back at him to make the point.

Few people have been more critical of the Iraq war than Senator Jay Rockefeller, a Democrat from West Virginia.

He has over the past two years repeatedly accused the Bush administration of deliberately deceiving the American public to take the nation to war. It's hard to imagine a more serious charge. And Rockefeller makes it perhaps more credibly than most Iraq War critics--as the vice chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee.

It's no surprise then that reporters sought out Rockefeller for his reaction to George W. Bush's address to the nation Tuesday night. The junior senator from West Virginia minced no words. Iraq, he said, "had nothing to do with Osama bin Laden, it had nothing to do with al-Qaida, it had nothing to do with September 11, which he managed to mention three or four times and infer three or four more times."

But two years ago the Senator had other ideas...

...In some interviews Rockefeller did say that he hadn't seen evidence of close ties between Iraq and al Qaeda. But asked about an Iraq-al Qaeda relationship by CNN's Wolf Blitzer on February 5, 2003, Rockefeller agreed with Republican Senator Pat Roberts that Abu Musab al Zarqawi's presence in Iraq before the war and his links to a poison camp in northern Iraq were troubling. Rockefeller continued: "The fact that Zarqawi certainly is related to the death of the U.S. aid officer and that he is very close to bin Laden puts at rest, in fairly dramatic terms, that there is at least a substantial connection between Saddam and al Qaeda."

Is this really the same person who now says Iraq "had nothing to do with al Qaeda" and who finds it somehow improper to mention the Iraq war and 9/11 in the same speech?

And as for CNN, Hayes demonstrates that they just continue to present a picture that is 180 degrees removed from the facts, and he calls for an on-air retraction. Fat chance.

"There is no evidence that Saddam Hussein was connected in any way to al Qaeda."

So declared CNN Anchor Carol Costello in an interview yesterday with Representative Robin Hayes (no relation) from North Carolina.

Hayes politely challenged her claim. "Ma'am, I'm sorry, but you're mistaken. There's evidence everywhere. We get access to it. Unfortunately, others don't."

CNN played the exchange throughout the day. At one point, anchor Daryn Kagan even seemed to correct Rep. Hayes after replaying the clip. "And according to the record, the 9/11 Commission in its final report found no connection between al Qaeda and Saddam Hussein."

The CNN claims are wrong. Not a matter of nuance. Not a matter of interpretation. Just plain incorrect. They are so mistaken, in fact, that viewers should demand an on-air correction.

But such claims are, sadly, representative of the broad media misunderstanding of the relationship between Iraq and al Qaeda. Richard Cohen, columnist for the Washington Post, regularly chides the Bush administration for presenting what he calls fabricated or "fictive" links between Iraq and al Qaeda. The editor of the Los Angeles Times scolded the Bush administration for perpetuating the "myth" of such links. "Sixty Minutes" anchor Lesley Stahl put it bluntly: "There was no connection."

Conveniently, such analyses ignore statements like this one from Thomas Kean, chairman of the 9/11 Commission. "There was no question in our minds that there was a relationship between Iraq and al Qaeda." Hard to believe reporters just missed it--he made the comments at the press conference held to release the commission's final report. And that report detailed several "friendly contacts" between Iraq and al Qaeda, and concluded only that there was no proof of Iraqi involvement in al Qaeda terrorist attacks against American interests. Details, details.

And finally, from the new issue of TWS, Hayes' piece "The Mother of All Connections", mines new information gleaned from documents discovered after the liberation of Iraq and from prisoner interrogations. I'm excerpting below, but there's no way to do it justice here, so please just go read it all. It is long, detailed and persuasive. It will be interesting to see the response, if any, from the "Bush lied" gang.

...more than two years after the Iraqi regime of Saddam Hussein was ousted, there is much we do not know about the relationship between Iraq and al Qaeda. We do know, however, that there was one. We know about this relationship not from Bush administration assertions but from internal Iraqi Intelligence Service (IIS) documents recovered in Iraq after the war--documents that have been authenticated by a U.S. intelligence community long hostile to the very idea that any such relationship exists.

We know from these IIS documents that beginning in 1992 the former Iraqi regime regarded bin Laden as an Iraqi Intelligence asset. We know from IIS documents that the former Iraqi regime provided safe haven and financial support to an Iraqi who has admitted to mixing the chemicals for the 1993 attack on the World Trade Center. We know from IIS documents that Saddam Hussein agreed to Osama bin Laden's request to broadcast anti-Saudi propaganda on Iraqi state-run television. We know from IIS documents that a "trusted confidante" of bin Laden stayed for more than two weeks at a posh Baghdad hotel as the guest of the Iraqi Intelligence Service.

We have been told by Hudayfa Azzam, the son of bin Laden's longtime mentor Abdullah Azzam, that Saddam Hussein welcomed young al Qaeda members "with open arms" before the war, that they "entered Iraq in large numbers, setting up an organization to confront the occupation," and that the regime "strictly and directly" controlled their activities. We have been told by Jordan's King Abdullah that his government knew Abu Musab al Zarqawi was in Iraq before the war and requested that the former Iraqi regime deport him. We have been told by Time magazine that confidential documents from Zarqawi's group, recovered in recent raids, indicate other jihadists had joined him in Baghdad before the Hussein regime fell. We have been told by one of those jihadists that he was with Zarqawi in Baghdad before the war. We have been told by Ayad Allawi, former Iraqi prime minister and a longtime CIA source, that other Iraqi Intelligence documents indicate bin Laden's top deputy was in Iraq for a jihadist conference in September 1999.

All of this is new--information obtained since the fall of the Hussein regime. And yet critics of the Iraq war and many in the media refuse to see it.


Links to Stephen Hayes' reporting on the Iraq-al Qaeda connection.

Rosett on UNCC

Still lots of catching up to do, and that includes another Rosett update on the Oil-For-Food scandal. This time Ms. Rosett takes a look at the United Nations Compensation Commission and the questions about the $19 billion that they were authorized to dispense.

As usual with U.N. programs, the accounting is opaque, the overhead is scandalously high, and they don't like reporters or anyone else asking questions.

...the mind-bending number is the $19.2 billion in Iraqi oil revenues disbursed by the UNCC, which — to name a handy benchmark — comes to more than three times the $6 billion pledged by various governments and private organizations for tsunami relief.

The UNCC awards have been allocated in largely secret proceedings, overseen by a total of 58 commissioners over the years, working in groups of threes. And though the names of some of the recipients and partial breakdowns of the sums paid out are available on the UNCC website, the information is both confusing and incomplete. We are told, for example, that thousands of Palestinians received compensation awards, but the names of individuals are withheld, and the money is disbursed via the governments of the claimants — in this case, the Palestinian Authority.

July 9, 2005

Strategic Defeat For The Genius

Jonathan V. Last, online editor for The Weekly Standard and Galley Slaves blogger, deserves to be quoted at length from the latest Standard newsletter. His "Last Word" pieces should be online somewhere. Why not here?

There is a certain strain of expert who believes that Osama bin Laden is a political genius who is using terrorism to accomplish political aims. If true, it follows that, while the West should pursue Islamist terrorists militarily, we should also seek politically to alleviate the conditions which so inflame them.

Okay, let's just name names--I'm talking about Michael Scheuer who suggests in his books that bin Laden is a genius on par with America's Founding Fathers and that in order to win the war on terrorism, America needs to stop agitating Islamists by stationing troops in Saudi Arabia, going to war in Iraq, helping Israel defend itself, etc. There is a respectable branch of opinion which concurs with Mr. Scheuer.

So let's start at the beginning: Just how smart is Osama bin Laden? For almost two decades bin Laden was allowed to run amok, conducting his own private guerilla war against America and the West. His political aims, if you took them at face value, were to get American troops out of Saudi Arabia, to preserve the religious integrity of the Hijaz, and to punish America for supporting Israel with the eventual hope that Israel could be disappeared and its Jews scrubbed from the Holy Land.

During this time, bin Laden and his cohorts scored a number of tactical victories--the USS Cole, the African embassy bombings--all culminating with the attacks of September 11. But those attacks have proved to be an enormous strategic failure for bin Laden. America decided to finally take him at his word and wage a reciprocal war. A coalition of Western allies invaded and democratized first Afghanistan and then Iraq.

So now when bin Laden's minions mete out death and destruction their demand for this or that country is that they get out of Afghanistan or Iraq. In other words, even if bin Laden's latest attacks somehow achieved their political aims, all he would have accomplished would be returning to the status quo of 15 years ago. Osama bin Laden has been successful as a tactician, but by his own lights, his leadership can only be judged a drastic strategic failure. If he really believes in his stated goals, he is further away from achieving them today than he has been at any time since the first Gulf War.

This isn't quite Washington or Jefferson territory we're talking about here. If bin Laden has any American analog, it might be Chief Sitting Bull.

And if bin Laden isn't a genius, the way Scheuer et al suggest, there is also no reason to believe that if their stated political aims were accommodated they would lay down their bombs and stop slaughtering innocents.

In the coming days you are likely to hear that England was targeted because of its involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan. Anyone who buys this line should be ridden out of town on a rail. Terrorists kill people. It's who they are; it's what they do. They don't need provocations and their "reasoning" is, contra Scheuer, post facto. The people of Bali weren't fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan. There was no Iraq and Afghanistan on September 11, or at Khobar Towers.

If the Western allies pulled out of Iraq and Afghanistan tomorrow, there would still be attacks for some other slight--maybe the affront of having troops in Saudi Arabia. If our Zionist infidel troops left the Saudis, there would still be attacks because there are Jews in the Holy Land. If the Jews were pushed into the sea, there would still be attacks because there are Gucci stores in Riyadh. It never ends. And so we should care not at all why these monsters claim they are making war against us (and by "us," I mean we who uphold the principles of Western liberalism, be we in New York, London, Paris, Toronto, or Melbourne).

Some people have been slow to come around to this realization. But more and more of them will do so in the coming days. That's why yesterday's attacks on London were a barbarity, yes, but for bin Laden and his monsters, they were also another important strategic defeat.

Root Causes Rear Their Ugly Heads

Please read James Taranto's first item in today's BOTW. According to the New York Times among others, we're back to calling poverty the "root cause" of terrorism, and referring to our attempts to combat Islamofacism as the "so-called" war on terrorism. Taranto is appropriately appalled at the regression.

July 8, 2005


I'm trying to catch up, and there have obviously been a lot of pixels expended already writing about the upcoming Supreme Court nominations, but a person could do a lot worse than to start at NRO with Andrew C. McCarthy, Mark Levin and Heather Mac Donald.

July 5, 2005

Been Away

Please excuse the longest blogging hiatus in the 2+ years this thing has been in existence. My mother passed away late Wednesday night, so it goes without saying that I have been consumed with other matters. I'll have more to say about that wonderful woman in the days ahead. In the meantime if it's sporadic, you understand.

UPDATE 7/8: Thanks to all of the commenters for your kind and comforting words. Here's the Plain Dealer obituary for my mother, Ruth McCullough Wismar. The PD emphasized her military service owing to the coincidence of it appearing in the paper on the 4th of July. The text that her family put together stressed the themes of education, family and her nursing career which, together with her deep Christian faith, come closer to defining her than did her military service.

That service had brought her some recent notoriety however. Just over seven months ago, on Veterans Day 2004, a local display of her WWII photos landed her picture on the homepage of CNN.com for a few hours. Here's what that looked like on the morning of November 11, 2004. (She's the one not in uniform, on the right). Characteristically, she didn't bother even looking at the site, and couldn't have cared less about her picture being seen by millions of people around the world, enjoying only our excitement about it. Enough for now. I'll try to gather my thoughts for a later post.

July 1, 2005

Ohio 2004 - Setting It Straight

Kenneth Blackwell is running for Governor of Ohio, and he's not about to let Howard Dean and his fellow revisionist historians distort and lie about what happened in the Ohio presidential election last year (long lines = black voter suppression, etc.) Here's his account of Ohio 2004. Excerpts:

...Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean, in typical foot-in-mouth manner, citing a DNC “report,” recently made the outrageous claim that African-American and young voter turnout was somehow suppressed in Ohio. The facts tell a different story.

A million more Ohioans participated in the 2004 general election than did in 2000. The Census Bureau reported last month that both Ohio African-American and young voters went to the polls in record numbers. In fact, 66% of all eligible African-Americans in Ohio cast ballots as compared to 60% nationally. Four years earlier, only 54% had participated in Ohio. The 55% turnout for Ohio’s 18-to-24-year-olds also exceeded the national average (47%). That’s compared to 38% four years earlier.

Ohio’s provisional ballots are another issue where Dean misrepresented the facts. Provisional ballots are those cast by voters whose registration is uncertain on Election Day. The ballots are set aside until the registration status can be verified in the days following the election.

Dean asserts that Ohio’s provisional ballots usage and counting methods amount to an indictment of our management of the process. In the 2004 general election, Ohio ranked fourth (78%) in the percentage of provisional ballots ultimately counted according to a study by the non-partisan Electionline.org. We were first among states of equal or greater population, regardless of counting standards and laws. In Pennsylvania, which allows voters to cast provisional ballots outside their home precincts, only 48% of the provisional ballots were either fully or partially counted. And in California, which also allows voters to cast provisional ballots outside their home precincts, 74% were counted.

The electoral system in Ohio worked well. Every eligible voter who wanted to vote had the opportunity to vote. There was no fraud. There was no disenfranchisement and certainly no voter suppression.

Blackwell is a charismatic black Republican with an impressive resume and a potentially bright future in politics at the national level. Democrats apparently need no more reason than that to try to smear him now. The ongoing attempt to distort what happened in Ohio in November and then to tie it to Blackwell's tenure as Secretary of State is as transparent as it is offensive.

Related: I served as a volunteer Republican poll observer in an urban Akron precinct. Here's my account of Election Day 2004.