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January 31, 2006

Scraping Bottom

With the bar for scummy campaign tactics already set pretty low, Colleen Rowley, Democratic candidate for Congress in Minnesota, attempted to limbo under it the other day when she depicted her opponent, sitting Congressman Rep. John Kline, in a Nazi uniform on her campaign website. Rep. Kline served his country with distinction for 25 years in the Marine Corps before being elected to Congress. Rowley's site was attempting to make the hilarious equation: Colonel Kline = Colonel Klink. Isn't that a scream?

Power Line has a screen shot, and Michelle Malkin rounds up some reaction. Following the furor, the offending picture was removed from the website, and after Kline called for an apology by Rowley to all veterans and current U.S. soldiers, Rowley posted an apology to Kline on her site. A chorus of condemnation from principled Democrats is anticipated any day now.

Pipes and Predictions On Hamas

Daniel Pipes is "neutral" on the matter of Hamas' election victory, because "not much separates Hamas anti-Zionism from Fatah anti-Zionism except that Hamas terrorists speak forthrightly while Fatah terrorists obfuscate." Pipes FPM article does link to the thoughts of many other commentators, so it's a good jumping off point for reading on the topic. And of course, so is RCP. I thought Hoagland and Hitchens were particularly good.

Both Sides Now

Democrats would love to preserve the public perception that contributions from Jack Abramoff's clients went exclusively to Republicans, but that is becoming increasingly difficult to do. Maybe that's why we're hearing a little less crowing from them in recent days. From Investors.com

Sen. Harry Reid has been found with his hands in the Abramoff cookie jar...

...Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean, hoping like most Democrats that charges of corruption and the depiction of Republicans as the party of Jack Abramoff will help them retake the House or Senate or both, said on "Fox News Sunday": "No Democrat delivered anything, and there's no accusation and no investigation that any Democrat ever delivered anything to Jack Abramoff."

Ah, but there is, as host Chris Wallace dutifully pointed out.

He asked Dean, "If we find that there were some Democrats who wrote letters on behalf of some of the Indian tribes that Abramoff represented, then what do you say, sir?" Dean responded: "Those Democrats are in trouble" and "they should be in trouble."

As Wallace hinted, one of "those Democrats" is Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid from Nevada, who, when interviewed by Wallace in December about acting on behalf of an Abramoff client who later donated to a Reid-sponsored political group, testily responded: "Don't try to say I received money from Abramoff. I've never met the man, don't know anything."

When Wallace persisted, Reid shot back: "Make sure that all your viewers understand — not a penny from Abramoff. I've been on the Indian Affairs Committee my whole time in the Senate."

What viewers should understand is that a little-noticed AP story last November showed that Reid accepted thousands of dollars from an Abramoff client — the Coushatta Indian tribe.

The Coushattas sent a $5,000 check to Reid's tax-exempt political group, the Searchlight Leadership Fund, the day after Reid interceded via letter with Interior Secretary Gale Norton over a casino dispute with a rival tribe. A second tribe represented by Abramoff sent an additional $5,000 to Reid's group. Reid in total received more than $66,000 in Abramoff-related contributions between 2001 and 2004.

Before the Democrats get on their high horse regarding GOP finance scandals, let us remember that 90% of Senate Democrats took money linked to "Republican" lobbyist Jack Abramoff. That includes nearly $100,000 by Sen. John Kerry and $12,950 by fellow presidential wannabe Hillary Clinton.(via Glenn)

Maybe Mr. Dean should concentrate more on fundraising.

January 28, 2006

Too Much To Turn Down

The package the Red Sox offerred Indians G.M. Mark Shapiro for Coco Crisp was "too much to turn down", so a popular and productive player goes to Boston in Crisp, and the Indians get a third base prospect in Andy Marte, 22, who most scouts feel is one of the top ten prospects in all of baseball.

The Tribe also picks up young catcher Kelly Shoppach and reliever Guillermo Mota, while pitcher David Riske and backup catcher Josh Bard go from Cleveland to Boston. From the PD:

Marte, 22, is the reason GM Mark Shapiro made the trade. They have Aaron Boone at third base and little else behind him. Marte, one of the youngest players at the Class AAA level last year, hit .275 with 20 homers and 74 RBI for Richmond.

"In Andy Marte, we are acquiring a right-handed power hitter who is also a good defensive third baseman," said Shapiro. "It is difficult to acquire a player of Andy's caliber and skill set via trade or free agency, and third base is a position of need in our organization."

I like the deal for two reasons. First, I'm excited about Marte. By all reports, he's special. And second, Crisp is considered by the Indians to be a centerfielder, and they'll have Grady Sizemore patrolling that position for at least a few more years. Crisp's arm is below average, and he may never hit for enough power to hold down a starting corner outfield spot for a contending team. The Indians management also wasn't happy about the way Crisp hit against lefthanders last season, and there are so many lefthanded starters in the Central Division that this wasn't a small problem.

It's still a gamble by Shapiro, because Crisp is only 26, and is already an established .300 hitter with speed, a great glove, and a winning attitude. He should get still better. Marte is still a maybe, and these Indians were supposed to be about winning now instead of assembling prospects for some future run. The Indians went into this offseason needing to upgrade the team at first base, and right field, without losing ground in the pitching staff. That hasn't gone particularly well so far.

They picked up a 36-year old part-time player in Eduardo Perez to platoon with the inconsistent Ben Broussard at first, and did nothing to improve right field, where Casey Blake will apparently return to underwhelm again, unless Brad Snyder somehow makes the team out of spring training. Now, instead of adding a proven major league outfielder, they have subtracted one. If you're keeping score at home, that leaves Grady Sizemore and not a whole lot else playing outfield in 2006.

The pitching staff lost a No.1 starter in Kevin Millwood and a No. 5 in Scott Elarton to free agency, and replaced them with what looks like a No. 4 guy in Paul Byrd, and a No. 5 in Jason Johnson. This is not progress. I can't blame owner Larry Dolan for not matching the 5-year, $60 million contract Texas offered Millwood, but I hoped he would spend some of that money on position player talent at the four corner positions where the team was so weak last year.

The trade for Phillies outfielder Jason Michaels isn't a long-term answer. Michaels looks to me like solid fourth outfielder, and it was originally thought he would platoon in left with newly acquired Todd Hollandsworth. However, Shapiro said in his press conference that Michaels will be the everyday leftfielder. He did bat .304 for the Phillies last year, and had a .399 OBP, but he still does not figure to strike fear into the hearts of the World Champion White Sox.

The swap of catchers looks like a steal for the Tribe. Bard didn't hit his weight last year, and has peaked professionally. Shoppach is a strong defensive catcher with two years of AAA ball behind him, who is ready for the majors. He's coming off an offensive year in 2005 in which he had 26 homers and 75 RBI, batting .253 a t AAA. He's only 25 and is already drawing interest from other teams in trade talks.

Riske had lost the confidence of Eric Wedge and there are many good young arms ready to stock the bullpen in Cleveland. This one may be addition by subtraction.

See what the Red Sox blogs are saying.

Here is more detail on Marte from Rick's Tribe Report

Just Another Day

One priceless quote from Taranto today, on the Kerry-Kennedy effort to drum up support for a filibuster of Judge Alito's confirmation:

...of course the filibuster cannot succeed. Seven Democratic senators are on record as renouncing the filibuster except in "extraordinary circumstances," and it's hard to think of a circumstance more ordinary than Kennedy and Kerry behaving like fools.

January 27, 2006

Blackwell Profile

Just read this terrific piece by City Journal's Steve Malanga on the man likely to be the next Governor of Ohio. And who knows what after that? I'm excerpting, but it's well worth reading in full.

Right now, Ken Blackwell stands at a pivotal point in American politics. He’s taken an early lead in the race for governor of a state that was key to reelecting George W. Bush and that may well be even more crucial in picking the next American president. Moreover, Blackwell has built his early lead not by tacking toward the center of this swing state but by running on an uncompromisingly conservative platform that’s won him grassroots support from both Christian groups and taxpayer organizations—a novel coalition that makes the old-boy network in his own Ohio GOP as uneasy as it makes the state’s Democrats, who have begun a “stop Blackwell” campaign.

Ken Blackwell has so many people worried because he represents a new political calculus with the power to shake up American politics. For Blackwell is a fiscal and cultural conservative, a true heir of the Reagan revolution, who happens to be black, with the proven power to attract votes from across a startlingly wide spectrum of the electorate. Born in the projects of Cincinnati to a meat-packer who preached the work ethic and a nurse who read to him from the Bible every evening, Blackwell has rejected the victimology of many black activists and opted for a different path, championing school choice, opposing abortion, and staunchly advocating low taxes as a road to prosperity. The 57-year-old is equally comfortable preaching that platform to the black urban voters of Cincinnati as to the white German Americans in Ohio’s rural counties or to the state’s business community...

...Blackwell is betting that many black Americans may be ready for a candidate, like him, who doesn’t preach victimology and doesn’t see the world almost entirely in racial terms. Blackwell is a post-racial, post-civil rights campaigner; race rarely enters into his speeches and is barely a part of his political platform. And even when Blackwell does address racial issues—the achievement gap between black and white students, for instance—it’s to tout free-market solutions like vouchers and charter schools. So far, this approach has resonated with black voters, attracting 40 to 50 percent of them in his statewide elections, even though he runs on the GOP line. And his strong support of Bush in 2004, analysts say, helped the president double his black vote in Ohio over the 2000 election. Bush won 17 percent of African-American votes in Ohio in 2004, compared with 11 percent nationally.

Yes, Ohio has been run miserably by Taft and the Republican leadership, which Malanga documents in depressing detail. But I don't believe electing a Democrat is the answer to Ohio's problems. I have supported Blackwell thus far because I like his proposals for limiting spending growth, his school choice advocacy, his technology background, his focus on a good business climate, and his undeniably impressive resume.

It's more than policy prescriptions though. Let's face it, the man's got the right stuff. Looks, brains, talent, experience, charisma. Weyrich called him an "extraordinary individual". That's the sense I get. A natural politician perhaps, if that is not a slur in this day and age. No, this is not a paid advertisement. It's more a drop of my own idealism in the bucket of my cynicism about politicians. I'm hoping he can live up to the billing. I live here.

Ken Blackwell for Ohio Governor 2006

January 26, 2006

No More Hiding

"Worse is better"

Emanuele Ottolenghi invokes Lenin to describe new state of affairs in the Palestinian Authority, as led by Hamas.

What victory does to Hamas is to put the movement into an impossible position...Had they won 30-35 percent of the seats, they could have stayed out of power but put enormous limits on the Palestinian Authority’s room to maneuver. By winning, they have to govern, which means they have to tell the world, very soon, a number of things.

They will have to show their true face now: No more masks, no more veils, no more double-speak... this is the time for Hamas to show what hides behind its veil.

As the government of the Palestinian Authority, now they will have to say whether they accept the roadmap.

They will have to take control over security and decide whether they use it to uphold the roadmap or to wage war.

There will be no excuses or ambiguities when Hamas fires rockets on Israel and launches suicide attacks against civilian targets. Until Tuesday, the PA could hide behind the excuse that they were not directly responsible and they could not rein in the "militants." Now the "militants" are the militia of the ruling party. They are one and the same with the Palestinian Authority....

...Hamas will have to confront the Egyptians (and the Jordanians) and tell them what the PA under Hamas now stands for. And Egypt and Jordan will have to change course, accordingly...

...The Arab world will also be watching wearily. Hamas now will have to show to the Arab world that an Islamic party that wins a democratic election — everyone’s nightmarish scenario — is not as bad as it seems. For now, the Palestinians have chosen an Islamic option over a secular one. Let them have it. Let them enjoy life under Sharia. It is their choice — that is what self-determination is about — and we must respect it. After all, the spectacle of an Arab government that is defeated in a fair and free election, and that as a consequence resigns (resigns!), has no precedent in the Arab world. This is good news.

Hard to excerpt this. Read it all.

56 Flights To Syria

More testimony (notice I didn't say evidence) that Saddam Hussein's WMD were moved to Syria in the months before the U.S. invasion of Iraq.

The man who served as the no. 2 official in Saddam Hussein's air force says Iraq moved weapons of mass destruction into Syria before the war by loading the weapons into civilian aircraft in which the passenger seats were removed....

...Mr. Sada, 65, told the Sun that the pilots of the two airliners that transported the weapons of mass destruction to Syria from Iraq approached him in the middle of 2004, after Saddam was captured by American troops.

"I know them very well. They are very good friends of mine. We trust each other. We are friends as pilots," Mr. Sada said of the two pilots. He declined to disclose their names, saying they are concerned for their safety. But he said they are now employed by other airlines outside Iraq.

The pilots told Mr. Sada that two Iraqi Airways Boeings were converted to cargo planes by removing the seats, Mr. Sada said. Then Special Republican Guard brigades loaded materials onto the planes, he said, including "yellow barrels with skull and crossbones on each barrel." The pilots said there was also a ground convoy of trucks.

The flights - 56 in total, Mr. Sada said - attracted little notice because they were thought to be civilian flights providing relief from Iraq to Syria, which had suffered a flood after a dam collapse in June of 2002.

Sada, the former Iraqi air force officer, has a book out now about his service in the Saddam regime. Not sure if that makes him more or less credible. He'll meet next week with members of the Senate Armed Services Committee.

(via Power Line)

UPDATE 1/27: Much more on Georges Sada from Mark in Mexico

Oprah Admits "Mistake" on Frey Book

NY Times:

In an extraordinary reversal of her strident defense of the author whose book she catapulted to the top of the best-seller list, Oprah Winfrey said today she believed that the author James Frey "betrayed millions of readers" by making up elements of his life in his best-selling memoir, "A Million Little Pieces."

She added that she believed "I made a mistake" when she said that the truth of the book mattered less than its story of redemption.

In a live broadcast of "The Oprah Winfrey Show" from her studios in Chicago in which she interviewed Mr. Frey, Ms. Winfrey apologized to her audience for her call to "Larry King Live" earlier this month defending the author. Today, Ms. Winfrey, alternately fighting back tears and displaying vivid anger, berated Mr. Frey for duping her and her audience.

See the original post on the exposure of author James Frey's lies here.

Oprah, who to me is admirable on many levels already, demonstrates her integrity and her humility by this strong public reversal of her previous statements, which were made in the immediate aftermath of the disclosure of Frey's deceptions. She could have just kept quiet about it, and the issue would have gone away in time.

I suspect she may have heard from a lot of people who are recovering from alcohol or drug addictions, and who know that a large part of that recovery lies in rigorous honesty with one's self. I suspect she now realizes that holding up as an example of how to deal with an addiction a person who has been grossly dishonest about the nature and extent of his own addiction, helps no one.

Whatever the reasons for her rethinking of the issue, she just gained a few points on my respect-o-meter.

And here's the story of another non-fiction hoax. Sheesh.

January 25, 2006

Rosett On U.N. Procurement

It turns out that the Oil-For-Food programme was (is?) just part of the systemic theft at the United Nations under the leadership of Kofi Annan. Hundreds of millions of dollars have gone down the sewer of U.N. corruption via the U.N. Procurement department as well. Claudia Rosett and George Russell call it the "Culture of Impunity".

Is The Bloom Off Hillary's Rose?

There's lots of Hillary talk out there in the blogosphere, much of it occasioned by the release of a new survey that reflects staggeringly high "negatives" for Mrs. Clinton, that is, people who say they definitely would not vote for her regardless of her opponent in 2008.

In a CNN/USA Today/ Gallup poll made public yesterday, 51% of voters said they would definitely not vote for Mrs. Clinton if she chooses to run for president in 2008. In a separate nationwide poll conducted this month for a spirits company, Diageo, and a political newsletter, the Hotline, 44% of all voters and 19% of self-described Democrats said they viewed the New York senator unfavorably.

Hillary's nomination in 2008, which has seemed like a virtual lock for, oh, a couple of years now, seems less so today, even though history would suggest that the pendulum is likely to swing back to Democratic control of the White House in 2008.

Arianna Huffington writes about some of the chinks in the "Hillary's-a-lock" armor. In sum, it warns not to overestimate Clinton's strength among conservatives by looking at how she did in upstate New York, and not to assume that she is rock solid with the Democratic "base", because polls show her trailing six other candidates including "undecided". Her post is link-rich and therefore worth checking out.

The New York Sun's Josh Gerstein says Democrats are increasingly nervous about her ability to win in the general election:

"There are a lot of people who are conventional Democrats ideologically who think she can't win, and we're caught in this bind where she's unstoppable and therefore our goose is essentially cooked," a Democratic consultant and former aide to Senator Lieberman, Dan Gerstein, said.

Many Democrats are reluctant to criticize the former first lady in public. Indeed, Mr. Gerstein, who is no relation to this reporter, quickly added that he does not agree with those who think Mrs. Clinton would be doomed to defeat in November. But he acknowledges that the topic is widely discussed. "I don't believe that. I don't buy it, but it's surprising how often that's being repeated," he said.

A former chairman of the South Carolina Democratic Party, Richard Harpootlian, is among those who will own up to such misgivings. "Mrs. Clinton, because of some positions she has taken over the years, gets a visceral reaction to her here, both negative and positive. I'm afraid around the South and Midwest the visceral reaction is not good," he told The New York Sun.

Andrew Sullivan's piece in the Sunday Times notes the intentional schizophrenia in Hillary's political positioning, as she tries to oppose President Bush from his right (on Iran) and from his left (with her "plantation" rhetoric) simultaneously. She has two men in her way, says Sullivan. One is former Virginia Governor Mark Warner, who could mount a centrist challenge to her nomination on the Democratic belief that he could take a red state or two in the general election.

But she can't run away from her husband. An excerpt from Sullivan:

Yes, there’s nostalgia for the 1990s, but not that much.

Which brings us to Hillary’s other problem male: her husband. It’s impossible to imagine him in the White House as a “first lady” figure, arranging state dinners and redecorating the Lincoln bedroom. Electing Hillary means re-re-electing Bill.

When Bush Jr was elected no one believed his dad would actually be running the show (although a few chastened conservatives might have appreciated some old-school moderation at the helm these past few years). Electing Hillary will be the same two-for-one deal it was in 1992 and 1996. Americans like moving forward, not backwards.

Which sounds a bit like something I wrote here back in November 2004:

anytime there's talk of Hillary running for President is the fact that, as long as she's still married, electing Hillary would be putting Bill Clinton back in the White House, and I'm not sure the majority of the American people will ever choose to let that happen. In fact, if the same elite opinion holds in 2008 as held sway in 1992, the Democrats and the media will gush about the special package deal we would get. Co-Presidents they called it back then, and Hillary assumed control over much of the domestic policy-making apparatus and had more than nominal oversight of the Justice Department, without so much as a ballot being cast for her or an appointment being made. Huge power with zero accountability. Nice work if you can get it. Sort of like Kofi Annan when you think about it. Would Americans in 2008 be eager to take advantage of the manifest intellectual gifts and incredible career experience of the President's spouse, and hand him a significant unelected, unappointed policy-making role? I'm doubting it.

If Bill comes along as part of the package in 2008, I don't think it'll fly, even guessing four years out. Because I don't think most Americans will forget the perjury, the obstruction of justice, the inaction on terror, the impeachment, the sexual imposition, the illegal Chinese campaign cash, the sleazy pardons, the smearing of inconvenient women, the disbarment, or the meaning of the word "is". Without the baggage, maybe Hillary could pull it off.

UPDATE 1/26: Jonah Goldberg adds his two cents today. His L.A. Times piece concludes...

...there's a great irony here. Hillary Clinton's success over the last decade and a half has been in pretending to be her own woman while really playing one part or another for the benefit of the media, her husband or various feminist constituencies desperate for a role model to confirm all of their comfortable stereotypes.

That's why there's something oddly satisfying in the possibility that Clinton being herself is politically disastrous. And, if she's really just playing one more role according to some classically Clintonian political triangulation, there's something equally satisfying to the prospect that even her fans aren't falling for it anymore.

Why are Hillary's negative poll numbers not available on the web sites of CNN or Gallup, the organizations that conducted the poll? Why did USA Today remove the whole section on 2008 hopefuls from their results? Hmmm.

January 24, 2006

McCarthy On NSA Intercepts

Andrew C. McCarthy neatly summarizes the Bush administration's case for the legality of the NSA intercept program, which by the way was the case made by the Clinton administration, the GHWB administration, the Reagan administration, the Carter administration, the Nixon administration....

The president reiterated two basic arguments in support of the NSA program which have been posited by the Justice Department and administration officials. The first relies on the inherent constitutional authority of the president under Article II of the Constitution. The president is commander-in-chief of the armed forces and the constitutional officer singularly obligated to conduct foreign affairs and protect the American people from external threats. Consequently, federal courts have long recognized the president's inherent authority to conduct monitoring to protect national security — at least when a foreign threat is involved.

Critics argue that the passage of FISA has altered the constitutional field. That contention, however, has two insuperable obstacles. First, the Constitution cannot be altered by a statute — it is the supreme law of the land. This is why (as I argued on Monday), acts of Congress have long been subject to being held invalid if they violate the Constitution or attempt to modify its structure. Presidents used national-security surveillance authority for many years before there ever was a FISA. If presidents had that power in the first place because of Article II, Congress can do nothing to take it away.

Second, in 2002 — even after nearly a quarter century of FISA's operation — the Foreign Intelligence Court of Review (the highest and most specialized court ever to review a FISA case) indicated that presidents maintain inherent constitutional authority despite the terms of FISA. Thus, administration critics are simply wrong when they argue that compliance with FISA is the sine qua non of lawful eavesdropping in the national-security arena.

In an earlier piece in the print edition of NR, McCarthy detailed that decision by the Foreign Intelligence Court of Review in 2002, and also spoke of the 2004 Hamdi decision, neither of which finds its way into Democratic discussion of the President's actions for some reason.

Far from being a pretextual use of war powers to spy on political opponents and policy dissenters, the NSA program has been dedicated to national security. More to the point, it has saved lives, helping break up at least one al-Qaeda conspiracy to attack New York City and Washington, D.C., in connection with which a plotter named Iyman Faris was sentenced to 20 years’ imprisonment...
...Ever since it became technologically possible to intercept wire communications, presidents have done so. All of them. going back to FDR, claimed that the powers granted to the chief executive under Article II of the Constitution allowed them to conduct such wiretapping for national-security purposes. Particularly in wartime, this power might be thought indisputable. The president is the commander in chief of the armed forces, and penetrating enemy communications is as much an incident of war-fighting as bombing enemy targets is...

...the Bush administration’s defense has been light on the abstruse details of FISA and heavy on the president’s inherent Article II power—although carefully couched to avoid offending Congress and the FISC with suggestions that FISA is at least partly unconstitutional. Essentially, the administration argues that FISA is beneficial in ordinary times and for long-term investigations, but that it did not and cannot repeal the president’s independent constitutional obligation to protect the country: an obligation that was explicitly reserved even by President Carter, who signed FISA; that has been claimed by every president since; and that is uniquely vital in a war against thousands of stateless, stealthy terrorists, in which both a “probable cause” requirement and a sclerotic bureucracy for processing warrant applications would be dangerously impractical. In advancing this argument, the administration finds much support in the one and only decision ever rendered by the Foreign Intelligence Court of Review—the appellate court created by FISA to review FISC decisions. That decision came in 2002, after a quarter-century of FISA experience. Tellingly, its context was a brazen effort by the FISC to reject the Patriot Act’s dismantling of the “wall” that prevented intelligence agents and criminal investigators from pooling information. In overruling the FISC, the Court of Review observed that “all the other courts to have decided the issue [have] held that the President did have inherent authority to conduct warrantless searches to obtain foreign intelligence
information.” Notwithstanding FISA, the Court thus pronounced: “We take for granted that the President does have that authority.”...

...The administration has also placed great stock in Congress’s post-9/11 authorization of “all necessary and appropriate force” against those behind the terrorist attacks. While this resolution did not expressly mention penetrating enemy communications, neither did it explicitly include the detention of enemy combatants, which the Supreme Court, in its 2004 Hamdi decision, found implicit in the use-of-force authorization because it is a “fundamental incident of waging war.” Capturing intelligence, of course, is as much a component of waging war as capturing operatives. Any other conclusion would lead to the absurdity of the president’s having full discretion to kill terrorists but needing a judge’s permission merely to eavesdrop on them....

...The controversy is a disquieting barometer of elite commitment to the War on Terror. As recently as two years ago, when “connecting the dots” was all the rage, liberals ignored eight years of Clintonian nonfeasance and portrayed the Bush administration as asleep at the switch while terrorists ran amok. Now they ignore President Clinton’s insistence on the very same executive surveillance power that the current administration claims and caricature Bush as the imperial president, shredding core protections of civil liberties by exaggerating the terror threat. Either way you slice it, national security becomes a game in which necessary decisions by responsible adults become political grist, and, if they get enough traction, phony scandals. What remains real, though, is the danger to Americans implicit in any system that can’t tell a war from a crime.

We don't hear Bush's political opponents engaged in discussion of precedents, history or case law, much less the necessity of urgency in dealing with threats to the American people. I'm sure there are legal arguments being made by certain scholars that present a different viewpoint on the legality of the NSA program. But we're not hearing those arguments articulated by a principled Democratic opposition. It's so much easier to scare-monger and pose as protectors of civil rights than to make a coherent argument on a policy matter.

I know I've said this before, but the unwillingness of the Left in this country to grant to George Bush the slightest credit for having made a good faith effort to protect Americans from another attack by Islamist terrorists discredits them, and not him. It would be nice if their positions on this and other policy matters were informed by something other than their impeachment fantasies.

Power Line's John Hinderaker has an excellent post on how Attorney General Alberto Gonzales and the administration are taking their case to the American public

UPDATE 1/26: Yet more from McCarthy on Presidential powers.

January 23, 2006

"It Calls You A Name"

Shelby Steele reacts to Hillary's pandering:

When political pandering goes awry, it calls you a name. On an emotional level, many blacks will hear Hillary's remark as follows: "I say Republicans run the House like a plantation because I am speaking to Negroes--the wretched of the earth, a slave people--who will surely know all about plantations." Is this a tin ear or a Freudian slip, blacks will wonder? Does she really see us as she projects us--as a people so backward that our support can be won with a simple plantation reference, and the implication that Republicans are racist? Quite possibly so, since no apology has been forthcoming...

...even Mrs. Clinton's "offense" would have amounted to very little had it come from nothing more than an awkward metaphor. But, in fact, it came from a corruption in post-'60s liberalism and Democratic politics that profoundly insults blacks. Mrs. Clinton came to Al Sharpton's MLK celebration looking for an easy harvest of black votes. And she knew the drill--white liberals and Dems whistle for the black vote by pandering to the black sense of grievance. Once positioned as the white champions of this grievance, they actually turn black resentment into white liberal power. Today, Democrats cannot be competitive without this alchemy. So Mrs. Clinton's real insult to blacks--one far uglier than her plantation metaphor--is to value them only for their sense of grievance...

...Precisely because Republicans cannot easily pander to black grievance, they have no need to value blacks only for their sense of grievance. Unlike Democrats, they can celebrate what is positive and constructive in minority life without losing power. The dilemma for Democrats, liberals and the civil rights establishment is that they become redundant and lose power the instant blacks move beyond grievance and begin to succeed by dint of their own hard work. So they persecute such blacks, attack their credibility as blacks, just as they pander to blacks who define their political relationship to America through grievance. Republicans are generally freer of the political bigotry by which the left either panders to or persecutes black Americans.

No one on the current political scene better embodies this Republican advantage than the current secretary of state, Condoleezza Rice. The archetype that Ms. Rice represents is "overcoming" rather than grievance. Despite a childhood in the segregated South that might entitle her to a grievance identity, she has clearly chosen that older black American tradition in which blacks neither deny injustice nor allow themselves to be defined by it.

Saturday Night Live was all over Hillary last night. See the video at The Political Teen.

January 21, 2006

Hooked on Hasselhoff

David Hasselhoff video. (via John Podhoretz at The Corner)

Words fail me.

January 20, 2006

The Company You Keep

Greg Gutfield has a satirical piece up at the Huffington Post:

(NEWSFLASH, JANUARY 20, 2006) Experts confirmed today that a taped message aired on Al-Jazeera television was not only from Osama Bin Laden, but completely scripted by Bush cabinet member Karl Rove...

...According to a secret memo unearthed by Al-Jazeera, Karl Rove scripted these words, then convinced Bin Laden to repeat them, promising him it would increase his stature in the American political scene and get him invited to parties at David Geffen's house. "Trust me on this one. Look what I did for Cindy Shaheen," he told Bin Laden, according to the memo.

It's certainly debatable how funny the piece actually is, but that's not where the commenters were going. The mostly lefty commenters were falling into two broad categories; people who really think Rove and the White House are behind the OBL tape release, and those who are furious, and are lashing out obscenely at Gutfield for noticing how bin Laden's message really does sound like Democratic talking points. Worth a look just to marvel at the level of vitriol slung at the author.

Greg Djerejian has a thoughtful post on the bin Laden tape, and one of his commenters makes Gutfield's point more straightforwardly:

Have you read what OBL actually said? He sounds like he is channeling Cindy Sheehan. He hits all the left's talking points - we're losing in Iraq, Bush is a liar, withdraw the troops now, soldier morale is low, Abu Ghraib, Guantanamo, etc. He even manages to throw in a reference to Vietnam and a conspiracy theory or two.

What purpose does it serve for OBL to sound so eerily similar to Howard Dean? He obviously follows our political chattering classes quite closely. Why has he adopted the tone and message of the left? Why does he choose their words in his tapes designed to demoralize and threaten the US?

He did the same thing prior to the 2004 election, threatening retaliation to the "red states" who vote for Bush and referencing Michael Moore's film.

Whose side are you on if OBL is parroting your words?

Not A Mistake

It looks like the unfortunate deaths of innocents in the U.S. missile strike on the Pakistani town of Damadola may become a side story, as the importance of what the U.S. military accomplished with the strike becomes clearer. At least three major al Qaeda players are dead. Lamentable as the civilian deaths are, this was a successful mission.

Midhat Mursi, 52, also known as Abu Khabab al-Masri, was identified by Pakistani authorities as one of four known major al Qaeda leaders present at an apparent terror summit in the village of Damadola early last Friday morning.

The United States had posted a $5 million reward for Mursi's capture. He is described by authorities as the man who ran al Qaeda's infamous Derunta training camp in Afghanistan, where he used dogs and other animals as subjects for experiments with poison and chemicals. His explosives training manual is still regarded as the bible for al Qaeda terrorists around the world.

Pakistani officials also said that Khalid Habib, the al Qaeda operations chief for Pakistan and Afghanistan, and Abdul Rehman al Magrabi, a senior operations commander for al Qaeda, were killed in the Damadola attack. Magrabi, sources told ABC News, was the son-in-law of Ayman al-Zawahiri, al Qaeda's No. 2 man. (via CQ)

Radical leaders are trying to rouse Pakistani Muslims to jihad against America, with some success it appears. But the more liberal component of Pakistani society has to realize, like the Iraqis are beginning to, that rule by al Qaeda is not the future they want. Whether Musharraf will ever allow them anything close to the freedom Iraqis now enjoy is another question. For now I just hope he survives the next few Islamist attempts on his life, and continues to be more with us than agin' us.

Blackwell Leads - Zogby Poll

The results of a new Zogby poll show Republican Secretary of State Kenneth Blackwell leading likely Democratic candidate, Congressman Ted Strickland, by 4.5% (45.9% to 41.4%) in the contest for the Governorship in Ohio.

January 19, 2006

Barrett Report

Bob Novak has a pretty good summary of the issues associated with the Barrett Report. The mystery continues to be the contents of the 100 or so pages out of 400 total that were redacted by the panel of judges. Interesting point by Novak that any Congressman could read the redacted portions, and also legally make the information public. Senator Coleman? Rep. Curt Weldon?

See also Rodger Morrow's post, which links a good NY Sun account of the issue. More from Malkin and Ace.

January 18, 2006

The Edge - Annual Question - 2006

Somehow I missed this when it was first published a couple of weeks ago. But it's always a treat to read the responses of really smart people to the Annual Question from the folks at The Edge.

This year's question: What is Your Dangerous Idea?

Pack a lunch.

Columbus Was Late

An ancient Chinese map purports to prove that Columbus wasn't the first to discover the Americas after all.

The brave seamen whose great voyages of exploration opened up the world are iconic figures in European history. Columbus found the New World in 1492; Dias discovered the Cape of Good Hope in 1488; and Magellan set off to circumnavigate the world in 1519. However, there is one difficulty with this confident assertion of European mastery: it may not be true.

It seems more likely that the world and all its continents were discovered by a Chinese admiral named Zheng He, whose fleets roamed the oceans between 1405 and 1435. His exploits, which are well documented in Chinese historical records, were written about in a book which appeared in China around 1418 called “The Marvellous Visions of the Star Raft”.

Next week, in Beijing and London, fresh and dramatic evidence is to be revealed to bolster Zheng He's case. It is a copy, made in 1763, of a map, dated 1418, which contains notes that substantially match the descriptions in the book. “It will revolutionise our thinking about 15th-century world history,” says Gunnar Thompson, a student of ancient maps and early explorers.

It should be a fairly simple proposition to change the name of our national holiday to Zheng He Day and just move on.

(via aldaily.com)

January 17, 2006

Aussie Open Online

Normally I would pay little attention to the Australian Open Tennis Championships, and even less to the official web site for the event. But since our son is the webmaster for the site, and is required to travel to Melbourne for the month to do his thing, and since I'm just itching to brag about it to someone.... you, gentle reader, will have to hear about it.

Actually the site is pretty cool, and technically quite ambitious, as you might expect from Big Blue. Check out "PointTracker", a computer simulation of each point, as the match is being played. Match scores appear on the site at the same instant they show on the courtside scoreboards, for those of us you who just have to stay on top of the action all through the tournament, so you don't miss an upset.

Don't forget to write, kid. (Maybe it's getting to be old hat for him)

Dems Doing Nuance

I understand that the audience for Al Gore's speech yesterday was a crowd made up predominantly of dedicated Bush-haters, and Al was eager to toss them some raw meat, but the rhetoric was so comically hyperbolic that it might just as easily have been an SNL skit. But this man is beyond parody.

The RNC loves it when Gore presumes to speak for the Democrats, and they had a response ready to point out some previous statements by Gore from when he actually served in government. And others, including Byron York, had much more able analysis than I could offer. But I did grab a few snippets at random from the full text of the speech to demonstrate how Gore just can't resist that extra adjective or adverb, resulting in a distortion of any reality observed by Earth people:(emphasis mine)

...the Executive Branch of our government has been caught eavesdropping on huge numbers of American citizens and has brazenly declared that it has the unilateral right to continue...

actually Al, the number is about 500 total that were suspected of contacts with al Qaeda figures, and we don't have a good idea yet how many of those were American citizens...

...just one month ago, Americans awoke to the shocking news that in spite of this long settled law, the Executive Branch has been secretly spying on large numbers of Americans for the last four years and eavesdropping on "large volumes of telephone calls, e-mail messages, and other Internet traffic inside the United States."...

well, if 1.7 ten-thousandths of one percent of Americans is "large numbers", then you got me...

..as soon as this massive domestic spying program was uncovered by the press, the President not only confirmed that the story was true, but also declared that he has no intention of bringing these wholesale invasions of privacy to an end.

...you mean he didn't promise to stop listening to al Qaeda conversations once secret national security information was illegally leaked by his political enemies?

...What we do know about this pervasive wiretapping virtually compels the conclusion that the President of the United States has been breaking the law repeatedly and persistently.

you mean even though you have no evidence that the law has been broken, we should all be compelled to this conclusion...virtually?

...It is this same disrespect for America’s Constitution which has now brought our republic to the brink of a dangerous breach in the fabric of the Constitution.

Have metaphors ever been mixed so maliciously?..."to the brink of a... breach in the fabric..." Isn't that what happened to Janet Jackson at the Super Bowl?

Then there are the statements that depart from hyperbole and roll right into fiction...

The President claims that he can imprison American citizens indefinitely for the rest of their lives without an arrest warrant, without notifying them about what charges have been filed against them, and without informing their families that they have been imprisoned.

Down boy!

Here's more from the Byron York piece on Gore's covering of all the bases:

amid all the accusing and prescribing, Gore uttered those few words about the president's "inherent power" to take "unilateral action" during an emergency. No matter what else he said, Gore flatly declared that the president has the inherent authority to do what he believes is necessary to defend the country. While the crowd sat on its hands — what's he saying? — the statement shouldn't have been a surprise. Gore is, after all, the former vice president of an administration that claimed the inherent authority to order national-security break-ins without a warrant. Even when the administration supported placing such break-ins under FISA restrictions, it still claimed the inherent authority to do them unilaterally, if the president thought necessary...

...he devoted a good deal of time to discussing the history of curtailments of civil liberties during the course of American history. First there were the Alien and Sedition Acts, and then Lincoln and suspension of habeas corpus, and then Wilson and the Palmer Raids. And then came the second World War. "The internment of Japanese Americans during World War II marked a low point for the respect of individual rights at the hands of the executive," Gore said. "And, during the Vietnam War, the notorious COINTELPRO program was part and parcel of the abuses experienced by Dr. [Martin Luther] King and thousands of others." After each episode, Gore explained, when "the conflict and turmoil subsided," Americans reflected on what had been done and "absorbed the lessons learned in a recurring cycle of excess and regret."

Yet later in the speech, Gore credited earlier generations with resisting the temptation to curtail rights, even in the face of grave dangers like World War II and the Cold War. "Is the world more dangerous than when we faced an ideological enemy with tens of thousands of missiles poised to be launched against us and annihilate our country at a moment's notice?" Gore asked. "Is America in more danger now than when we faced worldwide fascism on the march — when our fathers fought and won two World Wars simultaneously?" Not at all, Gore said. "It is simply an insult to those who came before us and sacrificed so much on our behalf to imply that we have more to be fearful of than they. Yet they faithfully protected our freedoms and now it is up to us to do the same."

Well, which was it? Did members of earlier generations "faithfully protect" our liberties, or did they set up COINTELPRO and intern Japanese Americans? Gore said both things, just a few minutes apart. It was, in a way, characteristic of his entire speech. Unilateral presidential action is illegal and it's legal. Leaks are bad and they're good. Previous generations curtailed our rights and they didn't.

No matter. The crowd was thrilled.

As always, what is absent from all the screeching from Al Gore and others on the Left about the NSA program is any hint of an acknowledgement that President Bush might have been acting in good faith to protect Americans from another terrorist attack. Again as usual, he cannot be merely disagreed with, he must be demonized.


Transcript of Attorney General Alberto Gonzales interview on The Larry King Show

Strata-Sphere post on NYT backtracking on NSA story (via Power Line)

Jeff Goldstein translates the text of the ACLU lawsuit against the NSA program. (via Michelle Malkin)

Jonah Goldberg's reaction to the Gore speech.

January 16, 2006

Listen Good

Andrew C. McCarthy explains the limitations of the NSA eavesdropping program, the justification for it, and the procedures and briefing requirements that were carefully followed in its implementation.

The intelligence community has identified thousands of al-Qaeda operatives and sympathizers throughout the world. After Congress overwhelmingly authorized the use of military force immediately following the 9/11 attacks, the president, as part of the war effort, ordered the NSA to intercept the enemy’s international communications, even if those communications went into and out of the United States and thus potentially involved American citizens. According to reports from the New York Times, which shamefully publicized leaks of the program’s existence in mid-December 2005, as many as 7,000 suspected terrorists overseas are monitored at any one time, as are up to 500 suspects inside the U.S.

As is typical of such wartime operations, the NSA program was classified at the highest level of secret information. It was, nevertheless, completely different from the kind of rogue intelligence operations of which the Nixon era is emblematic (though by no means the only case). The Bush administration internally vetted the program, including at the Justice Department, to confirm its legal footing. It reviewed (and continues to review) the program every 45 days. It briefed the bipartisan leadership of Congress (including the intelligence committees) at least a dozen times. It informed the chief judge of the federal Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC), the tribunal that oversees domestic national-security wiretapping. And it modified the program in mid-2004 in reaction to concerns raised by the chief judge, national-security officials, and government lawyers.

The position of Democrats seems to be that our government should not be monitoring phone calls between al Qaeda leaders and their operatives here in the United States. Let them try to sell that idea to the voters in November.

January 14, 2006

TWS Cover



Clean It Up!

A group of influential center-right bloggers is going on record demanding reform in Congressional lobbying practices, and is attempting to influence the GOP leadership elections as a first step in that process. The House would do well to heed the words of these blog luminaries and show some real seriousness and leadership on the necessary reforms. The Abramoff scandal is the symptom, not the disease. Sign me up. Here's the letter, originally posted at the truth laid bear.

An Appeal from Center-Right Bloggers

We are bloggers with boatloads of opinions, and none of us come close to agreeing with any other one of us all of the time. But we do agree on this: The new leadership in the House of Representatives needs to be thoroughly and transparently free of the taint of the Jack Abramoff scandals, and beyond that, of undue influence of K Street.

We are not naive about lobbying, and we know it can and has in fact advanced crucial issues and has often served to inform rather than simply influence Members.

But we are certain that the public is disgusted with excess and with privilege. We hope the Hastert-Dreier effort leads to sweeping reforms including the end of subsidized travel and other obvious influence operations. Just as importantly, we call for major changes to increase openness, transparency and accountability in Congressional operations and in the appropriations process.

As for the Republican leadership elections, we hope to see more candidates who will support these goals, and we therefore welcome the entry of Congressman John Shadegg to the race for Majority Leader. We hope every Congressman who is committed to ethical and transparent conduct supports a reform agenda and a reform candidate. And we hope all would-be members of the leadership make themselves available to new media to answer questions now and on a regular basis in the future.


N.Z. Bear, The Truth Laid Bear
Hugh Hewitt, HughHewitt.com
Glenn Reynolds, Instapundit.com
Kevin Aylward, Wizbang!
La Shawn Barber, La Shawn Barber's Corner
Lorie Byrd / DJ Drummond , Polipundit
Beth Cleaver, MY Vast Right Wing Conspiracy
Jeff Goldstein, Protein Wisdom
Stephen Green, Vodkapundit
John Hawkins, Right Wing News
John Hinderaker, Power Line
Jon Henke / McQ / Dale Franks, QandO
James Joyner, Outside The Beltway
Mike Krempasky, Redstate.org
Michelle Malkin, MichelleMalkin.com
Ed Morrissey, Captain's Quarters
Scott Ott, Scrappleface
The Anchoress, The Anchoress
John Donovan / Bill Tuttle, Castle Argghhh!!!

January 13, 2006

"I'm Going To Say Mary Jo Was Driving"

We pick up the story at approximately 1:45 a.m. July 19, 1969, approximately one hour after Senator Kennedy drove his car off the bridge at Chappaquiddick. Mary Jo Kopechne was still in the car, underwater, possibly even still alive. The following narrative is based on the information in the book Senatorial Privilege, by Leo Damore, and is as related by the two men who were with Sen. Kennedy about 45 minutes after the car went into the water, friends Joseph Gargan and Paul Markham, and from testimony by other witnesses.

The timing of the post is based on my feeling that a history refresher is useful periodically. Like today.

1:45 a.m.

- Joe Gargan, Paul Markham, and Senator Kennedy arrived at the ferry landing and parked the car facing Edgartown. During their drive from the bridge, Gargan had been insistent: "We have got to report this accident immediately," he had said repeatedly. Markham agreed, interjecting an occasional, "You're right, Joe."

- Markham did not enjoy the same position of authority with Ted Kennedy that Gargan did, and because he "was really in pain, he wasn't being as forceful as I was about reporting the accident," Gargan recalled.

- The Senator was silent during these discussions, but it was clear to Gargan that he did not want to report the accident at this time.

- Kennedy began expressing alternate ideas about the situation:

- "Why couldn't Mary Jo have been driving the car? Why couldn't she have let me off, and driven to the ferry herself and made a wrong turn?"

- Kennedy asked to be brought back to the cottage to establish the story. After a while he would leave.

- Kennedy suggested that when he was back at the Shiretown Inn, Gargan could "discover" the accident and report to police that Mary Jo had been alone in the car.

- Gargan vigorously rejected the idea. "None of us knew Mary Jo very well," he said,"and we had no idea if she could drive a car, or even owned a license. And besides," he reminded Kennedy, "You told me you were driving!"

- Gargan doubted that he could persuade the girls at the party to allow Mary Jo to take the blame for the accident, and reminded Kennedy that their rescue efforts at the bridge may have attracted the attention of a witness who could place the Senator at the scene of the accident. Making a false report to police required an intricate web of lies, and Gargan would be risking his integrity and reputation as a lawyer. Should he be found out, he said,"I could lose my license to practice law."

- To drive home the importance of reporting the accident,Gargan invoked the name of Bobby Kennedy as a reminder of the responsibility the Senator bore to his brother's ideals. When they were boys, Bobby had spent so much time with Ted, telling him "Be disciplined. Be courageous. Meet every challenge with what ability you have." What Bobby would advise, Gargan was certain, would be to take responsibility and report the accident immediately.

- " There was constant pressure on my part, saying it over and over," Gargan said."You have to report the accident at once!"

2:00 AM

- The discussion eventually reached a stalemate. Gargan knew that a public phone was available right there at the ferry house, because he had used it the day before. He did not want to use it now however, because "I was expecting to go to the police station with the Senator to report the accident - once we got the story together."

- "I was saying it over and over, " Gargan said, "You have to report the accident immediately!"

- The Senator remained silent, apparently unmoved by Gargan's arguments, and clearly still opposed to reporting the accident. Gargan's nagging was wearing thin, however, and finally Kennedy had had enough. He said sharply, "All right, all right, Joey! I'm tired of listening to you. I'll take care of it. You go back. Don't upset the girls. Don't get them involved."

- Kennedy bolted from the car, dove into the water, and started swimming toward Edgartown. Gargan and Markham leapt from the car in astonishment. Gargan was furious. The Senator's departure was completely unexpected. "Our conversation was cut short," Gargan said. "The Senator simply left, and nothing had been decided."

- The two men watched Kennedy swim beyond the mid-point of the channel. The Senator's final statement had been "reasonably clear," Gargan said. "He was going to report the accident, and I was going to take care of the girls." They got in the car and started driving back to the cottage.

- On the way to the cottage, Gargan had second thoughts. He wasn't sure it was a good idea for Kennedy to deal with the situation alone. He said to Markham,"I think one of us should be with him. We'd better go back to the ferry landing, and I'll swim across."

- When they got back to the landing, there was no sign of Kennedy in the water. Apparently he had made it across. Gargan "seriously considered swimming to Edgartown to make sure the Senator was going to do what he had clearly said he was going to do." He chose not to, however, and trusted that Kennedy would keep his word and "take care of it."

- Gargan and Markham drove back to the cottage.

7:00 a.m.

- Mrs. Frances Stewart was the desk clerk on duty in the lobby of the Colonial Inn, located next door to the Shiretown Inn. She recalled that Senator Kennedy had come in and asked her to reserve The Boston Globe and The New York Times for him. "By the way," he said, "could I borrow a dime? I seem to have left my wallet upstairs." She produced a dime from the desk's cash drawer.

- Mrs. Stewart recalled that the Senator was freshly shaven and dressed in "yachting clothes." He appeared "normal in every way" when he walked outside to the porch and the inn's only public telephone.

7:20 a.m.

- Gargan had left the cottage in time to catch the first ferry. Markham and Charles Tretter went with him, as well as Rosemary Keough and Susan Tannenbaum, who wanted to go back to their rooms at the Katama Shores Motor Inn...

7:35 AM

- Gargan parked the car at the landing, and the group took the ferry to Edgartown. As they hurried toward the Shiretown Inn, Gargan made a determination "based on instinct" that the accident had not been reported.

- Gargan and Markham parted company with the others when they reached the stairway leading to the second-floor porch outside Richards' room. Gargan said "We'll see you."

- Rosemary Keough recalled looking up and seeing Senator Kennedy standing on the porch outside Ross Richards' room....

- After a sleepless night of mounting anxiety, Gargan became furious when he'd looked up from the bottom of the stairs to see Ted Kennedy posturing on the porch, chatting unconcernedly with the others, pretending there was nothing wrong. From what he saw, it was clear to Gargan that the Senator hadn't reported the accident.

- It was obvious to Markham too, "That nothing had been done; there was no commotion."

- In an uncharacteristically loud and coarse manner, Gargan demanded to speak to Kennedy in his room at once. "I'd like to see you right now! Get in there!" he bellowed.

- As the Senator left, Ross Richards asked that he join him for breakfast. Kennedy said he couldn't right now, but he "might" join him later.

- In 1988, Joe Gargan revealed to author Leo Damore what was discussed that morning in the Senator's room:

- Kennedy told Gargan and Markham that after he had swum the channel, he had slipped into the Shiretown Inn unseen, changed clothes and established his presence by asking an employee patrolling the premises the time. He had gone to bed and awakened around 7 o'clock. He had betrayed no sign of having been involved in an automobile accident to a number of witnesses. It wasn't too late for the scenario he had proposed to be put into effect. It wouldn't be difficult to convince people he hadn't known about the accident until the next morning.

- The Senator expected the incident to have been "taken care of " when Gargan and Markham showed up the next morning, that Gargan would have reported the accident and told the police that Mary Jo Kopechne had been driving the accident car. The Senator had counted on Gargan to realize, after an hour or so had passed and nobody showed up at the cottage, that he had no choice but to report the accident. It was, after all, the kind of clean-up detail Gargan customarily performed as advance man, a dependency that went back to the "Joey'll fix it" days of their boyhood. So long as there was a chance Gargan would reconsider his objections to the plan, the Senator had not reported the accident himself.

- Gargan was mortified by the Senator's motive for swimming the channel: to force him to follow a course he had made clear he wanted followed, irrespective of Gargan's objections. That the accident had not been reported was bad enough. For the Senator to have misrepresented his intentions by subterfuge, saying he was going to report the accident and then not doing so, and start putting an alibi into play only compounded the tragedy.

8:45 AM

- Gargan said "This thing is worse now than it was before. We've got to do something. We're reporting the accident right now!"

- Kennedy said "I'm going to say that Mary Jo was driving."

- "There's no way you can say that!" Gargan said. "You can be placed at the scene. Jesus! We've got to report this thing. Let's go."

- Kennedy was reluctant to do so, Markham observed. "He was still stuck on the idea of having Mary Jo driving the car."

These days, Ted Kennedy has a dog named "Splash". Seriously, he does.

January 11, 2006

U.N. Sudan Report Card

Anne Bayefsky of the always illuminating blog Eye on the U.N. has a grade for the organization on the subject of the Sudan.

Saddam's Bag Man?

Here's an Oil-For-Food update from Claudia Rosett on the implications of the arrest of Tongsun Park. As usual, read it all.

January 10, 2006

Conning Oprah...and 3.5 Million Others

Author James Frey has made millions on his bestselling book "A Million Little Pieces" and its sequel, having ridden the recommendation of Oprah Winfrey's Book Club to huge financial success and acclaim as something of a cult hero. Purported to be a nonfiction account of his alcoholism, drug addiction, and imprisonment, it had Oprah and friends in tears, raving about its honesty and authenticity. Now an e-zine called The Smoking Gun has exposed him as a fabulist and a liar in a detailed investigative report that takes apart virtually every major event in the book as exaggeration or outright fabrication. I had not heard of the book, but lots of people beside Oprah have been conned. Frey's book...

...has sold more than 3.5 million copies and, thanks to Winfrey, has sat atop The New York Times nonfiction paperback best seller list for the past 15 weeks. Next to the latest Harry Potter title, Nielsen BookScan reported Friday, Frey's book sold more copies in the U.S. in 2005--1.77 million--than any other title, with the majority of that total coming after Winfrey's selection.

Police reports, court records, interviews with law enforcement personnel, and other sources have put the lie to many key sections of Frey's book. The 36-year-old author, these documents and interviews show, wholly fabricated or wildly embellished details of his purported criminal career, jail terms, and status as an outlaw "wanted in three states."

In additon to these rap sheet creations, Frey also invented a role for himself in a deadly train accident that cost the lives of two female high school students. In what may be his book's most crass flight from reality, Frey remarkably appropriates and manipulates details of the incident so he can falsely portray himself as the tragedy's third victim. It's a cynical and offensive ploy that has left one of the victims' parents bewildered. "As far as I know, he had nothing to do with the accident," said the mother of one of the dead girls. "I figured he was taking license...he's a writer, you know, they don't tell everything that's factual and true."


(via Galley Slaves)

January 9, 2006


Buckeye fans everywhere breathed a small sigh of relief today when they heard that Texas quarterback and Rose Bowl MVP, Vince Young has opted to leave school a year early to enter the NFL Draft. Ohio State has a rematch with Texas in Austin on September 9, and the prospects for a Buckeye victory just got a lot better. Texas has no other scholarship player on the roster who has ever taken a snap at quarterback in a game, although you can bet there are numerous high school all-stars lined up to compete for the job.

Ohio State figures to come into Austin this Fall ranked in the Top 5, and it's safe to assume that Texas would have been ranked No. 1 had Young decided to return for his senior year. But it's not all good news for Buckeye fans this week. Safety Donte Whitner and cornerback Ashton Youboty have now both declared for the NFL Draft as well, leaving the Bucks with only three defensive starters returning in 2006. The green Texas QB, whoever that turns out to be, will be looking at lots of equally green OSU defenders across the line.

If I were a betting man, and I had to bet today, I'd put my money on Texas. They will be very tough to beat in Austin, and the OSU defense will still be finding themselves. Of course I hope I'm wrong, because otherwise the schedule shapes up nicely for the Buckeyes to win it all in 2006, what with Michigan and Penn State at home, and Wisconsin not on the slate. The O-Zone has a look at how the offense shapes up for the 2006 Buckeyes.

College Football Ramblings

One in a Row
The "three-peat" talk all season long about the USC Trojans has made me crazy, and I'm so glad it's over. Yes, USC had a remarkable winning streak, they have a fine program, and Pete Carroll is a recruiting star. But they have won exactly ONE National Championship in this decade.

All of the university Presidents and administrators got together several years ago and agreed on the BCS system as the method for determining the official championship of college football. The winner of the BCS Championship Game gets that nice cut glass football as the trophy emblematic of winning the title. Last year (2004 season) USC won the trophy. In 2003, LSU won the BCS Championship Game, and walked away with the glass football. I distinctly remember Nick Saban and his LSU Tigers leaving the field with the glass football firmly in their grasp. What is so hard to understand about this?

In 2003 the AP writers voted USC as the No.1 team in the country after the bowl games were over. So eff'n what? In the olden days, the opinions of the AP writers had a bearing on the National Championship. Not anymore. Either we have a system for determining the National Championship, or we don't. One in a row. Nice going, Trojans. (Yes, I'm still bitter about 1974 and 1979.)

UPDATE 1/10: This billboard has the right idea.

Irish Bowl Streak
A work colleague of mine has a theory about why Notre Dame has lost eight consecutive bowl games, and I think it holds some water. They are consistently overrated, and so they end up in bowl games in which they are overmatched. Another idea is that their bowl matchups are less about competitive balance and more about dollar payouts, TV ratings, and the free-spending Notre Dame fan base. This past season Notre Dame beat two teams with winning records: Navy (8-4) and Michigan (7-5). They played USC tough, and lost. That one game does not convince me that they were one of the Top 10 teams in the country in 2005. On the flip side of that, they are having a monster recruiting year, and Weis has 20-some high school All-Americans coming in as freshmen in the Fall. All of a sudden, the Buckeyes are in a contest to keep Ohio's best players in-state.

Count me among the believers that Vince Young will develop into an outstanding NFL quarterback if he goes to a solid franchise with good talent around him. I had told friends after Young's Rose Bowl win against Michigan last year that I thought that was the greatest performance by a single player I had ever seen in one game, and I believe that Young topped that performance in this year's Rose Bowl.

I remain unable to grasp why in the world this is a 15-yard penalty. I understand the rule. It's just a stupid rule....

...speaking of which, Bill Simmons wrote a "running diary" of the Rose Bowl, and had some thoughts on dumb rules:

All right, is there a dumber sports rule than "If your knee hits the ground, the play is over ... even if if you weren't touched" in college football? That's right up there with "You can't just intentionally walk someone, you have to throw four balls," "You don't get an extra foul for overtime," "You can call a timeout while you're in midair" and "You aren't allowed to punch A-Rod in the face during a game" in the pantheon of Dumb Rules That Only Make Sports Less Fun.

January 8, 2006

More Second Thoughts

David Horowitz and Peter Collier have published a new updated edition of their classic, Destructive Generation: Second Thoughts About the Sixties. A lengthy excerpt from the introduction to the new volume is up at FPM, and is well worth your time, even if you don't pick up the book.

I read the 1996 edition when it came out, and along with Radical Son, it's among my favorites from Horowitz. I have long wished that David would make some of the essays from Destructive Generation available online, just so I could share them with people (without lending out my copy of the book.) I have always thought that the chapter on McCarthyism ("McCarthy's Ghost") was the best piece I'd ever seen on the subject. Horowitz and Collier capture eloquently how the "M-word" has been co-opted by the Left as their trump card in debates they can't win on the basis of ideas, while the actual methods used by McCarthy, the deplorable "guilt by association" tactics which were the rightful reasons for his disgrace, have come to be practiced by Leftists as a matter of course. Some excerpts from the "McCarthy's Ghost" chapter of Destructive Generation...

In life, McCarthy was part of the Right. In death, he has been possessed by body snatchers on the Left. The apprehensions aroused by charges of "McCarthyism" are based on the Left's assertion that there is a powerful and destructive impulse lurking just under the surface of our political life: a native fascism easily ignited and ready to rage dangerously out of control. It is an assumption not often questioned, although the evidence suggests that the opposite is true. Arthur Miller's efforts in The Crucible to portray it as a peculiarly American atavism notwithstanding, the history of McCarthyism actually shows how alien the witch-hunt mentality is to the American spirit and how superficial its hold on the American psyche. Appearing in the extraordinary circumstances of the postwar period, McCarthyism was brief in its moment and limited in its consequences. And it was complete in the way it was purged from the body politic. The Wisconsin senator's strut on the stage ended in a crushing repudiation by his colleagues in the Senate and an enduring obloquy in the rogues' gallery of American history, a position close to that of Benedict Arnold and a handful of other villains. His enemies survived to be rehabilitated as martyrs and heroes of an American political “ nightmare”, while he himself is the only figure from that haunted era to suffer irreparable damnation....

...Why do we hear so much about McCarthyism in the contemporary political debate? Is there a basis for the fear that we will return to the spirit of that brief moment in the 1950s when this bizarre figure dominated our politics? Is there legitimate worry that we will once again be victimized by a pathology that Harry Truman defined in 1951 when he went on television to defend himself against the charge that he had knowingly protected Harry Dexter White (an official in his administration who had been named as a Soviet agent), a pathology that Truman identified as the big lie and the reckless smear; corruption of truth, indiscriminate use of guilt by association, and disregard for due process?

If there is such a danger, it comes not from Joseph McCarthy's followers on the Right, but from the Left, which professes to hate McCarthy's memory. The Nation and other left-wing journals regularly smear James LeMoyne, Robert Leiken, Ronald Radosh, and other Central American experts who deny that the Sandinistas are building a utopia as being contra hirelings or CIA agents. For his dissent on affirmative action programs, black economist Thomas Sowell was labeled “an enemy of his people” by Roger Wilkins in the same radical journal. There was also the reaction on the liberal left to the appointment of John H. Koehler as Reagan's White House communications director, replacing Pat Buchanan. Once it was discovered that Koehler as a child of ten in his native Germany had belonged briefly to a Nazi youth group, there was a tremendous liberal outcry, although the head of the Jewish Anti-Defamation League observed that it was “ludicrous to judge a 56 year old person by his associations as a 10 year old.” After the White House was forced to withdraw the nomination of Koehler under pressure from the Left, it was clear that "Are you now or have you ever been"- even for a month when you were ten years old- is a question that is out of bounds in the political debate only if what you are or were or might have been was a Communist.

It is obviously not the political methods of McCarthyism that arouse the indignation of those who invoke its specter today, but the political ideas with which McCarthy was associated, specifically his anti-Communism. This is admitted with disarming frankness by New Left professor Ellen Schrecker in No Ivory Tower, a tendentious book about the effects of McCarthyism on the university: "After all, what made McCarthy a McCarthyite was not his bluster but his anti-Communist mission......” To dismiss the senator's real malevolence as mere "bluster" may seem fatuous to those familiar with the history of the Fifties, but there is a reason for the use of this term. What Schrecker and others on the Left who have integrated McCarthy into their ideology are saying is that the problem was not the man's methods but what he believed; not his demagogic lack of scruples, nor the psychological demons that sent him careening out of control, but the objectives of his perverse crusade. For them, just as much as for the tiny band of zealots who gather every year at his grave on the anniversary of his death, Joseph McCarthy is a representative American. Yet they summon his ghost not to underscore the importance of civil liberties in a democracy but as part of a morality play about the dangers of anti-Communism. To accuse someone of being a McCarthyite, therefore, has become a way of embargoing ideas that the Left dislikes and invoking cloture on debates that it doesn't want to have.

Horowitz and Collier were certainly no apologists for Joe McCarthy:

This is not to say, of course, that McCarthy's response to Communism was not destructive. In his hands, the struggle against this fifth column was perverted first into a weapon aimed at the Democrats and ultimately into a scattergun aimed at his own party, at America, and finally at himself. His reckless demagoguery did damage to innocent people, and the atmosphere created by his success cast a pall over the political arena. It imperiled the democratic process, and it destroyed the credibility of anti-Communism itself. Robert Lamphere, the head of the FBI counterintelligence team that caught the Rosenbergs, has since said, "Senator McCarthy's crusade, which was to last for the next several years, was always anathema to me. McCarthy's approach and tactics hurt the anti-Communist cause and turned many liberals against legitimate efforts to curtail Communist activities in the United States." Whittaker Chambers saw the problem with McCarthy at the time the problem was unfolding: "All of us, to one degree or another, have come to question his judgement and to fear acutely that his flair for the sensational, his inaccuracies and distortions ... will lead him and us into trouble. In fact, it is no exaggeration to say that we live in terror that Senator McCarthy will one day make some blunder which will play directly into the hands of our common enemy and discredit the whole anti-Communist effort for a long while to come."

So what was a discussion of McCarthyism doing in a book about the 60's? The authors get to that...

The disappearance of the term "McCarthyism" in the Sixties cannot be ascribed, either, to a lack of "subversive" activity, which in fact exceeded anything like it in the past. Nor can it be attributed to the absence of an anti-Communist Right, which was in fact gathering momentum through the Goldwater wing of the Republican Party. The absence of a "McCarthyist" threat from the Right in the Sixties lies in the temporarily changed nature of the political Left.

By a coincidence of fate, in 1957, the same year that Joe McCarthy died in disgrace, the Old Left disintegrated under the pressure of Khrushchev's revelations concerning the crimes of Stalin and the Soviets' brutal invasion of Hungary. A New Left, impressed by the debacle and anxious not to be involved in its repetition, soon appeared. This New Left had many faults, but lack of candor was not one of them. Where Old Leftists had pretended to be Progressives and liberals and patriotic Americans, New Leftists insisted on being recognized as Marxists and revolutionaries, pro-Fidel and pro-Vietcong, up against the wall and tear the mother down. It would have caused terminal embarrassment to Sixties Leftists to be accused of concealing their radical agendas inside liberalism or, even worse, to be mistaken for liberals themselves.

The New Left did not want to patiently infiltrate institutions in the American mainstream with whose purposes they were openly at war and whose ends they intended to subvert; they wanted to create their own institutions and to make "a revolution in the streets." It was redundant, as government agencies soon discovered, to interrogate New Left radicals about who they were, because they made no effort to dissemble. Whereas Old Leftists had donned the cloak of the liberal martyr who takes the Fifth only to protect the Constitution, and who is ruefully silent before his inquisitors out of shame for the offense they commit against liberty itself, New Leftists dragged those who threatened to investigate them into their own theater of the absurd. Thus Jerry Rubin's appearance in knee breeches and tricornered hat- American Revolutionary drag- before the decrepit and obsolete HUAC. When asked about his subversive agenda, he said he was a revolutionary and proud of it. And that was that. When the witch says he's a witch, there is no hunt. Thus the "inquisition" of the Fifties ended in the Sixties not as tragedy but as farce.

(reprinted from Destructive Generation without permission from the authors or publishers, from my long since scanned and digitized version of this chapter. I hope DH cuts me some slack. I'm just trying to move some books for him - DW)

Just go get it now.

January 7, 2006

More Murtha

Rep. John Murtha is "worried" about the appearance of American victory in Iraq.

"A year ago, I said we can't win this militarily, and I got all kinds of criticism." Now, Murtha told the strongly antiwar audience, "I worry about a slow withdrawal which makes it look like there's a victory when I think it should be a redeployment as quickly as possible and let the Iraqis handle the whole thing."

There has been a lot of blog reaction to Murtha's latest statement, but I think Ace said it best.

If Murtha's concern is for the troops and America, why should he be worried that a slow drawdown will be perceived as a victory? Isn't a good thing that America perceives itself as victorious? Given the choice between an immediate withdrawal perceived as defeat, and a slow withdrawal perceived as victory, who would favor the former?

Well, he would, obviously. Because he's the one who suggested doing that. And he claimed the war could not be won-- he can hardly have Bush seen as winning now that he's staked his reputation (such as it is) on the impossibility of such.

He only seems to care about his personal victory-- he needs a clear defeat and acknowlegement of such in order to vindicate himself, no matter how such a thing might encourage terrorists and sap America's confidence in its ability to fight necessary wars.

I've said it before, I'll say it again: they are desperate to lose this war as quickly as possible because it appears that we just might win. They know they cannot survive the political consequences of an American victory of which they were most assuredly not a part.

Remember-- this is the guy who said he wouldn't have taken the enormous step of calling for a full withdrawal if Bush's people had only kissed his ass a little more on the phone.

What a hero.

Hayes - Saddam Trained Islamist Terrorists

It looks like there may soon be released to the public, documentary proof, captured in Iraq, of Saddam's links to Islamist terror groups. No journalist has done more to investigate and report the story of those links than Stephen Hayes of The Weekly Standard. His latest report is destined to be ignored in newsrooms and faculty lounges all over the country in the days ahead, such is the embarrassment it would cause them if they acknowledged it.

The former regime of Saddam Hussein trained thousands of radical Islamic terrorists from the region at camps in Iraq over the four years immediately preceding the U.S. invasion, according to documents and photographs recovered by the U.S. military in postwar Iraq. The existence and character of these documents has been confirmed to THE WEEKLY STANDARD by eleven U.S. government officials.

The secret training took place primarily at three camps--in Samarra, Ramadi, and Salman Pak--and was directed by elite Iraqi military units. Interviews by U.S. government interrogators with Iraqi regime officials and military leaders corroborate the documentary evidence. Many of the fighters were drawn from terrorist groups in northern Africa with close ties to al Qaeda, chief among them Algeria's GSPC and the Sudanese Islamic Army. Some 2,000 terrorists were trained at these Iraqi camps each year from 1999 to 2002, putting the total number at or above 8,000. Intelligence officials believe that some of these terrorists returned to Iraq and are responsible for attacks against Americans and Iraqis. According to three officials with knowledge of the intelligence on Iraqi training camps, White House and National Security Council officials were briefed on these findings in May 2005; senior Defense Department officials subsequently received the same briefing.

The photographs and documents on Iraqi training camps come from a collection of some 2 million "exploitable items" captured in postwar Iraq and Afghanistan. They include handwritten notes, typed documents, audiotapes, videotapes, compact discs, floppy discs, and computer hard drives. Taken together, this collection could give U.S. intelligence officials and policymakers an inside look at the activities of the former Iraqi regime in the months and years before the Iraq War.

The discovery of the information on jihadist training camps in Iraq would seem to have two major consequences: It exposes the flawed assumptions of the experts and U.S. intelligence officials who told us for years that a secularist like Saddam Hussein would never work with Islamic radicals, any more than such jihadists would work with an infidel like the Iraqi dictator. It also reminds us that valuable information remains buried in the mountain of documents recovered in Afghanistan and Iraq over the past four years.

But if the Bush administration has had proof for months, or even years now that Saddam had trained Islamist terrorists at camps in Iraq, why didn't Bush defend himself against the vicious political and personal attacks on him from media people, political opponents, condescending European bureaucrats and others who mock the suggestion that such links and cooperation existed, and instead let his opponents shape the current conventional wisdom that there was no such cooperation?

Oh, that's right. National security is supposed to be more important than electoral politics.

Hayes has led the effort to expedite the release of at least the unclassified share of the over two million documents and "exploitable items" captured since the liberation of Iraq. Now it looks as if the administration, dogged by Rep. Peter Hoekstra, chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, is finally coming around to the idea that releasing a large percentage of the captured evidence might be a good idea. Especially since they've only examined 2.5 % of the total...in two years.

Besides, most of this isn't news to people who have been paying attention. The terrorist training facility at Salman Pak, as one example, has been known about since before the invasion. So the significance of this isn't really the existence of evidence. There has long been a large quantity of evidence linking Saddam's Iraq to al Qaeda and other terror groups. This is about proof. Documents that might finally change that conventional wisdom, not to mention its potential for serving up crow to the truly needy. It is the "smoking gun" for the Juan Coles of the world

And Hayes' military intelligence sources are saying there's no doubt about Iraq's role in financing and training Islamist terrorists, including Ansar al Islam, the Iraqi al Qaeda affiliate.

"As much as we overestimated WMD, it appears we underestimated [Saddam Hussein's] support for transregional terrorists," says one intelligence official.

Speaking of Ansar al Islam, the al Qaeda-linked terrorist group that operated in northern Iraq, the former high-ranking military intelligence officer says: "There is no question about the fact that AI had reach into Baghdad. There was an intelligence connection between that group and the regime, a financial connection between that group and the regime, and there was an equipment connection. It may have been the case that the IIS [Iraqi Intelligence Service] support for AI was meant to operate against the [anti-Saddam] Kurds. But there is no question IIS was supporting AI."

The official continued: "[Saddam] used these groups because he was interested in extending his influence and extending the influence of Iraq. There are definite and absolute ties to terrorism. The evidence is there, especially at the network level. How high up in the government was it sanctioned? I can't tell you. I don't know whether it was run by Qusay [Hussein] or [Izzat Ibrahim] al-Duri or someone else. I'm just not sure. But to say Iraq wasn't involved in terrorism is flat wrong."

What will the media make of Stephen Hayes' reporting?

Read it all, please, and forward to any "Iraq-had-nothing-to-do-with-al Qaeda" types that you know.

Other Stephen Hayes via Wizblog

January 6, 2006

Israel "Within Range"

How close are we to war with Iran? Kenneth Timmerman looks at the likelihood that the passing of Ariel Sharon from the Israeli political scene may hasten a confrontation between Israel and Iran.

More from FPM on looming conflict with Iran

January 5, 2006

Prognosis - "Not Good"

Here's Mark Steyn's much-discussed New Criterion piece, "It's the Demography, Stupid", published yesterday at OpinionJournal.com. Take a few minutes to check it out. Here's a taste before you go read it all:

here's my prediction for 2032: unless we change our ways the world faces a future...where the environment will look pretty darn good. If you're a tree or a rock, you'll be living in clover. It's the Italians and the Swedes who'll be facing extinction and the loss of their natural habitat.

There will be no environmental doomsday. Oil, carbon dioxide emissions, deforestation: none of these things is worth worrying about. What's worrying is that we spend so much time worrying about things that aren't worth worrying about that we don't worry about the things we should be worrying about. For 30 years, we've had endless wake-up calls for things that aren't worth waking up for. But for the very real, remorseless shifts in our society--the ones truly jeopardizing our future--we're sound asleep. The world is changing dramatically right now, and hysterical experts twitter about a hypothetical decrease in the Antarctic krill that might conceivably possibly happen so far down the road there are unlikely to be any Italian or Japanese enviro-worriers left alive to be devastated by it.

In a globalized economy, the environmentalists want us to worry about First World capitalism imposing its ways on bucolic, pastoral, primitive Third World backwaters. Yet, insofar as "globalization" is a threat, the real danger is precisely the opposite--that the peculiarities of the backwaters can leap instantly to the First World. Pigs are valued assets and sleep in the living room in rural China--and next thing you know an unknown respiratory disease is killing people in Toronto, just because someone got on a plane. That's the way to look at Islamism: We fret about McDonald's and Disney, but the big globalization success story is the way the Saudis have taken what was 80 years ago a severe but obscure and unimportant strain of Islam practiced by Bedouins of no fixed abode and successfully exported it to the heart of Copenhagen, Rotterdam, Manchester, Buffalo . . .

UPDATE 1/6: An excellent companion piece to the Steyn essay is today's VDH offering, "A Letter to the Europeans".

Chinese Blogger Downed By MSN

The complicity of U.S. corporations in the suppression of free speech in Communist China continues. This time it's Microsoft doing the bidding of the Chinese government in order to turn a buck, by taking down the blog of one of China's most outspoken and controversial bloggers. Rebecca MacKinnon, a former CNN reporter in China, has the story at RConversation:

Anti is one of China’s edgiest journalistic bloggers, often pushing at the boundaries of what is acceptable....His old blog at the U.S.-hosted Blog-city is believed to have caused the Chinese authorities to block all Blog-city blogs. In the final days of December, Anti became a vocal supporter of journalists at the Beijing Daily News who walked off the job after the top editors were fired for their increasingly daring investigative coverage, including some recent reporting on the recent police shootings of village protestors in the Southern China.

MacKinnon has been experimenting with the Chinese blogging system to try to determine who's blocking what...

...in mid-December I played around a bit with Chinese language blog-hosting tools to try and get a better idea of how they censor blogger content. I haven’t posted about it yet partially because family business and vacation got in the way, and partially because I wanted to do a few more tests. But given what happened to Anti I think I had better not wait.

Back over the summer I wrote a post titled Screenshots of Censorship about how MSN spaces was censoring the titles of its Chinese blogs, but not posts themselves. According to my testing in mid-late December, they now censoring much more intensely.

On December 16th I created a blog and attempted to make various posts with politically sensitive words. When I attempted to post entries with titles like “Tibet Independence” or “Falun Gong” (a banned religious group), I got an error message saying: “This item includes forbidden language. Please delete forbidden language from this item.”

However I was successful in posting blog entries with non-controversial titles, but with politically sensitive words in the text body. For instance, a blog post titled “I love you” had “Tibet independence” in the text body, and a post titled “I am happy” had “Falun Gong” in the body...

...This was on Friday December 16th. By Monday the 19th, the whole blog had been taken down, just like Anti’s was on Dec.31st, with an error message: “This space is temporarily unavailable. Please try again later.”

Now, It is VERY important to note that the inaccessible blog was moved or removed at the server level and that the blog remains inaccessible from the United States as well as from China. This means that the action was taken NOT by Chinese authorities responsible for filtering and censoring the internet for Chinese viewers, but by MSN staff at the level of the MSN servers.

See MacKinnon's follow-up post from today (which includes links to Microsoft officials defending their policies), and more on the Internet in China here. From that follow-up ...

In my view, this issue goes far beyond China. The behavior of companies like Microsoft, Yahoo! and others - and their eager willingness to comply with Chinese government demands - shows a fundamental lack of respect for users and our fundamental human rights. Globally.

Microsoft, Yahoo! and others are helping to institutionalize and legitimize the integration of censorship into the global IT business model.

Do not count on these companies to protect your human rights, if those rights are threatened by the over-stretching hand of any government anywhere on the planet.

Different Script, Same Play

Andrew C. McCarthy is suggesting that if the Bush administration had gone to the FISA court on the wiretapping cases, Democrats would still be screaming foul. Because it's not civil rights protections they care about so much as Bush's head on a platter.

Would that FISA compliance have made it all okay? Do you really think there would have been no scandal?

Or, in this climate that it has so tirelessly labored to create, do you think the Times would simply have weaved a different scandal?

We are talking, after all, about the newspaper that is now "of record" only if you're keeping track of the hard Left's daily scripts — the trailblazer of an era in which politicizing our national security during wartime, once unthinkable, is everyday fare. We are talking about a crowd that never met a savage they wouldn't Mirandize or a library they wouldn't turn into a safe haven for plotting mass murder.

Andrew C. McCarthy on Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act & Eavesdropping on National Review Online

January 3, 2006

Savage Salvage

The score is now Phil Savage 1, John Collins 0.

Owner Randy Lerner came to his senses and removed John Collins as team President rather than risk losing General Manager Phil Savage, who had obviously made it clear that he could not, or would not continue to coexist with Collins.

Fan outrage over the reported firing of Savage is thought to have played a major role in the latest turn of events. Here is the latest ESPN.com report on today's developments, which is also notable in that it is written by Len Pasquarelli and not Chris Mortensen, whose Friday report triggered the public/fan reaction to the team's internal shakeup:

The shakeup in the Cleveland Browns' front office will not involve general manager Phil Savage.

In a remarkable twist, John Collins, who has served as Browns' team president since May 1, 2004, resigned Tuesday, owner Randy Lerner said.

"Phil Savage and Romeo Crennel will remain in their current roles and I will assume the responsibilities left open by John's departure," Lerner said. "It is my expectation that the role of president will be filled although there are no current candidates or time frame set to do so."

Last week, ESPN's Chris Mortensen reported that Savage would be fired because of "philosophical differences" with some members of the organization, and several sources confirmed that was the case. But the public reaction to the report was so strong, and the backlash so negative, it Browns officials reconsidered the move.

The Browns will try again with an executive from the NFL home office, having hired Mike Keenan, late of the NFL Management Council, as their new V.P. of Finance and Administration.

January 2, 2006

Sorry Charlie

I do hope that serious college football fans are never again asked to imagine how tough it will be to beat a Charlie Weis-coached team when he has five weeks to prepare. Jim Tressel and his Buckeyes managed that feat quite nicely thank you, throttling the Irish in the Fiesta Bowl Monday evening, 34-20.

Tressel outcoached Weis, who passed on an easy field goal that would have given his team a 10-7 lead and momentum, deciding instead to go on 4th down against one of the best defenses in the country. The Buckeyes sacked Brady Quinn, drove for the go-ahead touchdown, and never trailed thereafter.

Weis is the only guy I can remember to have been designated genius, guru and coaching icon before he ever won anything at all as a Head Coach. TV viewers of the game today were subjected to constant between-play shots of Weis on the sidelines, as if we might miss a spontaneous explosion of coaching genius if we dared look away.

But Weis had no answer whatsoever for the Buckeyes offense today, as Ohio State piled up big play after big play, and gained more offensive yardage on Notre Dame (617 yds) than any team in the history of Notre Dame football. The OSU defense held QB Brady Quinn without a passing touchdown for the first time this season, and rendered star Irish receiver Jeff Samardzija a non-factor in the game with only 59 yards on six catches. The vaunted Notre Dame offense that was to have kept OSU coordinators awake nights for the last month netted 62 yards rushing.

The Buckeyes punted exactly once, and the score would have been more lopsided had OSU not fumbled the ball away inside the Irish ten yard line, and had two makeable field goals blocked.

As annoying as the Weis worship has been during the runup to the Fiesta Bowl, the difference in the game today was less a coaching issue than one of talent. Weis is coaching someone else's recruits so far, and the Irish simply are not as talented or deep as the Buckeyes. Notre Dame gave USC one hell of a game this season, but they lost, and Weis' resume for 2005 will show wins over only two teams with winning records, Navy and a Michigan team that lost five games. They beat no one who will finish in the Top 25. So let's hold the Knute Rockne comparisons for the moment, OK?

To his credit, Weis was gracious in defeat tonight, and he may well win something before he answers the inevitable call back to the NFL. (I don't think it will be more than two more years before Notre Dame is looking for a new coach again. The NFL money is just too big these days to pass up)

All in all, it was a very satisfying win for the Buckeyes. (It doesn't get much better for Buckeye fans than to beat Michigan and Notre Dame back-to-back.) The great A.J. Hawk sacked his girlfriend's brother twice, and left the NFL scouts drooling with his overall play. The girlfriend, by the way, was second only to Weis for over-the-top on-camera time.

Special mention for stellar games goes to Mike Kudla, David Patterson, Donte Whitner, Ashton Youboty, Santonio Holmes, Ted Ginn, Jr., Tony Pittman, Tony Gonzalez, and of course Troy Smith. Pat Forde of ESPN.com writes a Troy Smith lovefest late Monday evening, calling him "Vince on training wheels." It's a nice tribute to Smith, who is writing his name into OSU history books as one of the best Buckeye QB's of all time.

Here's the Bucknuts recap by Steve Helwagen.

ESPN Box Score

UPDATE 1/3: Postgame thoughts from Terry Pluto. I couldn't agree more with Terry on the bright future for Mike Kudla, who had a huge game last night. Kudla has the unique combination of speed and strength that NFL scouts love. He will dazzle them at the combines when he benches 225 lbs over 40 times, and then runs a 4.6 forty. That is off the charts. I suspect he could be off the board by the third round of the draft.

UPDATE 1/3: More love for Troy Smith, this time from SI.com's John Walters. I loved his opening line, on Smith's uncanny knack for picking up huge third down conversions...

Notre Dame, after an impressive six-play opening drive, led 7-0 in the early minutes of the 35th Fiesta Bowl, and Ohio State, after a running play that was bottled up for a one-yard gain and an incomplete pass, was facing third-and-9.

In other words, the Fighting Irish were in trouble.

January 1, 2006

2005 News Review - 2006 Predictions

FPM's Ben Johnson does a great job putting together the Top Ten Stories (and Non-Stories) of 2005. The man is a link machine.

And there's lots of good crystal ball-gazing for 2006 going on at NRO. Both pieces are Clip and Save recommendations.

Roggio Responds To WaPo

Bill Roggio responds to the error-filled and misleading Washington Post article that implied his Iraq jornalistic "embed" was part of a military-sponsored "information operation" of some sort. So far, the Post has not seen fit to run any corrections. Read Bill regularly at ThreatsWatch.

Browns-Savage II

The Browns continue to deny that they were planning to fire General Manager Phil Savage, claiming they were "blindsided" by the ESPN report yesterday by Chris Mortensen.

Team President John Collins implied yesterday that everybody had kissed and made up:

After rumors began about a shake-up just two days before Cleveland's season finale against Baltimore, Collins said he met with Savage, Lerner and coach Romeo Crennel to discuss several matters.

"We sat down and we basically renewed our vows," said Collins, who added in a statement on the team's Web site that Savage "will continue to be our senior vice president and general manager."

Tony Grossi in the P.D. confirms that there will be substantive changes in the Browns front office:

Collins attributed today's firestorm to "extensive" discussions that have taken place for months to bolster the organization. As a result of those discussions, the Browns will soon announce the following changes:

Douglas Jacobs, chief financial officer, and Lew Merletti, chief operating officer, will be reassigned to a holding company established by Lerner to manage the family businesses.

Mike Keenan of the NFL Management Council office will join the Browns as vice president of finance and administration.

Another hire will be added to serve as the club's chief legal counsel and contract negotiator. This position would conflict with some of Savage's contracted duties.

Grossi also ties the whole issue to a "rift" between Savage and Collins that goes back to the time when Savage was hired, and which wasn't a state secret...

..a frosty relationship between Savage and Collins has been an increasing subject of discussion leaguewide. Collins has denied there is a rift...

... According to a source, the germ of conflict between Savage and Collins was planted in Savage's insistence on contract language that gave him final say in the Browns' draft process and the selection of the team's 53-player roster. It is an increasingly common practice among NFL general managers, and Savage was ready to walk away until Collins agreed to put it in writing.

Since then, the two executives have been on a collision course, the source said.

This is essentially what I suggested yesterday, that Savage's authority to draft, sign and take full responsibility for the player personnel was being questioned or reconsidered by Collins or Lerner. This Beacon-Journal report by Patrick McManamon confirms that the concern is with how the team's $100 million payroll will be spent:

Collins admitted that the front office has had discussions about changing the team's front office structure, and he said changes were being discussed to "help Phil.''

Most involved finances, especially player contracts and the salary cap.

"You have to be able to understand how you're going to spend in excess of $100 million every year (on players),'' Collins said. "I think one thing that anybody can agree on is nobody thinks you can get better by overspending on players.''

He added: "We need more expertise in that area -- to help Phil.''

The BJ article is much less optimistic that Savage will remain with the team when this all shakes out on Monday. Their story reported...

"one executive saying there was a 90 percent chance Savage would not be back. Another source cautioned the situation was not that critical...

...Talk was prevalent throughout the league last week that Savage might not make it into his second year. Numerous sources said Savage's relationship with Collins was not good -- Collins dismissed the reports as rumors -- and that Collins would prevail because of his close working relationship with Lerner.

"It's not official,'' one individual close to Savage said of his firing, "but it is.''

I have no quarrel with John Collins, who seems like a nice enough guy, and may be a competent administrator, for all I know. What I do know is that he was an NFL Home Office functionary who was hired by Randy Lerner when Carmen Policy left town with his multi-million dollar buyout. Collins has credits on the resume for putting on a successful Super Bowl halftime show, and was billed as a marketing whiz of sorts, but to my knowledge, he never had any experience in any capacity in an NFL franchise, successful or otherwise, before he was named President of the Browns. This was pre-Savage, when football mastermind Butch Davis was in charge of all on-field matters, and Collins' relative inexperience could be said to be a manageable problem.

Then the organization took a bath on Butch Davis, sending him packing with their check for $12 million in his pocket, and reaping the sorry state of the football team he left behind. That'll show him!

Collins inherited the Butch Davis Show, and can't be blamed for its colossal failure, but I'm guessing he was determined to assert his authority more forcefully with Butch's successor. So now we are told that Lerner will again reach into the NFL Office pool for their new executive, Mr. Keenan, fresh from the NFL Management Council. Grossi also hints that Collins may also be shifted to Lerner's holding company along with Jacobs and Merletti, two other executives being shuffled off the main stage. That would possibly give Savage a new lease on life with the Browns, and be enough to keep him around.

It will be comforting if the team can retain at least one person above the rank of Head Coach who has a sniff of experience running an NFL franchise. As Grossi's NFL sources warned, "Stay tuned."