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May 30, 2006


“Whether it comes from a despotic sovereign or an elected president, from a murderous general or a beloved leader, I see power as an inhuman and hateful phenomenon. . . . I have always looked on disobedience toward the oppressive as the only way to use the miracle of having been born.” - Oriana Fallaci

A lengthy profile of the Italian journalist in The New Yorker.

Haditha - Witnesses and Investigations

Allahpundit has it at Hot Air.

UPDATE 5/31: Michelle Malkin on Haditha

European Culture Wars

Two good companion pieces on the demographic and cultural decline of Europe are George Weigel's Commentary article Europe's Two Culture Wars, and a piece from the Observer that marks the Salman Rushdie affair as the tipping point in Britain that began Islam's identification with what it calls "an agenda of murder". In this exceprt from Weigel, he defines the "culture wars."

Earlier this year, five days short of the second anniversary of the Madrid bombings, the Zapatero government, which had already legalized marriage between and adoption by same-sex partners and sought to restrict religious education in Spanish schools, announced that the words “father” and “mother” would no longer appear on Spanish birth certificates. Rather, according to the government’s official bulletin, “the expression ‘father’ will be replaced by ‘Progenitor A,’ and ‘mother’ will be replaced by ‘Progenitor B.’” As the chief of the National Civil Registry explained to the Madrid daily ABC, the change would simply bring Spain’s birth certificates into line with Spain’s legislation on marriage and adoption. More acutely, the Irish commentator David Quinn saw in the new regulations “the withdrawal of the state’s recognition of the role of mothers and fathers and the extinction of biology and nature.”

At first blush, the Madrid bombings and the Newspeak of “Progenitor A” and “Progenitor B” might seem connected only by the vagaries of electoral politics: the bombings, aggravating public opinion against a conservative government, led to the installation of a leftist prime minister, who then proceeded to do many of the things that aggressively secularizing governments in Spain have tried to do in the past. In fact, however, the nexus is more complex than that. For the events of the past two years in Spain are a microcosm of the two interrelated culture wars that beset Western Europe today.

The first of these wars—let us, following the example of Spain’s birth certificates, call it “Culture War A”—is a sharper form of the red state/blue state divide in America: a war between the postmodern forces of moral relativism and the defenders of traditional moral conviction. The second—“Culture War B”—is the struggle to define the nature of civil society, the meaning of tolerance and pluralism, and the limits of multiculturalism in an aging Europe whose below-replacement-level fertility rates have opened the door to rapidly growing and assertive Muslim populations.

The first of these culture wars has manifested itself in a willingly bureaucratized society, via the EU. This "creeping authoritarianism" is perhaps most noticeable in the coercion necessary to enforce politically correct speech via state regulation, freedom of speech being the necessary casualty. And while writers like Bruce Bawer accurately cite postmodernism and multiculturalism as being at the root of the problem, Weigel says it goes deeper than that:

... to blame “multi-culti” p.c. for Europe’s paralysis is to remain on the surface of things. Culture War A—the attempt to impose multiculturalism and “lifestyle” libertinism in Europe by limiting free speech, defining religious and moral conviction as bigotry, and using state power to enforce “inclusivity” and “sensitivity”—is a war over the very meaning of tolerance itself. What Bruce Bawer rightly deplores as out-of-control political correctness in Europe is rooted in a deeper malady: a rejection of the belief that human beings, however inadequately or incompletely, can grasp the truth of things—a belief that has, for almost two millennia, underwritten the European civilization that grew out of the interaction of Athens, Jerusalem, and Rome.

Postmodern European high culture repudiates that belief. And because it can only conceive of “your truth” and “my truth” while determinedly rejecting any idea of “the truth,” it can only conceive of tolerance as indifference to differences—an indifference to be enforced by coercive state power, if necessary. The idea of tolerance as engaging differences within the bond of civility (as Richard John Neuhaus once put it) is itself regarded as, well, intolerant. Those who would defend the true tolerance of orderly public argument about contending truth claims (which include religious and moral convictions) risk being driven, and in many cases are driven, from the European public square by being branded as “bigots.”

The Observer piece notices this same inversion of logic in citing the Rushdie affair as emblematic of the bigger picture in the UK:

Here in microcosm were the key features of what would only much later be recognised as a major and systematic threat to the state and its values. There was the murderous incitement; the flagrant defiance of both the rule of law and free speech; the religious fanaticism; the emergence of British Muslims as a distinct and hostile political entity; and the supine response by the British establishment. What was also on conspicuous display was the mind-twisting, back-to-front reasoning that is routinely used by many Muslims to turn their own violent aggression into victimhood. Muslim leaders claimed that the refusal by the British government to ban The Satanic Verses showed that Muslims in Britain were under attack, with the political and literary establishment trying to destroy their most cherished values. 'They are rapidly coming to the conclusion that they will have to fight to defend Islam in Britain,' said Dr Kalim Siddiqui of his community.

Of course, it was Britain that was under attack from an Islamism that required the British state to dump its most cherished values in order to placate the Muslim minority. Yet this was promptly inverted to claim that it was Islam that was under attack. Thus, Islamist violence was justified and its victim blamed instead for aggression, the pattern that has come to characterise the Muslim attitude to conflict worldwide.

Can't do justice to either piece with these excerpts. Read it all.

May 28, 2006

Protests in Iran

Pajamas Media has links to the Iranian bloggers and news sources covering large anti-regime protests across Iran.

May 27, 2006

What's Up With Carlos?

Catch up with the infamous terrorist at the FDD blog. He went to jail for life ten years ago...but things aren't all that rough these days for Carlos the Jackal:

...Any chance the French will ever let him out, I asked?

“Oh there is always that possibility,” said my source, though it was for the murders of two French counter-intelligence agents and a Lebanese informant (a member of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine and friend of Carlos) that Carlos was sentenced to life.

The French are letting him use a computer from his comfortable cell and he has access to the internet, my friend said. He has his own website...

...[He] isn’t lonely in that French prison.

He married his French lawyer and they are allowed to have sex together. Her name is Isabelle and she is drawn to the strong, nasty types. She once represented the notorious Nazi Claus Barbie, known as “The Butcher of Lyon.”

Lots of good stuff here. And I'm planning to look for the website of the Jackal, just for laughs.

May 26, 2006


Captains Quarters is a good jumping off point for blog coverage of the reports of killings of unarmed Iraqi civilians by U.S. Marines at Haditha. Here's some of what Ed Morrissey wrote:

Needless to say, every Marine involved in this atrocity must face court-martial, and their command has to answer for the brutal murders of people that we took under our protection. Those court-martials must be public and thorough. Nothing should be held back. The men charged should receive the best defense possible in order to ensure that justice is done. If the report turns out to be accurate and the men involved are found guilty, they need to get the full punishment due them under the Uniform Code of Military Justice.

We need to demonstrate that we stand for something better than Haditha, and we need to show the world that we will hold all those responsible accountable for their crimes. Justice will provide cold comfort to those who have died and those who mourn them, but we owe the victims and the Iraqi people as much justice as we can provide.

And we will get to the bottom of this. And the guilty will be punished. And the remaining 99.9 per cent of American soldiers will continue to serve honorably. Meanwhile, the enemies of America are licking their chops. It's the media event of the summer.

See Malkin too.

Gives A Whole New Meaning To "Earbuds"

This, from an email I received today:

A British company is developing computer chips which store music, to be implanted in women's breasts. This is viewed as a major breakthrough as, up until now, women have complained that men were staring at their breasts and not listening to them.

I have not a clue if there is so much as a shred of truth to this assertion, and don't much care.

Iraq, Russia, Syria and WMD

Jamie Glazov talks to three experts in a Frontpage Magazine forum on Iraqi WMD. At issue is the testimony of former Saddam regional commander Gen. Al-Tikriti, who confirms that Russia helped Iraq transfer the Iraqi WMD out of the country in the weeks and months immediately preceeding the 2003 invasion by the U.S.-led coalition.

He joins former Romanian foreign intelligence deputy Ion Pacepa and Iraqi Air Force officer Georges Sada, among others in making these claims. There is some consensus among the three analysts that the Bush administration and the State Dept. are so desperate to have Russian support for the sanctions against Iran that they are unwilling to confront or even criticize Russia for their duplicity in the matter of Iraqi WMD.

Back in November, 2005, I compiled a summary of the evidence for Iraqi WMD, the threat they posed to us and to others, and the findings of the investigations that confirmed that threat.

The other day the WSJ contributed to the overall cause by blowing away some of the left's favorite Iraq war myths.


Wizblog: 56 Flights to Syria

Wizblog: Russia Helped Iraq With WMD's

Wizblog: You Say You Want an Investigation?

May 25, 2006

Friedman Got Sowell

From a Corner reader, this gem by Milton Friedman from 1962:

“So long as effective freedom of exchange is maintained, the central feature of the market organization of economic activity is that it prevents one person from interfering with another in respect of most of his activities. The consumer is protected from coercion by the seller because of the presence of other sellers with whom he can deal. The seller is protected from coercion by the consumer because of other consumers to whom he can sell. The employee is protected from coercion by the employer because of other employers for whom he can work, and so on. And the market does this impersonally and without centralized authority.”

“Indeed, a major source of objection to a free economy is precisely that it does this task so well. It gives people what they want instead of what a particular group thinks they ought to want. Underlying most arguments against the free market is a lack of belief in freedom itself.”

I recently finished "Basic Economics" by Thomas Sowell, and this theme runs through it from cover to cover. Small wonder, since Sowell studied under Friedman at the University of Chicago. An amazing book, by the way. I do hope that there are American colleges and universities that use it in their Econ programs. It would have done me a world of good thirty-five years ago. I'm ready for the sequel.

C-Town Sports Shorts

The PD Sports blog reports the Indians are fielding offers from sponsors interested in renaming Jacobs Field. With the Gund now The Q, and Dick Jacobs long gone, I had been wondering how long the Jake would remain The Jake. Not long, it appears. National City Bank is the only prospect named.

From the team website, Browns G.M. Phil Savage talks about how he intends to go about winning. (Hint: it involves Woody)

The Tribe barely made ESPN.com's online poll to select the worst pro baseball blunders. Last on their list of 30 is the Indians trade of Brian Giles for Ricardo Rincon. And trading the Babe of course, is No. 1.

Kosta Koufos, the 7' 2" junior from Canton Glen Oak H.S. committed to Ohio State this week. Rated as a Top 15 player nationally in the class of '07, Koufos has 3-point range and a nice inside game. Matta is building a powerhouse.

Cavaliers team officials are telling the Beacon Journal that center Zydrunas Ilgauskas may be trade bait, if they decide he doesn't fit the kind of offensive scheme they'll be using in coming seasons. It'll be interesting to see how LeBron feels about that, since it was James who pressured management to resign Ilgauskas the last time the Cavs had to make a decision on the center.

There can't be anybody in the American League pitching better than C.C. Sabathia is right now. He's 4-1 since coming back from the injury that caused him to miss all of April, and now has thrown two complete games in a row, making it look ridiculously easy.

Ivan Maisel has picked his post-Spring practice, preseason college football Top 25, and (sigh) he has the Buckeyes penciled in at No. 1. They'll have to win two early road night games, at Texas and at Iowa, if they're going to win it all, and they haven't done well in those games in recent years.

May 23, 2006

Blackwell vs. Strickland

Adam Schaeffer's 2-part RCP article on the Ohio Governor's race between Republican Ken Blackwell and Democrat Ted Strickland concludes that Mr. Blackwell will be the victor come November. From Part One

Many pundits still think Blackwell's true-believer brand of conservatism will be his downfall in a presidential swing state fully fed up with Republicans running the show. But Ohio voters are disgusted with Republican hypocrites, not conservative principles. Blackwell has made a career and many enemies by decrying the degenerate state of his own Party. His primary campaign was a prolonged attack on the same "culture of corruption" that Democrats in general and Strickland's campaign believe will be their route to easy victory. What on earth is Strickland to do when his attacks on Ohio Republicans are met with hearty agreement from his opponent, followed by credible conservative solutions? Both candidates will run as reformers who will clean up and invigorate Ohio--Blackwell will propose to do the same for the Republican Party as its leader.

And despite the fact that Democrats are energized by the smell of "blood in the water" due to undeniable Republican mismanagement of the state, Schaeffer wonders how much of the angry, leftist Democratic base will turn out to vote for a pro-gun, religious moderate in Strickland in a midterm election in which rank-and-file turnout also figures to be traditionally low.

In Part Two, Schaffer evaluates the potential effects of race, party and turnout on the Blackwell-Strickland matchup, and according to him, race could have an effect on turnout:

Ohio's black vote in 2004 came in at just over 900,000 votes out of about 5.5 million according to Census Bureau estimates. Turnout was unusually high in this vital presidential swing state, and may drop as much as 20 percent for the midterm election this November. Research that I've conducted on the turnout effects of black-targeted Republican advertising suggests that Party competition for the black vote can seriously decrease black Democratic turnout--a phenomenon that is perhaps largely responsible for much of the Republican gain in vote percentage where a candidate puts in the effort...

...Blackwell can seize a large portion of the black vote and demobilize the black Democratic base, many of whom will be reluctant to turn out for a conservative white Democrat and vote against a black candidate.

Schaeffer thinks it's a done deal for Blackwell. I think he underestimates the current antipathy in this state for all things Republican, especially on the part of Republicans. A combination of low turnout and Blackwell's ability to get a significant share of the black vote may do it, but disgust and anger among conservatives can have the same depressing effect on turnout that apathy and lack of enthusiasm about their candidate can have on the Democrats.

I'm supporting Blackwell mostly on the basis of his positions on spending and fiscal restraint, and his receptivity to school choice initiatives. l have not heard much from Strickland yet, to get an idea of what kind of communicator he is, or what his leadership skills look like, but I do know that Blackwell seems to possess these qualities in abundance. I hope he can overcome the bad case of Taftitis that currently afflicts the state, and then get on with the business of treating it.

May 22, 2006

The Letter From Iran

Why the letter from Ahmadinejad is important;

Will the United States declare war on the Islamic Republic of Iran? For months, this question has been the theme of diplomatic and public discourse--with horror usually expressed at the idea. But it now seems that we have this backwards. For the import of the letter that Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, president of Iran, sent to President Bush in the first week of May is that Ahmadinejad and Iran have declared war on the United States. Many reasons are given, but the most fundamental is that the United States is a liberal democracy, the most powerful in the world and the leader of all the others. Liberal democracy, the letter says, is an affront to God, and as such its days are numbered. It would be best if President Bush and others realized this and abandoned it. But at all events, Iran will help where possible to hasten its end...

...what is known, or what should be known and deeply grasped, is that everything Ahmadinejad--and for that matter the radical movement as a whole--does is guided by an ideological vision and commitment. It needs to be addressed as such. For the moment and not only for the moment, this requires that liberal democrats declare that they have no intention of abandoning their way of life and see no need to do so, since they are fully prepared to defend it and because that way of life provides the resources--political, economic, and military--to defend itself.

It is necessary to inform Ahmadinejad and his radical allies that they are in for a real fight. This may not suffice to lead them to question their fundamental assumption and inspiration that we are on the run. But it may give pause to the many Muslims and non-Muslims standing on the sidelines, who see radical success and do not see American or Western resolve.

Raid on the Reactor

A 44-minute film on the 1981 Israeli attack on the Iraqi nuclear reactor at Osirak. More background here.

Engage Iran?

Greg Djerejian is documenting the growing number of Republicans calling for the Bush administration to engage Iran in some way. I don't think I'd be in a hurry to go face to face with a man I know is itching to spit in my eye. I like Hitchens' idea of speaking directly to the Iranian people, as George Bush has done before, rather than legitimize the regime by sharing a forum of any sort with them as a reward for their external threats and their crushing of internal dissent. Here's Djerejian's money graph:

Kissinger. Lugar. Hagel. Haass. Armitage. These are heavyweights. Republican heavyweights. Yeah folks, that's right, with the possible exception of Dennis Ross, everyone listed above is a Republican. All these people calling for direct engagement with Iran are not, you know, limp-wristed, America-hating, defeatist Democrats, but solid red-staters, God-loving GOP'ers, people who'd get along just swell with Hugh Hewitt even (my list, of course, would double and triple in size if I added the Madeline Albrights and Sandy Bergers and so on, indeed, we'd almost have an emerging bipartisan consensus on talking directly to Iran)! Now, I'm not going to name names and get all mean over here, but I've seen a lot of people poo-pooing engagement with Iran whose collective foreign policy experience isn't worth a warm bucket of spit as compared to the people above. They'd be blown to the proverbial smithereens (and then some)--going mano to mano with this gang debating Iran policy--especially post the Iraq imbroglio. Just saying.

Point made, but if he's trying to suggest competence in the conduct of effective diplomacy, at a minimum he really shouldn't be throwing the name Madeline Albright around too loosely. Can you say "Agreed Framework"?

May 21, 2006

New and Improved

Plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose.

Meet the New U.N. Human Rights Council

...the Human Rights Council promises to make a mockery of itself. According to the State Department's Country Report on Human Rights Practices released in March, China's human rights record is "poor" and getting poorer. The Asian giant increasingly harasses and imprisons those the government perceives as threatening to its authority. Cuba's record is likewise poor. Security forces there are nothing short of brutal in their efforts to stamp out dissent. More than 300 civil society activists remain imprisoned for thought crimes.

Ibrahim Mugaiteeb, a human rights monitor in Saudi Arabia, recently wrote that "most Saudis do not even know their rights." In Saudi Arabia, "hundreds and perhaps thousands of people rounded up in security crackdowns languish in prison for months and years without charge or trial. Some are guilty only of receiving an unsolicited text message from an exiled opposition figure."

How can Chinese, Cuban, and Saudi representatives hold other nations to account when they disdain individual rights and ignore rule-of-law at home?

May 20, 2006

Late To The Party

Glenn posted an email today from Claire Berlinski, and while the name was kind of familiar, I admit I was drawing a blank. Google gets me here first, and then finally to berlinski.com, and now I'm thinking "where have I been?" She's been contributing to The Weekly Standard for several years now, on intelligence agency issues. And just a few weeks ago she did a great Frontpage interview with Jamie Glazov that I somehow missed till now. And another with John Hawkins. In both interviews you'll find lots of insights about the problems with and of Europe, the topic of her recent book, and newspaper articles. I guess I haven't been spending enough time on the Web.

May 19, 2006

New Media Pioneer

Michael Totten's photo-essay from the West Bank is amazing journalism. Don't miss it.

Totten goes looking for Palestinian citizens who oppose Hamas to conduct man-on-the-street interviews, and the conversations reveal a side to Palestinian opinion that I rarely see expressed anywhere else - the notion that a sizable majority of Palestinian citizens want to make peace with Israel, and are largely resigned to a 2-state solution, for example. Totten then strolls into a Palestinian Legislative Council meeting, and ends up interviewing top Palestinian political leaders, including Saeb Erekat. So a self-funded American blogger goes where corporate media really doesn't, and asks the questions they won't, and the result is a refreshing brand of reporting. Did I mention don't miss it?

Meanwhile, the major media is of course preoccupied with that other really big, breaking story.

May 18, 2006

Mental Furniture

A remarkable post by Wretchard, from a few days ago that has generated some blogosphere buzz, on "abstractions now in need of repair", as world events collide with our partisan certainties and comfort zones, and the tone of the blogosphere changes...

My own theory is that all the old divisions so sharply erected between September 11, 2001 and April, 2003 have been slowly eroded by the uncertainties of the world. The Left and the Right have seen their champions turn out to be all too human, and are confounded. Issues which are a wedge on both sides of the spectrum -- like immigration or Darfur -- have scattered interest groups around like balls after a billiard break. New issues like the resurgence of a hostile Russia, the spread of Marxism in Latin America -- even the malicious buffoonery of the Iranian President -- are crowding at the fringes of the now comforting world of the War on Terror. The old play is ending and yet the new one has not yet begun. And this bothers abstract intellectuals far more than it does the men in the field. A soldier can write with perfect conviction that "the world was a slightly better place every time I pulled the trigger" because he lives in a world of specificity, but the agonized thinker can find no such comfort in cold abstractions; abstractions now in need of repair under the weight of experience.

The need to keep mental furniture in order is the curse of the abstract thinker. A recent visitor from the Philippines told me -- not in so many words, but clearly enough -- about how the famous old Communists of the 1970s and 80s had all gone essentially crazy. Not clinically. But they were all of them gnawing at the ends of old plots, editing unread journals, scheming from miserable academic departments; haunting the peripheries of political life. He described this in quiet tones as we sat at some seaside saloon, a grey mist and rain having fallen over the bay; the perfect time he said "for Godzilla to come popping out of the water". And of course there was a better chance of Godzilla actually materializing than that those dusty old Commies should ever succeed at what they were doing. They knew it and that was the madness. It was better, I thought, to keep watching and have another beer.

Check it all out, including comments.

Austin Bay reacts.

And Cardinalpark has a wonderful post at Tigerhawk celebrating the "near anarchy of endless debate, without agreement" that the blogosphere affords us. Press freedom is not about resolution, it's about debate. Go, for the Ray Bradbury poem alone.

Hirsi Ali Purged

She forced her adopted country to confront "unpleasant truths", and the Holland that Ayaan Hirsi Ali leaves behind may well choose to continue ignoring them.

"Holland's Cassandra", by Robert Spencer

Hirsi Ali has paid an immense personal price for speaking out, as she put it in her resignation speech on Tuesday, about “issues related to Islam -- such as impediments to free speech; refusal of the separation of Church and State; widespread domestic violence; honor killings; the repudiation of wives; and Islam’s failure to condemn genital mutilation.” She expressed satisfaction that “these subjects can no longer be swept under the carpet in our country’s capital. Some of the measures that this government has begun taking give me satisfaction.”

Some are still trying to sweep them under the carpet. The fact that an adjusted granting of asylum is not under consideration unmasks Verdonk and her allies as craven, short-sighted political opportunists bent only on the destruction of a Cassandra who has told them too many unpleasant truths...

...It is impossible to determine how many Muslims remain in Holland who believe that speech critical of Islam or Muhammad should be outlawed; or who hope to see the Netherlands become a Sharia state sometime in the future; or who believe that the Qur’an’s mandate to husbands to beat their disobedient wives (4:34) is perfectly reasonable; or who even believe that honor killings or genital mutilation can be justified. No one is asking, or answering, such questions of Muslim immigrants in Holland or anywhere else in the West. But what the Hirsi Ali debacle has shown is that to hold such sentiments in Holland today is not as bad as the act of calling attention to them and protesting against them.

May 16, 2006

Gotta See This

A review of Andy Garcia's film The Lost City, by Lloyd Billingsley at FPM.

Hirsi Ali Resignation Statement

Ayaan Hirsi Ali has resigned from the Dutch parliament, and will reportedly move to the United States. Here is the text of her public statement. (via LGF)


Some of the human rights groups working to stop the genocide in Darfur are balking at being a part of any organization that would accept CAIR as a member. Anne Morse's Townhall column asks if a group with known terrorist ties can credibly oppose genocide on one continent while endorsing it on another.

May 15, 2006

Says Who?

It's not always what you expect. A traditional liberal says we shouldn't enter into any dialogue with the regime in Iran, and the conservative says we should. The former, Christopher Hitchens, favors a response by Bush directly to the Iranian people, and I think has the better of the two arguments.

Talkin' Sheed


Rasheed Wallace's right ankle was heavily taped. Maybe his mouth should have been, too.

Wallace's perfect record of predicting Detroit playoff victories was snapped Monday when LeBron James scored 22 points and the Cleveland Cavaliers dug deep on defense to beat the Pistons 74-72, evening their second-round series at 2-2.

The Cavs should roll into Detroit Wednesday confident and loose, if a bit somber after the Hughes funeral tomorrow. After what he's been through, it would be hard to expect much from Hughes other than a lift in team morale if he's back for Game 5. But similar situations in the past have seen players summon great performances from somewhere. Favre comes to mind. It's conceivable that the entire team could be lifted by the emotion surrounding Hughes' return.

I predicted six games and thought I'd be happy with that. That was two games ago. Now I'm pulling for seven, and I'll take my chances with the best player on the planet in that one.

Fans Of Chavez

Maybe the best thing I've read on the web this year. Ian Buruma in the Sunday Times Online.

When the Cuban novelist Reinaldo Arenas managed to escape to the US in 1980, after years of persecution by the Cuban government for being openly homosexual and a dissident, he said: “The difference between the communist and capitalist systems is that, although both give you a kick in the ass, in the communist system you have to applaud, while in the capitalist system you can scream. And I came here to scream.”

One of the most vexing things for artists and intellectuals who live under the compulsion to applaud dictators is the spectacle of colleagues from more open societies applauding of their own free will. It adds a peculiarly nasty insult to injury.

Buruma begs the political left he clearly identifies with to find a principled footing in world affairs. Great read.

May 14, 2006

Impervious To Change

Stephen Hayes says the Bush administration attempt to reform the CIA is over. The reinstatement of Stephen Kappes signals a return to business as usual at the Agency.

A NYT op-ed says that Hayden is a good selection to succeed Goss. Yes, I'm a bit surprised. (full text at link below)

The New York Times

May 14, 2006

Intelligence Design



THE nomination of Gen. Michael Hayden as director of the Central Intelligence Agency is good news. Placing "his man" at the C.I.A. signals that John D. Negroponte, the director of national intelligence, is bringing the agency fully into the new intelligence structure and helping to strengthen its integration.

The concern that General Hayden's military background portends a Pentagon takeover of the agency is misplaced. During my 14 years at the C.I.A., I served under two uniformed deputy directors and a director who was a former deputy secretary of defense. The C.I.A. never lost its civilian and independent culture.

The real question is what General Hayden and Mr. Negroponte will do with the C.I.A. The agency's human intelligence collection capacities are weak, as the public learned from the Sept. 11 attacks and the Iraqi weapons fiasco. We insiders have long known it, having watched our ability to recruit agents and analyze intelligence disintegrate during a decade of poor leadership, downsizing, mission confusion and eroding morale.

A year and a half ago, Porter Goss was sent to lead the C.I.A. with an explicit mandate to strengthen human intelligence collection and analysis. Mr. Goss made some important progress on the latter, but the Clandestine Services, which specializes in collecting intelligence from foreign agents, resisted his reforms, partly because they resented his confrontational style. More important, the professional spies disagreed with Mr. Goss's vision of a C.I.A. integrated into a larger intelligence system in which the agency would be just one of many players. They preferred the old system, perhaps with some minor tweaks, which preserved their absolute control over spy operations, the spies who run them and the secrets resulting from them.

When Mr. Goss failed to get his arms around the agency and redirect it along the lines of his vision, some insiders argued that the C.I.A.'s structure was at fault, not Mr. Goss's leadership. The C.I.A. cannot easily be managed because it has too many different tasks: human intelligence collection, all-source analysis, technical collection and science and technology development. Senior outside advisers suggested splitting the Clandestine Services off from the analytical arm to fix the focus problem.

Splitting up the C.I.A. at this time is unwise. In trying to fix the weaknesses of human intelligence collection, we will make integration problems more complicated and probably worse in the short and medium term. Rather than having one insular agency, the intelligence world will be populated by mini-agencies with diminished capacities but all the same instincts to protect turf. Human intelligence collection will still be scattered among agencies, as will technical collection and analysis. To get a net benefit from splitting up the C.I.A., agencies under the control of the Pentagon would have to be merged with the mini-agencies so that there would be just one body devoted to each kind of intelligence work.

The goal of creating an integrated intelligence community is the right one, but we risk generating bureaucratic chaos in the process. We don't want to destroy existing capacities in the name of progress or idealized organization charts. Trying to break up the C.I.A. and integrate it at the same time is too much for one structure to bear — especially one that is already weak, demoralized and paranoid about hostile takeover by the Pentagon.

Back in the 1990's, under the directorship of John Deutch, the C.I.A. suffered from similar organizational angst. There were unending process reviews, turf battles with the F.B.I. and Pentagon, and a Congressional review that debated the merits of breaking up the agency, which was then called a cold war dinosaur. A sense of paralysis engulfed us. Assigned to an important country in the Persian Gulf, I went to work each day not knowing what I was supposed to do, what secrets to steal or whether anyone remembered I was there, since my mail went unanswered. These were the days when Osama bin Laden first declared war on the United States from his new base in the mountains of Afghanistan — an act that went largely unnoticed by a distracted and demoralized C.I.A.

Rather than breaking up the agency, General Hayden and Mr. Negroponte should focus on integrating it in its current form. Strengthening the direct relationship between Mr. Negroponte's office and the C.I.A.'s deputy directors for analysis and operations will tighten command and control without the chaos caused by breaking structures. At the moment, the director of national intelligence does not have access to information about how the C.I.A.'s clandestine and analytical resources are distributed. This makes it impossible to evaluate, for example, whether the C.I.A.'s Iran program duplicates or adds to efforts elsewhere in the community, or whether resource allocations reflect the director's priorities.

Once General Hayden is confirmed, his first challenge will be to select a new leadership team. The general should be wary of those who simply advocate the status quo. These forces might be popular with the professional spies, but they will resist real transformation. General Hayden should not shy away from reaching deep down or even outside to bring together a diverse group of leaders who are capable and committed to changing the organization. Furthermore, it is imperative that General Hayden assume the role of a hands-on leader who will deal decisively with festering concerns that might seem trivial but have led to an unhealthy rift between staff officers and senior management.

General Hayden's independent thinking, strong leadership skills, and knowledge and respect for the intelligence business will serve him well as he navigates these challenges, which proved too much for Mr. Goss. It is for this reason that other former insiders and I feel that he is the right man for the job.

But the vision has also got to be right. So rather than debating the type of suit General Hayden should wear, we should be asking him about his vision for C.I.A. integration, his plans for the agency and his priorities. The details are important because the stakes are high, not just for the men and women of the C.I.A., but for a nation at war.

Melissa Boyle Mahle, a former C.I.A. operations officer, is the author of "Denial and Deception: An Insider's View of the C.I.A. From Iran-Contra to 9/11."

May 13, 2006

Spying On The Bomb

Nuclear espionage, from Klaus Fuchs to Iranian uranium, in the New York Review of Books piece on the new release, "The Secrets of the Bomb". The article concludes with a detailed look at Iran's uranium enrichment program and their current nuclear capabilities in general, which makes an already enjoyable history lesson even more worthwhile. (via aldaily)

May 11, 2006

Steyn and TNR on Darfur

It always comes down to "the doughty musketeers of the Anglosphere" says Mark Steyn:

Here's the lesson of the past three years: The UN kills.

In 2003, you'll recall, the US was reviled as a unilateralist cowboy because it and its coalition of the poodles waged an illegal war unauthorised by the UN against a sovereign state run by a thug regime that was no threat to anyone apart from selected ethnocultural groups within its borders, which it killed in large numbers (Kurds and Shia).

Well, Washington learned its lesson. Faced with another thug regime that's no threat to anyone apart from selected ethnocultural groups within its borders which it kills in large numbers (African Muslims and southern Christians), the unilateralist cowboy decided to go by the book. No unlawful actions here. Instead, meetings at the UN. Consultations with allies. Possible referral to the Security Council.

And as I wrote on this page in July 2004: "The problem is, by the time you've gone through the UN, everyone's dead." And as I wrote in Britain's Daily Telegraph in September 2004: "The US agreed to go the UN route and it looks like they'll have a really strongish compromise resolution ready to go about a week after the last villager's been murdered and his wife gang-raped."

Several hundred thousand corpses later Clooney is now demanding a "stronger multinational force to protect the civilians of Darfur".

Agreed. So let's get on to the details. If by "multinational" Clooney means a military intervention authorised by the UN, then he's a poseur and a fraud, and we should pay him no further heed. Meaningful UN action is never gonna happen. Sudan has at least two Security Council vetoes in its pocket: China gets 6 per cent of its oil from the country, while Russia has less obviously commercial reasons and more of a general philosophical belief in the right of sovereign states to butcher their own...

...So who, in the end, does "multinational action" boil down to? The same small group of nations responsible for almost any meaningful global action, from Sierra Leone to Iraq to Afghanistan to the tsunami-devastated Sri Lanka, Thailand and Indonesia and on to East Timor and the Solomon Islands. The same core of English-speaking countries, technically multinational but distressingly unicultural and unilingual and indeed, given that most of them share the same head of state, uniregal. The US, Britain, Australia and Canada (back in the game in Afghanistan) certainly attract other partners, from the gallant Poles to the Kingdom of Tonga.

But, whatever international law has to say on the subject, the only effective intervention around the world comes from ad hoc coalitions of the willing led by the doughty musketeers of the Anglosphere.

TNR devotes an entire issue (free reg. req'd) to Darfur, including their editorial "Again", in which they call for direct U.S. military action. As you might expect, the Clinton years are seen through the most forgiving lens possible (he had "a learning curve", you see) and it is Bush apparently, who doesn't know genocide when he sees it:

The '90s were a decade of genocides--unimpeded (Rwanda) and partially impeded (Bosnia) and impeded (Kosovo). The relative success of those genocides was owed generally to the indifference of that chimera known as "the international community," but, more specifically, it was owed to the learning curve of an American president about the moral--and therefore the operational--difference between genocide and other foreign policy crises. The difference is simple. In the response to most foreign policy crises, the use of military force is properly viewed as a last resort. In the response to genocide, the use of military force is properly viewed as a first resort.

The notion of force as a first resort defies the foundations of diplomacy and also of common sense: A willingness to use hard power abroad must not become a willingness to use it wildly. But if you are not willing to use force against genocide immediately, then you do not understand what genocide is. Genocide is not a crisis that escalates into evil. It is evil from its inception.

At least TRN is a center-left organ that acknowledges evil's existence, and the whole op-ed is worth a read. Marisa Katz has a feature on the Bush administration's policy of "appeasement". It's an interesting take, since the Bush team at least achieved the agreement with the South, and the author has very little of substance to offer as preferable options. She says the administration was so concerned with preserving the North-South peace deal they had negotiated that they took too long to turn their attention to stopping the other genocide, to the west at Darfur. Then they are criticized for not being unilateral enough in negotiations (the African Union nations insisted on a leading role and we deferred to their sensibilities.) It's not difficult to imagine the "Cowboy Bully" accusations had we simply imposed our will on the proceedings. It's hard to win when you're just the last, best hope.

Here's the author's example of what the Bush administration could have, and should have done to show our seriousness...

Washington could do more to target the individual perpetrators of the genocide. For example, President Bashir and Vice President Taha have not been added to our list of Specially Designated Nationals and Blocked Persons. At the very least, individual sanctions would signal a level of U.S. seriousness.

Blocked Persons List? Sorry if that doesn't strike me as terribly serious or likely to shame the Sudanese thugocracy. But it might help to drive to Sudan even further into the China-Iran orbit. What do I know? Read all you can, but before you decide if we should "do something to stop it...now!", try to imagine CNN video of the U.S. Marines shooting machete-wielding Janjaweed warriors off of their horses in the African countryside. How's that gonna play in Peoria, to say nothing of Paris? The first time one of those machetes mutilates a 19-year old from New Jersey, will Cindy Sheehan demonstrate against government policy at his funeral?

The Left (not TNR) will have a tough time differentiating Sudan from Iraq, even when they invoke the "G" word, as a situation justifying direct U.S. military action, where in their view (of the moment), Iraq does not. For now, they are contenting themselves to demand that "more" be done, and criticizing the person and the country that have done the most to end the killing.

May 9, 2006

Changing Him Forever

However ugly the Pistons series gets, it can be considered a stage in the development of LeBron James. ESPN.com's Scoop Jackson says he'll never be the same.

The nail-biting will stop. The headband will come off. The ice grills at the end of games he wins are going to disappear. Everything that makes up LBJ's total package -- mannerisms, superstitions, etc. -- will evaporate once this series with the Pistons is over.

From then on the LeBron James we are witnessing right now will no longer exist. This series will change him forever. Much like the original legendary Detroit teams of the past shaped, then changed Michael Jordan in the late '80s, this second legendary Detroit squad will do the same to James. Because once Jordan made it his "mission" to defeat the team that had not only stopped him from getting to the Finals, but humiliated him in the way it did -- that made MJ and crew never relinquish anything once they got past the Pistons.

Not only will the Pistons' 4-0 or 4-1 series win make LeBron face linear defeat for the first time in his career, the beatdown the Pistons will hand out will make him make sure he'll never go through anything like it again.

Which is why this series is going to be the best thing that's ever happened to him.

May 8, 2006

NR Editors on CIA and Goss

Must read stuff from NRO

Exposing The U.N.

The man who covers the United Nations for Fox News, reporter Eric Shawn, has a new book out on the organization. Cliff Kincaid at Accuracy in Media (AIM) reviews it here.

May 7, 2006

McCarthy on Moussaoui

I must admit that Andy McCarthy is making me rethink my earlier statement that denying Moussaoui his martyrdom "is perhaps a more fitting punishment" than death.

Even granting the "mitigating factors" cited by the panel -- his father's bad temper and young Zac's brushes with racial discrimination -- how could such unremarkable straits be thought to mitigate, much less outweigh, the anguish of 9/11's real victims? Victims driven, for example, to leap a hundred stories to their deaths, the preferable alternative to immolation in hellish fires.

It was a verdict in defiance of reason. Such a result is far from unknown in our judicial system; inevitably, courtroom justice and cosmic justice are sometime strangers. That's how we want it. The judicial process is intentionally skewed against the state. It wears proudly the credo: better for the guilty to go free than risk a single innocent's wrongful conviction. This philosophy, rightly, is cherished by freedom-loving people, but only in its place: the realm of domestic law enforcement. It has no place in warfare. For all the high-minded rhetoric about an "international community," the international realm remains a comparative state of nature. On a battlefield, enemies may be captured or killed without judicial sanction. War cannot be won by presuming them innocent and preferring government's failure to the specter of a single one's errant conviction...

...For those of Panglossian bent, this is all to the good: our system functioning, its enlightened fairness on display. They're dreaming. Who knows what a debacle this might have been had Moussaoui not helped matters along at critical junctures by pleading guilty and testifying disastrously? Meanwhile, an unrepentant combatant who continues to long only for a reprise of our nightmare, will live out his years, at our enormous expense, because the civilian justice system we wisely sidelined after 9/11 could not summon the gumption to execute him.

This is no way to fight a war.

Assuming Good Faith

George Bush and the United States have done more than anyone to stop the killing in the Sudan, and should be accorded their successes so far, but there are reasons for skepticism that the peace deal in Darfur will hold. From the OpinionJournal op-ed:

It sounds promising, and if it sticks it will be a diplomatic triumph for the Bush Administration, which has so far provided $1 billion in humanitarian aid to the region and which sent Deputy Secretary of State Robert Zoellick to help arrange the deal.

But we have seen Sudanese governments violate too many previous agreements to place too much stock in this one. Between 1983 and 2005, Khartoum killed as many as two million people (and enslaved hundreds of thousands) in its war against the black Christians of southern Sudan. That war itself began when Khartoum violated the 1972 Addis Ababa Accords, which had ended a previous civil war, in a bid to Islamicize the south....

...A larger problem is the unwillingness of the international community to treat Sudan as the outlaw state it is...the Darfur crisis is a reminder that the very institutions that, prior to the Iraq war, were said to be the only legitimate arbiters of international intervention turn out to be the least helpful when intervention is most needed....

...This leaves the United States, the only country in the world with the capability and, potentially, the will to aid Darfuris and every other group threatened with genocide or brutal oppression. President Bush has certainly been engaged with the crisis in Darfur, more so than any of his alleged moral betters in places such as France and Sweden. Yet having endured so much opprobrium and resistance to his last two acts of international hygiene--the liberation of Afghanistan and Iraq--it's no wonder he's reluctant to carry another burden, particularly when American interests are not directly at stake.

There's a lesson here for all of those liberal internationalists who now demand the Administration "do something" in Darfur: If you want to stop genocide, don't shackle the world's only policeman.

May 6, 2006

Chirac Death Spiral

Jacques Chirac and Dominique de Villepin will soon be history. Their government will limp to the finish line in scandal and disgrace. From the WaPo :

A burgeoning political scandal of alleged dirty tricks involving the cabinet's two top ministers has tainted the entire French government, pushing it to the brink of paralysis and collapse in the final year of President Jacques Chirac's administration...

..."The situation is extremely volatile," said Renaud Dehousse, director of the Center for European Studies at the Institute of Political Sciences in Paris. "The government has lost any credibility whatsoever."

Maybe bottoming out politically will be good for the country. Sarkozy seems well positioned to be their next leader. Ed Morrissey on what he'll be up against:

Part of the problem is that the French people want more of what ails them in the first place. De Villepin tried to present an actual solution for youth unemployment by reducing the risk for businesses to take a chance on hiring them. Predictably, the very people who would benefit from this reduced risk screamed that they wanted lifetime sinecures with no conditions rather than jobs with expectations for performance. Being French, they protested until the government agreed to continue its interference in the employer-employee relationship, guaranteeing that businesses will avoid hiring the people who want no accountability for the quality of their work.

Pistons Up


Congratulations to the Cleveland Cavaliers! They advanced tonight to the second round of the NBA Playoffs with another thrilling finish, this time a last-second 3-pointer by Damon Jones, to win in overtime, 114-113, and eliminate the Washington Wizards.

No one expects the Cavaliers to beat the Pistons, who have been the best team in the NBA all year. But this is a big step for a franchise and a city starved for playoff victory of any sort lately. The experience of playing a quarterfinal series against Detroit is a necessary leg on LeBron's journey, regardless of the outcome.

You could make the case that a team has a chance to win any series when they have the best player on the planet. But I figure Detroit in six.

May 5, 2006


A couple of things on Iran. First, Dan Drezner's account of the arrest of Dr. Ramin Jahanbegloo, Iranian intellectual, author and human rights advocate, who was supposed to arrive at an academic conference in Brussels, but was picked up and imprisoned by the Iranian government. (via IP)

And then check out Krauthammer on history repeating. Just go.

European Dhimmitude

Ayaan Hirsi Ali is evicted by a court ruling in a case brought by her neighbors, who were concerned that her security against the death threats she faces impacted them negatively. The Dutch MP is being persecuted essentially for thought crimes against the religious radicals who are trying to kill her. She has dared to conceive of a global feminism that confronts and opposes the way radical Islam subjugates women. And that has her in very bad favor with European leftists, and that includes certain Courts in The Hague. I think I remember a time when leftists were on the side of the oppressed women when they came up against the religious fundamentalists, but I could be wrong.

Alexandra has a nice post on the Ayaan Hirsi Ali story at her striking blog All Things Beautiful. And that leads to Bryan Maloney's post

Hirsi Ali hasn’t broken any laws; she has criticized the lack of women’s rights under Islam, which under Dutch law she is supposedly free to do. The threats against her for speaking out are for real: Her friend and co-producer on the film Submission, Theo Van Gogh, was brutally murdered by an Islamist on the streets of Amsterdam. But the law that isn’t doing anything about the Islamists issuing fatwas and threatening death evicts Hirsi Ali from her own home because her security problems are too much to bear for her neighbors, citing an abstract violation of private life. It would seem to me that if there’s a violation of one’s private life going on here, it’s being done by the Islamists who are stalking Ayaan Hirsi Ali. Wherever she ends up, they will continue to stalk her. If her new neighbors sue, she will be evicted again.

A quote from Ayaan Hirsi Ali- (via Atlas Shrugs)

“My criticism of the West, especially of liberals, is that they do take freedom for granted,” Ms. Ali responded. She noted that Western Europeans born after World War II are unused to conflict. “They have lost the instinct to recognize that there can be such a thing as an enemy or a threat to freedom, and that’s what I’m witnessing in Europe now,” she stated. “[There is] a pacifist ideology that violence should never be used in any circumstances, and so we should talk and talk and talk. Even when your opponent tells you, ‘I don’t want to talk to you, I want to destroy you,’ the reaction is, ‘Please, let’s talk about the fact that you want to destroy me!’”

And it is that progressive European Left that is prosecuting Oriana Fallaci for her free expression and her fearlessness. It's another thought crimes case demonstrating Europeans' appeasement of their radical Islamic elements, and the illiberal tendencies of the EU statists. Fallaci is reviewed here (sort of) by the wordsmith Mark Steyn. Read it all, but here's a sample:

Over in Sweden, they've been investigating the Grand Mosque of Stockholm. Apparently, it's the one-stop shop for all your jihad needs: you can buy audio cassettes at the mosque encouraging you to become a martyr and sally forth to kill "the brothers of pigs and apes" -- i.e. Jews. So somebody filed a racial-incitement complaint and the coppers started looking into it, and then Sweden's chancellor of justice, Goran Lambertz, stepped in. And Mr. Lambertz decided to close down the investigation on the grounds that, even though the porcine-sibling stuff is "highly degrading," this kind of chit-chat "should be judged differently -- and therefore be regarded as permissible -- because they were used by one side in an ongoing and far-reaching conflict where calls to arms and insults are part of the everyday climate in the rhetoric that surrounds this conflict."

In other words, if you threaten to kill people often enough, it will be seen as part of your vibrant cultural tradition -- and, by definition, we're all cool with that. Celebrate diversity, etc. Our tolerant multicultural society is so tolerant and multicultural we'll tolerate your intolerant uniculturalism. Your antipathy to diversity is just another form of diversity for us to celebrate.

...here Steyn pulls out 19th century bureaucrat William Tayler to make his critique of multiculturalism:

Mr. Tayler, a minor civil servant in Bengal, was a genuine "multiculturalist." That's to say, although he regarded his own culture as superior, he was engaged enough by the ways of others to study the differences between them. By contrast, contemporary multiculturalism absolves one from knowing anything about other cultures as long as one feels warm and fluffy toward them. After all, if it's grossly judgmental to say one culture's better than another, why bother learning about the differences? "Celebrate diversity" with a uniformity of ignorance. Had William Tayler been around when the Islamification of the West got under way and you'd said to him there was a mosque opening down the street, he'd have wanted to know: what kind of mosque? Who's the imam? What branch of Islam? Old-school imperialists could never get away with the feel-good condescension of PC progressives.

Mesa - Vizquel

Until today I had somehow missed the latest chapter in the Jose Mesa - Omar Vizquel saga, which took place on April 23 when Mesa threw at Vizquel in the Rockies-Giants game. It's being called a "feud" by reporters, but that really isn't the right word for it, since a feud normally requires that both parties harbor animosities. This has long been nothing but a vendetta by Mesa against Vizquel.

Three years ago, in one of this blog's first posts, I argued that it was time for Mesa to get over it. "It" was what Vizquel wrote in his book about going to the mound to talk to Mesa in the 9th inning of Game Seven of the 1997 World Series with the Indians up by one run. Here's the offending text:

"The eyes of the world were focused on every move we made. Unfortunately, Jose's own eyes were vacant. Completely empty. Nobody home. You could almost see right through him. Not long after I looked into his vacant eyes, he blew the save and the Marlins tied the game."

As ESPN.com's Jayson Stark explained, Vizquel had qualified his remarks many times over by acknowledging that the team would never have been in the World Series without Mesa, but Jose has never come around to forgiveness. In Spring Training in 2003 Mesa threatened to kill Vizquel, and never backed down from the threat, repeating it several times:

"I will not forgive him," Mesa told Phillies reporters at the time. "Even my little boy (Jose Jr.) told me to get him. If I face him 10 more times, I'll hit him 10 times. Every time. I wanna kill him." Mesa later added, "And if he charges me, I'll kill him."

And since that time, Mesa has drilled Vizquel three times, by Omar's count. So I guess he means it. And with the two players now in the same division, their next meeting is not a question of if, but when.

For Vizquel's part, he refuses to enable the man who wants to kill him by charging the mound, and he has tried to remain above the fray off the field too. After the latest assault he said "I'm a little tired of it. It's just stupid that he can still remember and still hold that grudge...There's not much you can do but charge the mound." Vizquel knows that would result in a suspension, and he's not about to let that happen. He's hitting .341, and is ranked in the top five NL players in hitting at the moment. Like the pro he is, he's not going to let Mesa's pettiness hurt his team's chances to win. Oh, and on top of that he doesn't want to get snapped in two.

So where the hell was Major League Baseball on this? How can the umpires not have been prepared for this latest confrontation. In the April 23 incident, Mesa was not even ejected from the game. I guess Mesa's repeated threats on Vizquel's life slipped the minds of the folks who run this game? Those threats three years ago bordered on the criminal, and every time since that Mesa has thrown a baseball at Omar Vizquel's head, he has committed an assault with a deadly weapon, as far as I can see.

This most recent Mesa attack set off a beanball war between the Rockies and Giants that carried over into the next day's game, and resulted in several ejections. But not one for Mesa. Brad Marchand of About.com wrote a piece titled "Criminal Intent" that has it about right:

So now tensions between the two teams are boiling, there's a beanball war beginning, and it's all because of one coward's personal vendetta against another player. And he can be as brash as he wants because he's a relief pitcher. He never takes an at-bat. One has to wonder if he'd choose to control his words -- and pitches -- a little more carefully if he might have to ponder some 95-mph gas under his chin from time to time.

If the umpires are going to do nothing to stop Mesa from carrying out his threat each and every time he faces Vizquel, the league has to. So far, Mesa has received only one $500 fine for his rather serious threats and three times hitting Vizquel. Ouch. If Major League Baseball doesn't crack down on Mesa through suspension, or at the very least instruct the umpires to toss him out of the game on the spot if he hits Vizquel again, eventually someone is going to get seriously hurt. It could be Vizquel if he charges the mound or Mesa decides to aim for the head with his next beanball; it could be Mesa if one of Vizquel's larger teammates gets hold of the pitcher; or it could be one of either man's teammates during the brawl that is surely coming. It certainly doesn't appear Mesa will stop his crusade anytime soon, so someone has to do it for him. Otherwise the players will take care of this themselves. And it will get ugly. Very ugly.

It's already ugly. How about a season-long suspension if Mesa ever hits Vizquel again? That sounds more like the kind of step that MLB needs to take to prevent this insane thuggery from continuing. He got four games for this one. That's ridiculously lenient, given the history and the threats and the previous beanings.

This is a dangerous game, even when pitchers aren't trying to hit batters with 95 mph fastballs. Mesa needs to get over himself, or he needs to be banned from the game. If we can get over what happened in Game Seven, surely he can.

I'll let you know if that ever happens.

May 4, 2006

Keeping The Virgins Waiting

Peggy Noonan makes the case for killing Moussaoui:

It is as if we've become sophisticated beyond our intelligence, savvy beyond wisdom. Some might say we are showing a great and careful generosity, as befits a great nation. But maybe we're just, or also, rolling in our high-mindedness like a puppy in the grass. Maybe we are losing some crude old grit. Maybe it's not good we lose it.

No one wants to say, "They should have killed him." This is understandable, for no one wants to be called vengeful, angry or, far worse, unenlightened. But we should have put him to death, and for one big reason.

This is what Moussaoui did: He was in jail on a visa violation in August 2001. He knew of the upcoming attacks. In fact, he had taken flight lessons to take part in them. He told no one what was coming. He lied to the FBI so the attacks could go forward. He pled guilty last year to conspiring with al Qaeda; at his trial he bragged to the court that he had intended to be on the fifth aircraft, which was supposed to destroy the White House.

He knew the trigger was about to be pulled. He knew innocent people had been targeted, and were about to meet gruesome, unjust deaths.

He could have stopped it. He did nothing. And so 2,700 people died...

...I happen, as most adults do, to feel a general ambivalence toward the death penalty. But I know why it exists. It is the expression of a certitude, of a shared national conviction, about the value of a human life. It says the deliberate and planned taking of a human life is so serious, such a wound to justice, such a tearing at the human fabric, that there is only one price that is justly paid for it, and that is the forfeiting of the life of the perpetrator. It is society's way of saying that murder is serious, dreadfully serious, the most serious of all human transgressions.

It is not a matter of vengeance. Murder can never be avenged, it can only be answered.

If Moussaoui didn't deserve the death penalty, who does? Who ever did?

And if he didn't receive it, do we still have it?

I too am largely ambivalent about the death penalty, unconvinced as I am that it serves as a deterrent to capital crime. And even though I think the jury spared his life for the wrong reasons (he had a dysfunctional, abusive family?), in this case I think denying him the martyrdom he wanted is perhaps a more fitting punishment. It gives a whole new meaning to "life in America". To hear him tell it, it's Moussaoui's worst nightmare.

UPDATE: John McIntyre at RCP Blog comments.

Kofi's Half Mil

Claudia Rosett

Here’s one for the new ethics office at the United Nations: Not only do we now know that Secretary-General Kofi Annan accepted a $500,000 prize from the ruler of Dubai, courtesy of a judges’ panel rife with U.N. connections, one member of which Annan then appointed to a high U.N. job. Less well known is that Annan was advised to take the prize money by another senior U.N. official, Mark Malloch Brown—according to Malloch Brown himself in an interview this past February.

Since then, Annan has promoted Malloch Brown from U.N. chief of staff to the U.N.’s number-two post of deputy secretary-general. With role models like these in the executive suite, small wonder the U.N. remains gridlocked over reform...

...what kind of precedent has Annan set? Exactly how early in a secretary-general’s term does the U.N. now deem it appropriate for the top boss to start collecting personal cash prizes?—dedicated, of course, to his personal, charitable ventures after retirement. Is $500,000 per prize the limit, or just the beginning? Who polices the use of such funds? And which tycoons, monarchs, or dictators qualify as acceptable prize-givers? Is Hugo Chavez allowed to give Annan a prize? Or Iranian President Ahmadinejad? One has to wonder at what point a responsible U.N. member state—are there any?—might finally be moved to call the secretary-general to account for such stuff.

May 2, 2006

Don't Walk

Check out this unbelievable traffic incident captured by an enforcement camera. Hollywood couldn't have pulled this off.

A Handy Club For Bush-Bashing

No one has done more to try to end the genocide in Sudan than George Bush and the United States, as documented by Nina Shea in this terrific piece at NRO. And George Clooney's activism in the cause of the people of Darfur is tarnished by his refusal to acknowledge that, and to place the blame for the killing where it belongs.

The genocide could be ended tomorrow by the United States military. But nobody, least of all Clooney, is suggesting sending in the Marines...

...So when Clooney urges a “multi-national” peace keeping force going into Darfur, he must be envisioning a large and powerful army legitimized by the inclusion of troops from other Muslim and Arab nations and sanctioned by the United Nations’ Security Council. And Bush would then have to be blamed for failing to persuade the Arab League and China to vote against their own economic interests in order to defend the human rights of insignificant, impoverished African tribes against the oil-rich Khartoum regime.

Never before has either China or the Arab League based its foreign policy on altruism. It would be remarkable if these dictatorships suddenly sacrificed self-interest in order to defend human rights that they routinely disregard within their own borders. It was the presence of China and various distinguished members of the Arab League on the U.N. Commission on Human Rights that discredited that body and caused it to be disbanded earlier this year. For this group, “never again” has no meaning. Clooney’s “solution” is preposterous.

Yet Clooney does not seem to have any intention of criticizing these countries—in his view, attribution of blame is to be reserved almost exclusively for the Bush administration. Rarely does he criticize any other government by name—not even the government of Sudan, the author of the genocide. His discussion of the facts of Darfur focuses on the victims and on the United States, not on the perpetrators in Sudan and their abettors in China, the Arab League, and the U.N.

Che Killed People?

Maybe it's a good movie and maybe it's not, but Humberto Fontova says the critics of Andy Garcia's film should at least get their history straight. Instead they're too busy tripping over their Che myths and their Castro revolutionary propaganda to give "The Lost City" a fair hearing.

Garcia has seriously jolted the Mainstream Media's fantasies and hallucinations of pre-Castro Cuba, Che, Fidel, and Cubans in general. In consequence, the critics are unnerved and disoriented and their annoyance and scorn are spewing forth in review after review.

"In a movie about the Cuban revolution, we almost never see any of the working poor for whom the revolution was supposedly fought," sniffs Peter Reiner in The Christian Science Monitor. "The Lost City' misses historical complexity."

Actually what's missing is Mr. Reiner's historical knowledge. Andy Garcia and screenwriter Guillermo Cabrera Infante knew full well that "the working poor" had no role in the stage of the Cuban Revolution shown in the movie. The Anti-Batista rebellion was led and staffed overwhelmingly by Cuba's middle - and especially, upper - class...

...In 1958 Cuba had a higher per-capita income than Austria and Japan. Cuban industrial workers had the 8th highest wages in the world. In the 1950's Cuban stevedores earned more per hour than their counterparts in New Orleans and San Francisco. Cuba had established an 8 hour work-day in 1933 -- five years before FDR's New Dealers got around to it. Add to this: one months paid vacation. The much-lauded (by liberals) Social-Democracies of Western Europe didn't manage this until 30 years later.

Cuba, a country 71% white in 1957, was completely desegregated 30 years before Rosa Parks was dragged off that Birmingham bus and handcuffed. In 1958 Cuba had more female college graduates per capita than the U.S.

The Anti-Batista rebellion (not revolution) was staffed and led overwhelmingly by college students and professionals. Here's the makeup of the "peasant revolution's" first cabinet, drawn from the leaders in the Anti-Batista fight: 7 lawyers, 2 University professors, 3 University students, 1 doctor, 1 engineer, 1 architect, 1 former city mayor and Colonel who defected from the Batista Army. A notoriously "bourgeois" bunch as Che himself might have put it.

By 1961, however, workers and campesinos (country folk) made up the overwhelming bulk of the anti-Castroite rebels, especially the guerrillas in the Escambray mountains. And boy, would THAT rebellion make for an action-packed and gut-wrenching movie. If by some miracle it ever got made you can bet these learned critics would pan it too. Whoever heard of poor country-folk fighting against their "benefactors" Fidel and Che?

Interesting. Lots more.

May 1, 2006

Who's The Public Menace?

Andy McCarthy and Mark Levin on the disgraceful trophy hunting practiced by the prosecutor in the Limbaugh case. Read it all. After Mark and Andy get done with the subject, there's nothing of import I can add.

...Pursuant to an agreement Rush has reached with state prosecutors in Palm Beach, Florida, they are finally abandoning their two-and-a-half year quest to criminalize a human tragedy—addiction to medication prescribed because of severe pain....

...We are former federal government attorneys. We’ve collectively spent decades in law enforcement and believe passionately in its professional, non-political, non-partisan mission. Thus, it’s with outrage that we note that, rather than quietly dropping this embarrassment of an investigation, the state attorney, Barry Krischer—a politically active liberal Democrat—has insisted on filing a charge which he well knows will never be tried. Insisting, that is, on further media churning of an allegation of doctor-shopping that he’ll never prove.

Rush is entering a plea of not guilty. The case will be dismissed in 18 months, when Rush completes the treatment he undertook on his own. There is no reason to file a charge that is without foundation and will never result in a judgment of conviction. But, under Florida procedures, this means a person is “processed.” That is, by this petty maneuver, Krischer has arranged for a mug shot of Rush Limbaugh.

Krischer ought to be ashamed of himself, and the people of Palm Beach County ought to be frightened by what passes for law enforcement in their neck of the woods.

How many people do we know of—and how many celebrities can we name in sports, entertainment, politics, etc.—who develop substance-abuse problems? And in most instances the abuse is recreational, not an unintended fallout from treatment for real medical problems. Yet our society does not pursue these folks as criminals. They are treated with compassion. When they seek treatment, they win our admiration. And rightly so.

But not in Palm Beach County—at least not if your name is Rush Limbaugh. The state attorney’s office spent thousands of man hours and hundreds of thousands of taxpayer dollars pursuing not a drug dealer, or a money launderer, or a real criminal—although scurrilous innuendo to that effect was leaked to the Florida press from time to time, thanks to the shameful manner in which this prosecution was run. No, those resources and taxpayer dollars were expended by a politically partisan and ambitious prosecutor to go after a celebrity with a medication addiction..