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September 30, 2006


(AP photo via espn.com)

Just basking in the warm glow that is the aftermath of another methodical win for the Buckeyes. Ohio State traveled to Iowa City and schooled the Hawkeyes tonight 38-17. Here's the game story from Bucknuts.com.

The storyline was the same as in last week's Penn State game. Get out ahead early (which helped to deflate the raucous crowd) then stay in control of a relatively close game, until some late turnovers forced by the defense allow you to put it out of reach in the fourth quarter. To hear the national commentators tell it, Ohio State removed all doubt about their No. 1 ranking tonight, and Troy Smith put a little distance between himself and the other Heisman Trophy contenders.

Heady times indeed for us Bucknuts. As a lifer fan you try not to get too cocky, because you remember too many late season upsets (like MSU in 1998, Michigan several times) but this team doesn't appear to lack focus. If anything, they exude it. They're 5-0 with the two toughest road games already out of the way....but with a very good Michigan team coming in six weeks from now. Until then, not much...Minnesota and Michigan State could keep it close for a half, but the Buckeyes would have to stumble badly to lose before Michigan.

After the big win at second-ranked Texas, and with the Wolverines looking tougher than expected, a friend pointed out the ever-increasing possibility that we could have a second #1 vs #2 matchup if Michigan rolls into Columbus undefeated on November 18. And it only follows that if the Buckeyes win that one, a third #1 vs #2 matchup would almost certainly take place in the National Championship Game.

That can't have ever happened before, can it? I'm sure some sports journalist or historian will tell us within the next few days.

Before the BCS began, it was rare for there to be even one matchup between the top two ranked teams in the country in any given year, with conference champions committed to this bowl game or that one without regard to rankings. The most attractive matchups possible were arranged for the bowls, but the system didn't lend itself to deciding national championships on the field. That's what we had sportwriters and coaches for...to vote for their favorites.

The BCS system usually succeeds in matching the two best teams once, in January, but this would be a rare and exciting circumstance if the Buckeyes could manage to first, start the season at No. 1, and then to meet (and of couse beat) three No. 2 ranked teams in one season. Stay tuned. Go Bucks.

Sports Guy's NFL Rankings

Bill Simmons gives himself an assist picking this week's NFL games by first ranking all 32 teams. He has the Browns ranked 22nd, and their Sunday opponent the Oakland Raiders dead last at 32nd. Someone will take the lead in the Draft Derby in this game and I'm glad Simmons thinks it will be the Raiders. But last week the Browns took the cake:

Out of all the dumb things I watched last Sunday, the Browns having Chaz Frye huck one into the end zone (inside the 10, up by two, less than four minutes to play) absolutely took the cake. And I don't care if he got hit when he threw the ball. A field goal clinches the game. Just terrible. God, imagine if you wagered on the Browns money line at +220 last week? That would have been a tough one to take.

(Slamming my head against the desk ... )

(Still slamming it ... )

The Sports Guy may be the only man in America who thinks there are 10 teams in this league worse than the Cleveland Browns. I guess there's hope.

You need to read Simmons every week if you're an NFL fan and/or a Fantasy Football player. Of local interest, after picking San Diego as the #1 team this week, he qualified it with this...

Of course, all of this is mitigated by two words: "Marty" and "Schottenheimer." But you know what? We don't have to worry about that for another four months. I think they're the best team right now...

September 28, 2006

A Donkey With A Halo

More cartoon trouble in the Islamic world:

From The American Thinker:

The biggest reformist daily newspaper in Iran has just been closed for publishing a joke. This one isn’t even a cartoon of Mohammed, just two chess pieces—a white knight facing a black donkey. What’s the joke? The donkey is surrounded by a halo of light, a clear reference to Mahmoud Ahmadinejad speaking at the UN General Assembly.
The cartoon shows Iran’s and the West’s moves on the nuclear issue. The white horse represents the West, while the braying black donkey with the halo is a satirical depiction of Iran. The halo is a reference to the remark made by Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad following his speech to the U.N. General Assembly in September 2005; Ahmadinejad claimed that during his speech he had felt surrounded by a circle of divine light, symbolizing his messianic message to the world.

Here's the offending cartoon along with a MEMRI analysis of the power struggle in Iran leading up to December elections to the Assembly of Experts.

September 27, 2006

More on NIE

Take a look at a very worthwhile post over at Belmont Club. Wretchard comments on the NIE releases and gets into a discussion of how bin Laden and the jihadis act on the basis of their perceptions, and not necessarily on realities on the ground. The question at the heart of the conflict we're in may well be one of examining how those perceptions are generated.

And speaking of worthwhile...Michelle Malkin suggests that the investigation into the illegal leaking of the NIE might begin with one Paul Pillar. Talk about your worst kept secret.

The American Thinker

Rightwing Nuthouse

Dupes or Distorters?

Please go read Hugh Hewitt's entire post noting the rather unflattering light in which the New York Times now appears, following the declassification of significant parts of the National Intelligence Estimate.

And here is the text of some of the President's remarks at his press conference today on the leaks from the NIE. (via the Corner)

September 26, 2006

Dogging The Wagger

In order to make his case that a "conservative hit job" is being perpetrated against him, Bill Clinton has had to get creative with his history, accusing his political opponents on the right of having been critical of his efforts to kill Osama bin Laden back in 1998, to the point of "ridiculing" the poor man. According to Bill, this makes them hypocrites since they now accuse him of having done too little to combat terrorism.

(First, imagine if you can the specter of political opponents actually ridiculing a sitting President. Ugly, isn't it?)

Not only that, it is Republicans who are responsble for Clinton's inability to get the CIA or FBI to follow his orders. This according to the Richard Clarke book incessantly plugged by Clinton as the definitive account of the events at issue. Among other things, Republican 1992 campaign criticism of Clinton's draft dodging and his Vietnam War opposition served to undermine his ability as President to take effective action against terrorists. That's their line. Seriously.

One can only imagine the seamless and efficient working relationship that Bill and Hillary might have had with our men in uniform and our intelligence services in the absence of all that destructive Republican criticism. This was a man who wouldn't even speak to Louis Freeh, his FBI Director, for months on end, and would not grant him a face-to-face meeting. Clarke now says Clinton couldn't fire Freeh, and it's the fault of Republicans. Does this surprise you coming from the great finger-wagger?

The First Lady was widely reported (Gary Aldrich comes to mind for starters) to be contemptuous of all things military as well. I'm sure that the aversion of both Clintons to the military, and their seeming willingness to openly flaunt it, contributed to President Clinton's ineffectiveness in dealing with them. But to now try to lay that problem on the doorstep of the Republicans is sheer gall.

The Clinton's story seems to be "We did so act against terrorism.... but even if we didn't, it's because nobody in the military or intelligence community would listen to us, and that's the fault of our critics." Byron York's NRO piece closes this way:

...the bottom line is that Bill Clinton, the commander-in-chief, could not find the will to order the military into action against al Qaeda, and Bill Clinton, the head of the executive branch, could not find the will to order the CIA and FBI to act. No matter what the former president says on Fox, or anywhere else, that is his legacy in the war on terror.

The thing that jumped out at me from the Fox interview was Clinton's almost desperate defensiveness in the attempt to prop up his fantasy legacy. In a way, I get the desperation. I have no doubt that during his eight years he was in fact unable to get the hidebound, careerist bureaucracy of the intelligence community to act as he might have liked. I believe he saw and understood the threat of Islamic terrorism, but when it came time to lead...when it came time to make difficult decisions from among all bad options...when it came time to act....he didn't. Then, as now, he was more concerned with what people thought of him.

Now comes what must be to Bill Clinton a glaring example of everything that he wasn't. A President who saw and understood the threat, but one who acted in what he was convinced was the best course for the country, without a wet finger in the wind, without a thought as to how it might read in his memoirs. The daily reminder of a President acting on principle and disregarding polls must be disconcerting to Bill Clinton, especially as his legacy suffers by comparison. Sending Sandy Berger into the National Archives to purge certain notes, and stacking the 9/11 commission with Gorelicks and Ben Venistes were both legacy-polishing acts, committed in the same sort of desperation.

It is a tribute to Hillary's political skill that in the last five years she has been able to successfully run away from the "soft on national security" tag that had rightfully been pinned on her husband. And I have said before that I attribute some of her overall seriousness and responsibility on matters relating to terrorism to her having been in some of those White House situation room meetings on people like bin Laden before.

But the original point of this post was to follow up the excellent York piece of yesterday, with one by ABC News' Jake Tapper, which blows holes in Clinton's claim that it was his political opponents who criticized his attempts to kill Osama bin Laden in 1998. There was plenty of "wag-the-dog" talk, but much of it was coming from closer to home. Excerpting...

In the interview Clinton said that during the 1990s conservatives criticized him for "obsessing" over bin Laden and "they ridiculed me for trying" to kill bin Laden.

So let's examine the record... The most aggressive strike the Clinton Administration launched against al Qaeda was in August 1998 when U.S. cruise missiles were sent to six terrorist compund sites in Afghanistan and the El Shifa Pharmaceutical Industries factory in the Sudanese capital of Khartoum where U.S. officials say chemical weapons were being housed.

So...who impugned Clinton's motives?...

..."I think the president did exactly the right thing," said House Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.) said. "By doing this we're sending the signal there are no sanctuaries for terrorists." Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott (R-Miss.) called the attacks "appropriate and just," and House Majority Leader Richard K. Armey (R-Tex.) said "the American people stand united in the face of terrorism...

...The conservative National Review wrote "Whatever one thinks of Bill Clinton, surely Sandy Berger and Bill Cohen would not take part in any wag-the-dog scenario. Republicans who suggest otherwise--including, to our astonishment and his embarrassment, the usually sober Sen. Dan Coats (R., Ind.)--should be ashamed of themselves. President Clinton should instead be commended for finally responding appropriately to a terrorist attack."

On The McGlaughlin Group, Pat Buchanan said "there was every justification for it. It was a retaliatory strike, it's a pre-emptive strike, it was decided a week ahead of time, unanimously in the Ex Com of the National Security Council. There is not a scintilla of evidence that the president timed this for political reasons, and I think the Republicans who have stood behind the president in these strikes are exactly right."

There were of course exceptions, and they are cited by Tapper, who also quotes Republican leadership coming down on the few who, shall we say...questioned the timing.

But isn't the rhetoric from the Congressional leadership of the opposition party at the time absolutely striking in its difference from what we hear today from Democrats?

UPDATE 9/27:

Richard Miniter - WSJ - "What Clinton Didn't Do"

Thomas Joscelyn - TWS - "Warning Signs"

Lighten Up

A few recent one-liners from my favorite stop for political humor, inopinion.com:

-- Cindy Sheehan will have laser vision correction surgery. Doctors say it should help her nearsightedness, but she still won't be able to see when she's being used.

-- Sean 'DIddy" Combs spoke earlier this month at Philadelphia's Benjamin Franklin High School. Because nothing says education like a rapper!

-- Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad says his country is peaceful and does not need a bomb. Yes, they prefer to kill the old-fashioned way, with outmoded ideas and repressive religion.

-- Scientists in San Diego have successfully produced the world's first hypoallergenic cat. Just in time for the 25th anniversary of AIDS.

-- The U.N. anti-torture chief says torture in Iraq may be worse now than it was under Saddam Hussein. You know what's torture? Listening to guys from the U.N. sit in their big offices whining about how bad America is.

-- Citizens for Ethics and Responsibility in Washington (CREW) has issued its list of the 20 most corrupt members of Congress. There were 25 on the original list, but--you know, bribes.

September 25, 2006


So I went to the game in Cleveland...maybe you heard...the good guys only scored 14, and the season isn't looking too good. But enough about the Indians. Almost....

Putting up double digits against Ozzie Guillen and officially eliminating his World Champion White Sox from playoff contention tonight was sweet. A few fans gave Ozzie the old "choke" gesture when he finally came out to rescue Jon Garland from the Indians' onslaught. The 2005 incident which Guillen later excused as "a joke", angered Cleveland fans all the more because it was so true. Still, it's got to be one of the most classless and rude stunts ever by an opposing manager, at least in my memory.

So when Casey Blake turned a rout into a massacre with the Indians' major league record-tying 14th grand slam of the season, and ended the White Sox hopes, I could summon nothing for Ozzie but sweet schadenfreude.

But this was my all-sports weekend, so I also got to see that other disappointing, under-achieving hometown bunch that scored only 14 in their latest appearance in Cleveland. This was the middle game of my weekend trifecta, and the ony bad result. Yes, the Browns competed. They were less embarrassing than they have been in the fiirst two games. But...there are no moral victories. Close doesn't get it.

Two points to make on the Browns. Kellen Winslow took lots of grief this past week for complaining about not being on the field in certain third down situations, and telling the press that he had gone to the coaches about it. Maybe he put the coaching staff in a no-win situation, (and he had a silly taunting penalty after a catch on Sunday) but I'd still love to have about 21 other players on this team with Winslow's attitude and intensity on the field.

And second, I am becoming ever more convinced that the Browns and their fans are still being worked over by NFL officials as ongoing punishment for the Jacksonville bottle-throwing game of 2001. It seems like every spot, every close call, every replay judgment, every benefit of the doubt goes the other way. As but one of many examples, Charlie Frye was taking vicious shots yesterday, being slammed around and bounced on his head in a way that routinely results in a 15-yard penalty for the offender. The league office is bending over backwards to protect NFL quarterbacks, unless he has an orange helmet, I guess.

The aforementioned penalty on Winslow is another example. There was no taunting gesture by Winslow. Yes, he was saying something to the Raven defender when he got up, but when don't you see these guys jawing at each other after the play? For the Browns, doing eternal penance for one itsy-bitsy little riot, it was unsportsmanlike conduct. It doesn't happen as much when we're on the road, for whatever reason. I think they just love to stick it to the Cleveland fans.

Hey, they say just because you're paranoid, doesn't mean they're not out to get you.

As it happened, this weekend was also the annual Columbus trip with "the boys". We leave in an RV after work on Friday for the two hour trip, and take on the downtown Arena District on Friday night. None of us have tickets for the Penn State game on Saturday, but I'm on a mission to get one that morning, and I end up sitting way up in the North endzone a couple rows down from God, with a ticket scalped for just slightly over face value. Success... unmitigated by a soaking first half rain.

Not a lot to say about the No. 1 Buckeyes' 28-6 win over the Lions, except that the young defense that was supposed to be the Achilles heel of the team is coming around in a hurry. They're in the Top 10 nationally in scoring defense (8.0 ppg). The defensive line is brilliant and deep, and the young linebackers, led by James Laurinaitis, are overachieving. And if there is a cornerback in college football playing better than OSU sophomore Malcolm Jenkins, let's just give him the Thorpe Award right now.

No Apologies

If this seems a little NROver the top, so be it, but there's so much link-worthy stuff over there today, let me combine a few into one post:

Byron York revisited Richard Clarke's book after Bill Clinton constantly cited it in his own defense in his hyper-defensive Fox News interview, and says maybe Bill shouldn't count on Clarke's account to challenge the perception that he lacked the will to fight Islamist terror.

Clarke’s book does not, in fact, support Clinton’s claim. Judging by Clarke’s sympathetic account — as well as by the sympathetic accounts of other former Clinton aides like Daniel Benjamin and Steven Simon — it’s not quite accurate to say that Clinton tried to kill bin Laden. Rather, he tried to convince — as opposed to, say, order — U.S. military and intelligence agencies to kill bin Laden. And when, on a number of occasions, those agencies refused to act, Clinton, the commander-in-chief, gave up.

Clinton did not give up in the sense of an executive who gives an order and then moves on to other things, thinking the order is being carried out when in fact it is being ignored. Instead, Clinton knew at the time that his top military and intelligence officials were dragging their feet on going after bin Laden and al Qaeda. He gave up rather than use his authority to force them into action.

Victor Davis Hanson says the Islamists have earned the "f-word"

Make no apologies for the use of “Islamic fascism.” It is the perfect nomenclature for the agenda of radical Islam, for a variety of historical and scholarly reasons. That such usage also causes extreme embarrassment to both the Islamists themselves and their leftist “anti-fascist” appeasers in the West is just too bad.

First, the general idea of “fascism” — the creation of a centralized authoritarian state to enforce blanket obedience to a reactionary, all-encompassing ideology — fits well the aims of contemporary Islamism that openly demands implementation of sharia law and the return to a Pan-Islamic and theocratic caliphate.

In addition, Islamists, as is true of all fascists, privilege their own particular creed of true believers by harkening back to a lost, pristine past, in which the devout were once uncorrupted by modernism.

Jay Nordlinger interviews Donald Rumsfeld:

I mention the simple fact that a lot of people think we’re losing in Iraq — including people who wish us well.

Rumsfeld: “Yeah, the people who are there don’t. Our military people don’t feel we’re losing. The people we’re up against don’t feel we’re losing. And they feel they’re having troubles. They’re getting a lot of people killed.” They are also worried about the “adverse reaction” to the killing of many Muslims by Muslims. Look, says Rumsfeld: “If the measure of success or failure depends on how many Muslims they can kill, they can kill a lot of them. It doesn’t take a genius to kill people, and they can do that. But when you read what they’re writing and what they’re saying to each other, they don’t feel they’re winning.”

And finally, Bill Crawford has another in a series of Good News From Iraq articles. You just might not see this stuff anywhere else, and it helps counter some of the media drumbeat of doom and gloom.

September 24, 2006

Krauthammer's Law

"Everyone is Jewish until proven otherwise". He allows that there are some exceptions. Go read.

September 21, 2006

The Real Thing

Some people aren't happy with the name the manufacturers have chosen for this new energy drink. For the record, it is to be taken orally.

The Freedom Fighter

Something Mike Wallce or Brian Williams or Anderson Cooper might have asked President Ahmadinejad instead of softballs about his sports jacket:

"Uh, Mr. President....it's about the stoning of women, sir...what's up with that?

By Nat Hentoff in the Village Voice (via Dr. Sanity)

Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the president of Iran, has become an international celebrity, brandishing his nuclear program—and his yearning to wipe Israel off the face of the earth. He is visited by such personages as U.N. secretary-general Kofi Annan and Mike Wallace of 60 Minutes. In their conversations with him, neither has asked the swashbuckling leader about "honor killings" by the government of women charged with having committed "adultery."

As human rights lawyer Lily Mazahery, president of the Legal Rights Institute reports, "in 99 percent of these cases, the accused women have received no legal representation because, under the Shariah legal system, their testimony is at best worth only half the value of the testimony of men."

And there is no single executioner. These are mass murders by stone-throwing members of the community, having the kind of festive time common among American mass lynchers of blacks, when the murderers brought their children to join in the fun. In Iran too, kids are present to witness the sinners' redemption.

The capital crime of adultery, Mazahery has explained to World Net Daily, "includes [under Shariah law] any type of intimate relationship between a girl/woman and a man to whom she is not permanently or temporarily married. Such a relationship does not necessarily mean a sexual relationship.

"Further, charges of adultery are routinely issued to women/girls who have been raped—and they are sentenced to death." (Their unpardonable crime is to have been raped.)


Count On It

You don't need a crystal ball to know that your taxes will go up significantly if Democrats take control of Congress this November. Just ask them. (via K-Lo in The Corner)

UPDATE 9/21: On Thursday President Bush goes on the offensive with the same message.

September 20, 2006

HH on Ahmadinejad Speech

Hugh Hewitt

When the fanatical president of a strong and ambitious for nuclear weapons country appears at the United Nations, that's news. When that president has repeatedly threatened Israel with destruction, denied the Holocaust's existence, and sent long rambling letters to the leaders of the U.S., France, and Germany, people will want to know what he says and what it means.

When he delievers a radical address that --in soft tones, yes, but urgent ones-- declares the U.N. to be illegitimate, the war against Israel by Hezbollah to be a creation of the U.S., goes out of his way to alert Christians that Jesus was just a prophet, and then closes with an apocalypse-welcoming appeal to God, that's not just news, it is very crucial news, news that underscores many important facts for the West and the U.S., chief among them that "diplomacy" leading to a "better deal" isn't on this radical's mind. He wants his nukes. He wants the apocalypse.

And the appeasement press does not convey this; doesn't even bother to report the closing appeal to the Almighty....

...Why such negligence by the appeasement press? A lot of reasons.

Because the appeasement press favors the party of appeasement, and stories that depart from the agenda journalism that wholly favors the Democratic Party platform of retreat from Iraq and the Democratic Party ideology that believes all evil in the world is either the fault of the U.S. or can be bargained away will not get much ink, if any.

Because it is lazy and incurious about such things as long speeches that have to be listened to in translation, and even when listened to, not to the end, and even when listened to to the end, not comprehended because most of the appeasement press don't read widely or deeply.

Because the appeasement press is bigoted and at best agnostic, and don't believe the religious beliefs of an odd-looking fellow from a mullah-run state can pose any sort of real threat to the West. Israel, maybe, but hey, they've got it coming to them, right? If the Jews had given the Palestinians their land back a couple of decades ago, we'd all be past this, right?

See also Lileks today.

September 19, 2006

Repackaged In Condensed Form

And you thought the EU Constitution was dead. From Brussels Journal:

After French and Dutch voters rejected the EU Constitution in 2005, most nation’s expected the majority ‘No’ vote to mark the end of a shared EU constitution. This appears not to be case. A slimmed down version of the treaty is being created by national parliaments across Europe – by old and new members – in a recovery attempt to initiate a brief and condensed version of the rejected constitution. Potential future prime ministers and presidents are so confident of the new repackaged “mini treaty” that they have begun to sell it to electorates, often without any signs of research or prior interest in EU accession or enlargement.

September 18, 2006

In The House

Michael Medved had an opportunity to meet with President Bush on Friday, along with a few other conservative talk show hosts. Like so many other people who meet Bush in person, he was knocked out by the man. But the big scoop is that Bush really does know how to pronounce the word "nuclear." Is it possible he's been faking that all these years? I'll believe it when I hear it for myself.

The Armitage Award

Jed Babbin:

Greater self-love hath no man than to sacrifice a friend's life for his own. Our grateful nation awards the Medal of Honor to those few whose valor in combat is above and beyond the call of duty. But what is the polar opposite of the Medal? It is essential we decide, because Richard Armitage -- former Deputy Secretary of State -- has earned it for his uncommon treachery, beneath and beyond the call of knavery....

...It was an act of supreme disloyalty for Armitage to keep the fact that he was Novak's source from the president -- and thus the public -- for three years. The same goes for Powell. There was no reason whatever -- other than the desire to do political damage to the administration -- for Armitage and Powell to remain silent while the 527 Media and the Dems fired a three-year long barrage of political fire at the President, the Vice President, Karl Rove and Scooter Libby. We expect the Dems and the political-activist media to do this. But we don't expect the craven, cowardly conduct of Armitage and Powell.

Close To Home

The Hatemongers Quarterly goes "Against the Grain". It's hard for me to find much to disagree with here.

"effete huggy-weepy blather"

Mark Steyn is put off by the tone of the 9/11 remembrances last week:

The proper tone for 9/11 commemorations is to be sad about all the dead -- "the lost" -- but in a very generalized soft-focus way. Not a lot of specifics about the lost, and certainly not too many quotes from those final phone calls from the passengers to their families, like Peter Hanson's last words before Flight 175 hit the World Trade Center: "Don't worry, Dad. If it happens, it will be very fast." That might risk getting readers worked up, especially if they see the flight manifest:

"Peter Hanson, Massachusetts

"Susan Hanson, Massachusetts

"Christine Hanson, 2, Massachusetts"

No, best to stick to a limpidly fey, tastefully mopey, enervatedly passive prose style that suggests nothing very much can be done about the incomprehensible lost. This tasteful passivity is the default mode of the age: Five years ago it was striking, even in the immediate aftermath, how many radio and TV trailers for blood drives and other relief efforts could only bring themselves over the soupy music track to refer vaguely to "the tragic events," as if any formulation more robust might prove controversial.

Passivity is far slyer and more lethal than rabid Bush hatred. Say what you like about the left-wing kooks but they can still get a good hate on. Sure, they hate Bush and Cheney and Rummy and Halliburton and Fox News and Rush Limbaugh rather than Saddam and the jihadists, but at least they can still muster primal emotions.

September 17, 2006

How Bad?

Stephen Hayes, with about 5000 words on evidence the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence ignored in coming to their conclusions and compiling their report: "How Bad Is The Senate Intelligence Report? "

Saddam Hussein and Tariq Aziz both said in their post-arrest debriefings that Iraq hadn't supported Islamic terror. That was apparently good enough for the Committee.


UPDATE 9/18: As far as I know, Christopher Hitchens was the first journalist to report that it was Wissam al-Zahawie, the former head of Iraq's pre-1991 nuclear weapons program, who was the Saddam regime's envoy to Niger in 1998. Hitchens reprises some of that reporting this week for The Weekly Standard, adding this evidence to the long list of items ignored or glossed over by the SSCI in their recent report.

On Demanding Apologies

Having both Victor Davis Hanson and Claudia Rosett blogging now, via PJM, is a treat. Here they are on the furor over the Pope's remarks:


We learned the now familiar rage with the Danish cartoons, Theo Van Gogh, the false flushed Koran story, the forced change of “Operation Infinite Justice” to “Enduring Freedom”, the constant charges of “Islamaphobia”, and a horde of other false grievances that so shook the West, traumatized in fear of having its skyscrapers, planes, trains, buses, nightclubs, and synagogues blown apart or its oil cut off.

So, yes, we know the asymmetrical rules: a state run-paper in Cairo or the West Bank, a lunatic Iranian mullah, a grand mufti from this or that mosque, can all rail about infidels, “pigs and apes”, in language reminiscent of the Third Reich—and meet with approval in the Middle East and silence in the West. But for a Westerner, a Tony Blair, George Bush, or Pope Benedict to even hint that something has gone terribly wrong with modern Islam, is to endure immediate furor and worse. In short, no modern ideology, no religious sect of the present age demands so much of others, so little of itself.

Claudia Rosett:

It’s a good rule of thumb that there is no one more easily offended than your average despot and surrounding acolytes. Tyranny by nature requires grand fictions, and when anyone dares point out that the emperor has no clothes, or the emperor is living it up while dressing his minions in suicide belts, or the emperor is murdering his own subjects and honing technologies and methods to blackmail, subjugate or kill anyone else in reach, then the emperor and his cohorts take huge offense. If you happen to live under their sway, they chuck you in prison. If you are outside the immediate reach of their secret police and terror squads, they do what they can to maneuver the debate onto their terms. They — who apologize for nothing — demand apologies.

September 16, 2006

On B16

Muslim reaction to the Pope's remarks has grabbed most of the headlines, but the analysis and opinion from mainstream media organs on both sides of the pond helps clarify Benedict's message. Some excerpts...


His discourse Tuesday sought to delineate what he sees as a fundamental difference between Christianity’s view that God is intrinsically linked to reason (the Greek concept of logos) and Islam´s view that “God is absolutely transcendent.” Benedict said that Islam teaches that God’s “will is not bound up with any of our categories, even that of rationality.” The risk he sees implicit in this concept of the divine is that the irrationality of violence can potentially be justified if someone believes it is God’s will. “As far as understanding of God and thus the concrete practice of religion is concerned, we find ourselves faced with a dilemma which nowadays challenges us directly. Is the conviction that acting unreasonably contradicts God’s nature merely a Greek idea, or is it always and intrinsically true?”

This is indeed Benedict doing it on his own terms. Rather than tackling the challenge of fundamentalist terrorism with a pithy remark packaged for the 9/11 anniversary or reaching for a John Paul-inspired sweeping gesture, the professor Pope went digging into his books. He went so far as to quote a 14th century Byzantine emperor´s hostile view of Islam’s founder. “The emperor comes to speak about the issue of jihad, holy war,” the Pope said. “He said, I quote, ‘Show me just what Muhammad brought that was new, and there you will find things only evil and inhuman, such as his command to spread by the sword the faith he preached.’” Benedict added “I quote” twice to make it clear these were someone else’s words. Nevertheless this reference was undoubtedly the most provocative moment of a provocative lecture. In a sense, explicitly including the Muslim prophet by name, and citing the concept of jihad, was a flashing neon signal to the world that the soft-spoken Pope intends to make himself heard clearly on this defining tension of our times....

....taken together with this commitment to dialogue, the Pope's lecture in Regensburg seems to be saying: Yes, we must indeed talk, but now is the time for hard questions—not hugs and handshakes. The upside to Benedict's approach is that a brilliant theologian-Pope may help sharpen the terms of the debate. The downside is that he risks not connecting with the masses—or worse, being misinterpreted and manipulated by both his own followers, and those of other faiths. As a worldwide preacher—and no longer just an ivory-tower intellectual or Vatican bureaucrat—Benedict must still further synthesize his message. He may get no better stage than on his next scheduled foreign voyage. In late November, the leader of the world's one billion Catholics is scheduled to land in Turkey, home to 70 million Muslims.


The Times Online had the part of the speech you probably didn't hear about...his concluding criticism of western secularists:

....it would be wrong to censor a pope who has pondered the future of faith and reserves disdain for rationalists whom he confronts in his conclusion: “In the Western world it is widely held that only positivistic reason and the forms of philosophy based on it are universally valid. Yet the world’s profoundly religious cultures see this exclusion of the divine as an attack on their most profound convictions. A reason which is deaf to the divine and which relegates religion to the realm of subcultures is incapable of entering into the dialogue of cultures.”

...and from The Daily Telegraph...

The very fact that the Pope cited the adjectives "evil and inhuman" was taken as evidence that he agreed with them. As a British Muslim youth organisation, the Ramadhan Foundation, said crossly, "If the Pope wanted to attack Islam… he could have been brave enough to say it personally without quoting a 14th century Byzantine emperor." In fact, the Pope was out to attack something very different – the contemporary, secular idea that faith is simply a matter of personal opinion. If he's having a go at anything, it's not Islam, it's the patronising notion that you get, say, in David Hare's play Galileo, playing to rave reviews at the National Theatre, that religion is incompatible with independent thought.

And indeed, with conspicuous exceptions, the reaction from the Islamic world hasn't been what you might call measured. Admittedly, it was easy to take the Pope's remarks out of context, given that it takes a bit of effort to track down his address in full, or indeed to understand it. But not impossible – yet hardly anyone seems to have made the effort. The row has yet to escalate to the level of the Danish cartoon controversy, but it's not looking good....

...The irony of this row is that it is the opposite of what the Pope was trying to achieve. Benedict ended his speech by hoping for a new dialogue between the sciences, religions and cultures "which is so urgently needed today". It looks, from this miserable episode, as if you can only have a conversation that deals – however remotely – with Islam on Muslim terms. Not much of a dialogue, then.

(via RCP)

UPDATE 9/17: Joshua Trevino's excellent post at Brussels Journal says the Pope might have tried a different historical illustration:

The Pope referred to a Byzantine Emperor, one suspects, purposefully. He may have wished to remind the Turks whom he is due to visit in November that Constantinople is a glorious prize wrested – by jihad, no less – from a predecessor more sublime than the Sublime Porte ever was. Or he may have wished to recall the extinguishing of the Eastern Empire by the very phenomenon of jihad that he condemned. (Since that breaching of the Constantinoplitan walls in 1453, only the Papacy itself remains as a lineal descendant of Imperial Rome’s great offices.) Whatever his reason, he could easily have recalled other episodes from its history that might have illustrated his point as well.

There’s an illuminating historical incident from the tenth century that deserves wider dissemination, and that the Pope might have used in lieu of Manuel II Paleologue’s quote. That Emperor was the last to enjoy a full reign in a free Empire; but nearly four hundred years before, the Empire was enjoying a resurgence. Manuel II Paleologue ruled barely more than Constantinople itself – but Nikephoros II Fokas ruled from Italy to the Caucasus, and from Bulgaria to Syria. He was a longtime foe of the Muslim Caliphate, and he observed that a signal advantage of the Muslims was their jihad doctrine. The Orthodox Church then – as now – regarded war as a regrettable necessity, with emphasis on the regrettable part, and soldiers returning from war would be made to perform some manner of penance before again receiving communion. By contrast, Nikephoros II Fokas observed that the Muslims who went to war were directly fulfilling the commandments of their faith, and were accordingly more motivated, violent, and relentless. The Emperor decided that the Christians needed a similar spiritual edge, and so he asked the Patriarch Polyeuktos in Constantinople to declare that any Christian who fell in battle was automatically a martyr. In effect, he requested a Christian version of jihad. The Patriarch and the entire Church hierarchy, so often in that era mere tools of Imperial policy, refused. The Emperor was forced to back down, and within a few short centuries, the Empire was overrun by the Muslims.

September 15, 2006

RIP, Oriana Fallaci

In Memoriam - PJM

UPDATE 9/17: Profile of Oriana Falacci - The New Yorker - June, 2006

September 14, 2006

"A Bender of Indignation"

Democrats are not opposed to doing the bidding of fat cat special interest bigwigs, as long as they are contributing to the proper party. In return for labor union money, liberal politicians are more than willing to try to legislate harm to Wal-Mart. All Wal-Mart does is save lower income Americans some $200 billion a year through low prices on good and services those people freely choose to purchase from the Bentonville Behemoth.

Did I mention that Wal-Mart is also the nations largest private employer of unskilled and entry-level workers? Don't Democrats claim to represent the interests of these "little guys"? Polls show that 84% of Americans say they purchased something at Wal-Mart at some point during the past year. Democrats think bad-mouthing the company is a political winner for them. Thank God for Howard Dean and rest of the deep thinkers at the DNC.

I've noticed that leftists' antipathy for the corporation itself seems to be exceeded only by their contempt for the people who shop there. Damn those people for being so unenlightened. If only they knew what's good for them. George Will calls the Democratic attack on Wal-Mart "Liberalism as Condescension": (ellipsis mine)

Liberals think their campaign against Wal-Mart is a way of introducing the subject of class into America's political argument, and they are more correct than they understand. Their campaign is liberalism as condescension. It is a philosophic repugnance toward markets because consumer sovereignty results in the masses making messes. Liberals, aghast, see the choices Americans make with their dollars and their ballots, and announce -- yes, announce -- that Americans are sorely in need of more supervision by.... liberals.

Before they went on their bender of indignation about Wal-Mart (customers per week: 127 million), liberals had drummed McDonald's (customers per week: 175 million) out of civilized society because it is making us fat, or something. So, what next? Which preferences of ordinary Americans will liberals, in their role as national scolds, next disapprove? Baseball, hot dogs, apple pie and Chevrolet?...

...When liberals' presidential nominees consistently fail to carry Kansas, liberals do not rush to read a book titled "What's the Matter With Liberals' Nominees?'' No, the book they turned into a best-seller is titled "What's the Matter With Kansas?'' Notice a pattern here?

September 12, 2006

Flyin' High


Tony Gonzalez of the top-ranked Ohio State Buckeyes

Solidarity Against Bin Ladenism

In case you missed it yesterday, be sure to read Christopher Hitchens on the anniversary of 9/11.

The time for commemoration lies very far in the future. War memorials are erected when the war is won. At the moment, anyone who insists on the primacy of September 11, 2001, is very likely to be accused--not just overseas but in this country also--of making or at least of implying a "partisan" point. I debate with the "antiwar" types almost every day, either in print or on the air or on the podium, and I can tell you that they have been "war-weary" ever since the sun first set on the wreckage of the World Trade Center and the Pentagon and on the noble debris of United Airlines 93. These clever critics are waiting, some of them gleefully, for the moment that is not far off: the moment when the number of American casualties in Afghanistan and Iraq will match or exceed the number of civilians of all nationalities who were slaughtered five years ago today. But to the bored, cynical neutrals, it also comes naturally to say that it is "the war" that has taken, and is taking, the lives of tens of thousands of other civilians. In other words, homicidal nihilism is produced only by the resistance to it! If these hacks were honest, and conceded the simple truth that it is the forces of the Taliban and of al Qaeda in Mesopotamia that are conducting a Saturnalia of murder and destruction, they would have to hide their faces and admit that they were not "antiwar" at all.

Bayefsky - Enough

Anne Bayefsky - New York Sun - Enough of the U.N.

Just last Friday the U.N. gave the world its answer to 9/11. The General Assembly adopted its first-ever "Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy." The title is grand. The substance was not: it called for the implemention of a General Assembly resolution from 1991, which draws a distinction between terrorism and the "legitimacy of the struggle of national liberation movements." The document was also telling for what it omitted: a definition of terrorism, a reference to state sponsorship of terrorism and a call to sanction states that harbor and assist terrorists. Worst of all it began, not with defeat of terrorists, but with "measures to address conditions conducive to the spread of terrorism, which it describes as "prevent[ing] the defamation of religions, religious values, beliefs and cultures," "eradicate[ing] poverty" and reducing youth unemployment.

What does such a strategy do for winning the war? It throws sand in the eyes of the troops on the front lines and renders the goalposts a mirage.

The previous post-9/11 record was just as bad. Shortly after 9/11 the U.N. created a new body to take the lead on responding to terrorist threats — the Security Council's Counter-Terrorism Committee. To this day, the CTC has never named a single terrorist, terrorist organization, or state sponsor of terrorism. What does such a record do for the war effort? It leaves the stewardship of the war against terrorism in the hands of an agent that cannot define it...

...Last weekend U.N. Secretary General, Kofi Annan, decided to go to Iran and shake hands with President Ahmadinejad. The message Annan delivered, in his own words, was that "The international community should not isolate Iran." Mr. Ahmadinejad has embraced genocide, called for the eradication of a U.N. member state, denied the truth of the Holocaust even though its ashes form the cornerstone of U.N. itself, and broken his treaty obligations to end the pursuit of nuclear weapons.Yet the Secretary-General still believes the President of Iran does not deserve isolation. What does such a message do for winning the war? It tells us to appease, apologize, and run away.

What Connection?

The Senate Intelligence Committee has released a report that the media is trumpeting as yet more proof that there was no link between Saddam and al Qaeda. Thomas Joscelyn shows how easy it is to come to that conclusion. You just don't bother considering any of the evidence that contradicts your pre-established conclusion:

The testimony of another former senior Iraqi official is more starkly disturbing. One of Saddam's senior intelligence operatives, Faruq Hijazi, was questioned about his contacts with bin Laden and al Qaeda. There is a substantial body of reporting on Hijazi's ties to al Qaeda throughout the 1990s.

Hijazi admitted to meeting bin Laden once in 1995, but claimed that "this was his sole meeting with bin Ladin or a member of al Qaeda and he is not aware of any other individual following up on the initial contact."

This is not true. Hijazi's best known contact with bin Laden came in December 1998, days after the Clinton administration's Operation Desert Fox concluded. We know the meeting happened because the worldwide media reported it. The meeting took place on December 21, 1998. And just days later, Osama bin Laden warned, "The British and the American people loudly declared their support for their leaders decision to attack Iraq. It is the duty of Muslims to confront, fight, and kill them."

Reports of the alliance became so prevalent that in February 1998 Richard Clarke worried in an email to Sandy Berger, President Clinton's National Security adviser, that if bin Laden were flushed from Afghanistan he would probably just "boogie to Baghdad." Today, Clarke has made a habit of denying that Iraq and al Qaeda were at all connected.

There is a voluminous body of evidence surrounding this December 1998 meeting between Hijazi and bin Laden--yet there is not a single mention of it in the committee's report. THE WEEKLY STANDARD asked the staffers "Why not?" They replied that there was no evidence of the meeting in the intelligence or documents they reviewed.

That's hard to believe. Newspapers such as Milan's Corriere Della Sera and London's Guardian, and the New York Post reported on it. Michael Scheuer, who was the first head of the bin Laden unit from 1996 to 1999, approvingly cited several of these accounts (before his own flip-flop on the issue) in his 2002 book, Through Our Enemies Eyes. Scheuer wrote that Saddam made Hijazi responsible for "nurturing Iraq's ties to [Islamic] fundamentalist warriors," including al Qaeda.

All of this obviously contradicts Hijazi's debriefing; none of it is cited in the committee's report.

There's a good bit more in the article, but from what I can determine, it seems that there was no relationship between Saddam's Iraq and al Qaeda except for the numerous coordinating meetings that took place all through the 90's between IIS agents and al Qaeda operatives, including with bin Laden himself.... plus the training camps for al Qaeda terrorists that Saddam set up in Iraq, which included aircraft fuselages for hijacker training...plus the Iraqi technical leadership and other involvement with the chemical weapons plants in the Sudan which were run for al Qaeda's purposes...plus the safe haven for Islamist terrorists in Baghdad...plus the financial, logistical and rhetorical support for Islamist terror supplied by Saddam for many years...plus the existence in Iraq of an al Qaeda cell as early as 2001...plus the many and varied other connections cited for the past three years in the reporting of Mr. Joscelyn and Stephen Hayes, (organized here for your convenience.)

UPDATE 9/14: An assistant Iraqi Prime Minister testified yesterday to links between Saddam's Iraq and the al Qaeda organization.

September 11, 2006

Numbskulls and Lunatics

James Robbins stood in his Washington D.C. office on 9/11/01, and watched a commercial jet aircraft slam into the Pentagon from his sixth floor window. He is just one of several dozen confirmed eyewitnesses. So he is understandably put out that some French clown has a bestselling book out claiming it didn't happen.

...he is so evidently at war with reality that one is tempted not to waste time with him. His ideas are obviously foolish, easily disproved, an affront to any reasoning person. It would be easy to ignore him. But that would be a mistake. This is another front in what President Bush called "the war to save civilization itself." The history of the 20th century should show that no idea is so absurd that it cannot take destructive hold and play havoc with societies, even to the point of sanctioning mass murder. Allowing the extremists to go unchallenged only encourages them. People like Lenin, Hitler, Pol Pot and other millennial criminals were just like Meyssan at one point in their careers. If they had been opposed more vigorously sooner, perhaps they never would have attained power. When such ideas are allowed to stand, they take root among the impressionable or those predisposed to think the worst. And especially now that communications technology has made it possible to give global reach to the bizarre and archive it forever, it is essential for men and women of reason resolutely to counter the delusions of the fringe element.

I was there. I saw it. That is my entire rebuttal.

And speaking of numbskulls, check out the certifiable Dylan Avery, of "Loose Change" fame, on the radio with a like-minded idiot, mocking the dead passengers and crew for having succumbed to hijackers with mere boxcutters for weapons....(or at least that's what the government said happened.) Indeed it's unclear whether they wish to contend that the story of hijackers with boxcutters is bogus, or simply to make fun of the dead people for the sin of excessive wimpiness.

These courageous studs, by contrast, say they "would have laughed in their faces." Yes, Dylan, but only if the hijackers had been able to find you cowering on the floor in the galley. One wonders about the psyche underlying the publicity-seeking and false bravado by these guys. Sounds like a little dick thing to me.

They make a huge deal of the boxcutter issue as their way of somehow (I give up) discrediting the official story of the hijackings. Is it so hard to imagine that four or five grown men could grab one or two unarmed female flight attendants from behind and slash their throats with Exacto knives, and then go do the same to a pilot and co-pilot?

Then they mock Rumsfeld for having said in early reports that the hijackers may have used "plastic knives" as weapons. Is Dylan Avery so ignorant that he has never seen, nor can imagine an Exacto knife in a plastic casing (with the same metal blades as the original)? I see them all the time. Is it too difficult for Einstein Avery to figure out that these plastic casings may have been precisely the way the hijackers were able to avoid detection at the airport? This is conspiracy theory by Beavis and Butthead.

Watch and listen to lots of YouTube video courtesy of Allah at Hot Air. It contains point-by-point refutation of the lame points made by Avery and his sidekicks, pictures of Pentagon crash bodies, aircraft debris, etc. If Avery's debate with the editors of Popular Mechanics (also on video at the Hot Air link) had been a fight, they would have stopped it. So go watch it, and pass it along.

Yes, it's silly. But Robbins is right. As long as polls say lots of people are buying into this nonsense, we have to combat it with reality at every turn. More Robbins:

...notions like this are kept alive by people who have a predisposition to believe them, those who have pre-existing grudges and will engage in whatever reality-denying behavior justifies their baseline prejudices.

(I think all this started at Ace)

UPDATE 9/12: The Editor of Popular Mechanics responds to the conspiracy loonies:

On Feb. 7, 2005, I became a member of the Bush/Halliburton/Zionist/CIA/New World Order/Illuminati conspiracy for world domination. That day, Popular Mechanics, the magazine I edit, hit newsstands with a story debunking 9/11 conspiracy theories. Within hours, the online community of 9/11 conspiracy buffs - which calls itself the "9/11 Truth Movement" - was aflame with wild fantasies about me, my staff and the article we had published. Conspiracy Web sites labeled Popular Mechanics a "CIA front organization" and compared us to Nazis and war criminals.

For a 104-year-old magazine about science, technology, home improvement and car maintenance, this was pretty extreme stuff. What had we done to provoke such outrage?


"It Just Wasn't His Thing"

NRO revisits a 2001 article by Byron York on the Clinton administration's response to terrorism. Perhaps foremost among the things it is useful to remember about the Clinton approach to terrorism is that he seemed to be most concerned about what the post-attack opinion polls had to say about him. It follows that the Clintonista whining about the ABC miniseries "The Path to 9/11" centers around concerns about how the American people, in their rearview mirror, view him. In other words, legacy-obsession in the place of serious reflection on how we perceive and deal with the threat we still face as a country and as a civilization.


Dr. Sanity posts here, here, and here.

The Olsons

Michael Ledeen on his friend Barbara Olson, who died on 9/11/01:

I have plenty of time to listen to constructive criticism of our war strategy; I have done plenty of it myself. I crave revenge, as do most Americans. But I have no time for the fools and fabricators who invert reality, who warn that the greatest threat to a decent world is a bloodthirsty America that is actively planning an invasion of Iran, when the truth is that this administration is so feckless that it will not even support the millions of freedom fighters already there.

Most of the fools and fabricators are Lefties, but there are plenty on the Right, and the Republican Party has an abundance of them. Indeed, some of them sit at the right hand of the president. Karen Hughes, one of W’s closest friends and advisers, permitted herself this bit of politically correct appeasement-speak last December 19th, apologizing to our enemies on al Jazeera:

“The U.S. acknowledged [after] the events of September 11 that our policies might have created feelings of frustration and hatred, [causing those individuals] to board those airplanes, [fly them into the twin towers], and kill people. We want to change these circumstances, and this is what we are doing today…”

Barbara would have no time for any of the Bidens, Hagels, Lugars, Deans, Kennedys and Murthas who tell us we are wrong to be angry, wrong to seek the destruction of our enemies, wrong to advance freedom, wrong to defend our borders, wrong to use every technological miracle to discover and divine our enemies’ intentions, wrong to lock away captured killers.

Lucianne Goldberg on Barbara Olson; 9/13/01

Ted Olson, Barbara's husband, and at the time the Solicitor General of the United States, gave this speech, the first Barbara K. Olson Memorial Lecture to the Federalist Society, in November, 2001. Here's a taste: (ellipsis mine)

On September 11, 2001, Barbara Olson and thousands of other Americans were murdered.

There were victims from other nations that day as well, but they were accidental casualties. Barbara and her fellow Americans were the targets; selected at random to be slaughtered that day precisely because they were Americans.

And the places of their deaths were carefully chosen for what they meant to America, and to the world about Americans, and because they were unique symbols of America's vitality, prosperity and strength...

...Barbara Olson had less time, and maybe not as many resources, as the heroes on United Flight 93 that was brought down in Pennsylvania short of its target. But the moment her flight was hijacked, she began to try to save herself and her fellow passengers. She somehow managed (I think she was the only one on that flight to do so) to use a telephone in the airplane to call, not only for help from the outside, but for guidance for herself and the flight crew in the battle that she was already undertaking in her mind. She learned during those two telephone conversations that two passenger jumbo jets had already that morning been turned into instruments of mass murder at the World Trade Center. So she knew the unspeakable horror that she was facing -- and I know without the slightest doubt that she died fighting -- with her body, her brain and her heart -- and not for a moment entertaining the notion that she would not prevail. Barbara died therefore not only because she was an American, but as one more American who refused to surrender to the monstrous evil into whose eyes she and her fellow countrymen stared during those last hideous moments.


September 10, 2006

Suspending Disbelief

Since I just posted about this the other day, I was tempted to use some disclaimer here about possibly overdoing the story about allegations of organ harvesting and murder by the Chinese government. But the point of the post is that if the allegations are true, then there can be no overdoing it.

Blogger Makina, who has been a regular source of information on this story, linked in a comment at another post on Sujiatun, to the text of a recent talk by Stephen Gregory, Opinion Editor of Epoch Times, to a group in St. Louis. The speech is helpful, I think, to anyone just coming to hear about the matter, because it confronts head-on the natural tendency not to believe the story simply because we'd rather not contemplate the horror of it.

On the lack of media and overall attention to the story, Gregory reminds us that we are talking about allegations which, if true, constitute a crime against humanity of monstrous proportions, an almost unspeakable evil. And it is human nature to doubt that which would be horrifying to know for certain. In fact Gregory quotes David Matas from the report of two independent Canadian journalists who concluded that the alleged organ harvesting was in fact going on:

The allegations here are so shocking that they are almost impossible to believe. The allegations, if true, would represent a grotesque form of evil which, despite all the depravations humanity has seen, would be new to this planet. The very horror makes us reel back in disbelief. But that disbelief does not mean that the allegations are untrue.

As Gregory puts it, "This horror inspires a certain skepticism."

But Gregory then goes on to place the allegations of this horrific evil into the context of the human rights record of the CCP over 50-plus years, their track record of persecution of any and all things religious or spiritual, and their open willingness, indeed their obsession, to destroy the Falun Gong movement by whatever means necessary.

"No measures are too excessive." Throughout China the police have told practitioners that anything can be done to them, and if the practitioners die, the death will be counted as suicide...

...The systematic nature of this persecution has provided the Chinese regime with a huge imprisoned population who potentially may be the victims of organ harvesting. The regime's propaganda has attempted to make the Falun Gong a group who are excluded from society and targeted for abuse. The regime's extra-legal persecution of the group has encouraged the most extreme measures to force practitioners to renounce the practice.

Within this context, the use of organ harvesting simply takes the logic of the persecution one step further. After all, if torturing someone to death is encouraged, then why shouldn't one harvest a practitioner's organs, and make a little profit in the bargain?

Put all of that together with a pre-existing system for harvesting organs from prisoners, for big profits, and the unthinkable starts to become more and more plausible.

Before there was the organ harvesting from living Falun Gong practitioners, China had in place a system for harvesting organs from executed prisoners. It has used executed prisoners as the primary source for transplanted organs since organ transplantation began in China.

This pre-existing system is itself something horrible. It treats prisoners as raw material to be exploited for profit. It hopelessly confounds the roles of courts and doctors. Courts are given incentives by the transplant industry to schedule executions. Doctors become de facto members of the criminal justice system. Instead of having as their only priority healing the sick, doctors become assistants in executions...

And the numbers just don't add up:

...the scale of transplantation is now far greater than under the pre-existing system. While China annually leads the world in executions, the rate of executions has not significantly increased since the persecution of Falun Gong began in 1999. However, the rate of organ harvesting has sky rocketed. A look at the official statistics for liver transplants tells the story.

From 1991 to 1998, 78 liver transplants were done in China. The persecution of Falun Gong began in July 1999, and in that year alone the number of liver transplants totaled 118—more than the total for the previous seven years. By 2003, the number of liver transplants had grown to more than 3,000.

More excerpts from the Gregory speech:

...The CCP has ruled China through terror and lies. It has been responsible for killing an estimated 80 million Chinese.

One does not kill 80 million people in a fit of absent-mindedness. Murder, often mass murder, has been CCP policy since it first took power.

The CCP kills in order to instill fear and to enforce absolute belief in its doctrines. However, no matter how much it kills, the CCP has found it needs to change its doctrines in order to assure its rule. Mao's glorification of the peasantry could never produce the wealth or the arms that could defend China from conquest. Thus, the CCP over time has continually had to refute its own ideology. A Party originally founded on the need to kill capitalists now invites capitalists to join its ranks.

The result, then, of 57 years of killing is that everyone in China fears the CCP, but no one, including especially the members of the CCP, believes in communism. The terror of the CCP finally serves only the determination to tyrannize over China, to assure the CCP's rule.

But, while no one in China believes in communism anymore, the CCP has also assured that no one believes in very much else...

... The persecution of Falun Gong is simply part of the CCP's long-standing hostility to faith of any kind. This hostility has uprooted in the Chinese people all of the sources of traditional morality. There is in China no publicly accepted belief that can restrain and give order to the passions and provide the basis for community.

Of course, the CCP's terror has inescapably taught important moral lessons to the Chinese people—negative ones. It has taught each individual to be wary, to trust no one, to place self-preservation above all, and to be insensitive to the sufferings of others.

The one positive moral injunction the CCP has urged on its citizens in the past two decades is to get rich. However, as Adam Smith understood, the human heart hardly needs to be told to be selfish. The pursuit for wealth in China occurs in a context within which there are no restrains on the desire to acquire....

... When a Chinese surgeon looks into the eyes of a living Falun Gong practitioner before slicing him open to take his kidney, this doctor is simply acting according to the same moral norms that are unfortunately all too common in today's China.

In short, the large scale organ harvesting from living Falun Gong practitioners is finally possible because of the effects on the human heart of 57 years of rule by the CCP. (ellipsis mine - DW)

September 9, 2006

Burnt Orange

Nobody I know predicted that the Ohio State Buckeyes would coast home with a relatively easy win at Texas last night.

I had figured the "Troy Smith Factor" would propel OSU to victory. Experience at quarterback in a big game like this had to be worth a touchdown, and I had told my friends (no, I did not post my prediction here) that I thought the Buckeyes would win by 6 points (I guessed at 27-21) and that the teams would combine for less than 50 points.

What I didn't count on was the Texas offense being so inept. The end result was a 24-7 road win in which even the Longhorns' lone touchdown was tainted. The roughing the passer call on Ohio State defensive end Jay Richardson was clearly bogus. That should have been a field goal instead of a touchdown, and the Longhorns never threatened again, making the second half a bit anti-climactic.

When it counted, especially on big third down plays, the Buckeyes defensive line was able to penetrate and prevent the 'Horns from keeping any drives going. The unsung hero of the game had to be OSU punter A.J. Trapasso, who averaged over 50 yards per kick and constantly backed up the Texas offense.

ESPN.com game story

99 Undiscovered Websites

Just what I need. PC Magazine's "99 Undiscovered Websites". 99 reasons to spend more time on the Internet.

Anyway, I reviewed the list quickly, and here are a half dozen that may get a return visit:

Expert Village


The Free Dictionary




September 8, 2006

Revisiting Sujiatun

Once in a while here, an older post will generate an ongoing comment thread that produces resources and updated information to go along with some interesting dialogue, and thus bears revisiting. Earlier this year, a series of entries about allegations that the Chinese government was harvesting organs from unwilling Falun Gong prisoners at a hospital complex in Sujiatun began to get some attention. One of those posts, "Report on Chinese Organ Harvesting" is where a good bit of the comment action is, and it also contains links to the previous posts and lots of good resouces on the subject.

The report mentioned was the one by independent Canadian journalists David Matas and David Kilgour, who conducted an investigation which concluded that the allegations of organ harvesting (and murder) by the Chinese government were true. Advocating for the Chinese regime in comments on all these posts is one "bobby fletcher" , and he is countered by Canadian blogger Makina, along with Jana and others.

I've got no dog in this fight other than a desire to see the truth come out, and the persecution of Falun Gong practitioners stopped, and I do find some of the interviews I've read at Epoch Times, and the reporting by Matas and Kilgour to be fairly persuasive. I think it's entirely proper for the human rights record of the Chinese government to be examined and discussed openly as the 2008 Olympics puts them at the center of world attention. And if that happens here in a comment thread at an obscure blog, that's OK too.

(Bloggers get criticized for excessive self-linking, so I try to keep that to a minimum around here...forgive this exception to my rule.)

Murder For Organs in China

Sujiatun Follow-Up

Jay Nordlinger on Sujiatun at NRO

Epoch Times Organ Harvesting Article Archive

"Failure of Imagination"

According to John Podhoretz' review of ABC's 9/11 dramatization "The Path to 9/11", Madeline Albright and Sandy Berger have good reason to object to their portrayals in the movie. Bill Clinton....not so much.

UPDATE: Here's John J. Miller's review of the miniseries, from NRO.

Crystal Morning

Evan Coyne Maloney of Brain Terminal has edited and posted a video of 9/11, shot by eyewitness David Vogler, and backed by audio of publicly released emergency radio and phone call tapes. Well worth seven minutes of your time.

UPDATE: Peggy Noonan has listened to some of those last phone messages from doomed passengers on the 9/11 airplanes.

Something terrible had happened. Life was reduced to its essentials. Time was short. People said what counted, what mattered. It has been noted that there is no record of anyone calling to say, "I never liked you," or, "You hurt my feelings." No one negotiated past grievances or said, "Vote for Smith." Amazingly --or not--there is no record of anyone damning the terrorists or saying "I hate them."

September 7, 2006

Someone Tell Europe

So it appears that Osama bin Laden and the al Qaeda organization were behind the 9/11 attacks on New York and Washington.

A new videotape aired on Aljazeera television has shown Osama bin Laden and senior Al-Qaeda members meeting with some of the men who carried out the September 11 attacks against the US in 2001.

This may come as something of a shock to the millions of Europeans and Arabs who still prefer to believe that an Israeli-American conspiracy was responsible for the attack. Still I'm afraid no amount of confessing to the crime by bin Laden is apt to change their little minds.

Better Late...

I received via email the other day an op-ed from Die Welt, the largest daily newspaper in Germany. It was written by Matthias Döpfner, CEO of the large German publisher Axel Springer AG. It is a blistering critique of Europe's lack of leadership and action in the war on Islamist terror. After reading the whole thing I noticed that it was first published in November, 2004, but it is no less cogent and interesting today than it might have been when I missed it two years ago. It is translated and reproduced in full at the link below.

Europe, Thy Name is Cowardice

Commentary by Mathias Döpfner

A few days ago Henryk M. Broder wrote in Welt am Sonntag, "Europe – your family name is appeasement." It’s a phrase you can’t get out of your head because it’s so terribly true.

Appeasement cost millions of Jews and non-Jews their lives as England and France, allies at the time, negotiated and hesitated too long before they noticed that Hitler had to be fought, not bound to agreements. Appeasement stabilized communism in the Soviet Union and East Germany in that part of Europe where inhuman, suppressive governments were glorified as the ideologically correct alternative to all other possibilities. Appeasement crippled Europe when genocide ran rampant in Kosovo and we Europeans debated and debated until the Americans came in and did our work for us. Rather than protecting democracy in the Middle East, European appeasement, camouflaged behind the fuzzy word "equidistance," now countenances suicide bombings in Israel by fundamentalist Palestinians. Appeasement generates a mentality that allows Europe to ignore 300,000 victims of Saddam’s torture and murder machinery and, motivated by the self-righteousness of the peace-movement, to issue bad grades to George Bush. A particularly grotesque form of appeasement is reacting to the escalating violence by Islamic fundamentalists in Holland and elsewhere by suggesting that we should really have a Muslim holiday in Germany.

What else has to happen before the European public and its political leadership get it? There is a sort of crusade underway, an especially perfidious crusade consisting of systematic attacks by fanatic Muslims, focused on civilians and directed against our free, open Western societies.
It is a conflict that will most likely last longer than the great military conflicts of the last century—a conflict conducted by an enemy that cannot be tamed by tolerance and accommodation but only spurred on by such gestures, which will be mistaken for signs of weakness.

Two recent American presidents had the courage needed for anti-appeasement: Reagan and Bush. Reagan ended the Cold War and Bush, supported only by the social democrat Blair acting on moral conviction, recognized the danger in the Islamic fight against democracy. His place in history will have to be evaluated after a number of years have passed.

In the meantime, Europe sits back with charismatic self-confidence in the multicultural corner instead of defending liberal society’s values and being an attractive center of power on the same playing field as the true great powers, America and China. On the contrary—we Europeans present ourselves, in contrast to the intolerant, as world champions in tolerance, which even (Germany's Interior Minister) Otto Schily justifiably criticizes. Why? Because we’re so moral? I fear it’s more because we’re so materialistic.

For his policies, Bush risks the fall of the dollar, huge amounts of additional national debt and a massive and persistent burden on the American economy—because everything is at stake.

While the alleged capitalistic robber barons in American know their priorities, we timidly defend our social welfare systems. Stay out of it! It could get expensive. We’d rather discuss the 35-hour workweek or our dental health plan coverage. Or listen to TV pastors preach about "reaching out to murderers." These days, Europe reminds me of an elderly aunt who hides her last pieces of jewelry with shaking hands when she notices a robber has broken into a neighbor’s house. Europe, thy name is cowardice.

September 5, 2006

Personal Stuff

I haven't read much by Joshua Micah Marshall over the years, but I'm glad Hugh Hewitt linked today to JMM's warm tribute to his father. The piece elicited lots of emotion in me, a little over a year after I got a similar phone call about my mother. As much as anything, it was a sense of gratitude that our kids were fortunate enough to get to know and enjoy all four of their grandparents, and vice versa. And like Marshall, I didn't tell my Dad I loved him nearly often enough.

Untold Story

Larry Kudlow is a reliable source of the good economic news that the media refuses to report. Here's some of it: (ellipsis mine)

The August jobs report should put to rest any fears that the economy is burning out. Following upwardly revised increases for June (134,000) and July (121,000), companies added 128,000 nonfarm payrolls last month. Meanwhile, the all-important but rarely mentioned household survey of people working gained by 250,000, sending the unemployment rate back to 4.7 percent from the July reading of 4.8 percent.

The cult of the bear, fussing about a housing-related recession, has once more been proven wrong...

...Long-term jobs growth has moved to an all-time high of 145 million in the household survey and 136 million in nonfarm payrolls. Both measures are rising at about 1.5 percent, the average for jobs growth dating back to 1995. As for unemployment, at 4.7 percent it is well below the 5.1 percent long-run rate.

This suggests we are near full employment and that the economy is operating close to its full potential to grow. It’s still the greatest story never told.

A good companion piece to Kudlow is David R. Henderson's TCS article which takes the New York Times to task for cherry-picking and distorting wage statistics in order to portray the labor picture as worse than it is.

Five years of steady growth, low inflation, and low unemployment in the U.S. economy have left the Democrats without much to criticize except Wal-Mart, (hey, I didn't say it made sense.) Meanwhile, Europe's economies are limping along with twice the unemployment, less than half the growth rate and looming entitlement program disasters, and the American left would like us to emulate their statist model. And as to the reality that federal tax revenues are growing while taxes are being cut, Democrats are understandably speechless.

UPDATE: More on the NYT Labor Day article, and their own special brand of hypocrisy, also from TCS. (via IP)

September 3, 2006

Fashionable Falsehood

Melanie Phillips - "The Media War on Israel"

In short, much of the most incendiary media coverage of this war seems to have been either staged or fabricated. The big question is why the western media would perpetrate such institutionalised mendacity. Many ancillary reasons come to mind. There is the reliance upon corrupted news and picture agencies which employ Arab propagandists as stringers and cameramen. There is the herd mentality of the media which decides collectively what the story is. There is the journalists’ fear for their personal safety if they report the truth about terrorist outfits. There is the difficulty of discovering the truth from undemocratic regimes and terrorist organisations. There is the language barrier; there is professional laziness; there is the naïve inability to acknowledge the depths of human evil and depravity; there is the moral inversion of the left which believes that western truth-tellers automatically tell lies, while third world liars automatically tell the truth.

But the big answer is that the western media transmit the lies of Hezbollah because they want to believe them. And that’s because the Big Lie these media tell — and have themselves been told — about Israel and its place in history and in the world today has achieved the status of unchallengeable truth. The plain fact is that western journalists were sent to cover the war being waged against Israel from Lebanon as a war being waged by Israel against Lebanon. And that’s because that’s how editors think of the Middle East: that the whole ghastly mess is driven by Israel’s actions, and that therefore it is only Israel’s aggression which is the story to be covered. Thus history is inverted, half a century of Jewish victimisation is erased from public consciousness, victims are turned into aggressors and genocidal mass murderers turned into victims, and ignorance and prejudice stalk England’s once staunch and stalwart land.

Read the rest.

September 2, 2006

Baseball History Made Tonight

"I don't really remember running around the bases.....I couldn't believe I did it. It hasn't sunk in yet. I still can't believe I did it."

Those were the words of Indians rookie Kevin Kouzmanoff on Saturday night, after he hit the first pitch he ever saw in his first major league game for a grand slam home run. Kouzmanoff was called up from AAA Buffalo today after Travis Hafner was hit by a pitch last night and had to sit out.

Only two other players in major league history have hit a grand slam in their first big league at bat. Just last year, Jeremy Hemida did it for the Marlins, and then you have to go back to 1898, when the Phillies Bill Duggleby did it against the New York Giants.

Less than 100 players in history have homered in their first major league at-bat, and only 22 have homered on the first pitch ever, according to Baseball-Almanac.com. (Interestingly, seven of those 22 never hit another homer.)

Neither Hermida nor Duggleby is on this list of first-pitch homers, so if the information at Baseball Almanac is correct, by hitting a grand slam on the first pitch of his major league career, Kevin Kouzmanoff did something tonight that has never been done before in the history of major league baseball.

That's pretty cool.

Side Notes:

It's also interesting that Kouzmanoff hit the grand slam while subbing for Travis Hafner, who has already tied the major league record for grand slams in a season this year, and has a month left to try to break the record.

Since being a sixth round pick of the Indians in the 2003 amateur draft, Kouzmanoff has had a string of injuries, including back problems. This year though, he has ripped up AA and AAA pitching for a .379 average, which is tops in all of the minor leaguers for 2006. In 94 games at Akron (AA) and Buffalo (AAA) combined, he has 28 doubles, 22 homers and 74 RBI.

I remember when Jay Bell hit the first pitch of his career for a home run in September of 1986, also while playing for the Indians. What made that feat even more unique than his being only the 13th player ever to do it, was the fact that he hit it off Bert Blyleven, the pitcher for whom he had been traded just months before. Now that's the answer to a great trivia question.

Of the (now 23) players who have homered on the first pitch ever, Bell is the only one to have hit more than 100 career homers. His career total of 195 far surpasses the second place guy on the list, Bert Campaneris, who had 79 career homers.

September 1, 2006

Remembering Beslan

Michelle Malkin commemorates the massacre on the two-year anniversary.

HCWW Hacked

Have Coffee Will Write, the blog of friend and fellow Clevelander Jeff Hess, has been hacked by a group with an anti-Israel, anti-American propaganda message and agenda. (Hint: They claim to be "Arab hackers" and the first words on their substitute web page are "Allah Akbar". We report, you decide.) Jeff sends a message via Brewed Fresh Daily that he's working with his ISP to get back online ASAP. Good luck, Jeff.

UPDATE: No sooner did I post this than Jeff's site is back up and good to go.

UPDATE: Not so fast. The home page is up, but the same hackers message still appears when comments and some other links are accessed.

UPDATE: Cannot access the site as of Friday mid-afternoon.

I can't help but comment on the irony (which I would call "delicious" were this not happening to a genuinely nice guy) of Jeff having a new post this morning mocking the administration's use of the word "fascism" to describe the Islamist totalitarian movement, while a group which at least displays the slogans of that movement attempts to silence his voice via cyber-terrorism. Or is that too strong a word?

Bad Journalism (A Recurring Theme)

They say when you're in a hole, the first thing to do is stop digging. The New York Times refuses to learn that lesson in the Duke rape case. The Times recently ran a long follow-up article on the case, which National Journal's Stuart Taylor Jr. takes apart in an excellent piece at Slate. I hadn't heard much about this case for a while, since the credibility of the victim seemed to have unraveled. But the Times is apparently going to stick with their own preferred scenario of privileged white frat boys raping disadvantaged black girl, the evidence, or lack of it, be damned.

Imagine you are the world's most powerful newspaper and you have invested your credibility in yet another story line that is falling apart, crumbling as inexorably as Jayson Blair's fabrications and the flawed reporting on Saddam Hussein's supposed WMD. What to do?

If you're the New York Times and the story is the alleged gang rape of a black woman by three white Duke lacrosse players—a claim shown by mounting evidence to be almost certainly fraudulent—you tone down your rhetoric while doing your utmost to prop up a case that's been almost wholly driven by prosecutorial and police misconduct.

And by bad journalism. Worse, perhaps, than the other recent Times embarrassments. The Times still seems bent on advancing its race-sex-class ideological agenda, even at the cost of ruining the lives of three young men who it has reason to know are very probably innocent. This at a time when many other true believers in the rape charge, such as feminist law professor Susan Estrich, have at last seen through the prosecution's fog of lies and distortions.