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October 31, 2006

Don't Walk

Our responsibility to help the freedom-lovers of Iraq owes to events long predating the Bush administration...

Christopher Hitchens

I am glad that all previous demands for withdrawal or disengagement from Iraq were unheeded, because otherwise we would not be able to celebrate the arrest and trial of Saddam Hussein; the removal from the planet of his two sadistic kids and putative successors; the certified disarmament of a former WMD- and gangster-sponsoring rogue state; the recuperation of the marshes and their ecology and society; the introduction of a convertible currency; the autonomy of Iraqi Kurdistan (currently advertising for investors and tourists on American television); the killing of al-Qaida's most dangerous and wicked leader, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, and many of his associates; the opening of dozens of newspapers and radio and TV stations; the holding of elections for an assembly and to approve a constitution; and the introduction of the idea of federal democracy as the only solution for Iraq short of outright partition and/or civil war. If this cause is now to be considered defeated, by the sheer staggering persistence in murder and sabotage of the clerico-fascist forces and the sectarian militias, then it will always count as a noble one.

But the many disappointments and crimes and blunders (the saddest of which is the utter failure to influence Iran, and the corresponding advantage taken by Tehran-backed militias) do not relieve us of a responsibility that is either insufficiently stressed or else passed over entirely: What is to become, in the event of a withdrawal, of the many Arab and Kurdish Iraqis who do want to live in a secular and democratic and federal country? We have acquired this responsibility not since 2003, or in the sideshow debate over prewar propaganda, but over decades of intervention in Iraq's affairs, starting with the 1968 Baathist coup endorsed by the CIA, stretching through Jimmy Carter's unforgivable permission for Saddam Hussein to invade Iran, continuing through the decades of genocide in Kurdistan and the uneasy compromise that ended the Kuwait war, and extending through 12 years of sanctions and half-measures, including the "no-fly" zones and the Iraq Liberation Act, which passed the Senate without a dissenting vote. It is not a responsibility from which we can walk away when, or if, it seems to suit us.

Rooting Interest

From BOTW:

"Arab governments are looking for change in U.S. policy in the Middle East after the midterm elections," the Associated Press reports:
One thing they hope for is that a politically weakened President Bush would talk with Iran and Syria. They also hope he would show greater interest in the Palestinians and find a way out of the crisis in Iraq.

So if you want a politically weakened president cutting deals with terror-sponsoring dictatorships, vote Democratic on Nov. 7.

Brown Newspapers Endorse Blackwell

A press release from the Blackwell campaign:

COLUMBUS – Twenty-three Brown Publishing newspapers today endorsed gubernatorial candidate Ken Blackwell. The newspaper chain serves 1.8 million Ohioans and 750,000 households in 31 counties.

The newspapers believe “the candidate with the right ideas to reverse Ohio’s course is Ken Blackwell, and it’s highly ironic he has fought against his own party to promote them.”

They applauded Blackwell’s specific solutions to Ohio’s economic challenges.

“Blackwell’s proposal to simplify the income tax to a 3.25 percent flat rate would make Ohio highly competitive in the state-v-state competition to attract and retain jobs. His suggestions to privatize the Ohio Turnpike and address Ohio’s estate, capital gains, and commercial activity taxes are also job friendly.”

“Ohio has great people and great businesses. It sorely misses good government. Both candidates understand that Ohio’s economy is sick. The real difference between them is that Blackwell understands the cure.”

Pointing to Ohio’s poor national rankings of 47 in job creation and third in overall tax burden, the newspapers criticized Ted Strickland’s unwillingness to offer specific reforms and fear he will expand the size of government and increase taxes.

“Ted Strickland knows these numbers because many come directly from his own campaign materials. He deftly recites them when defining the problems the state has seen under Republican leadership. And defining the problem may be enough for him to ride the prevailing political wind into office. But merely defining a problem, without more, is not solving it. The ‘more’ that Strickland offers is ‘more’ of the same. His ‘Turnaround Ohio’ plan offers ‘more’ government that will cost taxpayers ‘more’ money.”

The endorsement will run throughout the week in the following Brown Publishing newspapers:

Daily Newspapers

Circleville Herald, Delaware Gazette, Fairborn Daily Herald, Galion Inquirer, Greenville Advocate, Hillsboro Times-Gazette, Madison Press, Piqua Daily Call, Sidney Daily News, Troy Daily News, Urbana Daily Citizen, Van Wert Times Bulletin, Washington Court House Record-Herald, Wilmington News Journal and Xenia Gazette.

Weekly Newspapers

Ada Herald, Beavercreek News-Current, Eaton Register Herald, Morrow County Sentinel, Perry County Tribune, Putnam County Sentinel, Times Community Newspapers of Dayton and West Union People’s Defender.

Spencer Taking Risks

The new Robert Spencer book is reviewed at FPM

UPDATE 11/2: Jamie Glazov interviews Robert Spencer

October 30, 2006

Ohio Issue 2

Issue 2 supporters would hang out a "No New Business Wanted" sign at the Ohio border, and hurt the very category of workers they purport to help. But hey, they'll feel good about themselves. For a state that already has a poor business climate and high income tax rates, I think a 33% hike in the minimum wage, with additional escalators, will function to hurt the jobs situation more than it helps. Jonathan H. Adler of CWRU, writing at NRO today, says the minimum wage hikes and future built-in increases would be a job-killer for the state.

The economic case against a minimum wage increase is well known. Raising the minimum wage slows job growth by increasing the cost of labor. It is a basic economic truth that when the price of something goes up, the amount demanded declines. So, when the government mandates higher wages, unemployment rises as a direct result. Those workers who keep their jobs may earn more, but this comes at the expense of those who are left without jobs.

Issue Two proponents argue that the majority of minimum-wage workers are adults (over 20) — and thus deserve a raise. The fact is that most minimum-wage earners are between the ages of 16-24 — and two-thirds only work part-time. People in their early twenties are certainly adults, but they are also more likely to be students or living with their families, and are rarely a household’s primary wage earner. A high-school student delivering pizzas, a 23-year-old graduate student who works in a coffee shop, or and a parent who works part-time to supplement his or her spouse’s income while leaving time for family obligations is more likely to earn the minimum wage than a family’s primary wage earner. Indeed, the average family income of minimum-wage earners is over $60,000.

Those who think minimum-wage increases are a matter of social justice ignore the fact that increasing the minimum wage cuts off the lowest rungs on the ladder of economic opportunity. Forty percent of workers earning the minimum wage were unemployed a year earlier, and the typical minimum wage earner does not earn the minimum for long. Most minimum-wage earners receive a raise within a year of employment. As young workers learn new skills, their productivity rises, increasing their value to their current and other potential employers.

For about half of my 29 year career in the employment and job placement industry, part of my job was managing a multi-office temporary services company in the Akron-Cleveland-Canton marketplace. We had a varied practice, with clerical and skilled hourly workers, but in terms of sheer numbers of employees, the biggest segment was what is called "light industrial", what you might call the bottom rung of the employment ladder.

I know conditions vary around the country with farm workers and large immigrant populations, but our market would never support paying minimum wage. And even at starting wages well over minimum, the problem was one of supply, never demand. We're talking about the labor pool after the jobs at the pizza and fast-food joints, mall stores and landscaping companies are taken. The work is often more physically taxing than taking tickets at a theater, or ringing a cash register at Orange Julius, but unlike much of the mall work, the need for labor with these companies is not temporary or seasonal.

Here in the Midwest "Rust Belt", from the mid-eighties into the 00's, we were not paying minimum wage to our unskilled workers, because they were hard enough to find and retain even at significantly higher pay rates. The marketplace was working, and it continues to work. In a job like assembling parts, or packing items in boxes, or taking plastic parts out of a machine, our clients wanted one thing from us as a service provider. Reliable workers. Some of them defined that as loosely as people who show up for work on consecutive days. And you wouldn't believe how often it was difficult to deliver even that. Anyone who owns a business large or small, or who is chartered with hiring entry level, unskilled workers of any sort, will tell you the same thing. It's hard to find people who want to work.

We typically offered a raise if a worker completed one full week, and nearly all of our clients hired every good worker they could find, transferring the keepers, the reliable ones who show up and work, from the temporary service payroll over to their own, as full-time W-2 employees, at the first opportunity (typically 30-90 days.) That brings at least nominal benefits in most cases. The interviewing and referral service performs a screening function the client doesn't have time for, and the low-risk probationary period with the temporary service affords the client a useful "try it before you buy it" method of selecting good entry-level employees. It worked, and minimum wage was never at issue, because the cold realities of a shallow labor pool wouldn't permit it.

I would venture to say that at least in northeast Ohio, and barring unusual circumstances, the idea that a significant number of people are "stuck" in a minimum wage job is hard to fathom. Because anyone who is willing to work 40 hours a week could walk across the street any day and get more from another employer. I know many people stay in minimum wage jobs for a variety of reasons (the nature of the work, flexibility of hours, location, family businesses, etc.) but the lack of other, higher paying available work isn't what's keeping them there. Others keep repeating the process of starting at the bottom of the job market, usually as a result of choices they made the first time or two, (while often complicated by any of a number of social or family problems.)

But most companies have a certain budget for labor and its associated costs and burdens. If the cost of labor goes up, they will use less of it. It's that, or inflationary increases in the prices of their products or services. And it is the tough employment cases, the least-skilled, and the ones most in need of reaching even the bottom rung on the employment ladder, who are the ones hurt by minimum wage increases.

Add to that the message you are sending to any company looking for an area to call home.

Dear potential Ohio employer:

"The wages you pay to your entry-level workers will be legislated for you by the state government....We know that the higher wages will be inflationary, and the higher the inflation we cause, the higher will be the mandatory increase in the new minimum wage next year. We don't know yet what your labor costs will be next year, though. We'll let you know. Of course the supply of available labor won't be significantly affected by this measure. Your labor pool will look much like it did before the increases. How does that sound so far?

Adler cites a recent study concluding that Ohio already has the second worst business tax climate of any state, with one of the highest state and local income tax burdens in the nation.

Like Avis, we're Number Two, but trying harder.

One of the pro-Issue 2 arguments cited in the PD article below is that...

When workers earn more, they're less likely to quit. Lower turnover leads to higher productivity, and lowers recruiting and training costs for business.

Most employers I know would pass on any "productivity" gains from their unskilled labor force if they came along with a 35% increase in the cost of labor, and even more costs associated with new record-keeping and compliance. And forget about attracting new business here. Companies will continue to leave in droves, moving to states that have a clue.

I don't find the other "pro" arguments very persuasive either.

The Secretary of State opposes Issue 2 and explains why:

* It's a massive intrusion into your personal privacy . Backers say the amendment is about the minimum wage, but read the fine print. It gives employees or any person acting on behalf of an employee the right to demand private salary records for all employees (not just hourly workers). This will give access to your private information, which could then become public. Disclosure of home addresses and other personal data will put you at risk of identity theft.

* Records requirements are costly and open employers to harassment . The amendment was drafted by anti-business activists who propose that all public and private employers – including state and local governments and homeowners – maintain decades worth of records while employees are working and three years afterward. This will cost millions of dollars, yet employers will have to provide these records without charge to any employee or employee representative who asks. Unhappy workers or activist organizations will have authority to make repeated, costly requests.

* The amendment means a huge increase in the cost of government. State and local governments will be saddled both with enforcing the amendment and meeting their own costly obligations as major employers. You'll foot the bill.

* The amendment doesn't really help low-income Ohioans. A higher minimum wage will trigger thousands of layoffs in lower-paying jobs – hurting, rather than helping, Ohioans who need higher wages the most. Better approaches are to increase the federal Earned Income Tax Credit and to improve job-development and training.

* As part of the Constitution, the amendment cannot easily be changed to correct unintended consequences. This amendment, which is hostile to both employers and employees, will damage Ohio's job climate. The legislature will be powerless to fix it.



Here's a Beacon Journal piece on the proposed legislation.

The PD's editorial, with arguments on both sides of the issue.

The Boring Made Dull

October 28, 2006


This was billed on fark.com as "the greatest car ad ever produced." I don't know about that, but I watched it three times, and laughed harder each time.

October 27, 2006

Coach Ginn

Glenville High School coach Ted Ginn Sr. has seven former players on the 2006 Ohio State Buckeyes, including four starters, his son, and the Heisman Trophy frontrunner. In this clip from a good this DDN feature article, he talks about his relationship with Troy Smith.

When Smith had trouble adjusting at OSU and groused to the press about his playing time two years ago, Ginn Sr. got into his car, drove to Columbus and told the QB to keep his mouth shut. When Smith was suspended from the team at the end of the 2004 season for accepting a booster's money, he watched his teammates play in the Alamo Bowl from a television in Ginn Sr.'s basement.

Ginn Sr. admitted Smith has "broken my heart" at times: "Troy didn't ever know how to trust anybody, and he probably still needs to work on that.

"Some of it comes when you haven't had a father in your life. Me, I'm 50 years old and I wish my dad was still alive so I could run things past him, just have that reassurance. But if you never grew up with it, you don't understand it. Still Troy never could question my love, and finally he surrendered some reluctance."

This week Smith didn't hesitate to give Ginn Sr. credit:

"Sacrifice and humility, those are the two things, to me, that exemplify him as a man. He sacrifices everything around him for someone else's kid biologically. As soon as he gets us to learn and take in his teaching, we start to understand about being humble."

More from Ginn Sr.:

"For any player who comes here, I have to be attached to everything from here to his home. What happens out on the street filters in here. Nobody's watering down this system. That's the only way it can work. We don't have some of the things other schools do, but we do have each other. That's our strength."

Then he hands them off to Jim Tressel and they're still in good hands. Ginn Sr.'s Glenville-OSU connection is a great success story.

With The Game approaching, a friend sent me the image below (click to enlarge) from the November issue of Readers Digest. The rear cover illustrations are by C.F. Payne (and can be viewed at rd.com/CFPayne)

October 26, 2006

Taranto - Letter From Iraq

I had a sense of bottoming out in terms of any optimism I had remaining about the Iraq campaign reading Taranto on Wednesday. You really must read this letter from Iraq.

On Fox Stem Cell Ads

It's a shame that Michael J. Fox has allowed himself and his condition to be used in a series of highly misleading ads regarding stem cell research in recent days. So much of the media flap has been over what Rush Limbaugh had to say about whether or not Fox was off his Parkinsons medications for the filming, that the issue of the distortion of truth in the actual ads has been overshadowed.

And I'm sure that the Democrats would love to keep the focus of the public right on Limbaugh instead of on the issue of stem cell research itself. Because it is by distorting the positions of the opponents of embryonic stem cell research that the Democrats are hoping to benefit politically, to their utter discredit.

Two terrific articles are out this week that get into the specifics of the issue, for the benefit of anyone more concerned about facts than about political sniping. But first, to define the central distortion of the Fox ads: In one of them, he says:

"Stem cell research offers hope to millions of Americans with diseases like diabetes, Alzheimer's and Parkinson's.... But George Bush and Michael Steele would put limits on the most promising stem cell research."

The ads would have the average, underinformed American citizen believe that Republicans oppose stem cell research, and not just the type that necessarily destroys human embryos. What's worse, they make the completely unfounded claim that it is this embryonic stem cell research that is "the most promising" type of research in the field. That claim could hardly be less true, as Dr. Mary Davenport's fine article today explains:

Mr. Fox and his ads' sponsors are guilty of conflating embryonic stem cell research, which the GOP candidates and many Americans oppose for destroying a human life in the name of curing other people's diseases, with stem cell research in general, which includes adult stem cell research and umbilical cord blood stem cell research.

The implicit claim that research based on new embryos is "the most promising" is absurd, completely unsupported by the scientific literature, and an insult to voters, based as it is on the assumption that they are incapable of understanding the issue. Too stupid to tell the difference, is the elitist assumption underlying this campaign.

Flim-flam is a charitable description. Why would federally-funded research be more promising than state- and privately-funded research? And on what possible basis can the claim be made that embryonic stem cell research is more promising than adult stem cell research?

The plain fact is that embryonic stem cell research is proving to be a bust. There are currently 72 therapies showing human benefits using adult stem cells and zero using embryonic stem cells. Scientifically-minded readers can review this medical journal article on the status of adult stem cell research. Adult stem cell therapies are already being advertised and promoted while no such treatments are even remotely in prospect for embryonic stem cell research.

I didn't reproduce her links to research and articles documenting her case, so please go read it all.

Ryan Anderson at TWS has an even more detailed, and technical explanation of the core issues in the debate, including the attempt by some to drown out the debate altogether. This excerpt doesn't do the whole piece justice, but it gets to the meat of the issue:

In four other states, ads are attacking congressional Republicans who voted against federal funding for embryonic stem cell research. The ads, paid for by the Democratic group Majority Action, attack Representatives Chris Chocola, Thelma Drake, Don Sherwood, and James Walsh. They all follow the same format: three healthy citizens tell of impending medical doom and how only embryonic stem cell research will save them. They conclude with these startling words: "Stem cell research could save lives, maybe yours or your family's, someone you love. Only Congressman Walsh said no. How come he thinks he gets to decide who lives and who dies; who's he?" (Apparently the irony of those who favor embryo-destruction accusing others of deciding "who lives and who dies" was lost on the ad's producers.)

These ads are repulsive. They play on the hopes and fears of million of Americans who are suffering from debilitating diseases, are caring for loved ones, and yearn for something, anything, to hold onto. They manipulate the public's emotions in the worst imaginable ways, promising them cures that are, in fact, quite uncertain, and pressuring them to forgo their own ethical convictions.

When emotions have subsided and right reasoning returns, one readily grasps three solid reasons to reject appeals for governmental funding of current methods of embryonic stem cell research: First, current methods are unethical as they destroy human beings in the embryonic stage of development. Second, embryonic stem cell research--contrary to all the hype claiming otherwise--doesn't show any signs of success in the near term, while adult stem cell research is curing diseases now. And third, methods of embryonic stem cell research may soon be available that will not require any human embryo destruction. That is, embryo destruction isn't only unethical: it's likely unnecessary.

Anderson relates some of the problems with embryonic stem cells, on the way to explaining why they have so far yielded nothing close to the many positive treatments already in therapeutic use on human patients using adult and umbilical stem cells:

Besides the moral objection to embryo-destructive stem cell research, there are other reasons to be appalled by these recent ads, for there is good reason to be skeptical about the prospects of technological success for embryonic stem cell research. When an embryonic stem cell is created from a cell of the early embryo, that cell--left in the embryo of which it was a part--would have produced many different tissue types as the cells descended from it progressed through stages of higher specialization. That is, cells in the early embryo are precursors to entire biological systems, and not merely particular tissue types. And scientists are having significant difficulty forcing them to behave in other ways. When scientists try to manipulate them into embryonic stem cells (ESC), they tend to cause potentially dangerous tumors...

...one need only look to the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine (CIRM)--the multi-billion dollar institute dedicated to embryonic stem-cell research and paid for by California tax-payers--and their recent proposed strategic report. The report states: "it is unlikely that CIRM will be able to fully develop stem cell therapy for routine clinical use during the ten years of the plan. Within that time span, however, we will be able to advance therapies for several diseases to early stage clinical trials, and to have therapies for other diseases in the pipeline." For the next ten years, the best they can promise is "early stage clinical trials" and therapies "in the pipeline." The Mercury News reports that the Institute's president, Zach Hall, "predicted it might take 15 years before the institute's research results in a medical product." It is probably for these reasons that private investors have been so reluctant to invest in embryonic stem cell research, thus creating the greater need for governmental funding. If embryonic stem cell research really could deliver all that it promised, one has to wonder why there isn't a mad rush to invest now.

Meanwhile, adult stem cell therapies are healing patients now--despite the fact that they receive only a fraction of the funding.

Much more background on the scientific and political aspects of the stem cell research issue can be found in the writing of Wesley J. Smith in recent years at The Weekly Standard. Examples here, here, and here.

A citizen filmed a thoughtful response to the Michael J. Fox ads, including some suggestions on how government might take a different tack on stem cell research.

Preparing For Castro's Funeral

Otto Reich at NRO

This time the rumors are real: Castro is dying of stomach cancer. He may have already died, even before the funeral preparations were finished, so the news is not out. Confirmation of the terminal illness comes from the usual sources but in a non-conventional manner. The Cuban government has been summoning to Havana representatives of the major international media to negotiate the best seats, camera angles, and interviews with the despot’s political survivors, and to inform them of the ground rules for coverage of the state funeral.

The foreign media are being told that the model for Castro’s funeral is that of Pope John Paul II a year ago. The Cubans actually believe — or pretend — that the death of a tyrant deserves the same attention as that of the world’s great men of peace.

This is one of Castro’s lasting legacies to his countrymen: moral disorientation...

...There will recognizable faces of American and other TV, oblivious to the irony of “covering” a press event orchestrated by a government which has not allowed a single free or independent newspaper, magazine, radio or television station for almost five decades.

Read it all.

October 25, 2006

Push Polling


(via C&S)

Eight is Enough

Michael Medved's eight reasons why conservatives cannot afford to stay home on November 7. Among them is the fact that a Democratic victory would encourage our enemies. I suppose it is inflammatory to say that the Islamists want the Democrats to win, but it is at the very least arguable...

The only way to win wars is to convince your adversaries that further resistance is useless. Democratic victories in the House and/or Senate would help persuade Islamo-Nazi terrorists that they are, in fact, winning the war for US public opinion. No one questions that the jihadists closely monitor our domestic politics. Why else would they so conspicuously intensify their violent attacks in Iraq and Afghanistan just weeks before a crucial election? They also clearly want Democrats to win, not just because they hate Bush but because they clearly perceive the irresolution, confusion and urge to appease of the liberal faction in the current debates.

The problem for Democrats is that in order to deny that this concern is valid they would have to admit that we are in a real war, and it isn't just something "cooked up in Texas." If this was an issue the Left was comfortable talking about, our media might be paying more attention to events like Quds Day.

European Submission

Paul Belien discusses the idea that European anti-Semitism and anti-Americanism result in part from the fact that people who are willing to submit to subjugation will tend to hate and/or fear those who refuse to submit, and who will fight to preserve their way of life.

From The Rape of Europe at Brussels Journal:

In a recent op-ed piece in the Brussels newspaper De Standaard (23 October) the Dutch (gay and self-declared “humanist”) author Oscar Van den Boogaard.... says that to him coping with the islamization of Europe is like “a process of mourning.” He is overwhelmed by a “feeling of sadness.” “I am not a warrior,” he says, “but who is? I have never learned to fight for my freedom. I was only good at enjoying it.”

As Tom Bethell wrote in this month’s American Spectator: “Just at the most basic level of demography the secular-humanist option is not working.” But there is more to it than the fact that non-religious people tend not to have as many children as religious people, because many of them prefer to “enjoy” freedom rather than renounce it for the sake of children. Secularists, it seems to me, are also less keen on fighting. Since they do not believe in an afterlife, this life is the only thing they have to lose. Hence they will rather accept submission than fight. Like the German feminist Broder referred to, they prefer to be raped than to resist.

“If faith collapses, civilization goes with it,” says Bethell. That is the real cause of the closing of civilization in Europe. Islamization is simply the consequence. The very word Islam means “submission” and the secularists have submitted already. Many Europeans have already become Muslims, though they do not realize it or do not want to admit it.

Some of the people I meet in the U.S. are particularly worried about the rise of anti-Semitism in Europe. They are correct when they fear that anti-Semitism is also on the rise among non-immigrant Europeans. The latter hate people with a fighting spirit. Contemporary anti-Semitism in Europe (at least when coming from native Europeans) is related to anti-Americanism. People who are not prepared to resist and are eager to submit, hate others who do not want to submit and are prepared to fight. They hate them because they are afraid that the latter will endanger their lives as well. In their view everyone must submit.

This is why they have come to hate Israel and America so much, and the small band of European “islamophobes” who dare to talk about what they see happening around them. West Europeans have to choose between submission (islam) or death. I fear, like Broder, that they have chosen submission – just like in former days when they preferred to be red rather than dead.

October 24, 2006

Weis Befuddled, I'm Here To Help

Charlie Weis is mystified as to how his Notre Dame team could have been leap-frogged in the polls after this weekend's games, even though they won on Saturday.

"Maybe I'm just stupid. Tell me how that works?"

Let the record show that you brought that up, Chaz. Maybe I can shed some light for you.

First off, you required a miracle finish to beat a mediocre UCLA team on your home field this week. Earlier this season you had to rally from 17 points down in the last few minutes to beat a Michigan State team that somehow found a way to trail Northwestern 38-3 on Saturday before their own miracle comeback netted them their first conference win.

The teams that jumped over your Irish in the polls include Texas, Tennessee and Florida, three one-loss teams that have looked very impressive all season (The Vol's only blemish was a 21-20 loss to Florida, Texas' only loss was to Ohio State). You haven't looked impressive at all since beating Penn State, which by the way is unranked, with three losses.

I'm trying to think of another win you have over a quality opponent, and Georgia Tech is as close as I can come to one. The other wins (MSU, Purdue, Stanford, UCLA) are all against teams with at least three losses, and don't get you too many BCS points. And with three tough games against service academies and another against (1-6) North Carolina coming up, you don't have too many more chances to impress voters.

You are (somehow) currently ranked 11th (9th in the BCS). You have played one Top 10 team this year (Michigan) and you got hammered by four touchdowns on your home field. How you manage to still be ranked even in the Top 20 is beyond the understanding of most people who follow the college game.

The best testament to your program's habitually overrated status is your amazing string of eight straight bowl game losses, a result of being matched up against teams in January against whom you have no business playing, if football merit and not alumni spending habits or TV ratings are taken into consideration.

Does this help at all?

UPDATE 10/26: Page 2 has more help for Weis with an article sympathetically titled "What Planet ya from, Charlie?"

Truths About Jack Bauer

About the only TV I watch that doesn't involve a game played with some kind of ball is the series 24. Anyone who watches the show, and knows who Jack Bauer is, will appreciate Neil Boortz' listing of "Basic Truths about Jack Bauer".

A few of my favorites...

You can lead a horse to water. Jack Bauer can make him drink.

Jack Bauer can get McDonald's breakfast after 10:30.

When the boogie man goes to sleep, he checks his closet for Jack Bauer.

When Jack Bauer was a child, he made his mother finish his vegetables.

It took Jack Bauer two minutes to beat a confession out of OJ.

In kindergarten, Jack Bauer killed a terrorist for Show and Tell.

(via PJM)

60 Years To Print

I was intrigued enough by David Frum's review of the Irene Nemirovsky novel, Suite Francaise to order it today, trusting I won't be disappointed. It's easy to see how, as Frum says, "the story of the recovery of this book is so dramatic and heart-rending that it almost overwhelms the book itself."

How could it not be so?

Irene Nemirovsky was born to a wealthy Jewish family in czarist Russia. The family fled to France after the communist revolution. Irene exploded into almost immediate success as a writer in her early 20s, publishing a series of successful novels. Alienated from her family - of all the horrible mothers in the canon in literature, Irene's frivolous and selfish mother ranks among the very worst - she and her husband, Daniel Epstein, and their two daughters converted to Roman Catholicism on the eve of World War II.

That decision did not protect them from persecution.

In 1940, Irene and her husband and daughters fled to a small town where they were subjected to intensifying humiliations, hardship, and danger. But through it all, Irene planned a novel - a masterpiece - of the scope and scale of Tolstoy's War and Peace: a five-part suite that would tell the story of the fall of France and life under occupation. In rare moments of calm, she would escape into nearby woods and write her story in tiny script in a battered notebook.

Irene was arrested in 1942 and sent to Auschwitz. Her husband frantically petitioned for her release until he too was arrested and deported and gassed. The children were hidden by a devoted nanny for the remainder of the war, barely escaping death again and again. Through it all, they protected and preserved their only memento of their murdered mother: her notebooks.

But Frum says the novel is as good as the story of its birth...

For years, the daughters did not open the books. They assumed that the books were a diary of some kind, and they did not want to relive the pain of their mother's final years. But as they got old, they decided that the notebooks had to go to some kind of archive. They opened them at last, to transcribe a copy - and were stunned to discover a fully realized novel. Not just any novel, but a novel that deserves a place on the shelf of modern masterpiecces - a war novel as great as All Quiet on the Western Front or A Farewell to Arms. And so at last the work saw print, almost 60 years after its author's hopeless lonely death, first in French and now at length in English too.

I've enjoyed the Alan Furst novels set in late-30's Europe, when I allow myself some fiction reading. I suspect this is a different sort of novel altogether, but the era fascinates me, and it is an amazing story.

October 23, 2006

Plain Dealer, Enquirer Endorse DeWine

The Cleveland Plain Dealer today endorsed Sen. Mike DeWine (R) for the U.S. Senate seat in Ohio.

DeWine nailed the difference between himself and his opponent: When DeWine votes against his party, he leaves it to move to the center; when Brown does so, he moves to the Democrats' left. Brown voted against President Clinton's trade agreements; DeWine voted against President Bush's positions on oil drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, gun control, the minimum wage and - in becoming part of the "Gang of 14" that insisted on a sensible approach to the selection of federal judges - exhibited the kind of bipartisanship that most of America so desperately wants to see in Washington.

The paper qualified their support for DeWine. While they endorse him, they suggest he act more like a Democrat:

...he must raise his voice and use his Senate influence to help shake moderate congressional Republicans from their unaccountable and irresponsible stupor over Iraq...

They must mean that silly insistence that we not abandon Iraq to the fascist terrorists before they are prepared to defend their fragile young democracy.

...DeWine owes it to himself, to his constituents and to the future of this nation to stand up and be counted on Iraq.

In other words, he should alter his position on Iraq to one more closely aligned with the position of the Plain Dealer.

Also endorsing DeWine today was the Cincinnati Enquirer


“October 23, 1956, is a day that will live forever in the annals of free men and nations. It was a day of courage, conscience and triumph. No other day since history began has shown more clearly man’s eternally unquenchable desire to be free, whatever the odds against success, whatever the sacrifice required.” – John F. Kennedy

Remembering the Hungarian Revolution of 1956 at EU Referendum.

Here is Arch Puddington's Commentary piece "Budapest 1956" (until the magazine puts it behind the subscription wall)

October 22, 2006

Hubble Images

Incredible images from the Hubble Telescope.


October 21, 2006

A Democratic House?

A press release from Roy Blunt's office (via The Corner) describes what the leadership of a Democrat-controlled House of Representatives would look like. Go look, then take a tranquilizer and go lie down.

Ted's Left

I have referred to Ted Kennedy as a despicable scumbag on multiple occasions in this blog, but now this story requires me to admit that I had been wrong to think that I couldn't possibly think less of the Senator. In my eyes he has risen to an entirely new level of scumbaggery and despicability.

In his book, which came out this week, Kengor focuses on a KGB letter written at the height of the Cold War that shows that Sen. Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.) offered to assist Soviet leaders in formulating a public relations strategy to counter President Reagan’s foreign policy and to complicate his re-election efforts.

The letter, dated May 14, 1983, was sent from the head of the KGB to Yuri Andropov, who was then General Secretary of the Soviet Union’s Communist Party.

In his letter, KGB head Viktor Chebrikov offered Andropov his interpretation of Kennedy’s offer. Former U.S. Sen. John Tunney (D-Calif.) had traveled to Moscow on behalf of Kennedy to seek out a partnership with Andropov and other Soviet officials, Kengor claims in his book.

At one point after President Reagan left office, Tunney acknowledged that he had played the role of intermediary, not only for Kennedy but for other U.S. senators, Kengor said. Moreover, Tunney told the London Times that he had made 15 separate trips to Moscow.

Dr. Sanity is agitated, to say the least:

What interests me is the transformation of the Democratic Party into a tool that every major enemy of this country--from the North Vietnamese, to the Soviets, to the Syrians all the way up to the present day-- has been able to use to advance their objectives at the expense of America. As Feldman notes, this does indeed give new meaning to the term "opposition party".

It also give new clarity to one of the issues that I have talked about on this blog repeatedly, and that is the complete betrayal by the political left in this country of the values and freedoms upon which the U.S. was founded.

How easily they deceived themselves (if it was deception at all) into thinking that they had more in common with the communist party leadership of the USSR than with the duly elected president of the U.S. How easily people like John Kerry supported and enabled the dictators of North Vietnam. Is it any susrprise at all that today, in our war on terror, that this same political party and the same deluded base that animates them see the terrorists as the oppressed victims and the US as the evil oppressors?

Good grief, they have been acting out this drama for over half a century now, and they've got the "good guys" and the "bad guys" clearly identified in their own minds it seems...

... psychologically, they have managed to deceive themselves into thinking that what they are doing is for the "good" of the country. That their behavior is actually "patriotic". That their machinations are selfless and necessary in order to "protect" this country -- from what they have always perceived as the "true" evil.

Kerry believed that the "true evil" was American and the U.S. Military--not the communist North Vietnamese; Kennedy believed that the "true" evil was Ronald Reagan apparently--not the USSR. We all know who most of the recent crop of Democrats believe is the "true" evil in the world today.

Read it all, and catch her excellent post on media manipulation as well. Have I mentioned that I love Dr. Sanity?

October 20, 2006

Not Wanting To Be Misunderstood....

"You should not complain that we did not give a warning. We are saying this explicitly now."

We hear you, President Ahmadinejad. Boiling wrath.

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has predicted Israel will collapse and warned that its allies face the "boiling wrath" of the people if they continue to support the Jewish state....

"You (the Western powers) should know that any government that stands by the Zionist regime from now on will not see any result but the hatred of the people," he added. "The wrath of the region's people is boiling."

"Efforts to stabilise this fraudulent regime have completely failed, thank God ... This regime has lost the rationale of its existence," the president said....

... "If a hurricane starts be rest assured that the dimensions of this hurricane will not be limited to the geographic borders of Palestine," he added. "This regime (Israel) will take its supporters to the bottom of the swamp."

"The best solution is for you to take all the components of the regime and take it away"

A certain element in our society thinks that the United States should sit down across a negotiating table from this man, who welcomes nuclear apocalypse, and considers it his sacred duty to hasten the fiery end of the world. I would love to ask those people what their initial counter-proposal might be, given Ahmadinejad's opening negotiating position.

Perhaps the extermination of half of the Western world in a nuclear fireball? How long can Israel realistically be expected to sit and wait?

Oh, and please excuse the U.S. Congress for not noticing, Mr Ahmadinejad. They're busy investigating what the Speaker knew about an ex-Congressman's suggestive emails.

UPDATE 10/21: Catch Cox & Forkum's terrific cartoon, and read their whole post.


As long as the universal 911 phone number has been in existence, I can recall admonitions by civic leaders, police, and first responders of various types not to misuse the number for non-emergencies that would use the system's resources, and perhaps prevent an actual emergency from being handled as a result. You know, stuff like a cat up a tree, a minor injury....

...or someone smoking a cigarette in an area where smoking is prohibited.

But I guess that was before the Smoking Nazis took over.

(via Curmudgeonly and Skeptical)

October 19, 2006

Blackwell in Cleveland


I went up to hear Ken Blackwell at the campaign event in Cleveland last night, and got a chance to hear Dennis Prager and Hugh Hewitt as part of the bargain. I have been in the Blackwell camp since he threw his hat in the ring, but I came away from his talk last night even more impressed with the man. We were hearing what I assume to be his standard stump speech, which has several specific proposals, but is also laced with folksy humor, and conveys a real sense of the people and events that shaped his value system.

If there was an overriding theme of the talk, it was that Blackwell is far better suited to be the CEO of a major public enterprise with 56,000 employees and a budget in the billions of dollars than is his opponent. And this is not only because he has the experience in large city and state government that his opponent lacks, but also that he knows what kinds of policies are needed to bring jobs and economic vitality back to Ohio. He touted his endorsement Wednesday by the Ohio Manufacturers Association, and stressed his tax-cutting proposals as the recipe for bringing jobs to the state.

Blackwell made the very cogent observation that if Ohio voters are repelled by the track record of incumbent Governor Taft, because of his track record of raising taxes and presiding over soaring spending, then Ted Strickland is hardly the "anti-Taft", he is very nearly his mirror image. It is Blackwell, not Strickland who stands for substantive change in this state. Strickland has stated that no tax cuts are necessary in the state which has the nation's fourth highest rate of taxation. Strickland says he would have vetoed the tort reform legislation which sought to at least partially remedy the conditions that have been driving companies and talent out of Ohio.


Blackwell made sure his audience knew that a bipartisan rating service ranked Ted Strickland 402nd out of the 435 Congressmen in terms of their effectiveness as legislators, and that in a debate, Strickland could not name a single company that had located in his district through his efforts. Small wonder, since Rep. Strickland doesn't even live in his own district, which has the second highest unemployment rate of any district in the nation, leading one to assume that job creation might have been a priority for the Congressman.

Blackwell could have campaigned on his resume and his specific platform alone and had my vote. But he is a dynamic speaker and comes across as passionate about public service and confident in his own ability to lead people and to get things done. And of course that's why Hugh Hewitt and Dennis Prager flew in (gratis) from L.A. to stump for him. They believe that he is the kind of special politician who doesn't come around very often. I'm inclined to agree.

Blackwell seemed genuinely optimistic in spite of polls showing him trailing Strickland by a significant margin. As OpinionJournal.com editorialized this morning, it appears he could the right candidate, in the wrong year. That is, the year when Ohioans are dead set on punishing the Republicans for Bob Taft.

Blackwell was asked about the breaking story of the past few days involving a former aide to Strickland who had prior convictions for indecent exposure. Blackwell has been slammed in the media and the left blogosphere for "gutter politics" and desperation tactics for raising questions, via this issue, about Strickland's own sexuality (which Blackwell has never done.)

Blackwell responded that the issue is not a personal one at all, but rather one of Strickland's judgment and his honesty, as well as his competence to administer a bureaucracy of 56,000 employees, when he proved incompetent at doing routine due diligence for a staff of three. By the way, this issue came up only in the question and answer segment at the end of the evening, and was not a part of Blackwell's presentation in any way. I have read a little background on the story (there's more than you could ever care to know here) and from what I have seen so far, there's not a lot of "there" there.

Yes, it appears Strickland was less than forthright about his knowledge of this guy's background, and was, at the very least uninterested in asking anyone but the aide himself if the stories of his criminal background were true, (the aide denied it.) And yes, the trip to Italy by Strickland and the aide after the campaign is enough to raise some eyebrows. But this kind of story, scraping at the bottom of the scum bucket, especially if it becomes central to the campaign, is exactly the type of thing that disgusts so many people about politics. And besides, it's a Democratic specialty. I can't believe the Blackwell campaign is well-served by giving the issue any more oxygen.

Ken Blackwell is the more capable and experienced candidate. His formula for turning around Ohio's fortunes is a superior plan to Strickland's soporific message. And if it's the anti-Taft Ohioans want, Ted Strickland isn't their man. I'll be working in the next couple of weeks with the Blackwell campaign to try to help communicate that message to Ohio voters.

Related: The Blackwell Blog (edited by rising conservative star Matt Naugle)

October 17, 2006

Proud To Be S.O.B.

I'm pleased to join the State of Ohio Blogger Alliance (The S.O.B.'ers for short), a collection of center-right Buckeye bloggers. I've finally got the SOB Blogroll up in the right column, so check out some of the membership. We're still trying to get something done in the election for conservatives in this state but we're swimming upstream, thanks to Taft, Ney & Co.

Ever The Cowboy

For conservatives, satisfied and self-assured by what they perceive as America's benign promotion of freedom and democracy, and also for liberals yearning for a return to the days of American humility and detachment, Robert Kagan has written a sobering corrective.

He says we can't deny our past. It has never been like that.

The piece is called "Cowboy Nation", and it chronicles America serving its self-interests for over two centuries. Kagan busts illusions for both political camps. Great read. Here's a sample: (ellipsis mine)

...As a recent presidential candidate put it, "The United States of America never goes to war because we want to; we only go to war because we have to. That is the standard of our nation."

But that self-image, with its yearning for some imagined lost innocence, is based on myth. Far from the modest republic that history books often portray, the early United States was an expansionist power from the moment the first pilgrim set foot on the continent; and it did not stop expanding--territorially, commercially, culturally, and geopolitically--over the next four centuries. The United States has never been a status quo power; it has always been a revolutionary one, consistently expanding its participation and influence in the world in ever-widening arcs. The impulse to involve ourselves in the affairs of others is neither a modern phenomenon nor a deviation from the American spirit. It is embedded in the American DNA....

...Americans, from the beginning, measured the world exclusively according to the assumptions of liberalism. These included, above all, a belief in what the Declaration of Independence called the "self-evident" universality of certain basic truths--not only that all men were created equal and endowed by God with inalienable rights, but also that the only legitimate and just governments were those that derived their powers "from the consent of the governed." According to the Declaration, "whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it." Such a worldview does not admit the possibility of alternative truths. Americans, over the centuries, accepted the existence of cultural distinctions that influenced other peoples to rule themselves differently. But they never really accepted the legitimacy of despotic governments, no matter how deeply rooted in culture. As a result, they viewed them as transitory. And so, wherever Americans looked in the world, they saw the possibility and the desirability of change.

The notion of progress is a central tenet of liberalism. More than any other people, Americans have taken a progressive view of history, evaluating other nations according to where they stood on the continuum of progress. The Russians, Theodore Roosevelt believed, were "below the Germans just as the Germans are below us ... [but] we are all treading the same path, some faster, some slower." If Roosevelt's language sounds antiquated, our modern perspective is scarcely different. Although we may disagree among ourselves about the pace of progress, almost all Americans believe that it is both inevitable and desirable. We generally agree on the need to assist other nations in their political and economic development. But development toward what, if not toward the liberal democratic ideal that defines our nationalism? The "great struggle of the epoch," Madison declared in the 1820s, is "between liberty and despotism." Because the rights of man were written "by the hand of the divinity itself," as Hamilton put it, that struggle could ultimately have only one outcome.

It was a short step from that conviction to the belief that the interests of the United States were practically indistinguishable from the interests of the world....

....just as progressivism and big government have generally triumphed in domestic affairs, so, too, has the liberal approach to the world beyond our shores. Henry failed to defeat the Constitution. Southern realism lost to Northern idealism. The critics of liberal foreign policy--whether conservative, realist, or leftist--have rarely managed to steer the United States on a different course.

The result has been some accomplishments of great historical importance--the defeat of German Nazism, Japanese imperialism, and Soviet communism--as well as some notable failures and disappointments. But it was not as if the successes were the product of a good America and the failures the product of a bad America. They were all the product of the same America. The achievements, as well as the disappointments, derived from the very qualities that often make us queasy: our willingness to accumulate and use power; our ambition and sense of honor; our spiritedness in defense of both our interests and our principles; our dissatisfaction with the status quo; our belief in the possibility of change. And, throughout, whether succeeding or failing, we have remained a "dangerous" nation in many senses--dangerous to tyrannies, dangerous to those who do not want our particular brand of liberalism, dangerous to those who fear our martial spirit and our thumos, dangerous to those, including Americans, who would prefer an international order not built around a dominant and often domineering United States.

(TNR requires a free registration for this article) Do it.


"Oh shit, look what I've done." (via Ace)

I guess if you're rich enough to own a painting worth $139 million, you're rich enough to put your elbow through it and still get along okay. Still, what a shame about the integrity of the painting. I'm sure no one feels worse than Wynn about that. And still, it brought this classic scene to mind:

Clouseau smashes a grand piano with an iron ball glued to his hand.

Mrs. Leverlilly: You've ruined that piano!

Clouseau: What is the price of one piano compared to the terrible crime that's been committed here?

Mrs. Leverlilly: But that's a priceless Steinway!

Clouseau: Not anymore!

Countering Relativism

There's a pretty good statement of (forget the neo-) conservative values in Peter Berkowitz' review of the Douglas Murray book on neoconservatism. That's one reason to read it all. This clip on Strauss' warnings about relativism, and the motivations of the early neocons is another...

Strauss breathed new life into the idea of a liberal education, which he saw as an opportunity to liberate the mind from prejudices and to expose it to the treasures of human achievement in politics and thought. This liberation involved, among other things, acquiring an understanding of the weaknesses and disadvantages of liberal democracy, the better to grasp the remarkable benefits that liberal democracy confers, the enduring justice of its cause, and the institutions and ideas that sustain it. Murray emphasizes that, among the debilitating prejudices fostered by liberal democracy, was one that Strauss called relativism, and which consisted of the belief that the diversity of human views about right and wrong, and morality and immorality, were rooted in the diversity of cultures, and were all equally valid. Strauss diagnosed relativism as a decayed form of the admirable liberal doctrine of tolerance, and warned that it led to nihilism, or the belief that nothing is true and everything is permitted.

The first generation of neoconservatives--led by Irving Kristol, Norman Podhoretz, Daniel Patrick Moynihan, and Nathan Glazer--entered the 1960s as liberals and Democrats, but rebelled against relativism's political symptoms, finding in the Johnson administration's Great Society welfare programs an inability to draw crucial moral distinctions and an obliviousness to the dependence of free and democratic institutions on character and culture. But by far the biggest and most dangerous expression of the relativist tendency, against which the first generation of neoconservatives rebelled, was the failure to grasp the menace of Communist tyranny and to recognize the monumental stakes of the Cold War.

October 16, 2006



...there is one, one small thing we can do to in the West to help out those in the Middle East: quit blaming ourselves and fantasizing what we might do to be liked. Leaving Iraq won’t solve the problem—no more than did saving the Kuwaitis, the Bosnians, the Kosovars, the Afghans from the Russians, or the Somali Muslims from hunger. Giving the Egyptians $50 billion or the Jordanians and Palestinians billions as well didn’t do much either. Indeed, Hamas now considers widening their war by attacking Americans for withholding our largess. You see, we have no right not to give Islamists our millions just because they won’t promise not to destroy our ally Israel.

But what would help is simply this: every time a victimized talking head from the Middle East started in on Israel, Bush, Blair, etc. someone could interrupt and politely said, “Sorry, that’s old. No mas. We are tired of the whining. Go get a life.”

Media Distort A Good Economy

A Special Report from the Business and Media Institute: "Bad News Bears- How Networks Distort a Good Economy and Batter President Bush".

And you thought a sustained high growth, low inflation, low unemployment economy was the one thing the Left couldn't get away with criticizing about the Bush administration. Well they can if the media is in on the lie.

UPDATE: Dr. Sanity has an idea on how to get the word out about the good economy....plus good links.

More On Miami Melee

Gene Wojciechowski at ESPN.com:

Something has to change at Miami, beginning with the punishment. Atlantic Coast Conference commissioner John Swofford meant well when he initially issued a one-game suspension for all 13 UM players involved in this disaster area, but the penalty was laughable. It isn't a slap on the wrist; it's a soothing caress and manicure.

"These suspensions send a clear and definitive message that this type of behavior will not be tolerated," said Swofford.

No, they didn't. They sent a clear and definitive message that you miss only one game if you do what Reddick did, which was swing his five-pound helmet at FIU players like it was a medieval weapon. Had he connected with skull or flesh, he could have killed somebody. Then what would have the ACC done? Two-game suspensions?...

...A line was crossed Saturday night. Crossed, and cleared by a terrifying mile. What began as childish trash-talking soon became physical confrontation, then a series of escalating cheap shots, then street fighting. It reached nauseating critical mass with the sight of a 6-foot, 205-pound Division I-A athlete swinging a helmet at someone with the intent to injure.

This wasn't a simple bruise mark for Miami and FIU. This was something more grotesque, something that made you question what kind of people these players were.

At SI.com, Stewart Mandel is ticked:

Saturday night's fiasco was a complete disgrace to college football -- but that's only part of the reason I'm so angry. No, I'm furious and downright baffled as to how administrators at Miami and the ACC -- the very people that should be most embarrassed by this -- feel that a one-game suspension against Duke is an appropriate punishment for the participants.

Inadvertently Down His Pants?

Gerard Van der Leun can relate to Sandy Berger. If only he had been able to spin like Sandy when he was caught shoplifting science fiction books as a 14-year old. Yes, Down My Pants. Oh, Like You Haven't?

During the hours I waited in my room for my father's arrival and judgment, I went over all the possible defenses I could muster for stealing the precious science-fiction documents and stuffing them down my pants. But I was drilling a dry hole. I didn't have any. But that was only because I was a filcher ahead of my time. That was only because my government at that time had not supplied me with role models like Clintonista-Kerryite Sandy Berger who has, it would seem, purloined my filching technique and spent some days stuffing classified documents down his pants at the National Archives.

Yes, "down his pants."

Here's Andy McCarthy's take on the Berger case. Seriously.

October 15, 2006

Fjordman's Recommendations

You may think not all of Fjordman's "Recommendations for the West" are prudent at the moment, at least perhaps not here in the U.S....not yet. They sound extreme....and they are. Because it's our entire culture we're talking about preserving. Fjordman is always interesting reading, so take it all in when you have a few minutes. Some exceprts: (ellipsis mine)

I would suggest that one thing we should fight for is national sovereignty and the right to preserve our own culture and pass it on to future generations. We are fighting for the right to define our own laws and national policies, not to be held hostage by Leftist Utopians, unaccountable NGOs, transnational progressives or self-appointed guardians of the truth....

...perhaps the dividing line in the internal struggle in the West is less between Left and Right, and more between those who value national sovereignty and Western culture and those who do not. End the nonsense of “celebrating our differences.” We should be celebrating our sameness and what binds us together. We should clean up our history books and school curricula, which have been infected with anti-Western sentiments....

...The West is declining as a percentage of world population, and in danger of being overwhelmed by immigration from poorer countries with booming populations. Westerners need to adjust our self-image to being less dominant in the 21st century. As such, we also need to ditch Messianic altruism: The West must first of all save itself. We have no obligation to “save” the Islamic world, and do not have the financial strength nor the demographic numbers to do so even if we wanted to. We are not all-powerful and are not in the position to help all of the Third World out of poverty, certainly not by allowing all of them to move here.

We should take a break from massive immigration, also non-Muslim immigration, for at least a generation, in order to absorb and assimilate the persons we already have in our countries. The West is becoming so overwhelmed by immigration that this may trigger civil wars in several Western nations in the near future. We already have massive Third World ghettos in our major cities. Future immigration needs to be more strictly controlled and ONLY non-Muslim.

This immigration break should be used to demonstrate clearly that the West will no longer serve as the dumping ground for excess population growth in other countries. We have cultures and countries that we’d like to preserve, too, and cannot and should not be expected to accept unlimited number of migrants from other countries. But above all, the West, and indeed the non-Muslim world, should make our countries Islam-unfriendly and implement a policy of containment of Dar al-Islam. This is the most civilized thing we can do in order to save ourselves, but also to limit the loss of life among both Muslims and non-Muslims.

Speaking of plain talk and recommendations for the West, Robert Spencer has both in his new book. From Andrew Bostom's review of "The Truth About Muhammad" : (via MM)

Despite his caveat that the book is "not a comprehensive biography" of the Muslim prophet, Mr. Spencer's concise, pellucid narrative (which includes both a succinct chronology and a glossary of key Arabic names and places) has remarkable breadth, chronicling Muhammad's evolution from a proselytizer, to a prototype jihad conqueror and ruler.

The final chapter is a brilliant analysis of Muhammad's disturbing modern legacy. Mr. Spencer provides understated, scrupulous documentation of the consequences of Muhammad's status as "an excellent example of conduct" (Koran 33:21), invoked by contemporary Muslim clerics, governments, journalists and jihadists alike: exploited child brides and general misogyny, sanctioned by law; Draconian, mutilating punishments such as stoning for adultery and amputation for theft; jihad violence against non-Muslims and Shari'a (Islamic Law)-sanctioned oppression of non-Muslims under Muslim rule.

He concludes with a series of logical, unflinching recommendations for non-Muslim governments, all of which hinge, ultimately, upon an honest recognition of Muhammad's bellicose example: Stop insisting that Islam is a religion of peace; initiate a full-scale Manhattan Project to find new energy sources; make Western aid contingent upon renunciation of the jihad ideology; call upon American Muslim advocacy groups to work against the jihad ideology; revise immigration policies with the jihad ideology in view....

...and here quoting Spencer

..."It is difficult if not impossible to maintain that Islam is a religion of peace when warfare and booty were among the chief preoccupations of the prophet of Islam. Sincere Islamic reformers should confront these facts, instead of ignoring or glossing over them, and work to devise ways in which Muslims can retreat from the proposition that Muhammad's example is in all ways normative. If they do not do so, one outcome is certain: bloodshed perpetrated in the name of Islam and in imitation of its prophet will continue . . .


Ayaan Hirsi Ali interview - AEI

Buckeyes Roll to 7-0

This week we'll hear about how dangerous it is to underestimate the Indiana Hoosiers. Better the Hoosiers should be asking the MSU Spartans if they felt the Buckeyes were taking them lightly. Troy Smith had another workmanlike, mistake-free game, and his Heisman competitors had a bad week. Adrian Peterson is out for the season (after a stellar game) and Garrett Wolfe was held to about 200 rushing yards under his average.

We're also another week closer to the probability that the winner of the Ohio State-Michigan game on Nov. 18 has a ticket to the BCS National Championship Game. Michigan moved into the top three in the BCS, and edged out USC for No. 2 in the AP Poll. We were on this two weeks ago.

Unfortunately, the big story of this weekend's college football action was the brawl involving the University of Miami Hurricanes and FIU. I couldn't help notice the contrast between this Miami program and Jim Tressel's Buckeyes, for whom that kind of display would be unthinkable. Granted, it would be for most other teams too, but these guys are busy singing "Carmen Ohio" with their fans after the game (below), win or lose. As for Miami, you have to wonder if Coker has a grip on things there. When coaches say things like ""We've got a strong grip on this program", that's your first clue you might have a problem.

To be fair, even though the Hurricanes have the reputation of being, to put it mildly, brawlers, FIU has had violent incidents in several previous games, and seem to have instigated things wiith what Coker called a "slam dunk" of Miami's extra-point holder. I think the NCAA might come calling to Miami this time though, trying to find some "institutional control."


(photo via ESPN.com)


I wanted to excerpt this anecdote about Tony Gonzalez calling his own number because of what it tells us about Tressel and his relationship with his players:

...according to Tressel, it was Gonzalez who suggested the play OSU used when he came free to catch a 12-yard touchdown pass from Smith.

“Gonzo is such a heady player out there,” Tressel said. “His awareness level of the whole picture is outstanding. The one touchdown he caught in the back of the end zone, where we had a little play action and we rubbed some receivers, we called that during the timeout and he called it.

“We had a different one in mind and Gonzo said, ‘Hey, why don’t we do this one?’ I never was up for a Rhodes scholarship. I figured I would go with Gonzo’s choice, and that was his call. He studies the heck out of the film. He’s very aware when he’s on the field of play.”

Smith credited Gonzalez for coming up with the call and then making the catch.

“That’s why we call him the Wizard,” said Smith....


Took a little Fall foliage cruise Saturday, about three hours drive to the Warren, PA area, where forty-one years ago, Kinzua Dam was built to create the Allegheny Reservoir in the greater Allegheny National Forest. As you can see from the trees, we were about two weeks early for optimal Fall colors, but this was the only weekend we had. From this shot from above the dam you can see a little bit of countryside on a day that was only mostly gray.

October 12, 2006


There's lots of good information and linkage on the Harry Reid case over at Hugh Hewitt.

Odd Man Out

ESPN.com has a panel of 15 football experts who vote weekly on the leading candidates for the Heisman Trophy. This week, 14 of the 15 vote for Troy Smith of Ohio State as the number one contender. Ivan Maisel is the other guy .

Before any Buckeyes begin to man their battle stations, hear me out. I think Smith is the best quarterback in the nation this season. He has proven himself as a talented passer. He showed against Bowling Green on Saturday that, even if he didn't show it in the first five games of the season, he hasn't forgotten how to tuck the ball into the crook of his arm and move the chains.

As good as he is, I think his best assets are intangible. It is obvious, even from my limited interaction with him -- a group interview here, a few postgame interviews there -- that Smith has matured into a leader. The rest of the locker room will follow him anywhere.

That said, I think there's a difference between the Heisman, which honors the "most outstanding player" in college football, and the typical award. That word "outstanding" suggests a level of excellence that Smith, in my mind, hasn't achieved....

...By that criteria, some of our recent Heisman winners would include Tee Martin of Tennessee (1998) and Craig Krenzel of Ohio State (2002) and Jason White of Oklahoma (2003). And we all know that none of them -- oh, wait a minute. White won. My point is, the Heisman shouldn't go to anyone by default.

Make Smith the player of the half-season, but let's not inscribe his name on American sport's most famous trophy just yet.

A fair point, I'd say. You can't just give it to the leader of the No. 1 team in the country (even though last year I think Vince Young got screwed, because he was both the leader of the No.1 team, and the best player in the country, Bush or no Bush.) In the real world though, it comes down to whether or not the Buckeyes run the table and win the national championship. If they do, there's no way anyone else will take home the Heisman.

Gonzo's getting some love from ESPN.com too.

October 11, 2006

On Politics and Christianity

Thanks to Jonah for recommending this terrific essay by Ross Douthat at First Things. Reviewing a series of new books by the "anti-theocrats", Douthat sizes up the threats to democracy from the Religious Right, and much more. I wish I could write like that.

Conversation With Steyn

Don't miss K-Lo's interview with Mark Steyn. He's cracking jokes while maintaining his overall pessimism about where we're headed:

Lopez: The war on terror is a civil war in Europe already? Is there any hope for our friends across the pond?

Steyn: Yes, to this extent. The first Western European nation to collapse into total civic breakdown over its fundamentally contradictory bicultural tensions will, I hope, concentrate the minds of others. The best sign that you’re about to go over the waterfall is if the canoe 200 yards ahead suddenly disappears. That gives you a chance at least to pull for shore....

Lopez: Could which party wins in the November congressional elections change the course of history?

Steyn: I think so. A vote for the Democratic party is basically a vote to return to Bill Clinton’s holiday-from-history. It would be nice if the Dems were full of Joe Lieberman types who are serious about national security or even Joe Biden types who at least talk in a portentous voice and pretend to be serious about national security. But you know that Peter Beinart book? “Why Liberals — And Only Liberals — Can Win The War On Terror”? If that’s true, we’re all doomed. It’s like publishing a book in 1942 called “Why Swedes — And Only Swedes — Can Win The Second World War.” The truth is 99.99 percent of them have got zero interest in getting in the game. They want to return to the Nineties when politics was about new Federal regulations for mandatory bicycling helmets, or whatever the hell Bill Clinton’s “legacy” is.

Ain't Diplomacy Grand?

Remember the salad days of 1994, when unilateralism was all the rage? When Madeline and Jimmy Carter stepped up to save us from confrontation. Remember it in November, when you elect the Congress.


(My caption)
Albright: "Dear Leader, the champagne is divine, and I love what you're doing with the sideburns, but why are you standing on those four phone books?"

UPDATE 10/10: And as Instapundit says, it's a good idea that they're not showing this ad anywhere. It was ostensibly created for Republicans to use in the 2006 campaign, but thankfully they decided not to use it, since it's in such poor taste. It's probably a good thing that outside of Drudge Report and Instapundit, it's not really available for viewing anywhere, and Republicans have decided not to associate themselves with it at all, since you know, it's in such bad taste and all. So you can hardly get a look at it anywhere. Which is, like I said, a good thing.

October 10, 2006

Reply To Jeff Hess on DH

I jumped into the comments section on a post by Jeff Hess , a local liberal blogger with whom I have had an ongoing dialogue, because in the course of his summary dismissal of Front Page Magazine and David Horowitz, and specifically the new book by Horowitz and Richard Poe, he suggested that Poe was the "real author" of the book, with DH presumably just along for the name recognition...or something.

Poe is an excellent writer in his own right, and he may in fact have written the bulk of the book. But I took umbrage at the suggestion that the prolific and accomplished author/biographer, social and political commentator and noted conservative intellectual David Horowitz would be requiring a ghostwriter of any stripe. Especially a suggestion by someone so obviously unfamiliar with his body of work. So sue me.

To make a long story somewhat longer, something Jeff said in his reply to my comment made it clear to me that he had a fundamental misunderstanding of Horowitz' Students for Academic Freedom organization, and I set about here to try to persuade him to take another look. And since nobody deserves to have a blog comment this long clogging up their own comments section, (although I could handle it) I decided to post it here instead.


I see that your response to my suggestion that you engage Horowitz intellectually, is to simply say "no", with the added insult that he is "a clown". One would think that you ought to support this sentiment, perhaps by quoting some of Mr. Horowitz' more "clownish" statements, or some of his more buffoonish positions, but alas, argument by assertion is what we get. So be it. I get what you're saying. The man is beneath you.

But you go a bit too far when you attribute ideas to Horowitz that he has never hinted at, much less actually said or written. And you even have the nerve to use quotation marks! If you don't feel up to an intellectual joust with the man's ideas, I can understand, but you can't just make shit up. I quote from your comment:

"I don’t engage intellectually with people whose starting point is 'only speech that I approve is protected'.'"

Source please? Anything close? A reasonable facsimile? A related thought? A musing? An aside? Anywhere? Ever? In his dozens of books and pamphlets and hundreds of articles? WTF?

Let's start where you started:

You say that what turned you off to Horowitz was the movement he has worked at to champion greater academic freedom on American college campuses, the Students for Academic Freedom, and the accompanying Academic Bill of Rights. (Not something in and of itself that gets a man listed in the Axis of Evil, right?) It would be my goal in this response to you to get you to take another look at the movement without the presumptions of bad faith that have seemingly clouded your outlook to this point. (Are conservatives ever accorded the presumption of good faith, Jeff? George Bush aside, of course.)

I did visit the post you cite, (scroll to "Why Do We Go To College?" 2/26/05) and with all due respect, I'm afraid you either have really misunderstood the SAF movement, didn't read anything beyond whatever your father sent to you, or, as you have done repeatedly in your post, simply set up strawmen to knock down based on your own assumptions about Horowitz and what you somehow divine as his dark motives.

To your post: After citing a statement from Horowitz decrying the multiculturalist, knee-jerk anti-American biases that pervade many of our university Social Science faculties and course curricula, you make the rather bizarre and completely unsupported statement that "what Horowitz and his supporters really fear is dissent". (Horowitz "fears" a lot of things, according to your take. How you discern this is unclear to me.)

First, I would ask if you deny that our university social science faculties are decidedly leftist in their politics? If you do, you are all alone among sentient beings, liberal or conservative. Although the Horowitz effort to encourage and support academic freedom is non-partisan to its core, the sad but undeniable fact on many of our elite college campuses is that it is conservative views and conservative expressions that are being stifled. It is conservative speakers who are being physically attacked and shouted down (as happened the other day at Columbia University). It is leftists who are censoring speech. It is dissent from the right that is not being tolerated.

It is leftists who are mandating the speech codes on campus, which are now being rightly overturned by courts as illegal. The "Free Speech Zones" you refer to are creations of leftists, not the "Bush administration" as you imply in your post, ( in a truly Orwellian inversion.) Free speech is such a scary concept to these PC administrators and faculty that they feel the need to set up special zones where they can "allow" students to say what they please.

In America! In 2006!

Please, cite ONE example of an American citizen being denied the right to express a dissenting or anti-government opinion by the Bush administration that even comes close to what happened the other day at Columbia University, and that happens regularly on American college campuses.

One paragraph down from your assertion about fear of dissent, you quote from the Academic Bill of Rights:

"curricula and reading lists in the humanities and social studies shall respect all human knowledge in these areas and provide students with dissenting sources and viewpoints...."

Doesn't sound like a man who "fears dissent" to me. Nothing partisan about that. Nor about this, from the Student Bill of Rights:

"The Concept. Academic freedom and intellectual diversity are values indispensable to the American university. From its first formulation in the General Report of the Committee on Academic Freedom and Tenure of the American Association of University Professors, the concept of academic freedom has been premised on the idea that human knowledge is a never-ending pursuit of the truth, that there is no humanly accessible truth that is not in principle open to challenge, and that no party or intellectual faction has a monopoly on wisdom. Therefore, academic freedom is most likely to thrive in an environment of intellectual diversity that protects and fosters independence of thought and speech. In the words of the General Report, it is vital to protect “as the first condition of progress, [a] complete and unlimited freedom to pursue inquiry and publish its results.”

On grading:

"Students shall be graded solely on the basis of their reasoned answers and appropriate knowledge of the subjects and disciplines they study and shall not be discriminated against on the basis of their political, ideological, or religious beliefs."

This is in fact necessary today because agenda-driven leftist professors are using grading to punish students who are open about their conservative views. Perhaps you think this is all well and good, and that conservative students deserve to be punished with bad grades based solely on their opinions on social and political issues. I'll side with David Horowitz and other free thinkers on this one.

Liberal critics of the movement see a sinister motive behind this effort, because it challenges a status quo that they like just fine, thank you. Socialists have always been censors, without apology or pretense. And yes, a movement toward greater academic freedom on our campuses will, for the moment, tend to increase the expression of conservative ideas and thoughts, precisely because they are actively being suppressed today. It will obviously not be able to, nor does it aim to limit any expression of liberal ideas.

Even if you think that the huge imbalance of liberal-thinking faculty members is perfectly alright in a nation which is divided about 50-50 politically in the general population, I'm sure you would agree that there is something very wrong with the kind of thuggish behavior that suppresses the expression of conservative views, and which is often winked at and goes unpunished by college administrators.

And while he recognizes the huge faculty imbalance favoring liberals, Horowitz has never advocated quotas or other requirements by schools to hire more conservative faculty members, as many of his uninformed detractors assume he has. To the contrary, again excerpting from the SBOR:

"Academic freedom consists in protecting the intellectual independence of professors, researchers and students in the pursuit of knowledge and the expression of ideas from interference by legislators or authorities within the institution itself. This means that no political, ideological or religious orthodoxy will be imposed on professors, researchers and students through the hiring or tenure or termination process, or through the grading system or through the control of the classroom or any other administrative means. Nor shall legislatures impose any such orthodoxy through their control of the university budget."

He goes on to say:

"In other words, it is designed to make quotas unacceptable.

Nor does it mean that faculty ratios need to be “balanced” to reflect a balance in the population at large. “Diversity” means just that – the availability of different viewpoints and respect for intellectual differences. The words “balance” and “quota” do not appear in the Academic Bill of Rights or in any of the literature of Students for Academic Freedom, the organization I have sponsored on 70 college campuses to support these reforms.

As to indoctrination, Horowitz uses the words of the professors themselves, the ethical tenets presumably ascribed to by the American Association of University Professors:

"Professors are hired to teach all students, not just students who share their political, religious and philosophical beliefs. It is essential therefore, that professors and lecturers not force their opinions about philosophy, politics and other contestable issues on students in the classroom and in all academic environments. This is a cardinal principle of academic freedom laid down by the American Association of University Professors."

He is simply suggesting that they live up to their own code of behavior. On that same topic, more:

Political propagandizing in the classroom – a behavior all too common in our universities today – is unprofessional behavior. It is abusive and offensive, and it should be unacceptable to people all along the political spectrum. In its attacks on the Academic Bill of Rights, the American Association has made these seem like controversial statements. This is the height of intellectual dishonesty. These are not controversial statements. They are already accepted by university administrations; the problem is they are not enforced.

Horowitz was outspoken in his opposition to the idea that Ward Churchill should be fired because of his anti-American views and statements in the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks. This alone convincingly refutes the ridiculous made-up sentiment with which you smeared him:

"It will probably come as a surprise to many people, both friend and foe alike, that I am opposed to any attempt to fire Ward Churchill for the essay (now part of a book) that has become notorious in which he denounces his own country as a genocidal empire, supports America's terrorist enemies, and says that 9/11 was a case of the "chickens coming home to roost."

We live in country whose cornerstone document is a Bill of Rights that guarantees Americans a right to make fools of themselves if they so desire. State institutions like the University of Colorado are forbidden by our Constitution from firing people for expressing opinions, however offensive, idiotic or evil (and Churchill's comments on 9/11 qualify as all three)

(DH did allow that if the University was able to prove that Churchill's representation of his academic credentials was false, he could and should be fired for fraud.)

The SAF website doesn't do permalinks to individual articles either, but at that site you can find all of the organization's mission statements, Bills of Rights, etc, as well as citations by Horowitz' critics and his thoughtful and reasoned responses to those critics.

The only reason I take the time to make all these points is that I think that you truly believe in the principles that are articulated in the movement. Your problem is that you question the man behind the message, for whatever reason. You have to be reading some sinister motive into the text, which is nonpartisan by design. In fact, Horowitz discloses in this detailed response to the criticisms of the Academic Bill of Rights by the American Association of University Professors, that he sent the first draft of the text to four widely respected liberal academics (Stanley Fish, Michael Berube, Todd Gitlin and Philip Klinkner) among others, for their suggestions and editions, which he incorporated into the final text of the document. This response is well worth reading in full to get a grasp of what the ABOR is, and what it isn't. (I trust you will be able to discern that the writing, and the approach, and the tone, is hardly Colteresque.)

David has never responded in kind to the dishonest campaign to smear and discredit him. He has addressed his critics in detail, in public, and with intellectual rigor, as always. As evidenced here, where he relates the problem as he identified it and describes the way he has approached its solution, as he relates having been on the other side of the ideological divide, and how, in a time of greater academic freedom, he was encouraged to question and dissent, and speak out openly...

"The fact is that I planned this campaign to repair a broken academic process as a non-partisan effort, and specifically to be viewpoint neutral. The very first principle of the Academic Bill of Rights, for example, forbids the firing of professors on the basis of their political views. In launching the campaign I hoped to restore the educational guidelines that had been in place when I was an undergraduate at Columbia University in the 1950s.

These guidelines had protected me as a student with leftwing views in the McCarthy era. My parents were both Communists, teachers who had lost their jobs during the loyalty investigations of that time. I was then a budding “New Leftist,” and my views reflected my Marxist upbringing. Yet in all the years I was at Columbia, my professors never singled me out for my political leanings, but treated me instead like any other student. The papers I wrote were examined for the way I handled the evidence and constructed my arguments, never for the political conclusions or judgments I made.

Today, I am grateful to my Columbia professors for their professionalism, for the fairness with which they treated me as a student and for their faithfulness to the educational concept. They did not regard the classroom as a place for airing their political prejudices or where students were expected to adopt opinions their teachers regarded as politically correct. As I set out on my campaign of academic reform in the year 2003, the educational environment I experienced at Columbia in the 1950s was the gold standard of what I wanted to achieve.

It is my view based on thirty years of experience around college campuses, that American universities are less intellectually free today than they were in the McCarthy era. The difference is that then the commissars of political correctness were political figures who were outside the university community and whom the university community regarded with hostility as well as fear. Today, the commissars of political correctness are an integral part of the university itself. They are professors and administrators who think it is the university’s place to train students in “progressive” attitudes and ideas, and enlist them in the armies of “social change.” But the university is not – and should not be – a political party. As the liberal scholar Stanley Fish put it in a well-known article in The Chronicle of Higher Education, “Save The World On Your Own Time.”

I respond to your post in the spirit of that free inquiry and freedom of expression that you welcomed in your post, saying..."I would hope that others will read it closely and feel free to challenge me on any point it contains. After all, that's what a free healthy exchange of idea is all about."

David Horowitz' point exactly.

...and Jeff, please do read "Radical Son". I'd even lend you one of my copies of it. You would never again question David Horowitz' liberal bona fides.



Kick 'Em Out

Claudia Rosett says North Korea should be expelled from the United Nations. It's a start.

October 9, 2006

Can Government Be Smart?

I googled "hapless" AND "Norm Mineta" and got 216 hits. That's the kind of act that new Transportation Secretary Mary Peters has to follow. A few weeks ago, before Peters' Senate confirmation, the Weekly Standard editorialized on the opportunities that the change in leadership offered for rethinking existing policies in airline security. But so far, there's no reason to think Peters will overcome the rigid government PC-think that insists we treat all air travelers as equal risks for terrorist attacks.

And political correctness isn't the only obstacle we face. I thought the second paragraph of the excerpt from the TWS op-ed (emphasis added) captured the essence of the administration's other problem, one that applies in all areas of the fight against terrorism...people are constantly being told that anti-terrorism measures are a joke and a fraud, the tools of a power-mad President. Making Granny take off her shoes at the airport makes it seem like it is a joke.

First, there is no harm in acknowledging that the sort of person who is likely to be a terrorist is not just any citizen who happens to walk into an airport, but someone with specific, comprehensible characteristics of age, national origin, sex, religion, and behavior. So far as we are aware, no jihadist plots have been perpetrated against Americans by little old ladies from Dubuque, but several terrorist attacks--in particular, 9/11--have been carried out by young Muslim men of Middle Eastern origin. No, not all young men, not all Muslims, not all people from the Middle East, are jihadists or potential terrorists. Of course not. But common sense, and the overwhelming preponderance of evidence, should make it obvious to airport security personnel where to concentrate their energies. The amount of wasted time in airport security, and the trouble expended confiscating harmless items, is irrational when compared with the actual threat we face.

Second, while Americans support the war against terror, they do so against various odds. The fact is that certain political figures, and certain elements in the media, regard the war on terror not as a common struggle in which we all have a stake, but as a political strategy of the Bush administration. It is not difficult to find cynicism in coverage of the war, or skepticism about its danger to our national life. In our view, the confused and confusing principles governing transportation security only add to such cynicism and skepticism. When Americans are, in effect, mistreated as they go about their business at airports--regarded with suspicion, subject to humiliating searches and seizures, forced to endure long delays and hostile questions--it undermines confidence in their government's determination to vanquish terrorism. This is especially true when they know that they are subject to such indignities not because they are effective, but because they have become a habit, or it might be politically incorrect to do otherwise....

...Do the principles that govern transportation security reflect policies designed to protect innocent people and identify and apprehend terrorists? Or are they a random assortment of panicky procedures, petty harassments, and P.C. rules that exasperate Americans, and breed mistrust about the most important issue of our time?


More on the Hydrogen car, from Ralph Reiland. (via RCP)

Ace reminds about the "catch" in the love affair with liquid Hydrogen...that it uses energy to create it in liquid form.


Hydrogen car demo video

Lone Foley Post

In Sex Scandals and Double Standards, Charles Krauthammer makes the only point that really needs to be made on the Foley story:

In 1983, Representative Gerry Studds, Democrat of Massachusetts, admitted to having sex with a 17-year-old male page. He was censured by the House of Representatives. During the vote, which he was compelled by House rules to be present for, Studds turned his back on the House to show his contempt for his colleagues' reprimand. He was not expelled from the Democratic Caucus. In fact, he was his party's nominee in the next election in his district--and the next five after that--winning reelection each time. He remained in the bosom of the Democratic Caucus in the House for the next 13 years.

In 2006, Republican congressman Mark Foley was found to have been engaged in lurid sexual Internet correspondence with a 16-year-old House page. There is no evidence yet of his ever laying a hand on anyone, let alone having sex with a page. When discovered, he immediately resigned. Had he not, says Republican House Speaker Dennis Hastert, "I would have demanded his expulsion." Not only is Foley gone, but half the Republican House leadership has been tarred. Hastert himself came within an inch of political extinction.

Am I missing something? There seems to be an odd difference in the disposition of the two cases. By any measure, what Studds did was worse. By any measure, his treatment was infinitely more lenient.

Moreover, in the case of Studds, I do not recall demands for investigations of the Democratic leadership about what they knew about Studds and when they knew it. Yet Hastert is pilloried for having not done something about Foley.

Because it's about collecting political scalps, not intellectual honesty. Let me get this right. Watching the way the Democrats conduct themselves in the Foley matter is supposed to make me go out in November and vote for them?

Got it.

Loose Nukes

Robert Kaplan paints a startling picture of what's ahead for North Korea when, not if, the Kim regime falls. Even if war with North Korea can be avoided, there are still various nuclear and chemical weapons to be secured, not to mention the humanitarian challenges of feeding 23 million people. We've got 30,000 men in harm's way there, and we've already given 50,000 lives to keep the South free this long. Kaplan says China has strategic designs on the North of the peninsula, and yet it will be the Chinese that the U.S. government will have as a necessary international partner in shaping the regime's aftermath. Talk about your test of U.S.-China relations. Read it all.

If Kim's nuke test has an upside, maybe it's to jumpstart the public debate on our policy and our planning for this eventuality.

October 8, 2006

Review: The Looming Tower

Everybody's talking about Lawrence Wright's book "The Looming Tower". Here David Forsmak reviews it for Front Page Magazine.

October 7, 2006

The Silent Muslim Genocide

It takes a whole bunch of people working full-time to perpetuate the commonly held idea that what Israel is doing with regard to Palestine is a "genocide." To illustrate this distortion, it helps to actually count up bodies. Ben Dror Yemini has written a useful article which looks at Muslim deaths by Zionist and Israeli forces in the context of the other mass killings of Muslims about which the world has been largely silent, and makes some observations about the campaign to single out and demonize Israel. The piece is translated and posted in three parts at the Not a Fish blog, and the whole thing is a great read. Here are some excerpts from Part One of "Genocide genocide genocide" (ellipsis mine) (via aldaily.com)

Fact no. 1: Since the establishment of the State of Israel a merciless genocide is being perpetrated against Muslims and/or Arabs. Fact no. 2: The conflict in the Middle East, between Israel and the Arabs as a whole and against the Palestinians in particular, is regarded as the central conflict in the world today. Fact no. 3: According to polls carried out in the European Union, Israel holds first place as “Danger to world peace”. In Holland, for instance, 74% of the population holds this view. Not Iran. Not North Korea. Israel.

Connecting between these findings creates one of the biggest deceptions of modern times: Israel is regarded as the country responsible for every calamity, misfortune and hardship. It is a danger to world peace, not just to the Arab or Muslim world...

...The tragedy is that in Arab and Muslim countries a massacre is happening. A genocide protected by the silence of the world. A genocide protected by a deception that is perhaps unparalleled in the history of mankind. A genocide that has no connection to Israel, to Zionism or to Jews. A genocide of mainly Arabs and Muslims, by Arabs and Muslims.

This is not a matter of opinion or viewpoint. This is the result of factual examination, as precise as possible, of the numbers of victims of various wars and conflicts that have taken place since the establishment of the State of Israel up till this time, in which the massacre continues. It is, indeed, death on a massive scale. A massacre. It is the wiping out of villages and cities and whole populations. And the world is silent. The Muslims are indeed abandoned. They are murdered and the world is silent. And if it bothers to open its mouth, it doesn’t complain about the murderers. It doesn’t complain about the perpetrators of these crimes against humanity. It complains about Israel.

This great deception, that covers up the real facts, endures and even grows because of one reason only: The Media and Academia in the West participate in it. In endless publications, books, periodicals and websites Israel is portrayed as a state that perpetrates “war crimes”, “ethnic cleansing”, and “systematic murder”. Sometimes it is because this is fashionable, sometimes it is mistakenly, sometimes it is the result of hypocrisy and double standards. Sometimes it is new and old anti-Semitism, from the left and from the right, overt and covert. Most of the classic blood libels were refuted not long after they came into being. The blood libel of modern times, against the state of Israel, continues to grow. Many Israelis and Jews are accessories to the nurturing of the libel.

The author proceeds to tally the deaths in all conflicts involving the Zionist settlers and then the state of Israel, from the late 19th century to the present day...

The total count reaches about 60,000 Arabs killed in the framework of the Israeli-Arab conflict. Among them only several thousand Palestinians, although it is because of them, and only them, that Israel is the target of the world’s anger. Every Arab and Muslim death is regrettable. And it is okay to criticize Israel. But the obsessive and demonic criticism emphasizes a far more amazing fact: The silence of the world, or at least relative silence, in the face of the systematic extermination of millions of others by Muslim and Arab regimes.

Part Two and Part Three in part tally the much larger numbers of Muslims killed by other Muslims in civil wars, genocides and invasions all over the world. Places including Sudan, Iraq, Jordan, Syria, Egypt, Somalia, Afghanistan, Chechnya, Bangladesh, Indonesia, Iran. A couple excerpts from Part Three, including a reminder that...

...the great majority of Arabs killed in the framework of the Israeli-Arab Conflict were killed as a result of wars instigated by the Arabs and as a result of their refusal to recognize the UN decision regarding the establishment of the State of Israel, or their refusal to recognize the Jews’ right of self-definition...

...Israel did not dream, did not think and did not want to destroy any Arab state. But the ostensible goal of the attacking armies was “to liquidate the Jewish entity”....

Obviously, in recent years, the Palestinian victims have received most of the attention of the Media and the Academia. In actual fact, these make up just a small percentage of the total sum of all victims. The total sum of Palestinians killed by Israel in the territories that were conquered is several thousand. 1,378 were killed in the first Intifada, and 3,700 since the start of the second Intifada.

This is less, for instance, than the Muslim victims massacred by former Syrian president, Hafez Assad in Hama in 1982. This is less than the Palestinians massacred by King Hussein in 1971. This is less than the number of those killed in one single massacre of Muslim Bosnians by the Serbs in 1991 in Srebrenica, a massacre that left 8,000 dead.

Every person killed is regrettable, but there is no greater libel than to call Israel’s actions ‘genocide’. And even so, the string ‘Israel’ and ‘genocide’ in Google search engine leads to 13,600,000 referrals. Try typing ‘Sudan’ and ‘genocide’ and you’ll get less than 9 million results. These numbers, if you will, are the essence of the great deception.

October 5, 2006

Jihad History

I wanted to link and recommend two recent essays from European authors on the history of Islam and jihad. The first is by German professor Egon Flaig via Michelle Malkin's blog (the second of two articles included in her post.)

The other is by prolific Norwegian blogger and essayist Fjordman, writing this time at Brussels Journal, a piece called "Who We Are, Who Are Our Enemies; The Cost of Historical Amnesia".

I won't try to excerpt these longish essays, nor pretend to have anything to add to them by way of comment. I will simply suggest that you read them, and pass them along to people who might also benefit from the history lesson.

I might also suggest you take a look at the Andrew Bostom article on the Barbary pirates, which is linked from the Fjordman essay, and which reminds us that the current conflict with the jihadists is not the first one we have undertaken in American history.

October 4, 2006

Premature Buckeye Gloating

There may yet be hell to pay for posting stuff like this, but I'm for gloating in the present, because Ohio State will eventually lose, and then videos like these will be no fun at all. I love the photo-shopped cheerleader's sign in this first one. Nice touch.

Texas Had a Bad Day

Iowa Had a Bad Day Too

October 3, 2006

Email is Forever

Welcome Power Line readers. I really didn't expect Scott to post my email, but I'm glad he appreciated my story enough to do so. Anyway, thanks for clicking over. Let me know you were here.

GM's Hydrogen Car

This is six months old, but if you haven't seen it yet, check out the YouTube video of the GM hydrogen-fueled electric car, said to be 10-20 years away from common use. Why aren't we building factories to produce these things now? I'm sure they are cost prohibitive for the time being, but at least the day is in sight when we'll be able to flip the bird to OPEC and Hugo Chavez. Or our kids will. Faster, please!

October 2, 2006

Annan's Indictment

The (London) Sunday Times makes the case against Kofi Annan in a must-read piece. It starts this way...

Is There Blood on his Hands?

The bodies were still warm when Lieutenant Ron Rutten found them: nine corpses in civilian clothes lying crumpled by a stream, each shot in the back at close range. It was July 12, 1995, and the UN-declared “safe area” of Srebrenica had fallen the previous day. The lush pastures of eastern Bosnia were about to become Europe’s bloodiest killing fields since 1945.

Refugees poured into the UN compound. But the Dutch peacekeepers (Dutchbat) were overwhelmed and the Serbs confiscated their weapons. “From the moment I found those bodies, it was obvious to me that the Bosnian Serbs planned to kill all the men,” Rutten said. He watched horrified as Dutch troops guided the men and boys onto the Serb buses.

Srebrenica is rarely mentioned nowadays in Annan’s offices on the 38th floor of the UN secretariat building in New York. He steps down in December after a decade as secretary-general. His retirement will be marked by plaudits. But behind the honorifics and the accolades lies a darker story: of incompetence, mismanagement and worse. Annan was the head of the Department of Peacekeeping Operations (DPKO) between March 1993 and December 1996. The Srebrenica massacre of up to 8,000 men and boys and the slaughter of 800,000 people in Rwanda happened on his watch. In Bosnia and Rwanda, UN officials directed peacekeepers to stand back from the killing, their concern apparently to guard the UN’s status as a neutral observer. This was a shock to those who believed the UN was there to help them.

Annan’s term has also been marked by scandal: from the sexual abuse of women and children in the Congo by UN peacekeepers to the greatest financial scam in history, the UN-administered oil-for-food programme. Arguably, a trial of the UN would be more apt than a leaving party.

The charge sheet would include guarding its own interests over those it supposedly protects; endemic opacity and lack of accountability; obstructing investigations, promoting the inept and marginalising the dedicated. Such accusations can be made against many organisations. But the UN is different. It has a moral mission.

The article focuses on the massacres at Srebrenica, and in Rwanda and Darfur, Sudan, all of which occurred on Annan's watch, either as head of the Department of Peacekeeping Operations, or as Secretary General.

The sick joke is that Kofi Annan will be feted and applauded and thanked profusely as he steps down in December, as this corrupt and impotent organization and it's supporters pretend he has done an admirable job.

Just The Top 97...

From Investors Business Daily, a useful reference entitled "97 Reasons Democrats Are Weak On Defense And Can't Be Trusted To Govern In Wartime"

Gitmo First-Hand

I have yet to hear anyone who has actually visited the U.S. detention facilities at Guantanamo Bay criticize the conditions or treatment of detainees there. I've assembled links to the reports of a few of the journalists to visit the complex in recent days, along with Patterico's interview with a man previously stationed there. We could hope that our own soldiers might be treated half as well if they were captured by our enemies. But we know better.

Here's an excerpt from Rich Lowry's NRO column:

To enter one of the heavily barricaded camps for detainees here feels like walking into a low-grade war zone. Which is what it is. The extremists held here haven’t given up their ideology, or their fight. The struggle to harm America in whatever way, no matter how minuscule, carries on.

In one camp, detainees were taking apart the push-button faucets in their cells to get at a metal spring that they would stretch out to use as a weapon. The Asian-style toilets on the floors of the cells used to have footrests, until detainees wrenched them from the floor to use as bludgeoning weapons. The guards are splashed routinely with urine and feces. The detainees have even been known to try to kick their soccer balls out of their recreation area into barbed wire, to cost the infidels the price of one ball.

All the disturbances or suicides have taken place in the camps where security has been loosened. It was in Camp Four, where the best-behaved detainees are allowed to live communally, that a minor riot took place this past spring. A detainee faked a suicide attempt to lure the guards into the living area, where the floor had been smeared with urine, feces and soap. When they slipped, the detainees attacked them with light fixtures and other makeshift weapons. The man in charge here, Adm. Harry Harris, says his conclusion was “there is no such thing as a medium-security terrorist.”

While always mindful that they are dealing with dangerous men, the Americans treat them humanly, even sensitively. Seemingly every surface has a painted arrow pointing toward Mecca. Every detainee gets a Koran, and should it be necessary to search one, it is done by a Muslim translator, not a guard. Detainees are offered 4,200 calories a day. U.S. combat troops get 3,800. The average detainee has gained 18 pounds.

Here's the first in a series of posts by Patterico featuring his interview of a man who was stationed at Guantanamo Bay, and has spoken at length with some of the inmates there.

And Mark Steyn puts his characteristically humorous spin on the story of his recent visit to Gitmo. You'll want to read it all.

Claudia Rosett was also at Gitmo the other day, and files her report, with a promise of more to come.