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December 31, 2006

Stern Magazine Ugliness

Davids Medienkritik notes how Stern magazine panders to the guilt, shame and hate that their German readers feel, by bashing America and using a photo of Bush waving in what they obviously want to be perceived as a Nazi-type salute.

Under their headline, "The History of America", is this warm sentiment: "No nation has ever dominated the globe like the USA. And its people could care less about the rest of humanity."

David Kaspar counters this ridiculous ahistorical slander with some thoughts of his own:

Really? Is that why the USA sacrificed the lives of hundreds of thousands of its sons and daughters to liberate Germany from National Socialism? Is that why the United States spent billions to defend and rebuild West German democracy for decades on end? Is that why the United States helped Germans to establish the very democracy that guarantees German journalists the freedom to make outrageous, dehumanizing and sweeping anti-American statements like the one above?

Kaspar lists just a few of the dozens of possible examples of American compassion, generosity and sacrifice, and then continues: (emphasis in original)

...we know how much our multilateralist, holier-than-thou 'old European' friends love humanity so much more than anyone else. They would have left Saddam Hussein in power, they did nothing in Rwanda, were impotent in the Balkans until the US acted. They continue to stand around and do nothing but talk as African nations like Sudan and Congo implode. And in another great service to humanity, Schroeder and Chirac recently sought to lift the EU arms embargo on China. Here's a simple question: Is anyone else sick and tired of elitist Eurosnobs like the "journalists" at Stern lecturing us about how the USA doesn't "care about the rest of humanity"?

Now for some bad news: This won't end anytime soon. Stern's readers can't go without a steady diet of America-baiting. Hatred is a part of their ideological existence and they expect the magazine to deliver the goods. So the financial motivation to print hate is enormous for Stern. It is one of the foundations of the publication's monetary existence...and no magazine can exist without an income.

Kaspar follows up that post with an open letter to Stern asking them to retract and apologize for their slander:

This statement is particularly troubling because it demonizes an entire nation as indifferent, uncaring and unconcerned with anyone or anything beyond its national boundaries. The series headline, published for all of Stern’s readers to see, openly declares that all Americans could care less about the rest of humanity. Not only is it patently false for reasons too numerous to list here, it is also slanderous, bigoted and profoundly ignorant. In a legal sense, it may actually violate German laws against Volksverhetzung.


How can a publication like Stern Online, read by millions of Germans, allow such an obviously stupid and hateful statement to accompany a series on American history for years on end?


The incredible lack of journalistic integrity and responsibility displayed in Stern’s “The History of the USA” series and in many other Stern articles is deeply troubling to the readership of Davids Medienkritik. We ask that you remove the statement in question and offer your readers a full and public apology. We sincerely hope that, in the future, your publication will refrain from the opportunistic exploitation of your readership’s anti-American sentiments.

December 30, 2006

Idiot Test

Take a moment to try the Idiot Test. I hope it takes you more than one try to get through it too.

Murder For Stem Cells

A chilling article by Ryan Anderson, Murdered to Order, brings to light the practice of infanticide in the Ukraine, for the purpose of extracting and selling stem cells.

The Drudge Report recently highlighted a shocking story from the BBC that centered on "disturbing video footage" of "dismembered tiny bodies." "Healthy new-born babies" in the Ukraine, "the self-styled stem cell capital of the world," have allegedly been killed "to feed a flourishing international trade in stem cells."

Apparently this isn't an isolated problem. The Council of Europe "describes a general culture of trafficking of children snatched at birth, and a wall of silence from hospital staff upwards over their fate." Imagine the horror of young mothers who "gave birth to healthy babies, only to have them taken by maternity staff." What happened to these newborns was anybody's guess, but recent footage obtained by the BBC may provide insight into their fate: "The pictures show organs, including brains, have been stripped--and some bodies dismembered."

The BBC report comes as a complete shock to most readers. But to those steeped in biotech news and bioethical literature, the latest out of the Ukraine is only a partial shock. While no one expected baby-snatching in maternity wards, it seemed inevitable that the business of stem cell research would, at some point, produce an abomination of this kind.


... the public arguments are always made that human embryos merit a certain amount of respect and dignity--even if killing is still acceptable--and that the choice to destroy embryonic human beings is always made reluctantly, with the hope that new technologies will soon be developed that make their destruction unnecessary.

Now, however, we are seeing more and more clearly that this is all a hoax. Sure, people like Princeton's Peter Singer have argued for a long time in defense of infanticide. But no one ever considered infanticide a real possibility; Singer's arguments always seemed to be an eccentric intellectual exercise. Recent developments abroad and at home, however, force us to reconsider. Sadly, the BBC report out of the Ukraine is just the latest in a long line of startling developments in this trend.

December 29, 2006

FPM's 2006 People of the Year

FrontPage Magazine honors Ignacio Ramos and Jose Compean as their 2006 People of the Year.

The story of these two Border Agents hasn't been on my radar until now, but it is a compelling one. I would urge you to read it, and if you're interested, join the bi-partisan effort to get them pardoned or have their sentences commuted. It seems to me that even if they violated bureaucratic procedure in some way, they appear to have done it in the good faith execution of their job responsibilities, and don't deserve to be doing 11-12 years in prison for it.

State Dept. Covered For Arafat

The State Department has had proof for decades that Yasser Arafat personally approved and ordered the murder of two U.S. diplomats in 1973, and sat on the evidence until it was declassified recently. Bizzyblog has the story, but credits Scott Johnson of Power Line for his research into the case three years ago, (also here and here) and more recently, in a June 2006 post.

What is new here is not the suspicion or even the knowledge that Arafat was involved in the kidnap murders of Cleo Noel and George Curtis Moore of the United States in Kharthoum in 1973. But even twenty years ago, State had not supplied to the Justice Department the evidence they did have, causing Justice to decide against indicting Arafat at the time. The only new information appears to be the release of the document itself. Also "newsworthy" of course, is the major media's utter indifference to reporting on the story at all.

I realize that the job of the State Department is making nice, and that confronting the world with proof of Arafat's responsibility for the murders of two U.S. diplomats in cold blood would doubtless have made the task of propping up this thug as a partner for Israeli-Palestinian peace a lot more difficult. It might have even cost Arafat the 1994 Nobel Peace Prize, which has so cheapened and delegitimized the award ever since.

It would be interesting to hear what good reasons State had for sitting on the evidence all these years. But as Johnson's June post points out, thirty years later, department officials were still in CYA mode, denying the existence of proof of Arafat's connection to the murders. As Ed Morrissey points out, you'd think the murder of their own department colleagues would have moved State officials to seek justice for the man who ordered their deaths. Wrong.


Daled Amos

Ed Morrissey

Do Justice - Disbar Nifong

I was glad to hear today that Stuart Taylor Jr., long a favorite of this blog, is writing a book on the Duke-Nifong case, along with KC Johnson. Isn't it time by the way, that the media stop calling it the "Duke rape case", now that it's clear no such thing occurred?...unless of course we're talking about the rape of due process and the presumption of innocence. Taylor and Johnson outline the events to date in an OpinionJournal op-ed.

The North Carolina bar filed ethics charges against Nifong today. I wonder who will file ethics charges against the Duke University administration and faculty for their conduct in this affair. It took them about five minutes to cancel the lacrosse season, fire the coach, and as much as pronounce the three rich, white boys guilty. The shame on them cannot be piled high enough.

December 26, 2006

Sowell - Plain Talk

When faced with societal outcomes they don't understand, like corporate CEO's earning more than other people, self-styled progressives demand government action to "fix" things. Thomas Sowell says it's a bad idea to make public policy based on the economic ignorance of certain segments of society. Read the whole thing.

...if this obsession with income disparities is to be something more than mere hand-wringing or gnashing of teeth, obviously the point is that somebody ought to "do something" to change what you don't understand.

Usually that means that the government -- politicians -- should impose policies based on your ignorance of what is going on. Can you imagine anything more dangerous than allowing politicians to decide how much money each of us can earn?


...it took a Constitutional amendment to enable the federal government to impose an income tax. The people who wrote the Constitution were wise enough to understand what a dangerous thing it would be to allow government to take money from people just because those people had it.

Unfortunately, "progressives" were foolish enough, or envious enough, to single out "the rich" for a process that would inevitably spread across society and become insatiable in its demands.

Today's "progressives" want to expand political control of incomes even more. They call it "social justice" but you could call it Rumpelstiltskin and it would still mean politicians deciding how much money each of us can be allowed to have.

It is also worth noting that the people who are said to be earning "obscene" amounts of money are usually corporate executives. There is no such outrage whipped up when Hollywood movie stars make some multiple of what most corporate executives make.

This is social or ideological bias added to envy and ignorance. It makes quite a witches' brew on which to base national policy.

UPDATE 12/28: Sowell has a good follow-up piece today at NRO.

December 22, 2006

VDH on Annanism

Victor Davis Hanson:

So what is Annanism?

First, it is the reification of Western subliminal guilt. American and European elites feel bad about their wealth, bad about their leisure, bad about their history — but usually not bad enough to do anything that might jeopardize their present privileged positions. And so into this psychological disconnect steps an articulate handsome totem from abroad, in requisite stylish dress and aristocratic mellifluousness, to lecture Westerners with moral pieties — as they smile and snore.

In contrast, who wants a ruddy, uncouth, Walrus-mustached John Bolton railing about the sort of U.N. inaction that allows millions to perish and thugs to operate freely?

Such embarrassments might actually cause the U.N. to do something that would require sacrifices in lives and treasure for the greater good. How much better to be charmed into somnolence than awakened by horrific reality. How much better for the soul to be gently chided with moral platitudes about Western insensitivity than electro-shocked about Middle Eastern, African, or Asian genocide that will go on until someone does something very messy to stop it.

Much more. Read it all.

December 20, 2006

Zawahiri's Christmas Message

In case you missed it at PJM, the genius of Scott Ott of Scrappleface. It's well beyond parody.

Ayman al-Zawahiri's Christmas Greeting

Carter's Arab Sponsors

Jimmy Carter has been a reliable anti-Israel voice for years, although he poses as an honest broker trying to speak truth in the face of a powerful Jewish-American lobbying effort. Jacob Laskin, writing at FPM, says Carter's credibility as an agent of good faith is shot, as long as he accepts millions of dollars a year for his Carter Center from Middle Eastern Arab oil billionaires and representatives of fiercely anti-Semitic Arab governments. Even a disinterested observer might perceive Carter to be just dutifully parroting the company line. Keep the paymaster happy. Keep the Saudi cash rolling in.

Carter’s chief complaint seems to be that anyone who identifies with Israel, whether in the form of individual support or in a more organized capacity, is incapable of grappling honestly with the issues in the Arab-Israeli conflict. But Carter is poorly placed to make this claim. If such connections alone are sufficient to discredit his critics, then by his own logic Carter is undeserving of a hearing. After all, the Carter Center, the combination research and activist project he founded at Emory University in 1982, has for years prospered from the largesse of assorted Arab financiers.

Especially lucrative have been Carter’s ties to Saudi Arabia. Before his death in 2005, King Fahd was a longtime contributor to the Carter Center and on more than one occasion contributed million-dollar donations. In 1993 alone, the king presented Carter with a gift of $7.6 million. And the king was not the only Saudi royal to commit funds to Carter’s cause. As of 2005, the king’s high-living nephew, Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal, has donated at least $5 million to the Carter Center.

It goes on and on. "Compromised" just isn't a strong enough word. The expression "bought and paid for" comes to mind. As Jay Nordlinger says in his column today, "There has always been little daylight between him and Hamas."

UPDATE 12/21: Alan Dershowitz:" Why Won't Carter Debate His Book?"

One Less Thing To Worry About

Bird flu, that is. Michael Fumento explains why an epidemic just isn't going to happen. What has happened though, is that the U.S. government, prodded by the Chicken Littles in the fledgling bird flu bureaucracy, has allocated $3.8 billion (yes, with a "b") for bird flu spending, even though there has not been a single case of it in the United States. Good read.

December 19, 2006

...Just to Make it Fair

Greg Oden is the real deal, even playing with only one hand. The freshman center, who looks like he could be 38 years old, dominated again tonight, as the Buckeyes turned it on late to cruise past Iowa State.

As crazy as it may sound, Oden has lots of competition for the title of "most impressive Buckeye freshman." Point guard Michael Conley, Oden's high school teammate, has been dazzling with his ball handling, shooting and penetration. His chemistry with Oden was expected, and is evident, but nobody expected him to look so settled and mature and aggressive at the point just a handful of games into his freshman season.

Daequan Cook was rated one of the top five players in the nation as a high school senior, and he has arrived in Columbus with a flourish as well. Cook is a smooth swingman who gives the Buckeyes instant scoring as their sixth man for the moment. He could be joining Oden in the NBA if he wants to be a millionaire instead of a college kid sooner instead of later.

Buying Freedom

The WSJ features the story of Rev. Phillip Buck, an American citizen of Korean origin who is working to save the lives of North Korean refugees by helping them to get out of China and into South Korea, in effect paying a ransom for each one. Buck served 15 months in a Chinese prison for his activities, but recently returned to Seattle, and will get to spend this Christmas with family in freedom. He says that getting word back into North Korea from former refugees about the freedom on the outside is one way to eventually bring down the Kim regime from the inside.

An article from The TimesOnline from earlier this month says the plight of the refugees is a "freedom or death" struggle.

I went to the comments section of the WSJ piece hoping to find information on how to contribute to Buck's effort, and a couple of commenters had the same thought. I did a little googling on it and didn't come up with a satisfactory answer, so I do hope Ms Kirkpatrick will respond with some information and/or links.


HRNK Report: The Hidden Gulag

2003 WSJ article

December 17, 2006

Purples Rule

It's fair to call the Mount Union College football program a dynasty. Nine national titles in 14 years will do that for you. We were doing a similar post a year ago on the same date, and then the 2006 version of the team went 15-0 to win it all again. They actually trailed for the first time this season, when Wisconsin-Whitewater kicked a first quarter field goal in Saturday's Division III final. That's as tough as it got.

Mount Union Coach Larry Kehres was a senior QB for the Raiders when I was an MUC freshman in 1970, and also Head Resident advisor at Miller Hall, making him the authority figure for a group of unleashed 18-year olds intent on making fools of themselves. He was unable to prevent us from doing that, but he has failed at little else since. His career record is an astounding 246-20 over 21 seasons, which means he averages a 12-1 season for his entire career. No other football coach in history is close to those numbers.

Congratulations to Coach Kehres and the Purple Raiders. Again.

Don't Laugh

Presented with no editorial comment from me, Christopher Hitchens' "Why Women Aren't Funny"

Why is it the case?, I mean. Why are women, who have the whole male world at their mercy, not funny? Please do not pretend not to know what I am talking about.

All right—try it the other way (as the bishop said to the barmaid). Why are men, taken on average and as a whole, funnier than women? Well, for one thing, they had damn well better be. The chief task in life that a man has to perform is that of impressing the opposite sex, and Mother Nature (as we laughingly call her) is not so kind to men. In fact, she equips many fellows with very little armament for the struggle. An average man has just one, outside chance: he had better be able to make the lady laugh. Making them laugh has been one of the crucial preoccupations of my life. If you can stimulate her to laughter—I am talking about that real, out-loud, head-back, mouth-open-to-expose-the-full-horseshoe-of-lovely-teeth, involuntary, full, and deep-throated mirth; the kind that is accompanied by a shocked surprise and a slight (no, make that a loud) peal of delight—well, then, you have at least caused her to loosen up and to change her expression. I shall not elaborate further.

(via aldaily.com)

December 15, 2006

Not Worthy

-- The Onion continues to have fun with the BCS and the Buckeyes.

In what many BCS officials are citing as "proof that their flawless system indeed works," no Division 1-A college football team was found to possess the sheer excellence required to face Ohio State, the No. 1 ranked team since the season began, in this year's BCS Championship game.

"The main job of the BCS is to place the best football players in the nation in a single game in order to decide the national champion," said BCS chairman Mike Coleman. "This year, our computer took hours to process the polls' relevant data—by which I mean the opinions of the nation's finest sportscasters, sports-radio hosts, coaches, color commentators, and ESPN The Magazine contributors—and determined that no championship game is necessary. No team in America deserves to even step on the same field as Ohio State, let alone actually play in a game against them."

"It's good to know that, after the Harris and the USA Today polls carefully and painstakingly take care of the fallible, emotional, potentially biased human element of the ranking through old-fashioned voting, the BCS then takes that human element and subjects it to its own infallible rigid mathematical formulas," Coleman continued. "It's a confidence-inspiring system that has never failed us before."

"Although I'll be the first to admit that previous years have usually featured some sort of game," Coleman added.

-- Several of the Buckeye juniors are considering leaving school early for the NFL. Ted Ginn Jr. and Antonio Pittman are said to be gone for sure by some program insiders. Tackle Kirk Barton and receiver Tony Gonzalez are keeping their options open, filing the necessary paperwork with the NFL. The Bucks could sure use Gonzo next year as a captain and team leader, and to assist our first-year starter at QB. And he doesn't sound too anxious to turn pro:

"What I want to do is come back, that's for sure," Gonzalez said. "That's easy because it's fun here. The vast majority of the people I know in the NFL are miserable."

There is the money, though. It's a big year for receivers coming out, Ginn included, but Gonzalez will be in a similar situation again next year, and he may decide his value will never be higher than it is now.

-- Click and read The Sports Guy. It's Mailbag Day and hilarity ensues. In a serious moment, he explains to a reader why he doesn't write about college football much:

SG: Here's my defense: From late September through Christmas, everyone spends three solid months complaining about how screwed up the BCS system is, how no other sport's championship would ever be decided by a voting process, how half of these kids don't even belong in school, how the coaches are constantly screwing over their players by switching colleges, how dumb it is that you have to wait 50 days between games for the national championship, how the officials are terrible, how the announcers are terrible, how everything's about the money now, how it would be so much better if there was a real playoff system, how the NCAA is more corrupt than the mafia, how there are way too many bowl games … I mean, what's so fun about college football? What am I missing? I spend enough time complaining about sports that I actually like -- I need more complaining in my life? I'll stick with the pros, thanks.

December 14, 2006

Map of the Internet

Find yourself on this Map of the Internet.

This site plots any IPv4 address on the map from last Monday’s xkcd comic. In other words, it shows where you lie in the structure of IP addresses — so your placement has more to do with the pecking order of the computing industry in the late 1980s than with actual geography.

Here's where the server hosting danwismar.com sits, for example, right there in a little corner of one of the North America segments. In my profound ignorance of most everything the creator of this site is talking about, (I thought I could find "last Monday's xkcd comic" in the stack of old newspapers in the corner), I am duly impressed with this representation of the whole enchilada, as it were. It's also amazing how much of this Internet "real estate" is owned by corporate America, and the U.S. governement.

December 13, 2006

It's Worse Than Plagiarism

Jimmy Carter's new book, "Palestine: Peace not Apartheid" was in hot water the minute its inflammatory title hit the stands, inverting as it does the reality that it is the Arab states that have rid their lands of Jews, while Israel has a million Arab Muslims living as free citizens within its borders. And that apparently, is just the beginning of the book's distortions.

Alan Dershowitz and Rich Richman were among those who drew early attention to Carter's anti-Israel biases after the release of the book, although what might be charitably called Carter's "Jewish Problem" has long been a poorly kept secret.

Then Professor Kenneth Stein of Emory University, Carter's colleague at the Carter Center, resigned in protest over the contents of the book, which he characterized as "replete with factual errors, copied materials not cited, superficialities, glaring omissions, and simply invented segments."

Stein then suggested in an interview that maps Carter had used in his book were "unusually similar" to maps produced and published in "The Missing Peace" by Dennis Ross, the U.S. Middle East envoy under Bill Clinton and George H.W. Bush. Ross later confirmed that the maps appeared to have been lifted from his book without attribution.

With the likes of Ross, Dershowitz and Stein as his critics, (not exactly a right-wing cabal), Carter felt compelled to respond with an LA Times op-ed, in which he doesn't respond directly to the charges of plagiarized material, but does defend his use of maps, texts, and documents from the era in question, (and is still unable to resist distorting the Palestinian position on the "peace process" at the end of the paragraph):

With some degree of reluctance and some uncertainty about the reception my book would receive, I used maps, text and documents to describe the situation accurately and to analyze the only possible path to peace: Israelis and Palestinians living side by side within their own internationally recognized boundaries. These options are consistent with key U.N. resolutions supported by the U.S. and Israel, official American policy since 1967, agreements consummated by Israeli leaders and their governments in 1978 and 1993 (for which they earned Nobel Peace Prizes), the Arab League's offer to recognize Israel in 2002 and the International Quartet's "Roadmap for Peace," which has been accepted by the PLO and largely rejected by Israel.

I think we all know how well the PA has adhered to the "roadmap."

Now, all that background is setup to an important post at Jewish Current Issues, (via PJM) which undertakes to explain how Carter's use of the Dennis Ross maps goes well beyond the charges of plagiarism which have been justifiably leveled at him. By altering the original labeling, dating, and descriptions of the maps in the service of his pro-Palestinian agenda, Carter has done a grave disservice to the truth. The JCI post necessarily goes to some length and level of detail in order to show persuasively how Carter has misrepresented the maps and other material in his book. I encourage you to read it all and forward it to any interested parties, and especially to any Carter apologists you may know.

Jimmy Carter continues to pose as the solitary principled voice with the courage to take a "balanced position" in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, to say what would be "suicidal" for U.S. Congressmen or journalists to utter in the face of the "extraordinary lobbying efforts" of the American-Israeli PAC's.

Read the JCI post, follow a few of the other links above, and decide if Jimmy Carter's position represents your notion of "balance" or "principle" on this issue.

UPDATE 12/15: See also:

Mona Charen.

CAMERA roundup of commentary on the Carter book.

JCI followup post.

David Horowitz:

Even as Islamic Hitlerites gather in Iran to deny the first Holocaust of the Jews and to plot the second, former president Jimmy Carter tours America with a new book that describes Jews as racists and oppressors, and suggests they are also a conspiratorial mafia that intimidates “critics,” controls America’s media and war policy, and are therefore also the source of Islamic terrorism and the Arabs’ genocidal campaign to eliminate them from the map of the Middle East.

In other words, Americans beware of the Jew in your midst.

December 12, 2006

Hold Your Applause

Claudia Rosett's masterpiece, "Opportunity Lost - The Speech Kofi Annan Should Have Delivered" defies excerpting and simply must be read in its entirety. So go now. We'll be here waiting.

There's another very good, link-rich post on Annan's departure by Ken McCracken that you should see too. (via PJM)

And in the interest of equal time, Washington Monthly has an essay by William Dobson that treats the outgoing Secretary General much more kindly. (via RCP)

Gibson's New Epic

We got out to a Saturday matinee to see "Apocalypto" this past weekend, and came away dazzled by the filmmaking skills of Mel Gibson. A phrase I read elsewhere about the film, but readily agree with, is that it was "visually stunning" throughout. And while it is definitely not for the weak of stomach, I didn't think the violence was gratuitous. Gibson portrayed the Mayan tribes as primitive and savage, including violent tribal conflict, slavery and ceremonial human sacrifice. I guess there's no good way to clean that stuff up. The action sequences are edge-of-your-seat exciting, and the crowd scenes are worthy of the director of "Braveheart." The Yucatec Maya dialect in which all of the dialogue is spoken doesn't slow the pace at all.

I haven’t heard anyone else point this out, but I noticed what I presume to be Gibson’s homage to “Midnight Cowboy” in one scene. The captured tribesmen are being marched through the jungle by their captors, bound by the hands and necks to bamboo poles in a line. At one point a huge tree crashes down right across the path of the procession, and they scramble to avoid being crushed by its fall. The leader of the capturing tribe screams out to no one in particular, in dialect of course, "I’m walkin’ here”….which of course is Ratso Rizzo’s (Dustin Hoffman) famous line from "Midnight Cowboy" as he crosses a street in New York City and is nearly run down by a car lurching into the crosswalk. Maybe a coincidence, but I don't think so.

It's action-adventure at its best. I'll leave the heavy metaphors about modern civilization to the real critics, and just say that I found myself thinking that based on the behavior of the humans, the story might just as easily have been set in the 20th century as in the 15th.

UPDATE 12/13: Googling "Apocalypto" and "Midnight Cowboy" produced this review which mentions the same line. This one too. Not a scoop.

Dishonest Reporter of the Year Awards

HonestReporting.com presents their 2006 Dishonest Reporter of the Year Awards , a link-rich post that wraps up a year's worth of fraud, deception and lying from which the reputation of Big Media may never recover.


"Real or Fake?" - National Journal

The Corruption of the Media - EU Referendum

December 11, 2006

With A Straight Face Too

Kofi Annan had the gall to criticize the United States government for lacking "accountability" in the conduct of their affairs in his speech today. This after not one U.N. official has ever had so much as a reprimand, much less lost a job as a result of the largest fraud in the history of international aid, not to mention a panoply of other scandals including refugee rape and sexual exploitation by U.N. peacekeepers, and blatant and unrepentant nepotism involving his own family. (In today's news from Darfur, some of the U.N.'s peacekeepers are apparently having a bit of trouble sticking to the job description.)

Annan has done nothing to change the course of the United Nations from the impotent debating society he inherited. If anything, the U.N. he leaves behind is more infected with the disease of anti-Semitism than when he took the helm, difficult as that is to imagine. He has refused to insist on anything resembling enforcement of recent Security Council resolutions, proving once again how useless the organization is when action is required instead of words.

Here is some of what people are saying, starting with Ms. Rosett:

In a virtuoso display of the sleaze that has marked his tenure as UN Secretary-General, Kofi Annan used his farewell speech today at the Truman library to blast the Bush administration, this performance accompanied by a Washington Post Op-ed this morning that boils down to — guess what? — blasting the Bush administration. At Captain’s Quarter’s Ed Morrissey writes, “Come on, WaPo — level with us. Claudia Rosett wrote this as a spoof, right?”

If only it were that benign. One has to wonder if there is more going on here than simply Annan’s trademark mix of hypocrisy and moral vertigo. Annan has been hinting at plans after he leaves office at the end of this month to launch his own foundation (this was the justification with which he tried to pocket $500,000 in personal prize money earlier this year, from the ruler of Dubai). Annan’s farewell slam of Bush amounts to an open invitation to any number of Annan’s favorite left-wing tycoons, such as George Soros and Ted Turner, to donate whopping sums of money to the post-UN ventures of the self-styled “chief diplomat of the world,” as Annan has described his job. Were there swift justice in the world, Annan would now stop his meddling in U.S. politics and retire to Ghana to nurse a nose grown longer than Pinnochio’s. Instead, brace yourself, we are witnessing the birth of Annan, elder statesman, the next Jimmy Carter of the international set.

Ed Morrissey on Annan's Post op-ed yesterday:

There's plenty more laughs in Annan's goodbye screed. He tries to use Hillary Clinton's outline for It Takes A Village by telling readers that we are all responsible for each other's security, and that we are all responsible for each other's welfare. I'm sure that the people dying in Darfur will take great comfort in those words, in which the outgoing UN chief invokes them alongside the word "genocide" but manages to avoid applying it directly to them. Rwanda's victims also would second Annan's words, if any of them remained alive.

He then goes on to mention the rule of law and the need for states to play by the rules. However, in his quest for accountability, he fails to mention what consequences should come from failures to do so. We wanted to hold Saddam accountable for twelve years of intransigence in relation to 16 UN Security Council resolutions -- and Annan opposed the effort. We want to hold Iran accountable for its defiance of the non-proliferation treaty -- and Annan has little to say about that as well.

Accountability. Annan. Not exactly two terms one would tie together in UN history.

Michelle Malkin on Annan's suggestion that the U.S. abandoned its principles in fighting the war on terror:

Like Kofi Annan knows anything about remaining true to principles? He leaves behind a feckless, corrupted, global bureaucracy incapable of policing the predators in its ranks, unwilling to stand up to evil, and useless in the struggle against terrorism--or any other global threat.

And it's all President Bush's and America's fault.

Good riddance to you and your wagging finger, Kofi Annan. You will not be missed.

Hot Air:

Rwanda, Kosovo, Darfur, Oil for Food, child-sex scandals, twelve years of unenforced resolutions against Saddam, paralysis in the face of an accelerating Iranian nuclear program, a North Korean bomb test this summer, and an antagonism towards Israel so relentless as to border on the persecutional.

That’s the global test. We’ve failed it.

David Frum

Is it possible that Kofi Annan was once seen as a UN reformer? His exit from the world body has been as graceless as his tenure was shameless. In his parting address at the Truman Library, he nodded to the unpleasantness in Darfur. Beyond that, he had barely a word of criticism for the behavior of the 95% of the world's population that lives outside the United States. Instead, he condemned the Bush administration for failing to submit more entirely to the judgments of his organization. Indeed, he described the UN as a forum for "global democracy" - that being the process in which 100 dictators can outvote 99 governments elected by their people. He will not be missed, and if remembered at all, will be remembered only for the continuing disgrace of his institution and the financial scandals in which his own family played so large and murky a role.

December 9, 2006

Troy's Day

The PD's Doug Lesmerises has a nice feature on the 2006 Heisman Trophy winner today. And there are several Troy Smith highlight videos available at this YouTube site. Enjoy. Savor. Revel. We'll only get to see him in Scarlet and Gray one more time.

A True American Hero

Norman Podhoretz could be writing about tsetse flies and I would read it, but thankfully he is writing a tribute to Jeane Kirkpatrick instead.

Another must-read from the new Standard is Reuel Marc Gerecht's critique of the ISG Report, which he calls "strong on assertions, but weak on arguments."

December 8, 2006

Smithsonian's Iraq Series

Following a link from Belmont Club the other day, I landed at The Smithsonian website, and browsed a bit since I hadn't been there before. They are featuring a compilation of seven articles on Iraq that have appeared in the magazine in the three years since the fall of Saddam in a feature called "Iraq Beyond the Headlines". I haven't plowed through all of it yet, but I've seen and read enough of it to recommend you take a look.

I've got to say too, that I was knocked out by the overall quality of the Smithsonian site. I could spend a week there and not scratch the surface. There's so much mediocrity on the Web that the good stuff jumps out and grabs you.

Government By The Word

More Fjordman goodness over at Brussels Journal. His post is largely a comment on the Alexander Boot book "How the West Was Lost", and laments the slow erosion of freedom of speech and the rule of law in the West, even as we purport to export our system to other parts of the world:

Is Islam compatible with democracy? This is a question I address elsewhere. We also have to ask ourselves, however, whether the conditions needed for a properly functioning democratic system are currently present even in the West. I’m not always sure about that. In a functioning democratic state, the state passes laws in accordance with the wishes of the people, and also strives to uphold these laws. In Western Europe in particular, the state does neither, as most laws are passed by unelected EU bureaucrats and not elected national parliaments, and as the streets are increasingly ruled by gangs and criminals...

...He (Boot) believes that democracy, the government of the people, by the people and for the people, has been replaced by glossocracy, the government of the word, by the word and for the word. The impulse behind Political Correctness consists of twisting the language we use, enforcing new words or changing the meaning of old ones, turning them into “weapons of crowd control” by demonizing those who fail to comply with the new definitions. Glossocracy depends upon a long-term investment in ignorance.

Then, quoting Boot here:

“A semi-literate population is a soft touch for glossocratic Humpty Dumpties insisting that words mean whatever they want them to mean. […] Laws against racism are therefore not even meant to punish criminal acts. They are on the books to reassert the power of the state to control not just the citizens’ actions but, more important, their thoughts and the words they use to get these across. […] It is relatively safe to predict that, over the next ten years, more and more people in Western Europe and North America will be sent to prison not for something they have done, but for something they have said. That stands to reason: a dictator whose power is based on the bullet is most scared of bullets; a glossocrat whose power is based on words is most scared of words. At the same time, real crime is going to increase. […] A state capable of prosecuting one person for his thoughts is equally capable of prosecuting thousands, and will predictably do so when it has consolidated its power enough to get away with any outrage.”

And as Fjordman says, prosecutions for speech crimes are already happening, as he cites examples in Europe and Canada. Whenever I hear fresh examples of the stifling of free expression by the EU statists, I recall Vladimir Bukovsky's warning that "it remains to be seen what kind of Gulag the EU will create", as if it's an eventuality, not just a possibility.

December 7, 2006

Prep For Saturday Night

I'm normally not much for sentimental "human interest" stories about sports stars or other celebrities, even as I recognize how some of them have truly overcome disadvantaged backgrounds to achieve success in sports or business or entertainment. Maybe it's because such stories have become so common as to be cliché. Or maybe it's because in many cases, the only things the person seems to have overcome are his own bad decisions or self-indulgences, which are interpreted by media people as having been dealt a bad hand by life's dealer.

And then there are stories like Troy Smith's.

You can't have followed Smith's college football career like I have, and not know that he had a tough childhood, and that he was taken under the wing of Ted Ginn Sr., his high school coach, as father figure, mentor and friend. But I didn't know a lot of detail about his background.

Having grown up on the east side of Cleveland myself, just up Cedar Hill from the fields at E. 112th and St. Clair where Smith played football as a kid, and blessed to have had a family life as idyllic as his was dysfunctional, I have a certain emotional attachment to him that I know not everyone can share. And yes, I'm a little bit of a nutcase about Ohio State football too, truth be told.

I guess all that's why Pat Forde's "human interest" story on Smith had me in tears. It starts this way:

The little boy clutched the present for his mom on a snowy Christmas Eve. Around the Cleveland neighborhood they looked for her, the 9-year-old and the man who had given the boy a home.

They walked though the snow and knocked on doors, asking where she could be. House after house, door after door. Nobody knew.

The boy never found his mother on that Dickensian Christmas Eve more than a decade ago. Never got a chance to give her the watch he'd bought from the mall with his foster father's money.

And so the crestfallen boy gave the watch to his foster mother instead, for his real mother was lost to him. Lost in personal troubles so deep and dark that her two children were taken from her and placed in the care of others.

For the 9-year-old, it was an achingly empty December moment. And, wherever she was, it certainly was an empty time for his mom.

They will experience a drastically different December moment this Saturday night, the boy and the mom. A moment of triumph. Thanks to the boy's powers of forgiveness and compassion, and the mother's will to salvage a life gone astray, they will experience that triumphal moment together.

Troy Smith, the little boy who could not find his mother one Christmas Eve, will win the Heisman Trophy. Tracy Smith, the former lost soul, will be there to see it.

Do read it all. It will help you savor the moment this Saturday when Troy Smith is recognized by the nation as the best player in college football for 2006. And bring a hankie.

UPDATE: The Troy Smith lovefest begins tonight, as Smith is named the winner of the Walter Camp Award, a trophy presented to "the nations top overall player", and also the Davey O'Brien Award, given to the nations outstanding quarterback.

Eye On Putin

For a while at least, you can read online Leon Aron's lead article from the new issue of Commentary; What Does Putin Want? (The article on revolt in China is outstanding too.)

A good companion piece to that one is Max Boot in the LA Times, suggesting some things the West can do to counter Putin's Russia, which he calls "not yet an outright enemy of the United States."

December 6, 2006

"For this we waited nine months?"

Excerpting Bill Kristol and Robert Kagan. (ellipsis mine)

...after nine months of deliberation and an unprecedented build-up of expectations that these sages would produce some brilliant, original answer to the Iraq conundrum, the study group's recommendations turn out to be a pallid and muddled reiteration of what most Democrats, many Republicans, and even Donald Rumsfeld and senior military officials have been saying for almost two years. Thus, according to at least six separate commission sources sent out to pre-spin the press, the Baker-Hamilton report will call for a gradual and partial withdrawal of American forces in Iraq, to begin at a time unspecified and to be completed by a time unspecified. The goal will be to hand over responsibility for security in Iraq to the Iraqis themselves as soon as this is feasible, and to shift the American role to training rather than fighting the insurgency and providing security. The decision of how far, how fast, and even whether to withdraw will rest with military commanders in Iraq, who will base their determination on how well prepared the Iraqis are to take over. Even after the withdrawal, the study group envisions keeping at least 70,000 American troops in Iraq for years to come.

To say that this is not a new idea is an understatement...

...One of the more striking aspects of the Iraq Study Group's report is that these recommendations are clearly not anyone's idea of the right plan. As the New York Times put it, they represent "a compromise between distinct paths that the group has debated since March." One commission source declared, "We reached a consensus, which in itself is remarkable." "Everyone felt good about where we ended up," said another. We're happy for them. But reaching consensus among the 10 members of the group was presumably not the primary goal of this exercise. The idea was to provide usable advice for the Bush administration that would help it move toward an acceptable outcome in Iraq. In that, the commission has failed...

...It's not as if the Baker commission has accomplished nothing, however. Although its recommendations will have no effect on American policy going forward, they have already had a very damaging effect throughout the world, and especially in the Middle East and in Iraq. For the Iraq Study Group, aided by supportive American media, has successfully conveyed the impression to everyone at home and abroad that the United States is about to withdraw from Iraq. This has weakened American allies and strengthened American enemies. It has exacerbated the problems in Iraq, as all the various factions in that country begin to prepare for the "inevitable" American retreat. Now it will require enormous efforts by the president and his advisers to dispel the disastrous impression that the Baker commission has quite deliberately created and will continue to foster in the weeks ahead. At home and abroad, people have been led to believe that Jim Baker and not the president was going to call the shots in Iraq from now on.

Happily, that is not the case.

See also today's BOTW with Taranto commenting on the ISG suggestion that one pre-condition of our success in Iraq is solving the Arab-Israeli dispute. Oh, is that all?

The ISG's recommendations are thought to reflect the foreign-policy school known as "realism"--that is, the belief that nations act in their own interests and that it is folly to expect them to do otherwise. But one of the ISG's recommendations shows why this concept is too simplistic:

The United States will not be able to achieve its goals in the Middle East unless the United States deals directly with the Arab-Israeli conflict.

There must be a renewed and sustained commitment by the United States to a comprehensive Arab-Israeli peace on all fronts: Lebanon, Syria, and President Bush's June 2002 commitment to a two-state solution for Israel and Palestine.

The U.S. has tried for decades to resolve the Israeli-Arab problem, and the results have been either meager (peace treaties with Egypt and Jordan) or execrable (a terrorist regime in the Palestinian Authority). Why is it "realistic" to think that more of the same will magically transform the region now?

Self-evidently it is not. In truth, the so-called realists make two unrealistic assumptions. The first is unrealistic even by their own lights: that Arab nations, far from being concerned only with their own interests, have a sentimental attachment to the Palestinian cause.

The second goes to a fundamental problem with realism: a failure to distinguish between nations and regimes. It's obvious that it would be in the interest of Arab nations--especially the currently nonexistent Palestinian one--to coexist peacefully with Israel. But the regimes that rule those nations are concerned above all with self-preservation. Stirring up hatred against an external enemy--the Jews--serves the purpose of diverting popular attention from the regimes' depredations.

This is why democracy matters. Democratic regimes are far from perfect, but by providing for popular accountability, they align the interests of the regime with the interests of the nation better than any other system that has been devised. In a world of democracies, realism would be a lot more realistic.

The NR editors on engagement with Iran and Syria:

Just talking will not paper over these big differences unless we are willing to give the Iranians and Syrians serious incentives. Accession to the World Trade Organization, one of the ideas floated by the report, is just not going to cut it. Nor will it be possible, as recommended by the ISG, to broker an Israeli-Arab peace deal that will make Iraq’s neighbors behave. Realistically, Syria would want immunity from the consequences of its assassination campaign in Lebanon, and perhaps renewed suzerainty over that country. Iran would want a tacit acceptance of its nuclear program. If the ISG thinks Iranian and Syrian cooperation in Iraq is worth this price, it should say so. But it doesn’t, making its diplomatic recommendations utterly unserious.

Robert Kaplan in The Atlantic:

The report may be less remembered for its details than for its double-edged political effect. On the one hand, it has been a catalyst to force the Bush Administration to initiate its own policy reviews, and step up its own diplomatic initiatives. That is an unmitigated good. On the other hand, by essentially making an end run around the Administration, the group risks seriously undermining it. But that is something the Administration can fix by emerging from all of these reviews with a decisive policy direction; professionally executed. Despite the election results, the Administration’s fate may still be in its own hands.

George Will at RCP.

December 5, 2006

Iraq, Iran and Realism

Don't miss these three recent articles concerning the conflict in Iraq, the recommendations of the Iraq Study Group and the concept of "realism" they promote, and the increasingly unspoken notion that we should commit to winning the war before we leave.

This excerpt is from an Andy McCarthy piece from last week:

In the wake of 9/11, the American people did not care about democratizing the Muslim world. Or, for that matter, about the Muslim world in general. They still don’t. They want Islamic terrorists and their state sponsors crushed. As for the aftermath, they want something stable that no longer threatens our interests; they care not a wit whether Baghdad’s new government looks like Teaneck’s.

To the contrary, Bush-administration officials — notwithstanding goo-gobs of evidence that terrorists have used the freedoms of Western democracies, including our own, the better to plot mass murder — have conned themselves into believing that democracy, not decisive force, is the key to conquering this enemy.

So deeply have they gulped the Kool-Aid that, to this day, they refuse to acknowledge what is plain to see: While only a small number of the world’s billion-plus Muslims (though a far larger number than we’d like to believe) is willing to commit acts of terrorism, a substantial percentage — meaning tens of millions — supports the terrorists’ anti-West, anti-democratic agenda.

Islamic countries, moreover, are not rejecting Western democracy because they haven’t experienced it. They reject it on principle. For them, the president’s euphonious rhetoric about democratic empowerment is offensive. They believe, sincerely, that authority to rule comes not from the people but from Allah; that there is no separation of religion and politics; that free people do not have authority to legislate contrary to Islamic law; that Muslims are superior to non-Muslims, and men to women; and that violent jihad is a duty whenever Muslims deem themselves under attack … no matter how speciously.

These people are not morons. They adhere to a highly developed belief system that is centuries old, wildly successful, and for which many are willing to die. They haven’t refused to democratize because the Federalist Papers are not yet out in Arabic. They decline because their leaders have freely chosen to decline. They see us as the mortal enemy of the life they believe Allah commands. Their demurral is wrong, but it is principled, not ignorant. And we insult them by suggesting otherwise.

See also:

Today's OpinionJournal.com op-ed says "realism" sometimes just means common sense. We've tried "engagement" with Iran for 27 years, with nothing to show for it but black eyes and bluster.

John Podhoretz at the NY Post says only winning wars wins wars, or something like that.

Make that four articles. I'm including this essay by Martin Beck Matustik on the chances of a "Velvet Revolution" in Iran, even though it's a bit off topic.

December 4, 2006

That School Up North

I can say it now. I think the second best team in the country is Michigan.

And the BCS system has been shown to be a joke that once in a while happens to get lucky and have two clear-cut favorites to play off. I haven't favored a rematch because I don't think an OSU victory would say much to the rest of the country that they haven't already proven, and a Michigan win wouldn't conclusively decide anything either. Oh yeah, and also because they have a hell of a team and as a Buckeye partisan, I didn't want any part of them in what looked like a no-win situation for OSU. But remember, I was against it for principled reasons too.

To claim that if Michigan won the rematch they would be the undisputed National Champions is to say that the Ohio State-Michigan game on November 18 meant nothing. The greatest rivalry in all of sport would be sullied. The most watched, highest-rated, most anticipated game of the year..."The Game" would count for nothing. I think that's part of what poll voters were thinking.

It does appear that the voters decided that they didn't want an OSU-Michigan rematch, and manipulated the polls to achieve their desired result. I also think some voters looked back at the OSU-Michigan game and, if they saw the same game I saw, they realized that UM was fortunate to be within three points of the Buckeyes, having benefitted from two unforced turnovers and some very questionable officiating. At no point in the second half of the game (OSU led by two touchdowns at halftime), was Michigan in possession of the ball with an opportunity to take the lead with a touchdown. After the early Michigan TD, OSU dominated and dictated the game.

So the question of who is Number Two is still a legitmate argument. Maybe Florida could hold the Ohio State offense under 500 yards. UM couldn't. Now we'll find out. None of this refutes my statement in the second sentence of this post.

Stuart Mandel at SI guesses we can't assume anything anymore. (Read it all)

For the better part of two months, the college football media and public operated under the assumption that Ohio State and Michigan were the two best teams in the country. Even after the Buckeyes knocked off the Wolverines on Nov. 18, we held true to that assumption, setting up the possibility of a rematch for the national championship.

But a strange and unprecedented thing transpired over the two weeks: The people who vote in the polls actually questioned their own assumptions.

Which is how it came to be that on Sunday, a surprisingly large amount of coaches and Harris voters suddenly -- and, if you were to ask any Michigan fan, inexplicably -- moved the Gators over the Wolverines onto No. 2 on their ballots. Did 63 coaches and 113 Harris voters watch Florida's SEC title win over Arkansas on Saturday night and suddenly decide, "I've changed my mind -- Florida is the second-best team in the country, not Michigan."

I highly doubt it.

Gene Wojciechowski at ESPN.com says UM got jobbed:

The BCS system rewarded Florida for finishing its season with wins at FSU and against Arkansas at the SEC championship in Atlanta.

And the BCS penalized Michigan twice for being on the wrong end of the calendar: once when USC moved to No. 2 after beating Notre Dame (even though Michigan beat the Irish worse), and now, when Florida overtook the Wolverines (even though U of M's season ended two weeks ago).

How can you call this a "system" when Florida belongs to a league that plays a conference championship, and Michigan doesn't? How can you call it a quasi-playoff when Michigan drops twice in the standings without losing a game?

The BCS is a contrivance, but one that is about as good a system as possible in the absence of a playoff. They were (pick one) a last-second TD by Michigan over Penn State, a Bush Push of Leinart at Notre Dame, or a dropped TD pass by an OSU tight end against Texas away from being in the exact same dilemma last year. Texas or USC or Penn State could just as easily have ended as the only undefeated team, and the urgent demand for a playoff would have begun a year earlier.

This year of course, in order for there to be any final argument about who's best, the Buckeyes will have to lose in Arizona. I just don't see that happening. I'm having the same optimistic feeling I had in "97 about the World Series against Florida when...wait...never mind.

And as for the Wolverines, they must be relishing going to Pasadena on a mission to prove the voters wrong. You'd think that anyway, Lloyd Carr notwithstanding. I always root for UM twice a year...in the Notre Dame game and in their Bowl game, just for Big Ten bragging rights and all. But this year, I'm not so sure I can do that. Because if they can't beat USC in the Rose Bowl, we won't have to listen to their fans whine all the way till next November.

Nope, no sympathy here for the Ugly Hats. See you in November, as usual.