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February 28, 2007

HuffPo Edits Out Vile Comments

PJM - Rewriting HerStory: Huffpo Expunges, Edits 100s of Comments at the Cheney Hate Festival

Over the last few hours, the more than 400 comments appended to the Huffington Post’s news item on the attack in Afghanistan on a base being visited by Vice-President Dick Cheney have been expunged from the site. At first the comments were closed, then gradually shrunken and for a short time completely expunged from The Huffington Post as the heat on the Cheney hate fest built up over the day.

Read it all, and go read the deleted comments via Michelle Malkin. It's no excuse for what the HuffPo people did, but they're embarrassed, and it's no wonder. I'd be embarrassed too if it were my ideological soulmates drinking the Hatorade. Embrace them, Arianna, don't censor them. They're your people. Own up to them.

Traditionally, leftists have been censors without apology. (Their organized ideological "cleansing" of digg.com is just one recent example) We'll see how they spin this one. Right now it seems more like denial at work than conscience. As a PJM commenter pointed out, maybe it's just the Secret Service rattling their cage.

UPDATE 2/27: Jules Crittenden's post contains a letter from Bagram-based Major John, who is able give a sense of what today's events mean and what they don't mean, in terms of the overall Afghan campaign.

UPDATE 2/28: The link at Malkin to the pdf file of the original HuffPo comment thread wasn't working as of 2 a.m.


Doug Feith has set up a website to post articles and information to defend his reputation from the baseless attacks on him by Sen. Carl Levin.

That might as well begin with Mario Loyola's "Feith on Trial".

(via Laurie Mylroie)

Thrilling Wonders

Mont Saint-Michel4.jpg

Maybe this site has been a secret only from me. Amazing photoessays at Dark Roasted Blend. Their mission statement: "all kinds of weird and wonderful things, posted daily."

Hope they don't mind my borrowing one of their shots of Mont Saint-Michel.

February 26, 2007

Sauce For the Gander

Taranto responds to the AP's silly new scandal story, disclosing that Mitt Romney's great-grandfather, and his great-great-grandfather were polygamists.

...Romney's church long ago renounced polygamy. He himself not only isn't a polygamist; he doesn't even practice "serial monogamy." He married his high school sweetheart, Ann, and they've been together, just the two of them and their kids, for 37 years.

If the marital lives of a presidential candidate's great- and great-great-grandparents are a legitimate topic of journalistic inquiry, what about the marital lives of presidential candidates themselves? We have in mind a particular candidate, who, without naming any names, is now the junior senator from New York and the front-runner for the Democratic presidential nomination.

Nine years ago we learned that the future senator's husband, who then held a high position in the federal government, was carrying on an extramarital sexual affair with an employee who was only a few years older than the age of consent. This came to light when the husband lied under oath about it in a lawsuit in which another woman alleged that he had made unwanted sexual advances toward her. Several other women also claimed that the husband either had affairs with or forced his affections upon them. The husband was not indicted for perjury, but he was impeached, though not convicted.

The senator-to-be did not divorce her husband; indeed, in her public statements at least, she not only stood by her man but made him out to be the victim of what she called "the vast right-wing conspiracy." Now, according to the Washington Post, she wants the whole topic to be off-limits.

No doubt she will also want to set "off limits" the Travel Office firings, the bimbo smear squad ("drag a hundred dollar bill through a trailer park") and the law-breaking healthcare task force, to pick a random three items from a long list. To insist that her actions the last time she occupied the White House should be off limits, simply because she was operating with zero public accountability, official appointment or electoral mandate, is no different than suggesting that McCain's voting record, or Giuliani's policies as Mayor aren't legitimate fodder for questioning and debate. You can't promote and celebrate "two-for-one", and then refuse to acknowledge that you were one of the two.

She might start by holding a legitimate open press conference. The free ride has to end eventually.

I have written before of my contention that if the mature blogosphere of 2006 had existed in 1996, the Clinton presidency could not have survived. The pliant press simply embargoed stories that were damaging to the White House. That level of information control would be impossible today. Instead, we see the Democratic practice of labeling any talk of the criminality and other scandals of the Clinton White House as 'swift-boating'.

Whoa. If that doesn't scare off any self-respecting journalist, I don't know what would.

Indians Outlook

Grady Sizemore

Baseball Savant has a detailed preview of the 2007 Cleveland Indians, and he's fairly bullish on the Tribe. It's nice to hear this kind of prediction from someone who has a more detached perspective than mine. After last year I don't trust my own instincts. He projects the Indians at 92-70, and figures them to be a major player in the division race. On Sizemore:

In my mind, Sizemore is the very best young player in the game today. Or at least that is what the matrix told me! For all the talk about how great a seasons that Vernon Wells and Carlos Beltran has in 2006, Grady Sizemore had the best season by a CF in all of baseball according to VORP. Did I mention he was 23 years old? Sizemore broke into the majors at 21 and became a full time starter at 22. He became a legitimate MVP candidate at 23 and is one of the few players in the game that has a chance to be an historical player who we look back on as one of the best centerfielders to have played the game. If he can avoid injury and his progressions keep going, just sit back and enjoy the ride. Those 53 doubles last season should translate into more HR if he can hit a few more fly balls. He's got speed so he should be a perenial 30-30 guy with great plate discipline. Is there a 40-40 in his future? I definitely see MVP Trophies.

Here are his previews of the other AL Central contenders, the Twins, White Sox, and Tigers.

Over There

Sen. Joe Lieberman

What is remarkable about this state of affairs in Washington is just how removed it is from what is actually happening in Iraq. There, the battle of Baghdad is now under way. A new commander, Gen. David Petraeus, has taken command, having been confirmed by the Senate, 81-0, just a few weeks ago. And a new strategy is being put into action, with thousands of additional American soldiers streaming into the Iraqi capital.

Congress thus faces a choice in the weeks and months ahead. Will we allow our actions to be driven by the changing conditions on the ground in Iraq--or by the unchanging political and ideological positions long ago staked out in Washington? What ultimately matters more to us: the real fight over there, or the political fight over here?


Putin's Russia

He has successfully co-opted the media through intimidation, and some would say, via murder. He has successfully co-opted the industrial sector by way of coercive takeovers and bogus prosecutions. He has re-engineered the government to assure that whoever succeeds him as President will be someone of his own choosing. The result is a "stability" of sorts that many Russians seem to find more comforting than the relative chaos of freedom.

There are three separate features available today on Vladimir Putin's Russia, and all are worth a look. All three are depressing to one degree or another in what they describe as a return to the bad old days of totalitarian government.

The Guardian: "Who's Killing Putin's Enemies?" - Part One - Part 2

NY Times Magazine - "Post-Putin"

John O'Sullivan - "Putin's Cold War"

Here's one excerpt from the Guardian piece, on Putin's manipulation of media...

The 1996 election 'put a poison seed into the soil,' Andrei Norkin, a former anchor for NTV, told me. Norkin now works for the satellite network RTV1, which is owned by Vladimir Gusinsky. 'And, even if we did not see why, the authorities understood at once: mass media could very easily be manipulated to achieve any goal. Whether the Kremlin needed to raise the rating of a president or bring down an opponent or conduct an operation to destroy a business, or a man, the media could do the job. Once the Kremlin understood that it could use journalists as instruments of its will, and saw that journalists would go along, everything that happened in the Putin era was, sadly, quite logical.'


Putin had seen what true press freedom could accomplish during the first Chechen war, and he was not about to repeat Yeltsin's mistake. In 1999, after the explosions that terrorised Moscow and provided the rationale for instigating the second Chechen war, the Kremlin quickly assumed control of essentially all television in Russia and responded harshly to those who tried to resist. On 14 April 2001 the state-controlled energy monolith, Gazprom, forcibly took over NTV - cutting Andrei Norkin off in the middle of a sentence as he tried to explain what was happening inside the studios. The screen filled with coloured stripes. Igor Malashenko referred to the seizure - a decisive moment in the muffling of free speech in Russia - as 'a creeping coup'. Networks soon became wholly owned by the state or by companies - like Gazprom, which owns three networks and also Izvestia - that function as corporate arms of the government.

Castro - Letters From Prison

Available in English for the first time, a series of letters written by Fidel Castro from prison 48 years ago reveal a side of him largely unseen by the outside world ever since. Good read from the WaPo.

February 25, 2007

Park Sentencing

Tongsun Park is sentenced for his role in U.N. Oil-for-Food bribery. Claudia Rosett reports:

Park got five years in prison and was ordered to forfeit $1.2 million and pay a $15,000 fine for what Judge Chin described as “a very serious crime.”

Park was convicted last summer of conspiring to act as an unregistered agent of Saddam Hussein’s government with the aim of bribing the UN to rig the Oil-for-Food relief program for UN-sanctioned Iraq. But that mouthful does not begin to convey the web of conspiracy and cash that trial witnesses described to the jury, in a tale that included cash in envelopes in Manhattan, cash in shopping bags near Washington, cash picked up in Baghdad, deposited in a Jordanian bank and then delivered in the form of checks to various parties, including one of Kofi Annan’s top advisers and environmental gurus, Maurice Strong — who has denied any wrong-doing.

February 24, 2007

Greg, We Hardly Knew Ye


It doesn't seem possible that Sunday's showdown with Wisconsin in Columbus will be the last home game ever for Ohio State's freshman center Greg Oden. Ohio State fans knew from the day he committed that Oden was likely to be a "one and done" player, a Buckeye only by virtue of the NBA rule change. Celtic fans, not least Bill Simmons, are already fantasizing about Oden in green.

By most accounts Oden has been an earnest and thoughtful college student. He is said to relish campus life, the intellectual stimulation as well as the social scene. Now, whether he likes all that stuff better than the $50 million or so he'll be counting by summertime if he turns pro is the question. I have never bought into the "stay in school" argument, when kids have a chance to sign huge pro contracts as underclassmen. If a college education is something they really want, there's nothing standing in their way as young millionaires, and other deserving kids get their scholarships. But Oden must feel like he hasn't even had one real college season.

The scary thing about Oden's game is that we haven't seen it yet. As good as he has been, Oden has been playing one-handed up until the last week or so. His surgically repaired right wrist is just now getting to the point where he can shoot his natural right-handed baby hook and feel confident blocking shots with either hand. The major discernable flaw in his game as a 19 year old college freshman is that he tends to get in trouble putting the ball on the floor, as opponents double-team him and go for the steal aggressively whenever he posts up low. A healthy right wrist would go along way toward solving that problem.

So would getting another full, healthy year of college experience to hone his game for the NBA. And that's one reason I have a sliver of hope that Oden could return for his sophomore season. Another is a that with or without Oden, the 2007-2008 Buckeyes will be loaded. Even if the Bucks come up short this year in the tournament (none of the four No.1 seeds made it to the Final Four last year), they would be a prohibitive favorite in 2008 if Oden were returning. Maybe his high school teammate Mike Conley Jr. or Coach Matta, or others close to the young man will influence his decision and persuade him to postpone becoming a multimillionaire for one more year to make a bonafide run at the national championship. Hope springs.

Another entirely selfish hope of mine is that the Buckeyes can hang onto a No. 1 seed, and land in the St. Louis regional, where my hotel is already reserved and my ticket bought for the Sweet Sixteen round.


One of the kids coming into Matta's program at OSU next year is Jon Diebler, a 6'6" shooting guard from Upper Sandusky High School. Friday night, Diebler broke Jay Burson's all-time Ohio career scoring record with 44 points in his final regular season game. A couple weeks ago he passed some guy named LeBron James to move into second place. Also in the Bucks incoming class is center Kosta Koufos, a 7-footer with a great shooting stroke to go with his size inside. He's ranked as one of the top ten preppers in the country overall.

UPDATE 2/25: Bucks win a squeaker. Oden dodges the question:

Amid speculation he might turn pro after his freshman year, the crowd serenaded Oden with a chant of "One More Year!" as the Buckeyes assembled on the floor to accept the conference championship trophy.

"I thought they were talking about Ivan!" Oden cracked.

Pressed for an answer, he said, "That's a decision that's going to be made later on in the year."

Bucknuts game story

February 23, 2007

Case Study in Travesties

More good pub for KC Johnson. Check out this Chicago Sports Review interview with the professor/blogger, who says it's a shame his blog had to matter in the Duke case.

February 22, 2007

In This Corner...


I loved this photo of Hillary seemingly giving Obama "The Look" at the State of the Union address this year. Maybe it had something to do with Obama picking a seat right in front of Hillary, so the cameras could hardly get a shot of her without getting a shot of him too. Curses. And whatever she's giving him, he's giving her right back. The photo is from Time's coverage of the now celebrated verbal volley between the two Democratic front-runners, and it captures the tone of the story wonderfully.

Seems an erstwhile Clintonite, and now a supporter of Obama, has violated the Commandment..."thou shalt not speak ill of the Clintons", and must be taken down. Super-rich Hollywood dude, David Geffen had the effrontery to suggest that the Clintons have a history of playing fast and loose with the truth. (I had not personally heard of this, but it is an intriguing story.) Here's part of the Time article:

...Geffen, a big fundraiser for the Clintons in the past, called Obama "inspirational" and dismissed Hillary Clinton as "overproduced and overscripted." As for her husband, Geffen suggested that his bad-boy days are not behind him: "I don't think anybody believes that in the last six years, all of a sudden Bill Clinton has become a different person." And to top it off, he said this about the two of them: "Everybody in politics lies, but they do it with such ease, it's troubling."

Even by the legendary rapid-response standards of a Clinton operation, what followed was extraordinary. Her campaign issued a statement demanding that Obama denounce Geffen, banish him from the campaign and return his money. Obama's campaign quickly fired back with a statement declaring it "ironic that the Clintons had no problem with David Geffen when he was raising them $18 million and sleeping at their invitation in the Lincoln Bedroom." Then the Obama spokesman upped the ante: "It is also ironic that Senator Clinton lavished praise on Monday and is fully willing to accept today the support of South Carolina state senator Robert Ford [an African American], who said if Barack Obama were to win the nomination, he would drag down the rest of the Democratic Party because 'he's black.'" That drew yet another round from Team Clinton: "How can Senator Obama denounce the politics of slash and burn yesterday while his own campaign is espousing the politics of trash today?" As for Geffen, he did what few people in public life ever do: he refused to scurry. He issued a statement that his comments were quoted accurately and "reflect solely my personal beliefs."

There just aren't enough Hollywood billionaires to go around.

Maureen Dowd (who I think used to be a columnist with the New York Times) set this thing off with her published interview with Geffen, excerpted here at Editor and Publisher:

Once, David Geffen and Bill Clinton were tight as ticks. Mr. Geffen helped raise some $18 million for Bill and slept in the Lincoln Bedroom twice. Bill chilled at Chateau Geffen. Now, the Dreamworks co-chairman calls the former president “a reckless guy” who “gave his enemies a lot of ammunition to hurt him and to distract the country.”


They fell out in 2000, when Mr. Clinton gave a pardon to Marc Rich after rebuffing Mr. Geffen’s request for one for Leonard Peltier. “Marc Rich getting pardoned? An oil-profiteer expatriate who left the country rather than pay taxes or face justice?” Mr. Geffen says. “Yet another time when the Clintons were unwilling to stand for the things that they genuinely believe in."

Doesn't that last Geffen statement have a nonsensical, even oxymoronic ring to it? Maybe it's a function of using the words "Clintons" and "genuinely" in the same sentence. On the pardon matter, Taranto had this to say today...

We've got to defend Mr. Clinton here. Whatever you may think of Marc Rich's pardon--and we didn't think much of it at the time--at least he didn't murder two FBI agents, as Peltier did.


And Peggy Noonan says this week's events make Hillary's nomination seem less inevitable:

Republicans and conservatives have been trying to sink Mrs. Clinton for years, but she keeps bob-bob-bobbing along. "Oh those Clinton haters, what's wrong with them?"

Only a Democrat could hurt her, and a Democrat just did....

...In her column Ms. Dowd labeled the campaign operation "Hillary Inc." but Mr. Geffen got closer to the heart of it: It is the Clinton "machine" and it "is going to be very unpleasant and unattractive and effective."

He's probably about to find out how true that is.

Mr. Geffen should be braced for a lot of bad personal box office--negative press, searching profiles, strained relations. We're probably about to see if the Clinton Machine can flatten him. Little doubt it will try. John Dickerson wrote in Slate this week of Bill Clinton's generously sharing his campaign wisdom: "Your opponent can't talk when he has your fist in his mouth." Among some Democratic political professionals this kind of talk is considered tough and knowing, as opposed to, say, startlingly belligerent and crude.

But the outcome of the Geffen-Clinton episode is worthy of watching because it is going to determine whether it is remembered as the moment in the 2008 campaign when it became clear you are allowed to criticize Hillary--or as the moment it became clear you are not.

Any discussion of events that occurred in the 90's has been pre-emptively dismissed as "swift-boating" by the Clinton campaign, and as such is beyond the pale of legitimate electoral discourse. So far she has arrogated to herself the right to make her own rules for the game, while sealing herself off from unscripted media interviews as a way to avoid discussing troublesome peripheral issues... like her political track record.

Hillary's insistence that Obama renounce Geffen's remarks and return his contributions demonstrates again how she lacks the political instincts of her husband, to say nothing of how she doesn't "get" basic values like freedom of speech and association. Kind of important for a President, y'know?

Iraq Liberation Act

"If I had known then what I know now...", goes today's common Congressional cop-out, excusing their 2002 votes authorizing military action against Saddam, while in some cases (the Hillary Gambit) not yet renouncing that vote outright. In the next breath we often hear how "we were misled" , or "the rush to war" is lamented, all of which is of course laid at the feet of George Bush.

But rather than look to the 2002 Congressional votes, I believe it is more instructive to recall the intent, and the very specific language of the Iraq Liberation Act, and the overwhelming bipartisan majority vote by which it was passed; a 360-38 vote in the House, and by unanimous consent in the Senate, if Congressional feet are to be held to the fire.

Notice as you read the act's summary below, and some of the specific crimes of the Saddam regime that follow in the full text, the fact that in 1998 the existence of Saddam's WMD programs was widely accepted, even in the mainstream media community and around the world, as established fact.

And all of this was two full years before George W. Bush was around to do any "misleading" about those weapons programs. Two years before Cheney, Feith, Wolfowitz, and the rest of the warmongering neocons arrived on the scene. Isn't it slightly important now to ask members of Congress first, if they meant what they said in 1998, and second, who it was that was misleading them at the time. (emphasis mine - DW)


Iraq Liberation Act of 1998 - Declares that it should be the policy of the United States to seek to remove the Saddam Hussein regime from power in Iraq and to replace it with a democratic government.

Authorizes the President, after notifying specified congressional committees, to provide to the Iraqi democratic opposition organizations: (1) grant assistance for radio and television broadcasting to Iraq; (2) Department of Defense (DOD) defense articles and services and military education and training (IMET); and (3) humanitarian assistance, with emphasis on addressing the needs of individuals who have fled from areas under the control of the Hussein regime. Prohibits assistance to any group or organization that is engaged in military cooperation with the Hussein regime. Authorizes appropriations.

Directs the President to designate: (1) one or more Iraqi democratic opposition organizations that meet specified criteria as eligible to receive assistance under this Act; and (2) additional such organizations which satisfy the President's criteria.

Urges the President to call upon the United Nations to establish an international criminal tribunal for the purpose of indicting, prosecuting, and imprisoning Saddam Hussein and other Iraqi officials who are responsible for crimes against humanity, genocide, and other criminal violations of international law.

Expresses the sense of the Congress that once the Saddam Hussein regime is removed from power in Iraq, the United States should support Iraq's transition to democracy by providing humanitarian assistance to the Iraqi people and democracy transition assistance to Iraqi parties and movements with democratic goals, including convening Iraq's foreign creditors to develop a multilateral response to the foreign debt incurred by the Hussein regime.

It is the second of those highlighted Congressional "senses", the one about "supporting Iraq's transition to democracy", about which the defeatist coalition in Congress should now be reminded. It is that commitment on which they have turned their backs. They now advocate a course that would throw the Iraqi people to the wolves, and waste the lives and time and treasure we have already committed to the task. And the sickening part of it to me is that they seem to have absolutely no compunction or regret at all about doing so, as long as their greater goals of humiliating George Bush and/or getting re-elected can be served in the process.

Some lines from the accompanying signing statement by President Clinton also sound vaguely familiar:

The United States favors an Iraq that offers its people freedom at home. I categorically reject arguments that this is unattainable due to Iraq's history or its ethnic or sectarian make-up. Iraqis deserve and desire freedom like everyone else.

Similar talk by George Bush from 2001 until today has earned him scorn and ridicule from his political opponents. At the time I guess I missed their denunciations of Clinton's idealism as naive and misguided or messianic. I guess I also missed their qualification of their votes to remove Saddam as only valid if we didn't have to, you know, do anything about it ourselves.

Wizblog: "You say you want an investigation?"

February 20, 2007

Not Just A River

Dr. Sanity on BDS, and those who perceive themselves as 'reality-based'.

Writing History

I was stuck in a traffic jam today at lunch hour due to a major car fire on the freeway, so I was able to catch Dennis Prager's interview with Michael Oren for about 45 uninterrupted minutes. The topic was Oren's new book, Power, Faith and Fantasy; America in the Middle East: 1776 to the Present, and I made a mental note to look for an online transcript when I got home because it was so interesting.

The Prager website didn't have anything, but PJM happened to have a terrific interview with Oren by blogger Michael J. Totten, which covered much of the same material. That included Oren's recounting of the historical fact that, from the very day of this country's founding, the United States faced a conflict with Islam that was characterized by what are now familiar themes to us:

MJT: So tell us, Michael, why does America’s involvement in the Middle East 200 years ago matter today? What does it have to do with September 11 and Iraq?

Oren: Well it matters, Michael, because many of the same issues that Americans are facing today in the Middle East were confronted by America’s founding fathers – Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, George Washington. For example, they had to confront the issue of state-sponsored terrorism in the Middle East. They had to face a threat to the United States, and decide whether to generate military power and then project that power thousands of miles from the United States. They had to decide whether to involve the United States in an open-ended and rather expensive bloody war in the Middle East. This was, of course, the Barbary War, America’s first overseas military engagement and America’s longest overseas military engagement. It lasted from 1783 to 1815. During the course of this engagement, as my book shows, the United States was confronting a jihadist state-sponsored terrorist network that was taking Americans hostage in the Middle East. It’s very similar to what is going on today.

In fact, the young U.S. government, under the Adams administration, was paying out 20% of the government's revenues to the Barbary pirates as tribute, in the form of ransom for our sailors and citizens. Several weeks ago, Christopher Hitchens had a piece called "Jefferson's Quran", that relates how Jefferson came to understand what we were up against:

The Barbary states of North Africa (or, if you prefer, the North African provinces of the Ottoman Empire, plus Morocco) were using the ports of today's Algeria, Libya, and Tunisia to wage a war of piracy and enslavement against all shipping that passed through the Strait of Gibraltar. Thousands of vessels were taken, and more than a million Europeans and Americans sold into slavery. The fledgling United States of America was in an especially difficult position, having forfeited the protection of the British Royal Navy. Under this pressure, Congress gave assent to the Treaty of Tripoli, negotiated by Jefferson's friend Joel Barlow, which stated roundly that "the government of the United States of America is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian religion, as it has in itself no character of enmity against the laws, religion or tranquility of Musselmen." This has often been taken as a secular affirmation, which it probably was, but the difficulty for secularists is that it also attempted to buy off the Muslim pirates by the payment of tribute. That this might not be so easy was discovered by Jefferson and John Adams when they went to call on Tripoli's envoy to London, Ambassador Sidi Haji Abdrahaman. They asked him by what right he extorted money and took slaves in this way. As Jefferson later reported to Secretary of State John Jay, and to the Congress:
The ambassador answered us that [the right] was founded on the Laws of the Prophet, that it was written in their Koran, that all nations who should not have answered their authority were sinners, that it was their right and duty to make war upon them wherever they could be found, and to make slaves of all they could take as prisoners, and that every Mussulman who should be slain in battle was sure to go to Paradise.

Medieval as it is, this has a modern ring to it. Abdrahaman did not fail to add that a commission paid directly to Tripoli—and another paid to himself—would secure some temporary lenience. I believe on the evidence that it was at this moment that Jefferson decided to make war on the Muslim states of North Africa as soon as the opportunity presented itself.

All we had to do was build a navy.

As I add the Oren book to my Amazon Wishlist, I'll close with a bit lifted from David Pryce-Jones' review of the Oren book at NRODT:

The relationship of the U.S. to the Arab and Muslim worlds, Oren contends, is a permanent see-saw between American ideals and American interests that as a rule are abstractly defined and all too often prove incompatible. The U.S. began by expecting Arabs and Muslims to be nothing but trade partners, as peaceful as they themselves intended to be. Instead, corsairs from the Barbary States of the southern Mediterranean shore, nominally owing fealty to the Ottoman sultan, attacked trading vessels and sold American sailors in their hundreds into slavery. The U.S. response was to pay bribes for protection, and to redeem the slaves. One local ruler boasted, “You pay me tribute, by which you become my slaves”; another held that Americans were no different from Europeans and “will talk a great deal and do nothing, and at last come cap in hand and sue for peace upon my own terms.”....Resorting to action at last, President Thomas Jefferson persuaded Congress to build a war fleet. Armed intervention then put an end to this piracy and slavery.


So constant is Arab and Muslim culture that current arguments about policy towards Iraq, Iran, or Syria are an almost exact repetition of those for or against that first American campaign in the Middle East. In the absence of Muslim reform, the choice before an American president still lies between some form of bribery or appeasement, and the deployment of power.

Be sure to take in the whole Totten-Oren interview. Lots of good stuff there.


Powells.com review
Oren talks to PowerLine

More on "Slow-Bleed"

A sampling of editorial opinion from the last few days...

Bill Kristol:

Politicians often say foolish things. Members of both parties criticize cavalierly and thunder thoughtlessly. They advance irresponsible suggestions and embrace mistaken policies. But most of our politicians, most of the time, stop short of knowingly hurting the country. Watching developments in Congress this past week, though, one has to ask: Can that be said any longer about the leadership of the Democratic party?

Mark Steyn:

So "the Murtha plan" is to deny the president the possibility of victory while making sure Democrats don't have to share the blame for the defeat. But of course he's a great American! He's a patriot! He supports the troops! He doesn't support them in the mission, but he'd like them to continue failing at it for a couple more years. As John Kerry wondered during Vietnam, how do you ask a soldier to be the last man to die for a mistake? By nominally "fully funding" a war you don't believe in but "limiting his ability to use the money." Or as the endearingly honest anti-war group MoveCongress.org put it, in an e-mail preview of an exclusive interview with the wise old Murtha:

"Chairman Murtha will describe his strategy for not only limiting the deployment of troops to Iraq but undermining other aspects of the president's foreign and national security policy."

"Undermining"? Why not? To the Slow-Bleed Democrats, it's the Republicans' war. To an increasing number of what my radio pal Hugh Hewitt calls the White-Flag Republicans, it's Bush's war. To everyone else on the planet, it's America's war. And it will be America's defeat.

Jeff Jacoby:

If they had the courage of their convictions, they would forthrightly defund the war, bring the troops home, and brave the political consequences. Instead they plan a more agonizing and drawn-out defeat -- slowly choking off the war by denying reinforcements, eventually leaving no alternative but retreat. That is how those who oppose the war "support" the troops -- they "slow-bleed" them dry.

N.Y. Daily News:

And now things get grim. Perhaps they go all the way to the Supreme Court - as frets Sen. Joe Lieberman, grieving that anti-Bush Capitol Hill might trigger a constitutional crisis as members insist on being commanders in chief of a war some seem to look forward to losing.

Like House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's point man, Jack Murtha. Seldom in the history of the republic has an elected official so delighted in the idea of preventing American troops from doing their jobs, and yesterday the Pennsylvania congressman was practically licking his chops at the prospect of shutting down their funding and stopping them in their tracks. Actual Murtha quote: "They won't have the equipment, they don't have the training and they won't be able to do the work."

Here's a guy you want watching your back when the going gets tough, huh?

Washington Post:

Mr. Murtha's cynicism is matched by an alarming ignorance about conditions in Iraq. He continues to insist that Iraq "would be more stable with us out of there," in spite of the consensus of U.S. intelligence agencies that early withdrawal would produce "massive civilian casualties." He says he wants to force the administration to "bulldoze" the Abu Ghraib prison, even though it was emptied of prisoners and turned over to the Iraqi government last year. He wants to "get our troops out of the Green Zone" because "they are living in Saddam Hussein's palace"; could he be unaware that the zone's primary occupants are the Iraqi government and the U.S. Embassy?

It would be nice to believe that Mr. Murtha does not represent the mainstream of the Democratic Party or the thinking of its leadership. Yet when asked about Mr. Murtha's remarks Thursday, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) offered her support. Does Ms. Pelosi really believe that the debate she orchestrated this week was not "the real vote"? If the answer is yes, she is maneuvering her party in a way that can only do it harm.

February 19, 2007

Warren's Paradoxes

David Warren on Iran and threats and paradoxes:

The reason one utters a threat, to another person who is threatening to hurt us, is not, usually, because we want to fight. It is, usually, because we don’t want to fight. We are hoping to persuade this enemy -- who must be an enemy, because he threatened us first -- to back down. We are explaining to him, as succinctly as we can, why it is that he might not want to do what he says he wants to do. One may -- here comes the paradox -- utter a threat with entirely pacific intentions.

All of which Warren thinks should be obvious to the "gliberals"...

For such people, a threat is just a threat, a warlike act -- unless it is directed towards President Bush, or some more local bogeyman, in which case it becomes a natural expression of a nearly cosmic antipathy. The most blood-curdling cries from Iranian ayatollahs, to exterminate all Americans and Jews in a nuclear holocaust, can be shrugged off as just a little overdone. But should the U.S. president reply, “We will defend ourselves,” he will provoke a great glowing rage among them. How dare Bush utter threats?

They do not think of themselves as siding with, e.g. the ayatollahs. Not even the Iranian man in the street does that. They think they are on the side of pellucid virtue. But the paradox there is: no, they are on the side of the ayatollahs.

Not to confuse or conflate pacifism with Bush Derangement Syndrome, (they like to wrap it all up in their self-stroking term, "anti-war".) but similar thoughts were memorably put forth by George Orwell in 1942. Great Britain's pacificts were "objectively pro-Fascist." Michael Kelly expanded on that two weeks after 9/11:

England's pacifists howled, but Orwell's logic was implacable. The Nazis wished the British to not fight. If the British did not fight, the Nazis would conquer Britain. The British pacifists also wished the British to not fight. The British pacifists, therefore, were on the side of a Nazi victory over Britain. They were objectively pro-Fascist.

An essentially identical logic obtains now. Organized terrorist groups have attacked America. These groups wish the Americans to not fight. The American pacifists wish the Americans to not fight. If the Americans do not fight, the terrorists will attack America again. And now we know such attacks can kill many thousands of Americans. The American pacifists, therefore, are on the side of future mass murders of Americans. They are objectively pro-terrorist.

...and a week later, Kelly again:

Two propositions: The first is that much of what is passing for pacifism in this instance is not pacifism at all but only the latest tedious manifestation of a well-known pre-existing condition: the largely reactionary, largely incoherent, largely silly muddle of anti-American, anti-corporatist, anti-globalist sentiments that passes for the politics of the left these days. The second is that, again in this instance, the antiwar sentiment (to employ a term that encompasses both genuine pacifism and an opposition to war rooted in America-hatred) is intellectually dishonest, elitist and hypocritical.

I still miss Michael Kelly.

Technology Limiting U.S. Emissions Growth

A week ago, Kurt Volker, a U.S. State Department official, gave a speech to a German audience at a meeting of the German Marshall Fund. The subject was climate policy in the United States as compared to our European counterparts, and it sought to examine targets and results instead of treaties signed, or promises made. And if Europeans could read some real numbers through the fog of anti-Americanism clouding their view, they just might climb down off their high horses. (Ha!)

It would be helpful too, if the German media were to give the speech some coverage for the people. Alas, no such luck. Davids Medienkritik has the link to the full text. I have excerpted liberally anyway...

Let me start first with the data, because it is important to have the facts on the table. No question: The United States is the world's largest emitter of CO2. Everybody in the room knows this. But this fact says no more about the United States, than the fact that Germany leads Europe in emissions says about Germany.

The United States is number one in greenhouse gas emissions primarily because it is the number one economy in the world. With 5% of the world's population we produce 25% of global wealth. And despite being relatively clean and green, Germany leads Europe in emissions, because it is Europe's largest economy. Our emissions are not out of line with the size of our economy. And it's worth noting: the International Energy Agency is forecasting that China, with a smaller economy, is expected to surpass U.S. greenhouse gas emissions by 2009.

More important than current emissions is the trend line. What is actually happening to emissions? Are they being reduced? This, after all, is what Kyoto is supposed to address.

According to data from the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, from 2000-2004--the most recent period for which we have good, comparative data--U.S. greenhouse gas emissions increased by 1.3 percent. This is an increase, but a very modest increase. The EU-25, on the other hand, increased collective emissions by 2.1 percent.


Germany, I should state, had an admirable record of actually cutting greenhouse gas emissions by 0.7 percent during this time period--but Germany's efforts were overshadowed by increases in most other EU economies.

Now let's be honest--even a 2.4 percent increase for the EU-15 is a very modest increase. But given the way this issue gets talked about publicly in Europe, I would venture to say that few people in Europe know that from 2000 to 2004, EU-15 emissions grew at nearly double the U.S. rate, and that Europe, at least during this period, has been moving away from-not towards-its Kyoto target of an 8 percent cut. (...)

Now notice something else. This time period of 2000 to 2004 was a period of rapid economic growth in the United States. Between 2000 and 2004 we grew our economy by almost 1.9 trillion dollars (or nearly 1.46 trillion Euros). That's about the equivalent of adding Italy to the U.S. economy. And we increased our population by 11.3 million people--adding more than the population of Greece. And yet our emissions grew only 1.3 percent--that tells you a lot about how the U.S. economy is already changing to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

It is of course very hard if not impossible to see an actual decrease in emissions when both your economy and population are growing, though we came close. So how do we get a better measure of what is really happening? We do that by measuring the greenhouse gas intensity of an economy--that is, greenhouse emissions per unit of GDP. As our economy soared, our emissions rose only slightly; from 2000 to 2004, we reduced the greenhouse gas intensity of the U.S. economy by 7.5 percent. That is a good result.

How did the EU-25 perform? They also saw a reduction in greenhouse gas intensity. Theirs was about 4.5 percent. Also a good result, though not quite as steep a decline as the United States.

How did the United States achieve this lower emissions intensity ratio? By working very hard to bring cleaner technology into the marketplace. Through a combination of targeted market decisions, incentives, voluntary partnerships and mandates, the Administration's policies have helped speed the deployment of cleaner technology.

And this is the key: Kyoto provides a target for emissions reductions. To actually cut the emissions -whether one is a Kyoto country or not--one needs to put new, cleaner technology in place. And this is where the United States is leading the world. Our approach is producing concrete results, even as our economy expands.

February 18, 2007

Campaign '08 Update

This can only help. Dave Barry is running for President.

Clearly...we need to look outside of mainstream politics for a "different kind" of candidate – a person who may lack the traditional qualifications for being president, such as experience, or knowledge, or some clue about what the president actually does, but compensates for these shortcomings in other ways, such as regular flossing.

I believe that I am such a person. And that is why I have taken the liberty of asking a group of distinguished Americans, including Oprah Winfrey, Albert Einstein, Bono, the Pope and Scarlett Johansson, if they would serve on a committee to explore the question of whether I should run for president. I have not heard back from any of them, which I am taking as a yes.

And so today, here on the Internet, I am formally declaring that I am running for president. Make no mistake: I am in this thing to win, unless it involves effort. Bold words? Yes, but sometimes boldness is called for. If Columbus had not been bold, he would probably still be alive today.

February 17, 2007

On a Dem Winning in '08

Thanks to Jonah for the link from The Corner yesterday. I had responded to this article, and his acknowledgement sent my hit count soaring into the dozens. Welcome Corner readers!

I will say that seven months after writing that post, I've come to my senses somewhat, even though the Democrats' detachment from seriousness about the threat of terror is worse than ever.

February 16, 2007

Contentions - Borowski

One of the cool things about the nascent Commentary blog Contentions, is that the contributors are able to mine and make available classic pieces from 60 years of Commentary magazine archives in the course of writing today's posts. Not a bad resource to say the least.

Today Sam Munson links to a recently translated review of a compilation of the work of Polish writer Tadeusz Borowski:

Tadeusz Borowski, short-story writer, poet, and kapo in Auschwitz, took his own life at the age of 29. He left behind him one of the most important bodies of literary work about the Holocaust, a corpus doubly important for its proximity to the abyssal horrors of the camps and for its author’s tremendous literary talent—a confluence at times missing in the larger sphere of such literature.

The book is now available just in German I guess, but Munson is able to reach back to Commentary's publication, the first in English, of one of Borowski's best known short stories, This Way for the Gas. It's all good, and the Contentions blog has become a daily stop.

Gratitude On Stilts

An American hero is saluted by ABC News. Sent my way by Brian Duffy of One Oar in the Water. Thanks, Brian. Uplifting is the word.

February 15, 2007

Tactics Over Ideas?

In an essay at Brussels Journal, Joshua Trevino laments the vacuum where the modern American public intellectual might be. Interesting read for us middlebrow types. Read it all, but here Trevino has a little something for most everyone, all in one paragraph.

The first thing that must be said of American public intellectuals of the present day is they are mostly pretenders to the title. There are many ideologues, but few thinkers. Our academic class yields some of the most shrill, shallow, and vicious participants in the public square. The flagship journals of American ideology are uniquely devoid of powerful intellects of any stripe. On the right, the two publications of note are the National Review and The Weekly Standard. The former holds its primacy by dint of history rather than any accomplishment now; and the latter is a creature of the moment that will recede to a purely niche publication as its wars are slowly lost. On the left, The New Republic, The Nation, and The American Prospect function mostly as partisan publications, and therefore participate with alacrity in partisan dogfights. (The eschewing of TNR in particular is a showcase of the costs of insufficient party loyalty.) This is not useless work; nor it is not distinguishing or demanding work. We thus see that the putative fountainheads of ideas and values on left and right run dry. They are publications of tactics and means rather than objectives and ends. Advocates of the new media declare that blogs have taken over the intellectual-leadership role that the old journals have abdicated. This is nonsense: if the flap over Marcotte and McEwan demonstrated anything, it is that the chief proponents of the “netroots” are far more interested in defending any fool with a laptop who shares their politics, than in an assessment of ideas and values. There is rational self-interest in this — therein lie jobs, power, and the self-actualization inherent in swaying the masses — but we should not dignify it with more. However you look at it, online or off, in the space where the American public intellectual would be, there is mostly vacuum.

February 14, 2007


It appears the Democrats' new Iraq strategy will be one of a legislative "slow bleed" of our military's ability to persevere there. They will hide behind legislation instead of taking an open political stand many of them rightly see as fraught with risk. That would require principle and political courage. None of that going on here.

Fronted by John Murtha, their intent is to make sure the pacification of Iraq is a failure, and that Bush is thus humiliated. This seems to be the only thing they are interested in, and they are willing to risk American lives by restricting the numbers of forces we can utilize in the campaign. A new low indeed.

They will use their legislative power to tie the hands of the Commander-in-Chief in his conduct of the military campaign. They just don't have the guts to do it honestly and forthrightly. I truly hope they seal their 2008 electoral doom with this craven, cowardly stunt.

From The Politico

Top House Democrats, working in concert with anti-war groups, have decided against using congressional power to force a quick end to U.S. involvement in Iraq, and instead will pursue a slow-bleed strategy designed to gradually limit the administration's options.

Led by Rep. John P. Murtha, D-Pa., and supported by several well-funded anti-war groups, the coalition's goal is to limit or sharply reduce the number of U.S. troops available for the Iraq conflict, rather than to openly cut off funding for the war itself.

The legislative strategy will be supplemented by a multimillion-dollar TV ad campaign designed to pressure vulnerable GOP incumbents into breaking with President Bush and forcing the administration to admit that the war is politically unsustainable.

As described by participants, the goal is crafted to circumvent the biggest political vulnerability of the anti-war movement -- the accusation that it is willing to abandon troops in the field. That fear is why many Democrats have remained timid in challenging Bush, even as public support for the president and his Iraq policies have plunged.


Murtha, the powerful chairman of the defense subcommittee of the House Appropriations Committee, will seek to attach a provision to an upcoming $93 billion supplemental spending bill for Iraq and Afghanistan. It would restrict the deployment of troops to Iraq unless they meet certain levels adequate manpower, equipment and training to succeed in combat. That's a standard Murtha believes few of the units Bush intends to use for the surge would be able to meet.

Could they condescend any more to the American people, or insult their intelligence any more than by trying to dress up a sell-out of the troops in the guise of legislation to keep them well equipped and trained?

The only risk they face now is if we prevail in Iraq despite their efforts to force our defeat. It has indeed come to that. For Democrats to succeed politically, they must take actions with a goal of ensuring America's defeat in this long, difficult four-year war.

So invested politically are they in Iraq being a failure and a defeat for George Bush, that they are willing to gradually choke the life out of the force we have in Iraq, while hiding behind cynical legislation that professes to be about making sure all our troops are properly trained and equipped, when its real goal is to fatally injure the Iraq campaign. And of course you want to give the enemy plenty of advanced notice too, so he'll know he's just got to hang around and wait us out.

What a disgusting display of political cowardice, and of contempt for our troops and our entire military. And this is the strategy they have decided on in order to avoid alienating that considerable chunk of the American public who, if half-hearted or even discouraged about the mission, at least want to see us win! Good luck with that!

At least we know that the gloves are now off, and the Democrats are firmly for defeat.

Is there really nothing beneath these people in their pursuit of power and in their Bush Derangement? Is it alright to question their patriotism now? Are John Murtha and Nancy Pelosi comfortable with being the heroes of Al Qaeda and the Baathist insurgents? How gross an exaggeration is that, in fact? Their goals for Iraq are difficult to differentiate.

They are going to start running TV ads opposing the war policies of our Commander in Chief, monied as they are by "well-funded anti-war groups." Like Bryan at Hot Air, I'd be interested to know just which anti-war groups we're talking about here. More from Bryan:

As I said, dishonorable. If you oppose the war and truly want us out of Iraq, put your own name on the line and move to cut funding. Put your name on your policy. If, as Barack Obama said, you think we’re wasting lives in this war, then the honorable thing to do is to stop that waste immediately. Put your name on your policy as well as its outcome. Not conduct a “slow bleed” strategy that is the political equivalent of the strategy that the terrorists and insurgents have themselves deployed on the ground. We have truly reached a new low in this country when the Speaker of the House and her favorite henchman are running a strategy that will definitely get American troops killed for a war they lack the courage to stop in their own names.

John Hinderaker of PowerLine:

So the Democrats will do their best to make the United States' effort in Iraq fail, but without taking responsibility for that action, and then try to benefit politically from the country's defeat. Nice.

UPDATE: See also Ed Morrissey; Memeorandum;

UPDATE: President Bush spoke to this issue several different times in the press conference today. Excerpts after the jump...

Later this week the House of Representatives will vote on a resolution that opposes our new plan in Iraq -- before it has a chance to work. People are prejudging the outcome of this. They have every right to express their opinion, and it is a non-binding resolution. Soon Congress is going to be able to vote on a piece of legislation that is binding, a bill providing emergency funding for our troops. Our troops are counting on their elected leaders in Washington, D.C. to provide them with the support they need to do their mission. We have a responsibility, all of us here in Washington, to make sure that our men and women in uniform have the resources and the flexibility they need to prevail.


Q Thank you, Mr. President. Mr. President, it seems pretty clear where this Iraq vote in the House is headed. Your press secretary has said repeatedly that members of Congress ought to watch what they say and be concerned about the message that they're sending to our enemy. I'm wondering, do you believe that a vote of disapproval of your policy emboldens the enemy? Does it undermine your ability to carry out your policies there? And, also, what are you doing to persuade the Democratic leadership in Congress not to restrict your ability to spend money in Iraq?

THE PRESIDENT: Yes, thanks. A couple of points. One, that I understand the Congress is going to express their opinion, and it's very clear where the Democrats are, and some Republicans; I know that. They didn't like the decision I made. And by the way, that doesn't mean that I think that they're not good, honorable citizens of the country. I just have a different opinion. I considered some of their opinions and felt like it would not lead to a country that could govern itself, sustain itself, and be an ally in the war on terror. One.

Secondly, my hope, however, is that this non-binding resolution doesn't try to turn into a binding policy that prevents our troops from doing that which I have asked them to do. That's why I keep reminding people, on the one hand you vote for David Petraeus in a unanimous way, and then the other hand you say that you're not going to fund the strategy that he thought was necessary to do his job, a strategy he testified to in front of the Senate. I'm going to make it very clear to the members of Congress, starting now, that they need to fund our troops and they need to make sure we have the flexibility necessary to get the job done.


...no question people are watching what happens here in America. The enemy listens to what's happening, the Iraqi people listen to the words, the Iranians. People are wondering; they're wondering about our commitment to this cause. And one reason they wonder is that in a violent society, the people sometimes don't take risks for peace if they're worried about having to choose between different sides, different violent factions. As to whether or not this particular resolution is going to impact enemy thought, I can't tell you that.

But I can tell you that people are watching the debate. I do believe that the decision I made surprised people in the Middle East. And I think it's going to be very important, however, that the Iraqi government understand that this decision was not an open-ended commitment, that we expect Prime Minister Maliki to continue to make the hard decisions he's making.


Q I'd like to follow on Sheryl's question about undermining the troops. Do you have to support the war to support the war here? I mean, if you're one of those Americans that thinks you've made a terrible mistake, that it's destined to end badly, what do you do? If they speak out, are they by definition undermining the troops?

THE PRESIDENT: No, she actually asked "the enemy," not "the troops." But I'll be glad to answer your question. No, I don't think so at all. I think you can be against my decision and support the troops, absolutely. But the proof will be whether or not you provide them the money necessary to do the mission.

I said early in my comment -- my answer to Sheryl was, somebody who doesn't agree with my policy is just as patriotic a person as I am. Your question is valid. Can somebody say, we disagree with your tactics or strategy, but we support the military -- absolutely, sure. But what's going to be interesting is if they don't provide the flexibility and support for our troops that are there to enforce the strategy that David Petraeus, the general on the ground, thinks is necessary to accomplish the mission.

The full text of the President's press conference today.

February 13, 2007

Deficit's Falling - Mum's the Word

Tom at BizzyBlog is reporting a story that most U.S. media outlets have deemed not newsworthy, the customary treatment of positive economic news during a Republican administration.

What Happens If a Deficit Falls and Almost No One Reports It?

For the first four months of fiscal year 2007 (Oct.2006-Jan 2007) federal tax revenues are up 9.7% from the same period in FY2006. The budget deficit for the same first quarter is down 57% from the same period a year ago. That this is taking place despite large outlays for the Iraq campaign makes the news that much more striking in terms of what it says about the dynamism of the current U.S. economy. Consider also that the year (FY2006) used for comparison was one in which the deficit also decreased considerably from the previous year.

Another notable item from Tom's post is that the capital gains tax cuts of 1997 by Clinton, and the additional Bush cuts in 2003 stimulated huge increases in the amounts of capital gains income reported and subjected to tax in subsequent years. The "average annual reported capital gains subject to taxation TRIPLED from 1990-1996 to 1998-2004." Tom and others note that if this trend continues, our budget could be in "surplus" as early as 2008, in contrast to Bush's recent projection of 2012 as a target year for a surplus.

But Tom also adds one qualifying statement relative to how our government, regardless of the party in power, performs this budget accounting

...I’m not particularly impressed with the concept of a “surplus” as most define it, because the current large Social Security annual surpluses are needed (i.e., “raided”) to accomplish that. A true surplus that begins to actually leave the Social Security surplus where it belongs (i.e., the Social Security system) won’t, according to my projections, take place until FY 2012 — and that’s only if the Bush tax cuts of 2001 and 2003 are extended past their current expiration in 2010. If that doesn’t happen, forget about the idea of getting to a true surplus while leaving Social Security alone for quite a long time.

AL Central

Calling it major league baseball's best race, Paul Hoynes is reminding the faithful how tough it's going to be for the Indians to even be competitive in the American League Central this year. It seems like so much more than twelve months ago that they were many people's favorites to win it.

Last year, the AL Central produced three 90-win teams, two playoff participants for the first time, a pennant winner, the Cy Young, MVP, Rookie of the Year, Manager of the Year, batting champion and Comeback Player of the Year. This may come as a shock, but none of those teams, players or manager wore a Chief Wahoo cap.

Here's Hoynes AL Central breakdown.

The Tigers add Sheffield, the White Sox add Darin Erstad. We add David Delucci. I see what he means. Tribe 4th.

Baseball Savant has a good AL Central Preview, and much more in depth analysis of AL Central teams, the: Twins, White Sox, and Tigers.

Here's his take on the Indians:

The Indians were closer than their record indicated last season. Pythagorean had them at an otherworldly -12 games behidn their expected winning percentage which is just ridiculous. No other team in baseball was within 5 games of being that unlucky! Cleveland ranked 2nd in RS/G in 2006 and 6th in RA/G. That is pretty good to say the least. Still, the questions for Cleveland remain more widespread than they do for the other AL Central teams.

Offensively the Indians have a tremendous core of talent in Grady Sizmore, Travis Hafner, and Victor Martinez. Hafner needs to stay healthy for a full season to get the most out of his talents. Hafner is the best hitter in the AL and getting him in there for 150 games could be worth a win a or two which could make all the difference in Cleveland. More importantly however might be the play of youngsters, Andy Marte, Ryan Garko, and Josh Barfield. Garko is going to be 26-years old and has nothing left to prove at AAA. He's looking less and less like the power hitter we thought he might become based on the results he posted in the early minor leagues, but his plate discipline is there and if he can at least push towards a .500 SLG%, it would help out Cleveland a lot. Marte is another one with nothing left to prove in AAA although his call-up in Cleveland went horribly. I get the feeling that Marte probably just needs to be left alone and allow observers to see what he can do over a full season. He'll be 23 this season which is still relatively young, but beyond the age of which Marte can be labeled a potential superstar. Barfield is a type of player who could kill you. He looks OK and there are definite things he can do, but that .318 OBP% is woeful. If he isn't hitting 9th then Cleveland is doing something wrong.

As to the pitching, I don't think Cleveland has as good a bullpens as Detroit and Minnesota does, but it isn't bad either. I think Cliff Lee and Jake Westbrook have to start pitching at better than barely above league average. Jeremy Sowers is also going to be interesting to watch as this will be his first full season in the starting rotation.

The Indians are relying heavily on young players in the toughest division in baseball.

And in another example of the Internet being way too vast and the hours in the day too few, I'm wondering how the blog Baseball Analysts managed to elude me for nearly four years. What a nice baseball resource, link-wise and content-wise.

And since you got this far, you might be interested in Terry Pluto's Browns Notes too.

February 12, 2007

Examining The Anti-Semitic Mind

Hamburg-based political scientist Matthias Küntzel writes on Holocaust denial, Ahmadinejad, and the carefully nurtured anti-Semitism of Iran.

Iran's Obsession with the Jews

Holocaust denial is anti-Semitism at its most extreme. Whoever declares Auschwitz a myth implicitly portrays the Jews as the enemy of humanity: The assumption is that the all-powerful Jews, for filthy lucre, have been duping the rest of humanity for the past 60 years. Whoever talks of the "so-called Holocaust" implies that over 90 percent of the world's media and university professorships are controlled by Jews and are thereby cut off from the "real" truth. No one who accuses Jews of such perfidy can sincerely regret Hitler's Final Solution. For this reason alone, every denial of the Holocaust contains an appeal to repeat it.


Obviously, from a logical point of view, enthusiasm for the Holocaust is incompatible with its denial. Logic, however, is beside the point. Anti-Semitism is built upon an emotional infrastructure that substitutes for reason an ephemeral combination of mutually exclusive attributions, all arising from hatred of everything Jewish. As a result, many contradictory anti-Jewish interpretations of the Holocaust can be deployed simultaneously: (1) the extermination of millions was a good thing; (2) the extermination of millions was a Zionist fabrication; (3) the Holocaust resulted from a Jewish conspiracy against Germany that Hitler thwarted and punished; (4) the Holocaust was a joint enterprise of the Zionists and Nazis; (5) the Zionists' "Holocaust industry" exaggerates the murder of the Jews for self-interested reasons; (6) Israeli actions against the Palestinians are the "true" Holocaust--and so on.

We are dealing here with a parallel universe in which the reality principle is ignored, and blatantly contradictory fantasies about Jews all have their place so long as they serve to reinforce anti-Semitic paranoia and hatred: a universe in which the laws of reason have been abolished and all mental energy is harnessed to the cause of anti-Semitism.

Amid the confusion, this universe is characterized by two constants: the refusal to come to terms with the facts of the Holocaust as it actually took place; and a willingness to find in the Holocaust a source of encouragement and inspiration, a precedent proving that it is possible to murder Jews by the million. This is why the precise content of Ahmadinejad's Holocaust tirades is not the issue. He is obsessed with the subject because he is fascinated by the possibility of a second Holocaust.

Küntzel goes on to discuss the modern Iranian variant of anti-Semitism, as symbolized by Ahmadinejad, who is simply carrying on the traditions of Khomeini. Read it all. Please.

Ahmadinejad inhabits a delusional world that is sealed off from reality. The louder the liberal West protests against Holocaust denial or the Islamists' demands for the destruction of Israel, the more conviced Ahmadinejad becomes of Zionist domination. In a conversation with the editors of the German newsweekly Der Spiegel, the Iranian president reacted as follows to the remark that the magazine does not question Israel's right to exist: "I am glad that you are honest people and say that you are required to support the Zionists." Only when we too finally realize that the Holocaust is a Jewish lie--only when we too want to annihilate Israel--only then will Ahmadinejad be convinced that we are academically credible and politically free. It is this lunacy that makes the revolutionary mission of the Iranian leadership so dangerous.

February 11, 2007

Minimum Wage Workers Laid Off

Hmmm. The price of labor in Arizona is artificially raised by government, and as a result, less of it is consumed. And they're having to raise the prices of their products and services too. Who knew?

If only there had been a law of economics of some kind that could have warned the Democrats of this consequence before they moved ahead with similar legislation on a national level. Damn.

February 10, 2007

North Korea's Illicit Economy

It's hard to keep up with Claudia Rosett. Today she pops up at the Weekly Standard with Cash for Kim, a look at the criminal enterprise which is the Kim regime in North Korea:

For years, the North Korean state has been raking in money from the illicit, international sale of drugs, ranging from heroin, cocaine, and methamphetamines to fake Viagra. A North Korean defector testified to Congress in 2003 that the mass production and sale of narcotics was official state policy. In the tightly controlled North Korean state, factories turning out fake pharmaceuticals are part of Kim's plan. Some of these drugs have been peddled out of North Korean embassies by official staff. According to congressional research reports, this has resulted in more than 50 verifiable drug busts in more than 20 countries, most of them since Kim Jong Il took over from his late father in 1994.

North Korea's illicit activities also include gunrunning, illegal fishing, a dash of alleged insurance fraud, and the counterfeiting of cigarettes and U.S. currency.


Estimates of Pyongyang's earnings from such enterprises vary widely. Analysts suggest that for North Korea, particular illicit enterprises go in and out of vogue. Kim's regime tends to focus on one area until it runs into too much heat or some other difficulty, and then the focus tilts to a different racket. For instance, heroin was big in the early 1990s. Then floods in 1995 and 1996 wrecked the poppy crops. The regime adapted by manufacturing and exporting more methamphetamines. (This was during the same period in which the regime's state rationing system left more than a million North Koreans to starve to death.) Poppies later made a comeback that lasted until 2003, when a North Korean ship, the Pong Su, carrying some 275 pounds of pure heroin, was seized off Australia.


Escape from North Korea

February 9, 2007

"The Belgianization of Europe"

I clicked off of Brussels Journal to this year-old American Spectator review by John O'Sullivan of BJ Editor Paul Belien's book, A Throne in Brussels, and had to share it here, late and all. I wasn't aware that the history of the Saxe-Coburg dynasty in Belgium was so bizarre and tawdry and bloody and fascinating, nor did I have a sense of the extent to which the EU of today has taken on the shape and character of Belgium.

The first line from O'Sullivan is enough to show the sense of entitlement we're talking about:

In the last few years Belgian politicians have passed a law empowering them to arrest anyone for crimes committed anywhere...

As the saying goes, nice work, if you can get it. Pack a light lunch, but read it all.

The Senate's Words

Krauthammer today, on Senators and positioning and toothlessness:

Words. We had weeks of debates in the Senate about Iraq. They eventually went nowhere, being shut down (temporarily) by partisan procedural disputes. But they were going nowhere anyway. The debates were not about real fighting in a real place. They were about how the various senators would position themselves in relation to that real fighting in that real place. At issue? With what tone and nuance and addenda to express disapproval of a troop surge that the president was going to order anyway.

When it came to doing something serious about the surge, the Senate ducked. It unanimously (81-0) approved sending Gen. David H. Petraeus to Baghdad to do the surge -- precisely what a majority of the senators said they did not want done.

If you really oppose the surge, how could you not oppose the appointment of the man whose very mission is to carry it out? Yet not one senator did so. Instead, they spent days fine-tuning the wording of a nonbinding, i.e. entirely toothless, expression of disapproval.

A serious legislative body would not be arguing over degrees of disapproval anyway, but about the elements of three or four alternate plans that might actually change our course in Iraq, something they all say they desire. But instead of making a contribution to thinking through how the war should be either prosecuted or liquidated, they negotiate language that provides precisely the amount of distancing a senator might need as political insulation should the surge either succeed or fail.

Report on Palestinian Textbooks

Via the Counterterrorism Blog:

The Palestinian Media Watch, an Israeli-based organization which examines Palestinian culture, today released an important new report on the content of textbooks introduced at the end of last year into the 12th grade in schools run by the Palestinian Authority. The books lie about the U.S., Israel, and the West in general, and brainwash the kids into believing that terrorist attacks against us are appropriate and meritorious. At a press conference today with PMW to announce the report, Sen. Hillary Clinton branded the textbooks as "indoctrination" and part of a campaign which "poisons minds" of Palestinian children against any tolerance of Israel and the West.

Read it all. I'm glad Hillary was there since the media hang on her every move, and this is a story that needs to be seen outside conservative and pro-Israel circles.

News Blackout on al Qaeda's Iraqi Operations?

A post at Jawa Report yesterday details recent progress in the fight against the enemies of self-government in Iraq. Key al Qaeda leaders captured or killed, IED-making plants shut down, that sort of thing.

Major media have ignored or minimized anything resembling success in Iraq for four years now, and it's crazy to expect that to change soon, especially if the so-called surge begins to show positive results in achieving greater security for the Iraqi people in Baghdad and elsewhere. In the NY Sun, Nibras Kazimi says the New York Times is loathe to even remind the American people that it is the al Qaeda terrorist organization we are fighting there. Not an insignificant point, as so many people in the U.S. are actively campaigning for our defeat.

Abu Omar al-Baghdadi made his grand entrance onto the jihadist stage on October 12, 2006, and since then he's delivered two very important speeches — the more recent one came out last week — and has taken credit for much of the spectacular outbreaks of violence in Iraq of late, yet he still can't get his name in print on the pages of the New York Times. Why are the editors and reporters of that paper not telling their readers anything about Iraq's top terrorist?

Abu Omar al-Baghdadi is Al Qaeda's guy in Iraq, and nowadays, the Sunni insurgency is being whittled down to Al Qaeda's activity in Iraq. It's that simple, and he's that important.

So why isn't the Times writing that? I think the answer has something to do with what seems, to my eyes, to be a determined campaign to keep the American people from knowing the nature of the enemy in Iraq because identifying this enemy as Al Qaeda casts the debate about the war in a whole different light.


...it's not only the anti-war crowd in the press that doesn't want the American people to know that America's soldiers are fighting an Al Qaeda-led insurgency in Iraq. The Central Intelligence Agency and most of America's intelligence community don't want to do that either, according to a major scoop reported by the Sun's own Eli Lake on Monday. Mr. Lake writes that the CIA and others are still concluding that the insurgency is, for the most part, Baathist in nature, while those actually battling the insurgency on the ground, namely the intelligence arms of the Army and the Marines, are contesting that assertion claiming instead that the Sunni insurgency is largely driven by Al Qaeda.

The generic term "insurgent" — preferred by most press organs — is bland and insipid, while the term Al Qaeda may strike an emotional note with many Americans. It is one thing for congressional Democrats and presidential hopefuls to pledge withdrawing the American military from a melee with insurgents, and a whole different thing for them to sound a retreat in the face of an Al Qaeda offensive.

Rosett on Maurice Strong

The Curious Career of Maurice Strong

...any understanding of the real efforts that job [U.N. reform] entails should begin with a look at the long and murky career of Maurice Strong, the man who may have had the most to do with what the U.N. has become today, and still sparks controversy even after he claims to have cut his ties to the world organization.

From Oil for Food to the latest scandals involving U.N. funding in North Korea, Maurice Strong appears as a shadowy and often critically important figure.

Serious journalism here by the indomitable Ms. Rosett. She continues to ask the questions and report the stories that few if any other reporters are even considering, which in my view makes her work all the more critical to the public conversation on the U.N.

But then I've been a fan for years.

February 8, 2007

Facts Are Stubborn Things

A feature in New York Magazine examines the coverage of the Duke-lacrosse team case by the New York Times. It's a great read. Talk about agenda journalism run amok. Here writer Kurt Andersen compares that treatment with professor/blogger K. C. Johnson's coverage of the case:

In the movie, Tom Hanks would play K. C. Johnson. He’s the most impressive of the “bloggers who have closely followed the case,” in the Times’ tacitly pejorative construction. But Johnson is the Platonic ideal of the species—passionate but committed to rigor and facts and fairness, a tenured professor of U.S. history (at Brooklyn College), a 38-year-old vegetarian who lives alone in a one-bedroom Bay Ridge apartment and does pretty much nothing but study, teach, run, and write.

Johnson has no connection to Duke. (His B.A. and Ph.D. are from the Harvard of the Northeast.) His attention was grabbed in April by the “deeply disturbing” public comments of Duke faculty that righteously indulged in invidious stereotypes and assumed the lacrosse players’ guilt. “One area that the academy, especially since McCarthyism, is supposed to stand up is cases where due process is denied,” he says.

He usually posts at least once a day—not standard autoblog rim shots, but carefully argued, deeply researched essays running 1,000 words or more. “I need to ensure that it meets what I consider to be an acceptable level of academic quality.” He has traveled to Durham several times. When he wanted to find out if Nifong’s unfair photo lineups were standard provincial practice—they’re not—he spent days talking to fifteen North Carolina police departments and prosecutors.


For the past few years, I’ve tended to roll my eyes when people default to rants about the blindered oafishness or various biases of “the mainstream media” in general and the Times in particular. At the same time, I’ve nodded when people gush about the blogosphere as a valuable check on and supplement to the MSM—but I’ve never entirely bought it. Having waded deep into this Duke mess the last weeks, baffled by the Times’ pose of objectivity and indispensably guided by Johnson’s blog, I’m becoming a believer.

Slap Happy

It sure looks like Budweiser ripped off the idea for their Super Bowl ad from a comedy troupe called The Whitest Kids U Know. Gawker has both videos for you to watch and decide. (via Dave Barry)

February 7, 2007


Bill Simmons has named the sports fan syndrome characterized by hoping your favorite team loses games as a way to improve its draft position. In his case it's the Celtics, already losers of 15 in a row, competing for... well, either of the first two slots would be OK...

The beauty of fantanking

....I watch Durant flash an endless array of offensive moves, or Oden put up another double-double with one hand, and it's like monitoring two guaranteed Megabucks tickets. These guys are mortal locks to be franchise players, on the order of LeBron or Yao. We knew Oden would become the best college center since Patrick Ewing, but nobody was prepared for the 6'9" Durant, an unfathomable cross between T-Mac and Plastic Man who can score facing the basket and from 25 feet away. I'm not ashamed to admit I'm in love with him. Platonically, of course.

Either guy would save the Celtics. Barring injury, we'll someday remember the Oden-Durant draft the way we remember the LeBron-Melo-Wade and MJ-Hakeem drafts. You know, assuming they both come out. (Note: For my sanity and overall health, humor me and pretend these guys are definitely entering the 2007 draft. And let's never discuss this again. Thanks.)

Fantanking is old hat in this market. The post-1999 Browns have made a habit of winning a meaningless 16th game to cost them two or three slots in the draft, (which come to think of it hasn't been as painful as watching them miss on the high picks when they've had them.) We suffered though a 17-win season with the Cavs and then held our breath in the LeBron Lottery. Fortunately the NBA fates threw the city a bone, and LeBron stayed home.

February 6, 2007

Hope For Iraq?

A hint of optimism for Iraq (hey, we'll take whatever we can get.)

Mithal al-Alusi, the head of the Iraqi Nation Party, visits Washington and spends some time with Bret Stephens for a piece at OpinionJournal.

Mr. Alusi and his party stand for democracy, liberalism, secularism, antiterrorism and national unity. The question for Iraq is: Does anyone stand with Mr. Alusi? Spend an afternoon in his company and you might yet be persuaded that many Iraqis do, or at least might.


Between 2004 and 2006 the number of Iraqis who supported the idea of an Islamic state fell to 22% from 30%, while those agreeing that religion and politics ought to be separated rose to 41% from 27%, according to surveys conducted by the University of Michigan's Institute for Social Research. Even in Baghdad, site of so much of the sectarian killing, the number of respondents who put their Iraqi identity ahead of their Muslim one doubled to 60%. (By contrast, only 11% of Cairenes saw themselves as Egyptian first, Muslim second.) And 65% of Iraqis agreed that it was "very important" for Iraq to be a democracy, up from 59% two years before.

Mr. Alusi doesn't cite this data, but he points to anecdotal indicators that give him hope. One is the gradual shift in Arab attitudes toward terrorism. "Something basic has changed," he says, noting that the terrorism that once was directed against Israel and the West has lost its cachet on the Arab street now that Muslims have become its principal victims. Another is the fact that Iraqi soldiers--many of them Shiite--were willing to fight and die alongside American soldiers in recent fighting against Shiite militants. "So, the loyalty to Iraqi institutions did count and the partnership between the Iraqi and American armies did hold."

Bernard Lewis Interview

Reknowned author, historian and scholar of Islam and the Middle East, Bernard Lewis sits for an interview with The Jerusalem Post.

February 5, 2007

"I want to take those profits..."

It was a statement that one might have expected to hear from Hugo Chavez this past week. But as carefully scripted and poll-tested as Hillary Clinton's public statements have been for the last seven years, once in a while, even her scripted words seem to betray her true colors. It happened in Washington Friday, in a speech at the DNC winter meetings, following the recent announcement of Exxon-Mobil Corporation's annual profits. From Fox:

"I want to take those profits and put them into an alternative energy fund that will begin to fund alternative smart energy alternatives that will actually begin to move us toward the direction of independence."

She referred to those profits as the highest in the history of the world, and she said: "I want to take those profits..." Not I want to take part of those profits. "I want to take those profits," she said.

Let's assume for a moment that Hillary isn't really suggesting a nationalization of the entire oil industry in this country on the order of what the doctrinaire socialist Chavez has just engineered in Venezuela. And set aside for now the fact that she has already tried once to socialize a huge segment (18%) of our national economy with her universal health care proposal, and has recently promised to try again in January of 2009.

And forget also for now the entirely logical potential that, in a booming economy, the world's largest corporation would post the highest corporate profit ever. One might even hope that this would be the case, since the health of our largest corporations is an indicator of the health of our overall economy. (By the way, in case you haven't heard, that economy is pretty damn good.)

I see this more as rhetorical red meat being thrown to the statist soulmates of Chavez in the Democratic Party, who must salivate at the prospect of the state getting their hands on $39 billion annually of someone else's money. Lacking the vaguest notion themselves as to how wealth on that order is created, their big idea is to simply appropriate it from people who do. Elsewhere in society we call that theft, and we have laws against it.

But in the Internet age it's tough to say just what your audience wants to hear without the rest of the world hearing it too. I hope she'll be called to account for what is an outrageous suggestion; that the profits of a public (or private) corporation are the government's to do with as they like, or that she would treat them as such in another Clinton administration.

-- As if the profits of Exxon-Mobil Corporation are not already taxed by the federal government to the limits of the existing tax code.

-- As if the federal government isn't already spending billions of taxpayer dollars every year to fund research and development of alternative energy sources. (Presumably the money extracted from Exxon would be spent more effectively or efficiently, and profits earned by other private companies and ventures funded with these dollars would be cool with Hill.)

-- As if Exxon is not already spending billions on alternative energy development themselves.

-- As if she is unaware that the last time a windfall profits tax on oil company profits was tried, the results were sharply reduced domestic oil production, and large cutbacks in oil company exploration and energy development spending, leading to tax revenues far lower than what had been projected.

-- As if the thousands of retirees who are Exxon shareholders, a divided Senate, and a powerful energy industry lobby would allow it even if she tried to make it happen.

In other words, this rhetoric isn't serious. And that makes it all the more irresponsible. Hillary is being dragged to the left by the demands of the party base, to make sure she secures the nomination. But the more of this kind of silliness she engages in, the more general election ammunition will be available to Republicans.

Investors Business Daily mustered some outrage, and PJM has an anonymously written post on Hillary's secret energy policy agenda, but as usual, the lady gets a pass from most of the major media organs.

On a related note, don't miss Taranto's take on Hillary today. I'll excerpt at length...but do read it all.

The most telling line in Mrs. Clinton's speech is that counterfactual conditional: "If I had been president in October of 2002, I would not have started this war." This is quite an astonishing statement, seeing as how in October 2002 Mrs. Clinton voted for the war. And yet when you stop and think about it, the statement is not intuitively false. If you can imagine Mrs. Clinton as president in October 2002, you probably can imagine her not starting the Iraq war.

Whether or not you think the war was a good idea, it was indisputably the product of President Bush's leadership. He rallied the country behind it, so that it commanded something like 70% support in opinion polls. Congress's support was similarly strong, with 69% of the House and 77% of the Senate (including not just Mrs. Clinton but also fellow Democratic presidential candidates John Edwards, Joe Biden and Chris Dodd, along with John Kerry) voting in favor of the war.

Mrs. Clinton now says that if she were president in 2002, she would not have led the country to war. This amounts to an acknowledgment that her vote in favor of the war was not an act of leadership--that she was a follower. Was she following the president? This president? Obviously not. President Bush led the public to support the war, and Sen. Clinton followed the public. Now that public opinion has turned against the president and the war, so has Mrs. Clinton.


...on Iraq, Mrs. Clinton stands resolutely on the side of public opinion, whichever side that may be in any given year. On Iran, about which public opinion is unformed, she is maddeningly noncommittal. This is fine for a senator, who merely casts one vote among 100. But the president--especially in times of international peril--needs to be able to make decisions in the national interest. Sometimes that means shaping public opinion, as President Bush did when he persuaded the public and Congress to support the war in Iraq. Sometimes it means defying public opinion, as Bush has done lately by resisting pressure to flee.

Were these decisions bad ones? History will judge, but at the moment most Americans seem to think so. Mrs. Clinton is seeking to become President Bush's successor by countering his dangerous boldness with extreme caution. She is presenting herself as the candidate who won't make bad decisions because she won't make decisions--who won't lead us astray because she will not lead.

But an excess of caution is itself a form of recklessness. Someone who won't make decisions won't make good or necessary decisions either. Therein lies the peril of a Hillary Clinton presidency.

February 4, 2007

Thinkin' Bears

After confidently picking the Buckeyes by 10 in the National Championship Game, I may never publicly predict the outcome of another football game. Add that humiliation to my baseball prognostications last year, and it's fair to say the bloom is off the old rose (if ever a bloom there was). I sit before you today humbled and meek, questioning my sports instincts, but subjecting you to them anyway.

So I'm figuring that if my heart wants the Colts to win the Super Bowl later today, (and it does...I usually pull for the AFC team, and besides, Peyton Manning is so under-exposed) I should go on record that my head says go with the Bears.

Something just tells me the Bears will be able to run the ball, and that their defense and return teams will be able to pull off the upset. I hope I'm wrong.

See how this works for me?

Baby steps...

UPDATE 2/5: That worked out nicely. I guess I had no idea how bad the Bears' offense would be.

February 3, 2007

Choosing War


Iraqis were given their freedom and yet many have chosen civil war. Among all these religious prejudices, ancient wounds, social resentments and tribal antagonisms, who gets the blame for the rivers of blood? You can always count on some to find the blame in America. "We did not give them a republic,'' insists Newsweek's Fareed Zakaria. "We gave them a civil war.''

Of all the accounts of the current situation, this is by far the most stupid. And the most pernicious. Did Britain "give'' India the Hindu-Muslim war of 1947-48 that killed a million souls and ethnically cleansed 12 million more? The Jewish-Arab wars in Palestine? The tribal wars of post-colonial Uganda?

We gave them a civil war? Why? Because we failed to prevent it? Do the police in America have on their hands the blood of the 16,000 murders they failed to prevent last year?


...at the political level, we've been doing everything we can to bring reconciliation. We got the Sunnis to participate in elections and then in parliament. Who is pushing the Shiite-Kurdish coalition for a law that would distribute oil revenues to the Sunnis? Who is pushing for a more broad-based government to exclude Moqtada al-Sadr and his sectarian Mahdi Army?

We have made a lot of mistakes in Iraq. But when Arabs kill Arabs and Shiites kill Shiites and Sunnis kill all in a spasm of violence that is blind and furious and has roots in hatreds born long before America was even a republic, to place the blame on the one player, the one country, the one military that has done more than any other to try to separate the combatants and bring conciliation is simply perverse.

It infantilizes Arabs. It demonizes Americans. It willfully overlooks the plainest of facts: Iraq is their country. We midwifed their freedom. They chose civil war.

Scrapbook on Fonda

In the new Weekly Standard, The Scrapbook describes milling about the anti-war rally in Washington last week, and samples the media's fawning coverage of the mixed bag of humanity in attendance. I'll beg the magazine's indulgence and cite a couple of paragraphs not available online, on the coverage of Ms. Fonda:

Our attention was drawn, however, to the appearance of none other than Jane Fonda on the speaker’s platform. The Post was similarly intrigued, but seemed content—and curiously credulous—to view Miss Fonda entirely uncritically. The passive voice got a good workout in the Style section depiction of her. Describing a 1972 photograph of a helmeted Jane Fonda sitting happily atop a North Vietnamese antiaircraft gun—aimed at you-know-whose aircraft—the Post explained that this appalling spectacle “was viewed by many as sympathetic to North Vietnam.”

Then there was her assertion “I haven’t spoken at an antiwar rally in 34 years. Silence is no longer an option.” Unlike the Post, which accepted this as gospel, and reported that Miss Fonda had been otherwise engaged in the intervening decades, The Scrapbook was struck by the precision of her memory. Thirty-four years would take us back to the winter of 1972-73, when sheand actor Donald Sutherland, songbird Holly Near, and others were finishing the worldwide tour of their “F.T.A. [F—the Army] Show”—“a satirical revue. . . [featuring] protest songs, anti-war humor . . . and agit-prop theater designed to increase awareness and spread resistance” (the New York Times)—on college campuses, at coffeehouses, and outside U.S. military bases here and in Japan, the Philippines, and Okinawa.

Indeed, The Scrapbook is just old enough to remember that, during those locust years when Jane Fonda (in the words of the Post) was “a workout maven, postfeminist arm candy for billionaire media magnate Ted Turner, a vocal Christian and an autobiographer,” she was also, with second husband Tom Hayden in their spacious L.A. residence, host to a parade of strongmen from Nicaragua’s Sandinista regime, as well as visiting officials of the Farabundo Martí National Liberation Front, the Communist guerrilla army seeking to destroy the democratically elected government of El Salvador.

Jane Fonda may not have spoken at rallies during that time, but silence was never an option when she could lend her voice to the enemies of her country.

February 2, 2007

A Muslim Voltaire?

According to this profile from The Australian , Ayaan Hirsi Ali now considers herself to be of the "progressive left"....or at least what the progressive left used to be.

What is...unexpected is that such a figure - a black, Muslim woman, a refugee from a forced marriage, a survivor of female genital mutilation and of a bloody civil war, a voice for the voiceless and most oppressed of the oppressed - should be viewed with suspicion by some on the progressive Left and with outright condemnation by others.

Hirsi Ali has been prepared to attack ideas and people that the Left has treated as sacrosanct: Islam as a religion, Muslim men (as the oppressors of Muslim women), and multiculturalism and its postmodern handmaiden, moral equivalence, which postulates that all cultures and all religions are equally deserving of respect, support and government funding.


Hirsi Ali is also an apostate to the self-proclaimed progressive Left and it's not hard to see why. She is, in politically correct terms, a classic "victim", part of what sociologists these days like to call the "other", yet she calls for integration rather than multiculturalism. She is a member of a racial minority yet she calls for an end to government support for Islamic schools. She is a refugee yet she calls for restrictions on immigration.

When the ABC's Kerry O'Brien suggested to Hirsi Ali last week that her traumatic background might have turned her into a reactionary, she replied, "I don't see what is reactionary about saying, 'Let's respect life as an end in itself, liberty as an end in itself, and the equality of men and women."

So why hasn't she been embraced by the "self-proclaimed progressive left" in the United States? Maybe because that left bears little resemblance to any movement with classic liberal values like the ones she espouses. She refuses to don the victim mantle, and isn't afraid to speak out against the oppression of women in the Islamic world.

She must have read somewhere that feminism is supposed to be about fighting for equality for all women, arguing for reproductive rights, and freedoms of speech and movement and suffrage...about effecting change in society by stressing the moral imperative to oppose the subjugation of women by men.

A confident, principled left would promote and value Ayaan Hirsi Ali as a courageous promoter of global feminism. That they don't is evidence that they have painted themselves into an intellectually inconsistent, politically correct corner.

Hanson on Surging

VDH - The Politics of Surging

As usual, I'm a couple days behind. But Hanson is timeless, so go read it all.

February 1, 2007

Second Matas-Kilgour Report

Canadian investigators David Matas and David Kilgour have released the second report of their investigation into the Chinese government practice of organ harvesting from imprisoned Falun Gong practitioners. (via the blog of Wesley J. Smith.)

Here is the link to the full Matas-Kilgour Report - (pdf format)

Original Matas-Kilgour Report - July, 2006 (pdf)

I would urge you to read the full report and form your own conclusions, but here are the chilling conclusions drawn by the report's authors:

Based on our further research, we are reinforced in our original conclusion that the allegations are true. We believe that there has been and continues today to be large scale organ seizures from unwilling Falun Gong practitioners.

We have concluded that the government of China and its agencies in numerous parts of the country, in particular hospitals but also detention centres and 'people's courts', since 1999 have put to death a large but unknown number of Falun Gong prisoners of conscience. Their vital organs, including kidneys, livers, corneas and hearts, were seized involuntarily for sale at high prices, sometimes to foreigners, who normally face long waits for voluntary donations of such organs in their home countries.

How many of the victims were first convicted of any offence, serious or otherwise, in legitimate courts, we are unable to estimate because such information appears to be unavailable both to Chinese nationals and foreigners. It appears to us that many human beings belonging to a peaceful voluntary organization made illegal eight years ago by President Jiang because he thought it might threaten the dominance of the Communist Party of China have been in effect executed by medical practitioners for their organs.

Our conclusion comes not from any one single item of evidence, but rather the piecing together of all the evidence we have considered. Each portion of the evidence we have considered is, in itself, verifiable and, in most cases, incontestable. Put together, they paint a damning whole picture. It is their combination that has convinced us.

From the news.com.au report:

Mr Matas and Mr Kilgour's second report, released today, includes interviews with organ recipients in 30 countries and Canadian hospital staff who cared for more than 100 patients who had undergone suspicious transplant surgeries in China.

"The involvement of the People's Liberation Army in these transplants is widespread,'' Mr Kilgour said at a press conference.

Like many civilian hospitals in rural China, military hospitals turned to selling organs to make up for government funding cuts in the 1980s, the report said.

But military personnel could operate with much more secrecy, it said.

"Recipients often tell us that even when they receive transplants at civilian hospitals, those conducting the operation are military personnel,'' the report said.

A news wire report from canadaeast.com today reported:

OTTAWA (CP) - A former member of Parliament and a high-profile immigration lawyer are calling on the Foreign Affairs Department to issue an advisory warning Canadians off of travelling to China for organ transplants.

Former Liberal MP David Kilgour and David Matas, an immigration lawyer and senior legal counsel to B'nai Brith Canada, say they have overwhelming evidence that Chinese officials are killing Falun Gong practitioners and harvesting their organs for transplant.

The following is excerpted from a Spero News commentary on the new report:

Canadian investigators released a report January 31 that makes shocking allegations about China’s totalitarian government. Long-rumored and feared, it appears that China may have indeed added to its catalogue of crimes against humanity that of actually “harvesting” – that is to say, removing – organs from unwilling human beings. According to the report, members of the Falun Gong cult of China – a native spiritual movement in opposition to the communist government – are especially targeted.

David Matas, a human rights lawyer from Ontario Canada, and David Kilgour, a former Canadian Secretary of State for the Asia Pacific region, conducted the investigation at the request of the Washington DC-based Coalition to Investigate the Persecution of the Falun Gong.

The Chinese Deputy Minister of Public Health, Huang Jiefu, admitted at a conference held in the Philippines in 2005 that organs are indeed taken from executed prisoners. However, it was this week that the Health Ministry spokesman Mao Qunan admitted, despite previous and repeated denials, that organs are being “harvested” from prisoners. That this unethical practice is extended specifically to Falun Gong members is an issue that this latter-day Mao has managed to skirt.

It must be pointed out that while Matas and Kilgour are respected and independent investigators, the organization at whose request they are taking on the investigation, the Coalition to Investigate the Persecution of the Falun Gong in China, is hardly an impartial party, as Wesley J. Smith notes in his August 2006 article at NRO.

What we do know is that China has now admitted that they do indeed harvest organs for sale and transplant from prisoners. We also know that the regime has mercilessly persecuted Falun Gong practitioners for at least the last eight years, and has imprisoned them, often without charges or notification of their families, by the tens of thousands during that time. All of which makes their denials that Falun Gong members are among the victims of organ harvesting rather difficult to take seriously.

Much more in the previous posts and comment threads below:

Previous Wizblog posts on Chinese Organ Harvesting

Murder For Organs in China 3/31/06

Sujiatun Follow-Up 4/20/06

Report on Chinese Organ Harvesting 7/9/06

Revisiting Sujiatun 9/8/06

Suspending Disbelief 9/10/06

Other Related Links:

First Matas - Kilgour Report 7/9/06

Epoch Times article archive

Between Heaven and Earth


One more excerpt from the Matas-Kilgour Report, this one explaining why the allegations are so plausible:

China violates human rights in a variety of ways. These violations are chronic and serious. Besides Falun Gong, other prime targets of human rights violations are Tibetans, Christians, Uighurs, democracy activists and human rights defenders. Rule of Law mechanisms in place to prevent human rights violations, such as an independent judiciary, access to counsel on detention, habeas corpus, the right to public trial, are absent in China. China, according to its constitution, is ruled by the Communist Party. It is not ruled by law.

Communist China has had a history of massive, jaw dropping cruelty towards its own citizens. The Communist regime has killed more innocents than Nazi Germany and Stalinist Russia combined. Girl children are killed, abandoned and neglected in massive numbers. Torture is widespread. The death penalty is both extensive and arbitrary. China executes more people than all other countries combined. Religious belief is suppressed.

This pattern of human rights violations, like many other factors, does not in itself prove the allegations. But it removes an element of disproof. It is impossible to say of these allegations that it is out of step with an overall pattern of respect for human rights in China. While the allegations, in themselves, are surprising, they are less surprising with a country that has the human rights record China does than they would be for many other countries.