« February 2007 | Main | April 2007 »

March 31, 2007

The Rematch Arrives

Buckeye MVP Mike Conley, Jr. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)

One win away from a storybook season and a national title...again.

Only this time the Ohio State Buckeyes are the underdogs, and the Florida Gators the seemingly unstoppable favorites. After seeing in person the Gators' two wins in St. Louis, and watching them again tonight, I'm a believer. I suspect they'll have too much firepower for the Bucks to handle Monday. However, unlike in Glendale on January 8, the Buckeyes will show up.

UPDATE 4/1: Kyle Lamb at Scout.com analyzes the semi-final win over Georgetown.

UPDATE 4/1: It's good that the hype for the final game can only last for two days. Here's a good piece on Conley Jr., via a site I just discovered, BuckeyeFansOnly.com.

March 30, 2007

September US - Iranian Firefight

Time has spoken with U.S. soldiers who were present at the Sept. 7 firefight between U.S. and Iranian soldiers along the Iran-Iraq border, and is reporting that at least one Iranian soldier was killed. It's no wonder the military was trying to keep a tight lid on this story. I mean, we wouldn't want to disclose anything that might annoy the mullahs.

Everyone seems to sense the possible consequences of revealing that a clash between U.S. and Iranian forces had turned deadly. And although the Pentagon has acknowledged that a firefight took place, it says it cannot say anything more. "For that level of detail, you're going to have to ask the [U.S.] military in Baghdad," says Army Lieut. Col. Mark Ballesteros. "We don't know anything about it."

A short Army press release issued on the day of the skirmish offered the following information: U.S. soldiers from the 5th Squadron 73rd Cavalry 82nd Airborne were accompanying Iraqi forces on a routine joint patrol along the border with Iran, about 75 miles east of Baghdad, when they spotted two Iranian soldiers retreating from Iraqi territory back into Iran. A moment later, U.S. and Iraqi forces came upon a third Iranian soldier on the Iraqi side of the border, who stood his ground. As U.S. and Iraqi soldiers approached the Iranian officer and began speaking with him, a platoon of Iranian soldiers appeared and moved to surround the coalition patrol, taking up positions on high ground. At that point, according to the Army's statement, the Iranian captain told the U.S. and Iraqi soldiers that if they tried to leave they would be fired on. Fearing abduction by the Iranians, U.S. troops moved to go anyway, and fighting broke out. Army officials say the Iranian troops fired first with small arms and rocket-propelled grenades, and that U.S. troops fell further back into Iraqi territory, while four Iraqi army soldiers, one interpreter and one Iraqi border guard remained in the hands of the Iranians.

The official release says there were no casualties among the Americans, and makes no mention of any on the Iranian side. U.S. soldiers present at the firefight, however, tell TIME that American forces killed at least one Iranian soldier who had been aiming a rocket-propelled grenade at their convoy of Humvees.

It's interesting how different the attitude toward Iran is today, compared to seven months ago. If this shooting incident had happened today, there would have been no need to cover it up. It would just be added to the growing list of intentional provocations by the Iranian regime, this time ending with the deaths of some enemy hostiles. We are still awfully accommodating to a regime that declared war on us 28 years ago, and has never wavered from it, murdering hundreds of Americans along the way.

Who knows, maybe this news is coming out now because our military wants it to come out now, its purpose being to remind Americans and Iranians alike that U.S. soldiers have different rules of engagement than the Brits do. (I am not at all suggesting the British troops should have shot it out with the Iranians.) Austin Bay has a good post on what happened in the capture of the British soldiers.

March 29, 2007

Celebrate What?

While the leaders of the EU gathered in Berlin to congratulate themselves on the 50th anniversary of their organization's precursor, the citizens of Europe were more subdued. And who can blame them? Excerpted from the Daily Mail:

...there is no denying the fact that this weekend's celebrations are distinctly muted - and for this there are three main reasons.

One, as even the EU's leaders are themselves uncomfortably aware, is that, for all its remarkable political progress since 1957, the way their 'project' has worked out in practice offers few obvious grounds for unqualified rejoicing.

For years now, most of the economies of the EU, burdened by an ever greater weight of regulations from Brussels, have been performing significantly worse than those of their main competitors across the rest of the world, notably the U.S., China and India.

In many of the areas which are now subject to centralised EU control, from fishing and agriculture to international trade, it is scarcely a well-kept secret that the EU's record, characterised by massive bureaucratic overregulation, has been dismal.

A second reason why so few 'Europeans' will this week be celebrating this anniversary with any enthusiasm is that the system of government it has led to seems so impersonal, so uninspiring and so remote.

Although the peoples of Europe have become aware that this system is having an ever-greater effect on their lives, most of them don't really begin to understand how it works.

They have the sense that they are now ruled by a 'political class', made up of bureaucrats and politicians who are no longer in any way democratically accountable; a vast, shadowy apparatus of government over which we no longer have any say.

The result is that, not just in Britain but all over the EU, people feel alienated from those who rule over them, in a way which, in countries which still like to think of themselves as democracies, is quite unprecedented.

The third reason why the celebrations of this anniversary are so downbeat is the mess they have got into over the 'Constitution'.

Ranking Ineptitude

ESPN.com's David Schoenfield takes a stab at ranking professional sports franchises in the order of their overall futility. I always take a kind of sad satisfaction from seeing compilations of this sort, confident that my own personal psychic pain from a lifetime of following the Browns and Indians will be amply justified. Schoenfield's article was only halfway satisfying, however.

The one thing I was relatively sure about before checking out the list was that the Cubs and the Indians would be in the top five. Nope. Instead he ranks several expansion baseball teams (Padres, Mariners and Astros) as well as the Pirates, Phillies and Giants as more hapless than the Indians or Cubs. I don't get that...especially the Phillies, who won the World Series a mere 27 years ago. The Tribe goes back to the Truman administration for crying out loud. The Indians and Cubs can't even get the disrespect they deserve!

The Browns came in at #2, a hard-earned ranking, but somehow he figured the Buffalo Bills (who have played in four Super Bowls) were worthy of the top spot over the Super Bowl-less Browns. I realize it's an exercise in measuring overall suckage, not just championships won or lost. At least at #2, the Browns have an incentive to try harder.

I Am John Doe

Michelle Malkin's John Doe Manifesto.

March 27, 2007

Sporty Links

-- The Feds are trying to nail Barry Bonds, and the man who could help them do it is sitting in prison with his mouth tightly shut. I guess it's loyalty, but in so many ways, Bonds doesn't seem to have earned much of that. Interesting article on trainer Greg Anderson at ESPN.com.

-- Terry Pluto's newsletter this week is of particular interest to Tribe fans over 40...or is it 50? The man who wrote "The Curse of Rocky Colavito" shares some memories of the thirty or so years of bad baseball we endured in Cleveland before the 90's turnaround. And today's Pluto column in the ABJ is also must-reading for Tribe fans

I still have some overdue eating of crow to do for last year's overly rosy Tribe outlook, and I hope to get to that, and some 2007 thoughts before Opening Day. But for now, at least some people really like the 2007 Indians.

-- Lots of notes and quotes from Thad Matta's streaking Buckeyes in the Bucknuts.com - Final Four Notebook

-- And the Spring depth chart is out for the football Buckeyes, who will field a team this year despite the Debacle in the Desert. Spring Game is on April 21. OSU is inexperienced at QB, and absolutely loaded everywhere else...with only three seniors starting. Again from the new Bucknuts, 2007 Ohio State Spring Football Data


A Hollywood conservative speaks at Heritage Foundation, and to the world via YouTube, and after watching it (47 min.) my overriding thought is of the amazing potential of this medium to communicate political thought.

Evan Sayet's talk is a rebuke of the moral relativism and nihilism that infects modern leftist thinking. Sayet is prone to sweeping generalization, and I have a few other quibbles with him (he says Saddam Hussein was a "theocrat" for one), but his premise that leftists have come to condemn all discrimination, not just the illegal and destructive forms of it, but the necessary, productive and progressive forms of it as well, is persuasive. One of the best critiques of the leftist utopian impulse that I have seen in a while.

(via Rodger)


At Brussels Journal, Eliab Harvey eviscerates the EU's new Berlin Declaration. Great read...and so's this related BJ post on EU intrigue.

March 26, 2007

Assault Vectors

If you watch "24", you'll appreciate Dave Barry live-blogging the show. If you don't, you might.

Weekend in St. Louis


Gateway Arch up close.

More on the Midwest Regional later.

OSU-Florida II?

The Ohio State - Florida rematch isn't here yet, but SI's Stewart Mandel says it's "a mind-boggling matchup." I say if you're a true Buckeye fan, you have to want Florida. The Buckeyes either get their noses rubbed in it, or they get redemption for January 8. But you have to want the Gators.

We sit here today on the brink of a potentially epic Final Four. We've got all 1 and 2 seeds for the first time since 1993. We've got Florida attempting to become the first repeat champion since '92. We've got Florida and UCLA staging the first rematch of a previous year's Final Four game since Duke and UNLV in '91 (with Ohio State and Georgetown staging a rematch last year's second-round game as well). And we've got the Hoyas returning to the Final Four for the first time since '84 (under another John Thompson at that).

If, however, like me, you happen to be a follower of both college basketball and football, one storyline is just screaming off the page right now: the possibility of another Ohio State-Florida championship game.

Let the smack talk begin.

Pat Forde is picking Florida over Georgetown in the finals, but other than that it's a good piece on the strength of this Final Four.

Bill Simmons and his readers have a great column on the Final Four too. I love reading Simmons, but he really disses Thad Matta, noting that this Final Four features "three superb coaches (Thompson, Florida's Billy Donovan and UCLA's Ben Howland...)"

This leaves one wondering what Thompson and Howland have accomplished in their careers, or this year, that makes them more "superb" than a guy who, at age 39, is taking his third different team to the NCAA Tournament, his second to the Elite Eight, and who has reached the Final Four starting two freshmen, with only two seniors on the team, who is riding a 21 game winning streak to a 34-win season, and who in his third year at OSU has two consecutive outright Big Ten Championships.

Simmons has used Matta as one example of the "terrrible coaching" he sees today at the college level, and suggests these coaches rely on recruiting for 90-95 percent of their success. Matta apparently once stayed too long in a man-to-man defense to suit Simmons, who obviously hasn't seen the Buckeye man smother opponents all season. He must have other quibbles with the job Matta has done over the years, doubtless some heavy X's and O's unknowable to anyone not called The Sports Guy.

Yes, he's a good recruiter, Bill. But the superb Billy Donovan isn't exactly coaching chopped liver either. The Big Ten title Matta won last year (2005-06) was with a team with no Oden, no Conley, no Cook, and nobody the NBA was interested in drafting, early or otherwise.


An instant classic by Charles Krauthammer at Time. Here's a longish excerpt, but read it all.

Goldman Sachs has been one of the most aggressive firms on Wall Street about taking action on climate change; the company sends its bankers home at night in hybrid limousines.

--The New York Times, Feb. 25

Written without a hint of irony--if only your neighborhood dry cleaner sent his employees home by hybrid limousine--this front-page dispatch captured perfectly the eco-pretensions of the rich and the stupefying gullibility with which they are received.

Remember the Leonardo DiCaprio and Al Gore global-warming pitch at the Academy Awards? Before they spoke, the screen at the back of the stage flashed not-so-subliminal messages about how to save the planet. My personal favorite was "Ride mass transit." This to a conclave of Hollywood plutocrats who have not seen the inside of a subway since the moon landing and for whom mass transit means a stretch limo seating no fewer than 10.


A very few of the very rich have some awareness of the emptiness--if not the medieval corruption--of ransoming one's sins. Sergey Brin, zillionaire founder of Google, buys carbon credits to offset the ghastly amount of carbon dioxide emitted by Google's private Boeing 767 but confesses he's not sure if it really does anything.

Which puts him one step ahead of most other eco-preeners who actually pretend that it does--the Goracle himself, for example. His Tennessee mansion consumes 20 times the electricity used by the average American home. Last August alone it consumed twice as much power as the average home consumes in a year. Gore buys absolution, however. He spends pocket change on carbon credits, which then allow him to pollute conscience-free.

What is wrong with this scam? First, purchasing carbon credits is an incentive to burn even more fossil fuels, since now it is done under the illusion that it's really cost-free to the atmosphere.

Second, it is a way for the rich to export the real costs and sacrifices of pollution control to the poorer segments of humanity in the Third World. (Apparently, Hollywood's plan is to make up for that by adopting every last one of their children.) For example, GreenSeat, a Dutch carbon-trading outfit, buys offsets from a foundation that plants trees in Uganda's Mount Elgon National Park to soak up the carbon emissions of its rich Western patrons. Small problem: expanding the park encroaches on land traditionally used by local farmers. As a result, reports the New York Times, "villagers living along the boundary of the park have been beaten and shot at, and their livestock has been confiscated by armed park rangers." All this so that swimming pools can be heated and Maseratis driven with a clear conscience in the fattest parts of the world.

March 23, 2007

Play Time

Of the 25 hours since the end of the Buckeyes comeback win over Tennessee , I have slept approximately two. Had to catch a too early flight to St. Louis, and then played tourist (the obligatory trip to the top of the Gateway Arch for starters) most of the day, wrapping it up watching two pretty good basketball games at the Edward Jones Dome. I thought Butler got hosed at the end of the game by officials who seemed determined not to allow the Gators to lose, but they were way closer to the action than I was. The Edward Jones Dome is a beautiful facility, but it's a football stadium. I'll be a Ducks fan on Sunday.

More detail on the Bucks win from Bucknuts and ESPN.com

Must sleep.

March 21, 2007

Creatures of Habit

As a group, college basketball coaches are a superstitious lot. But Thad Matta is their standard bearer. From Pat Forde at ESPN.com:

"He is the most superstitious person I've ever met," said Xavier coach and longtime friend Sean Miller. "It's really bizarre."

Matta might be bizarre, but he is not alone.

It is one of the great inconsistencies in sports: coaches are preparation freaks and slaves to superstition at the same time. Creatures of habit and cravers of control, they want to influence every moment and mannerism that may (or may not) affect an outcome.

Baseball is the karma capital of all athletics. But college basketball coaches aren't far behind.


I'm going to try to do some blogging from the Midwest Regional in St. Louis this weekend, including some photos if possible. The venue is the Edward Jones Dome, where the Rams play football, and I'm not sure how they configure the seating for basketball. I just hope we're not a half a mile from the floor. We'll be seeing Florida-Butler and Oregon-UNLV on Friday night, and the winners on Sunday.

And of course we're hoping to fly out there Friday morning with the Buckeyes already in the Elite Eight. Tennessee coach Bruce Pearl is wishing his Vols had not already played OSU once. SI.com scouts the Buckeyes. Here are some pre-game quotes for the OSU-Tennessee matchup from The O-Zone.

March 20, 2007

That'll Show 'Em

Certain factions on the right have taken the position that none of the Democratic Party candidates for President possess the seriousness and resolve to stand up to the enemies of America in the terror war. Well, I ask you, where are those naysayers now?

"I turn off a light and say, 'Take that, Iran,' and 'Take that, Venezuela.' We should not be sending our money to people who are not going to support our values." --Hillary Clinton

(via BOTW)

March 19, 2007

Cool Ads


More "Cool Ads" at Dark Roasted Blend. I liked the office chair suicide series.

French Elections

Most of what you need to know about the upcoming French elections you can get here from Denis Boyles:

...this week, a couple of surprise developments. First, Jacques Chirac, the risible Elysée incumbent, announced he would not be a candidate for re-election! You can imagine the surprise. The historic moment had all the grandeur of a Disney parade and all the emotional honesty of an actor entering rehab. In the end, it’ll probably be more rehab than parade for Chirac, especially if Sarko loses and takes with him the cloak of invisibility he has promised to throw over Chirac’s fraud-infested career. French quibblers who think people who break laws should be punished are already on the trail of Chirac, rattling chains and making the old man nervous at the prospect of doing hard labor without benefit of a 35-hour week...

...The other tearful political moment of the week was Dominique de Villepin’s confession on national radio....that he was endorsing Sarkozy. The tears were Sarko’s because the impact was immediate: Less than 24 hours after getting Villepin’s endorsement, Sarkozy had dropped a point-and-a-half in the polls. It’s taken him all week just to stop the slide...

...the race is further complicated by the announcement that Jean-Marie LePen, the George Wallace of French politics—has received enough signatures to qualify for the ballot. He will poll at 12-14 percent for the duration, but his actual numbers will trend slightly higher, since admitting you’re supporting an anti-immigrant, anti-American, anti-Semitic blowhard is a hard thing to do, even if you’re an anti-American French anti-Semite.

The presumption had been that it would be a race between Sarkozy and Ségolène Royal, the Socialist candidate. But another contender has surfaced that might push Royal out of the runoff.

UPDATE 3/22: Claire Berlinski on Sarkozy:

Mr. Sarkozy is the only politician in the race forthrightly to address the challenge of integrating France's Muslim minority and to propose serious policies to redress its estrangement — policies that go beyond firehosing more taxpayer money into French ghettos. He correctly deplores a contemporary French culture that discourages initiative, punishes merit, and remunerates sloth more than work. He calls for lower taxes, more flexible labor laws, the partial deregulation of the French economy, and the streamlining of its bureaucracy. He affirms his solidarity with Israel and rules out no options in countering Iranian nuclear ambitions...

Big Sister

The Obama camp is disavowing the ad so far, but it sure packs a punch. This S. F. Chronicle article sets it up:

It may be the most stunning and creative attack ad yet for a 2008 presidential candidate -- one experts say could represent a watershed moment in 21st century media and political advertising.

Yet the groundbreaking 74-second pitch for Democratic Illinois Sen. Barack Obama, which remixes the classic "1984" ad that introduced Apple computers to the world, is not on cable or network TV, but on the Internet.

And Obama's campaign says it had absolutely nothing to do with the video that attacks one of his principal Democratic rivals, New York Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton. Indeed, the ad's creator is a mystery, at least for now.

The compelling "Hillary 1984" video recently introduced on YouTube represents "a new era, a new wave of politics ... because it's not about Obama," said Peter Leyden, director of the New Politics Institute, a San Francisco-based think tank on politics and new media. "It's about the end of the broadcast era."

The video is a sophisticated new take on director Ridley Scott's controversial Apple ad that caused shock waves with its premiere during the 1984 Super Bowl, and shows the same blond young female athlete running with a sledgehammer toward a widescreen -- where an ominous Big Brother figure drones to a mass of zombielike followers.

But this time, the woman is wearing an iPod -- and has her candidate's slogan on her chest. And the Big Brother -- whose image she defiantly smashes with a wave of her sledgehammer -- is Clinton, the Democratic presidential front-runner.

March 18, 2007

Being That Guy

Usually when new words are added to the dictionary it's because our changing society invents them, and their presence in the language (ringtone, supersize, spyware) demands that dictionaries acknowledge them. So like it or not, 'potty-mouth' is now in the dictionary. What's irritating to me is when words enter the lexicon simply because so many people say them, spell them, or use them wrong.

When one uses language that is subject to one or more interpretations, sometimes in order to mislead or confuse, but often just to avoid committing one way or the other, one 'equivocates', using language that is 'equivocal'. To be unambiguous then, or to avoid any misunderstanding, one tries to be 'unequivocal', and so speaks 'unequivocally'.

So where did 'unequivocably' come from?

From constant repetition by lots of people who don't know better, I suppose. Dictionary.com says it's not a word at all, but Merriam-Webster includes it, with its etymology cited as "by alteration." I take that to mean its repetition by lots of people who don't know better.

The Columbia Guide to Standard American English says 'unequivocably' is "non-standard', and shouldn't be used, but they are obliged to mention it because it is used. MSN Encarta also just says no. Likewise Britannica Online.

Still it's everywhere. It's not as common as, for example, the use of 'literally' to mean 'figuratively', or the misuse of the expression "begs the question", in the context of something that prompts, or demands that one ask a particular question. I could cite three or four bloggers in the last two weeks using 'unequivocably', if my intent were to criticize or embarrass people. It's not.

The last thing I want to do is self-appoint as a critic of grammar, spelling and usage in the blogosphere. Talk about a fool's errand. Nobody want to be that guy. At least when I find myself stirred to be that guy, I try to bite my tongue and move on...and hope no one is scrutinizing this haphazardly-written site for such errors.

At the moment I can't even think of many other examples of this phenomenon, although 'alright' appears to be a word that came to be accepted instead of 'all right', by virtue of its widespread misuse.

And I couldn't let a post on this topic go by without mentioning one of my language pet peeves. That is the use of the expression "I could care less" to mean its opposite...that the speaker could not care less. If they could care less, that means they care at least some...and maybe a lot....the opposite of what they are trying to say, which is that they don't care at all.

A few years ago I emailed NR's Jay Nordlinger on this topic. Jay is a frequent commentator on matters of the English language and word use, and I sought his estimable opinion on this burning controversy. Five days later, this item appeared in his Impromptus column: (Nordlinger Archive)

Several readers have written me saying, “Will you do something about ‘I could care less’? People say it when they mean ‘I couldn’t care less.’ President Bush said it the other day, and it embarrassed me — sort of like ‘nuke-ular.’”

Sorry, but I can be of no help here. People simply started to say “I could care less” to mean the reverse, and it stuck — and it’s here. It used to irritate me, but I have now accepted it as an idiosyncrasy of the language (which is full of them). It’s a solecism for our times.

Years ago, I worked with a girl who was one of the brightest people I have ever known. She said “I could care less” all the time. (Me: “Do you know what I think of your Bill and Hillary Clinton?” Her: “I could care less.”) The fact that plenty of bright people say this should provide one clue that this is an expression whose meaning is clear and whose peculiar usage we should swallow. We are not to be literalist about it.

For my part, I didn't ask him "to do something about" the expression, but I was kind of disappointed that he thought that, at least in this particular battle in the war, the cause was lost.

March 17, 2007

Sweet Survival


That's Buckeye senior guard Ron Lewis firing the long 3-point bomb that tied the game with two seconds left, sending it into OT, where Ohio State pulled away for the win over Xavier. I don't think overconfidence is going to be a problem for this team after today's game.

Bucknuts game story

SI.com - Stewart Mandel

UPDATE 3/18: Pat Forde - ESPN.com

March 16, 2007

Gagging the Press

PJM is reporting today on the crushing of dissent in Egypt, and a serious blow struck against freedom of the press in Italy. The former, unfortunately, is something we've come to expect. The latter seems designed to protect specific powerful people implicated in scandals.

10 Questions

Byron York has 10 Questions for Valerie Plame Wilson

See Memeorandum for what she did and didn't say today.

March 15, 2007

KSM Hearing Transcripts

Here's a link to the transcripts of the Defense Department hearings for Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and his associates, via the Counterterrorism Blog.

Unnamed "current and former government officials" however, tell the AP that KSM has exaggerated his involvement in some of the terrorist acts for which he claims responsibility.

Good roundup from Allahpundit

No Thanks

I don't know if I'd call it an "obsession" exactly, but Fred Kaplan has a good question...Why is Bush so obsessed with ungrateful foreigners?

Just this past January, in an interview with CBS's 60 Minutes, President Bush returned to the theme, this time annoyed that the people he'd liberated seemed so unappreciative.

"I think the Iraqi people owe the American people a huge debt of gratitude," he said. "I mean … we've endured great sacrifices to help them," and the American people "wonder whether or not there is a gratitude level that's significant enough in Iraq."

There's a skewed view of the world reflected in these remarks. Does Bush really fail to recognize that even the most pro-Western Iraqis might have mixed feelings, to say the least, about America's intervention in their affairs—that they might be, at once, thankful for the toppling of Saddam Hussein, resentful about the prolonged occupation, and full of hatred toward us for the violent chaos that we unleashed without a hint of a plan for restoring order?


Apart from his view of Iraq, Bush may have a point when he complains that America gets too little credit for its generosity (though this is hardly new). He doesn't acknowledge, however, that governments give aid or go to war for their own interests, not just for the interests of others, and therefore don't generally require thank-you notes. Nor does he seem to realize, whatever his motives, that nobody likes a whiner—that donors who demand bowing and scraping are often resented, if not despised.

March 14, 2007

"Her Finger on the Country's Pulse"

The Onion:

Hillary Clinton Tries To Woo Voters By Rescinding Candidacy

DES MOINES, IA—Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton officially rescinded her bid for president at an Iowa campaign appearance Saturday.

"Just two months ago, I promised that I'd listen to every voice through my town hall meetings, web chats, and trips to communities across the country," said Clinton, whose opponents have accused her of being out of touch with average voters. "America, you spoke clearly and with conviction—and I listened. And so I say to you today: Let the conversation end."

Polls showed that immediately following her speech, Clinton's approval numbers skyrocketed all across the South, wide swaths of the Midwest, scattered pockets of the Northeast, and in California, Alaska, Nevada, North Dakota, South Dakota, Hawaii, and Ohio.

Chris Matthews, host of MSNBC's Hardball, described Clinton's decision as the "single most unifying move" the highly polarizing figure has made yet.

"Hillary's always had a hard time connecting to audiences, but these Joe Six-Pack Iowans absolutely lit up at her speech," Matthews said. "For the first time, she's really speaking to the whole nation."

Along with Clinton's announcement, her campaign website posted the results of a recent telephone poll showing that an overwhelming majority of both Republican and Democrat respondents answered "Yes" to the questions "Don't you wish Sen. Clinton was not even running?" and "Wouldn't everything be better in this country if Sen. Clinton just bowed out now?"

Fox News Channel's chief political correspondent, Carl Cameron, called the announcement classic Clintonian triangulation—finding an unorthodox issue that people can agree upon across socioeconomic and party lines.

"She's cold, she's calculating, she's blind with ambition, but I'll be doggoned if she doesn't have her finger on the country's pulse," Cameron said. "Hillary's not usually one for surprises, but this was a paradigm-shifting moment that's guaranteed to turn her campaign around."

We kid because we love.

March 13, 2007

Insurgency Infighting

In a piece in the NY Sun , Nibras Kazimi says the tipping point has been reached in the battle with the Iraqi insurgency, but neither side has admitted it. He says Sunnis are increasingly turning against al Qaeda and toward an accommodation with the Iraqi government and the Americans.

It's a considerably sunnier assessment than some I've read elsewhere, although the estimable Robert Kagan points to evidence of improvement. Unlike Kagan, Kazimi is not crediting the nascent "surge" for any of the positive developments, citing instead the infighting going on within the insurgency, and strategic blunders by al Qaeda.

No mention of Iran in the Kazimi piece, which I found a bit odd. How is the strength or weakness of the Iraqi insurgency to be discussed without even mentioning one of its key inciters, funders and suppliers of materiel and personnel?

Simmons Picks

Page 2's Bill Simmons is "Counting down the madness" of the NCAA Tournament

March 12, 2007


Is Europe again succumbing to the totalitarian impulse? James Lewis at The American Thinker says the tools to oppose it are to be found in their own liberal enlightenment, if they recognize it. In the meantime, France and Germany appear consumed by anti-Americanism as a defense mechanism. Do read it all.

Irrational scapegoating is always the sign of political pathology. It doesn't matter who is playing the goat. Scapegoating is the premier social distress signal, the SOS of the soul. Anti-Americanism, anti-Zionism, anti-Anglo-Saxonism are today's scapegoating passions on the European continent. But it could equally well be French anti-Prussianism of the 19th century, anti-Black demagogy in the American South during the Jim Crow years, or contemporary rage against democratic conservatives from the Left all over the world. Scapegoating is a confession of secret fear and envy. Totalitarian fantasies are designed to allay those feelings.

The solution to totalitarianism is well-known. It has been known since the European enlightenment, or perhaps since ancient Athens: It includes such standards as genuine tolerance for debate, a willingness to compete economically in open markets, a reliance on free speech and respect for the individual - because when you respect individuals there is no problem of racism, sexism, or homophobia. Goethe, Voltaire, Kant, Montaigne, Erasmus, Spinoza, Aquinas, Jefferson, Chesterton and a hundred others -- the entire enlightened ethical tradition of Western civilization -- stands ready to be used. Europe only needs to look to its own strengths to defeat today's "totalitarian temptations."

March 11, 2007

Making A Deal With Rudy

It's a few days old, but I just got around to reading Noemie Emery, on the unexpected conservative embrace of Rudy Giuliani. Read it all...here's a sample:

Previous pro-choice Republicans tended to look down on the social conservatives, to agree with the press that they were cringe-making yahoos, and to accept the condolences of the media for the terrible people they had to put up with in their party.

To the press, Rudy was one of those terrible people--too quick to defend the police when they were attacked on brutality charges; a fascist, a bully, and a prude. With most pro-choice Republicans, their views on abortion are only one of a set of positions and attitudes that arouse the ire of the base. Giuliani is that very rare animal, a pro-choice Republican who is also the furthest thing possible from a liberal on a wide range of issues (law and order among them). "In case after case, he refused to accept the veto of liberal public opinion," writes John Podhoretz in his New York Post column. "More than any other candidate in the race, Rudy Giuliani is a liberal slayer. When he rejects liberal orthodoxy, which he does often, he doesn't just oppose it. He goes to war with it--total, unconditional war." If you believe that the enemy of your enemy must be your friend, conservatives have no better friend than the mayor, bête noire and scourge of the limousine liberals, the race hustlers, the friends of identity politics, the opponents of capital punishment, the municipal unions, the American Civil Liberties Union, and the New York Times. Some will want him to be president, if only to annoy all these people--a temptation too big to resist.

Tallest, Deepest, Longest

I learned a few things from the Google Earth - Extreme Series. No, I didn't already know that the wettest place on Earth is Cherrapunji. (via PJM)

On the Case

KC Johnson updates the Duke "Group of 88" and cites a commentary by Richard Bertram Spencer, a Duke graduate, in another post. Follow Duke-Nifong at Durham-in-Wonderland...and stop in often...the guy cranks out some serious copy.

March 10, 2007

Candidate Cliché

When the Washington Post (Dana Milbank no less) starts mocking the Democratic front-runner for her tired, trite campaign rhetoric, maybe there's trouble in paradise. But who knows, maybe Hillary can waltz to the nomination on the basis of banal platitudes alone.

If You're Keeping Score at Home...

...Ohio State has now beaten Michigan four times in the last four months. Just sayin'.

March 8, 2007

Lance - Triple Cross

Hat tip and thanks to Rodger at Curmudgeonly and Skeptical for posting video of the Peter Lance book-signing for "Triple Cross". I have watched all three parts of this over the last couple days, and it has me wondering why I didn't know more about Ali Mohamed than I did, both as a major player in the al Qaeda war on America, and also in terms of the details of his bizarre background. One reason I didn't is that the 9/11 Commission didn't tell me about him. It would have hit too close to home. His name doesn't roll off the tongue like a Zawahiri or a bin Laden or Zarqawi in terms its presence in the media, and it isn't automatically associated with 9/11, since his whereabouts have been unknown since 2001.

Lance thinks we ought to know about him, though. But really, after 9/11, why would Americans be interested in the story of a man who had been an officer in Egyptian army intelligence, but who cross-trained with Green Berets, then entered the United States, (six weeks later marrying a woman he met on the plane), got citizenship, joined the U.S. Army, went through elite Special Forces training at Fort Bragg, got a Top Secret security clearance, became an FBI informant and CIA "asset" for many years, all the while infiltrating and compromising U.S. intelligence agencies, stealing documents and intelligence, and using his position to serve Osama bin Laden; for example, taking time off to train the team of terrorists who, under Ramzi Yousef, bombed the World Trade Center in 1993, and also supplying bin Laden with surveillance photographs of the U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania before the catastrophic bombings for which he was later convicted?

I did not know, for example, that in 1986, this key al Qaeda spy and conspirator, tied to terrorist acts going back to the 1981 assassination of Anwar Sadat, had been an instructor at the elite John F. Kennedy Special Warfare School at Fort Bragg as a member in good standing of the United States military.

That might have been a compelling story for the American people to hear, even though it would have surely been humiliating and embarrassing for the Pentagon, the FBI, the CIA, and the entire Justice Department, that is if the 9/11 Commission had considered it important enough to look into. Lance is an Emmy-award winning journalist (it says here) and a good storyteller. He's also a self-taught expert on the bin Laden/Zawahiri war on America. The talk is long...two segments totaling about 100 minutes, plus a Q&A session. I don't consider any of it a waste.

This is not conspiracy theorizing by Lance, but rather a blistering indictment of the FBI, and secondarily the 9/11 Commission, by way of exhaustive investigative journalism. At least that's the sense one gets from Lance's encyclopedic mastery of the names and details of the drama. If he has a political agenda, it doesn't jump out at me in this two hours or so of monologue, that is, beyond trying to convey a sense of the systemic careerism and incompetence, the bureaucratic inertia, and the resistance to reform of the FBI and Justice Department, going back several administrations, obviously.

Lance calls Ali Mohamed the "Rosetta Stone" of the 9/11 attacks. He seems hopeful that the truth will eventually come out, and the 9/11 attacks will be re-investigated as the public increasingly demands it. I share his wish, but can't really match his hope. We have seen most of the 1990's bungling of the FBI and BATF successfully squelched for years.

In fact, this Ali Mohamed story recalls another FBI informant...Carol Howe, an undercover FBI "asset" who hung out at a white supremacist camp in Elohim City, OK frequented by Timothy McVeigh, and who rode in a car that cased the Murrah Building for possible attack, weeks before the OKC bombing. Prevented from testifying in the McVeigh trial about the "others unknown " in the bombing conspiracy, she just went away. Her reports to her BATF handler are in the public record, (see the Evans-Pritchard book, for starters.)

And then there's the bizarre contention of the OKC investigation, which we are still asked to swallow today....that John Doe #2, the Middle Eastern-looking companion of McVeigh, and the subject of an unprecedented national manhunt, simply ceased to exist a couple days after the OKC bombing. It's just another of the clumsy lies we have been told by our government relating to terrorist attacks on our country.

I have become largely convinced that we as a people do not demand to know the whole truth in these matters partly because we do not want to know the whole truth. If we did, we would have to confront some very uncomfortable realities, not least an out-of-control intelligence community. Shady intelligence "assets", whether we label them double agents or agents provocateurs like Andreas Strassmeir in the OKC case, and seemingly Ali Mohamed in the al Qaeda campaign, have been blurring the lines between the terrorists and the Feds. Not healthy for the country.

The video did the trick on me. I ordered the book immediately. It seems like it will be a logical follow-up and supplement to The Looming Tower, to which Lance refers a couple times, and which is must-reading for understanding the path to 9/11, in my opinion. My overriding feeling after reading "The Looming Tower" was one of anger and frustration at the many, many ways and times that 9/11 could have, and should have been prevented. Lance takes us right back there again.


cooperative research - Ali Mohamed (this site is an an incredible resource)

Wikipedia entry

Peter Lance Home

AlterNet - The Ali Mohamed - FBI Bungle

March 6, 2007

Hitch on Hirsi Ali

Ayaan Hirsi Ali has been labeled a "fundamentalist", an "absolutist", and even a "bombthrower" of all things, in the various reviews of her book "Infidel". I guess this is the price she pays for violating Multiculturalism Rule No. 1.

Christopher Hitchens comes to her defense: Ayaan Hirsi Ali is no fundamentalist:

In her book, Ayaan Hirsi Ali says the following: "I left the world of faith, of genital cutting and forced marriage for the world of reason and sexual emancipation. After making this voyage I know that one of these two worlds is simply better than the other. Not for its gaudy gadgetry, but for its fundamental values." This is a fairly representative quotation. She has her criticisms of the West, but she prefers it to a society where women are subordinate, censorship is pervasive, and violence is officially preached against unbelievers. As an African victim of, and escapee from, this system, she feels she has acquired the right to say so. What is "fundamentalist" about that?

He is especially put out by the hit job done on Hirsi Ali in a Newsweek article by Lorraine Ali, who says that...

"It's ironic that this would-be 'infidel' often sounds as single-minded and reactionary as the zealots she's worked so hard to oppose." I would challenge the author to give her definition of irony and also to produce a single statement from Hirsi Ali that would come close to materializing that claim. Accompanying the article is a typically superficial Newsweek Q&A sidebar, which is almost unbelievably headed: "A Bombthrower's Life." The subject of this absurd headline is a woman who has been threatened with horrific violence, by Muslims varying from moderate to extreme, ever since she was a little girl. She has more recently had to see a Dutch friend butchered in the street, been told that she is next, and now has to live with bodyguards in Washington, D.C. She has never used or advocated violence. Yet to whom does Newsweek refer as the "Bombthrower"? It's always the same with these bogus equivalences: They start by pretending loftily to find no difference between aggressor and victim, and they end up by saying that it's the victim of violence who is "really" inciting it.

Roger Simon, who refers to the magazine as "that cultural-artifact-of-another-era-now-dentist-office-clutter Newsweek", also had some thoughts on their review.

UPDATE: See also Dennis Prager

March 5, 2007

CPAC Bloggers on Coulter

"Not in our name" is the message from a the center-right blogosphere regarding Ann Coulter's bigoted publicity stunt the other day at the CPAC meetings. An open letter to CPAC sponsors and organizers is up at Sean Hackbarth's blog, and I'm happy to add my name to the list of bloggers supporting this letter.

I'm heartened that the response to Coulter by conservatives has been so strong and so broad. She is not representative of the conservative movement, though she has done it incalculable harm by giving our opponents a telegenic, loudmouthed example of bigotry to hang around our collective neck. Read the whole letter, but here are a couple of excerpts:

Coulter’s vicious word choice tells the world she care little about the feelings of a large group that often feels marginalized and despised. Her word choice forces conservatives to waste time defending themselves against charges of homophobia rather than advancing conservative ideas...


...Denouncing Coulter is not enough. After her “raghead” remark in 2006 she took some heat. Yet she did not grow and learn. We should have been more forceful. This year she used a gay slur. What is next? If Senator Barack Obama is the de facto Democratic Presidential nominee next year will Coulter feel free to use a racial slur? How does that help conservatism?

One of the points of CPAC is the opportunity it gives college students to meet other young conservatives and learn from our leaders. Unlike on their campuses—where they often feel alone—at CPAC they know they are part of a vibrant political movement. What example is set when one highlight of the conference is finding out what shocking phrase will emerge from Ann Coulter’s mouth? How can we teach young conservatives to fight for their principles with civility and respect when Ann Coulter is allowed to address the conference? Coulter’s invective is a sign of weak thinking and unprincipled politicking.

Michelle Malkin speaks for me on this issue too:

Her "faggot" joke was not just a distraction from all the good that was highlighted and represented at the conference. It was the equivalent of a rhetorical fragging--an intentionally-tossed verbal grenade that exploded in her own fellow ideological soldiers' tent...

...With a single word, Coulter sullied the hard work of hundreds of CPAC participants and exhibitors and tarred the collective reputation of thousands of CPAC attendees. At a reception for college students held by the Young America's Foundation, I lambasted the substitution of stupid slurs for persuasion-- be it "faggot" from a conservative or "gook" from a liberal--and urged the young people there to conduct themselves at all times with dignity in their ideological battles on and off campus.

I made something else explicitly clear: Not all of us treat the communication of conservative ideals and ideas as 24/7 performance art. You can and should use humor to convey your message. You can enlighten and entertain--without becoming a tired old schtick. You can joke without becoming the joke.


On Saturday, Sean Hannity spoke at CPAC. He told the massive crowd that "We have a very pivotal role to play in driving the direction of this country" and urged the attendees to remind the nation "what conservative principles are about." I wholeheartedly agree. We should remind them that we are not on the same side as Bill Maher, the Huffington Post, and John Edwards' ex-bloggers who pollute public discourse with shallow, sensational attacks and hide behind the "satire" card when called to account.

I don't think it is an overreaction to suggest that Ann Coulter deserves to be shunned by the conservative movement in much the same way that the John Birchers were read out of the party by William F. Buckley among others. She is forever tainted as any kind of effective spokesperson for the conservative cause. A little media-enabled apology like the one Isaiah Washington was permitted will not make everything right for Coulter, given the media's propensity to apply a different standard to conservative "hate speech" than they do to that of the left, (see Malkin's recent examples above.)

My dismay at the whole incident is compounded by the fact that I consider the word itself to be perhaps the most vile and dehumanizing of slurs that exist in our language. "Faggot", derives from the word "fagot"...defined as "a bundle of sticks"...in other words, something suitable for tossing onto the fire, as fuel... to be burned. Didn't we fight a war over the idea that certain human beings should be incinerated?

How ignorant and unthinking it is for any freedom-lover to evoke such an image, especially at a time when we are engaged in a long-term struggle against radical Islamism, an ideology and a political movement that deals with its homosexuals by stoning them to death? How is the one image distinguishable from the other?

You may think the comparison overwrought, and it may be, since the Islamists are actually stoning homosexuals and Coulter's offense was merely rhetorical. But I think of it as "aid and comfort..."

Time Travails

Time magazine, under new Managing Editor Richard Stengel, is trying to figure out what kind of magazine it wants to be, and more importantly, if anybody wants or needs to read a weekly newsmagazine at all anymore. Good read from New York Magazine:

“Mass class” is the needle-threading phrase Stengel has found to describe Time’s big, aspiring audience, which seems to mean a huge crowd of random middle-class people who are smart (but not too smart) and engaged (but not too engaged) and might buy a Toyota if they see an ad in Time—aspiring to be like readers of The Economist, but not so much that they’d subscribe to The Economist instead of Time.

Good luck. People magazine accounts for 40% of the profits for Time Inc., with Time at just 5%. Which might just tell you all you need to know about the American appetite for print news and analysis of...well, news, compared to their thirst for gawking at celebrity.

March 4, 2007

Blogger of the Year

Congratulations to NZ, named 'Blogger of the Year' at CPAC, in part due to his laudable launches of new sites The Victory Caucus, and Porkbusters.

Fruits of Realism

Caroline Glick - If Iran Gets the Bomb

Broadly speaking, there are three possible scenarios of how Iran would likely behave were it to become a nuclear power. In the most optimistic scenario, Iran would not attack Israel or any other country with its atomic arsenal, but would rather use it as an instrument of international and regional influence. In this scenario, Iran would reap economic advantage from its nuclear status by threatening oil shipping in the Persian Gulf and so jack up worldwide oil and gas prices. A massive economic dislocation in the oil consuming countries would no doubt ensue. In this state of affairs, all international economic sanctions against Iran would disappear and states would begin fighting with one another for the right to develop Iran's oil and gas fields and refining capabilities.

Operating under Iran's nuclear umbrella, terror groups like Hizbullah and Al-Qaida would feel free to attack at will throughout the world. The rates of terrorism - of both the organized and lone wolf variety - would increase exponentially.

Regionally, Iran would work to export its Khomeinist Shi'ite revolution. It would increase its interference in both Iraq and Afghanistan and so neutralize and defeat coalition and NATO efforts to stabilize those countries.

As to Saudi Arabia, there can be little doubt that Iran would seek to foment an uprising of Saudi Shi'ites who happen to live as a repressed minority on top of the Saudi oil fields.


In a moderate scenario, not only would all the events that would likely occur in a best-case scenario occur, Iran would also make indirect use of its nuclear arsenal. In this case, Iran would likely use one of its existing terror proxies in Sinai, Gaza or Lebanon, or invent a new terror group in one or all of these areas. Iran would transfer one or more nuclear weapons to its terror group of choice, which would then attack Israel and cause the second Holocaust in 70 years. Iran would deny any connection to the attack, although it would shower high praise on its perpetrators.

Definitely read it all. Related to our recent willingness to "engage" Iran in discussions, Andy McCarthy had a fly-on-the-wall idea of what those discussions might sound like.

Horowitz - Indoctrination U.

From the introduction to his newest book, David Horowitz makes the case for his campaign for academic freedom, and says he doesn't take personally the leftist smear job being done on him, recognizing it as necessarily part of the radical project. Clip and Save.

Because the attacks on the academic freedom campaign have focused to a great extent on me as the individual responsible, the narrative that follows necessarily deals with personal experiences. The political left which has orchestrated these attacks has a long history of conducting its campaigns through ad hominem charges. It is not for nothing that the word “purge,” for example, is a leftwing coinage, or that every purge has featured the slander of its individual targets. The political purge is a purification ritual and its roots can be traced to the fact that radical politics is essentially a religious vocation.

This religious character is determined by the fact that its adherents conceive their projects as revolutionary or “transformative,” secular terms for what in effect would be a religious “redemption,” albeit an earthly one.


The extravagant goal of redeeming humanity justifies uncompromising means. Social redeemers regard themselves as an “army of the saints,” and their opponents as the party of sinners. They do not view their conservative opponents as supporters of alternative means for improving the lot of women, minorities and the poor, but as enemies of women, minorities and the poor. Progressive agendas cannot be opposed, therefore, on grounds that are principled or practical or compassionate. Opponents of “progressives” are defined as “reactionaries” – advocates of racism and sexism, practitioners of “McCarthyism,” and other incarnations of social evil.

Consequently, to be demonized by “progressives” as, in fact I have been as a result of my efforts in behalf of academic freedom, is not a personal matter, but is an ineluctable consequence of opposing their agendas. The anathemas academic leftists have pronounced on me and the academic freedom campaign have a long and squalid history in the left’s battles with previous opponents.

Klein's Left-Wing Extremist

Reliably liberal columnist Joe Klein defines a "left-wing extremist", and the commenters go nuts. Certain lefties I know would deny holding these beliefs, and the fact that many of their actions and statements are altogether consistent with them would be dismissed as coincidental....and it's impolite, not to mention mean-spirited of you to call attention to it too, by the way.

March 3, 2007

Browns Bag Steinbach

For the second consecutive year, the Cleveland Browns signed the highest rated offensive lineman in the pool of available NFL free agents, getting Eric Steinbach to sign a seven-year contract worth $49 million. Steinbach was to have visited Tampa Bay after coming to Cleveland, but GM Phil Savage wouldn't let him get out of town without a deal.

There has been no confirmation of the rumors that before leaving town Steinbach was fitted for heavy-duty knee braces by the Browns organization, and had his motorcycle confiscated by the team.

PD story

Also visiting the Browns on Friday were several lower-profile free agents, including outside linebacker Antwan Peek, defensive end Kenyon Coleman and defensive tackle Ron Edwards. The Browns are also interested in former Eagles cornerback Rod Hood, who will visit Cleveland Saturday.

UPDATE 3/3: Browns sign Antwan Peek.

March 2, 2007

Kent State Professor A Hot Item...Again

Two articles this week by Townhall.com columnist Mike Adams (here and here) have refocused attention on Kent State Associate Professor Julio Pino, a Cuban-born convert to Islam, whose outspoken support for radical Islamic elements, including Palestinian suicide bombers, has drawn the outrage of Ohio taxpayers several times in recent years.

This time around, the issue is Pino's contributions to a website called "Global War" (you can link via the Adams article...I'll decline to send any traffic from here) which describes its mission as follows ..."We are a jihadist news service, and provide battle dispatches, training manuals, and jihad videos to our brothers worldwide. All we want is to get Allah’s pleasure. We will write ‘Jihad’ across our foreheads, and the stars. The angels will carry our message throughout the world.". The site sub-head refers to its proprietor as "the most dangerous Muslim in America."

Pino has, variously, declined to comment, said he "absolutely" does not support jihad , said he contributes to the site but has no ownership of it, and said "The site is culled from news sources all over the Web, from the Times of London to the Times of India,....Whatever else is on there I have no comment.''

The KSU administration has distanced themselves from the website itself in a press release today, and has defended Pino from criticism in the past on freedom of speech grounds.

The site operator has clearly been affected by the recent spurt of Internet activity and other media attention. For a few hours on Friday, it was redirecting hits to a "Defend America" patriotic site. As I write this in the early hours of Saturday, it is directing hits to the home page of the blog service, blog-hi.com. The site appears to be largely authored by an individual using the handle "Lover of Angels."

Pino is not commenting today on the question of whether he is in fact "Lover of Angels", but the Beacon Journal is reporting today that an article appears on the site which is identical to a letter sent last year to the campus newspaper, The Kent Stater, over Pino's name.

Several bloggers have already invested considerably more time and effort in this story than I wish to, since it interests me mostly because of its local angle. (Pino appears to be just another in a long line of college professors who despise the country that provides them their employment, their tenure, and the freedom to spew their hatred of it. Yawn.) One blogger in particular with a lot of links on the Pino story is Markedmanner Blog. Check that one out for more details.

Another blogger who has been on the Pino story longer than most, claimed almost a year ago, without offering any evidence, that Pino had been "turned" by the FBI, and that his web site is an FBI "sting" operation designed to attract potential terrorists with its strident rhetoric. Make of that what you will. These people apparently agree...(major moonbattery alert!.) Come to think of it, the sting theory might explain the site's prominent use of the phrase "the most dangerous Muslim in America", which under ordinary circumstances would be a claim guaranteed to bring the FBI's knock at your door.

UPDATE 3/6: Mike Adams' new Townhall column on the Julio Pino matter

Labor's Note Comes Due

From the editors at OpinionJournal

The House of Representatives has scheduled a vote as early as today on a bill that strips 140 million U.S. workers of the right to decide in private whether to unionize. Naturally, it's called the Employee Free Choice Act.

Big Labor has been agitating to ease union-formation requirements for more than a decade. And prior to last year's election, the AFL-CIO, AFSCME and their allies made it clear to Democrats that this vote would be the most important return they expected on their investment in a Nancy Pelosi Speakership. This is payback day.

The union claim is that employers are engaging in rampant unfair labor practices to prevent employees from exercising their right to organize. But data from the National Labor Relations Board, which oversees union elections, show no rise in such activities. The reality is that union membership has been in decline for decades, and labor leaders are desperate to rig the rules in order to reverse the trend. In the 1950s, 35% of private-sector workers were unionized. By the early 1980s the number had fallen to 20%, and today it stands at just 7.4%.

The reason for this decline isn't illegal management meddling in organizing efforts. The problem is that unions haven't been able to persuade the workers themselves.

Kimberly A. Strassel thinks Pelosi has blundered by pushing this unpopular bill, one that would be filibustered in the Senate, and vetoed by Bush regardless of the result there. So I guess the honeymoon is over.

Up to now, Speaker Nancy Pelosi had kept her troops in line and her party's liberal wing in check. The vaunted first "100 hours" was run like a military operation, and revolved around a carefully chosen legislative agenda that would unify every faction in her party. It was small potatoes, but it worked, and it was a lesson in how Democrats can practice smart politics.

The card check, in contrast, is a lesson in how the party's liberal base forces Democrats to back political losers. The legislation's only purpose is to give unions an unfair advantage in organizing, namely by eliminating the secret ballot in union elections and instead allowing thugs to openly bully workers into joining up. Americans understand and despise this, with polls showing 90% of the public thinks card check is a racket.

Democrats therefore left themselves wide open for their first public drubbing. The card check gave Republicans a rare opening to beat the daylights out of the new majority, successfully accusing it of trashing democratic elections and shutting down free speech. It unified the business community, which put aside its disagreements on health care and immigration to instead team up to make the vote as painful as possible for Ms. Pelosi's moderate wing. Even the liberal press jumped ship.

March 1, 2007

Not All Fun and Games

It's not all about frat parties and Cameron Crazies, you know. Duke students are involved in the kind of innovative and productive research we expect to see from some of our country's best and brightest:

Robotic Beer Launching Refrigerator - The most amazing home videos are here

Carbon Capers and Cons

Bill Hobbs says the discussion of Al Gore's personal carbon footprint should be less about whether or not he is a hypocrite, and more about examining the validity and efficacy of so-called "carbon offsets" themselves. Not only the question of how effective they are, if at all, but also who will be the beneficiaries and custodians of the cash that will be changing hands.

It turns out that the Goracle himself is in the business of selling carbon offsets, to assuage the enviro-guilt of others, and to keep himself insulated from criticism for continuing to jet about the globe spewing carbon emissions into the atmosphere. It almost seems as if the more Gore hypes the problem, the more he stands to benefit personally. The man is a hero. And you must admit, it does sound like a solid business opportunity in what looks to be a real growth industry.

Excerpting Hobbs' Why the Gore Story Matters

In its original story, The Tennessean newspaper in Nashville reported that Gore buys “carbon offsets” to compensate for his home’s use of energy from carbon-based fuels. What is a “carbon offset,” exactly? Essentially, it’s a payment someone makes to an environmentally friendly entity to compensate for personally using non-green energy.

As Wikipedia explains, a carbon offset “is a service that tries to reduce the net carbon emissions of individuals or organizations indirectly, through proxies who reduce their emissions and/or increase their absorption of greenhouse gases.” Wikipedia goes on to explain that “a wide variety of offset actions are available; tree planting is the most common. Renewable energy and energy conservation offsets are also popular, including emissions trading credits.”

So far, so good. So, where does Gore buy his ‘carbon offsets’? According to The Tennessean newspaper’s report, Gore buys his carbon offsets through Generation Investment Management. a company he co-founded and serves as chairman:

Gore helped found Generation Investment Management, through which he and others pay for offsets. The firm invests the money in solar, wind and other projects that reduce energy consumption around the globe…

As co-founder and chairman of the firm Gore presumably draws an income or will make money as its investments prosper. In other words, he “buys” his “carbon offsets” from himself, through a transaction designed to boost his own investments and return a profit to himself. To be blunt, Gore doesn’t buy “carbon offsets” through Generation Investment Management - he buys stocks.

Feel guilty about flying to Davos for the WEF, or just for taking the Explorer to Grandma's in Mobile for the weekend? Send money to the company I own, and I'll plant trees in Africa on your behalf....after paying for administrative overhead of course. Sure the trees take a long time to start taking CO2 out of the air, and then they die and return all the carbon to the ecosystem by burning or decomposing anyway. So we still haven't worked out all the kinks in this thing. Keep the money coming though, and just know we're working on it. Besides, it's more about how you'll feel about yourself.

Iowahawk likes the business model.

Related links:

Glenn Reynolds links several articles on offsets.

Jay Reding describes a house that really is environmentally responsible.

The Economist

Carbon Cop-Out

The Virginian

Ed Morrissey:

...purchasing offsets only means that Gore doesn't want to make the same kind of sacrifices that he's asking other families to make. He's using a modern form of indulgences in order to avoid doing the penance that global-warming activism demands of others. It means that the very rich can continue to suck up energy and raise the price and the demand for electricity and natural gas, while families struggle with their energy costs and face increasing government regulation and taxation.

Don Surber - Al Gore vs. Al Gore

UPDATE 3/1: Taranto weighs in

So, let's sum this up: Here we have a major American politician who is calling for policies that would impose huge costs on society but appears to be profiting handsomely himself; who is leading an extravagant lifestyle while demanding sacrifices from ordinary people; and who is calling on the media to suppress the views of those with whom he disagrees, while at the same time urging more government regulation in the name of "fairness" to his partisan and ideological allies.

Why is it left to think tanks and bloggers to investigate and expose all this? Why aren't the mainstream media all over the story? Could it be . . . bias?