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May 30, 2007

Decision Time For Iran?

From Pat Dollard's blog

Watching the pundits discuss our historic meeting with Iran, you would have mostly heard despair at the notion that we have no leverage in these talks, and so therefor why would Iran give on anything? Why would they stop waging war against us in iraq if they have nothing to fear? To all the experts in the media, the whole thing seemed like some grand puzzlement. Was it just an attempt to appease the administration’s domestic critics who have been chiding it for not engaging in diplomacy ( a vaguery if there ever was one ) with the world’s top terrorist? No one you heard from could really quite grasp what was going on.

For some reason, no one told you that just 5 days before Monday’s talks, an entire floating army, with nearly 20,000 men, comprising the world’s largest naval strike force, led by the USS Nimitz and the USS Stennis, and also comprising the largest U.S. Naval armada in the Persian Gulf since 2003, came floating up unnanounced through the Straight of Hormuz, and rested right on Iran’s back doorstep, guns pointed at them. The demonstration of leverage was clear. And it also came on the exact date of the expiration of the 60 day grace period the U.N. had granted Iran.

And it came just a few weeks after Vice President Dick Cheney had swept through the region and delivered a very clear and pointed message to the Saudi King Abdullah and others: George Bush has unequivocally decided to attack Iran’s nuclear, military and economic infrastructure if they do not abandon their drive for military nuclear capability. Plain and simple. Iran heard the message as well, and although a lack of leverage may seem clear to America’s retired military tv talking heads, it is not so clear to the government in Tehran.

The message to both Iran and Syria is that if the talks in Baghdad fail, the military option is ready to go.

(via RedState)

May 29, 2007

Tribe Cool, Sox Hot, Yanks Toast

The Red Sox have cooled off the Indians road trip with consecutive wins at Fenway behind their aces Schilling and Beckett. As much as the two Boston starters dominated Cleveland, the Tribe was in both games down to the last out. It's too bad we had to play this series without either of our two best starters (Sabathia and Carmona) while facing Boston's top three, Matsuzaka starting the finale tomorrow.

Then you consider that Boston rested Ortiz for both games. Then you consider that they have Papelbon and the Indians don't. It's pretty clear that Boston is a couple notches above anybody else in the American League.

Oh yeah, and the Yankees went down once again tonight. Tough break.

They're toast, by the way. They'll never climb back into the race when they're trotting out starting pitchers who are either rookies or 40-year olds in half their games. The bullpen is a mess, and Rivera has finally proven mortal.

It would be a fairly conservative estimate to say that the Indians and the Tigers should each win 90 games. That means the Yankees would have to go 69-43 from here on to match that 90 wins and get the wildcard playoff berth. What indication have they given anyone this season that they are capable of doing that? I'll start worrying when they've climbed over the Orioles and the Blue Jays.

Not happenin'.

UPDATE 5/30: The good guys salvage one.

May 28, 2007

N. Korea's Non-Compliance Works

At FPM , Gordon Cucullu and Joshua Stanton consider the sanity of another agreement with North Korea.

...can anyone name the last – or first – time North Korea abided by any agreement to stop any aggressive actions, including WMD research, killing, counterfeiting, kidnapping, abducting, or threatening someone?


We should not be surprised that North Korea historically does not keep its word. We should be surprised that so many intelligent people expected anything else. If the definition of repeating the same activity and expecting a different result is “insanity,” then the Bush Administration and all the pundits who support this new agreement are candidates for psychotherapy.


Predictably, more than a month has passed since North Korea reneged on every promise it made in the February 13th denuclearization agreement: to shut down the Yongbyon reactor; to invite U.N. inspectors back in; to “discuss” the full range of its nuclear programs; and to appear for another session of six-party talks. And yet wounded souls on the editorial pages of the Washington Post and the New York Times that for years advocated the same capitulation the Bush Administration inexplicably offered three months ago, now ask with breaking voices, why do they cheat us?

Why would they possibly be motivated to do otherwise? North Korea cheats us because it works! The North Koreans see negotiations with us as simply war by other means, and we always let them win.


Gordon G. Chang at Contentions

Contentions: Report - "North Korea Provocative Actions 19050-2007"

Making Omelette

Gateway Pundit has news, photos and links on the strong-arm tactics employed by the Chavez government on protesters in Venezuela here and here. Chavez has shut down the opposition TV station Radio Caracas TV (RCTV), and has brought in tanks, tear gas and water cannon to intimidate the demonstrators. Tom Blumer at Bizzy Blog searches for mainstream news coverage of the use of tanks, which gradually emerges, following the lead of the blogosphere. Now it turns out the hardware was for more than intimidation.

It was inevitable, and thus predictable. And it has gotten ugly.

(El Pais via GP)

Publius Pundit on the censorship that started it, and the outcry from journalists and major newspapers left and right, who have denounced Chavez' censorship:

Venezuelan dictator Hugo Chavez put a stop to free speech today by pulling the license of RCTV, the one TV station that has gone out of its way to oppose him, to blast his incompetence, to slam his theft of property, to warn he's running the country into the ground. They made no secret of opposing his power. Today the dictator ever so procedurally refused to renew the 53-year license of Radio Caracas Television, not because there's a public interest in seeing this station disappear, but because his own whim said so. When you are unable to distinguish yourself from the state, it gets easy.


RCTV is the most popular station in Venezuela, loved by both Chavistas in the slums and middle class people in neighborhoods like Altamira. In fact, it's the equivalent of ABC or CBS. It's a huge popular station that's done the moon landing, done the coups, done Nixon's visit where he was mobbed, done the Vargas floods, done plane crashes, oil strikes and beauty pageants. It's the universal community of television. Again, now gone black.

Read his whole post. And here's an update from Publius, All Hell Breaks Loose in Caracas

May 27, 2007

The Clinton Soap Opera

Noemie Emery, long a student of Clintonism, with the new cover story for the Standard:

Days of Their Lives

This is crunch time for the Great Clinton Gamble, the one Hillary took in her deal with Bill: to serve his career first to gain power later, or more power sooner, than she might have won for herself. She has to put up, to prove the claim her fans have been making since the couple emerged: that she is the one who ought to be president, a woman of genius and destiny. And he, for this, and for all of the grief he has caused her, now has to pay up, big time.


Like any successful duo, Hillary and Bill's complementary skills--her will and discipline, his political talents--could compensate for their individual deficits, and create one effective political animal. The downside was that their opposite deficits--his lack of discipline, her tin ear for politics--constantly threatened to scuttle the enterprise, creating an unending cycle of danger and rescue and blame.


How will the writers survive this last challenge? Can the couple bring it off once again? If they can't, it won't be the first time a show failed when main characters tried to spin off into separate series, losing much of the magic that made the act compelling. From the start, the thing that made The Clintons work was the unlikely union of opposites, held together in an attraction-revulsion dynamic, with the whole adding up to more than the sum of its parts. As a sum, they are, and remain, an incredible story. As parts, however, they are merely stock players: an aging roué, who is almost too facile, and a grimly ambitious feminist lawyer, with a tough but conventional mind. In 1992, they seemed fresh and exciting; now they are part of the system and the problem; they were young; now they're not far from the age that the elder George Bush was when they ran against him. And if her job was tough, Bill's is still tougher: It is easier to discipline a huge and unruly political talent than to try to breathe talent into a humorless disciplinarian.


Noemie Emery; Heterodoxy: October, 1999: "The Moral Fallout of Clintonism" (Not in the Heterodoxy archives yet, so plucked from my own, with a bleg for indulgence from DH and Co.)

May 26, 2007


Joe Carter at EO has a collection of commercials that didn't make the cut.

May 25, 2007

Cavs Screwed in Detroit

The NBA should be embarrassed. The officials should be reprimanded. Who knows if LeBron would have made the two free throws that would have given the Cavs a win in Game Two of the conference finals last night. But he sure as hell should have been at the line. ESPN's Chris Sheridan reacts to the non-call, and to Cavs Coach Mike Brown's sanguine response to it.

The non-call was so egregious, I'd expect Jimmy Clark, Bernie Fryer and Mark Wunderlich to be told by the league office that they can watch the rest of the playoffs from Joey Crawford's man cave, since they don't deserve to be working at this stage of the postseason if they're too scared to call a foul on the biggest play of the game. But I'm not sure whether those three referees will be taking calls from the league office on Friday, since all three must be scheduled for surgery to have the whistles they swallowed removed from their stomachs.

You know, Brown could have come up with a line or two like that that would have cost him a fine but at least would have earned him the gratitude of the Cavs' fans, who will wake Friday morning feeling -- and feeling it rightfully, I might add -- that they were screwed.

Instead, Brown took the high road after the game:

"The officials get paid a lot of money, and that's their job. If they don't see anything, they don't see anything. We're a no-excuse team. We've got to get ready for Game 3."

But I agree with Sheridan that you can't act like you deserved to get jobbed, and just roll over...even if it means you get fined by King David:

I can understand the Cavs not wanting to be seen as a team that complains about the referees publicly, but there's a way to get your point across without crossing the line...

...The Cavs had a right to be angry, and I felt Brown had an obligation to at least show a little emotion. If he wanted to go ballistic and spend $50,000 getting it off his chest, that would have been acceptable, too.

I just didn't like the whole specter of the Cavs slinking off into the night looking like they were almost afraid to stand up for themselves.

They got robbed, and either their coach or their superstar should have found a way to say so. Instead, they came off as being meek. And at this stage of the season, it is not time to be a pushover. It's time to stand up for yourself and state the truth, and if it costs you $50,000, so be it. At least the refs will hear your message, and the next time it happens you'll probably get the call.

But They Meant Well

BBC News - "UN Troops traded gold for guns":

Pakistani UN peacekeeping troops have traded in gold and sold weapons to Congolese militia groups they were meant to disarm, the BBC has learnt.

These militia groups were guilty of some of the worst human rights abuses during the Democratic Republic of Congo's long civil war.

May 24, 2007

Let's Do It

The Anchoress wants all those folks who have been talking about impeaching the President to just go for it. Get them out in the open and on the record with their evidence of high crimes and misdemeanors. Lots of links.

For an additional little thought experiment, imagine if you can the reaction from the Democrats if it were discovered that George W. Bush had been carrying on an affair with a White House intern, and had lied about it under oath to a Grand Jury in a civil suit involving a separate case of sexual imposition by him, and had suborned perjury by others on his staff to cover up his involvement with the woman.

You're right. They probably would say that the behavior and the lies about it don't rise to the level that would merit impeachment, because they were lies about sex.

While you're at it, imagine the reaction by Democrats had George Bush been found to have transferred restricted use missile technology to the Chinese in an apparent quid pro quo, receiving in return hundreds of thousands of dollars in illegal cash to be used for his re-election campaign, and delivered to the White House by an assortment of shady Chinese bagmen.

I'm guessing they would criticize anyone who brought up the scandal as being part of a vast conspiracy against the President.


This has the potential to be a very long post, what with the abundance of hypothetical examples involving say, cattle futures windfalls, purloined FBI files, dead Cabinet secretaries, and pardons-for-sale....but I'll spare you.

May 22, 2007


I think it's fair to use the dreaded "must read" label here. I'm under quota.

Victor Davis Hanson - Cut America Some Slack

If I were a European, Taiwanese, Saudi, or almost anyone else who habitually complains about American presumptuousness, I would worry that the American public is reverting to its (natural?) 1930s sort of isolationism. Tired of cheap anti-Americanism, the burden of global defense obligations, and the continual erosion of the dollar, they wish to pull in their horns and let others in multilateral fashion pick up the slack.

Perhaps the European rapid reaction force could respond to Estonia’s plight should Putin send in a punititive brigade. Maybe the UN could provide the necessary deterrence to protect Taiwanese autonomy should the island provoke mainland China to the point of invading.

No doubt the EU3—Britain, France, Germany—could warn Iran not to nuke Israel—or else. These are no longer just parlor-game musings, but the look of the world if the exhaustion of the American people is reflected in retrenchment, best summed up by “These people are not really worth it, so let them handle their own affairs.” It would be a very dangerous attitude to adopt, but one psychologically understandable.

May 21, 2007

Sharp as a Marble


Click here to see what you're looking at under the field ion microscope.

Saw it at Dark Roasted Blend, an absorbing website.

Another DRB photo-essay on the painting of entire city blocks features this Sony-made ad for Bravia TV. Worth a look if you haven't seen it before.

Selective Ethics

Claudia Rosett says the scandal at the U.N. Development Program has been overshadowed by the Wolfowitz farce at the World Bank. It appears that this latest abuse will go the way of most United Nations scandals....down the memory hole, excused by good intentions and papered over by opaque bureaucracy.

May 20, 2007

Stopping Iran

After examining the considerable downside for the U.S. of an attack on Iran's nuclear installations, Norman Podhoretz admits he thinks it will happen, in The Case for Bombing Iran

In his 2002 State of the Union address, President Bush made a promise:

We’ll be deliberate, yet time is not on our side. I will not wait on events, while dangers gather. I will not stand by, as peril draws closer and closer. The United States of America will not permit the world’s most dangerous regimes to threaten us with the world’s most destructive weapons.

In that speech, the President was referring to Iraq, but he has made it clear on a number of subsequent occasions that the same principle applies to Iran. Indeed, he has gone so far as to say that if we permit Iran to build a nuclear arsenal, people 50 years from now will look back and wonder how we of this generation could have allowed such a thing to happen, and they will rightly judge us as harshly as we today judge the British and the French for what they did and what they failed to do at Munich in 1938. I find it hard to understand why George W. Bush would have put himself so squarely in the dock of history on this issue if he were resigned to leaving office with Iran in possession of nuclear weapons, or with the ability to build them. Accordingly, my guess is that he intends, within the next 21 months, to order air strikes against the Iranian nuclear facilities from the three U.S. aircraft carriers already sitting nearby.


If this is what Bush intends to do, it goes, or should go, without saying that his overriding purpose is to ensure the security of this country in accordance with the vow he took upon becoming President, and in line with his pledge not to stand by while one of the world’s most dangerous regimes threatens us with one of the world’s most dangerous weapons.

But there is, it has been reported, another consideration that is driving Bush. According to a recent news story in the New York Times, for example, Bush has taken to heart what “[o]fficials from 21 governments in and around the Middle East warned at a meeting of Arab leaders in March”—namely, “that Iran’s drive for atomic technology could result in the beginning of ‘a grave and destructive nuclear arms race in the region.’” Which is to say that he fears that local resistance to Iran’s bid for hegemony in the greater Middle East through the acquisition of nuclear weapons could have even more dangerous consequences than a passive capitulation to that bid by the Arab countries. For resistance would spell the doom of all efforts to stop the spread of nuclear weapons, and it would vastly increase the chances of their use.

I have no doubt that this ominous prospect figures prominently in the President’s calculations. But it seems evident to me that the survival of Israel, a country to which George W. Bush has been friendlier than any President before him, is also of major concern to him—a concern fully coincident with his worries over a Middle Eastern arms race.

Much of the world has greeted Ahmadinejad’s promise to wipe Israel off the map with something close to insouciance. In fact, it could almost be said of the Europeans that they have been more upset by Ahmadinejad’s denial that a Holocaust took place 60 years ago than by his determination to set off one of his own as soon as he acquires the means to do so. In a number of European countries, Holocaust denial is a crime, and the European Union only recently endorsed that position. Yet for all their retrospective remorse over the wholesale slaughter of Jews back then, the Europeans seem no readier to lift a finger to prevent a second Holocaust than they were the first time around.

Mission Statement

This company is close to our home, and provides a service we could really use. But I'm not betting on it as a growth industry. For one thing, recruiting new employees has got to be tough. But they've got a great name.

May 19, 2007

Romney's Health Plan

Could Mitt Romney's successful health care initiative in Massachusetts serve as a blueprint for a national program? Edmund F. Haislmaier of the Heritage Foundation helped develop that initiative, and he thinks so.

His [Romney's] administration found that the reason some 100,000 Medicaid eligible residents were not enrolled wasn't because they "simply hadn't made the effort." Rather, it was because hospitals often got paid better rates by the state's uncompensated care pool than by Medicaid for treating those patients. Thus they had an incentive not to enroll those individuals in Medicaid when they showed up in emergency rooms. Of course, the total cost to taxpayers would actually be much less if they were enrolled in Medicaid, and thus getting most of their care in clinics and doctors offices instead of hospitals.

The Romney administration fixed that by putting Medicaid eligibility determinations back in the hands of the state Medicaid program. Then they seized on the opportunity presented by the impending (June 2006) expiration of the state's Medicaid waiver, to tackle covering uninsured individuals who are ineligible for Medicaid. That waiver currently pumps $385 million a year in Federal Medicaid money into the state's uncompensated care pool, which in turn pays it out to hospitals treating the uninsured. But the Feds told the state that they wouldn't approve a waiver extension absent a state plan to achieve better results with the money.

Romney's solution was to propose converting what is really a "hospital safety net" into premium assistance for the low-income (but not Medicaid eligible) uninsured. Of course, if you're going to now subsidize thousands of people, instead of just a handful of hospitals, having a one-stop-shop health-insurance exchange sure makes for an administratively simpler and cheaper way to match up all the various combinations of people, plans and payments. It also means that as those folks work their way up the income ladder and lose the subsidies, they still have portable health insurance coverage. Federal Medicaid officials liked the approach.

Government assistance with private health care insurance premiums....or Hillarycare? Let the debate begin.

May 18, 2007

Islamic Feminism

At the risk of overkill here on the subjects of Ayaan Hirsi Ali, the treatment of women under Islam, and the silence of American feminism on the issue, I must pass along the new Weekly Standard cover story by Christina Hoff Sommers. A longish set of excerpts: (ellipsis mine)

The condition of Muslim women may be the most pressing women's issue of our age, but for many contemporary American feminists it is not a high priority. Why not?

The reasons are rooted in the worldview of the women who shape the concerns and activities of contemporary American feminism. That worldview is--by tendency and sometimes emphatically--antagonistic toward the United States, agnostic about marriage and family, hostile to traditional religion, and wary of femininity. The contrast with Islamic feminism could hardly be greater.


...many feminists are tied up in knots by multiculturalism and find it very hard to pass judgment on non-Western cultures. They are far more comfortable finding fault with American society for minor inequities (the exclusion of women from the Augusta National Golf Club, the "underrepresentation" of women on faculties of engineering) than criticizing heinous practices beyond our shores. The occasional feminist scholar who takes the women's movement to task for neglecting the plight of foreigners is ignored or ruled out of order.


The good news is that Muslim women are not waiting around for Western feminists to rescue them. "Feminists in the West may fiddle while Muslim women are burning," wrote Manhattan Institute scholar Kay Hymowitz in a prescient 2003 essay, "but in the Muslim world itself there is a burgeoning movement to address the miserable predicament of the second sex." The number of valiant and resourceful Muslim women who are devoting themselves to the cause of greater freedom grows each and every day.


Success...is not certain. Yet there are many hopeful signs. Experience in Morocco, Tunisia, and Turkey is encouraging. Groups like WISE are holding up a new image of female piety that does not require silence, powerlessness, and second-class citizenship. And individual women such as Pakistan's Mukhtar Mai, Morocco's Fatima Mernissi, Iran's Shirin Ebadi, Canada's Irshad Manji, and Holland's Ayaan Hirsi Ali are offering the world profiles in astonishing courage and grace. Their example may prove as infectious as it is inspiring. Radical Islam does indeed pose an extreme challenge to the cause of women's rights--but these wise and brave women pose a devastating and unexpected challenge to radical Islam.

I asked Daisy Kahn, executive director of the American Society for Muslim Advancement and organizer of the WISE conference, how Americans can help. Her answer was simple: "Support us. Embrace our struggle." That is already happening, though mostly outside feminist circles.


The women who constitute the American feminist establishment today are destined to play little role in the battle for Muslim women's rights. Preoccupied with their own imagined oppression, they can be of little help to others--especially family-centered Islamic feminists. The Katha Pollitts and Eve Enslers, the vagina warriors and university gender theorists--these are women who cannot distinguish between free and unfree societies, between the Taliban and the Promise Keepers, between being forced to wear a veil and being socially pressured to be slender and fit. Their moral obtuseness leads many of them to regard helping Muslim women as "colonialist" or as part of a "hegemonic" "civilizing mission." It disqualifies them as participants in this moral fight.

In reality, of course, it is the Islamic feminists themselves who are on a civilizing mission--one that is vital to their own welfare and to the welfare of an anxious world.


A recent interview with Shirin Ebadi

May 17, 2007

Carmona & Co.

"It's not normal...He's not even human. It was so scary, I thought I was hung over"

That dude is filthy. We've been struggling, but even if we had been playing good, we wouldn't have beaten him. If you've never played the game, listen to me. I'm a hitter. Right handers have no chance, unless they get lucky and get a hit on a broken bat." - Torii Hunter- Minnesota Twins

The Twins were awed by Fausto Carmona this afternoon, as he beat Cy Young winner Johan Santana for the second time this year with a complete game shutout of the Twins. Carmona's winning streak, now at five, was briefly interrupted when he was sent back to AAA Buffalo to make room for Cliff Lee coming off the DL. But he didn't miss a big league start because Jake Westbrook went down a couple days later. Hunter had an opinion on that too:

"I couldn't believe it when they sent him down"...Everyone in the league was saying 'Did you see Carmona got sent down?'"

Of course it won't always go as well as it did today, but I'm going to go out on a limb and say that Fausto Carmona has played his last minor league game. And with the Indians up a game in the Central as they approach the quarter pole, it's not too early to start imagining what could happen here in Cleveland this year.

The team is ten games over .500 and in first place, with a team batting average to date of .264, six points less than their opponents, so they really haven't started to hit like we know they will. They've blown five saves already, including two gut-wrenching meltdowns with two outs in the ninth inning by Borowski. They are not a particularly good defensive team, currently tenth in the AL, and they give up a lot of home runs (42). They have been snowed out, shipped to Milwaukee, and gone weeks on end without seeing the sun shine.

So how are they doing it? The obvious answer is: solid if not spectacular starting pitching. The less obvious answers are things like the team's track record of getting opposing starters out of the games early by going deep into counts, spoiling good pitches, and forcing high pitch counts for the starter. I can't quote the numbers, but very few opposing starters have made it to the sixth or seventh inning against the Indians. The bullpen has been much more effective than last year too, and Jhonny Peralta is bouncing back, in the field and at the plate.

And so far 2007 has been almost 180 degrees from the way the ball bounced for the Indians last season. Last year guys like Sizemore, Hafner, Blake and Martinez had great individual numbers, but as a team the Tribe just didn't play a winning brand of baseball. They started slowly, and never sniffed the runaway Tigers.

This year the little things are getting done, the team seems tight, with almost a complete absence of individual egos causing problems. The stars - Sabathia, Sizemore, Hafner - are hungry but humble. They are young veterans, who along with Wedge, learned last year how not to get it done. It's a more determined, but also a more relaxed group than last year. I have been hard on Eric Wedge when his team underperformed on the field, so I guess he deserves credit for having the team ready to play every day, and winning most of the close ones.

And let's face it. Certain things just seem to be going the Tribe's way this year. From Jason Michaels' last-out, staggering, basket catch at the wall in snowy Chicago... to Sabathia's win in a game that saw only one Indians hit... to Hafner's 11th inning game-winning grounder to third against the Toronto shift. They have already won half a dozen games in their last at-bat, and that just didn't happen at all in 2006.

I know..it's a marathon, not a sprint. We should know a lot more about this team after they wrap up May with ten games against Detroit and Boston, seven of them on the road. I like how the interleague schedule shapes up; we have Atlanta and the Phillies at home, and travel to Florida and Washington, on top of our home-and-home series with the Reds.

Stay tuned. Why not us?

May 14, 2007

Toledo Mud Hens?

I went over to Dave Barry's site so read his live-blog of tonight's episode of "24", and stuck around long enough to be reminded why we didn't take our kids out to eat very often when they were very young.

The Other Russia

Writing at Sign and Sight, Andre Glucksmann calls the "greats" of Europe to action. Excerpting "Time to back the Other Russia"

The new dissidence that was recently manifested in Moscow failed to impress the moral and political authorities. Paris, Rome, London, Berlin turned away and came to their own conclusion: Putin, his oil and gas, his weapons of destruction and the weapons that he sells to the entire world weigh more than a few thousand demonstrators who are beaten, dispersed and arrested by security forces ten times stronger. Schroeder pockets his dividends from Gazprom, Jacques Chirac goes into retirement without the slightest regret for the legion of honour that he stuck on Putin's back. And Romani Prodi seems to confuse Putin with Pushkin.

Anna Poltikovskaya was murdered and has already been forgotten, together with dozens of other journalists who became the victims of fatal contracts. Journalists investigating the forces behind the building that was blown up in Moscow are eliminated. 300 people died in the explosion and it was used to justify the war in Chechnya. And Litvinenko was poisoned with Polonium.

Khodorkovsky and Trepashkin are locked up in deepest Siberia. Every fourth or fifth Chechnen has lost his life. Gary Kasparov and his friends are receiving threats and being prevented from demonstrating with a rose in one hand and the Russian constitution in the other. How many heads have to roll, how many hopes destroyed before Europeans, those champions of human rights, finally react?

I don't know much about Garry Kasparov's movement, but the statement from the Other Russia Conference proves that these are some extraordinarily brave people.

The conference has succeeded in showing that Russia still possesses a civil society capable of defending its rights. It is also clear that this fact has become a special source of concern to the powers that be in Russia. Their goal is the complete and unending control of every national resource and this can only be achieved by repression and anti-constitutional means based on the destruction of civil liberties and the cleansing of the political field. Such methods are certain to drive Russia into the abyss.

Our goal is to combat this destructive trend and this is why they despise us and fear us. Their fear is justified as the tasks we set for ourselves and our country are incompatible with the existence of the present regime. We aim to restore civil control of power in Russia, a control that is guaranteed in the Russian Constitution that is so frequently and unambiguously violated today. This aim requires a return to the principles of federalism and the separation of powers. It calls for the restoration of the social function of the state with regional self-administration and the independence of the media. The judicial system must protect every citizen equally, especially from the dangerous impulses of the representatives of power. It is our duty to free the country from outbreaks of prejudice, racism, and xenophobia and from the looting of our national riches by government officials.

May 13, 2007

Seeing The Light

From The Scrapbook

Whatever its flaws, George Tenet's new book seems to be prompting a modest rethinking of the connection between Iraq and al Qaeda. A stark example last week was this comment from the Washington Post's lefty military analyst William Arkin, a harsh critic of the Iraq war who remains skeptical of much of the intelligence the Bush administration used to justify removing Saddam Hussein:

Tenet's explanation of the workings of the U.S. government and the "intelligence" on Iraq's connection to terrorism provides the most compelling argument yet as to why we should be sympathetic to the decisions of President Bush and Vice President Cheney regarding Iraq. . . . Tenet reveals a string of verified intelligence reports showing a suspicious and potentially frightening connection between Baghdad and various terrorist operatives:

* "There were, over a decade, a number of possible high-level contacts between Iraq and al-Qa'ida, through high-level and third-party intermediaries."

* Iraq, Sudan and Osama bin Laden may have cooperated on chemical weapons during the mid-1990s.

* "There were solid reports from senior al-Qa'ida members that raised concerns about al-Qa'ida's enduring interest in acquiring chemical and biological expertise from Iraq." . . .

* In the spring and summer of 2002, "more than a dozen al-Qa'ida-affiliated extremists converged on Baghdad."

* At least one "senior" Zarqawi operative "maintained some sort of liaison relationship with the Iraqis."

* "Credible information" indicated that an Islamic Jihad leader in Iraq was "willing to strike U.S., Israeli, and Egyptian targets sometime in the future."

Concludes Arkin: "That's just the credible and validating reporting that Tenet describes from 9/11 through the Iraq war."

Arkin is not the only person to see it this way. Here's GOP presidential not-quite-candidate Fred Thompson in his regular ABC Radio commentary:

On the issue of al Qaeda's relationship with Iraq, for example, Tenet said that the CIA had proof of al Qaeda contact with Saddam's regime; that the regime had provided safe haven for al Qaeda operatives and that Saddam had provided training assistance for al Qaeda terrorists. He went on to say that the CIA had no proof that the relationship was operational or that they had any ongoing working relationship--that it could have been that each side was just using the other. Maybe my recollection is faulty on this, but that doesn't seem to be inconsistent with what folks in the administration said. In other words, there was clearly contact and a relationship, but no one knew exactly what it meant.

Thompson is right. And the risk posed by that relationship was plainly one reason Iraq was--and remains--a central front in the war on terror.

Incredibly, Arkin writes the above as if the statements about Iraq-al Qaeda ties in Tenet's book are a revelation of some sort. This is precisely the information that has been systematically ignored or mockingly denied by the liberal media since well before the 2003 invasion. It's amusing that a liberal Post columnist is now coming around to "be sympathetic to the decisions of President Bush and Vice President Cheney regarding Iraq". But didn't his Post colleague Robert Kagan document here much of the alarmist rhetoric about the dangerous Saddam Hussein on the op-ed pages of the Post and the New York Times? Oh yes, that was all prior to January, 2001, wasn't it? What was received media wisdom in 1998 became something "cooked up in Texas" somewhere in 2001.

Well before 9/11- but inconveniently for BDS sufferers, also well before Bush - the U.S. government had good reason to fear and suspect Saddam's eventual willingness to cooperate with terrorist groups against the United States. That Arkin is just now mustering some sympathy for the difficult decisions a President has to make is indeed sad.

What may be sadder is that after five or so years of the Bush administration making this case (or not) against Iraq, Arkin is ultimately persuaded by someone with the credibility of George Tenet.


Andrew McCarthy - Iraq and Militant Islam - June, 2004

Rosett - Sustaining Dictatorship

Claudia Rosett reporting on Zimbabwe's new role at the United Nations. And she seems resigned to the idea that it may forever be this way.

With Zimbabwe elected Friday to chair the United Nations Commission on Sustainable Development, we now have the latest poster-child for the usual U.N. Orwellian abuse of the noble mandate, glorious goals, and all those good things promised by the free world in concert with the U.S.S.R.’s Joseph Stalin back at the U.N. founding in 1945.

Let’s get real. Zimbabwe’s U.N. coup is not some extraordinary aberration, any more than the massive corruption under Oil-for-Food was due simply to some sort of unfortunate administrative fumbling at the top. This is how the U.N. works. This is how the U.N., as a grand collective, was, unfortunately, configured to work. This is how the U.N. — rolling in American money and support, but lacking any reasonable system of checks, balances, and accountability — will continue to work.


...Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, with his crew of holdovers from the 1997-2006 Annan era, is now embellishing on the same-old patronage networks — though given time, the odds are good that new networks and accompanying travesties will emerge. Ban will, of course, be able to invoke the same excuse as Kofi Annan: In a system where the buck stops no where, any wrongdoing is always someone else’s fault, and almost all responsibility in the end seeps away into the quick-sands of the 15-member Security Council, the 192-member General Assembly, or is laid at the door of former employees residing comfortably beyond reach of U.S. extradition.

Read it all. Ms. Rosett is just getting warmed up.

Whitewashing the City in the Duke Case

The internal investigative report into the Duke-Nifong case by the Durham City Manager and the Durham Police Chief is out, and KC Johnson applies the scalpel to it in his post:Whitewash. More from Durham-in-Wonderland here. I think the word "preposterous" is in there somewhere.

May 12, 2007

Best Kept Secret

Tom at Bizzy Blog is asking which GOP presidential candidate will embrace Bush's successful tax cutting strategy. He links this Investors Business Daily piece summarizing the economic growth of the last four years to show why it should be a political winner.

Mom Says...

My sister sent me this Mothers Day column, written by Kathy Baker for the Kent Record-Courier. I thought it was worth passing along for the occasion.


By Kathy Baker

Say please and thank you. Close the door; were you born in a barn? Are your hands broken? Do it yourself! Clean up this room! It looks like a pigsty. Pick up after yourself. I’m not your maid! If you say that again, I’ll wash your mouth out with soap. Don’t slam the door! You’re not leaving this house dressed like that. As long as you live under my roof, you’ll do as I say. Bored? “Bore” rhymes with “chore,” so obviously you need some chores. Don’t ask me why. Because I said so, that’s why. Do you think I’m made of money? The answer is NO. Is it your goal in life to make me crazy? Stop crying or I’ll give you something to cry for.

Did you say your prayers? Did you brush your teeth? Did you flush the toilet? Which one of you boys left the seat up? Did you wash your hands? Come to the table…are you waiting for an engraved invitation? Eat your vegetables. If you’re too full to finish your dinner, you’re too full for dessert. Clean your plate; think of the starving children who would give anything to have that food!

If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything. What if your face froze that way? Don’t make me come in there! Don’t put that in your mouth; you don’t know where it’s been. Be careful; you’ll poke your eye out! Don’t you dare use that tone with me! Don’t sit so close to the TV; you’ll ruin your eyes. Don’t walk away when I’m talking to you! I’d better NEVER catch you doing that again!

It’s a beautiful day; why are you in the house? Go play outside. How many times do I have to tell you? Are the parents going to be there? I don’t care if you’re the only kid in your class who isn’t allowed. I would NEVER have talked to my mother like that! I can’t believe you did that. How can you lie to me? I don’t care who started it, just get along! When you have kids of your own, you’ll understand. When I was your age… What part of NO don’t you understand? I’ll treat you like an adult when you start acting like one. If you keep rolling your eyes like that, they'll fall right out of your head. I’m not going to tell you again. Guess what? Life isn’t fair. Did you do your homework? Leave your sister/brother alone! Money doesn’t grow on trees. No child of mine is going to ___. Over my dead body! Someday you’ll thank me for this. Turn that music down! Turn that TV off! You’re grounded! Watch your language! Yeah, well, people in hell want ice water, too. You’ll get over it.

Where do you think you’re going? Who are you going with? What time will you be home? Make sure you wear your seatbelt. Take your jacket. Just who do you think you are? Who died and made you queen/king? If you’d put things where they belong, you wouldn’t have this problem. Keep a civil tongue in your head. I brought you into this world, and I can take you out! Turn off that light and get to sleep!

Uh-oh: don’t cry. Mommy will kiss it and make it all better. Want me to read you a story? I will always love you, no matter what. Did you have a bad dream, sweetie? Don’t be afraid; you’re safe. Mommy’s here. Don’t worry; I’ll take care of you. I’ll never leave you. Need some help with your homework? I’m so proud of you! You’re doing a great job! I knew you could do it! You look sad, honey. What’s wrong? Call me if you need me. I understand. I know you didn’t mean it. You can always count on me. Sweet dreams, child of mine. I love you.

Do you want to talk about it? Everything will work out; you’ll see. Look how tall you are already! You look great in that dress! Of course you can let your hair grow; it’s your hair. Things will get better; I promise! This too shall pass. Keep trying. Let’s go get ice cream. Stick with it; you’re getting better every day. I’ll be waiting up for you. Tell me; I want to hear all about it! I know you can do it. What would you like for supper? Do you want more cereal? Of course Ben can stay over. I’m so proud of you. I’m the luckiest mom ever! You’re such a kind, responsible human being. Hi, honey; want some cookies and milk? You’re the best kid in the world. I believe in you. I love you!

* * *

Being someone’s child—whether you’re 14 or 60—can be frustrating, wonderful or totally annoying, often all in the same day. Being someone’s mother is similar. It’s the hardest, most wonderful job in the world.

Kids, please take a minute to say thanks to your mom today, because that woman is crazy about you. She loves you fiercely and forever, unreservedly and unconditionally, in a way that no one else ever will. And don’t forget: always wear clean underwear, just in case (God forbid) you get in an accident.

Kathy Baker is a speaker, author, and director of marketing at United Way of Portage County. More importantly, she’s the mother of four wonderful kids. She can be reached at bakerkathleen@sbcglobal.net, or via the Record Courier.

Fractals and Panoramas


A huge gallery of fractals, suitable for screensavers, or whatever else one does with such images. And here's a collection of hundreds of 360 degree panoramic images, mostly of sites in Europe, plus a large NYC selection. I remain easily amazed.

May 11, 2007

What People Think

Pollster.com has some interesting data and analysis on public attitudes toward the Iraq campaign. It appears that people are no less pessimistic overall about the eventual outcome in Iraq than they were a few months ago, even though fewer people say we have already "lost". Is that progress?

Whether it is or not, what strikes me is how hard it is to draw any meaningful conclusions from the data when public opinion is evaluated by such a simplistic measuring instrument as, for example: "Do you think that the U.S. war in Iraq is lost, or don't you think so?" (CNN).

Mark Blumenthal says the results are attributable to a shifting definition of what "losing" is. I'm inclined to read this data as reflecting less hopelessness today than existed in January. That's partially because I know I feel less hopeless today, and I imagine there are others like me who have allowed themselves a sliver of hope by virtue of Gen. Petraeus and his ongoing mission.

But I'm bugged by the inane and insulting poll questions in general. I have no specific issue with any one of the professional pollsters noted in the Pollster piece (excepting the transparently agenda-driven CNN). They do what they do because this basic level of approval or disapproval is all politicians demand of them, so they can interpret whatever vague results are achieved in a way that suits them. I speak primarily of Congress here. This President may be accused of many things, but allowing public approval polls to dictate his conduct of the war isn't one of them. And a war-weary public often seems not to want to be engaged beyond the level of thumbs up, or thumbs down.

At some point though, wouldn't it be nice to see a pollster assume some basic issue awareness on the part of its poll subjects, and ask some questions that reflect the complexity of the struggle? I mean, you could leave in an "I don't know" option for the truly clueless. Maybe something like: "Does the fact that al Qaeda leaders consider Iraq the "epicenter" of their war of murder and martyrdom against America and the world's Jews influence your feelings about our country's commitment to long term stability and self-government in Iraq?"

Other poll questions we won't soon see: "How do feel about the Iranian regime funding and directing elements of the Iraqi insurgency, and supplying the explosives for suicide missions that kill U.S. troops and innocent civilians?"...with a follow-up: "Remember?...the country that has sworn to "wipe Israel off the map", and is building a nuclear weapon with which to do so...that Iran?"

"Should we leave Iraq to them?

"Do the millions of Iraqi citizens we have promised to help achieve self-government deserve to live under the type of theocratic Iranian-dominated regime that is currently rounding up and imprisoning their own female citizens for showing too much skin in public?"

I for one would be interested in how Americans would answer those questions. Those answers would tell me something about the breadth and depth of American support for winning, in the war against Islamist terror. That would be far more instructive than tallying up the subjective judgments of civilians, on the matter of our country's strategic and military effectiveness. "How are we doin'? Good... or not so good?"

This way of phrasing the question doesn't allow the "No...but..." option. The one answer that might even be the majority sentiment in the country right now: "It's not goin' so good...but we just can't leave."

Or will we continue to have the debate (via polls) framed by the political left, often in the most simplistic and condescending of terms. Have we lost...or are we losing? Is Iraq a quagmire or a national disaster? Is Bush evil or do Republicans just love war? You know...that sort of thing.

Andy McCarthy says despite what they say, the Democrats don't want to fight al Qaeda in Afghanistan, and asks of the party:

Why don’t its champions just reaffirm their preferred “Come home, America” summons? Why do they posture about leaving Iraq to confront al Qaeda in Afghanistan (while, naturally, taking no actual steps to ratchet up military operations in Afghanistan)?

Because the last time they tried unadorned “Come home, America” in the midst of a frustrating war, they suffered the worst electoral deluge in American history. Because they know that however low Bush’s numbers may now be, their own will be bottomless if their policy of withdrawal from Iraq is revealed as the resounding terrorist triumph it would be. Because they fully understand that, no matter how much they’d like to turn the clock back to September 10th, the majority of Americans well remember September 11th. Because they know it is unacceptable to leave the battlefield while al Qaeda is still on it. The Democrats have to keep saying “civil war”; if they acknowledge al Qaeda’s catalytic role in Iraq, in the killing of our troops there, they know most Americans will see “redeployment” as a euphemism for surrender.

This presents a last opportunity for the Bush administration. However ruefully and emptily, Democrats admit that we have to fight al Qaeda where al Qaeda is strong. It is thus the administration’s burden to demonstrate, compellingly, that al Qaeda is making a menacing stand in Iraq. Yes, what’s happening there features sectarian infighting; but it is not, as the Left contends, a civil war. It is infighting stoked by al Qaeda and the Iranian enablers with whom al Qaeda has colluded since the early 1990s. Both are making their stand, and both are intent on emerging dominant once we’re gone.

This is not the work of one presidential speech. It is the diligent, disciplined work of daily demonstration: Where is al Qaeda in Iraq? What are they doing? How many of those we’ve killed and captured have been imported jihadis rather than indigenous Iraqi insurgents? What is the scale of al Qaeda activity in Iraq versus its operations in other hot-spots? How many Americans in Iraq have been killed by al Qaeda terrorists? Why is it credible to believe that a U.S. withdrawal would turn parts of Iraq into safe-havens of the type al Qaeda enjoyed in Sudan and Afghanistan during the 1990s — when it repeatedly struck American interests?

Do read the whole McCarthy piece. As they say, it's all good.

The Bush administration, which has forever sucked at P.R., has its work cut out. But the case for the importance of the Iraq campaign must be re-made. And pollsters need to give Americans some credit for being semi-aware, and do better than:

"How is the U.S. Military effort going in Iraq?" (Pew)

A) very well
B) fairly well
C) not too well
D) not well at all
E) don't know

Mort Kondracke would probably answer 'C' above. Here at RCP, he's presenting his "Plan B"...called " Winning Dirty", for some reason.

The 80 percent alternative involves accepting rule by Shiites and Kurds, allowing them to violently suppress Sunni resistance and making sure that Shiites friendly to the United States emerge victorious...

...Winning dirty would involve taking sides in the civil war - backing the Shiite-dominated elected government of Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki and ensuring that he and his allies prevail over both the Sunni insurgency and his Shiite adversary Muqtada al-Sadr, who's now Iran's candidate to rule Iraq.

Shiites make up 60 percent of the Iraqi population, so Shiite domination of the government is inevitable and a democratic outcome. The United States also has good relations with Iraq's Kurdish minority, 20 percent of the population, and would want to cement it by semipermanently stationing U.S. troops in Northern Iraq to ward off the possibility of a Turkish invasion.

...sounds a lot like what we've been planning and doing for years. The putting down of the murderous Sunni insurgency. The cobbling together of a workable representative government, helping to build and develop democratic institutions, achieving compromises from both sides, acknowledging the Shiite majority , and making the best of a difficult but necessary nation-building enterprise, while trying to keep people on all sides from killing each other. But now according to Kondracke, what we have heretofore called "winning", will be defined as "winning dirty".

Under a win dirty strategy, the United States would have to back al-Maliki and the Badr Brigades in their eventual showdown with al-Sadr. It also would have to help Jordan and Saudi Arabia care for a surge in Sunni refugees, possibly 1 million to 2 million joining an equal number who already have fled.

Sunnis will suffer under a winning dirty strategy, no question, but so far they've refused to accept that they're a minority. They will have to do so eventually, one way or another. And, eventually, Iraq will achieve political equilibrium. Civil wars do end. The losers lose and have to knuckle under. As my Congressional source says, "every civil war is a political struggle. The center of this struggle is for control of the Shiite community. Wherever the Shiites go, is where Iraq will go. So, the quicker we back the winning side, the quicker the war ends. ... Winning dirty isn't attractive, but it sure beats losing."

So, "winning dirty" means Sunnis must accept representation in government in proportion to their share of the population, and they cannot be permitted to continue fomenting murder and chaos in the belief that they are willed to power in Iraq. This is a "Plan B"? Acceptance of this arrangement somehow taints any potential deal? This turns winning into winning dirty? It sounds more like the goalposts being moved.

UPDATE 5/12: From Evan Kohlmann at The Counterterrorism Blog, an interview with an al Qaeda foreign fighter in Iraq:

Our most urgent need is for martyrs [suicide volunteers], we need martyrs more than anything else... To those of you who want to join the jihad in Iraq, then I would ask you to be patient and to organize everything before doing so. You should contact the brothers in Iraq before getting there.


“The beheadings are still happening, but we have an order not to broadcast them. Everything is videotaped but we can’t broadcast them. We do seek to capture and imprison American soldiers, but you have to understand that it is very difficult to do so because they patrol in groups, at least 15 soldiers at a time. We hope and pray to capture them."
- “In regards to the bill in the U.S. Congress for the upcoming withdrawal from Iraq, I would comment that this is a normal response to what is occurring. It is the result of the efforts of your brothers among the mujahideen...

Sen. Reid, Speaker Pelosi and Rep. Murtha must be so proud.

UPDATE 5/12: An excerpt from Joe Lieberman's speech on the Senate floor Thursday:

I am aware that public opinion has turned against the war in Iraq. The American people are deeply frustrated by the multiplicity of mistakes and errors that have been made. Progress has been too slow. The savagery of our enemy, which the American people witness on television every night, has been demoralizing. Many simply want to leave and wash our hands of what they perceive as a mess.

But, leadership requires sometimes that we defy public opinion if that is what is necessary to do what is right for our country. In fact, at a time like this, we are required to do what each of us believes is right, and that might not be what is popular.

And what is right, I firmly believe, is that we cannot allow our nation to be defeated in Iraq by the same terrorist enemy with which we are engaged in a world-wide conflict. The global war on terrorism which we are waging is a world-wide struggle against a barbaric totalitarian foe that is Al Qaeda. And today, it is Al Qaeda that we are fighting in Iraq. Al Qaeda itself has declared Iraq to be the central front of their larger war against our way of life.

All of us who are privileged to serve this great country in positions of leadership have a very serious choice to make.

Our judgment can be guided by the polls and we can withdraw in defeat. We can rationalize our action with the reassuring but falsely hopeful words like redeployment. No matter what we say, our enemy will know that America's will has been broken by the barbarity of their blood lust—the very barbarity we declare we are fighting, but from which we would actually be running. Mr. President, my main point is this: Now is not the time for more delay, for prolonged legislative posturing and bargaining over the supplemental appropriations bill. It is the time to do our duty to fund our troops, stand by our allies, and do everything we can to help them win the war against Al Qaeda in Iraq.

UPDATE 5/12: From the print edition of NR, Bing West writes of the hesitance to confront Iran over their support of the insurgency in Iraq:

I am surprised by how frequently both Iraqi officials and American officers tell me that Iran is waging a proxy war against the U.S. The press — probably in reaction to its having accepted in 2002 some intelligence assessments about Iraq that proved false — has bent over backward not to link the central government of Iran with explosive devices, money transfers, and Iranian agents active inside Iraq. It walks and quacks like a duck, but none dares call it a duck. Whatever the extent of its influence — through payments, weapons, and moral support to the extremists — Iran is widely perceived as a malign influence, with the U.S. playing defense.

May 10, 2007

Cover Boy

Says Cleveland general manager Mark Shapiro, "There is a superstar player on our team, but if you walked into our clubhouse, you'd have no idea who it is.


But you could take a guess.

A few more excerpts from Tom Verducci's article SI.com - One Sizemore Fits All:

At 6'2" and 205 pounds Sizemore features a historic combination of extra-base power and speed. Last season, when he hit .290 with 28 homers, 53 doubles, 11 triples and 22 stolen bases, Sizemore became only the seventh player in history -- and the youngest ever -- with more than 90 extra-base hits and 20 steals in the same season.


At week's end he led the AL in pitches per plate appearance (4.50), was tied for third in stolen bases (nine), ranked fourth in runs (24) and walks (25), and was first in the hearts of baseball aficionados who marvel at his well-rounded skills and humility. The guy is a walking, running, diving, hustling clinic.


Says Shapiro, "Grady wants to be great, not just good. And what you're starting to see now is maybe that once-a-decade convergence of effort, energy, talent, athleticism and baseball ability. It's all coming together."

Even though Sizemore homered in the Indians' first three games this season, he's off to a bit of a slow start, batting just .254 through 31 games. But after stealing just 22 bases all last year, he has 12 already this season...in 12 attempts. That "slow start" also includes a couple of game winning hits, an inside-the-park homer, and several highlight reel catches.

The batting average will come...so nobody's worried. At least we weren't till this damn SI cover came out.

May 7, 2007

Whither The Feminists?

Back once again to a piece by Caroline Glick in the Jerusalem Post, in which she throws out a challenge to the West :

Ayaan Hirsi Ali is arguably the bravest and most remarkable woman of our times.

To understand why this 37-year-old woman is extraordinary, she must be assessed in the context of the forces pitted against her in her twin struggles to force the Western world to take note of Islam's divinely ordained enslavement of women, and to force the Islamic world to account for it.


In her life and work, Hirsi Ali personifies the central challenges of our times. She holds a mirror up to the Islamic world and demands that it contend with the evil it propagates in the name of divinity.

She holds a mirror up to the Free World and demands that we defend our freedom against the onslaught of moral relativism and cultural decline.

So too, she demands our compassion for the women of Islam. She says we must see the suffering beneath the veil and work to alleviate it.... [W]e must .... challenge veiled women to explain why they ascribe to a faith that gives men the divine right to beat and rape women; or simply hold Muslim communities in the West to the standards of freedom on which our civilization is based, the West must help these women free themselves from oppression.

Sadly, organized feminism in the U.S. is hesitant to champion this brave woman and her cause, self-censoring instead in the name of multiculturalism and nonjudgmentalism, the ideals they apparently value above freedom and equality for all women.

UPDATE 5/7: Via PJM, it appears Hirsi Ali has an ally in Nicolas Sarkozy:

I respect all cultures throughout the world, but so that it is quite clear: if I am elected President of the Republic, I will not accept women being treated as inferior to men. The French Republic holds these values: respect for women, equality between men and women. Nobody has the right to hold a prisoner, even within his own family. I say it clearly, that polygamy is prohibited in the territory of the French Republic. I will fight against female genital mutilation and those who do not wish to understand that the values of the French Republic include freedom for women, the dignity of women, respect for women—they do not have any reason to be in France.

If our laws are not respected and if one does not wish to understand our values, if one does not wish to learn French, then one does not have any reason to be on French territory.

UPDATE 5/10: Dr. Sanity on the Sarkozy speech:

How terribly embarassing for the left, to have Sarkozy take the lead in championing women's rights! How humiliating it must be to cede precious moral highground and the overweening sense of moral righteousness that makes them so superior. And by someone on the political right, no less!!

Possibly it may make them realize that their pretensions of moral superiority are nothing but a sham to cover up the fact that they actually stand for nothing...

...Instead of prancing about and prattling on about the "evils" of Republicans and conservatives; instead of putting on their keffiahs to show their solidarity with the women-oppressing, homophobic Palestinians; they could actually focus on the most significant abusers of women and girls (not to mention gays) of our time.

Forgive me, but anyone who really thinks that American women are "oppressed" are living in a fantasy world created and marketed by your local marxist grocer. I'm sure their fantasy makes them feel good about themselves and their brave little hissy fits; but while they are busy patting themselves on the back for standing up to a kitten, a lion is about to eat them.

Lileks Strib Gig Ending

Go to Hugh Hewitt for the story and lots of blogosphere reaction to the decision by the Minneapolis Star-Tribune to terminate the regular column by James Lileks.

I don't usually read his Strib column, but I'm a Bleat regular and have long admired Lileks' work. He's being reassigned to do straight news reporting, so it's not like he's being fired, but it is like he's being dissed so he'll resign of his own volition. When companies that are losing money reorganize and/or downsize, bad things happen to good people, but typically they start with the "dead wood" in the organization, not guys with the talent of James Lileks. My take from afar has been that the Star-Tribune is a badly-run newspaper. This is more proof. Just dumb.

Dave Barry's take:

James Lileks, a terrific writer and one of the best newspaper columnists in America, says on his blog today that his newspaper, the Minneapolis-St.Paul Star-Tribune, has decided to kill his column and have him write straight local news stories. This is like the Miami Heat deciding to relieve Dwyane Wade of his basketball-playing obligations so he can keep stats.

Sometimes I don't understand the newspaper business. What's left of it.

Hugh has an off-the-cuff list of possible landing spots for Lileks at the above link, plus the contact information for the Star-Tribune management team here.


Sarkozy wins in France, and Publius Pundit has a photo-studded post, plus the links you need. Don't miss Nidra Poller's coverage.

Now they're bracing themselves for that most French of political commentaries....rioting.

UPDATE 5/7:The actual number of car-burnings had been under-reported by the AP, as a more recent Reuters report verifies. (via LGF)

Related commentary:

Daily Telegraph

Jim Hoagland - Washington Post

NR Editors

Denis Boyles - "French Lessons"

May 6, 2007

Refusing To Wage the War of Ideas

Caroline Glick criticizes the U.S. State Department under Secretary Rice for its "embrace of surrrender" in encouraging an Iranian and Syrian role in governing Iraq, and taking a similar appeasement posture toward the PA:

Rice and her State Department colleagues oppose both striking Iran's nuclear installations and providing assistance to regime opponents inside Iran who seek to overthrow the regime in order to prevent the mullahs from acquiring nuclear weapons. All they want to do is negotiate with the ayatollahs. They have no other policy.

So too, in recent months the US has embraced the Palestinians. Although the speaker of the Palestinian legislature Ahmad Bahar just made a televised appeal to Allah to kill every Jew and American on earth, Rice insists on transferring $59 million in US taxpayer money to the Palestinian security forces. So too, last week the State Department dictated a list of security concessions that Israel must make to the Palestinians over the next eight months regardless of whether the Palestinians themselves cease their attacks on Israel, or for that matter, regardless of whether the Palestinians maintain their commitment to annihilating the Israel and the US.

Glick says Rice is "shepherding the U.S. to strategic defeat" in other hot spots as well, from Somalia to North Korea. She goes on to describe the political drama unfolding now in Israel in the wake of the Winograd Report's severe criticism of the Israeli government for their conduct of the Lebanon conflict. But in addition to placing blame on a badly handled response to Hizbullah attacks, Glick says the Israeli's leftist "peace narrative", which has produced anything but, has been discredited as well.

At first glance the report reads like an ideological indictment. The commission wrote that a great portion of the blame for the lack of preparedness of both the government and the IDF was rooted in the belief that "the era of big wars had ended." Yet that belief did not stand on its own. It is rooted in the Left's peace ideology.

This ideology maintains that even if a country is forced to fight a war, the aim of the war is to remain at the starting gate and give the enemy what it wants, not to defeat it. The belief that the era of wars is over stems directly from the Left's ideological commitment to the belief that everyone is a potential negotiating partner.


...what comes across most clearly in the Winograd Report is the committee members' desire to ignore the fact that the Second Lebanon War was a war of ideas no less than a war on the battlefield. Last summer Israel had the opportunity to expose the truth about the nature of the war being fought against it. It had the opportunity to assert itself as a vital ally of the US. It had the chance to defeat the leftist narrative of peace which claims that there is no difference between the IDF and the terror forces attacking Israeli society and so there is no reason to seek to defeat them; and which claims that the war against Israel is not connected to the global jihad.

(via DH Blog)

Zawahiri Hate Video

Ayman al-Zawahiri says in his new message that the Democrats' funding bill "reflects American failure". Zawahiri of course agrees with the Democrats that U.S. troops should exit Iraq. But his fond hope is that we don't pull out before we lose 200,000 to 300,000 lives (give or take) and thus avoid learning a lesson.

Bryan at Hot Air comments:

The bill reflects, more than anything else, the collapse of bipartisan foreign policy and the end of the Democrats putting country above party. And it’s obviously made Zawahiri happy to pronounce us defeated in Iraq.

Anyone still want to argue that the Democrats’ political games don’t embolden the enemy?

May 3, 2007

The French Debate

Great stuff from Nidra Poller of PJM, on the much-hyped debate between Ségolène Royal and Nicolas Sarkozy. She was "pugnacious"...he was cool. Here's a bit....

Sarkozy’s entire campaign is based on a promise of accountability. He has fully developed his thinking on the longstanding problems of France. He has clearly defined a coherent program of proposed solutions. And he has pledged to stand by them, and be judged by his results. While Royal refers to her region, Sarkozy refers to Europe and the world. If Germany, England, Denmark, Ireland, and Spain can have full employment and healthy economies, there is no reason that France should be suffering from stagnation.

Ségolène Royal’s campaign is based on herself. In tonight’s debate, she could not use her charm. And her anger, for all the praise it might win from her diehard supporters, did not come across as righteous. Faced with Sarkozy’s concise thinking, her rambling arguments did not billow, her slogans—gagnant-gagnant, donnant-donnant—fell flat, and she didn’t sing her usual tunes with the same conviction she musters when standing in front of ten thousand cheering fans.


After all the tough questions from unemployment to Iran’s nuclear ambitions had been hashed over, the moderators asked the debaters what they thought of each other. It might seem like a silly question. In fact it was quite revealing because Ségolène Royal could not and did not pour out a dose of the anti-Sarko hatred that inspires her voters. She could not say then and there, after viewers had watched them in action for over two hours, that he was such a danger to the nation that even people who didn’t like her or her politics should vote for her just to keep him from being president. Fans being fans, they probably won’t hold it against her.

This Guardian piece on Sarkozy betrays a sneering leftist contempt for the man...but I repeat myself.