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June 30, 2007

Choosing Fatherlessness

Not new, but then I'm catching up on some things that got by me the first time around. Don't miss The Incredible Shrinking Father by Kay Hymowitz at City Journal.

You’d think that we had enough problems keeping fathers around in this country, what with out-of-wedlock births (over a third of all children are born to unmarried women, and, in most cases, the fathers will fade from the picture) and divorce (the average divorced dad sees his kids less often than he takes his car in for an oil change). But these days, American fatherhood has yet another hostile force to contend with: artificial insemination. This may sound a tad overheated. After all, AI has been around, by some accounts, for over a century. And the number of kids born through the procedure each year, though steadily growing, remains quite small relative to the millions of babies conceived, as we can now say completely without irony, the old-fashioned way.

But aided by a lucrative sperm-bank service industry, an increasingly unmarried consumer base, a legal profession and judiciary geared toward seeing relationships through a contractual lens, and a growing cultural preference for individual choice without limits, AI is advancing a cause once celebrated only in the most obscure radical journals: the dad-free family. There are multiple ironies in this unfolding revolution, not least that the technology that allows women to have a family without men promotes the very male carelessness that leads a lot of women to become single mothers in the first place. And fatherless families are a delicate proposition, as AI families are discovering, since all the scientists’ technology and all the lawyerly contracts can’t take human nature out of human reproduction.

Argument by Anecdote

Ross Douthat reviews the Christopher Hitchens book "God is Not Great; How Religion Poisons Everything"

Every talented writer is entitled to be a bore on at least one subject, but where religion is concerned Christopher Hitchens abuses the privilege. For years now, he has supplemented his prolific punditry and criticism with a stream of anti-theistic diatribes, and now these rivers of vituperation have pooled into a single volume, an omnium gatherum of God-bashing (although he insists on using the lower-case "g" throughout) that exceeds most of its predecessors in the felicity of its prose, but matches them in the tedium of its arguments. "I have been writing this book all my life," Hitchens declares in the conclusion to God is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything, "and intend to keep on writing it." One hopes that someone near and dear to him will have the courage to firmly suggest that he stop.

Surge Strategy

Two good pieces this week at the Standard, doing what one rarely if ever sees on the left side of the political divide these days.. that is, talking seriously about what the U.S. is actually doing in Iraq as the surge gets underway. First Frederick Kagan's Understanding General Petraeus's Strategy:

It is now beyond question that the Bush Administration pursued a flawed approach to the war in Iraq from 2003 to 2007. That approach relied on keeping the American troop presence in Iraq as small as possible, pushing unprepared Iraqi Security Forces into the lead too rapidly, and using political progress as the principal means of bringing the violence under control. In other words, it is an approach similar to the one proposed by the ISG and by some who are now pushing for political benchmarks and the rapid drawdown of American forces as the keys to success in the war. It is no more likely to work now than it was then. Political progress is something that follows the establishment of security, not something that causes it. The sorts of political compromises that Iraq's parties must make are extraordinarily difficult--one might even say impossible--in the context of uncontrolled terrorism and sectarian violence. And the Iraqi Security Forces, although significantly better than they were this time last year, are still too small and insufficiently capable to establish security on their own or even to maintain it in difficult and contested areas without significant continuing coalition support.

And Bill Kristol does not think Sen. Lugar's recent speech qualifies as "serious":

Students of American politics should read Lugar's 50-minute speech as a case study in pseudo-thoughtfulness, full of cheek-puffing and chin-pulling. It fails to deal seriously with the real strategic choices the United States faces in the war we're fighting. ---

Lugar also fails to explain how the partial withdrawal and redeployment of U.S. troops that he recommends, along with various diplomatic initiatives, would actually achieve the fundamental goals he identifies--preventing horrendous violence in Iraq, denying victory to al Qaeda and/or Iran, and avoiding great damage to U.S. credibility. The speech is hollow at its center, and unserious to the core.

Contrasting Lugar's political posturing with an actual analysis of the surge by Australian David Kilkullen, long a critic of Bush's Iraq policy, Kristol concludes...

....this is the voice of a serious and thoughtful man, working with other serious and thoughtful men to change the situation in Iraq. The appropriate response of a serious and thoughtful political leadership in Washington would be to give Petraeus, Odierno, and the troops at least a fighting chance to implement the surge--and to succeed.

But too many of our politicians are not serious. As retired General Jack Keane told the New York Sun last week, "The tragedy of these efforts is we are on the cusp of potentially being successful in the next year in a way that we have failed in the three-plus preceding years, but because of this political pressure, it looks like we intend to pull out the rug from underneath that potential success." I would only qualify Keane's statement in this way: Such a frivolous and thoughtless betrayal of our fighting men would be too contemptible to be called tragedy.

June 29, 2007

Hamas Solves P.R. Problem

Hamas didn't foresee the outcry that would result from their using a Mickey Mouse-like character in a children's television show teaching hatred of Jews and glorifying murder-martyrdom to young Palestinian children. So they have ended the program......by having the mouse beaten to death by a character portraying an Israeli official, in the final episode. Neat. End of pesky public relations problem....point made.

The Salt Lake Tribune - Associated Press

GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip (AP) -- A Mickey Mouse lookalike who preached Islamic domination on a Hamas-affiliated children's television program was beaten to death in the show's final episode Friday.

In the final skit, "Farfour" was killed by an actor posing as an Israeli official trying to buy Farfour's land. At one point, the mouse called the Israeli a "terrorist."

"Farfour was martyred while defending his land," said Sara, the teen presenter. He was killed "by the killers of children," she added.

The weekly show, featuring a giant black-and-white rodent with a high-pitched voice, had attracted worldwide attention because the character urged Palestinian children to fight Israel. It was broadcast on Hamas-affiliated Al Aqsa TV.

Station officials said Friday that Farfour was taken off the air to make room for new programs. Station manager Mohammed Bilal said he did not know what would be shown instead.

Israeli officials have denounced the program, "Tomorrow's Pioneers," as incendiary and outrageous. The program was also opposed by the state-run Palestinian Broadcasting Corp., which is controlled by Fatah, Hamas' rival.

Charles Johnson has made the point well and often. This is child abuse.

June 26, 2007

Wedge Game Improving

Eric Wedge pulled his best player for a pinch-runner with two outs in the ninth inning tonight, down 5-3, because he knew he had one shot to tie the game, and that there was no way Victor Martinez, representing the tying run, was going to score from first base on a gap-shot double. As it turned out, Travis Hafner delivered the double up the alley in right-center on the next pitch, and pinch-runner Ben Francisco sprinted in to score the tying run easily.

I realize this was not rocket science. Thousands of armchair managers had to be screaming at their TV's to pinch-run for the slowest man in the American League at that point in the game. And more times than not, you'll get a routine grounder to second to end the ball game instead of the hoped-for extra-base hit, and the managerial moves go unremarked. In this case though, it won the game for the Indians, because Kelly Shoppach followed Hafner's hit with a walk-off homer to beat the A's 8-5. (photo)

Since everyone and his brother made the right call along with Wedge tonight, I won't hold that out as an example, but I don't think I'm alone in my observation that Wedge is managing better this year, and that it shows in the team's record. He is making the most of what has to be considered a fairly weak bench (Gutierrez, Rouse, Francisco, Shoppach) and my sense is that he's more aggressive in general, and more confident in managing the game his way.

I thought he handled the team admirably in the NL ballparks during interleague play, even though the record was only 9-9. And he has to be given credit for the attitude of the club day to day, and for fostering the closeness that is obvious to anyone watching these guys play regularly. But they were a close-knit group last year too, when they were losing 84 games. So it's cool, but it doesn't make up for a lousy bullpen.

I would not have foreseen a few months ago saying these positive things about Eric Wedge. I was a skeptic from the beginning, and slammed him early and often. But the All-Star Game approaches, and he has his team tied for first place with the Tigers. They have 11 wins in their last at-bat, the defense is improved, they win at home, and they seem to genuinely like each other. And so far this year, Wedge's moves are paying off in wins.

One bitch: Why does he keep trotting out Trot Nixon to right field every day? He's in a horrible slump, (.160 in June) looking absolutely over-matched at the plate most of the time. But on the other hand, he's a lousy defensive outfielder, and slow as a truck on the bases. I know, I know...clubhouse leader...got a ring...veteran presence...blah, blah. Sorry, this guy needs a few days off. I think he's done. Prove me wrong, Trot. Quickly. We have some good young outfielders sitting because you're a "grizzled veteran" ....or something.

Another bitch, but not with Wedge: When will the self-proclaimed "greatest fans in the country" get their asses out to the ballpark to watch their first place team? You don't have the excuse that it's too cold anymore. The game time temperature tonight was 89 degrees. A paltry 18,494 showed up, and the average attendance for the season is about 23,000, which is near the bottom of the league rankings. Pitiful.


The seven day lapse between posts is, I believe, the longest such gap in the four years plus I have been maintaining this enterprise, and is owing to my focus on some home improvement projects at the moment, along with the busy summer schedule....oh, and that real job I have to show up at once in a while. I guess I feel the need to explain the lack of activity. To whom I'm not quite sure. But thanks for being here, and come back.

June 19, 2007

New Al Durah Film

The Second Draft has released the third film in their series on the al Durah affair. The film, Icon of Hatred concerns itself with the incredible impact the images of the boy's death had on the escalation of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, and on shaping world opinion in opposition to Israel.

And if you are not familiar with the story, (and I find that many of my acquaintances are not, even those who are familiar with the images from media accounts), you may not know that there is a strong case to be made that the entire al Durah incident, including the boy's death, was scripted and staged by Palestinian propagandists.

If you have not seen the first two Richard Landes films in the series, it is recommended that you view them first, before seeing the new release. Pallywood is an exposé of the staging of battle scenes, injuries and deaths by Palestinian filmmakers and of how their willing dupes in the Western media present their creations as news. The second film The Birth of an Icon, focuses on the creation of the inflammatory video which purported to show the death of the young Palestinian boy, al Durah, in a hail of Israeli bullets.

You can view all three films in .wmv or high resolution versions at this link.

This Augean Stables post has links to YouTube versions of all three films (scroll to end).

This third film is perhaps the most disturbing of them all, when one sees all the death and mayhem that was inspired by this propaganda, including the use of al Durah's image in the filmed terrorist execution of Daniel Pearl. I'm reminded of something Gagdad Bob of One Cosmos said once, in response to the ubiquitous question "Why do they hate us?"

"Because they believe lies told about us."


Augean Stables Al Durah archive

EU Referendum - The Corruption of the Media

June 18, 2007

The Counter-Surge

The lead editorial in the new Standard by Bill Kristol and Frederick Kagan compare the latest flurry of activity by the Iraqi insurgency to the desperation of the Tet offensive in Vietnam, complete with the willingness of the U.S. media to depict whatever occurs as a failure. It starts this way...

Last week, a group of tribal leaders in Salah-ad-Din, the mostly Sunni province due north of Baghdad, agreed to work with the Iraqi government and U.S. forces against al Qaeda. Then al Qaeda destroyed the two remaining minarets of the al-Askariya mosque in Samarra, a city in the province. Coincidence? Perhaps. But al Qaeda is clearly taking a page from the Viet Cong's book. The terrorists have been mounting a slow-motion Tet offensive of spectacular attacks on markets, bridges, and mosques, knowing that the media report each such attack as an American defeat. The fact is that al Qaeda is steadily losing its grip in Iraq, and these attacks are alienating its erstwhile Iraqi supporters. But the terrorists are counting on sapping our will as the VC did, and persuading America to choose to lose a war it could win.

In another good piece from the new issue, Joshua Muravchik examines the early political influences on Nancy Pelosi. It helps explain a lot.

June 16, 2007

Havel Interview

Bret Stephens talks with Vaclav Havel. Worth a click.

June 13, 2007

Reagan Reprise

Catch Peter Robinson's contribution to Power Line on the twentieth anniversary of Ronald Reagan's watershed speech at the Brandenburg Gate. A video excerpt of the speech is available there as well. I heard the same excerpt on Hugh Hewitt's show today, and when the crowd erupted after Reagan's line, "Mr. Gorbachev...open this gate", I must admit, I got a chill right down to my toes.

June 11, 2007

China - Shift Happens

The last thing you expect in a column by the avuncular Mort Kondracke is alarmism, but he's just back from a trip to China and Tibet, and he's worried:

Every bit on a par with questions about Iraq, terrorism and immigration, interrogators of 2008 presidential candidates ought to be asking: What are you going to do about the challenge of China?

That’s because, I’m convinced after spending three weeks in China and Tibet, unless the United States gets its act together, our grandchildren will be living in a world dominated by the Peoples Republic.

China is simply inexorable in its pursuit of wealth, growth and power. It cares little about human rights, democracy, labor protections, fair trade rules or the environment. It is relentless in advancing its national interests.

Coincidentally, I ran across this video today (though I see it's been around a while), and it features some eye-opening statistics on the growth of China's population and their economy. More generally, it's about the great shifts currently underway around this shrinking world in demography, technology, education and employment.

Shift Happens

Fun E-Cards


You may not find these e-cards as funny as I did...but I cried.

someecards.com - "when you care enough to hit Send"

(via Dave Barry Blog)

June 10, 2007


Ruthie Blum of the Jerusalem Post interviews her father, Norman Podhoretz on a range of topics from American anti-Semitism, to their differences of opinion on Israeli disengagement from Gaza, to the current war, which Podhoretz calls World War IV. He is generally optimistic...maybe because he takes the long view. Here are two clips as appetizer...

RB: You talk about the world's preoccupation with this "tiny speck." If you look at the Palestinians and the Israelis as a microcosm of the global conflict between radical Islam and the West, how can you possibly be optimistic about the outcome?

NP: We're into year six of World War IV. At the same point in World War III, or the Cold War, things looked even worse than they do now. You had a stalemate in Korea, where over 30,000 Americans had been killed, not 3,000, as in Iraq. There were powerful communist parties in countries like France and Italy, and communist influence was growing all over the world, accompanied by an anti-Americanism very similar to what we see today. If you were betting on the outcome in 1952, you probably would have bet that we were going to lose. Even though I myself was a dedicated cold warrior, this is how I felt then and also at other dark moments later on.

RB: So you're saying that it was the fall of the Soviet Union that made you see things differently?

NP: Yes, it had a profound effect on me. In the days before Henry Kissinger and I became friends - when I was what he considered his most bitter enemy - I used to argue against the premise behind his policy of detente, which was that the Soviet empire would last forever and that we therefore had to find a way of living with it. I asked why we should assume that the Soviet empire was the only empire in history that would never collapse. And yet, like most people, I was very surprised that it collapsed as suddenly as it did. Once again, as in World War II, it turned out that we were ultimately a lot stronger than we looked to ourselves and to our enemies.

...and in the current war against Islamist terrorism:

RB: What, then, would constitute victory?

NP: Something similar to what happened in World War III. Communism fell; the Soviet empire disintegrated; and the countries that had been living under Soviet domination were set on the path to democracy. Some are doing pretty well, like Poland, the Czech Republic and Hungary. Others are not doing so well. Russia has backslid, but it's still better than it was under communist rule. In general, many millions of people have already benefitted, and they can reasonably hope that things will continue to improve. That's what I think will victory will mean in the broader Middle East. The despotic regimes in the region - which were created not by Allah in the seventh century but by British and French diplomats in the 1920s, and therefore have shallow roots - will be replaced by more or less democratic systems, and some will do better than others.

June 8, 2007

Boycotting the Boycott

In response to the boycott of Israel by the British National Union of Journalists, several thousand American academics, including numerous Nobel Prize winners, have signed a petition pledging to to refuse to participate in any events boycotting their Israeli academic colleagues. As Alan Dershowitz points out, there are plenty of countries in which suppression of freedom of the press could be justifiably criticized by the British journalists, but Israel isn't one of them:

The utter hypocrisy of the British National Union of Journalists, which recently voted to boycott only Israel, has now become evident in the face of the silence over the recent move by Venezuelan Dictator Hugo Chavez to suppress dissent by the media in his leftist regime. General Pervez Musharraf of Pakistan too has now imposed massive press censorship. In many other of the hard left’s favored countries – Cuba, China, Iran, North Korea and Zimbabwe – suppression of the press is routine and imprisonment of journalist is common. But there is not a peep about these countries from the British National Union of Journalists who seem to admire tyranny and condemn democracy and openness. Only Israel, which has among the freest presses of the world, is being targeted for sanctions. Even Arab and Muslim journalists have more freedom of the press in Israel than in any Arab or Muslim nation. While Palestinian terrorist groups murder, kidnap and threaten journalists, the British Union exempts the Palestinian authority, run by the censorious Hamas from its journalistic sanctions. The reason is obvious. The British Union cares less about journalists or freedom of the press than it does about blindly condemning the Jewish state.

What Dershowitz doesn't say here is that the British journalists union cited Israel's attacks on Lebanon as the reason for their action, not any restrictions of press freedom, and they have been joined by a couple of other trade unions in the boycott effort. Of course that makes the union's open hostility to Jews and to Israel no less transparent, and it points up the absence of any journalistic principle of impartiality or balance behind their boycott.

Their stated goal is to pressure Israel to change their policies in the West Bank. As long as their outrage is limited to the Israeli response, and ignores the kidnappings, murders and rocket attacks that led to it, their achievement will likely be only the diminishing of their credibility as journalists worthy of the name. Kudos to the academics who are standing up to this thinly-veiled bigotry.

UPDATE 6/12: A friend e-mailed a series of ads sponsored by the Anti Defamation League that have appeared in the New York Times over the last few days. You can see them as pop-up images here, here, here, here, and here. (Thanks, Bob)

June 7, 2007

Size Matters


The Burj Dubai, currently under construction, has reached 129 stories, on its way to at least 160, and has already become the world's tallest building. Dark Roasted Blend has lots of photos and renderings of the mostly residential skyscraper.

It is reported that a second mega-tower is slated for construction in Dubai, and it may be taller than this one. Kuwait has a building in the planning that will surpass them both. Take a look.

"More than one-third of the construction cranes in the world are currently in Dubai"

June 6, 2007

Missed It By That Much

The occasion of a Cleveland team competing in the final series or game of any major sport is the cue for the national media to document once again for everyone the myriad ways and times that Cleveland fans have earned the descriptor "long-suffering." And so it is this week.

The intro to an article by John Romano (no, not that John Romano) of the St. Petersburg Times is typical of the genre:

They are desperate, not poetic. They are hardened, not lovable.

They have none of the romance once claimed by fans of the Red Sox, and only a smidgen of the status bestowed on followers of the Cubs.

They are the devotees of sports in Cleveland, and all they have is heartache. At least those fans born in the last half-century, or so.

What usually follows is a recitation of the near-misses in the last few decades by Cleveland sports franchises, mixed in with stories about a couple of our more embarrassing mayors and the almost obligatory "Mistake-on-the-Lake" reference.

John Saraceno's column in USA Today follows the formula to a tedious "T".

Michael Wilbon's piece in the Washington Post contains all of the above ingredients, but he's such a talented writer that his version seems less canned. He documents the decline of the city that has paralleled the long sports drought, and you get the feeling he'd really like to see us win one for Uncle Cecil. Read it all.

Here's another take on the theme by John McGrath of the (Tacoma) News Tribune , (via the Hornless Rhino) who says the Cavs are carrying the weight of decades of disappointment on their shoulders as they head into the series. And he really knows where the sore spots are:

We can only hope they cope with the stress better than Jose Mesa did.

That's below the belt, man.

Russian Cyberattacks

Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty posts an interview with Estonian President Toomas Hendrik Ilves, in which he implies that Russia is responsible for recent cyber-warfare on Estonian government computer systems, and concludes that Putin's Russia "sees democracy as a threat."

Ilves: ...in the case of Russia today, we see tremendous fear that freedom of the press, freedom of association, freedom of the media, free and fair elections are viewed as bad things, and countries that have those things disprove the notion of a sovereign democracy -- previously called a "managed democracy," but now for [public relations] reasons called a "sovereign democracy" -- but either way, it means that the general rules of democracy don't apply. There's a separate way, a separate road, a separate route. There's a different kind of democracy.

Well, from Estonia to Georgia, Ukraine, Poland -- they all show it's not true. In fact, democracy works as democracy. And I think that is viewed by many as a threat. If you read the [Russian] press -- "There will be no Orange Revolutions here" -- what are the Nashi or Molodaya gvardia [nationalist youth groups] there for? They're all sort of there to make sure that if you ever get a Maydan [revolution like that in Ukraine], you have the shock troops to prevent Maydan from happening.

RFE/RL: That sounds pretty bleak.

Ilves: Just my personal opinion. [Laughing] This does not represent the position of the Estonian government.


Taranto today quotes Thomas Naylor, one of the deep-thinking advocates of secession from the union for the state of Vermont. This from Naylor's radical nonviolence manifesto...

"Violence begets more violence, not the other way around."

Which is just silly talk, because as we all know, it is the other way around.

Since they appear to have sworn off resistance, Taranto warms to the notion of secession

Anyway, we think Vermont secession is a good idea, if for no other reason than that it'd be a nice morale boost for the U.S., which is weary of the long struggle in Iraq. Vermont has only a few thousand people, and most of them are hippies. It should be easier to pacify than Grenada.

Lurching now to another "did he really say that?" moment from today's browsing, this time in the ESPN recap of C.C. Sabathia's shutout tonight:

Cleveland improved to 16-6 in the AL Central with its first win of the year over the Royals, who took two of three from the Indians on May 22-24 in Kansas City.

June 5, 2007


Anne Bayefsky

This week’s 40th anniversary of the Six-Day War, for example, is not being remembered as the date Israel succeeded in staving off the latest annihilation plans of its neighbors, which began in earnest the minute of Israel’s birth in 1948. Instead, June 5, 1967, has been cast as the start date for another failed attempt at Western colonialism.

According to the president, however, colonialism is not on our agenda. Compassionate Americans are merely striving to tie development assistance to democratic reform — which to him “seems like a fair deal.” But compassionate Europeans are equally busy pushing any American agenda to the periphery, allowing a European kingmaker to rise between “extremists” on both sides. In the result, Americans find themselves begging for European support to take more aggressive action against Sudan and Iran. Europeans use U.N. platforms like the Human Rights Council to water down resolutions critical of Sudan and appear content to spin out the negotiations with Iran until it’s too late. The African Union gets the mixed message, and two days ago put more roadblocks in the way of a beefed-up peacekeeping force for Darfur. Iran just issues another nonchalant up-yours.

The verbiage associated with the spread of democracy and the international protection of human rights is, therefore, utterly incoherent. The U.N. touts “the responsibility to protect” — but just not by America and not in Iraq, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and so on. America is the problem; the U.N. is the solution.

Neo-neocon with Iraq/Vietnam parallels via Henry Kissinger.

Andy McCarthy on JFK bomb plotter Russell Defreitas:

Defreitas, er, Mohammed is a naturalized United States citizen. He is another splash in that gorgeous mosaic of American Islam — the one over whose purportedly seamless assimilation the mainstream media was cooing just a few days ago, putting smiley-face spin on an alarming Rasmussen poll.

Alas, Defreitas/Mohammed turns out to be the part of the story the press dutifully buried in paragraph 19: He is that nettlesome one of every four American Muslim males who thinks mass-homicide strikes against civilians, like the one he and his cell were scheming, are a perfectly sensible way to settle grievances.

Does this mean he never really assimilated during his long journey from Guyana to treason against the adopted country he so abhors? Not hardly. For that one in four Muslim males turns out to be in pretty much the same place as one of every two members of the United States Congress — already tacking toward two of every three as we look ahead to September. All are content to let Islamist savagery carry the day.

Ed Morrissey on the war zone that is Gaza

Reuel Marc Gerecht

The mess in Iraq has also allowed the idea of possibly productive negotiations with Iran's mullahs to take hold in Washington. However, only staunch doves and "realists" who are blind to the reality of power politics in the region can look optimistically upon the negotiations between the United States and Iran. We have a clerical regime that has aided and abetted virulently anti-American, radical Iraqi groups, exported to Iraq sophisticated automatic explosive devices designed to kill American and British soldiers, pushed forward defiantly its construction of uranium-enriching centrifuges, and kidnapped at least five American citizens in Iran, four of them Iranian-American dual-nationals. Utterly bogus espionage charges have been hurled at three, including Haleh Esfandiari, the director of the Middle East Program at the Wilson Center in Washington. Like her boss, former congressman Lee Hamilton, a chairman of the Iraq Study Group, Ms. Esfandiari has been an advocate of reconciliation between the United States and her homeland.

Note: The espionage charges were thrown at these Americans, who had absolutely nothing to do with U.S. intelligence and would have recoiled from any advocacy of "regime change," a day after the May 28 meeting between the Americans and Iranians in Baghdad. This isn't rocket science. We have a meeting, and the regime in Tehran wants to make crystal clear its contempt for any suggestion that the mullahs might want to build a bridge or two. The clerical regime hasn't been killing American and British soldiers in Iraq because they think it's counterproductive. They haven't been aiding radical Shiite groups because it's counterproductive. It looks increasingly likely that Iran has also aided Sunni insurgents--which the mullahs apparently don't think is counterproductive. The truth about Iran's revolutionary elite is that they have little regard for the Iraqi Shia, whom they blame for failing to rise against Saddam Hussein during the 1980-'88 Iran-Iraq war. Compromising the Iraqi Shia for the greater goal of hurting the United States and radicalizing the Iraqi Shiite community is undoubtedly seen in Tehran as a price worth paying.

June 4, 2007


Should he have passed off? Why didn't he shoot? Wasn't he fouled? Those questions are so last week. Now it's a LeBron Lovefest everywhere you look. Which is cool, don't get me wrong.

Mark Kriegel of Fox Sports.com says Kobe could learn a thing or two from LeBron. (Thanks, Judy)

Deadspin has some video of the crowd in Gateway Plaza on Saturday night, and some good LBJ linkage. And where in the world are the other four Cavaliers in this wide angle photo of the winning shot in Game 5?

MJ has some kind words for LBJ, and Chris Broussard and Bill Reynolds pile on the pixels.

And David Stein has one of the best pieces I've seen on LeMan. It's the smile!

There's no way the Cavaliers should win this NBA Finals series. That should make it fun.

Surface Computing Demo

Popular Mechanics has a look at Microsoft's Surface Computing technology. So this is the future for my coffee table.

June 3, 2007

Darfur - Naming Names

Nina Shea says that genocide doesn't just happen. It is committed by people and organizations, and they have names. Principally, the name is President Omar al-Bashir, and the organization is his National Islamic Front (NIF).

Mark Steyn comments on American community activism groups concerned about Darfur, who are holding discussions, showing films and hosting native Sudanese dance demonstrations....but not advocating doing anything to stop the al-Bashir regime from killing people...(like Michael Ledeen's suggestion that we could take out all of the government airplanes and helicopters from the air.) Who was this activism for again?

...wouldn't it make more sense to try the Ledeen solution and save the Sudanese dance troupe for the post-victory party? "Salt Lake Saves Darfur" looks like doing wonders for "the greater Salt Lake community of compassion" but rather less for the people of Darfur. There is a grotesque narcissism in the determination of the Save Darfur campaign to embrace every strategy except the one that would actually save Darfur while there's anyone still left to save.

June 1, 2007

On Specialness

(Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)

ESPN.com's Bill Simmons had spent the last couple of weeks ripping on the Cavaliers' offense, their "idiotic" Head Coach Mike Brown, and the sorry state of the Eastern Conference in general, so his Thursday column wasn't anything terribly new, but at least he did give the Pistons equal time for his unique brand of ridicule.

But he was slightly prescient at the end of the piece, when he acknowledged that even though LeBron doesn't always seem to be focused and driven (like Jordan was....always) Simmons still had a good reason to check out Game 5:

No. 23 happens to be the only interesting thing about this painfully disjointed Pistons-Cavs series. The coaches stink, the players aren't that good, the styles don't mesh … maybe the intensity has been there, but you could say the same about a WNBA game, for cripes sake. Like many others, I'm looking forward to Game 5 solely because of LeBron. Like many others, I want him to shift into fifth gear, hush the crowd, rip Detroit's heart out and make the Vivid Video face after everything's said and done. Like many others, I will be disappointed if this doesn't happen.

Well, as we all know by now, it happened, and the follow-up column by Simmons is a classic. You'll want to read it all, but here's a sample:

This wasn't just about the improbable 29-of-30 points barrage down the stretch, those two monster dunks at the end of regulation, the way he perservered despite a crummy coach and a mediocre supporting cast, how he just kept coming and coming, even how he made that game-winning layup look so damned easy. Physically, LeBron overpowered the Pistons. This was like watching a light-heavyweight battling a middleweight for eight rounds and suddenly realizing, "Wait, I have 15 pounds on this guy," then whipping the poor guy into a corner and destroying him with body punches. The enduring moment was LeBron flying down the middle for a Dr. J retro dunk and Tayshaun Prince ducking for cover like someone reacting to a fly-by from a fighter jet. The Pistons wanted no part of him. They were completely dominated. They didn't knock him down, they didn't jump in front of him for a charge … hell, they were so shell-shocked by what was happening, they didn't even realize they should be throwing two guys at him.


Like so many other diehard fans, I watch thousands and thousands of hours of sports every year hoping something special will happen, whether it's a 60-point game in basketball, a no-hitter during a Red Sox game, a seven-run comeback in the ninth, a back-and-forth NFL game, a boxing pay-per-view or whatever else. Occasionally, it pays off. For instance, two Saturdays ago, the Pavlik-Miranda undercard of the Spinks-Taylor fight was special. Last January's Colts-Pats game was special. Every Oakland home game of the Warriors-Mavs series was special. Maybe there are degrees of the word, but still, every time we're clicking on a television or heading to a ballgame, deep down, we're hoping something special happens.

Well, Thursday night was ultra-special. Watching King James take over Game 5 and finally earn his nickname, I felt like something substantial was happening. Like my life as a basketball fan was being irrevocably altered.

As a Cleveland fan, and having now watched LeBron James play a hundred times or so, including high school, my life as a basketball fan will have been irrevocably altered only when the Cavs win the NBA Championship.

And speaking of "special", and of seven-run ninth inning comebacks, I was fortunate to be in attendance at Jacobs Field last night for one of those magical moments that was reminiscent of 1995. A sellout crowd, and in this case a mere five-run ninth inning comeback for the Indians, including a 3-run homer by Victor Martinez, and consecutive two out hits by Josh Barfield and David Dellucci to score the tying and winning runs.

Tonight I'll be content to sit at home, remote in hand, to watch the two Detroit-Cleveland games taking place within 50 yards of each other downtown. The scene is set for some more specialness, or for more Clevelandesque disappointment.


Detroit News - What They're Saying

Brian Windhorst Blog
on Game 5