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September 30, 2007

After A-Jad

The visit of Iranian President Ahmadinejad has inspired some editorial cartooning that's worth a look, via Contentions.

September 28, 2007

It's The Yanks


By the middle of next week we'll all be sick to death of hearing that the Yankees are 6-0 against the Indians this season, and that they're the hottest team in baseball, and the trendy favorite to win it all...and we'll get down to playing the games. For four days between now and then, Indians fans will take and hold a collective breath, painfully aware that the season could go up in flames in the first playoff round. Their prize for having the best record in the league is a matchup with the hottest team, and the media darling.

But in my personal battle with my predisposition to expect the worst, I still come out liking where the Indians sit. Opening at home, and predictably still under the radar in terms of national media attention, they are playing with a deliberate, focused confidence these days. Travis Hafner's offense is coming around at exactly the right time, and the bullpen has been tough, to go along with our dueling 19-game winning starters.

That bullpen does include the occasionally flammable closer, Joe Borowski, however. He is certainly one reason Tribe fans are more than a little nervous. We remember April 19th, for one thing. Then Borowski gave up game-tying home runs on consecutive nights this week, reminding us as playoff time approaches that we've had some memorable postseason problems with that "closing" thing.

And even though the Indians got swept by the Yanks in that August series at home, it kick-started them on a 30-12 run since that day. The addition of Asdrubal Cabrera has solidified the team on offense and on defense, and may be the biggest single factor in the late-season run.

I wish it were a seven-game series instead of five, because I think Cleveland's pitching would hold up better over the long haul. I just hope we've got a little bit more of that Jacobs Field magic left that we've seen so much of again this year. There have been several times this season when it seemed we were watching a team that was getting most of the breaks for a change. We notice that kind of stuff around here.

September 27, 2007


Former Buckeye Mike Conley Jr. shows his stuff:

September 25, 2007

Distinctive Sameness

Here's a slice of Christine Rosen's excellent New Atlantis piece on social networking online. I have had minimal exposure to this phenomenon, and what I have seen inclines me to keep it that way, but this was enlightening. Do it all. (via Galley Slaves)

....coarseness and vulgarity is commonplace on social networking sites for a reason: it’s an easy way to set oneself apart. Pharaohs and kings once celebrated themselves by erecting towering statues or, like the emperor Augustus, placing their own visages on coins. But now, as the insightful technology observer Jaron Lanier has written, “Since there are only a few archetypes, ideals, or icons to strive for in comparison to the vastness of instances of everything online, quirks and idiosyncrasies stand out better than grandeur in this new domain. I imagine Augustus’ MySpace page would have pictured him picking his nose.” And he wouldn’t be alone. Indeed, this is one of the characteristics of MySpace most striking to anyone who spends a few hours trolling its millions of pages: it is an overwhelmingly dull sea of monotonous uniqueness, of conventional individuality, of distinctive sameness.

The world of online social networking is practically homogenous in one other sense, however diverse it might at first appear: its users are committed to self-exposure. The creation and conspicuous consumption of intimate details and images of one’s own and others’ lives is the main activity in the online social networking world. There is no room for reticence; there is only revelation. Quickly peruse a profile and you know more about a potential acquaintance in a moment than you might have learned about a flesh-and-blood friend in a month.

Rosen says the industry is, in some ways, diluting and debasing the concept of "friendship":

...“friendship” in these virtual spaces is thoroughly different from real-world friendship. In its traditional sense, friendship is a relationship which, broadly speaking, involves the sharing of mutual interests, reciprocity, trust, and the revelation of intimate details over time and within specific social (and cultural) contexts. Because friendship depends on mutual revelations that are concealed from the rest of the world, it can only flourish within the boundaries of privacy; the idea of public friendship is an oxymoron.

The hypertext link called “friendship” on social networking sites is very different: public, fluid, and promiscuous, yet oddly bureaucratized. Friendship on these sites focuses a great deal on collecting, managing, and ranking the people you know. Everything about MySpace, for example, is designed to encourage users to gather as many friends as possible, as though friendship were philately. If you are so unfortunate as to have but one MySpace friend, for example, your page reads: “You have 1 friends,” along with a stretch of sad empty space where dozens of thumbnail photos of your acquaintances should appear.


The structure of social networking sites also encourages the bureaucratization of friendship. Each site has its own terminology, but among the words that users employ most often is “managing.” The Pew survey mentioned earlier found that “teens say social networking sites help them manage their friendships.” There is something Orwellian about the management-speak on social networking sites: “Change My Top Friends,” “View All of My Friends” and, for those times when our inner Stalins sense the need for a virtual purge, “Edit Friends.” With a few mouse clicks one can elevate or downgrade (or entirely eliminate) a relationship.

At the "World Leader Forum"....

Ahmadinejad said today that there are no homosexuals in Iran. ("We don't have homosexuals" .... "I don't know who told you we had it," ....."we do not have this homosexual phenomena".)

C'mon, that's got to be an exaggeration. I think what he probably meant to say is that they're working on it.

Rather As Victim

Charles Lane of the Washington Post, tongue firmly in-cheek, on the Dan Rather lawsuit against CBS:

...there is another document making the rounds that suggests that Dan Rather is actually bitter at his former employers. I am referring to the 32-page "lawsuit" in which Rather purportedly accuses various chieftains at CBS of "coercing" him into a false apology for the National Guard broadcast and then muzzling him and starving him of airtime to please the White House.

Clearly, this "lawsuit" is a forgery -- and a pretty crude one at that.

No man in Rather's position would admit that he could be made to apologize for a story he believed was true. A straight-shooting newsman like Dan Rather would have resigned rather than obey an order to lie to the public.

No sensible person would allege that CBS's investigation of the National Guard story was both hopelessly biased because it was led by George H.W. Bush's former attorney general and that the investigation "exonerated" Rather.

No sane individual would start a legal battle that could result in his being deposed under oath about his own conduct at the network over 44 rocky years.

Finally, no one in his right mind would keep insisting that those phony documents are real and that the Bush National Guard story is true.

If there's one thing we've learned about Dan Rather, it is that he's a perfectly reasonable guy. Otherwise, CBS News would never have put him in the anchor's chair in the first place. And he sat there for 24 years.

September 23, 2007

Nazi Roots of 9/11

One assumes that Jew-hatred was among the motivations of the 9/11 hijackers, but Matthias Küntzel's piece at FPM says that evidence of the National Socialist thinking driving 9/11 ringleader Mohammed Atta to terrorism has been downplayed or ignored in the years since the attacks.

What ideas propelled Atta and the others to act? Witnesses provided part of the answer at the world's first 9/11-related trial, the prosecution of al-Motassedeq, which took place in Hamburg between October 2002 and February 2003. One participant in the Koran circle meetings, Shahid Nickels, said Atta's Weltanschauung was based on a "National Socialist way of thinking." Atta was convinced that the Jews were striving for world domination and considered New York City the center of world Jewry, which was, in his opinion, Enemy No. 1. Fellow students who lived in Motassedeq's dormitory testified that he shared these views and waxed enthusiastic about a forthcoming "big action." One student quoted Motassedeq as saying, "The Jews will burn and in the end we will dance on their graves."

Amazingly, neither the American media nor the international press took much notice of this testimony, largely refusing to report on Atta's and Motassedeq's explicit Jew-hatred. The above quotations come from the weekly Der Spiegel and from the detailed notes of the trial taken by journalist Michael Eggers, who attended every session and wrote about it for Reuters. If this had been the trial of a Ku Klux Klan member or someone from the far right such as Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh, reports of Nazi-like dreams of exterminating the Jews would probably have made the headlines. But in this case, involving attackers of Arab background, journalists apparently found the issue irrelevant. Moreover, this Jew-hatred was no quirk of the Hamburg cell. Osama bin Laden himself declared in 1998, "The enmity between us and the Jews goes back far in time and is deep rooted. There is no question that war between us is inevitable. . . . The Hour of Resurrection shall not come before Muslims fight Jews."

Dog bites man. Move along.

September 21, 2007

Top Terrorist to Get Columbia Platform

Columbia University is holding another event in its "We're So Tolerant, We'll Tolerate Your Intolerance" Lecture Series and Preening Exercise, by hosting Iranian President, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on the campus.

Powerline's Scott Johnson has a terrific post on the subject, and Hugh has lots of coverage and comment here and here. Not much I can add to all that.

UPDATE 9/22: Roger Kimball rocks Columbia President Lee Bollinger:

Universities are institutions dedicated to the pursuit and transmission of learning and the furtherance of civilization. They are not circuses for the exhibition of politically repugnant grandstanding. Free inquiry is not a license for moral irresponsibility. At a university, as at every other human institution, freedom can thrive only when it is limited by allegiance to certain positive values--the value of historical truth, for example, or the moral truth that human dignity is worth preserving.

President Bollinger's sophomoric conception of free speech is precisely the sort of supine intellectualism that, if consistently embraced, would make free speech impossible. President Bollinger primly lectures us that "It should never be thought that merely to listen to ideas we deplore in any way implies our endorsement of those ideas, or the weakness of our resolve to resist those ideas," etc. But he is quite wrong about that. By providing a madman like Ahmadinejad with a platform at Columbia University, President Bollinger has in effect welcomed him into the community of candid reasoners. He has granted him a patent of legitimacy that no amount of "dialogue and reason" can dissipate. In this case, "listening" is indeed tantamount to an endorsement. It reduces free speech to a species of political capitulation and renders dialogue indistinguishable from a suicide pact.

A roundup of blog reaction to the Columbia University visit by Ahmadinejad, at PJM

September 20, 2007

Court Order in al Dura Case

A "huge turn" in the al Dura case according to Nidra Poller, writing at PJM.

Appellate Court Presiding judge Laurence Trébucq has demanded that France 2 hand over the 27-minutes of raw footage shot on the afternoon of September 30, 2000 by Talal Abu Rahmeh. France 2 lawyer Maïtre Bénédicte Amblard tried to convince the judge that the request was not appropriate, relevant, necessary or even advisable. But the judge wants to see the outtakes with her own eyes.

This is the first time the French court has made such a demand that would be normal in the US system. The court will now be able to determine if the Al Dura shooting and tape was a fake, as many have alleged.

Maître Amblard was not able to reach her clients to confirm availability of the footage. Today’s hearing was adjourned. The next hearing is scheduled on November 14th… to view the raw footage.

Details will follow tomorrow.

Iran-Syria Producing WMD....Badly

A report in the Jerusalem Post cites the highly regarded Janes Defence Weekly as its source:

Proof of cooperation between Iran and Syria in the proliferation and development of weapons of mass destruction was brought to light Monday in a Jane's Defence Weekly report that dozens of Iranian engineers and 15 Syrian officers were killed in a July 23 accident in Syria.

According to the report, cited by Channel 10, the joint Syrian-Iranian team was attempting to mount a chemical warhead on a Scud missile when the explosion occurred, spreading lethal chemical agents, including sarin nerve gas.

(via Hugh Hewitt)

UPDATE 9/20: The (London) Times Online has a few more detais to follow up the original Janes Defence Weekly report of a deadly WMD explosion:

The report said that the explosion sent out a cloud of chemical and nerve gases, including the deadly VX and Sarin agents as well as mustard gas, across the facility in the northern city of Aleppo. The claims could not be verified independently by sources in London and the United States.

The official Syrian news agency, Sana, reported that 15 Syrian military personnel were killed and 50 others injured in an accident involving “very explosive products” on July 26. It made no mention of Iranian officers also being killed in the blast, which it said was not an act of sabotage.

Jane’s claimed that the engineers were trying to weaponise a Syrian-made Scud missile with a range of about 300 miles (480km) when the explosion occurred. The Syrians and Iranians are thought to have been working closely together on developing a more effective chemical warhead for the Scud ballistic missile system.

Google News searches produce very few hits of major U.S. news organizations publishing the story. One exception is this NY Post article, but meanwhile, Columbia University plans to welcome the President of the outlaw Iranian regime into their midst as a "World Leader."


Piano Prodigy

My sister emailed me this video of a six-year old pianist from an appearance on Jay Leno. The kid is pretty impressive even before you hear him play piano. And there are several other videos of him at the YouTube link.

September 18, 2007

Times Select - Dead of Neglect

The New York Times op-ed columnists have been unavailable online without a subscription for some time now....longer, no doubt, than it seems to me. Perhaps stung by their increasing irrelevance to any meaningful policy debate, and just now finding out how lucrative online advertising can be, the Times has decided to make their opinion writers free of charge online once again.

Since William Safire retired, I wouldn't click twice to read anyone they have except David Brooks anyway, so the decision means little to me personally. But I liked Dean Barnett's take on the decision:

What really bugs me is that this Edsel of an online adventure will convince a lot of people (people that matter like venture capitalist people) that you can’t make money in selling online content. Many analysts will conclude, “If the New York Times couldn’t do it, it can’t be done.” This couldn’t be more wrong. Just because no one has created a profitable model for selling on-line content yet doesn’t mean it won’t happen eventually. And inevitably.

If there was an online magazine or newspaper that had James Lileks, Mark Steyn, Bill Kristol, Andrew Ferguson, John Podhoretz, Bill Simmons, Terry Teachout and Michael Yon contributing daily, I’d pay for it. A lot of other people would, too. The Times’ big failure wasn’t in thinking they could sell on-line opinion. Their failure was in thinking they could sell crappy and unoriginal on-line opinion.

Magic Number Countdown


Walk-off homer by Casey Blake to win the series opener with the Tigers.


UPDATE 9/18: Five.

UPDATE 9/19: Three

September 17, 2007

Another Surreal Sunday

For the second week in a row, the Browns had their fans shaking their heads in disbelief. This time it was from watching them hang half a hundred on the Cincinnati Bengals defense, an outcome that absolutely no one saw coming.


Jamal Lewis showed me a gear I didn't think he had in pulling away from Bengal defenders on his 66-yd touchdown run in the third quarter. Credit great offensive line play (no sacks) and great hands by Winslow, Edwards, Jurevicius, and in the end, Leigh Bodden, whose interception put it in the win column with 21 seconds to play.

Oh yeah, QB Derek Anderson didn't want to get traded after the game, so he threw five touchdown passes, tying the team record. Coach Crennel has to get some love too. He has been ripped all week, and his players had to know they needed to win soon for Romeo to last through the Bye Week.

September 16, 2007

State Censorship in Brussels

Some distressing video of the arrests of peaceful demonstrators, including members of parliament, in Brussels.

Catch the whole "Capital of the EUSSR" series at Brussels Journal.

September 14, 2007

Once a Thug...

Good of O.J. to be cooperating in the investigation of an unusual exchange of merchandise yesterday, isn't it? A former associate had some Simpson memorabilia that O.J. apparently wanted badly, so Simpson and his entourage took it from him...reportedly at gunpoint.

One of Simpson's party had posed as a potential buyer, and the meeting was arranged. Afterwards, Simpson acted incredulous at the suggestion that it was a "robbery" of any sort, claiming the merchandise was his. Sort of a "citizen's arrest" type of thing then, I guess. Just trying to retrieve some stuff that rightfully belonged to him. A little vigilante sting operation....no need to involve the law enforcement community.

Simpson, who has apparently tracked Ron and Nicole's real killers to Las Vegas, may just need some cash to continue the search, and moving some old O.J. souvenirs might help out.

Allah's on it with a roundup.

UPDATE 9/17:

O.J. is arrested, and ESPN reports that an audio tape has surfaced from the hotel room encounter.

Ed Morrissey at CQ says O.J. may be "uniquely self-destructive", and wonders why it's still hard for us to just look away.

Climate Change is Redundant

Just when the alarmists have people nearly convinced that "the debate is over", along come 300 or so killjoy scientists publishing peer-reviewed research that runs counter to much of the anthropogenic global warming dogma. Which is good, because I missed that debate when we had it. This "other" research has existed for some time, of course, but a new book is documenting it, maybe for Debate II - The Sequel.

A new analysis of peer-reviewed literature reveals that more than 500 scientists have published evidence refuting at least one element of current man-made global warming scares. More than 300 of the scientists found evidence that 1) a natural moderate 1,500-year climate cycle has produced more than a dozen global warmings similar to ours since the last Ice Age and/or that 2) our Modern Warming is linked strongly to variations in the sun's irradiance. "This data and the list of scientists make a mockery of recent claims that a scientific consensus blames humans as the primary cause of global temperature increases since 1850," said Hudson Institute Senior Fellow Dennis Avery.

Other researchers found evidence that 3) sea levels are failing to rise importantly; 4) that our storms and droughts are becoming fewer and milder with this warming as they did during previous global warmings; 5) that human deaths will be reduced with warming because cold kills twice as many people as heat; and 6) that corals, trees, birds, mammals, and butterflies are adapting well to the routine reality of changing climate.

Despite being published in such journals such as Science, Nature and Geophysical Review Letters, these scientists have gotten little media attention. "Not all of these researchers would describe themselves as global warming skeptics," said Avery, "but the evidence in their studies is there for all to see."

There's also a pretty good roundup of links to scientists and research contrary to the man-made global warming orthodoxy, in a post written by a 19-year old Canadian college student. (via Dr. Sanity)


Jonathan Adler reviews the new Lomborg book

With Friends Like These...

A prank war between co-workers escalates into a Yankee Stadium event. I'm sure this one sounded hilarious in the planning, but it really goes pretty badly for the prankees.

OK, it's still hilarious. Even if it was staged, it's still pretty clever.

September 12, 2007

17 to Go

The Indians' magic number is now 11. Just sayin'.

The Long Struggle

I heard bits and pieces of Hugh Hewitt's 9/11 Show today, which included interviews with Norman Podhoretz and with Lawrence Wright. After reading the full transcripts, I'd strongly recommend you go read them both.

UPDATE 9/12: See also the Contentions interview with Podhoretz

September 10, 2007

The Petraeus Hearing

Here's the text of Petraeus' remarks, via RCP.

Hot Air has typically robust coverage of the events at the hearings, including video of those who were hauled out. (Think pink)

And it's MoveOn.org...doing the jobs that Americans won't do...that is, smearing Gen. Petraeus as a traitor ("Gen. Betray Us"...get it?....catchy, huh?) with a full-page ad in the New York Times. Check out reaction at PowerLine, and see Byron York at NRO, and Pete Hegseth at The Tank too. Here's a clip from Hegseth:

Let's be clear: MoveOn.org is suggesting that General Petraeus has 'betrayed' his country. This is disgusting. To attack as a traitor an American general commanding forces in war, because his ‘on the ground' experience does not align with MoveOn.org's political objectives, is utterly shameful. It shows contempt for America's military leadership, as well as for the troops who have confidence in him, as our fellow soldiers in Iraq certainly do.

General Petraeus has served this country for over 35 years with honor, distinction, and integrity. And this is not just about General Petraeus. After all, if General Petraeus is "cooking the books," then the entire military chain of command in Baghdad, and all the staff, military and civilian, who have been working with General Petraeus are complicit, since Petraeus did not write his report in isolation. They are all, apparently, 'betray[ing] us.'

MoveOn.org has been working closely with the Democratic congressional leadership - as an article in today's Sunday New York Times Magazine makes clear. And consider this comment by a Democratic senator from Friday's Politico: "'No one wants to call [Petraeus] a liar on national TV,' noted one Democratic senator, who spoke on the condition on anonymity. ‘The expectation is that the outside groups will do this for us.'

MoveOn.org has helped frame the core choice: Whom do we trust to run this war - MoveOn.org and its allies in Congress, or Gen. David Petraeus and his colleagues?

(emphasis mine)

So at least one Democratic Senator is on record that the nutroots group is saying what he thinks, but doesn't have the courage to say himself. Nuance.

Several Democratic leaders have expressed dismay at the MoveOn ad, but that's not the same thing as denouncing it. Democratic Senators especially, who voted unanimously to confirm Petraeus, should be asked if MoveOn.org speaks for them or not, as far as the integrity of Gen. Petraeus is concerned. Senator Lieberman is one of several people who have called on Democrats to denounce the ad.

Embarrassment on the Lakefront


I was in attendance at Cleveland Browns Stadium for the opener yesterday, and about the middle of the third quarter, with the score 24-0, I was taken by a feeling that I was somehow owed an apology from somebody for the product and the effort that the Browns showed against the Steelers.

So to Randy Lerner, Phil Savage, and Romeo Crennel, and to 53 Browns players, (make that 52...Kellen Winslow played his ass off) I'll just say that this 20-year season ticket holder is ready for that apology any time now. Browns fans deserve better. We've seem some horrendous football down by the lake in the last...well, let's just take the last nine years for starters. The excuse of being an expansion team doesn't work anymore. Hell, Butch Davis had this expansion team in the playoffs one time before he took his check for $12 million and blew town.

I remember when the Browns-Steelers series was a rivalry. It won't be a rivalry again until the Browns win the game about three more times. The team simply wasn't ready to play yesterday, and while I'm not sure exactly what those missing intangibles were, what I do know is that their absence is a function of coaching, and that Crennel has yet to show that he understands what that's all about.


God Hates Cleveland Sports

"Experts" say start Brady Quinn sooner instead of later.

The Hornless Rhino charges.

Even The New York Times weighs in on the Browns' quarterback situation.

September 4, 2007

New Dreyfuss Affair?

Joanna Chandler's Frontpage piece on the Al-Durah case makes the comparison, as others have, of this case to the Dreyfuss Affair, and laments the lack of a modern day Emile Zola to bring the facts to light, and refute the lie that has spawned such hatred and violence toward Israel and Jews since the incident in 2000; the lie that Israeli soldiers killed Mohammed Al-Durah.

The evidence that the death of young Al-Durah was staged by Palestinian propagandists is compelling and persuasive, but the case has never received the attention it should because the established narrative - that of Israeli heartlessness and cruelty and of Palestinian helplessness and victimhood- fits so nicely the elite (especially European) media worldview. That, and the fact that admitting to the monumental deception that had been overseen by France 2 TV - which is to say the TV network of the French government - was something that could not be considered. All the stops were pulled out to squash any dissent from the France 2 company line, including suing the journalists who dared report on the inconsistencies, omissions, and the absence of evidence in the France 2 story.

The story is in the news again because the appeal of the defamation conviction of journalist Philippe Karsenty is coming up. I'll not try to excerpt the article, but in addition to recommending you read it all, I'll use the occasion to link to other Al-Durah resources I have accumulated, but never posted all in one place.

Any list of resources on the Al Durah affair should begin with Nidra Poller's Commentary article from 2005. It's an excellent summary of the facts and issues in the case.

The web site Second Draft is another necessary visit for anyone interested in the Al-Durah matter.

James Fallows article in The Atlantic

The Augean Stables - Al-Durah Chronology

The Augean Stables - Richard Landes films

Camera.org Backgrounder on Al-Durah

Nidra Poller's PJM coverage of the defamation trials of Philippe Karsenty and two other journalists who questioned the original report by Charles Enderlin and France 2 TV network.

UPDATE 9/18: Via CQ, comes this J-Post article by Caroline Glick, reporting that the IDF has broken their seven-year silence on the al Durah matter, asking TV network France 2 to release the complete unedited 27 minute tape of the events of October 1, 2000.

UPDATE 9/20: A "huge turn" in the al Durah case according to Nidra Poller, writing at PJM.

Appellate Court Presiding judge Laurence Trébucq has demanded that France 2 hand over the 27-minutes of raw footage shot on the afternoon of September 30, 2000 by Talal Abu Rahmeh. France 2 lawyer Maïtre Bénédicte Amblard tried to convince the judge that the request was not appropriate, relevant, necessary or even advisable. But the judge wants to see the outtakes with her own eyes.

This is the first time the French court has made such a demand that would be normal in the US system. The court will now be able to determine if the Al Dura shooting and tape was a fake, as many have alleged.

Maître Amblard was not able to reach her clients to confirm availability of the footage. Today’s hearing was adjourned. The next hearing is scheduled on November 14th… to view the raw footage.

Details will follow tomorrow.