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March 31, 2008

Opener Win...But


They're off.

But so was C.C. He served up two bombs to Jim Thome but survived, and left with the lead, settling for a no-decision. Then closer Joe Borowski reminded us what the ninth inning will be like again this year, giving up a home run and bringing the tying run to the plate after being staked to a three-run lead. Save No. 1.

Casey Blake had the last-at-bat heroics this time, but celebrations are on hold, because the win won't be worth a thing if it has cost this team their best hitter and emotional leader.

Victor Martinez, who may just be the slowest man in the American League, decided to take second base on a pitch that got about three feet past the catcher, and then collapsed and tumbled into second with a hamstring strain of some sort that had Indians fans gasping and fearing the worst. This after driving in the last run of a seven run rally. They say it's day to day. Losing Victor for a significant period of time would be a brutal opening day hit on the Indians. Be well, Victor.

UPDATE: This looks like more than "tightness in the hamstring", which was the statement during the game.

March 30, 2008

U.N. Standards?

Joseph Klein compares the plight of the Tibetans to that of the Palestinian Arabs in light of the glaring double standard applied to the two cases by the United Nations.

An excellent companion piece to the Klein article is last week's Dennis Prager column on the same theme.

The disparate level of outrage on the political left is explainable at least in part by the fact that one situation permits a pose of anti-Americanism while the other does not. The U.N. is a quicker study. Today's United Nations treats Israel as the worst international outlaw in its human rights portfolio. And China's veto renders it immune from sanction anyway. Time for the League of Democracies.


It's Hot Air's Quote of the Day...and why not?

"I say that the Democratic Party changed. The Democratic Party today was not the party it was in 2000. It's not the Bill Clinton-Al Gore party, which was strong internationalists, strong on defense, pro-trade, pro-reform in our domestic government. It's been effectively taken over by a small group on the left of the party that is protectionist, isolationist and basically will --and very, very hyperpartisan. So it pains me. I'm a Democrat who came to the party in the era of President John F. Kennedy. It's a strange turn of the road when I find among the candidates running this year that the one, in my opinion, closest to the Kennedy legacy, the John F. Kennedy legacy, is John S. McCain." - Sen. Joe Lieberman

March 29, 2008


"Fitna", the film by Geert Wilders, (via LGF and Live Leak) has a fair amount of graphic video of the carnage of Islamist terror, but the pre-release indignation about its supposed hatefulness and inflammatory nature seems overblown. This is pretty much radical Islam in its own words - quoting the Quran and modern Islamic leaders - and those of the mostly European newspaper headlines which are also featured as narrative. It's a political statement by a politician, and one which likely reflects the concerns of a good sized cohort of citizens, in the Netherlands and elsewhere.

This is not to say the film lacks the capacity to shock. Audio of phone calls from doomed World Trade Center workers and the blood-curdling shrieks of a man having his head hacked off with a saw don't lose their punch with the passage of time. Set to the musical background of the somber "Death of Aase" from Grieg's Peer Gynt Suite, Wilders documents the words and deeds of the radicals with very little editorial comment...till the very end, where he appeals to "stop Islamisation" and "defend our freedom."

It's obviously his premise that Europe must do the former if it is to be able to do the latter. Let the debate begin.

Hot Air reported that Live Leak had pulled "Fitna" after receiving "serious threats", but as of now it is up and working.

March 26, 2008

Paul's Tribe Fantasy 2008

Triblogger Paul Cousineau previews the 2008 Indians with an extended narrative of the upcoming season. A must for Tribe fans. (Incidentally, as far as I know, I coined the term "Triblog" five years ago.

UPDATE 3/29: Some big names are predicting good things for the Indians in 2008. Peter Gammons picks the Indians to meet the Braves in the World Series (some subscriber content), and ESPN's Buster Olney predicts the Tribe will win it all. Olney has a nice profile of C.C. Sabathia, who is of course a very large piece of the Tribe in 2008, as always.

More 2008 Tribe talk:

ESPN Indians Preview

MLB Indians Preview

JIm Ingraham column

She Believes It - Why Don't You?

Amid the millions of pixels being expended on the Hillary-Bosnia fabrication, Abe Greenwald has a unique theory at the contentions blog...."Hillary did not lie."

Yes, we understand that people have bad memories. Yes, we are reconciled to the fact that politicians often have conveniently bad memories. But Hillary has an excellent memory, and furthermore she wasn’t lying. This kind of tall tale cut from whole cloth is the special realm of the Clintons, and it is an indication of a dangerously deluded mind. When Hillary recounted her great escape, she believed every word of it.

Just consider the mental hocus-pocus that goes into concocting a story such as this one. Hillary would never have made this story up if she realized that it could be so easily disproved. Given that her landing in Bosnia was attended by her teenage daughter, a few celebrities, and many members of the media, the only way for her to have gone through with this fabrication was to somehow believe it. Anything short of that full commitment would have allowed her to see that the narrative would be instantly discredited. Consider, too, how slight an impression the trip to this war-torn land must have made on Hillary in order for her to manipulate it so. Furthermore, this statement does not seem to have been an off-the-cuff comment. She calculatingly put it out there in order to achieve a desired effect. This was considered.

March 25, 2008

Totten Gets Results

Based on the reporting of blogger Michael Totten, the U.S. government takes action in Iraq.

WASHINGTON, March 24 (UPI) -- The U.S. military says it is taking steps to alleviate conditions at the Fallujah city jail in Iraq after recent visitors found a filthy, overcrowded facility.

"They are being fed now," Lt. Col. Michael Callanan said of the prisoners, who until recently had to provide their own food or starve. Callanan, the point man for the U.S. military on rule-of-law issues in Anbar province, spoke to United Press International in a phone interview Monday.

Kelly's visit followed a report on conditions at the jail by independent journalist Michael Totten. Totten found a facility built to hold 120 prisoners housing 900 without even minimal provision for sanitation or hygiene.

The original Totten post which drew attention to the conditions in the jail can be found here. And here is one of Totten's more recent dispatches.

The China Experiment

Matthew Continetti

In July 2001, when the International Olympics Committee (IOC) awarded the 2008 summer games to Beijing, the international community began a thought-experiment. Wouldn't holding the games in China give the world's democracies "leverage" over that country's Communist dictatorship? Wouldn't the increased media attention and "scrutiny" force Beijing to relax its security apparatus and increase civil liberties? Wouldn't the Olympics be just another elevation in China's "peaceful rise" to "responsible stakeholder," great-power status?

Seven years later, we have our answer. It is a resounding "No." Over the last couple of weeks, riots have broken out in Tibet and surrounding areas and been suppressed by brute force. The State Department's annual report on human rights details an uptick in China's already dismal practices. A prominent Chinese dissident has been put on trial in Beijing on charges of subverting state power. The hypothesis that hosting the Olympics would mellow Beijing's ruthlessness has been proved false. The experiment has failed.

Here's a story on the French attempt to generate some form of Olympic boycott. Here's more from The Independent.

UPDATE 3/25: Anne Applebaum: The Olympics are the perfect place for a protest.

March 24, 2008

Tribe Thoughts

First time in a while I was away from the web, the tube and the phone for three full days. Turns out a man can survive. But missing the first two rounds of the NCAA's blows any way you slice it. On the upside, I got in my first 18 holes of the year.

I had a chance tonight to see the Indians play on TV for the first time this Spring. They looked pretty sharp waxing the Braves 8-0. Westbrook made Chipper, Teixeira, Francoeur and friends look silly with six perfect innings, and the bullpen finished off a two-hitter. Franklin Gutierrez is raking the ball, and playing great defense in right. He complements Gold Glover Sizemore and the platoon of Michaels and Delucci in left to form a strong defensive outfield.

The Indians' bench appears better than in 2007 too. Jamey Carroll looks like a gamer as the utility infielder, and Andy Marte could help as a bat off the bench, although ideally you'd like your pinch-hitters to be a little more seasoned. Backup catcher Kelly Shoppach can be an offensive threat as well, and the off-half of the Dellichaels platoon rounds out the bench. The bullpen could also be even better than last year, with the newcomer Kobayashi and a full year from Jensen Lewis.

So management has tinkered around the edges of a 96-win team, in the expectation that the core stars, who are still very young, will continue to get better. Sabathia, Carmona, Sizemore, Martinez, Westbrook, Hafner and Peralta all could plausibly do that, barring injury naturally. And the next generation of comers, Ryan Garko, Asdrubal Cabrera, and Gutierrez principally, all got enough experience last year to potentially have breakout seasons in 2008.

I said in this space two months ago, that in a perfect world, 2007 AAA International League batting champion Ben Francisco would hit his way onto the team this Spring, and force Wedge to start him over the veteran leftfield platoon he has now. Well, Francisco has done his part, hitting .370 with power in spring training. But management goes with the veterans, including probably Choo when he gets healthy, so the 26-year old with nothing to prove at AAA probably goes back to Buffalo. Sigh.

Paul Cousineau (of DiaTribe fame) has a good piece up at The Cleveland Fan on the overall Wedge-Shapiro strategy of backing up veterans with young talent, and how that worked out for them in 2007 and prior seasons.

I can well imagine the race coming down to a September battle with the Tigers to win the Central, with both teams possibly making the playoffs. As cliché as it sounds, there does seem to be a quiet confidence evident with this group of guys. I'm sure last October's bitter disappointment didn't go away for a long time, but they sure weren't demoralized by it either. Wedge has grown as a manager, and the team is almost Belichikesque in its humility and unselfishness.

The leadership seems to come from all quarters...Sabathia....Blake...Martinez....Sizemore. Quiet, "show-me" leadership. If Hafner regains some of that 2006 form, and Cliff Lee can win more games than he loses in the fifth spot in the rotation, I think the Indians could win 95 or more games again, and get us back to October drama.

And fortunately, that prediction will soon be relegated to the archives, where only I will remember or ever care about it. (Who says the Internet is forever? The Internet is for five minutes.)

There's always lots of good content at The Cleveland Fan, but serious Tribe fans must see the reporting of Tony Lastoria on the Indians minor league system, their teams and their talent, most recently here and here.

This is a great example of New Media filling an information void. Lastoria runs rings around local newspapers in terms of coverage of the Indians' minor league system. It is reporting that was largely unavailable to the average fan a few short years ago. Thanks, and keep it up guys. The whole Lastoria series is here, and you can read more of Cousineau here.

March 20, 2008

A McCain Talking Point?

Pejman links to Greg Mankiw's NYT article on trade policy to emphasize his point that today's neo-protectionists ignore or deny well-established facts on the overall benefits of free trade. Economists, the people who ought to know, are overwhelmingly free traders, and it's too important an issue to allow protectionist distortion to prevail in the national conversation. That sounds right.

Warming Test

Test your knowledge on global warming with this handy 10-question test. I got all ten right when I took it, but then I'm a certified Friend of the Earth. (Thanks, Steve)

March 19, 2008


Tons of reaction to the Obama speech, but among the best I have seen are items by Jim Geraghty, James Taranto, and John McWhorter

And Michael Medved supplies some quotes from others before critiquing the speech himself.

Add Jonah Goldberg's take to the list

Pryor Is Official

It was the worst kept secret in Buckeye Nation, but OSU fans were still holding their collective breath until noon today, when Terrelle Pryor pulled on the Block 'O' cap at his press conference. Here's Adam Jardys story at scout.com. And yes, he really did say "The University of Ohio State."

The 17 year-old phenom quarterback also said something at the announcement about waking up this morning and "thinking about Michigan." Pryor went on to say some generally complimentary things about Rodriguez and the Wolverine program. Clearly the young man needs to break himself of that habit in short order. From now on, "that school up north" will do nicely.

I think all the Michigan talk was for show. This thing has been over for months, if not since the Spring Game last year, when Pryor began to forge fast friendships with Mike Brewster and Devier Posey, and met and talked with Troy Smith. The Michigan official visit over two months ago didn't go that well, and Wolverine coach Rodriguez offered and got a commitment from another dual-threat quarterback a few days after Pryor left town. I'm aware of no developments since that would have changed the status quo there, although Pryor admitted that Michigan coach Rich Rodriguez was hard at it right till the end.

The delay was to have allowed Pryor time to take a closer look at the home-state school, Penn State. In the six weeks since signing day, Pryor has led his team to the state basketball championship, and also dealt with a heart attack suffered by his father, but he managed to make it to Columbus one weekend for a Buckeye basketball game, where he sat with coaches and other 2008 Buckeye commits, and met with Tressel.

I don't know what communication took place between Joe Paterno's staff and Terrelle Pryor in those six weeks, but he never took an official visit to Happy Valley before sending his letter of intent to Ohio State this morning. Pryor has been to Penn State several times of course, and only agreed to delay his considered commitment to Ohio State in deference to the wishes of his father, who had been showered with attention by the PSU coaches. His father's heart trouble, and the continued good work of Tressel and his staff to win over Pryor's circle of family and advisors to the merits of OSU, combined to make the Penn State trip moot. Pryor knew where he wanted to be.

All along, in fact, Pryor has confided to friends that he intended to go to Ohio State. It has been great fun though, watching national sports networks, high school recruiting experts and commentators talk as if it was still a horse race, either too out of touch to know better, or just trying to keep the story alive and being unwilling to state the obvious.

ESPN was characteristically clueless, at least outwardly so, about Pryor's intentions.

He also eliminated two schools but failed to mention them.

One of the schools he tossed aside was Penn State, where he forged a solid relationship with defensive coordinator Tom Bradley. Ultimately, Happy Valley was no place for a city kid.

"I don't like that place," he said of Penn State's rural location. "It's the country but they were in it."

He discounted Oregon "because it's across the country. I have a father and (high school) coaches here who can drive three hours to see me play rather than watch it on TV."

As for Michigan, recently hired coach Rich Rodriguez put on full-press coverage to sway Pryor, and in the end was difficult to say no. "Coach Rod was still recruiting me this morning, saying all the things," Pryor said.

My hearing of what he said there was slightly different. I thought he said "Coach Rod was still recruiting me this morning, saying all the lines." He has to be weary of hearing all of "the lines" In fact, nobody seemed more relieved that this process was over than Pryor himself.

Pryor also talked of getting Coach Tressel "over..that hump." That's all we wanted to hear, Terrelle. Welcome to Columbus!

March 17, 2008

Transcending Race?

There's been only one story in the blogosphere for the last three days. Here's what some people are saying...

Rich Lowry

In the first sermon Barack Obama ever heard from the Rev. Jeremiah Wright, the pastor railed against “white folks’ greed,” the bombing of Hiroshima and “the callousness of policymakers in the White House and in the statehouse.” For Obama, the experience was formative. The sermon’s title, “The Audacity of Hope,” became the title of Obama’s second book and the theme of his presidential campaign.

Now that videotapes have surfaced of Wright’s more scorching diatribes — arguing that America deserved 9/11, exclaiming “God damn America” for spreading drugs in the black community, and declaring the U.S. the “US-KKK-a” — Obama professes shock, even though he attended the church for nearly two decades and Wright was his spiritual mentor. Evidently, Obama wants us to believe they never talked about anything besides the Gospel and the weather.

Shelby Steele

...nothing could be more dangerous to Mr. Obama's political aspirations than the revelation that he, the son of a white woman, sat Sunday after Sunday -- for 20 years -- in an Afrocentric, black nationalist church in which his own mother, not to mention other whites, could never feel comfortable. His pastor, Rev. Jeremiah Wright, is a challenger who goes far past Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson in his anti-American outrage ("God damn America").

How does one "transcend" race in this church? The fact is that Barack Obama has fellow-traveled with a hate-filled, anti-American black nationalism all his adult life, failing to stand and challenge an ideology that would have no place for his own mother. And what portent of presidential judgment is it to have exposed his two daughters for their entire lives to what is, at the very least, a subtext of anti-white vitriol?

What could he have been thinking? Of course he wasn't thinking. He was driven by insecurity, by a need to "be black" despite his biracial background. And so fellow-traveling with a little race hatred seemed a small price to pay for a more secure racial identity.

Ross Douthat:

Nobody in the national media was parsing the Reverend Wright's sermons before the 2008 campaign, and nobody would be parsing them today if he was just one minister among many supporting Barack Obama for President. I have no doubt that many, many Democratic politicians have put in an appearance at churches whose pastors share Wright's outlandish political views without anyone kicking up a fuss, just as Republican politicians have long accepted the support of figures like Falwell without taking too much heat about it. The distinction here, for the umpteenth time, is that Wright isn't just Obama's supporter; he's his pastor, his friend, and his spiritual mentor, which makes him exactly the kind of person whose views ought to be of interest to a public that's considering electing Barack Obama President of the United States.

Peter Wehner:

Senator Obama and some of his supporters have made the plea that he not be made “guilty by association.” What people are asking for is not guilt but responsibility by association — especially an association this long, this deep, this important.

And on the matter of “guilt by association,” here’s a thought experiment. Assume that the spiritual leader and pastor of the church George W. Bush or John McCain attended was, say, a white supremacist or an anti-gay bigot. Do you think that there would be any hesitancy among the press to push the “guilt by association” storyline? I rather doubt it.

I ask because on Thursday CNN’s Anderson Cooper and some of his commentators were visibly unhappy that they were forced to spend valuable time talking about the Wright issue rather than, say, health care or education policy. Anderson and the others clearly viewed it as distasteful and a distraction from a full airing of policy issues. (To Cooper’s credit, by Friday he had changed his tune and was making the case for why the story was relevant.)

5. We actually have an example of how the MSM plays the “guilt by association” card when it comes to certain political and religious figures. In the 2000 campaign George W. Bush spoke once at Bob Jones University; it was an event used to bludgeon Bush with for the rest of the campaign and into his presidency. And, of course, Bush did not attend Bob Jones University, financially support it, or consider Bob Jones to be his spiritual mentor or close friend for 25 years. Yet these things mattered not at all. Bush spoke at Bob Jones University — and so to many in the press, he was joined at the hip with it. The association between Reverend Wright and Senator Obama is far deeper in every respect.

Richard Cohen:

...how is it possible that a man who has made judgment the centerpiece of his entire presidential campaign has shown so little of it in this matter?

One possible answer to these questions is that Obama has learned to rely on a sycophantic media that hears any criticism of him as either (1) racist, (2) vaguely racist or (3) doing the bidding of Hillary and Bill Clinton. You only have to turn your attention to the interview Obama granted MSNBC's fawning Keith Olbermann for an example. Obama was asked whether he had known that Wright had suggested substituting the phrase "God damn America" for "God bless America."

"You know, frankly, I didn't," Obama said. "I wasn't in church during the time when the statements were made."

But had you heard about them? Did your crack campaign staff alert you? And what about Wright's honoring Farrakhan? Had you heard about that? Did you feel any obligation to denounce those remarks -- not Farrakhan, as you had done, but Wright himself? Don't you consider yourself a public figure that others look to for leadership? Do you think you failed them here?

Olbermann asked none of those questions.

Joseph Loconte

What Obama does now to distance himself from Wright is less important than what he failed to do over the last 20 years. Why didn't Obama leave this church when he learned that its senior pastor was committed to ideas that are "contrary to my own life and beliefs"?

Perhaps because it would have cost him something. Ebony magazine named Wright one of America's 15 best black preachers. He moves in influential church and seminary circles. He openly uses his pulpit to endorse Obama's political ambitions--on the face of it, a violation of the church's tax-exempt status--and commands the allegiance of a large, well-heeled congregation. At each step along Obama's political path--his run for the Illinois house, the state senate, the U.S. Senate, and his presidential bid--he has counted on the support of Wright and Trinity United.

All of this suggests a weakness in Obama's character, a shrinking back from principled decisions if they seem too costly. When John McCain challenged his own party on causes that could sink his political career, Obama voted "present" to avoid taking a position on controversial bills in the Illinois senate. During his captivity in Vietnam, McCain refused to denounce the United States or to be released from prison until his fellow soldiers could join him. Obama couldn't find the moxy to stop attending the church of a minister who makes anti-Americanism an indispensable doctrine of his faith.

Michael Medved

March 16, 2008

Recommended 3/16

I realize this first one's a couple days old...

Charles Krauthammer

"The pillars of American liberalism -- the Democratic Party, the universities and the mass media -- are obsessed with biological markers, most particularly race and gender. They have insisted, moreover, that pedagogy and culture and politics be just as seized with the primacy of these distinctions and with the resulting 'privileging' that allegedly haunts every aspect of our social relations.

They have gotten their wish. This primary campaign represents the full flowering of identity politics. It's not a pretty picture. Geraldine Ferraro says Obama is only where he is because he's black. Professor Orlando Patterson says the 3 a.m. phone call ad is not about a foreign policy crisis but a subliminal Klan-like appeal to the fear of 'black men lurking in the bushes around white society.'

Good grief."

At the WSJ: The Clinton Runaround

Peter Wehner - Obama's War

Andrew Ferguson - The Wit and Wisdom of Barack Obama - "Some of it may sound familiar."

David Horowiz' daughter has passed away, and he has written a lovely tribute to her.

At the National Journal, an article on the wearing out of the U.S. military, "The Bills Come Due"

March 14, 2008

The Meaning of 'Connection'

Media reaction to the The Pentagon report (pdf) on the links between al Qaeda and Saddam's Iraq released yesterday has been predictably triumphant, as once again the absence of photos of Saddam and Osama bin Laden having tea is sufficient to convince them they need not read what the report actually says before pronouncing that a connection doesn't exist.

Here's Scott Johnson at Powerline

The Bush administration long ago gave up trying to tell the truth about the issue, as it has on so many others where it has been beaten into submission by the elite media. And so when the Pentagon recently released its 59-page report confirming (Stephen) Hayes's reportage, the media have been left free to misrepresent it with impunity...

And misrepresent it they have, which is reported by Power Line and Gateway Pundit among others.

Stephen Hayes previews his upcoming Weekly Standard article at the blog with some questions about just what the Times and other media people might consider a "link".

A new Pentagon report on Iraq and Terrorism has the news media buzzing. An item on the New York Times blog snarks, "Oh, By the Way, There Was No Al Qaeda Link." The ABC News story that previews the full report concludes, "Report Shows No Link Between Saddam and al Qaeda."

How, then, to explain this sentence about Iraq and al Qaeda from the report's abstract: "At times, these organizations would work together in pursuit of shared goals but still maintain their autonomy and independence because of innate caution and mutual distrust"? And how to explain the "considerable overlap" between their activities which led not only to the appearances of ties but to a "de facto link between the organizations"? (See the entire abstract below.)

And what about this revelation from page 34? "Captured documents reveal that the regime was willing to co-opt or support organizations it knew to be part of al Qaeda -- as long as that organization's near-term goals supported Saddam's long-term vision." (The example given in the report is the Army of Muhammad in Bahrain, a group the Iraqi Intelligence Service describes as "under the wings of bin Laden.")

And there is this line from page 42: "Saddam supported groups that either associated directly with al Qaeda (such as the Egyptian Islamic Jihad, led at one time by bin Laden's deputy, Ayman al Zawahiri) or that generally shared al Qaeda's stated goals and objectives."

Really? Saddam Hussein "supported" a group that merged with al Qaeda in the late 1990s, run by al Qaeda's #2, and the New York Times thinks this is not a link between Iraq and al Qaeda? How does that work?

Anyone interested in the "strong evidence that links the regime of Saddam Hussein to regional and global terrorism" -- that language comes from this report, too -- should read the entire thing for themselves....

Before we allow the self-appointed 'deciders' to revise and distort the history of Saddam's activity, not only with al Qaeda, but with WMD, that history should be revisited a bit. When the topic of "the connection" comes up periodically, I recommend a couple of older things by Andy McCarthy at NRO; in June, 2004 ,"Iraq and Militant Islam", and in 2006, "Iraq is the War on Terror".

And the heavy lifting has of course been undertaken by Hayes. Here's my handy archive of Hayes stuff and lots of related Saddam-al Qaeda material.

Maybe it will be eye-opening to some people to read samples of Iraq-related op-eds from the New York Times and the Washington Post from 1998-2000, when a decidedly alarmist tone prevailed, and it was received wisdom in the major media that Saddam was a dire threat with dangerous weapons systems. What these editors and journalists and elected officials said five or ten years ago impacts their credibility today, and puts their 2008 rhetoric in some useful context.

Back in 2003 Robert Kagan collaborated with Bill Kristol on a detailed explanation of "Why We Went to War", which is also worth revisiting and recommending when the din of the 'Bush Lied' chant gets overbearing.

This Journal article contains a pretty good summary of the findings of the numerous investigations into pre-war intelligence, which serve to repeatedly clear the Bush administration of 'cooking' the pre-war intelligence. But then you don't hear much about the Kay/ISG Report, the Duelfer Report, the Silberman-Robb Report, the Butler Report, or the SSCI Report from today's Bush critics. Too many inconvenient details about dual-use manufacturing facilities, concealed strains of biological agents and evidence of systematic pre-invasion looting of WMD documentation and facilities, and of pre-invasion border crossings of Iraqi WMD personnel and material.

One wonders if the critics have even read any of these reports, beyond the two-sentence sanitized selections they saw in the Times. You don't have to read too far in any of the numerous WMD investigative reports to see that even though our intelligence (and that of every other intelligence service on the planet) was wrong about the exact state of the Iraqi weapons programs, we still were prudent to put a stop to the Saddam regime when we did.


Bill Kristol - Gunsmoke

Wizblog - November, 2005

UPDATE 3/15: Here's the Stephen Hayes article at the Standard. He begins...

This ought to be big news. Throughout the early and mid-1990s, Saddam Hussein actively supported an influential terrorist group headed by the man who is now al Qaeda's second-in-command, according to an exhaustive study issued last week by the Pentagon. "Saddam supported groups that either associated directly with al Qaeda (such as the Egyptian Islamic Jihad, led at one time by bin Laden's deputy, Ayman al-Zawahiri) or that generally shared al Qaeda's stated goals and objectives." According to the Pentagon study, Egyptian Islamic Jihad was one of many jihadist groups that Iraq's former dictator funded, trained, equipped, and armed.

Much, much more. Go do it. The misreporting of the findings, beyond the "no direct operational" connection buzzwords is, sadly, what we've come to expect, but Hayes explains how the report's release could have been handled so much better by the administration, who should be trumpeting the report's findings to the American people. As he says, "What good is the truth if nobody knows it?"

UPDATE: Just stumbled on an older collection of quotes assembled by John Hawkins, including this gem:

"In the four years since the inspectors left, intelligence reports show that Saddam Hussein has worked to rebuild his chemical and biological weapons stock, his missile delivery capability, and his nuclear program. He has also given aid, comfort, and sanctuary to terrorists, including Al Qaeda members... - Hillary Clinton, October 10, 2002.

And thanks to Scott at PowerLine for the link. Welcome PowerLine readers!

UPDATE 3/15: From the Hayes article:

How can a study offering an unprecedented look into the closed regime of a brutal dictator, with over 1,600 pages of “strong evidence that links the regime of Saddam Hussein to regional and global terrorism,” in the words of its authors, receive a wave-of-the-hand dismissal from America’s most prestigious news outlets? All it took was a leak to a gullible reporter, one misleading line in the study’s executive summary, a boneheaded Pentagon press office, an incompetent White House, and widespread journalistic negligence.

Ed at Hot Air:

It’s hard to believe that the Pentagon and the White House have still not figured out the dynamics of war reporting in this age. Any report with this kind of impact will be the target of leaks, and probably by those least inclined to support the war. The leaks will go to others who don’t support the war, and they will get the first opportunity to define reality in the media. This is exactly what happened to this report on the Harmony documents; it’s a textbook case of media spin.

UPDATE 3/15: More Ed Morrissey

March 13, 2008

Broadcast News is Unreal

This longish piece at skeptic.com suggests that broadcast journalism is flawed to an extent that makes it fairly worthless as a tool to inform us, or to accurately reflect our world. Here's a sample of "Journalist-Bites-Reality!"

We think we know Big Journalism’s faults by its much ballyhooed lapses — its scandals, gaffes, and breakdowns — as well as by a recent spate of insider tell-alls. When Dan Rather goes public with a sensational expose based on bogus documents; when the Atlanta Journal Constitution wrongly labels Richard Jewell the Olympic Park bomber; when Dateline resorts to rigging explosive charges to the gas tanks of “unsafe” trucks that, in Dateline’s prior tests, stubbornly refused to explode on their own; when the New York Times’ Jayson Blair scoops other reporters working the same story by quoting sources who don’t exist … We see these incidents as atypical, the exceptions that prove the rule.

Sadly, we’re mistaken. To argue that a decided sloppiness has crept into journalism or that the media have been “hijacked by [insert least favorite political agenda]” badly misses the real point; it suggests that all we need to do to fix things is filter out the gratuitous political spin or rig the ship to run a bit tighter. In truth, today’s system of news delivery is an enterprise whose procedures, protocols, and underlying assumptions all but guarantee that it cannot succeed at its self described mission. Broadcast journalism in particular is flawed in such a fundamental way that its utility as a tool for illuminating life, let alone interpreting it, is almost nil.

We watch the news to “see what’s going on in the world.” But there’s a hitch right off the bat. In its classic conception, newsworthiness is built on a foundation of anomaly: man-bites-dog, to use the hackneyed j school example. The significance of this cannot be overstated. It means that, by definition, journalism in its most basic form deals with what life is not.

The Clinton Defense

Rand Simberg

Spitzer....represents, or is on a continuum with, the party's past.

There was another Democrat politician, who was vaulted to power by an adoring press that ignored (and even helped cover up) his negative aspects. He was another politician who was all in favor of laws that would help "the little guy (or gal)," but apparently didn't think that they should apply to him. He signed a bill with his own pen, to much applause at the time from the so-called feminists, that made sexual harassment (which was broadly defined to include any sexual activity between a boss and subordinate, even consensual, particularly when the power was greatly disparate) a federal affair, subject to federal civil law suits. Beyond signing the law, he was the person who had taken an oath of office to defend the Constitution, and see that the laws of the land were faithfully executed.

Yet, when sued under that same law by a state employee for an incident that occurred when he was a governor--having a state policeman escort her to his hotel room, where he allegedly demanded oral sexual services from her--he brazenly declared that the law didn't apply to him. Fortunately, the Supreme Court ruled otherwise.

And when the law suit progressed, he not only lied under oath, but suborned perjury from others, both through bribes, and through threats, both direct and relayed through others, to prevent her from getting a fair hearing in court. It came out that he had not only engaged in the incident for which he was being sued, but had also indulged in sexual activity with another extreme subordinate, on company time at the work place, and (as the most powerful man in the world) exposed himself to potential blackmail through this reckless behavior.

And all throughout, much of the press defended him, and stenographed the spin and lies, and attacks, of his defenders. A woman who was one of those who had had her family threatened if she didn't perjure herself, but who despite that told the truth in the affair was vilified, and called a liar, and mocked for her morality and even for her physical appearance. And in the end, with the aid of the media, after all the mendacity, after all the hypocrisy, after all the continued arrogance, the man survived politically, and even maintained a positive approval among many in the public.

And Eliot Spitzer no doubt observed all of this, and took what he thought to be a valuable lesson from it. Why in the world wouldn't he have thought that he could do exactly do the same thing and get away with it? After all, the press loved him, too.

This morning, as he is about to announce his resignation, he's got to be wondering, how did this happen to him? What did he do wrong?

March 12, 2008


David Mamet at the Village Voice alters his long term assumptions about people and about America by believing his own eyes.

Why I Am No Longer a 'Brain-Dead Liberal'

It's all pretty good but here's a slice:

I took the liberal view for many decades, but I believe I have changed my mind.

As a child of the '60s, I accepted as an article of faith that government is corrupt, that business is exploitative, and that people are generally good at heart.

These cherished precepts had, over the years, become ingrained as increasingly impracticable prejudices. Why do I say impracticable? Because although I still held these beliefs, I no longer applied them in my life. How do I know? My wife informed me. We were riding along and listening to NPR. I felt my facial muscles tightening, and the words beginning to form in my mind: Shut the fuck up. "?" she prompted. And her terse, elegant summation, as always, awakened me to a deeper truth: I had been listening to NPR and reading various organs of national opinion for years, wonder and rage contending for pride of place. Further: I found I had been—rather charmingly, I thought—referring to myself for years as "a brain-dead liberal," and to NPR as "National Palestinian Radio."

This is, to me, the synthesis of this worldview with which I now found myself disenchanted: that everything is always wrong.

But in my life, a brief review revealed, everything was not always wrong, and neither was it always wrong in the community in which I live, or in my country. Further, it was not always wrong in previous communities in which I lived, and among the various and mobile classes of which I was at various times a part.

And, I wondered, how could I have spent decades thinking that I thought everything was always wrong at the same time that I thought I thought that people were basically good at heart? Which was it? I began to question what I actually thought and found that I do not think that people are basically good at heart; indeed, that view of human nature has both prompted and informed my writing for the last 40 years. I think that people, in circumstances of stress, can behave like swine, and that this, indeed, is not only a fit subject, but the only subject, of drama.

I'd observed that lust, greed, envy, sloth, and their pals are giving the world a good run for its money, but that nonetheless, people in general seem to get from day to day; and that we in the United States get from day to day under rather wonderful and privileged circumstances—that we are not and never have been the villains that some of the world and some of our citizens make us out to be, but that we are a confection of normal (greedy, lustful, duplicitous, corrupt, inspired—in short, human) individuals living under a spectacularly effective compact called the Constitution, and lucky to get it.

While clinging to two liberal myths, (Bush stealing the 2000 election, and then outing a CIA agent) Mamet feels a decidedly conservative veneration of the past, a sense of gratitude for the wisdom and sacrifices of our ancestors, and an equally conservative acknowledgment that man is fundamentally flawed and self-interested. He looks around America and doesn't see the malign force his old worldview would portend. It's refreshing. A bit more...

Prior to the midterm elections, my rabbi was taking a lot of flack. The congregation is exclusively liberal, he is a self-described independent (read "conservative"), and he was driving the flock wild. Why? Because a) he never discussed politics; and b) he taught that the quality of political discourse must be addressed first—that Jewish law teaches that it is incumbent upon each person to hear the other fellow out.

And so I, like many of the liberal congregation, began, teeth grinding, to attempt to do so. And in doing so, I recognized that I held those two views of America (politics, government, corporations, the military). One was of a state where everything was magically wrong and must be immediately corrected at any cost; and the other—the world in which I actually functioned day to day—was made up of people, most of whom were reasonably trying to maximize their comfort by getting along with each other (in the workplace, the marketplace, the jury room, on the freeway, even at the school-board meeting).

And I realized that the time had come for me to avow my participation in that America in which I chose to live, and that that country was not a schoolroom teaching values, but a marketplace.

"Aha," you will say, and you are right. I began reading not only the economics of Thomas Sowell (our greatest contemporary philosopher) but Milton Friedman, Paul Johnson, and Shelby Steele, and a host of conservative writers, and found that I agreed with them: a free-market understanding of the world meshes more perfectly with my experience than that idealistic vision I called liberalism.

This is less a political apostasy than an acknowledgment that some of the things conservatives are conserving are things worth conserving. Baby steps. Good read.

UPDATE 3/13: Kevin Williamson in The Corner

State of the GOP

Must read stuff, really. John Podhoretz - "The Election, the GOP - and Iraq". Podhoretz pulls no punches.


A few recent links to discussion of global warming and the money that fuels both the alarmism and the resistance to it.

The Epicycles of Global Warming - James Lewis

Global Warming Payola - John Tierney of the New York Times

The Media Snowjob on Global Warming - National Post

Al Gore's Convenient IPO - Business Week

Big Stuff

The Top Nine Unique Structures being built in the world. As you'll see, size matters.

March 8, 2008

This and That

- Steve Boriss at The Future of News": "Global warming coverage shows why modern journalism will be extinct long before polar bears"

- Ripped from Ed Driscoll's blog:

Question: How many Obama supporters does it take to change a light bulb?

Answer: None, because when Obama becomes president, light bulbs will change themselves.

- If this video of John McCain's exchange with a New York Times reporter is the best the media can do to suggest he has a bad temper, it shouldn't be a big issue for American voters.

- The Washington Post has a longish piece about the circular firing squad that is the Hillary Clinton campaign staff.

- The Democratic race shows a party "torn between two liberal white guilts" - Mark Steyn

- Fred Barnes handicaps The Veepstakes

- I stumbled across this flash presentation of the history of conquests of the Middle East while I was googling for, well...something like this.

March 7, 2008

Terminal Ignorance

George Will on post-Castro Cuba:

The departure, if such it really is, of Castro, the weird uncle in the island's attic, cures nothing. Cuba's affliction remains: It is Castroism, which is communism colored by Bonapartism. Communism of any stripe is afflicted by terminal ignorance. Having no market, which is an information-generating mechanism, communism cannot know what things should cost.

Hence communism's amazing contribution to humanity's economic history is "value-subtraction" -- products worth less than the materials that go into them. That result is seriously inconvenient for Marxism's labor theory of value -- the theory that labor adds all value to the world's materials.

March 6, 2008

Celebrating a Massacre

After an Arab terrorist committed mass murder in a Jerusalem yeshiva Thursday, the disease of Jew-hatred was on display en masse in the Gaza Strip as celebrations in the streets were the order of the day.


Mere Rhetoric (includes video)

The Israel Project

Haaretz.com. Also here.

Noah Pollak - contentions

Al-Sadr On The Ropes

The task of political reconciliation in Iraq may have just received a significant boost. This from the MEMRI blog (via Dr. Sanity)

Shi'ite cleric and leader Muqtada Al-Sadr was secretly transferred a few days ago from Iraq to Iran for hospitalization as he was comatose.

It was reported that his illness resulted from food poisoning.

Al-Sadr is being treated by Iranian specialists, as well as by Russian doctors brought in to help the Iranian medical staff treat him.

Source: Al-Siyassa, Kuwait, March 3, 2008

I guess it makes sense that Russian doctors know a few things about food poisoning.

March 5, 2008

Ohio and NAFTA

The Clinton-Obama anti-NAFTA contest in Ohio has effectively ended in a draw, with both candidates coming under criticism, from the right and from the left, for not getting it right.

How is Texas manufacturing thriving under NAFTA while Ohio's isn't? It's the business climate created by state and local politicians. Texas vs. Ohio - Wall Street Journal

Fred Barnes has more on Ohio's sagging job picture. Can you say "right to work"? - Buckeye Blues

When the San Francisco Chronicle tells you your anti-NAFTA message is incoherent, the game is up.

And as the story of a misleading campaign message morphed into the story of the Obama campaign's duplicity in communicating that message, Byron York was on the case: Is Obama Lying About NAFTAGate?

March 4, 2008

Crossing Over in Ohio

Primary election day in Ohio couldn't have come soon enough, because I have a bad habit of answering my phone at home. In the last two weeks I've had no less than five calls from "that woman", Mrs. Clinton, via taped message, four more from live pollsters, and at least three from the McCain camp. I'm guessing there were three or four more from Obama people, including one earnest young lady just last evening who I engaged on some specific issues before she got the hint and guessed that I would be "going the other way."

I know I'm not the first to ask, but why is the Do Not Call Registry rendered useless during political campaigns? It seems to me this is exactly the kind of thing for which it was intended...or should have been.

As I write this before 9 p.m. Tuesday, before any significant returns are in, the early Democratic numbers in Ohio are favoring Sen. Clinton. This has me wondering how much of a factor the "crossover" Republicans may turn out to be. I know several Republicans who wouldn't vote for a Clinton in the general election if they had a gun to their head, who went to the polls today, took a Democratic ballot, and pulled the lever for Hillary. Call it the "Rush Vote" if you like, since he has advocated this strategy to prolong the Democratic race and increase the chances of facing a candidate deemed more beatable in November than Obama.

For my part, I couldn't bring myself to do that, for a couple of reasons. First, I wanted to cast my ballot for Kirk Schuring for Congress to replace the retiring Ralph Regula in November. Second, I subscribe to the theory that when you have the chance to finally end Hillary's candidacy, you go for the silver bullet, so to speak. As troubled as I am by the prospect of an Obama presidency, I concede he holds more promise for uniting the country than does the sorry Senator from New York. I couldn't do anything that might advance her cause (and that of 'the Big He'), strategy or no strategy.

I'm curious to see if there will be any data from exit polling that might give a sense of how many GOP voters crossed over today for either Obama or Clinton, and of those, how many are committed McCain voters in November.

UPDATE 3/5: Here's a little bit of that kind of data from RCP.

March 2, 2008

FISA Deal?

The House majority leadership is apparently realizing that strong bi-partisan majorities in both houses of Congress in favor of the Senate version of the FISA bill leave them little choice but to pass the legislation, with retroactive immunity for telecom companies intact. A report from Congress Daily, as reported by Redstate and Hot Air, says they are working on a deal that would have Democrats pass the legislation in two parts, allowing some of them to go on record against the immunity.

Immunity opponents like to paint it as a sellout to (telecom) corporate interests, (and to the extent that they can avoid being bankrupted by lawsuits, those firms are 'interested') but it's worth remembering that the telecom companies did not directly benefit financially from their national security cooperation with the government. On the other hand, I assume trial lawyers would be working at their standard rate in the billions of dollars worth of lawsuits that would result from striking the immunity. That would mean a lot of dough for political contributions flowing from trial lawyers organizations to the Democrats who made it happen for them. Who are the sellouts and who are the profiteers?

2008 Election - "Spoiler Alert"

If you're not ready to find out who wins....don't watch this video.

Indeed, as the young lady says, "if you can't trust your shadowy overlords to keep a secret, what is the purpose, really, of voting in a puppet democracy?"

(thanks Andy)

Browns Moves

Like Vinny says, Phil Savage likes working without a net. But in a frenetic three days it appears he has significantly strengthened the Browns. Already working without a first round choice in the coming draft, he decided to opt for young veterans Corey Williams and Shaun Rogers instead of picks in the second and third rounds this year. Because he was convinced that the draft didn't have defensive linemen that could help us in 2008 given the picks we had, he acted decisively to shore up his biggest area of need.

Besides, just considering the latest incarnation of this team, second and third round picks have been spent on players like Quincy Morgan, Travis Prentice, Travis Wilson, Chris Crocker, Jajuan Dawson, Charlie Frye, and Melvin Fowler, to name a few. In other words, Browns fans are used to seeing those picks squandered, though not all by Savage. So even if the two big tackles have issues, they have at least made it in the NFL as contributors. I applaud Savage's guts, I think most fans will be, as the man said, behind him win or tie.

I like the pickup of Dante Stallworth too, speaking of players with issues. The Browns are making a long term commitment to a guy who will be on his fourth team in four years, but his talent is unmistakable and the team has needed a strong complement to Braylon Edwards. I had not been previously aware though, that Stallworth has an "alter-ego" named Nicco who accompanies him on the field, and then spends off-hours extra-terrestrially, on Mars. Whatever it takes, man. Because after Edwards, the Browns have had no one in the wide receiver corps who even made opposing defensive coordinators nervous. Plus I hear Nicco has a great head fake, and gives new meaning to the term "blind-side block."