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August 31, 2008

The Beanie Watch

The non-contact injury suffered by OSU running back Chris Wells deflated the huge crowd in Columbus yesterday, and although it now looks like his whole season won't be threatened, anxious Buckeye fans will have to wait till Monday for any more news on the status of Wells' injury. More info in my game recap at The Cleveland Fan.

Recommended 8/31

Jonah Goldberg on Democrats' flexible definition of a recession.

On Prevailing in Afghanistan by Stephen Brown at FPM

Victor Davis Hanson with Changing Views on Iraq

David Brooks' send up of the Democrats, A Speech to the Delegates.

Dean Barnett on Diminishing Palin

August 28, 2008

"Shut Up", They Explained

The Obama campaign has demonstrated how they will respond to the emerging story of the Chicago Annenberg Challenge, a project jointly run by former Weather Underground terrorist William Ayers and Barack Obama throughout the late 90's and into 2001. Research into the association, which has really just begun, demonstrates how the two friends worked closely together, as founder(Ayers) and Chairman (Obama) of the program, to direct tens of millions of dollars over a six year period to various programs and organizations, with the ostensible goal of improving the quality of education in Chicago public schools.

Much of the serious research on Obama's political career has been done by Stanley Kurtz, a distinguished social anthropologist, writer and lecturer. Here he tells the story of his efforts to view the publicly available records of the Annenberg Challenge and its parent foundation. Blogger Steve Diamond has also been on the Ayers story for weeks and there's a lot to see on the topic at his blog. An op-ed in the National Review, to which Kurtz is a frequent contributor, provides some background:

Kurtz has written extensively, and with characteristic attention to factual detail, about Obama’s early career as a “community organizer,” his cultivation of benefactors in the most radical cauldrons of Chicago politics, his long-time pastor’s immersion in Black Liberation Theology, his ties to anti-American zealots, and the years in the Illinois state legislature this self-styled agent of change spent practicing the by-the-numbers left-wing politics of redistribution and race-consciousness, remaining soft on crime and extreme on abortion.

This has led Kurtz, naturally, to scrutinize the relationship between Obama and one of his early political sponsors, William Ayers. Ayers, as we have previously detailed, is a confessed terrorist who, having escaped prosecution due to surveillance violations that came to light during his decade on the lam after a bombing spree, landed an influential professorship in education at the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC). As he has made clear several times before and after helping to launch Obama’s political career, Ayers remains defiantly proud of bombing the Pentagon, the U.S. Capitol, and other targets. He expresses regret only that he didn’t do more. Far from abandoning his radical politics, he has simply changed methods: the classroom, rather than the detonator, is now his instrument for campaigning against an America he portrays as racist and imperialist.

Obama supporters risibly complain that shining a light on the Obama/Ayers relationship is a “smear” and smacks of “guilt by association.” A presidential candidate’s choice to associate himself with an unrepentant terrorist would be highly relevant in any event — does anyone think the Obamedia would keep mum if John McCain had a long-standing relationship with David Duke or an abortion-clinic bomber?

Without even getting into the actual activities of the CAC, or its ideological orientation, or the often dubious connections to education of certain recipients of its funds, or the effectiveness of the projects it funded, one point can already be made with certainty, and it is obviously a legitimate subject for debate in a presidential campaign.

And that is that Barack Obama has, at best, intentionally misrepresented the nature and scope of his relationship with the unrepentant terrorist William Ayers. He has responded testily to criticism of the relationship, going so far as to air an ad asking "Why is John McCain talking about the Sixties?", referring of course to the time period during which Ayers' group was bombing the Capitol Building and other federal buildings with a goal of murdering soldiers, policemen and civilians.

This April column by Guy Benson reviews the apologetics, dismissals and excuses proffered by Obama after the subject of Ayers was raised by moderator George Stephanopolous in the springtime debate. After daring to broach this subject, Stephanopolous was barraged by the same unhinged rage from the political left now being directed at researchers like Kurtz for digging deeper into the relationship.

The research done to this point by Kurtz and others lays waste to Obama's claim that Ayers was simply "a guy who lives in my neighborhood". Obama has admitted that the two are friends, so if it his position that their relationship is unremarkable, even though Ayers has done some despicable things in his past (and says even today that he regrets nothing, and wishes they "could have done more") then Obama should make that case to the American people, and welcome the scrutiny of the good works they undertook together from 1995 until 2001 (not in the sixties)

The response of the Obama campaign and their supporters has been, you might say, somewhat less "liberal" than that.

When the American Issues Project launched an ad bringing the Obama-Ayers relationship to light, the Obama people reacted with a concerted campaign of threats and intimidation aimed at media outlets and their sponsors, warning them not to air the ad. They wrote to the Justice Department demanding criminal investigations of the AIP officers. It should remind us all how the last time a Democrat was in the White House, the administration used the organs of the state to illegally harass conservative organizations with IRS audits and the like.

Free speech is for people who agree with them. Obama has offered no response or rebuttal to any of the content of the AIP ad. They have simply insisted that it not be aired publicly, and threatened those who air it with prosecution and/or harassment. It's a strategy of which Castro or Chavez would be proud. It is the tendency toward censorship that is a trademark of radical leftism unapologetically on display.

Who will be the first significant voice from the political left to denounce this overt attempt at censorship? A campaign, by the way, that has worked so far with Fox and CNN, and has apparently succeeded in having the ad pulled from YouTube, at least for the moment.

Then there was the attempt by Obama supporters, orchestrated by the campaign, complete with talking points, to silence a radio interview of Kurtz by long-established and well-respected Chicago radio host Milt Rosenberg. (Podcast of Rosenberg radio show)

More on the attempted censorship of the Rosenberg show by The Politico, Andy McCarthy and Michelle Malkin

From a recent Steve Diamond post:

So why this ginned up outrage from the Obama camp?

Because Dr. Kurtz has found out as we have been discussing here for some time, that, indeed, Bill Ayers co-founded the Chicago Annenberg Challenge and then co-chaired its Collaborative arm while Barack Obama was selected to chair the board of directors of the Challenge.

Together Ayers and Obama worked to hand out more than $160 million in and around the Chicago school system to groups that allegedly were going to work to improve student achievement. The effort failed, miserably, at least on the level of achievement.


So it is a hard fact that Ayers and Obama knew each other well before the time the Obama campaign has stated in the past. And clearly Obama well knew that Ayers was not just a guy from the neighborhood as he stated on national TV.

That must be a difficult problem for the Obama camp to swallow - they pushed their candidate to deny, deny, distance, distance, when, in fact, they long knew of the close political relationship between Ayers and Obama. For all we know, the relationship continues. Ayers backs a key policy proposal of Obama education advisor, Linda Darling-Hammond: to wit, the repayment of the alleged "education debt" to people of color.

I warned of this very dilemma for the campaign many months ago. I pointed out that the hope for change that the Obama campaign had raised among many in the anti-war and labor movement, for example, would be crushed if Obama could not explain why he was involved with someone like Bill Ayers

Ayers was one of the most destructive forces on the left for many years - in fact, he should not be called a leftist. He is an authoritarian who is more comfortable with figures like Hugo Chavez than he is with genuine democratic activists like those in the labor movement.

For whatever reason, Obama chose Ayers as an ally at a critical point in his career. The post at the CAC was big step up for the young lawyer. Obama, though, could have made other choices. He could have said no to Ayers. But they worked together on school reform for years, then on juvenile justice issues and then on the board of the Woods Fund.

As some on the left - often inappropriately - like to say: those chickens are coming home to roost.

More from the NR Editors on the Obama campaign response to the Rosenberg interview and the AIP ad....

Other than denigrating Kurtz for being conservative, Obama’s operatives have provided no response to the substance of his claims. In their only pretense of engaging him, they accuse him of telling “a flat out lie” that Ayers recruited Obama for the CAC. Though it is a reasonable inference that Ayers recruited Obama, the careful Kurtz has stopped short of making it — observing only that Obama offers no explanation of how he was recruited if not through Ayers, his friend and the CAC’s driving force.

The station, WGN, has made a stream of the broadcast available online, here, and it has to be heard to be believed. Obama’s robotic legions dutifully jammed the station’s phone lines and inundated the program with emails, attacking Kurtz personally. Pressed by Rosenberg to specify what inaccuracies Kurtz was guilty of, caller after caller demurred, mulishly railing that “we just want it to stop,” and that criticism of Obama was “just not what we want to hear as Americans.” Remarkably, as Obama sympathizers raced through their script, they echoed the campaign’s insistence that it was Rosenberg who was “lowering the standards of political discourse” by having Kurtz on, rather than the campaign by shouting him down.

Kurtz has obviously hit a nerve. It is the same nerve hit by the American Issues Project, whose television ad calling for examination of the Obama/Ayers relationship has prompted the Obama campaign to demand that the Justice Department begin a criminal investigation. Obama fancies himself as “post-partisan.” He is that only in the sense that he apparently brooks no criticism. This episode could be an alarming preview of what life will be like for the media should the party of the Fairness Doctrine gain unified control of the federal government next year.

An earlier editorial at NR provides more background on the nature of the Obama-Ayers relationship

Hugh Hewitt had Stanley Kurtz on the show tonight (listen to podcast), and even though his review of the files of the Chicago Annenberg Challenge is ongoing, Kurtz has some revealing findings already about the destinations of the tens of millions of dollars that were distributed by Obama and Ayers while they ran the project. It's well worth a listen, as is the Rosenberg interview linked above.

It's worth noting that the Annenberg Challenge ended in 2001 having failed in its mission to improve the Chicago schools, this by the findings of its own internal evaluators, as well as external ones. The examination of the recipients of the project's funding, and the nature of the projects they implemented in the Chicago schools will take time, and should be of great interest to American voters. But in the Hugh Hewitt interview tonight, Dr. Kurtz suggests that there are already indications that money may have gone to organizations with dubious connections to anything related to education. And that many of the individuals and organizations receiving funding appear to share the far-left stances of the two men responsible for determining fund recipients. It appears their aims may well have been oriented (surprise!) more around ideological indoctrination in schools than they were about educating students. Small wonder the whole $100 million boondoggle has been judged an objective failure.

Small wonder too, that Obama, whose resume is extremely thin in terms of a track record of "managing" much of anything, wouldn't want the failure of this lone example of his responsibility for allocating large sums of money to address social problems to get a thorough public airing. But that doesn't mean that American voters don't deserve one.

If it hasn't already been done, I hope some editorial cartoonist steals my concept, or comes up with it himself. I see a large room...perhaps in emerald green...with a huge image of a man's face projected on a massive wall in the room, accompanied by thunderclaps, smoke, fire and a loudly amplified human voice. The giant man's face is identifiable as that of Barack Obama. Over in the corner, a regular-sized man is pulling aside a drapery of some sort to reveal another person behind it. The curtain-puller is marked "Stanley Kurtz" and the man revealed is marked "William Ayers". You know the rest. The huge Obama idol bellows: "Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain"

August 20, 2008

"Not the Guy"

Too bad Joe Biden is probably not going to be the V.P. nominee for Obama. That would have been fun. Not only could he have been counted on for a gaffe or two over the next three months, but there are lots of things he has already said that would have proven useful to the McCain campaign.

UPDATE 8/29: Hey, he's the one who said "I'm not the guy"

August 19, 2008

LaPorta Beaned in Beijing


Indian's top prospect Matt LaPorta was hit in the head with a pitch in the Olympic baseball game between the USA and China, one of five American hitters hit with pitches in a 9-1 American victory that degenerated into a near-brawl. LaPorta was taken to a hospital to be treated for what was described as a mild concussion, and several participants were ejected from the game. MSNBC video at this HuffPo link. More here.

Obama's Absolutism

The issue that isn't going to go away...mainly because the rhetoric doesn't match the record. Peter Wehner at Contentions:

I’m beginning to think that the abortion issue may have the potential to be, for Barack Obama, the policy equivalent of his long-time association with Reverend Wright. I say this for two reasons. The first is that Obama’s record on abortion is as extreme as one can possibly be. Senator Obama is unable to point to a single abortion he would oppose (his “health exception” for the mother is a well-known loophole whose effect would be to allow even late-term abortions), to the point that he was not even willing to extend basic protection to a child born during a failed abortion and living outside the womb. For a person who said, during his conversation on Saturday with Rick Warren, that the greatest failure of America is not to take seriously the injunction in the Gospel of Matthew that “Whatever you do for the least of my brothers, you do for me,” this is an extraordinary position.

But this issue has now traversed into the matter of public character. Obama accused the National Right to Life Committee of lying because it said that he voted to kill legislation that included a “neutrality clause” he now claims was the sine qua non for his support for pro-life legislation. If the neutrality clause was in the legislation, Obama now says, he would have supported legislation protecting the life of newly born children who had survived an abortion. But National Right to Life has, in Rich’s words, “unearthed documents showing that the Illinois bill was amended to include such a clause, and Obama voted to kill it anyway.” So Obama was, at best, wrong in recalling his own past position. At worst, Obama himself is misrepresenting his position and, in accusing the National Right to Life Committee of lying, is doing so himself.

Senator Obama is becoming what the apostle Paul, in I Corinthians 13, calls a “resounding gong or a clashing cymbal.” By that I mean Obama uses language that is meant to portray himself as thoughtful and reasonable, able to grasp the nuances of every argument, even those with which he disagrees. Obama is himself, according to this narrative, the antithesis of an extremist. He is our hope for a post-partisan future, the answer to divisive politics, the solution to the “culture wars.” And yet on an issue of enormous moral gravity–Obama himself says that he’s “absolutely convinced that there is a moral and ethical element to this issue”–he has embraced legislation that is extreme, inhumane, and outright brutal. There is no indication that he has the slightest sympathy for unborn children or any interest in ending the “culture wars.” His past policies would, in fact, deepen the divisions.

It has become increasingly clear that we need to devalue Obama’s rhetoric, since it is so much at odds with his record. Maybe no issue underscores this more than abortion.

Obama has simply not been straightforward about his absolutist track record on abortion, as David Freddoso and Rich Lowry have ably argued. His positions have been so far out of the mainstream of American opinion that he can hardly see the center, let alone bridge the divide he might find there. Instead he tries to go on offense, labeling as liars the people who have brought to the public eye the positions he has always held, but now considers politically perilous. His more mainstream pose of 2008 is understandable, but it's as transparent as it is empty, given the track record. From the Lowry article:

In 2007, Obama told the Planned Parenthood Action Fund that the Freedom of Choice Act would be the first piece of legislation that he would sign as president. The act would not only codify Roe v. Wade, but wipe out all current federal, state and local restrictions on abortion that pass muster under Roe, including the Hyde Amendment prohibiting federal funding of abortion. This is not the legislative priority of a man keenly attuned to the moral implications of abortion.

For my part, I wish government action on the abortion front were less focused on legislating restrictions (though that is a perfectly legitimate function of legislators accountable to their constituents) and more focused on promoting education and adoption, and policies to help prevent unwanted pregnancies. That makes more sense to me as a long term plan to reduce the practice, and more consistent with a conservative stance to limit the power of government.

But the issue here isn't the complexity of the abortion issue. It's the honesty of politicians. Oh yes, and the responsibility of the media to fairly report their lapses in honesty.

UPDATE 8/19: See also Hot Air

August 14, 2008

"Syncronized Self-Loathing"

Gerard Baker of the TimesOnline, on Western hand-wringing, and the promise of more of the same as the EU rises.

To some, China's muscular domination of the Olympic medal table is a powerful allegory of the shifting balance of global power. A far better and more literal testimony to the collapse of the West may be seen in the distinctly weak-kneed response to Russian aggression in Georgia by what is still amusingly called the transatlantic alliance.

Once again, the Europeans, and their friends in the pusillanimous wing of the US Left, have demonstrated that, when it come to those postmodern Olympian sports of synchronized self-loathing, team hand-wringing and lightweight posturing, they know how to sweep gold, silver and bronze.

There's a routine now whenever some unspeakable act of aggression is visited upon us or our allies by murderous fanatics or authoritarian regimes. While the enemy takes a victory lap, we compete in a shameful medley relay of apologetics, defeatism and surrender.

The initial reaction is almost always self-blame and an expression of sympathetic explanation for the aggressor's actions. In the Russian case this week, the conventional wisdom is that Moscow was provoked by the hot-headed President Saakashvili of Georgia. It was really all his fault, we are told.
Vladimir Putin's mastery checkmates the West.


Nicolas Sarkozy, the French President, in his capacity as head pro tempore of the EU, came back from a trip to Moscow and Tbilisi, waving a piece of paper and acclaiming peace in our time.

But the one-sided ceasefire that he negotiated was more or less dictated to him by Mr Putin. It not only left the Russian military in place in the disputed enclaves. It allowed them free rein to continue operations inside the rest of Georgia.

That disastrous piece of European diplomacy finally seems to have stirred the US into tougher action. Goaded by John McCain, who has been brilliantly resolute in his measure of Russian intentions over the past few years, the Bush Administration at last dropped its credulous embrace of Mr Putin and upped the ante with direct military assistance to Georgia and threats of tougher diplomatic action.

But we should never forget what Mr Sarkozy and his EU officials got up to this week. There can be no clearer indication of the perils that threaten the West if the EU gets its way and wins more clout in the world.

This, remember, is the same EU that wants to take over foreign and security policy from member states, an institution that is always eager to pump itself up at the expense of democratic institutions in those member states, but which crumbles into puny submission when faced with authoritarian bullying overseas.

See also Daniel Henninger in the WSJ

It's worth noting that like Mr. Saakashvili, a Columbia Law graduate who came to the U.S. from Georgia on a State Department Muskie Fellowship, many of his young ministers were schooled at places like Duke, Southern Methodist, Indiana or in Tel Aviv, Israel.

Surely many such foreign students must ponder the evident success of the U.S. The young Georgians did.

They returned to Tbilisi and with Mr. Saakashvili began to erect, piece by piece, a political, economic and financial system that could plug itself smoothly into the ones already running in the West.

On balance, they've succeeded. Growth last year was about 12%. Foreign investment flows have been high.

Much of what they did to make Georgia fit with the world seems pedestrian. They passed laws to enhance property rights. They joined international conventions and institutions affecting arbitration, accounting and ownership. They changed their securities law so corporate insiders couldn't expropriate minority investors. They have pursued free-trade agreements with their regional trading partners. Naturally they want to join NATO. Georgia isn't John Locke's England yet -- the judicial system is notably weak -- but the trajectory is set.

In historical terms, this is essentially what Gen. Douglas MacArthur did for Japan after World War II and Konrad Adenauer did in West Germany. Both were explicit efforts to reorganize a nation to participate in the political and commercial life of the West. "The West," of course, is only a phrase that describes the civilized world's rules of the road during the postwar period. Russia opted out, adopting the Soviet gulag model until 1991.

Georgia is a microcosm of a world of nations now emerging from old systems. In that former, preglobalized world, the West's great powers were on top, and everyone else muddled below. What Georgia represents is an independent nation that has worked hard to be part of the established civilized order, rather than contribute to the chaotic and violent frictions that seem on the verge of constantly overwhelming the world. Putin's Russia is a manufacturer of frictions.

And Krauthammer has some ideas on things we can do about it.

August 12, 2008

A Life of it's Own

Over five years ago, when this blog was just a few months old, I posted a brief item about a collision our car had with a dog. I titled it "A Dog Hit My Car" because not only did my car just happen to be in the determined dog's path, but he came out of the collision better than my Toyota did.

Most blog posts, especially relatively trivial, five-year old ones on little blogs like this one, end up right where they belong...buried in archive files, never to be seen again. It took almost three years for this post to elicit a single comment, but then every few months thereafter I'd hear from people, almost always with sad stories to tell about their dogs (or their cars) having had similar collisions, sometimes deadly ones for their pets.

After a couple of years, and a few dozen comments (a lot around here, clearly) and with the blog analytics giving me the keywords, it didn't take long. Five years on, that post is the No. 1 hit on Google for the search phrase "dog hit by car". Talk about your dubious distinction. Then there's the sad reality that the people arriving at your site are usually in distress of one kind or another.

Strange, the things that last. I'm glad that my comments section gave a few people a place to air their grief or anger or guilt with others who have felt the same. Still it's bizarre what gets you to the top of Google page one...you know, on searches people actually do.

August 10, 2008

In The Tank

The Edwards admission has mainstream media organs jumping on board the story with lame "we were working on it" excuses. The contrast to their eagerness to run with a completely unsubstantiated story about John McCain is striking, and should be embarrassing to them, if they were capable of shame. Roger Simon's take is followed by lots of good comments on nails, coffins and MSM integrity. Jennifer Rubin is quotable this morning:

The Edwards mess is the most recent and visible, but hardly unique, example of the mainstream media’s hear no evil/see no evil approach to newsgathering. How many other stories has the MSM missed, denied or avoided? From Rathergate to Reverend Wright to the success of the surge, the pattern is the same: MSM stalls, shuffles its collective feet, and doggedly ignores information for as long as possible until they can no longer do so with a straight face. The fact that these stories without exception work to the detriment of Democrats is apparently a grand coincidence.

And the notion that they are upholding some “journalistic standard” is rendered absurd. Edwards’ story wasn’t important on Thursday, but it was on Friday because he confessed? No, the level of proof changed, but the story’s relevance did not. If it wasn’t worthy of investigation before the ABC interview then it was unworthy of mention afterwards. Their explanation for their editorial decision-making is no more credible than . . . well than Edwards himself.

Swimming in Hate

'Swimming in lane seven, the representative of the Zionist entity.'

An Iranian athlete can't even leave the Jew-hatred at home for the Olympics. This after Iranian officials had allowed that sharing the pool with the aforementioned ROTZE wouldn't cause them any problem...unlike one of those sports like wrestling or judo, where they would have to actually touch a Jew.

UPDATE 8/10: Progress? (via Hot Air)

August 4, 2008

On Solzhenitsyn

Heroism is a horribly overused word these days. We live in an age in which politicians actually use the word “heroic” to describe the most ordinary casts of mind and behavior — loving your kids, for example, or going to your job every day. It has been the inestimable good fortune of the world’s population these past five decades to have shared the Earth with one of the greatest heroes in history, the foremost example of intellectual courage of the 20th century.

Thus does John Podhoretz begin his Contentions tribute to Alexander Solzhenitsyn.

See also Peter Wehner at Contentions, and an obit from The Economist.

And from a balanced piece by Christopher Hitchens comes this savory paragraph:

To have fought his way into Hitler's East Prussia as a proud Red Army soldier in the harshest war on record, to have been arrested and incarcerated for a chance indiscretion, to have served a full sentence of servitude and been released on the very day that Stalin died, and then to have developed cancer and known the whole rigor and misery of a Soviet-era isolation hospital—what could you fear after that? The bullying of Leonid Brezhnev's KGB and the hate campaigns of the hack-ridden Soviet press must have seemed like contemptible fleabites by comparison. But it seems that Solzhenitsyn did have a worry or a dread, not that he himself would be harmed but that none of his work would ever see print. Nonetheless—and this is the point to which I call your attention—he kept on writing. The Communist Party's goons could have torn it up or confiscated or burned it—as they did sometimes—but he continued putting it down on paper and keeping a bottom drawer filled for posterity. This is a kind of fortitude for which we do not have any facile name. The simplest way of phrasing it is to say that Solzhenitsyn lived "as if." Barely deigning to notice the sniggering, pick-nose bullies who followed him and harassed him, he carried on "as if" he were a free citizen, "as if" he had the right to study his own country's history, "as if" there were such a thing as human dignity.

August 3, 2008

Back from the North


The blog has been inactive while I was somehow surviving nine days without Internet access, vacationing on Lake Superior in Michigan's Upper Peninsula. There's a tiny little town called Grand Marais on the northern shore of the UP that has lured us back many times after we first discovered it years ago. The large bay became well known as the only refuge from Superior's storms between Marquette and Sault Ste. Marie for Great Lakes ships, and the town (pop.350) grew up around the logging and fishing industries.

Today it is as isolated as it is beautiful, and the August weather is consistently spectacular. A great place to read, bike, and recharge the batteries. With those as our modest goals, we succeeded rather easily.