Wednesday, December 29, 2004

Happy New Year!

Over the next few days, The Monk will be falling down mountainsides whilst attempting to do something that comes natural to Nordic toddlers, ski. Wongdoer is merely indolent. Thus, posting will be feather-light for a bit and we'll be up and running hard on Monday, January 3 (happy birthday in advance to The Monk's kid cousin).

Quick hitters: (1) best birthday wishes to The Monk's old college buddy, Luskerdu, who crests the middle of his 30s on Friday; (2) Happy New Year to all our readers (you two know who you are), our linkers, our enablers, aiders and abettors (Jon Henke, Charles Johnson, The Corner, Vodkapundit, and anyone else who's given us an InstaSpike or its equivalent), our friends and even our liberal consciences (that's you, Oyster); (3) Happy New Year to MaMonk and PaMonk, MonkMaInLaw2B, SisMonk, BroInLawMonk, MonkNiece, BroMonkG, BroMonkS, Wongdoer, Mrs. Wong and the Wonglings; (4) here's wishing prosperity, health, safety and victory to the United States Armed Forces and the Coalition members; (5) and all the best to those fighting, working and struggling for freedom and democracy throughout the world from Ukraine to Iran to Iraq to Venezuela to Southeast Asia to the ravaged countries in central and southern Africa.

See you in 2005.

CIA: the overhaul continues

The CIA overhaul under Porter Goss continues. The latest underperforming bureaucrat to get the sack: Jami Miscik, the Deputy Director for Intelligence (DDI). The DDI's job: head up the analysis unit, the one that failed so miserably in the Iraq war run-up.

Here is a key snipet from the NYT article linked above:

Among those who have criticized the C.I.A.'s analytical unit for its mistakes on Iraq and that country's supposed unconventional weapons, the Senate Intelligence Committee issued a scathing report last summer, and a C.I.A. panel, the Iraq W.M.D. Review Group, completed a 10-month internal review last May.

That review, never made public but described in an internal document issued in August, concluded that the assertion that Iraq possessed illicit weapons had been reasonable based on the information available at the time. But the August document also showed that the review found a pattern of "imprecise language," "insufficient follow-up" and "sourcing problems," including "numerous cases" in which analysts "misrepresented the meaning" of intelligence reports about Iraq's weapons.

The August report described the analytical branch as having "never been more junior or more inexperienced" and said that some of the "systemic problems" uncovered might reflect more widespread "tradecraft weaknesses." But in an interview in September Ms. Miscik said she had acknowledged many of the problems in a speech in February 2004 and had put in place new measures requiring that intelligence judgments be subjected to more rigorous review.

In other words, the DDI's house was a mess. G'bye.

RIP, Jerry Orbach

One of the Monkette2B's favorite actors passed away yesterday -- Jerry Orbach.

Orbach is probably most widely known as Detective Lenny Briscoe on Law & Order -- a role he played for 12 years. He worked with all three of the young detectives of the young/old pairing formula the show used (Chris Noth, Benjamin Bratt and Jesse L. Martin); both the lead ADAs (Michael Moriarty, Sam Waterston); and all of the secondary ADAs (Richard Brooks [still the best of the bunch], Jill Hennessey, Carey Lowell, Angie Harmon and Elisabeth Rohm [no comment]). He had a number of episodes of another L&O spinoff, Law & Order: Trial by Jury, in the can and had planned to go back to work on more episodes in January.

But Orbach was a long-time (and acclaimed) stage actor, primarily in musicals: Chicago (Tony nomination, he created the Billy Flynn role that Richard Gere played in the movie), 42nd Street, Guys and Dolls (Tony nomination), and Promises, Promises (Tony award win). He put his musical talents on the big screen as the voice of Lumiere in Disney's most highly acclaimed animated movie, Beauty and the Beast.

Orbach announced his prostate cancer diagnosis in early December and died from the cancer yesterday. He was 69. According to the IMDB biography, he is survived by his wife, Elaine Cancilla, and his son Chris.

Rest in peace.

Tuesday, December 28, 2004

Non-story of the day

Guess what?

Bush won Ohio.

No sh-t.

It just cost the Ohio taxpayers $1.5M extra to learn that Bush won by only 118,457 votes, not 118,775. I wonder if the Ohio schools could have put that cash to better use.

Blogosphere beatdown

Neolibertarian king Jon Henke cuts Powerline a new one today over Powerline's corrections policy. Why?

Seems that Henke has caught the Powerliners in an inaccuracy, or at minimum an overstatement. The Powerliners haven't responded and they've historically shredded the AP for not responding to THEM when they write the AP with corrections. If Henke is accurately stating the case (which The Monk will believe sight unseen b/c Henke's accuracy and attention to detail is usually very good), then the Powerliners at minimum owe him an explanation or refutation.

Disclosure time (if necessary): The Monk likes both blogs and has stated his indebtedness to Henke for helping him during the early stages of Monkdom.

That said, it is important to address inaccuracies at all times. The Monk attempts to UPDATE as often as necessary to ensure a particular post has accurate info. If a commenter spots something that The Monk missed, or which disproves an assertion, The Monk will address that ASAP. Even that lazy fark Wongdoer occasionally gets off his couch and checks his comments ;-).

More importantly, the Powerliners are conservatives. Those of us on the side of goodness, justice, and all that other happy horsesh*t that we conservatives allegedly believe in, all know the media is predominantly liberal, often biased and frequently inaccurate. It does not help if we slip in our own accuracy and it hurts bloggers more because the entrenched MSM continually portrays the blogosphere (for some reason using Wonkette, Daily Kos and other lefty blogs most frequently as examples) as a compendium of bampots who fail to ensure the veracity of their claims.

MUST READ: Tony Blair on Iraq

If Tony Blair was the Democratic Presidential candidate in 2004, he would have won a landslide. The Weekly Standard has excerpts from his joint presser with Iraqi PM Allawi.

Ukraine's next First Lady

John Fund has a profile of Ukraine's next First Lady, Kateryna Chumachenko Yushchenko, a Chicago-raised scion of Ukrainian immigrants who raised her to remember her heritage, as Fund notes:

She grew up speaking Ukrainian at home, learning the national dances and attending a Ukrainian school and Orthodox church. "My parents felt they had to keep alive the culture and traditions they thought were being suppressed by the Soviet Union," she told me.

Better yet: she worked for the State Department in the Reagan and Bush-41 eras and went to Kyiv after the fall of the Soviet Union to train Ukrainian accountants. She met Yushchenko, married him in '98 and had 3 kids, yet the corrupt stooges in Ukraine's government never granted her citizenship.

As Yushchenko became more popular and more noteworthy, outgoing President Leonid Kuchma sought to discredit her and her husband:

Tape recordings made by a disgruntled bodyguard for President Leonid Kuchma show that the president personally ordered a disinformation campaign against the Yushchenkos. Mr. Yushchenko was portrayed as a fascist puppet of Western bankers and Kateryna as an active CIA agent. She responded by winning a libel judgment against a Russian television station that accused her of disloyalty to Ukraine. But the government has refused to process her application for Ukrainian citizenship.

Ultimately, victory is hers, and Ukraine's.

Monday, December 27, 2004

Ukrainian Freedom!

It's undebatable, if not official. Viktor Yushchenko, the Western-leaning, reform-minded Ukrainian presidential candidate has won (again) in the Ukrainian presidential election. Exit polls put his lead at around 15-20 points, the vote tally (which seems a far sight more accurate than the November travesty) gives Yushchenko a nearly 10-point lead with more than 98% of precincts reporting. This is great news for Ukraine.

With a reformist president and more open political and business climates, the investment opportunities in Ukraine will increase geometrically and the foreign investors may no longer fear to put their money in the country, something that weighed on investment decisions under the Kuchma/Yankukovych regime. Hopefully for the Ukrainians, by 2009 Kyiv's condition will resemble the Prague boom of the 1990s.

Happy Holidays

The Monk has been at la casa PaMonk/MaMonk for the Xmas weekend so he has been more than reluctant to attempt posting through their mere 20th Century technology. The Monk will be back to business for the next couple of days, then off for the New Year's weekend with Monkette2B at the place that they became engaged. Full bloggy goodness will be back in January but Wongdoer and I will still post occasionally until then.

Sunday, December 26, 2004

The truth about Kwanzaa

A generation ago when I was in elementary school, December was a time to celebrate Chanukah and Christmas. Chanukah celebrates the victory of the Jews against Seleucid oppressors in the 2nd century B.C. and Christmas the birth of Jesus. In recent years Kwanzaa has been added to the list. December 26 is the first day of Kwanzaa.

What are the antecedents of Kwanzaa? It should shock you.

LaShawn Barber, a conservative Christian who is black has an excellent short history. Excerpt:

Kwanzaa was invented in 1966 by Dr. Maulana “Ron” Karenga, a former black militant, Marxist and convicted felon. Claiming to have the unity of black people in mind, Karenga committed most of his crimes against blacks.

Just five years after his invention, he was convicted of torturing two black women by stripping them naked, beating them with electrical cords, placing a hot iron into the mouth of one and mangling the toe of the other in a vice. During the ordeal, he forced them to drink detergent.

Observed from December 26 to January 1, this “alternative” to Christmas is based on a mixture
of East African harvest rituals called first fruit — according to Karenga — and 1960s radicalism, although most ancestors of black Americans were from West Africa.

Participants acknowledge their African roots and promote seven, harmless-sounding principles — unity, self-determination, collective work and responsibility, cooperative economics, purpose, creativity and faith.
According to Karenga, Christianity is a myth. He does not believe in the God of the Bible. He says this about Christianity, “Belief in spooks who threaten us if we don’t worship them and demand we turn over our destiny and daily lives must be categorized as spookism and condemned.” [emphasis mine]
Over the years, Karenga has altered his pagan intentions to attract more black Christians into the fold. He now claims that Kwanzaa is a time of giving “reverence to the Creator.” Just what creator he refers to is unclear. Red flags should jump out at any Bible-believing Christian when someone reveres a “Creator” but denies the deity of Christ.

Rev. Jesse Lee Peterson, founder and president of BOND, Brotherhood Organization of A New Destiny, notes that while public school administrators and city officials attempt to ban nativity scenes, Christmas carols, candy canes and even Christmas trees from public places, Kwanzaa has been accepted as mainstream.
"If black Christians don't stand up for Christmas and reject Kwanzaa, they are allowing evil to have its way," Peterson said. "They will regret using a fake holiday to stamp out the true meaning of Christmas."

Peterson refers to a 1978 interview quoted in the Washington Post where Karenga said,
"People think it's African, but it's not. I came up with Kwanzaa because black people in this country wouldn't celebrate it if they knew it was American. Also, I put it around Christmas because I knew that's when a lot of bloods
(blacks) would be partying." [emphasis mine]

See here for a bit more background of Marenga and how he used Marxism to rehabilitate himself, become a professor and head the Black Studies department at Cal State-Long Beach.

I'll pass on Kwanzaa, thank you very much.

Reggie White, R.I.P.

Reggie White, the legendary defensive lineman who helped bring a Super Bowl championship to Green Bay, died unexpectedly Saturday at age 43, due to complications from sleep apnea.

White had 198 quarterback sacks in a 15 year NFL career. Named to the Pro Bowl 13 consecutive seasons (record) perhaps most impressive was that he was the NFL's defensive player in 1986 and 12 years later in 1998 when he was 37.

White was also an ordained minister and worked extensively with youth in the inner city. He was often called a 'gentle giant' even by the quarterbacks he sacked. He was well loved and set his faith above everything else.

Saturday, December 25, 2004

Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas to our loyal readers and linkers :)

Blogging has been a bit light as the Monk and I happily enjoying the holiday.

Friday, December 24, 2004

Wisdom from Dianne Feinstein Posted by Hello

Thursday, December 23, 2004

Bush has thrown the gauntlet

President Bush plans to renominate 20 candidates for federal judgeships who have been unable to win confirmation in the Senate, the White House said today, in a signal that the president is ready for a showdown early next year.

Another example that Dubya says what he means and means what he says. He stated emphatically that he was going to spend his political capital earned in the election and I can't think of a better place to spend it than putting qualified jurists in the senior federal courts.

Texas Supreme Court Justice Priscilla Owen, the Monk's darling, will be re-nominated for the Court of Appeals of the Fifth Circuit.

60 years of perspective: 1944 - 2004

W. Thomas Smith gives good historical lesson of the Third Reich's last gasp at the Battle of the Bulge as well as interesting parallels between what happened in Bastogne in 1944 and what's happening in the Sunni triangle today.

Defending Rumsfeld

Victor Davis Hanson has a brilliant piece not only defending Rumsfeld but placing him in the category of George Marshall as a visionary and effective leader. Hanson thoroughly refutes the caterwauling from the left (and regrettably some from the right) over the perfectly accurate comment about going to war with the army you have.

Hanson points out some interesting facts:
1. 784 out of 804 Humvees in that specific unit were already up-armored. In WWII US tankers fought for three years in light-armored Sherman tanks called 'Ronson lighters'
2. Mainstays of the early Pacific theater flew practically in flying coffins - the Devastator torpedo bomber and the Brewster Buffalo fighter. Should we have held the secretary of war responsible?
3. Troop strength isn't the key, appropriate usage is. Alexander conquered the known world with 50,000 troops. Xerxes couldn't defeat the Greeks with 500,000.

He concludes:

The blame with this war falls not with Donald Rumsfeld. We are more often the problem — our mercurial mood swings and demands for instant perfection devoid of historical perspective about the tragic nature of god-awful war. Our military has waged two brilliant campaigns in Afghanistan and Iraq. There has been an even more inspired postwar success in Afghanistan where elections were held in a country deemed a hopeless Dark-Age relic. A thousand brave Americans gave their lives in combat to ensure that the most wicked nation in the Middle East might soon be the best, and the odds are that those remarkable dead, not the columnists in New York, will be proven right — no thanks to post-facto harping from thousands of American academics and insiders in chorus with that continent of appeasement Europe.

Out of the ashes of September 11, a workable war exegesis emerged because of students of war like Don Rumsfeld: Terrorists do not operate alone, but only through the aid of rogue states; Islamicists hate us for who we are, not the alleged grievances outlined in successive and always-metamorphosing loony fatwas; the temper of bin Laden's infomercials hinges only on how bad he is doing; and multilateralism is not necessarily moral, but often an amoral excuse either to do nothing or to do bad — ask the U.N. that watched Rwanda and the Balkans die or the dozens of profiteering nations who in concert robbed Iraq and enriched Saddam.

Donald Rumsfeld is no Les Aspin or William Cohen, but a rare sort of secretary of the caliber of George Marshall. I wish he were more media-savvy and could ape Bill Clinton's lip-biting and furrowed brow. He should, but, alas, cannot. Nevertheless, we will regret it immediately if we drive this proud and honest-speaking visionary out of office, even as his hard work and insight are bringing us ever closer to victory.

Read it all.

Noteworthy 23-Dec-04

1. Washington gubernatorial update: Gregoire leads by 10 votes in the manual recount. Take a look at the chart in the Post-Intelligencer article - King County is the only county where one candidate significantly gained votes and the other lost materially. The Washington Supreme Court has orderd the 723 'extra' votes counted. Powerline has a good post on possible skulduggery.

2. From Drudge: French teenagers mug Santa for more candy.

3. Peggy Noonan on why gifts for kids are so important.

4. Putrid falsehood exposed by LGF: Iranian TV runs 'drama' where Israelis steal Palestinian childrens' eyes. This will be the 21st century's Protocols of the Elders of Zion.

5. Will wonders never cease? Liberal Nicholas Kristof of the NY Times admits that the Christian right has really set the agenda on humanitarian causes while liberals have lost the plot. Evinces grudging respect for Sam Brownback of Kansas.

Wednesday, December 22, 2004

A Marine father speaks -- PLEASE READ

Click the title to read a letter that a reader, who is the father of a Marine corporal, sent to Powerline. The father explains why the Rumsfeld 'autopen' scandal is completely irrelevant.

Noteworthy 22-Dec-04

1. Where have all the Taiwan hawks gone? Greg Mastel writes in the Weekly Standard that Taiwan is getting shabby treatment from the US in terms of trade.

2. Governor Robert Ehrlich of Maryland, a Republican, has been in a running fight with two journalists from the Baltimore Sun who, according to the Governor, has failed to objectively report on issues. As a result, the Governor has banned all executive branch employees from speaking with these two individuals. Example:

The order came after Nitkin wrote a series of articles about a secret deal by the state to sell 836 acres of preserved forestland to a developer. A front-page map, that Nitkin did not produce, accompanied his article and incorrectly showed all 450,000 acres of state preservation land as being sold to the developer. A correction ran inside the paper the following day.

Gee, do you think that 'correction' got the front page headline that the article did??? Right on, Governor, just don't expect any remorse or a free pass if they are reinstated.

3. European appeals court rules against Microsoft. This was a foregone conclusion regardless of the merits of the case. What represents arrogant American power and capitalist more than Microsoft? Excerpt:

Jonathan Zuck, the president of the Association for Competitive Technology, which intervened in the case in support of Microsoft, said in a statement: "Today's decision will have dangerous repercussions for small software developers, consumers and the future of innovation.

"While intended to constrain Microsoft, the commission's sanctions will impose billions of dollars in new costs on small software developers and consumers, and threaten the future of innovation."

4. Scum List. Arthur Chrenkoff gives the skinny on the dhimmi's who are vying to defend Saddam Hussein. One luminary would have been prepared to defend Adolf Hitler.

Washington Gubernatorial Update

In a turnaround, Democrat Christine Gregoire apparently leads by 8 votes after the King County hand recount. Official announcement due at 1530 PST. This is without considering the 723 'extra' ballots found. If true, expect the Republicans to fight this one as Rossi led by 261 votes, then 42 after a machine recount. Note King County is heavily Democratic and its elections board are Democrats. Also that after a recount of the 38 other counties in Washington, Rossi's lead was largely unchanged; 49 vs. 42 votes as I indicated here. Even though King County is 900,000 votes this 'turnaround' seems mighty suspicious.

Reading list

Since Wongdoer is getting a manicure or something (worst thing about having a co-blogger to pick up the slack is the expectation that he will do so), I'll cover for him with these items:

First, Tony Blankley's excellent column praising Rumsfeld and hammering the SecDef's critics.

Second, Jonah Goldberg notes that there's just something wrong about the notion of "Merry Christmas" being a political statement.

I read Denis Boyles whenever he pops out of his groundhog hole and chimes in at National Review.

Did you know that on Monday 15 Republican Senators issued a joint statement supporting Rumsfeld? I didn't until today, but I knew all about McCain's and Hagel's respective chirpings right after those two spouted off.

And in the news: thousands of Yushchenko supporters rallied in Kyiv to their man speak. He praised their peaceful demonstration, saluted their dedication and called for vigilance during the December 26 election.

Dodgers' Blue is past tense for Dodgers Blow

The Dodgers pulled out of the Randy Johnson deal yesterday. Wimps.


They were taking a beating in the press for their offseason moves: losing Beltre, trading Green (imminent), potentially trading Brazoban, etc.

But the NY Post picks up on the rumor The Monk heard yesterday on

However, the Dodgers squashed the deal for several reasons, including Javier Vazquez's threat to either not take a physical and/or not report to spring training, according to a person who was briefed on the matter.

Vazquez is too deep in the reputational dumper to play games with these deals. Moreover, he was likely to be traded to the White Sox or otherwise moved out of LA shortly after the Johnson deal (why he wouldn't want to pitch in Dodger Stadium, one of the best pitchers' parks in baseball, is another question). Bad move, Javy.

Attacking the wounded

Wretchard from Belmont Club notes how the attack on US forces in Mosul was staged by the terrorists: fire a mortar in the general area of the US base, fire a second one with the target now properly gauged and lined up after medical personnel flood the scene to help those wounded in the first shot.

There's a word for these terrorists. Evil.

Tuesday, December 21, 2004


It's official: George W. Bush is Time's Man of the Year.

“For sticking to his guns (literally and figuratively), for reshaping the rules of politics to fit his ten-gallon-hat leadership style and for persuading a majority of voters this time around that he deserved to be in the White House for another four years, we name George W. Bush as TIME’s Person of the Year for 2004,” writes managing editor Jim Kelly in a letter to readers.

From Time's Person of the Year story:

. . . "Sometimes you're defined by your critics," [Bush] says. "My presidency is one that has drawn some fire, whether it be at home or around the world. Unfortunately, if you're doing big things, most of the time you're never going to be around to see them [to fruition], whether it be cultural change or spreading democracy in parts of the world where people just don't believe it can happen. I understand that. I don't expect many short-term historians to write nice things about me."

Yet even halfway through his presidency, Bush says, he already sees his historic gamble paying off. He watched in satisfaction the inauguration of Afghan President Hamid Karzai. "I'm not suggesting you're looking at the final chapter in Afghanistan, but the elections were amazing. And if you go back and look at the prognosis about Afghanistan—whether it be the decision [for the U.S. to invade] in the first place, the 'quagmire,' whether or not the people can even vote—it's a remarkable experience." Bush views his decision to press for the transformation of Afghanistan and then Iraq—as opposed to "managing calm in the hopes that there won't be another September 11th, that the Salafist [radical Islamist] movement will somehow wither on the vine, that somehow these killers won't get a weapon of mass destruction"—as the heart of not just his foreign policy but his victory. "The election was about the use of American influence," he says. "I can remember people trying to shift the debate. I wanted the debate to be on a lot of issues, but I also wanted everybody to clearly understand exactly what my thinking was. The debates and all the noise and all the rhetoric were aimed at making very clear the stakes in this election when it comes to foreign policy."

I like this too:

India and the Bush Doctrine

According to this excellent article by Raja Mohan, Professor of South Asian studies at the Jawarhalal Nehru University in New Delhi, US-India relations have never been better at the same time the US has cultivated strong ties with Pakistan post 9-11.

Why? New Delhi shares Bush's worldview that they do not want to be dictated to by an unelected group of supranational bureaucrats and appreciates a US view that they are a major player in Asian affairs. Excerpts:

While Europe continues to hold its nose at the decisive triumph of George W. Bush, the Indian establishment is quietly savoring the outcome of the recent elections in America. India and Europe, one might say, have traded places in the global arena. India, once nonaligned, used to be the first to throw stones at Washington on any issue during the Cold War; today, it sees America as a natural ally. Europe, on the other hand, now speaks the language of "nonalignment," and holds that nothing is ever right with U.S. foreign policy.

There is a straightforward explanation for India's enthusiasm for the Bush administration. New Delhi has transacted more political business with Washington in the past four years than in the previous four decades. After nearly half a century of estrangement, India and the U.S. rapidly drew closer during the first Bush term. Whether it is the commitment to the war against terrorism or the exploration of missile defense, Mr. Bush has found a partner in Delhi.

...But most important for New Delhi is the strategic decision by the Bush administration to view India as an emerging global power and a potential partner in the management of the global order. For earlier administrations, India was merely a part of a political nuisance in South Asia. The perceived nuclear flashpoint in the state of Jammu and Kashmir and the broader conflict with Pakistan were the only issues that drew American political attention to India. New Delhi also acknowledges that the Bush administration, despite America's renewed dependence on Pakistan after 9/11, has not dropped the ball on relations with India...

There is a deeper philosophy that has united India and the U.S. in the last four years: They both are revisionist powers. Well before Sept. 11, 2001, and more clearly after, the Bush administration saw the need for a new set of rules for managing the emerging threats to international security. The tools and doctrines of the Yalta system had outlived their utility and had to be recast, the Bush administration concluded. India could not agree more.
Very few countries in the world share the Bush administration's contempt for the U.N. when it comes to maintenance of international security. India is one of them.
Much like American conservatives who believe that U.S. national security is too important to be left to consensus politics in Turtle Bay, India underlines the fact that peace and stability in the Subcontinent cannot be left to the mercy of the U.N. Security Council...Like the Bush administration, New Delhi does not want to cede national control over decisionmaking on war and peace to unelected bureaucrats in a "supranational" U.N.
Given its firm commitment to national sovereignty, India, not surprisingly, also found itself with the Bush administration in the global debate on the International Criminal Court. The examples of Indo-U.S. political convergence during Bush years abound--including counterproliferation strategies, and pre-emption against terrorist groups and states.

Having been the biggest victim of terrorism sponsored against it by a nuclear-armed Pakistan over the last 15 years, India had little difficulty in understanding the imperatives of Mr. Bush after 9/11. And with its 150 million Muslims, India has a big stake in the success of Mr. Bush's project for the modernization and democratization of the Islamic Middle East.
But in defining a new world order, Mr. Bush will have to move away from the traditional American emphasis on the Euro-Atlantic world and recognize the power shift to Asia. New Delhi would surely stand with Mr. Bush in the configuration of a new global equilibrium, one that takes into account the return of India to the center stage of global affairs.

Noteworthy 21-Dec-04

1. JK Rowling announced today that Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince will be released 16July05. Nice light, entertaining stuff, even for adults.

2. Cheeky bastard. UK radical in jail for incitement to murder infidels, not just Jews, is suing the UK government for back welfare benefits he's 'due' since his incarceration. Meanwhile his family gets 1000 gbp a week (that's about 50k a year and equivalent to nearly $100,000) in welfare benefits. HT to the Captain for picking up this nugget.

3. Washington gubernatorial recount update: Rossi (R) leads by 49 votes. Dem Christine Gregoire now 'challenging' Dino Rossi to accept the third recount results whatever they are. Nice offer since she refused to accept two earlier recount results and now trails by only 49 votes with only King County (900,000 and heavily Democratic) left to be recounted.

4. Moral relativism at its worst. LGF notes that Nobel Peace Prize laureate Mairead Corrigan Maguire on Sunday compared Israel’s alleged nuclear arsenal to Hitler’s gas chambers.

“When I think about nuclear weapons, I’ve been to Auschwitz concentration camp,” Maguire said during a joint press conference with Vanunu in Jerusalem.

“Nuclear weapons are only gas chambers perfected... and for a people who know what gas chambers are, how can you even think of building perfect gas chambers?”

5. As Monk says I'm a big fan of Rumsfeld. I would compare him to a CEO like JPMorgan's Jamie Dimon. Tough, uncompromising, and demanding -- exactly what you need to lead a bureaucracy like the Pentagon. He's also smart and blunt -- all of the above hated in the Beltway. "You go to war with the army you have not the army you want." Perfectly sensible. Not personally signing condolence letters? Under these circumstances I think its a bit insensitive given the number of casualties. However, enough to sack him? Ridiculous.

Back to the important stuff

The Yanks are now thisclose to acquiring Randy Johnson. The deal:

Dodgers send Green, Brazoban, Penny and Brandon Weeden to 'Zona.

Snakes send Johnson and Mike Koplove to the Dodgers.

Yanks send Vazquez, Navarro and Duncan to the Dodgers.

Dodgers send Johnson and Kaz Ishii to the Yanks.

And then the media circus begins.

The AP reports that the Dodgers have sent the trade paperwork to the commissioner's office. The Dodgers had been the hold-up because they wanted a replacement for Green and they are about to sign J.D. Drew.

In Defense of Rumsfeld

The Monk and Wongdoer are supporters of big Don for good reason -- he has insight, vision and the personality to ensure that the entrenched bureaucratic and political interests at the Pentagon do not prevent the US from preparing for the most likely warfare of the future (insurgency and terrorism) whilst shifting from the two-front Cold War mindset of the past.

Captain Ed has a great letter from one of his regular readers, linked in the title of this post, defending Rumsfeld and showing how disastrous it would be for Bush to allow the political chorus to inflict Rummy with death (i.e., resignation) by 1000 cuts. Some of the analysis is a bit overblown, but the points are generally very good. Click over and read it.

For more analysis, see Frank Gaffney's column, John Podhoretz's even better column that shows why Bush is a good leader and the Rumsfeld press kerfuffle from last week is so much garbage.

Reading the tea leaves

Meanwhile in the Eastern European tundra, Russian semi-dictator Vladimir Putin has publicly declared that Russia could play ball with Viktor Yushchenko.

"'We have worked with him already and the cooperation was not bad,' Putin said during a visit to Germany. 'If he wins, I don't [fore]see any problems.'"

Putin making nice while visiting an EU nation. Hmm.

I'm dreaming of a White C--------

Great stuff from Mark Steyn today. The de-Christmasizing of December is not nationwide, but it certainly is common. Here are some thoughts he had:

For US columnists, the end-of-year column bemoaning the fanatical efforts to expunge all Christmas traditions from public life has become an annual Christmas tradition in itself. This year, there's no shortage of contenders for silliest Santa suit. In one New Jersey school district, the annual trip to see Dickens's A Christmas Carol has been cancelled after threats of legal action. At another New Jersey school, the policy on not singing any songs mentioning God, Christ, angels, etc, has been expanded to prohibit instrumental performances of music that would mention God if any singers were around to sing the words. So you can't do Silent Night as a piano solo or Handel's Messiah even if you junk the hallelujahs.

* * *
The seasonally litigious rest their fanatical devotion to the deChristification of Christmas on the separation of church and state. America's founders were opposed to the "establishment" of religion, whose meaning is clear enough to any Englishman: the new republic did not want President Washington serving simultaneously as Supreme Governor of the Church of America, or the Bishop of Virginia sitting in the US Senate. Two centuries on, these possibilities are so remote that the "separation" of church and state has dwindled down to threats of legal action over red-and-green party napkins.

But Steyn can see the bright side of the issue too: anti-religionists and the perpetually offended are marginalizing themselves and the political party that most often supports them -- the Democrats. Thus, his sanguine outlook:

. . . every time some sensitive flower pulls off a legal victory over the school board, who really wins? For the answer to that, look no further than last month's election results. Forty years of effort by the American Civil Liberties Union to eliminate God from the public square have led to a resurgent, evangelical and politicised Christianity in America. By "politicised", I don't mean that anyone who feels his kid should be allowed to sing Silent Night if he wants to is perforce a Republican, but only that year in, year out it becomes harder for such folks to support a secular Democratic Party closely allied with the anti-Christmas militants. American liberals need to rethink their priorities: what's more important? Winning a victory over the kindergarten teacher's holiday concert, or winning back Congress and the White House?

Be careful what you wish for . . .

The Bear's last stand?

Somehow I missed this when it ran in the WaPo. I'll blame that on Wongdoer. Anne Applebaum's column on the false inevitability of Russian national pride forcing a crisis in Ukraine. Here's the nut:

there is nothing inevitable about the current wave of Russian imperial nostalgia, no reason why it has to be this way. National symbols can and do change over time. German national identity nowadays has far more to do with economic achievement than with Prussian military virtues; British identity, whatever it is, has little to do with empire.

In addition, be sure to catch Michael McFaul's column in today's WaPo on how democracy for the Ukraine is not some nefarious US plot.

Monday, December 20, 2004

Mullahs vs Bloggers

The Guardian (UK) reports that Iran boasts 75,000 blogs with Farsi the fourth most populous language globally for weblogs. Compare that with Iraq which has 50.

The internet has opened a new virtual space for free speech in a country dubbed the "the biggest prison for journalists in the Middle East", by Reporters sans Frontieres (RSF). Through the anonymity and freedom that weblogs can provide, those who once lacked voices are at last speaking up and discussing issues that have never been aired in any other media in the Islamic world. Where else in Iran could someone dare write, as the blogger Faryadehmah did, "when these mullahs are dethroned ... it will be like the Berlin wall coming down ..."?

In the last five years up to 100 media publications, including 41 daily newspapers, have been closed by Iran's hardline judiciary. Yet today, with tens of thousands of Iranian weblogs there is an alternative media that for the moment defies control and supervision of speech by authoritarian rule.

And if you think Dan Rather was dismissive of bloggers...Berlin Wall indeed.

HT: The Captain

Kyoto Protocol is dead, long live civilization

From the estimable Ron Bailey, probably the best science writer working today (even including Gina Kolata and Gregg Easterbrook), comes the column linked above, from his coverage of the Buenos Aires Climate Change Conference. Good thing too.

Call me when any one of the various climate change theories and computer models are accurate. None of the computer models can replicate any 50-year (or less) recorded climate change since 1900 -- that is, if the researchers feed in the known data to the model from say 1900, the model is asked to "predict" the climate outcome in 1950, each and EVERY model has been preposterously inaccurate.

And the US is not alone in opposing the Kyoto idiocy, as this Bloomberg report notes.

Noteworthy 20 December 2004

1. LGF has a great post on how the Swedish government is finding it very difficult to try to get five Swedish children back from their Palestinian father who kidnapped them and took them to the Gaza Strip. The reason, ostensibly, is that the children have dual citizenship: Sweden and Palestine. Only one issue: there is NO country called Palestine, ergo, no dual citizenship possible. Oh and in case you thought the father might have had a point about bringing the children up under Islamic law -- he's willing release the children for 5 million kronor (700k usd)

2. Pertinent to the UK thoughtcrime legislation -- an example from Sweden, where a Pentecostal minister was sentenced to a month in jail for preaching against homosexuality.

3. More thoughtcrime idiocy in Australia courtesty of LGF.

4. A good quick column on the current Rumsfeld brouhaha.

5. Want to know what your favorite bloggers look like? (It's not a picture of Monk and wongdoer)

6. Mother murdered. fetus stolen. So mind-bogglingly sick it defies belief.

7. Washington gubernatorial watch: Republican Dino Rossi leads by 50 votes. Late Friday, a state judge granted a Republican party request to block counting of hundreds of newly discovered ballots in heavily Democratic King County. The state Supreme Court which has already disallowed some ballots in this election take up the case this week.

Friday, December 17, 2004

Units of victory?

Conflicting stories about the Randy Johnson situation. Here is the triangle trade:

Yankees send Javy Vazquez, Eric Duncan (3b) and Dioner Navarro (c) to the Dodgers.

Dodgers send Yhency Brazoban, Brad Penny and Shawn Green to the D'Backs.

D'Backs send Johnson to the Yanks. Jon Heyman of Newsday (see link in title) had this first.

On, the indication is that the deal is iffy at best because Green has a no-trade and wants to live in LA. This seems weak because LA is relatively close to Phoenix. Other stumbling blocks are the lack of power the Dodgers will have now that Adrian Beltre is a Mariner and who gets to bilk the Yanks for money.

Heyman's article indicates the deal is nearly complete. This NY Times article also claims the deal is nearly done, but notes that a fourth team may get involved to facilitate.

Meanwhile, those of you who like teams with good farm systems: the Braves landed Tim Hudson in a deal for two minor-league pitchers. The question is who got this right: did Billy Beane wisely obtain two flamethrowers for a guy who is on the downside of his career already (Whip ratio and K/IP ratio getting worse by the year for Huddy) or did he get nothing from the Braves for something special?

Noteworthy 17-Dec-04

1. Ouch. Pfizer finds increased heart risk with Celebrex. Shares are down 15%. Celebrex is the same of painkiller as Merck's Vioxx which was pulled in September.

2. Washington governor recount update: 36/39 counties in; Republican Dino Rossi leads by 74 votes.

3. The Big Unit could be on his way to the Yankees. Unit, Pavano, Mussina, Wright, Brown/Duque/Halsey. Like it.

4. Miserable ingrates - ANC accuses US of using Africans as guinea pigs. This is the thanks we get for President Bush's $15 billion push to combat AIDS in Africa.
Studies have shown that a single dose of nevirapine to an infected woman during labor and another dose to her newborn baby can reduce the chances of HIV transmission by up to 50 percent. Nevirapine is also used in combination with other drugs to prolong the lives of AIDS patients.


5. The extended edition of the The Lord of the Rings - The Return of the King is on sale. It adds 50 minutes to the film for a total of 250 minutes. Jonathan Last of the Weekly Standard gives it a solid review:

This week the extended version of Return of the King comes to DVD. The four-disc set is loaded with features and commentaries and, most important, 50 extra minutes of footage which has been woven into the film. This extra footage addresses, I'm happy to say, nearly every defect which I reported on a year ago.

Orange alert: threats of violence

Same trick, different Soviet-era stooge. PM Yanukovych claims that "a real danger exists that after Dec. 26, Ukraine may be on the brink of a full-scale crisis." In other words, if the Ukrainians don't vote for me over my rival (the pro-Western, pro-NATO Yushchenko), then I'll try to make all hell break loose.

I recall similar threats by old-line commies in 1991 as the USSR broke up. Ceausescu said the same type of thing at his [show] trial in 1989 before he got whacked by his own army.

HT: Cap'n Ed.

Meanwhile, the Ukrainian "prosecutor general on Thursday launched a criminal case against the commission overseeing th[e] [November Presidential] vote on grounds of misuse of its powers and 'serious consequences, knowingly conducting the count incorrectly and knowingly announcing incorrect results.'" Nice.

And the dioxin that Yushchenko ingested is reputedly the most dangerous dioxin known -- a key ingredient in Agent Orange called TCDD. From the report:

Yushchenko, who faces Kremlin-backed Viktor Yanukovych in a repeat presidential election on Dec. 26, fell ill after having dinner with Ukrainian Security Service chief Ihor Smeshko and his deputy Volodymyr Satsyuk on Sept. 5.


For a mild amusement, do you think that the pro-Yanukovych Ukrainian operatives who poisoned Yushchenko did so to make his face more like outgoing (corrupt SOB) president Leonid Kuchma? Check out this rendition of Kuchma from the WSJ:

Thursday, December 16, 2004

Sergeant Rafael Peralta, RIP

Just click the link and read it.

It doesn't just happen in the movies.


Sooners protest Nativity removal

Voters incensed over a superintendent's decision to remove a Nativity scene from an elementary school Christmas program took out their anger at the ballot box, helping to defeat bond measures worth nearly $11 million.

On the advice of counsel, Karl Springer, superintendent of schools in Mustang County removed a Nativity seen that traditionally closed a Christmas play. However,

...Santa Claus, a Christmas tree and symbols of Hanukkah and Kwanzaa were left in the production.

As the Monk wrote here, eradicating religion from the public square means we repudiate the Judeo-Christian foundation of this country -- an ethos that has underpinned most social and scientific progress in the world since the 15th century. I am an agnostic who attends services regularly (with his family) enjoys the Christmas tradition and finds the notion of all other religions other than Christianity get preferential treatment to be the height of hypocrisy.

Private property rights infringement alert

Courtesy Neal Boortz, this story of widow Eleanor Brazell who has contracted to sell 311 of the 323 acres she owns in Hall County, Georgia to a developer who will turn the area into an elder community like Sun City; Brazell would keep 12 acres and the house her husband built. But a Hall County Commissioner wants to condemn the whole area for a park that the county-appointed citizen's park board does not want on that property and has offered Brazell nearly 25% less money than the developer.

Hopefully the Hall County commission will be stopped. This is just flat wrong.

Gin Rummy?

Tom Donnelly says Donald Rumsfeld is focused too much on the future and should be dealing with the present -- win this war first, worry about the next one later.

Meanwhile, on NRO, the editors take Sens. McCain (Wongdoer's favorite -- ugh) and Hagel to task for breaking with the Secretary on the flimsiest of reasons (and essentially giving comfort to the enemy). Here is the key statement from NRO:

The comment that has most angered Rumsfeld's detractors is his statement that you go to war with the Army you have. That may have been too frank in such a forum, but it was true. We went into Iraq with a military not yet fully transformed to adjust to 21st-century reality, which turned out to include an insurgency launched in a harsh urban environment. If Rumsfeld's hawkish critics, some of whom were banging the drums for the Iraq war for years, thought that war could be responsibly fought only with an Army equipped with 8,000 up-armored Humvees, they had adequate time to make that known — or at least lessen their enthusiasm for the enterprise accordingly. Of course, they didn't.

* * *
Behind much of the criticism of Rumsfeld is the idea that he has disastrously skimped on troop levels, especially when it comes to the occupation. But insurgencies aren't crushed by sheer numbers. Would that it were so. Counter-insurgency depends on intelligence and a sound political strategy, which in this case involves integrating Iraqi forces into the fight and moving ahead with the elections. Given that more troops would require an even larger logistical tail (read: more Humvees and “soft” vehicles carrying supplies, i.e. more targets) to support them, it makes sense that commanders on the ground aren’t asking for significantly more troops.

More importantly, some of Rumsfeld's harshest critics are the biggest doves in the Senate, most notably John Kerry and the Commie-coddling defense-cutter Christopher Dodd. (See here for Dodd's hypocrisy). It's easy to get out in front and grandstand, but when the real problems stem from Congressional strings tied to military procurement, the glass-house dwellers shouldn't be the ones hurling rocks.


Apologies for being a bit late today - the Monk is engaged at moment...

1. Daniel Blumenthal has a nice piece in the Weekly Standard on how China in quietly influencing elections in Taiwan. Just a reminder, the Chicomms (how's that for reactionary) are some of worse scum/figurative progeny of the worse scum in history. The only reason that Taiwan is still free is that the mainland cannot militarily take it. I take issue with one comment though:
The Taiwanese are not going to give up their political freedom voluntarily, and when push comes to shove, the United States will not allow Taiwan to be coerced. Meanwhile, we should not be encouraging the Chinese to believe that we back them on their "reunification" plans. That is the road to war.

"...The United States will not allow Taiwan to be coerced." -- Glad Kerry's not President.

2. From the OpinionJournal, journalist and former Marine John Guardino reports on how the Army works and why worries that the specialist who asked Rumsfeld the question is in no danger of 'retribution' but rather continues the valued tradition of asking tough, up-front questions

3. Daily King County Update - Republican Dino Rossi leads by 121 votes with 35/39 reporting. Under litigation are 573 questionable votes.

4. The Iraqi election - Powerline reports that 80% of Iraqi's polled do not support postponing it and 83% believe they will be held as scheduled.

5. Lest we forget. Charles Johnson of LGF reminds us of the unforgiving hate of the Ayatollah Khomeini and those who purport to support it. The parallel here between Islamofascism and totalitarian communism is striking. Only a worldwide caliphate / worker's paradise will make them feel safe.

6. Yet another winner from LGF from yesterday: Mentally ill girl sold for sex faces death penalty in Iran.

7. Hamas primer - in case you forget.

Wednesday, December 15, 2004

And the winner is . . .

Whoever had "dioxin" in the "what poison did Yushchenko ingest" pool wins. Uh, that includes The Monk, who placed his bet based on the report noted here that noted Yushchenko's pockmarked chloracne-riddled face and swollen intestines were consistent with dioxin poisoning.

Yushchenko's dioxin level? More than 6,000 times the normal level found in human fat tissue. The specific dioxin used isn't known yet either as doctors in Amsterdam whittle down the various potential causes from about 400 known dioxins.

When Yushchenko finally wins next week, he's going to go down in history as a hero.

Autism screening

The title links a long NYTimes article on finding autism early. I know several families with autistic children and anything parents can do to find it early can only help.

The article refers to which has an easy-to-use screening test that can be used as early as 18 months. Please explore the site and read the instructions to use the CHAT (Checklist for Autism in Toddlers) and M-CHAT (modified CHAT) tests.

M-CHAT test
M-CHAT scoring


As always, if you are concerned about your child with any development issue, please speak to your pediatrician or specialist.

Washington Supreme Court gets it right

Yesterday the Washington Supreme Court unanimously rejected a lawsuit by Democratic candidate Christine Gregoire that would have required counties to 're-examine' 3,000 previously disqualified absentee and provisional ballots. The Washington gubernatorial election went to a recount after Republican Dino Rossi led favorite Christine Gregoire by 261 votes out of 2.8 million cast on election night. The Democrats have been trying to steal the election ever since as I wrote here. Essentially the Democratic lawsuit asked for a change of the rules post-election though the Democrats typically respond with 'Make every vote count'.

The Seattle Post-Intelligencer reports Rossi now leads by 108 votes with 32 out of the 39 counties reporting. Gregoire's hopes now solely reside with some 573 ballots that were suddenly 'found' on Sunday in King County. And then, 22 new uncounted votes were found. King County is heavily Democratic and voted for Gregoire 60-40. If the new votes fall in that proportion for Gregoire this could lead to a dead heat.

HT: The Captain

Even The New Yorker rips the UN

Philip Gourevitch will never be confused with a conservative right-winger . . . unless you only read his commentary in The New Yorker discussing the corruption in the UN.

HT: Prof. Glen.

Choose the Red

Some disgruntled 'blue' folks have gone to the trouble of grabbing contribution data from the Federal Election Commission and put together a website (click title) that tracks the contribution patterns of firms in various industries. According to them: compiles information from third party sources primarily to show certain reported spending by political action committees connected with a corporation and by that corporation's employees as political contributions, in each case related to recent federal elections. .

If each American who voted "Blue" in 2004 spends $100 in 2005 on products of a corporation that by reason of its employees' or connected political action committees' political contributions supported "Blue" over "Red," $5 billion in revenues would be shifted to "Blue" supporting corporations!

This will be noticed! Choose where you buy ... and make a difference!!!

Well. Thanks for the help.

I like McDonalds, Wal-Mart and Outback Steakhouse. Respectively, they contributed RED 80%, 80% and 98%. Alternatively, Starbucks, home of overroasted and vastly overpriced coffee and the ridiculously priced Whole Foods--where I couldn't find a dozen eggs for less than $3.50--went 84% and 75% respectively BLUE.

HT: Boortz

Guest blogging

The Monk will be guest blogging over at Walter Olson's for the next week as well as posting here. Be sure to click over to Mr. Olson's site. I'll be touching on topics more germane to his site's coverage than to the general politics and sports I touch on here.

Tuesday, December 14, 2004

The evil among us

Let's see if this link works.

Why? It may be down shortly because it had this advertisement:

The sponsors of the seminar saluting the evil Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeni? The Metroplex Organization of Muslims in North Texas. Lemme think . . . OH YEAH, North Texas is the area of the state that Richardson is in. And Richardson is the city that was the HQ for the Holy Land Foundation that funneled money to terrorists in "Palestine".

Rod Dreher (formerly of NRO, now with the Dallas Morning News) sent the pic to LGF (tippin' me cap now). But my question is, did the DMN run a story on this? If not . . . why not? We're not afraid of publishing news if the FACTS show Muslims in a bad light, are we?

U-Dub's good move

Yesterday the University of Washington announced that it would poach another coach who had left a major football program. Unlike its hire of the venal and corrupt Rick Neuheisel (who's ethics were murky even when U-Dub considered him in 1999), the Huskies have made a good choice this time:

Tyrone Willingham.

So the coach who restored personal responsibility and raised the usually high academic record of Notre Dame football now gets the opportunity to bring some quality football to Seattle -- a city that needs it desperately.

More importantly, Willingham is again being treated like any other coach. His firing after only three years, two successful, in Notre Dame showed that UND treated football like every other school (a business) and Willingham like any other coach. His hiring by U-Dub means Willingham has been treated like any other semi-successful head coach because he has a new job as the head man at a top quality football school. That's better, because Willingham is the first black head coach to get sacked by one school and then hired by another in Division I-A college football.

There may come a time that Willingham is famous as a pioneer football coach and African-American sports hero. And if he runs Washington successfully and with the integrity he showed at Stanford and Notre Dame, he'll deserve his notoriety.

Pedro to the Mess: Did the Red Sawx get played?

That's the real question in this whole affair. Did the Red Sawx get played by the Yanks? Obviously, if so, a meager measure of revenge. Nonetheless, let's trace the negotiations:

RedSawx and Pedro discuss two-year deal in $25M range. Clearly, the RedSux were leery of putting too much time on Pedro's contract considering his various arm ailments over the years and his ineffectiveness pitching on anything less than 5 days' rest (remember the graphic FOX showed in the WS about his ~4.47 ERA on 3-4 days off, sub 3.00 ERA on 5+ days' rest?). Pedro wanted three years and shopped around.

That's where Big Stein got in the picture -- primarily by meeting directly with Pedro. That had to alarm the RedSawx because when George meets with the player (Sheffield), the deal often gets DONE. The rumors swirled of a possible guaranteed third year from the Yanks; the RedSawx heard that and worried. Thereafter, the Mess made their 38M/3 offer and the RedSawx had to go up.

It seems clear that Pedro would have stayed a RedSawk if all things were equal. The Sawx made their pitch at 38.5M/3 but guaranteeing that money with a fragile pitcher meant taking a high risk: either Pedro would leave for a better offer, take the Sawx' money and be injured for significant periods of time, take the Sawx' money and be healthy. The last outcome was the least likely.

The Mess therefore took a huge gamble on a whim: get the best righty pitcher of this generation in the hope that he can stay healthy despite an awful DL track record and a reported tear in his labrum that you could drive a truck through.

Look: even a semi-healthy Pedro is good. Last year he was 16-9, 3.90 with more Ks than IP -- he just gave up too many dingers (26) and significantly more hits (193 in 217 IP; although that ratio is still pretty solid). In Shea, with ProPlayer and HankAaron Field as two main road stops, the homers should decrease. In a can't-hit division (except the Phils) and a 22% break in the lineups (8th spot and pitchers), Pedro's raw numbers could be better next year than they were in 2004.

But he has to stay healthy for four years . . . and the likelihood of that is miniscule.

For more, read a rare Jayson Stark column with a strong opinion: says Stark, the Mess messed up.

UPDATE: The Daily News reports the Red Sawx felt that they would re-sign Pedro, even at their overpayment of 38.5M/3, typified by this comment "one Red Sox operative noted with a trace of bitterness: 'If we had known this, we would've been heavier into Pavano.'" The backup plan now? Possibly Derek Lowe at an arbitration-inflated wage over $10M. Funny that the RedSawx complained about Lowe's partying, signed heavy-drinking David Wells and may now be only able to shore themselves up with Lowe again (Matt Clement may be with the Angels by tomorrow).

The synopsis of all this is: Pedro played the RedSawx and Mess for chumps, the Yanks snagged two live arms, Pavano and Wright, and could still obtain Randy Johnson. Sounds nice on paper . . .

Happy Birthday Monkette2B

The Monkette2B is celebrating the ___ anniversary of her debut in the world. I love her much and she's taught me that the smartest man and the happiest man is the one who shuts up and does what she says . . .

Don't miss: Richard Holbrooke from Kyiv

The former Clinton Administration Ambassador to the UN, and Kerry adviser, has some sharp observations in his inaugural column (it will run monthly) in the WaPo. Here are the choice morsels:

There is little doubt that Yushchenko will soon be president. Any attempt by the government to declare his opponent, Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovych, the winner would result in overwhelming demonstrations, national paralysis and, possibly, civil war. But that catastrophic outcome is far less likely than was once feared. Leading political figures and even military officers are defecting daily to Yushchenko, and Yanukovych's strongest supporter, Russian President Vladimir Putin, has been isolated and humiliated. Even President Leonid Kuchma, who ruled with nearly total power for the past 10 years, implicitly acknowledges the inevitability of Yushchenko as he sits in a modest suburban villa, miles from his offices in central Kyiv, which, he says angrily, are "hard to use" at the moment. Nothing symbolizes more clearly the rapid flow of power out of the government's hands.

* * *
Make no mistake about it: 2004 has been Putin's "annus horribilis," the year in which he "lost" Georgia and Ukraine to anti-Russian popular revolutions, the year of Yukos and the school massacre at Beslan, a year in which, while remaining popular at home, he lost credibility throughout the rest of the world. His objective in Ukraine -- to help the candidate preferred in Moscow -- was entirely rational, but his personal behavior has been puzzling, petulant and self-demeaning. He must now either look for a way to back down quickly and learn to live with Yushchenko or -- if he tries to stir up separatism in Russian-speaking eastern Ukraine or punish Ukraine economically -- risk destroying his relations with much of the West.

Ironically, Putin's heavy-handedness, so reminiscent of the Soviet era, is likely to have an effect opposite to its intent -- and to accelerate Ukraine's quest for NATO and E.U. membership. As one of Yushchenko's closest advisers put it, "After what Putin has already done, how can we afford to risk floating between East and West?"

I'll be home for C-----mas

The Washington Times' Jennifer Harper writes about how "Christmas has been sanitized in schools and public squares, in malls and parades where Santa's OK, Jesus Christ is not. 'Jingle Bells' rocks, but forget about 'Silent Night.'" The ACLU has long fought against any religiosity in Christmas-time displays in public areas, so much so that any reference to Jesus, religious Christmas carols and the like are completely forbidden by most communities in their primary civic areas such as city halls, courthouses, city offices, etc.

Here are some of the results of the ACLU's anti-religion crusade:

Denver, for example, refused to allow a Christian church float in the city's holiday parade, because "direct religious themes" were not allowed. Homosexual American Indians, Chinese lion dancers and German folk dancers, however, were welcome.

The mayor of Somerville, Mass., issued a formal apology this week to anyone offended by a press release "mistakenly" issued from his office that called the town "holiday party" a "Christmas party."

School districts in Florida and New Jersey have banned Christmas carols altogether, and an "all-inclusive" holiday song program at a Chicago-area elementary school included Jewish and Jamaican songs, but no Christmas carols.

The Monk is a Jew, but he still appreciates the Christmas tradition and doesn't feel offended by its mere presence. In fact, his favorite Christmas carol is "G-d Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen" (lyrical value, not message), which is one of the most religious of the carols. Close second, Little Drummer Boy. Eradicating religion from the public square means only that we lose sight of the Judeo-Christian foundation of this country -- an ethos that has underpinned most social and scientific progress in the world since the 15th century.

Monday, December 13, 2004

Wading into the Mess -- Pedro to the other New York

The Boston Herald reports that Pedro Martinez has pitched his last game as a member of the Red Sawx and he is going to New York . . . to play for the Mets. Terms are 50-56M for four years. The RedSawx last offer was 38.5M/3 but Pedro wanted a fourth year and the Mets obliged by changing their last offer from a 37.5M/3 with an option to a guaranteed four-year deal. Likely scenario (TKM's guess) = 13-13.5 per year with a $2-4M buyout. Don't ask The Monk why baseball players have buyouts AFTER they complete their contracts.

In addition, this drives up the Yanks' price for Randy Johnson a bit because the impression is that Steinbrenner will want a bigger splash than the Mess get from the Pedro deal. But the Yanks' price for RJ has decreased rapidly since they broke off talks with the D'Backs on December 1 because (a) the Snakes signed two big-ticket free agents (Troy Glaus, 45M/4; Russ Ortiz, 33M/4) despite crying poverty as part of their attempt to have the Yanks pay all of Javy Vazquez's salary as part of the RJ deal, and (b) Johnson rejected overtures from the D'backs to remain while they rebuild.

Afghanistan news

If you read the front page of the NYT, WaPo, LA Times, or any other major newspaper and if you depend upon evening news to keep you informed, you will miss the good news from Iraq and Afghanistan. Why? Because only Arthur Chrenkoff seems to be checking up on it. Today is his semi-monthly Afghanistan update (click link above) and it comes on an especially notable day for him -- the 23rd anniversary of the end of martial law in Poland (Chrenkoff is a Krakow native who moved to Australia in 1988). As Chrenkoff notes:

I can only say thank you to the rainbow coalition out there who supported us in any way they could. To Ronald Reagan who kept a candle lit every night in the window of the White House to show his thoughts were with us - and, on the other side of the spectrum, to people like Francois Brutsch in Switzerland, who with others organised a committee of socialists, Trotsyites and independent leftists opposed to the Soviet oppression of Eastern Europe . . .

The martial law was not the end. The system merely stagnated for another few years, and then in 1989 collapsed from within, when the communist leadership realized there was no more room for maneuver and nothing left to save. Poland was the first domino to fall - some, like Serbia, Georgia or Ukraine are still falling, fifteen years later. It been a long revolution, and nothing like we'd expected that Sunday morning, December 13, 1981. But that's history for you - you never know where it's going to lead. One morning you wake up and there's nothing on TV, another morning there are dozens of Western channels on cable.

Has the Economist gotten wet?

This has been nagging at me for a while. A sense that the venerable Economist - a formerly? reliable paragon of conservative/Tory values - where the news roundup was written with gusto and a clearly conservative bent, gone wet? "Wet" as in how Margaret Thatcher meant it.

I noticed a defense of gay marriage as well as some articles (none of which come immediately to mind) that I found odd coming from the pages of the Economist. Click the link for a comparison of how the Economist has editorially called for Rumsfeld's head for Abu Ghraib but refrained from the same for Kofi with regard to to Oil for Food.

HT: Jonah at NRO

Yankees and pitching -- how the Mets screwed all other teams

Problem Number One in all baseball contracts of any significance (major-league multi-year deals) is that they are guaranteed. That means that no matter how useless the steroidal freak, limp-armed wuss, or injury-prone stiff (two words: Cliff Floyd) is during the course of the contract, he still gets every nickel the owners contracted to pay him. That's why Albert Belle was a $13M/year albatross on the Orioles for 2.5 years -- his degenerative hip ended his career and the O's had to pay him $30M+ to go home and sit on his rear. That's why the Rockies are going to be reeling from their moronic signing of Mike Hampton (120M/8 years) until 2008 and it's why the Yanks are trying desperately to shed Giambi's contract on various technicalities.

Problem Number Two is the stupid f---ing contract problem. This is exemplified by the Red Sawx sheling out 26M/4 to Jose Offerman during the '98-'99 offseason, the 32M/4 the Mess gave Al Leiter after 1997 (their faith was rewarded, but Leiter's track record didn't warrant that deal), the 15M/per the Dodgers gave Kevin Brown and the preposterous $55M/5 that the Dodgers gave the occasionally healthy Darren Dreifort. And don't get me started on how imbecilic the D'Backs were to sign Troy Glaus for 45M/4 considering his injury history and their own level of sucking.

This year, the Mess screwed every other major league team by shelling out $22.5M/3 to Kris Benson. That's the same Kris Benson whose ERA and homerun frequency got WORSE after moving from decent hitter-park PNC Field in Pittsburgh to the pitcher-friendly Shea Stadium and the pitcher-friendly NL East (crap offenses and pitchers' parks everywhere but Philly). The Benson deal set the market benchmark, and set it too high. And the fallout is everywhere: Russ Ortiz (too many walks, too many HRs, going to crap team in hitters' park) to the D'Backs for 33M/4; David Wells to the BloSax for 16M/2 (injuries galore); Jaret Wright to the Yanks for 21M/3 (injury history, history of brain farts); Jon Lieber to the Phils for 21M/3 (injury history, hitters' park). And that's just the beginning. Wait until Matt Clement, Kevin Millwood, Odalis Perez and Eric Milton sign. What an offseason for the midlevel pitchers who've shown flashes of brilliance without sustaining it (Wells is the exception).

The Mess offer to Benson resulted in the Yanks losing Lieber -- their second-best pitcher last year. Now the Yanks have scrambled around to try to ape the '03 Marlins and win by Peter Gammons' favorite staff characteristic: YPAs -- Young Power Arms. Hence, their pursuit and signing of Wright -- who once threw a constant 97+ and now is consistently 93-95 but has an injury history longer than my arm and has been a mental midget on too many occasions in the past. Hence, the Yanks' pursuit and imminent signing of Carl Pavano, who generally throws hard and low (more grounders than flyballs) and hence their pursuit of Milton who throws hard and high (thus, his ridiculous ERA of 4.75 and his high homerun total).

I like Pavano because he has guts and because his career arc seems to follow some other pitchers who reached their peaks in their late 20s after injuries and some fits and starts (most notable = Leiter). But a Yankee defense with Tony Womack and Giambi (yipes) on the right side of the infield, a year-long diet of AL hitters and a friendlier hitters' park will mean a tougher adjustment ON PAPER than Javy Vazquez seemed to have (and Javy is a better strikeout pitcher). Thankfully, Pavano doesn't walk anyone and doesn't give up a lot of dingers. Hopefully Pavano will keep his head on straight, which Vazquez failed to do, and the ball in the yard.

I like the THOUGHT of Wright at his peak, but coughing up 21M guaranteed to this guy is questionable at best, stupid at worst. Always be wary of a guy coming off one aberrationally GOOD year. And Wright fits that description perfectly.

Milton is useless and the Yanks are idiots if they sign him. He had a ridiculous ERA and homer total in the NATIONAL LEAGUE where every pitcher gets a break for 22% of the opposing lineup because all the 8th-place hitters suck and the pitchers bat. Milton wants 33M/4 and I only hope he overplays his hand and the Yanks look elsewhere. If the Yanks need a lefty starter to get lefties out that badly, invest time and energy into Brad Halsey who is in their system and shut down lefties in his last callup.

Or better yet, work a deal with Toronto to get Ted Lilly back. Lilly is a RedSawx killer with a decent track record and has performed well in the playoffs. He's also a lefty with a quirky delivery that messes up lefty hitters, and is a strikeout pitcher.

An invitation to kill

Israel continually does some of the stupidest things as "confidence measures" and "good will," willfully ignoring reality in the vain hope that ANYTHING it does to try to ease tensions with the "Palestinians" will actually work. The latest round of idiocy: releasing 100-200 "Palestinian" prisoners in Israel (read: terrorists who got caught). Supposedly most of this lot have served the majority of their sentences. But the reality is they will just go back to the territories and serve terrorist ends, just like the previous "Palestinian" prisoners that Israel has set free early in the past.

HT: El Capitan.

Self-Reliance against Terrorism

The WaPo article in the title describes how and why Germany is useless in the war against terrorists. German investigations have uncovered much evidence of terrorist activity, especially in the infamous Hamburg cell involved in the 9-11 attacks. Yet the Germans have failed to prosecute ANYONE successfully. Thus, the WaPo reports, Germany is kicking out some terrorists and sending them to countries where they can be successfully prosecuted:

After three years of failing to hold anyone accountable for the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, Germany is preparing to expel accused members of the Hamburg-based cell that led the hijackings and send them to countries with more aggressive records of prosecuting terrorism.

Although two criminal trials are still pending, German officials, legal experts and lawyers involved in the cases said the massive investigation into the al Qaeda cell has been stymied by this country's lax anti-terrorism laws, unfavorable judicial rulings and a lack of evidence, making it increasingly doubtful that anyone here will be convicted.

As NRO's Jim Geraghty notes, this failure shows how ineffectual the liberal prescription for terror-fighting is:

If Motassadeq [the Hamburg cell leader] walks, how many lines of dovish conventional wisdom will that damage?

* Terrorism is primarily an intelligence and law-enforcement issue.
* Military tribunals are the wrong tool for dealing with terrorism - criminal courts can handle the various complications, challenges, and burdens of proof.
* Whenever possible, the U.S. should extradite its prisoners in Guantanamo Bay to their home country.
* European governments understand the threat of terrorism as well as, if not better, than the United States.

All those concepts were rubbish to begin with and they continually are disproven by events.

Charles Moore is a dead man

Charles Moore, former editor of the Daily Telegraph, has been a vocal opponent of proposed legislation against 'religious hatred' in the UK. Leading off his latest argument against the proposed law, Moore writes:

Was the prophet Mohammed a paedophile? The question is sometimes asked because one of his wives, Aisha, was a child when he married her. As Barnaby Rogerson gingerly puts it in his highly sympathetic recent biography (The Prophet Muhammad, Little, Brown): "…the age disparity was considerable: she was only nine while Muhammad was 53". Aisha was taken from her seesaw on the morning of her marriage to be dressed in her wedding garment. After sharing a bowl of milk with the prophet, she went to bed with him.

To me, it seems anachronistic to describe Mohammed as a child-molester. The marriage rules of his age and society were much more tribal and dynastic than our own, and women were treated more as property and less as autonomous beings. Aisha was the
daughter of Mohammed's right-hand man, and eventual successor (caliph), Abu Bakr. No doubt he and his family were very proud of the match. I raise the question, though, because it seems to me that people are perfectly entitled - rude and mistaken though they may be - to say that Mohammed was a paedophile, but if David Blunkett gets his way, they may not be able to.

I predict that, somewhere, a fatwa will be issued calling for Charles Moore's head for using the words pedophile and Mohammed in the same sentence though he clearly states that accusing Mohammed of being a pedophile would be rude and mistaken.

Moore continues:

Iqbal Sacranie, of the mainstream Muslim Council of Britain, wants the new law because any "defamation of the character of the prophet Mohammed (Peace Be UponHim)" is a "direct insult and abuse of the Muslim community". In effect, he is asking for the law of libel to be extended beyond the grave, giving religious belief a protection extended to no other creed or version of history.

Where does all this come from? Not, I fear, from the right, if misapplied, desire for different faiths to live at peace. Incitement to violence, after all, is already an offence, and so it should be. No, the pressure is chiefly from Muslims. If we want to understand its context, we should look at what happens in Muslim societies.

According to Muslim law, believers who reject or insult Islam have no rights. Apostasy is punishable by death. In Iran, Saudi Arabia and Sudan, death is the penalty for those who convert from Islam to Christianity. In Pakistan, the blasphemy law prescribes death for anyone who, even accidentally, defiles the name of Mohammed. In a religion which, unlike Christianity, has no idea of a God who himself suffers humiliation, all insult must be avenged if the honour of God is to be upheld.

Under Islam, Christians and Jews, born into their religion, have slightly more rights than apostates. They are dhimmis, second-class citizens who must pay the jiyza, a sort of poll tax, because of their beliefs. Their life is hard. In Saudi, they cannot worship in public at all, or be ministered to by clergy even in private. In Egypt, noChristian university is permitted. In Iran, Christians cannot say their
liturgy in the national language. In almost all Muslim countries, they are there on sufferance and, increasingly, because of radical Islamism, not even on that.

The ancient plurality of the region is vanishing. Tens of thousands are fleeing the Muslim world, and in some countries - Sudan, Indonesia, Ivory Coast - large numbers die, on both sides. In Iraq, the intimidation of Christians is enormous. Five churches have suffered bomb attacks this year. Christians in Mosul have received letters saying that one member of each family will be killed to punish women who do not wear the headscarf. According to Dr Patrick Sookhdeo of the Barnabas Fund, a charity working for persecuted Christians, "Christians in Iraq are isolated and
vulnerable this Christmas, and feel that they have been let down, even betrayed,
by their fellow Christians in the West, especially the Church leadership".

The push for a religious hatred law here is an attempt to advance the legal privilege that Muslims claim for Islam. True, Muslim leaders are happy that the same protection should be extended to other religions in this country. But to a modern liberal society which claims the freedom to attack all beliefs,this should be no comfort. It says a good deal about the quality of churchmen and politicians in Britain that the most prominent opponent of the Bill is Mr Bean. The Archbishop of Canterbury is more or less invisible. The Government is on the side of repression.

Because it is usually called Boxing Day, people forget that December 26 is the feast of St Stephen, the first martyr. Somewhere in the Muslim world on that day, there will be more Christians martyred, as there are every day of the year. Muslims are not martyred in Britain. For once, the mote is in our own eye, and the beam in somebody else's - or will it soon be illegal to say that?


ABOUT TIME - Muslim scholars increasingly debate unholy war

CAIRO, Dec. 9 - Muhammad Shahrour, a layman who writes extensively about Islam, sits in his engineering office in Damascus, Syria, arguing that Muslims will untangle their faith from the increasingly gory violence committed in its name only by reappraising their sacred texts.

First, Mr. Shahrour brazenly tackles the Koran. The entire ninth chapter, The Sura of Repentance, he says, describes a failed attempt by the Prophet Muhammad to form a state on the Arabian Peninsula. He believes that as the source of most of the verses used to validate extremist attacks, with lines like "slay the pagans where you find them," the chapter should be isolated to its original context.

"The state which he built died, but his message is still alive," says Mr. Shahrour, a soft-spoken, 65-year-old Syrian civil engineer with thinning gray hair. "So we have to differentiate between the religion and state politics. When you take the political Islam, you see only killing, assassination, poisoning, intrigue, conspiracy and civil war, but Islam as a message is very human, sensible and just."

Encouraging but I am not holding my breath about an Islamic Reformation. Voices of reason tend to be drowned out by calls for extremism especially when the latter threatens violence to the former. Moderacy can easily be deterred with a bomb or an honor killing but how to deter the extremist? Successfully seeding a relatively wealthy, secular democracy in Iraq would be a big boost by demonstrating that such an entity could grow and survive with all the forces of extremism thrown against it. It would scare the daylights out of the mullocracy to the east and, eventually, help defeat the vicious, self-defeating culture of victimization that blames the US and the Zionists for all ills afflicting the Muslim world.

Friday, December 10, 2004

Beating a Drum -- UPDATE

UPDATE: I'm topping this because I like most of my answers (shameless b-stard that I am) and because Jonah Goldberg cuts Kevin Drum a new one in this fine G-file, which may elucidate some of Drum's biases that underlie the premises to these questions.

Kevin Drum posed eight questions to conservatives regarding Iraq and national security. Here are the questions, with The Monk's answers:

1. Considering how Iraq has gone so far, do you still think that American military power is a good way to promote tolerance and democracy in the Middle East? Has your position on this changed in any way over the past two years?

Democracy: Yes; tolerance: no if that means accepting Israel's existence as a Jewish state or religious tolerance within the Islamic world but if it means tolerating democratic ideas, then yes.

2. Shortly after 9/11, Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson said publicly that they thought the attacks were well-deserved retribution from God in response to moral decay — as personified by gays, feminists, the ACLU, and NOW. Do you worry that Falwell and Robertson are identified by many as the face of the Republican party? Do you think President Bush has sufficiently distanced himself from them and their followers?

The underlying premise of this question is disturbing: that Bush has to "do more" to distance himself from Falwell's and Robertson's than he did when Bush blasted their comments right after each one made his ludicrous remarks. Republican leaders also blasted Falwell and Robertson.

I fail to understand why Bush must distance himself from their "followers". The implication is that no one who follows Falwell or Robertson has the mental capacity, free will, or inquisitive nature to evaluate what those men say and then act independently. Is the corollary that liberals should distance themselves from International ANSWER, Islamic Solidarity Movement, and Michael Moore? Democrats and liberals do not decry these groups but Republicans and conservatives speak out against Falwell and Robertson. Evaluate that on your own.

3. Is democracy promotion really one of your core concerns? Just how far are you willing to go to demonstrate your credibility on this subject? Note: President Bush's policy toward either Pakistan or Saudi Arabia would be excellent case studies to bring this question to life.

This is a common trope of the left: if we attack Iraq, why not North Korea; if we seek democracy in Iraq, why not Pakistan and Saudi Arabia. Simply said, all in good time. Not every trouble spot in the world can be dealt with on the same timetable. And note that liberals never ask "why not democracy in Zimbabwe or Venezuela or Cuba".

And yes, establishing freedom and democracy is and should be a core conservative belief.

4. On a related note, which do you think is more important to the Bush administration in the short term: preservation of a stable oil supply from the Middle East or spreading freedom and liberty throughout the region? Would you be interested in seeing the records of Dick Cheney's 2001 energy task force to verify this? Please be extra honest with this question.

This is rather stupid because it presumes the "War for oil" nonsense. That argument is easily negated: the oil flow from Iraq was greater, steadier and more reliable under Saddam and certainly much cheaper in US blood and treasure. The Cheney task force records on this question are irrelevant. I think that everything Bush has done speaks volumes about how important it is to spread freedom and liberty in the Middle East.

5. A substantial part of the Christian right opposes any compromise with Palestinians because they believe that Jewish domination of the region west of the Jordan River is a precondition for the Second Coming. Is this a reasonable belief? Or do you think these people qualify as loons who should be purged from the Republican party?

This question is merely a denigration of a Christian theological concept. I do not think that this theological concept is per se unreasonable even though I do not personally believe it. The notion that Christian right-wingers are nutty because they hold Christian beliefs defies logic. The Judeo-Christian heritage of the West is what has led to freedom, democracy, equality, technological and scientific advancement, and the sound political systems needed to maintain progress. Without this Judeo-Christian foundation, what would there be? Strong-man systems like those in Latin America? Backward totalitarian regimes like those in the Muslim world? Communist dictatorships like in China and Vietnam? Perish the thought.

6. Yes or no: do you think we should invade Iran if it becomes clear — despite our best efforts — that they are continuing to build nuclear weapons? If this requires a military draft, would you be in favor?

Yes to both. Iran has made its intentions to build and use nuclear weapons very clear. If regime change in Iran can be done without such military force, do it.

7) If President Bush decides to substantially draw down our troop presence in Iraq after the January 30 elections, will you support that decision? Please answer this question prior to January 30.

This is a deliberately vague question. If a wholly stable Iraq in 2007 says we are fine and need no more US troops, fine. If this means withdrawal on Jan. 31, 2005, no. But that latter possibility will not occur.

8. Would you agree that people who accept Laurie Mylroie's crackpot theories about Saddam Hussein's involvement in 9/11 might be taking the threat of terrorism a little too seriously? What do you think should be done with them?

Considering Mylroie's groundbreaking work connecting Iraq to the first WTC bombing, her voluminous and tireless research, the information she's uncovered that does suggest Iraqi involvement in 9-11-01 and her results, I think that dismissing her theories as "crackpot" shows a lack of seriousness on the part of the questioner. Few are better at connecting the dots in this area than Mylroie and no serious discrediting of her work exists.

HT: Dean Esmay.

How 'bout questions for liberals? Check out Dean Esmay at the link by the hat-tip.

NHL players offer 24% pay cut

Interesting negotiating strategy - NHL players offer a 24% pay cut in an attempt to re-start talks with the NHL which claims to have hemorrhaged money over the past two seasons. (There seems to be little dispute that teams as a group have been in the red question is how much.) Starting with 24%? The players will end up taking a 33% cut or something. (Call Donald Fehr?)

Separately, according to the article, an adhoc panel of players, coaches, commentators and executives have met trying to find proposals to make the game, which has seen less scoring and lower attendance, more interesting.

They mentioned shootouts to decide ties. Good idea. Penalty shots in hockey and shootouts in soccer though anathema to some purists seem to make for great drama.

And this is the solution that will make soccer and hockey much more interesting. GET RID OF THE OFFSIDE RULE. First 80% of the country doesn't understand the offside rule. Second, games will have scores like 10-8 instead of 2-1. A lot more drama and you don't miss the key point of the game if you happened to have a long yawn in the 62nd minute.