Tuesday, November 30, 2004


And yes, I did pump Jonah Goldberg for Safire's post whilst he was cruising on the NRO cruise. That was when the Safire To Retire story hit and the news waits for no man.

Apology accepted.

You go, Joe!

Joe Trippi says the Democrats need to veer FURTHER to the left in light of their failures in the 2004 elections. Do it. I'd like to guarantee a conservative victory in 2008 and 2012.

Joe Trippi is really Joe tripping.

The REAL Man of the 20th Century

On November 30, 1874, the greatest man of the 20th Century, Winston Spencer Churchill, made his debut in the world. He died nearly 91 years later after leading Europe through its worst crisis, staring down Hitler and naming the evil of Stalin.

Here is an excerpt from the piece linked in the title of this post:

Churchill brought a coherent body of thought about the nature of man and his world to bear on the problems and essential uncertainties of human political life. In the face of rival philosophical claims and political agendas, he successfully combined a modern devotion to limited government, freedom of speech, and the division of power inherent in Anglo-American constitutionalism with the older understanding of the fundamentally fixed nature of man, the permanently recurring trials he must confront, and the need for the political formation of character. Churchill’s ability to chart and maintain a consistent course both for himself and his people under the looming threat of destruction made him a great leader. That his thought and action were directed toward and devoted to the principles of justice, freedom, and peace made him a great man. Taken together, these two forms of greatness elevate him to the highest honors of statesmanship.

And as Steven Hayward notes here and here, this statement from Gertrude Himmelfarb is especially apt:

When I meet a historian who cannot think that there have been great men, great men moreover in politics, I feel myself in the presence of a bad historian. And there are times when I incline to judge all historians by their opinion of Winston Churchill--whether they can see that, no matter how much better the details, often damaging, of the man and his career become known, he still remains, quite simply, a great man.


BREAKING: Ashcroft to replace Ridge at Homeland Security

Ridge to run against Rendell for Governor of Pennsylvania.

Just kidding.

But could you imagine the apoplexy?

A successor to Ridge has not been named.

Sajak rips Hollywood

a new one over the muted reaction to Dutch director Theo Van Gogh's murder.

There’s another possibility; one that seems crazy on the surface, but does provide an explanation for the silence, and is also in keeping with the political climate in Hollywood. Is it just possible that there are those who are reluctant to criticize an act of terror because that might somehow align them with President Bush, who stubbornly clings to the notion that these are evil people who need to be defeated? Could the level of hatred for this President be so great that some people are against anything he is for, and for anything he is against?

In addition Pat takes a nice shot at Michael Moore.

HT: Drudge

The moral bankruptcy of the UN

Today's sign of the apocalypse? Nope, just another indication of the moral bankruptcy and fundamental illegitimacy of the UN. Here are the money quotes from the article linked in the title:

Since the outbreak of the Palestinian intifada in 2000, UNRWA [United Nations Relief and Works Agency, which administers "aid" and UN services in Gaza and the West Bank -- TKM] has received $510,000 from the Islamic American Relief Agency, a charity created by the Islamic African Relief Agency (IARA). In October 2004, the US Treasury found that IARA had transferred millions of dollars to terrorist networks run by Osama bin Laden, and has since frozen IARA's assets.

IARA's chief, Mubarak Hamed, is personally accused of raising $5 million for al-Qaida during a fund-raising trip to Sudan and other locations in the Middle East in 2000. UNRWA has so far shown no concern that one of its donors is an al-Qaida sponsor.

Weighing in with a donation of $5,076,000, the Islamic Development Bank is a significant contributor. This bank created and manages the Al Aqsa Fund, found to be a terrorist financial channel linking wealthy Gulf-based terror financiers to Hamas.

The US Treasury has added the Al Aqsa Fund to its list of Specially Designated Global Terrorist (SDGT) entities, and the fund has been banned in the United Kingdom and Germany.

Could it be possible that following the closure of the Al Aqsa Fund, the Islamic Development Bank has found UNRWA a safer route to reach Hamas with financial aid? UNRWA's public records of financial sponsors also list a $1,640,000 contribution by a donor registered as the "Saudi Committee." This contributor's full name is the Saudi Arabia Committee for Support of the Intifadat Al Quds, and it has been linked with the funding of a number of Hamas suicide bomb attacks against Israeli civilians.

UNRWA also received $3,538,276 from the Syrian Arab Popular Committee, also known as Popular Committee for Supporting the Intifada. This organization, created by the Syrian Ba'athist government, calls for the continuance of Palestinian attacks against Israel. Committee president Ahmed Abdel Karim has regularly organized rallies in Syria and Lebanon in which activists have called for Israel's destruction.

Don't get confused: the UNRWA is exclusively designed for administering UN succor to Palestinians; other refugees throughout the world receive UN services through the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees. So basically the UNRWA takes money from groups that seek to destroy Israel and uses it for services to the Palestinians who have been systematically denied entry and emigration rights into every Arab country in the Middle East. Just more grist for the mill.

HT: Little Green Footballs

The truth hurts - UPDATED

Powerline has a post with information for those who wish to help Steve Gardner.

paypal account: sgardner5@carolina.rr.com
snail-mail address: P.O. Box 908; Clover, SC 29710.


Cliche? Not for Steve Gardner who volunteered for Vietnam and served for two years as a Swift Boat gunner and had the distinct pleasure of calling John Kerry commander for four months.

Gardner was the only vet on Kerry's boat who spoke out at length in the media about why John Kerry was unfit to be Commander-in-Chief. An example:
"I told him [Brinkley] that the guy in the book is not the same guy I served with. I told him Kerry was a coward. He would patrol the middle of the river. The canals were dangerous. He wouldn't go there unless he had another boat pushing him."
For that he was vilified by Kerry hagiographer Douglas Brinkley in Time magazine and threatened by Kerry's veterans organizer John Hurley. Subsequently Gardner was 'laid off' by his employer shortly after he was told he was doing exemplary work. Broke and married with three kids, Gardner says he would do it all over again.

HT: Powerline who's helping Gardner with his job search

Dems stealing Washington governorship

From the Opinion Journal: Democrats, with the help from a friendly, activist judge, have winnowed Republican Dino Rossi's lead in the race for governor of Washington from nearly 1,000 votes to 42 votes.

The trouble began when it became clear the race was so close it wouldn't be settled by the ballots counted on election night. Washington allows absentee ballots--used by 70% of the voters this year--to be counted as long as they are postmarked by Election Day.
That set off a legal fracas over the 929 people in heavily Democratic King County whose provisional ballots hadn't been counted because of mismatched or missing signatures. Democrats demanded the names and addresses of those voters so they could contact them and correct the errors. County officials responded that in requiring that all 50 states offer provisional ballots Congress had stipulated that such votes remain private. Republican lawyers argued that having partisans scavenge for votes would increase the potential for fraud.

But Superior Court Judge Dean Lum said such arguments weren't as important as the need to make sure every vote counted--an echo of Florida. [emphasis added]A full 10 days after the election, while absentee votes were still being counted, he ordered election officials to give the names and addresses of the provisional voters to the Democratic Party. Judge Lum did express regret that the judiciary was being "whipsawed in the middle" of a bitter partisan dispute and asked to "micromanage an election." But then he proceeded to do precisely that by allowing partisan workers the opportunity to mine flawed ballots after the election, for the first time in the 20 years that Washington has used provisional ballots.

Democrats spent the next three days knocking on doors and speed-dialing voters. Ryan Bianchi, communications assistant for Ms. Gregoire, made it clear how blatantly partisan the approach was. Democratic volunteers asked if voters had cast ballots for Ms. Gregoire. "If they say no, we just tell them to have a nice day," he told the Seattle Times. Only if they say yes, did the Democrats ask if they want to make their ballot valid. Republicans played catch-up by belatedly using their own phone banks to call up voters and identify ballots that might fall their way if made valid. In the end Democrats turned in some 600 written oaths from provisional voters and Republicans about 200.

Those votes helped narrow Mr. Rossi's eventual lead to 261 votes as the late absentee votes were finally counted and the results certified on Nov. 17. Then the state began a mandatory machine recount. Once again, King County was the center of controversy. More than 700 previously uncounted ballots were added to the county's total after election officials "enhanced" them to better divine voter intent. When optical scan machines didn't accept ballots, workers would fill in ovals on ballots or create duplicate ballots if they felt the voter had meant to register a choice. Hanging chads, meet empty ovals. Through this process, Ms. Gregoire gained 245 votes in King County, dwarfing the shifts to either candidate in any other county.

Such creative counting brought Mr. Rossi's lead down to 42 votes, a critical threshold to justify further recounts and litigation. Former governor Booth Gardner, a Democrat, told a press conference last week that he thought Ms. Gregoire should concede if the final recount margin had been 100 votes or more. But at 42 votes he now feels a hand recount is appropriate.

Seems the GOP has dropped the ball on this one. Damned shame as Washington is only a bluish state and as Ed Rendell has proved having a friendly governor can be a big advantage.

Ukraine's democracy(?) update

Here's the situation in brief: Russia and the outgoing Ukrainian President support PM Viktor Yanukovich, the outgoing PM's handpicked Russia-leaning successor to become the new Ukrainian PM. His rival is Viktor Yushchenko, a Western-leaning reform-minded former PM who was ousted by a coordinated effort of the business oligarchs who benefitted from state-sponsored contracts in the immediate post-Communist years and who pull the marionette strings of Ukrainian politics. The Presidential election was two-pronged: first an election among numerous candidates, then a run-off with the top two (this is how the French presidency is decided). The losers in the first round threw their support to Yushchenko. Exit polls after the elections (which are reputedly very accurate, according to WSJ's David Satter) indicated a 54-43 edge for Yushchenko; the vote tally was 49-46 for Yanukovich.

The problems with the election, the fact that the state-run media (all but one TV outlet in Ukraine is state-controlled) was used as part of Yanukovich's personal campaign (Yushchenko had virtually no air time, there were no debates, etc.), the incredible fraud in the eastern 1/3 of Ukraine where Russian influence is strongest and the detailed allegations of vote fraud uncovered by Yushchenko and international monitors (even Jimmy Carter won't certify this election!) are extensive and too detailed to relate here (go here for some links to background info). Yushchenko supporters have swamped Independence Square in Kiev and held 24-hour vigils protesting the results since shortly after they were announced (and its COLD in Kiev; plus the Yushchenko supporters have been ordered to stay sober -- no vodka, in a country where the distilled hooch is a birthright). Vaclav Havel wrote to Yushchenko to give support, Margaret Thatcher has registered her support for Yushchenko and his supporters and Lech Walesa has appeared in Kiev to support Yushchenko.

International pressure (the US has refused to recognize Yanukovich's "victory," as has the EU), internal pressure and the overwhelming evidence of fraud have now combined to force Yanukovich to offer Yushchenko the post of PM if the latter would call off the protests; Yushchenko refused. See here for an update on the momentum building for a new election either nationwide or in the highly corrupted eastern Ukrainian provinces where the dead supposedly voted early and often.

Why is all this important? Ukraine is (mostly) seeking to join its western neighbors Poland, Slovakia and Hungary in establishing a democratic system that is fair and open, Western-leaning, untainted by former Russian dominance and stripped of the USSR's legacy. Because it borders Russia, and has a large ethnic Russian population, Ukraine's transformation process is basically 10-15 years behind Poland's and Hungary's. Plus, Vladimir Putin has made no secret of his desire to rebuild a sphere of influence centered in Moscow and comprising the former Soviet states, such as Georgia, Chechnya, Ukraine, Byelorussia, Uzbekistan, etc. In other words, this is Putin's power play for establishing a benign dictatorship and preventing democracy from germinating on his southwestern border. (See here for Putin's reaction to the foreign pressure on Ukraine; Putin has TWICE recognized the election result -- Russia is the only major foreign government to do so). Thus, as John O'Sullivan notes, there is more than just that country's presidency at stake in Ukraine.

Click the link in the title for more. Note that this is Pres. Bush's opportunity to help guide a sizeable country and ally on its road to democracy. His father did this reluctantly in the 1989-91 period as the USSR crumbled; the current Pres. Bush should take the reins more firmly and establish that free and fair elections, transparency in politics and an independent media not used as a state tool are of paramount importance as the US seeks to spread liberty throughout the world.

HT: El Capitan. See also here for why the US press narrative (east Ukraine/west Ukraine, "disputed" results v. flat-out fraud) is wrong.

Monday, November 29, 2004

Self-generating controversy

This is what I love about sports journalism: the way the journos generate their own storylines. Case in point, the college football BCS. Anyone with an IQ over 50 knew WHEN IT WAS ESTABLISHED that the BCS had one extra letter. For example, the whole past week on ESPN the questions were how do you fix the BCS when three undefeated major-conference teams are unable to fit into two national title game slots? and when a top 5 team (Texas) loses a big payday to a three-loss Pitt team thanks to the BCS contract? The answer is so obvious, that every other American sport has figured it out: a playoff. Even the soccer world has national title (FA Cup, Scottish Cup, etc.) and international playoffs (World Cup, FA Cup, etc.). For f--- sake, can't anyone just smarten up?

Why have former Notre Dame coach Bob Davie writing "How to fix the BCS" pieces on ESPN.com? Why waste space (and time)? The BCS and its precursors are complete failures, period. So cut the nonsense and stop pretending that there's a real question of "what do we do?" The BCS is the inverse of Churchill's maxim that democracy is the worst form of governance, except for all the others. The BCS is the best form of deciding a national champion, other than the one that actually works: playing for it on the field.

Here's a BCS and BBCS primer for your lack of enjoyment.

In 1992, the major football schools (through their conferences) created the "Bowl Coalition". In 1992 and '93, the Coalition resulted in a single national champion that would have occurred without a "Bowl Coalition" -- Alabama beat Miami for the '92 title, FSU beat Nebraska in the '93 season and both matchups were an at-large team (Miami, FSU) against a conference tie-in team (SEC champ goes to Sugar Bowl - Alabama, Big 8 champ to Orange Bowl - Nebraska). Of course, the whole thing fell apart in '94 when Penn State got shafted in favor of a mediocre Nebraska and the two undefeateds could not face each other due to conference tie-ins.

In 1995, the Bowl Alliance was concocted destroying some conference ties, thus a Nebraska-Florida #1 v. #2 matchup in the Fiesta Bowl. And that worked because there was no Big Ten or Pac-10 champ with a claim on the national title, like in 1994 and later in 1997 (undefeated Michigan). In 1996, the Alliance lucked out when undefeated Arizona State choked against Ohio State in the Rose Bowl.

Review the record so far: six years (1992-97), two years' results would be the same under the old system (1992, 1993), three years where the top two teams do not meet in the bowls (1994, 1996, 1997), and one clear success in 1995.

Now comes the BCS: 1998-present. The latest incarnation that farks everything up. On paper, it worked ok in 1998 when #1 Tennessee beat FSU (could have happened under the old system) and it worked properly in 1999 when FSU beat Va. Tech. Since then, three major cock-ups in four years: 2000, when Oklahoma played FSU instead of Miami for the title, both had one loss and Miami had beaten FSU; 2001, when Miami whacked Nebraska, which had not even played its conference title game after a 62-36 loss to Colorado (62 points! And to a team that later lost its bowl 38-16 to the Oregon team that had a better claim to play Miami!); and 2003, when LSU beat an Oklahoma team that had been ripped in its conference title game, whilst USC smacked Michigan in the Rose Bowl and a split poll resulted with LSU winning one poll (ESPN/USA Today) and USC winning the other (AP). So the thing worked in 2002 when Miami lost to Ohio State; but it failed in 2000, 2001 and 2003.

In 2004 the BCS will again fail if Oklahoma, USC and Auburn do what they're expected to do: win their final games against, respectively, Colorado (decent team); UCLA (stinko); and Tennessee (decent, but lost to Auburn at home badly). Why? Because all three of those major conference teams will be undefeated and only two can play "for the national title". What a crock. Can't anyone here administer this game?

Brother of MJ

Michael Jordan's "big" brother is James R. Jordan (named, at least in part, for their dad, James Jordan). JRJ is seeking to continue his enlistment in the Army PAST HIS MANDATORY RETIREMENT after 30 years' service. Big brother is a misnomer b/c JRJ is 5'7" and Michael is around 6'6". But the inner drive and athletic ability seem to be a common genetic trait among these sons of the late James Jordan. Click the link in the title for a nice profile of MJ's older brother.

HT: Powerline Blog.

Welcome back, and some lunchtime reads

That's welcome back to me, and to you, as The Monk gets off his tryptophan'd arse and gets back to his non-paying hobby (that's this blog). Thanks to the Wongdoer for being only semi-useless over the weekend (one post? This is what I pay you for? Oh, that's right, Wongdoer gets the same comp I do, and he's worth every penny). Meanwhile, The Monk dealt with barely having internet service whilst at the home of MaMonk and PaMonk -- they're still working off a G3 iMac The Monk bought them five years ago. MaMonk and PaMonk are so averse to technological change that they complain the Model T was such a nice car they'd still drive it if they could get parts (although MaMonk would regret buying something from that Nazi bastard, Henry Ford).

Anyway, here are some articles for your lunch break or, if you're unionized, your 60-minute coffee break:

First and foremost, Michael Ledeen on Europe as Iran's willing dupe. A recent AP report referenced here also adds to worries about how soon Iran will get the BOMB, with Europe's help and Bush's nonaction.

Next, Bret Stephens shows why the Jerusalem Post's loss is the WSJ's gain as he writes on the role of the President's Cabinet and the dopey concepts put forth by liberals pining for Colin Powell.

And Reuben Johnson's essay on the events in Ukraine is a must, especially if you're a half-step behind on this (dang tryptophan) like The Monk. You can read his earlier essay on the Ukrainian elections here. Too bad you probably cannot retrieve David Satter's op-ed on the "Communist Curse," which is here, unless you have a subscription to the WSJ online.

That'll get you started. And me too.

Friday, November 26, 2004

Happy Thanksgiving

Hope all our readers had a great Thanksgiving. The Monk and I have been spending some time with family and friends. We thank you for reading, hope you will continue to do so and tell friends and family about us.

To borrow a format from Neal Boortz, here are a few reading assignments as you recover from the Thanksgiving repast.

1. From the OpinionJournal, on the vendetta the ACLU has against the Boy Scouts.

2. On the deafening roar of silence from Hollywood over the slaughter of Theo Van Gogh.

3. A fifth-grade teacher in California has sued for the right to continue to use the Declaration of Independence in his classroom which the Stevens Creek elementary school has forbidden due to references to God and Christianity in the document. Only in California?

4. On why Porter Goss cleaning house at CIA is good idea. And why 9/11 bill to centralize intelligence is a bad one.

Tuesday, November 23, 2004

Be nice to dolphins

Came across this on Drudge. Just makes you raise your eyebrows.

A pod of dolphins circled protectively round a group of New Zealand swimmers to fend off an attack by a great white shark, media reported on Tuesday

Dan Rather Down

Dan Rather, the embattled anchor of CBS' flagship Evening News, will be stepping down as anchor and managing editor on March 9, 24 years to the day after he succeeded Walter Cronkite.

Rather appears to be bailing out ahead of a report due next month on the discredited Bush National Guard story. No successor has been announced.


Rather will continue to work on pieces for 60 Minutes II, no word on if they will target Republicans generally or just the Bushes. Here is Andrew Sullivan on Rather's semi-retirement:

Rather's tenure as CBS anchor was bound to end some time soon. Big deal. A simple question: How can you rehire a man for Sixty Minutes when you haven't even published your own investigation into the journalistic meltdown [on 60 Minutes II] that he presided over? Shouldn't you wait until you know what actually happened before you declare that someone will stay on full-time? And how long does such an investigation take, for Pete's sake? My bulls[--]t detector just went through the roof on this one.

Liked the Father, Love the Son

I will always remember George H.W. Bush for this: "This aggression against Kuwait will not stand." He took a stand against lawlessness and led a coalition that initiated the beginning of the end for Saddam Hussein. His administration then made a fundamental miscalculation by not forcing Saddam out and his failure to surround himself with the right political folks contributed mightily to eight years of the 'glorious' Clinton administration which historians will remember less kindly than many expect - who lost Osama in Sudan?

George W., on the other hand, is not his father. Barnes characterizes W as an 'insurgent' in a short, brilliant piece in the WSJ (also on OpinionJournal.com here) that explains why Bush is so HATED in many circles but well loved in many others. Excerpt:

The scheming in Washington as President Bush prepares for his second term is easily explained. It's the insurgents versus the Washington establishment, and the insurgents are winning.

Mr. Bush finds himself in the unusual position -- for a president, anyway -- as leader of the insurgents. Unlike other presidents who came to Washington with bold plans, Mr. Bush has not been housebroken by establishment forces. Even Ronald Reagan made peace with Washington. Mr. Bush hasn't.
Contrary to the doubters, the establishment does exist and does throw its weight around. It consists of the permanent bureaucracy, much of the vast political community of lobbyists and lawyers and consultants, leftovers from Congress and earlier administrations, trade groups and think tanks, and the media. The establishment can and does shape the zeitgeist in Washington and, importantly, a huge chunk of the Senate is establishment-oriented and dozens of senators themselves members of the establishment. It's become more Republican in recent years but is still center-left in ideological tilt. But it's liberal in a reactionary way, passionately opposing conservative change.

In the eyes of the establishment, the Bush tactics, the Bush agenda, and Mr. Bush himself are over the top.
Mr. Bush's agenda is post-Reagan in its conservatism, which means it's more far-reaching and thus more threatening to the establishment. Mr. Bush would not only reform Social Security and allow individuals to invest a portion of their payroll taxes in financial markets, he would also revamp the entire federal tax code and fill the Supreme Court with judicial conservatives...In foreign affairs, Mr. Bush would make aggressive efforts to spread democracy around the world the centerpiece. The foreign policy élite is aghast.
By Washington standards, Mr. Bush is a misfit. He's different. He barely socializes at all and on weekends and holidays makes a beeline for Camp David or his ranch in Crawford, Texas. He'd rather invite Christian musician Michael W. Smith and his wife to the White House for dinner than eat out.
Mr. Bush is also a seriously religious man in a largely secular town. This has brought him no end of criticism. He also refuses to hide his loathing of the press, probably the most dominant force in Washington. In short, Mr. Bush hasn't tried to fit in.

Nor has he been tamed. Domesticating new presidents is the favorite pastime of the Washington establishment. . .

Mr. Bush prefers to infuriate the establishment. His most provocative move was to accept Mr. Powell's resignation, then ease him out of office quickly instead of allowing him a few months to tie up loose ends at the State Department. The establishment regarded Mr. Powell as their lone representative in the upper reaches of the Bush administration, and now he's gone.

Almost as bad, Mr. Powell was succeeded by a Bush loyalist, Ms. Rice.
If Mr. Bush is anxious his insurgency might fail, he hasn't let on. On the contrary, he exudes confidence that, despite the establishment, he'll succeed in his second term. Mr. Bush did make one bow to the establishment last week. He showed up in a tuxedo at the British embassy for a party honoring Ms. Rice. "One tux a term," a White House official said. "That's our idea of outreach to the Washington community."

In a thematically related piece Charles Krauthammer focuses on how Dick Cheney's lack of presidential ambition empowers the administration in a remarkable way.

There is an unusual feature to the second Bush Administration that is extraordinarily important but has been almost entirely overlooked. For the first time in a half-century, a two-term presidency will end without sending out its Vice President to seek a mandate for succession at the next election.
With Cheney's renouncing presidential ambitions, it is known in advance that the Bush Administration will die in January 2009 without an heir. What does that mean? Late in Bush's term, it will mean terminal lame duckness, even more powerlessness than most late presidencies experience.

But early in Bush's second term, the fact that Bush-Cheneyism will never have to seek popular ratification again gives Bush unique freedom of action. Which, in the hands of a President with unusually ambitious goals, will yield perhaps the most energetic — to some, the most dangerous — presidency of our lifetime.

Bush is fully aware of his situation. Hence the remarkable alacrity with which, after the election, he seized the moment. No two-month vacation to unwind. No waiting for the January Inauguration to set the agenda. He waited but two days to lay claim not just to victory but to a mandate.
This is no accidental presidency. Bush intends his to be a consequential presidency. And he knows that in January 2009 it all ends. This is a man on a mission, indeed several missions. And very little time. If that scares the Democrats who tried everything to defeat him — and those around the world who were desperately hoping for his replacement and repudiation — it should.

Vision and guts. W has them both in spades.

HT: Neal Boortz

[UPDATE/Correction: the Barnes column is on OpinionJournal.com, the WSJ's free opinion site that usually includes a column or two each day that is published in the newspaper. The link is above, before the excerpt. -- The Monk]

UN peacekeeping: the bad and the ugly

This is absolutely horrendous: reports from the Congo on how UN peacekeepers and staff abused and raped refugees, required sexual favors in exchange for basic necessities and mistreated the people the UN lackeys were supposed to protect.

Oh yeah, some of this is caught on tape -- but considering that the link in the title is from AlertNet, not the NY Times, WaPo or CNN, you likely won't see the tapes (the viewable in primetime portions, that is) on the evening news. I'll take bets on that.

HT: The Cap'n from M. Malkin

A good dissent

Stick with me here, because this is a long one, but there is a payoff.

After the 9-11 Commission issued its report earlier this year, both presidential candidates immediately took up the standard and encouraged Congress to pass intelligence reform along the lines of the report recommendations. That should have been just an election-year ploy because the simple fact is that the 9-11 Commission recommendations reveal the Commission's lack of understanding of the intelligence problems that faced this country (remember, the Commission consisted of members with virtually no intelligence experience). Instead, the Commission recommendations were pure Washington-insider solutions to problems that arose from Washington-insider outlooks: centralizing intelligence gathering, unifying all intel under a National Intelligence Director, unlimited tenure on oversight committees (a nice way to ensure problems get entrenched), etc. As Michael Ledeen noted at the time:

The commission has actually come up with an oversight scheme that would almost certainly make things even worse than they have been. They want new oversight committees, with "bipartisan staff" (presumably selected by the Archangel Michael, because nobody in Washington is capable of such an act), bigger budgets, and unlimited tenure. This is a guarantee of corruption. Elected officials with open-ended terms will invariably end up in the pockets of the intelligence community. The best hope for honest congressional criticism is short tenure and revolving staff.

Worse still, the report calls for even more money for intelligence, and an entirely new layer of bureaucracy, the effect of which would be far greater centralization of the whole process.

I think this gets the problem backwards. We need a smaller intelligence community, not a bigger one, because bigger means more homogenized. The Senate Intelligence Committee report complained about "group think," which is the inevitable outcome of a big community that has to agree on final language for finished intelligence. It would be far better, in my opinion, to let real specialists tell the policymakers what they think, and sign their names to their conclusions. That way, if an analyst successfully solved a problem, he could be rewarded. As things stand now — and the matter is even worse if the commission's recommendations are adopted — no one can be rewarded for original thinking, and bad analysis gets blamed on the whole organization.

Sen. Hagel (a liberal favorite because he occasionally opposes the President) noted in early August that others were studying how to fix the US intelligence system, and that progress had been made; therefore implementing the Commission recommendations was neither necessary nor desireable. And the always-notable Richard Posner decried the Commission's conclusions that centralization and unanimity were desireable:

[The Commission] believes in centralizing intelligence, and people who prefer centralized, pyramidal governance structures to diversity and competition deprecate dissent. But insistence on unanimity, like central planning, deprives decision makers of a full range of alternatives.

The President wants a national intelligence reform but has failed to relegate his support for the 9-11 Commission recommendations to the ash-heap of the presidential campaign; he wants the bill incorporating those reforms, which the Senate passed, to get through the house. Unfortunately he cares more about the achievement of getting the legislation signed than about the contents thereof (think No Child Left Behind II).

Yesterday, the House of Representatives, led by Duncan Hunter and James Sensenbrenner, scuttled the bill, at least in its current form. Why? Too much control for the "National Intelligence Director" to command budgets and allocate battlefield resources away from the military. I also dislike the provisions that would make the Intel budget public -- there are certain things the people have a right to know, but state secrets and the minutiae of the intel budget are not among them. Here is a cut from Brendan Miniter's column (link in title) saluting Hunter (and Sensenbrenner, although the latter is not named in the piece):

. . . the 9/11 Commission suggested a complete overhaul of the intelligence community, including creating a national intelligence director to lord over the CIA and other agencies as well as control the budgets for the intelligence agencies inside the Defense Department, create a National Counter Terrorism Center and make public the intelligence budget.

The Senate picked up these recommendations--including provisions to allow the new national intelligence director to pull money and personnel away from the Pentagon's intelligence agencies. Under the Senate's plan, the National Counter Terrorism Center would also have "operational control"--meaning the new intelligence czar could order soldiers and CIA operatives, for example, to carry out missions overseas without any input from the director of the CIA or the secretary of defense.

The problems here are obvious. The intelligence czar, who was expected to occupy office space within the CIA, would likely end up draining intelligence resources away from the military to meet the needs of the CIA, FBI and other civilian spy agencies. That could leave soldiers in the field without the critical, real-time intelligence they need to fight on the modern battlefield--what House Armed Services Chairman Duncan Hunter calls the soldiers' "lifeline." To use a current example, if this was already in place, soldiers fighting in Fallujah might not have had the satellite linkups they needed to study the changing battlefield. Money and technology aside, the military also feared the intelligence director would pull essential personnel away from military duties--something explicitly within his power under the Senate's plan.

Note to Congress: Try again if you must, but get it right.

Monday, November 22, 2004

Top 500 songs?

Rolling Stone, the self-anointed ultimate arbiter of all that is good and holy in the world of popular music, has listed its picks for the 500 greatest Rock & Roll songs of all time. Really, it's a Pop Music list, because it includes Rap (two Public Enemy songs, two Eminem, others), R'n'B (much Marvin Gaye, some Aretha, Al Green, more) and soul (some James Brown, et al.). Naturally, the list has numerous classics.

It also has numerous problems: 1) overweighting the list with 50s-70s songs; lack of Heavy Metal songs other than two anthems by AC/DC and Enter Sandman; 2) random inclusion of a couple of country songs, but a country music fan reading the list would wonder about a lot of missing tunes; 3) ignoring the '90s (it was not a complete wasteland).

Now obviously there will be matters of taste: I'm not into the Beatles (23 songs, seven of the top 30) or Dylan (12 songs, including No. 1, Like A Rolling Stone), although I cannot avoid acknowledging their contributions to the pantheon. But some of their songs are relatively unimportant (Norweigian Wood, the Stones' Street Fightin' Man) compared to those that have been excluded.

Others are completely overlooked (Pearl Jam's survivor-guilt anthem Alive, Green Day's Good Riddance and Basket Case, Mellencamp's Jack and Diane, Living Color's Cult of Personality, The Police's Don't Stand So Close to Me and Message in a Bottle; I expected my favorite song of theirs, Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic to be ignored). And there aren't many obscure classics either.

But at least it's interesting.


Anti-Semites at Columbia U.

The Daily News has an investigative piece into Columbia University's professors who despise Israel and the intimidation tactics they have used against students who defend it. The climate of repression led to one intrepid student group making a short (25-minute) film, "Columbia Unbecoming," that chronicles some of the anti-Semitic rhetoric and repression, produced by the David Project. The film has been screened for some top administrators at Columbia.

Remember, Columbia was the home of Edward Said, originator of the theory of Orientalism, faux Palestinian (he was Egyptian), and anti-Semite. The fruit doesn't fall far from its poisonous tree.

Here's some of the thoughts of the Upper West Side elites:

In the world of Hamid Dabashi [Middle East Studies Dept. Chair], supporters of Israel are "warmongers" and "Gestapo apparatchiks."

The Jewish homeland is "nothing more than a military base for the rising predatory empire of the United States."

Nicholas De Genova, who teaches anthropology and Latino studies. The Chronicle of Higher Education calls him "the most hated professor in America."

At an anti-war teach-in last year, he said he wished for a "million Mogadishus," referring to the slaughter of U.S. troops in Somalia in 1993.

* * *
Joseph Massad, who is a tenure-track professor of Arab politics. Students and faculty interviewed by The News consistently claimed that the Jordanian-born Palestinian is the most controversial, and vitriolic, professor on campus.

"How many Palestinians have you killed?" he allegedly asked one student, Tomy Schoenfeld, an Israeli military veteran, and then refused to answer his questions.

* * *
Lila Abu-Lughod, a professor of anthropology, romanticizes Birzeit University in the West Bank as a "liberal arts college dedicated to teaching and research in the same spirit as U.S. colleges."

But it is well-established that Birzeit also is the campus where Hamas openly recruits suicide bombers, stone-throwers and gunmen.

These people are vile heirs to the Nazi thought process and they are teaching young adults at one of the most prestigious colleges in the world. There's something wrong with that.

N.B. -- The Monk whiffed on some details when this was initially posted and has corrected them: the film is Columbia Unbecoming, produced (read: financed) by the David Project and made by and with Columbia students and it is 25 minutes long; corrected info courtesy John Fund. So much for posting by memory alone.

Sad but true

Riot in Santiago

The notion that any foreign government or security group in any foreign country would not allow (or would seek to prevent) the Secret Service members who guard Pres. Bush from accompanying him is reprehensible. If Chile does not apologize profusely and take appropriate actions, there should be repercussions from the fiasco in Santiago where Chilean security sought to prevent the Secret Service detail from accompanying the President to his APEC appearance.

The White House and Congress should issue warnings to all other foreign governments about the seriousness of seeking to prevent Secret Service details from protecting the President and publicly proclaim that any such interference will enable the Presidential detail to take all necessary actions to secure the President himself. This comment on The Powerline Blog encapsulates the situation nicely.

Where Arabs and Jews Agree

Click the link to see how rich American Jews love Bill Clinton, and so do Saudis.

Getting Specter to Smarten Up

Robert Novak details the behind-the-scenes machinations to get Specter to play ball as the price of becoming Judiciary Committee chairman. His piece includes yet more reason to like John Cornyn.

Saturday, November 20, 2004

Arafat's legacy redux

A Canadian columnist gets it. Two cuts will elucidate:

. . . the late PLO chief was more than "a bit of a rogue". He was a monster: a man with the blood of thousands on his hands, who never cared to wash them. A man who led a whole people, the Palestinian Arabs whom he ruled as feudal lord, into a pit of hopeless squalor.

* * *
The hushed tones of respect -- whether from the CBC and affiliates, or from Kofi Annan, Nelson Mandela, Jimmy Carter, Jacques Chirac -- is indicative of a posturing moral attitude that stinks to heaven.

And yet, what is new about it? The whole 20th century was a story of the charnel house, yet throughout, the self-appointed moral elect worshiped the icons of mass-destruction - Lenin, Hitler, Stalin, Mao, Fidel, Che Guevara. "Islamism" appears ready to provide the 21st century with what Communism gave the one before; and the seedy old Marxist fellow-travellers of our media and academy have long since begun making their adjustments, and genuflecting to the cool new revolutionary gods. Their rhetorical hitlist consists of the same old suspects -- the decent bourgeois politicians trying to defend their peoples from harm: the Bushes, Blairs, Berlusconis, Howards, Aznars.

It should be said that the person who spits at the mention of George W. Bush, but weeps for Arafat, is beyond twitting. Such a person is sick in the head.


Friday, November 19, 2004

All too true

Bias in Academe

Thankfully, I went to a relatively conservative university where liberal PC rubbish was minimal. Then I went to a law school in the northeast where liberal orthodoxy was preposterous (one comment on one of my papers = for using the generic "he", the prof. told me "Don't use offensive language!"). I bugged out of there to a more moderate place for the remainder of law school that, despite a fairly liberal faculty and student body, was relaxed and relatively tolerant of all viewpoints. So I've avoided some of the worst professorial excess.

Today, John Tierney writes on a study of the political affiliations of the professoriat (link in title); and Stanley Kurtz notes this study in The Corner. Results? About what I'd expect.

Stupidity of judges and lawyers

George Orwell said that some ideas are so stupid only an intellectual would believe them. The corollary to that is some decisions are so dumb only a judge would make them. For instance: granting custody of an unrelated child to a registered sex offender. That happened in Minnesota, and the Cap'n is all over the story.

The bare details: woman with three kids, two are from a man who is registered perv after being convicted nine years earlier (recidivism rates do not necessarily decrease over time). Her third child has no relation to him. She is the perv's girlfriend and loses custody because she is an irresponsible fool. Both she AND the ten-watt guardian ad litem (child's attorney) recommend all three kids to live with the perv. Judge DumbAsARock agrees.

And the perv rapes the unrelated girl. Repeatedly.

And the liberal, and immoral, Minnesota Bar Association is defending the judge and guardian ad litem. (HT: Cap'n again).

I actually hope that molesters who go in the brig, serve their time, and are ostracized by society whilst they struggle to stay clean will be able to gain something of a normal life and that their victims will be able to cope. But that does not obviate the fact that the pervs committed HEINOUS crimes and should live with the consequences until their demise. And given the exceedingly high recidivism rates for these sexual deviants, they should NEVER be put in a position of daily access to unrelated children.

The judge and the ad litem are just plain stupid. The former should lose his spot on the bench; the latter should be sacked.

Perspectives from Baghdad

From the always excellent Powerline blog a view from Baghdad on the Marine who shot the wounded terrorist in the Falluja mosque:

I just got of the phone with my father in Baghdad. I asked him what is the reaction of the Marine killing the injured Iraqi in the Mosque in Felujah. His first words were "Good riddance."

People are not giving it a second thought. Any terrorist who attacks soldiers from Mosques has no sanctuary. Any terrorists who fake death to kill in a mosque deserve no mercy. He says Iraqis (including Sunnis) are fed up with the terrorists and want them eliminated.

There was much uproar about the brutal kidnapping killing of Mrs. Margaret Hassan. Iraqis are upset outraged and disgusted with her brutal abduction & killing. She helped us, helped the poor & needy and this what the terrorist do to her and her family.

He says we must stay strong, united and relentless in the pursuit of the terrorist. Baghdad had relative calm over the last few days. People are even going out in the street till 9:30pm now.

Please spread the message, let America Know that the Iraqis are with us, grateful and want us to stay strong and get stronger so that we can all defeat terrorism.

Is it too much to ask that the braying hand-wringers here at home and elsewhere to display the same judgement?

Also don't miss the link to Diana West's piece, to wit:

Who, among the global millions who have watched NBC's videotaped-shooting, realize that a comrade of the Marine in question was killed by a booby-trapped corpse the day before? That same corpse-bomb wounded five others in the unit. And who, among those same millions, realize that even as Marine X, NBC's global anti-hero, was shooting the enemy he suspected was playing possum, just a block away, another explosive-rigged corpse was killing another young Marine?

I have a very bad feeling that this Marine will hang (figuratively) for what he did because of the perceived need to placate world opinion and perhaps make pacifying Iraq and maybe the Middle East peace process easier. I hope I'm wrong.

Thursday, November 18, 2004

Ah, those enlightened Europeans

Welcome to Spain, land of Francophilic socialists and racist futbol fans. At least that's the lone impression you might get from last night's heinous treatment of England's black soccer players by the Spanish fans, including little kids during the England-Spain "friendly" soccer match.

And this was not a case of a small pack or two of yayhoos yelling racist statements; instead, the much of the stadium crowd was hurling the abuse.


Behind Spitzer's crusades

The Wall Street Journal editorial page ran an excellent piece on NY State Attorney General Eliot Spitzer this week. In "Mr. Spitzer's Allies", the WSJ questions, in the context of his current crusade against the insurance industry:

...a bigger mystery is who gains from Mr. Spitzer's more sweeping assault on basic industry practices. So far as we can see, the answer is that these anti-corporate campaigns largely end up benefiting politicians and their allies in the trial bar. The mutual back-scratching between those two camps, conducted in full view on a growing number of public policy issues, deserves far more scrutiny.

While Spitzer's investigations did uncover illegal bid rigging which is egregious and whose perpetrators should be punished, his original 'target', contingent commissions in the insurance industry, were not only well known but there is insufficient evidence that it was bad for the industry:

...The AG's outrage is strange considering that "contingents" have been around for decades and have only grown more transparent over the years. State insurance regulators have never moved to bar them. Even the main industry group for insurance customers (the supposed victims of contingents) hasn't condemned the payments.

Meanwhile, Mr. Spitzer 's suggestion that insurance clients will get a better deal without contingents is debatable, to say the least. Insurers don't pay contingents to brokers for nothing; they pay because these middlemen provide a service in vetting clients and guaranteeing good return business. Insurers will either have to pay someone else to do that job, or swallow more risk. Either way premiums will remain as costly, if not costlier.

Here's the rub:

So why the Spitzer campaign, and why now? Consider the following timeline, dating back more than five years. That's when contingents first became a subject of public debate. Insurance clients were criticizing the brokerage industry for not divulging enough payment information, and so starting in 1998 a leading brokerage trade group began recommending full disclosure, while the large brokers entered into formal agreements with clients to do so. The New York state regulator even issued a rule for greater transparency.

The industry's reward for making these adjustments was to become the new trial-bar target. Several law firms filed test lawsuits -- arguing that contingents were unfair business practices, "kickbacks," or worse -- in tort friendly arenas such as California and Illinois. Things went quiet as cases worked their way through the system -- that is, until last fall.

That's when the tort bar got a few green lights from the judiciary in Illinois.
Within months, Mr. Spitzer had launched his own investigation into contingents. (It wasn't until September that the AG stumbled across the illegal bid-rigging.) A few of his usual partners-in-lawsuits, Connecticut AG Richard Blumenthal and California insurance commissioner John Garamendi, weren't far behind. The tort bar seemed to be apprised of various probes. One partner at Anderson, Kill and Olick -- behind a California suit against insurers -- said in May that he'd been contacted earlier in the year by "regulators" from two states about contingents.

By August -- two months before Mr. Spitzer announced his charges -- the giant of class-action firms, Milberg Weiss, had landed a lawsuit against the top brokers. When Mr. Spitzer finally filed his complaint, it was met with glowing headlines to add to his scrapbook for his upcoming Governor's run. And Milberg was perfectly positioned to expand its lawsuit within a few days to include a half-dozen more deep pockets, ahem, brokers.

* * *
In an interview on Friday, Mr. Spitzer told us he didn't have any knowledge of the lawsuits save "one case filed out West" before he began his investigation, and that what inspired his probe was a letter from the Washington Legal Foundation. He said his office may have spoken to people in the trial bar industry, including Eugene Anderson (of Anderson, Kill and Olick), though solely "to understand the issue" at the beginning of the probe, adding that "we do not work with the plaintiffs bar."

. . . regardless of motive and communication, there certainly is a clear community of interest at work: Trial lawyers target an industry; politicians later get media kudos for pursuing said industry; lawyers, in turn, find their original cases bolstered in court.[emphasis mine] The targeted industry, meanwhile, has every incentive to settle the cases to limit its headline risk and put the matter behind it -- never mind that most of the practices in question have been, and still are, perfectly legal.

The lawyers and politicians certainly do well, but about the broader society we have our doubts. The legislators or appointed regulators chosen by voters to make these public policy decisions are made irrelevant by Mr. Spitzer 's legal force majeure. The companies involved pay a huge ransom to the trial bar, while shareholders watch the value of their holdings plummet, employees lose their jobs, or consumers pay more for goods and services once companies are forced to pay billions of dollars in settlements. [emphasis mine]

Non New Yorkers may not remember that Eliot Spitzer's father essentially bought him the Attorney General seat in NY. Spitzer's father spent millions in his campaign for AG - highly unusual for a position where most voters really care little. Since then Spitzer has shamelessly tapped into the post-Internet bubble and Enron 'rage' to go after as many high profile and unpopular targets as possible.

Has he done some good? Yes. His relentless crusade against investment banks and analysts has led Wall Street to change some ill-advised practices. But none of those practices were secret or illegal. You had to be pretty clueless not to realize that analyst-investment bank-client relationship. And, then, as ever, fools are easily separated from their money. So, who benefits? Certainly the trial lawyers and Spitzer himself who has made no secret his desire for the Governor's mansion in 2006.

Whither the Germans?

This brought immediately to mind Mark Steyn's comment that "Germany is a in demographic death spiral and will never be an economic powerhouse again."

...Dr. Klingholz drew attention here last spring when he calculated that without new immigrants, Germany's population would wither from 82 million to 24 million by 2100. If the country maintained its current rate of 230,000 immigrants a year, it would still shrink by 700,000 over the next 15 years.

The inexorable, transformative power of demography cannot be underestimated. It is, however, vastly underappreciated.

The Bush effect?

Hugh Hewitt and Andrew Sullivan are both touting Pres. Bush for Time's Man of the Year. A good, logical choice. Now let's see how Time botches this. I will never forgive Time for its cop-out choice for Man of the Century of the 1900s by choosing Einstein. Sorry, but that one isn't even close: there's Churchill and all others. No greater man with greater effect lived in those 100 years.

Meanwhile, Arthur Chrenkoff notes that Poland has ditched its historically Francophilic outlook in favor of an Atlanticist bent. Why were they so closely aligned with the French? Poland is the most Catholic country in Europe east of Italy (which probably accounts in no small degree for the traditional German, Austrian and Russian antipathy towards the Poles -- the former two are Protestant, the latter [when religious to any degree] Eastern Orthodox), France is one of the five main Catholic countries in Western Europe (with Italy, Spain, Portugal and Ireland) and the people themselves share some traits, as Chrenkoff explains.

Why have the Poles changed their alignment? Like Italy and Hungary, Poland is a country that has historically been trampled upon by greater powers: conquered, annexed, liberated and then conquered. Its ultimate freedom came with the fall of the Soviet Union and that happened thanks to the US, not France. Poland remembers the dark days of totalitarian rule. The policies of President Bush serve to ignite their love of political freedom, and remind the Poles (and Hungarians, Czechs, Bulgars and Romanians) why that freedom is so important and valuable. No other country's policies resonate with the Polish polity in that way.

The Poles are now stalwart allies of the US. Good. The more countries with their priorities straight, the better.

Wednesday, November 17, 2004

Tap tap taps (Updated)

There's been entirely too much chatter about the Marine who capped a terrorist captured at a mosque in Fallujah. The indications The Monk has are that the terrorist was not surrendering in an open and obvious manner, therefore there were doubts as to whether the terrorist was attempting to deceive the Marines such that he could escape, or worse, detonate himself and take a couple of grunts with him (LGF notes that on the NBC tape, after the one terrorist got whacked, his fellow nearby immediately made it obvious that he was surrendering; he lived). Some press reports are claiming this is a murder, that the Marine unjustly killed an unarmed man, etc.

Other press reports are hyperbolically (if not wistfully) comparing the NBC filming of the Marine to Nguyen Ngoc Loan's execution of a VC terrorist in Vietnam (and that execution was entirely justified under the laws of war). The anti-war and anti-administration press wishes it could have that effect. Indeed, as Bill from INDC Journal notes:

Most MSM outlets can't muster up the outrage to energetically condemn the extremist forces that decapitate innocents on camera and wave the severed heads in the air, or shoot blinfolded women in the head, but are all too ready to swarm over primarily non-fatal psychological abuse conducted by a cadre of undisciplined soldiers and their incompetent management, or the possibly criminal execution of a wounded Iraqi in the heat of urban combat, because the negative incidents selectively lend credence to their predetermined narrative: the war is a misguided, ignoble effort that dehumanizes all participants. And it's always more comfortable for liberal elitists to practice self-critical moral equivalence within their own societal sphere than to label extremist elements of a foreign culture as psycopathic murderers that demand extermination.

I have noted before that terrorists have no rights under the Geneva Convention and can be shot on sight, period. And they should be. Dead terrorists can't kill anyone else. Is this some cold nuke-them-all-and-let-G*d-sort-them-out reaction? No. It's pure legal analysis combined with hard reality: terrorists have no rights under the laws of war and this is so because the laws of war are designed to protect noncombatants and ensure humane treatment for combatants and legal combatants are those who are identifiable as the military of a state with a hierarchy that commands them. Terrorists are merely cold-blooded murderers who claim a "cause" and hide amongst civilians.

Meanwhile, now that we are in the Internet age, former Navy SEALs like Matt Heidt can put this whole issue into perspective:

What about the Geneva Conventions and all that Law of Land Warfare stuff? What about it[?] Without even addressing the issues at hand you[r] first thought should be, "I'd rather be judged by 12 than carried by 6." Bear in mind that this is a perpetual mindset that is reinforced by experiences gained on a minute by minute basis. Secondly, you are fighting an unlawful combatant in a Sanctuary which is a double No No on his part. Third, tactically you are in no position to take "prisoners" because there are more rooms to search and clear, and the behavior of said terrorist indicates that he is up to no good. No good in Fallujah is a very large place and the low end of no good and the high end of no good are fundamentally the same... Marines get hurt or die. So there is no compelling reason for you to do anything but double tap this idiot and get on with the mission.

If you are a veteran[,] then everything I have just written is self evident, if you are not a veteran than at least try to put yourself in the situation. Remember, in Fallujah there is no yesterday, there is no tomorrow, there is only now. Right NOW. Have you ever lived in NOW for a week? It is not easy, and if you have never lived in NOW for longer than it takes to finish the big roller coaster at Six Flags, then shut your hole about putting Marines in jail for war crimes.

That seems about right.

And don't let the door hit you on the arse . . .

Goodbye to Tom Daschle, disingenuous hyperliberal EX-Senator from the newly rational state of South Dakota. Daschle was the architect of the Democrats' obstructionism over the past two years. He came from a state that overwhelmingly voted for Bush, but Daschle overwhelmingly voted like Ted Kennedy.

I wouldn't expect to see Daschle hanging around the Black Hills or walking through downtown Pierre anytime soon -- he has a multimillion dollar manse in DC. Nice deal for a public servant who makes less than $200K/year in salary.

Smarten up: the threat from Iran

The NYT reports that an Iranian exile group, which has given accurate information in the past (i.e., still has contacts in the Iranian government), has reported that:

Iran obtained weapons-grade uranium and a design for a nuclear bomb from a Pakistani scientist [A.Q. Khan, the father of the Pakistani bomb -- TKM] who has admitted to selling nuclear secrets abroad . . .

The group, [which] has given accurate information before, also said Iran is secretly enriching uranium at a military site previously unknown to the U.N., despite promising France, Britain and Germany that it would halt all such work.

The Iranian promises to the EU-3 group are worthless: the Iranians agreed only to a temporary cessation of enrichment and would still collect a certain uranium gas from centrifuge operations designed to increase energy output (the putative use for nuclear power in Iran is France's most common use: generating electricity). That gas can be enriched to the necessary uranium grade used in nuclear weapons. Essentially, Iran openly agreed to go nuclear later at some indeterminate time. And, of course, the Iranians are continuing their quest for the bomb secretly while telling the Euros to "look at what we say, not what we do."

More on the credulity of the Europeans here and here. And see my previous posts here, here, here and here.

Today's sign of the apocalypse

TBS' reality show, The Real Gilligan's Island. It's Survivor meets Gilligan's Island cast with two teams of Gilligan's Island role-fitters (Cap'n, Gilligan, etc.)

And once again, the "Mary Anns" are hotter than the "Gingers". I knew I should've grown up on a farm.


Terrorists shot a hooded woman believed to be British aid worker Margaret Hassan who did nothing but devote 30 years to helping Iraqis, opposed sanctions and opposed Operation Iraqi Freedom. Yet she was kidnapped in a futile effort to force the UK government to capitulate to unreasonable demands. Captain's Quarters eloquently expresses the depravity of this act and the scum who did it:

...Kidnapping civilians as hostages paints a cowardly enough picture of Islamist lunatics, and carving their heads off for the camera makes them look almost infantile in their perversity. Putting a bullet into a woman's hooded head is so cowardly that it takes one's breath away. Together with the discovery of the Polish woman's mutilated and disemboweled corpse yesterday and it's difficult to conclude anything except that those responsible have to be tracked down and killed at all costs.

These are not freedom fighters or Minutemen, as Michael Moore notoriously proclaimed them earlier; these aren't even animals, as animals kill to eat or defend themselves. I can only describe them as ghouls, living demons who live to smell the blood of others in what appears to be some pseudosexual release. They live without a shred of honor or dignity, and like any other psychopath, only derive pleasure from the torture of others. [emphasis mine]

We can never take the pressure off of these "people." No matter what we do, they will never stop killing, and if we're not careful they'll come here for their next victims. Only when we have stamped the last of these sick bastards into the next world will we have any security in this one.
That's calling it like it is.

Tuesday, November 16, 2004

If I'm right, I'll remind you

Yes, you will hear the Itoldyouso from me the second Specter fu--s over the President on judicial nominees. According to NRO's Kathryn Lopez, Hatch has said Specter will be the next Senate Judiciary Committee chairman.

And I thought Bush won the election.

Whither the Kim posters?

The BBC reports that some photos, pictures and other likenesses of Kim Jong-il, NoKor totalitarian Stalin wannabe, are missing. Curious. In a place like North Korea, these things happen for a reason. But no one seems to be able to tell what that reason is.

HT: The Cap'n.

No Eric Milton

Getting riled up about random rumors in the baseball offseason is a good way to wear out your stomach lining. But persistent rumors, oft-repeated, are another thing. And for the Yankees, that thing isn't good.

Why? The Yanks are so desperate to get lefty pitching, they covet Eric Milton. Last year, Milton had a 4.75 ERA and gave up 43 HR in 201 IP and he pitched IN THE NATIONAL LEAGUE. That's the same National League where the hitting is so bad that the Cardinals' pitching could look good. That's the same NL where every pitcher gets 2 free outs on each trip through the lineup: the No. 8 hitter (a light-hitting catcher or middle infielder) and the pitcher. In the NL, there are no players the quality of Adam Kennedy, John Olerud or Bill Mueller hitting eighth or ninth.

Milton pitched for the Phailies last year and so you say, well he pitched in a bandbox because everyone knows that PNC Field is a homer haven. True. But MORE THAN HALF (23/43) of Milton's ridiculously high homer total came ON THE ROAD. And the unbalanced schedule in the NL means that Milton and the Phils played such popgun offenses as Florida, Montreal, the Mess and Atlanta in more than 40% of their games. Oh yeah, those stinkbomb offenses play in four of the five least hitter-friendly ballparks in the NL (San Diego is the other).

Now imagine Milton facing a full season of FULL lineups in the AL against such can-hit teams as the Orioles, RedSawx, Blojays (plus three potential starts against the Rangers and Angels) in such hitter-havens as Fenway, SkyDome and that little league field in Baltimore. Yuck. It would be homerun derby every five days.

Message to the Yanks: DO NOT SIGN ERIC MILTON.

It's simple: the Yanks would WASTE money and completely screw up their rotation by signing Milton.

Switchboard overload against Specter

The folks at notspecter.com list the names and phone numbers of the Republican Senate Judiciary Committee members so you can call them and register your opinion on whether Senator Specter should be the Judiciary Committee chairman. There has been a lot of fighting on the Right about whether Specter should ascend to the chairmanship with such stalwart right-wingers as Hugh Hewitt, Jonathan Last and Ed Morrisey have defended Specter and called for the Republicans to get behind him as Judiciary Chairman. Most of their reasons have to do with "big tent" concepts and "learning to be a governing party". Here's the kernel of Morrisey's reasoning, and it is close to Hewitt's take too:
If we start demanding ideological purity, we will drive off a significant level of support not only for Bush in the Senate but from the electorate as a whole. Why did the Democrats lose their majority status in the first place? . . . The International ANSWER wing of the Democratic Party drove them off over the last years of their majority status when they demanded a politically-correct party line and brooked no dissent.

As an example, can you imagine a pro-life Democrat being given any kind of leadership position now? He or she would be driven from office by a combination of Emily's List, NOW, and a half-dozen other advocacy groups in the next primary.

If we want to maintain our ascendancy, we need to develop the maturity to allow those who agree with us on 75% of the issues to feel as though they belong in the GOP. Specter has already been put on notice, and as long as he has something to lose (the chair), he will be pressured to support the President's legislative agenda and judicial nominations. If he has nothing left to lose, we face not only six years of obstructionism by Specter but likely a coalition of centrist GOP Senators that will coalesce to hold the GOP majority hostage in the next two.

These are all good points and true to some degree. But they are ultimately irrelevant to the central issue: can you trust Specter to get Bush's nominations through the Senate? The answer is no. Specter has long been a "maverick" who swings left on social issues. He has said time and again that he views abortion as a fundamental right -- a view completely at odds with the President. He has called for moderate judicial appointments and decried the possibility of another Scalia or Thomas on the bench. Despite leading the charge for Thomas' confirmation (laudable, yes, but he's been paid back time and again for that), Specter has been "disappointed" with Thomas' performance on the bench. And despite the press spin, this is NOT an abortion/nonabortion litmus test of Republican Senators as Republicans. Instead, the issue is whether the Republicans can afford to have a Judiciary Chairman who is not favorably disposed to the President's likely nominees after FOUR years of Senatorial obstruction by Democrats against highly qualified judicial candidates based solely on politics. Considering that Specter rails against his own party and accuses his opponents of being right-wing extremists, and that he rubbished the notion that Bush had won a mandate in a press conference held AT THE SAME TIME as Bush's victory/acceptance speech on November 3, reveals where Specter's position really lies. And I'm not even going to touch upon the inherent power over staffing that Specter would have as committee chairman, his close ties to trial lawyers (and support therefrom during the '04 election) and his failure to campaign for the President in a swing state after the President had provided the margin of victory for Specter in his Senatorial primary this year.

The issues of "litmus testing" and "intolerance" that Morrisey and Hewitt raise are shibboleths for "we're afraid of bad press." This is ridiculous. Republicans curry favor with the media entirely too much and try entirely too hard to do so. The media is left-wing, anti-Republican and fundamentally aligned against conservatives. The mere fact of the fight over whether Specter should get the Judiciary chairmanship is already generating bad press for the right.

Worrying how CBS/ABC/NBC/CNN/NPR will spin an issue results in Republicans hamstringing themselves. Either play to the media that could be favorable like Fox News, right-wing blogs, and talk radio or don't worry about the media and forge ahead (it worked for Churchill, Thatcher and Reagan). If Republican Senators lack the courage of their own convictions, they should resign and let their governors send someone to Washington who has the inner strength needed to play politics. Democrats are good at this, Republicans are not.

Finally, as National Review's Ramesh Ponnuru noted:

We should avoid overstatement here. Nobody is saying that Specter should be sent to Siberia, censured by the Senate, kicked out of the Republican party, or even removed from the Judiciary Committee. The anti-Specter forces are happy to see Specter get another committee chairmanship. They have said only that it would be unwise to put him in charge of one particular committee.

If keeping Specter from the judiciary chairmanship would be a purge, it wouldn't be a purge of pro-choicers . . . Specter, however, has suggested that he might not even countenance the possibility that judges who recognize the unconstitutionality of Roe could get on the bench. Pro-lifers think that maybe someone with those views should not be running the Judiciary Committee. Other conservatives worry about placing someone with Specter's views on originalism, tort reform, and racial preferences in that position.

* * *
I also don't think that the moderate senators often vote out of pique at the conservatives, or do so almost ever as a bloc. Note, by the way, the psychological assumptions being made here. We are supposed to take Specter as a man of his (most recent) word, while also thinking that he is so petulant that he would reject a Supreme Court nominee on the basis of a personal slight; that Specter will hold his failure to get the chairmanship against President Bush but not give him credit for saving his Senate seat. . .

Hewitt is quite right to point out that passing over Specter would be portrayed in the press as an act of intolerance . . . I'm sure that Hewitt knows that liberals will have Republican intolerance among their talking points regardless. (For the press, conservatives can only "overreach" on social issues; they never just "reach," or underreach.) As the Specter debate plays out in the press, it may marginally increase the plausibility of that talking point. Conservatives may reasonably conclude that it is still worth trying to get a better chairman — and resolve to fight any misleading spin that results. That effort would be helped if Hewitt weren't loosely talking about "purges."

Ultimately, it is simple: Specter made this situation through his own actions. He should not obtain the chairmanship of such an important committee when his views are fundamentally opposed to those of a President who is from his own party.

Monday, November 15, 2004

Safire to retire; DRAFT JONAH

William Safire will retire as a weekly columnist for the NY Times as of January 25, 2005. His last regular column will be January 24, 2005.

Like Supreme Court nominations, NY Times conservative columnist appointments are rare and highly watched.

The first preference over all others is the unbeatable Mark Steyn, but he has had both his own and likely some family health problems that have caused him to take a leave of absence from his usual columns for the Chicago Sun-Times, Daily Telegraph, National Review and The Spectator. He is also a Hollinger employee, so there might be contractual problems.

The default pick for MSM to find a conservative is Ann Coulter because she brings the nastiness that the MSM associates with conservatives to her columns (think right-wing MoDo but replace the snark with bile). She won't work on the NYT. Same goes for Michelle Malkin, and anyway Malkin's politics are too nativist for the NYT and the NY market.

Others are off-limits because they work for the competition: Krauthammer, Will, Suzanne Fields, Jeff Jacoby, John Podhoretz, etc.

But if I had my druthers, for the otherthanSteyn pick, I'd go with Jonah Goldberg. He doesn't put a pretty face on conservatism like Coulter or Michelle Malkin (that's for sure), but he's sharp, intellectually well-rounded like Safire was, and occasionally humorous unlike most all-too-eager columnists on both sides of the ideological divide. Plus his humor is of the smile and stick-'em variety, not the LIBERALS SUCK, NOW LAUGH strain that Coulter employs. And, Goldberg doesn't toe the Republican party line -- a near prerequisite for a conservative in the City.

So an intelligent, funny, young conservative to replace the venerated Safire. What better new blood to add without detracting from Safire's honorable legacy than Jonah Goldberg?

Reforming the Beast

I've banged this drum before too: how the CIA's analytical division has actively worked against the Bush Administration. See here, here and here.

Now, Stephen Hayes of the Weekly Standard, and one of the best intelligence-issue journalists in the media, discusses the institutional lassitude and anti-Bush attitude of the CIA. Click the link above. In addition, check out David Brooks' Saturday editorial in the NY Times.

Naturally, Goss' and Bush's attempts to reform the CIA have brought out the nutters in the media who call the reforms a "purge" and whose parallels invoke Stalin's purge of the NKVD. Jon Henke has the details here.

But as Henke notes, Clinton purged the CIA in 1994 and the Center for Security Policy shows how Clinton called for a reshaping of its analysis from the "Cold War" outlook of the 1980s. The two key differences this time: a Republican President changing an out-of-control and repeatedly DEAD WRONG CIA versus a Democratic President who allowed his own idealism to remain free of ACCURATE CIA doubts (check out the CSP entry and the ultimately correct CIA analysis of Jean-Bertrand Aristide that flew in the face of Clinton's policies).

And see also, Just One Minute's roundup of links on this issue. JOM posts this question, whose answer seems obvious to me: "What, one must wonder, is the real agenda of the people providing the helpful [CIA] leaks to the eager reporter - are they simply trying to light candles of truth and illuminate a Better America, or are they trying toss their rider?"

Arafat in a nutshell

Andy McCarthy describes and details both Arafat's terrorist history and the West's pandering to one of the most evil men of the past 100 years in a solid piece. Also read Krauthammer's anti-eulogy.

Meanwhile, the stupid f'king French in certain areas are considering naming streets in Arafat's honor.

Iris Chang, R.I.P.

Ethnically Chinese with first generation immigrant parents, I grew up hearing stories about "The Nanking Massacre". I bought a copy of Iris Chang's "The Rape of Nanking" when it was published for my father who fought in WWII against the Japanese. It is an excellent, painstakingly researched, near-comprehensive account of the event that in parts are nearly unreadable due to the subject matter. The photos are stomach-turning. Unlike the Germans who by and large have faced and admitted their complicity in the Holocaust the Japanese government hasnever done the same about WWII in general and Nanking in particular which rankles many, specifically elderly, Chinese. According to a native Japanese friend, history curricula generally gloss over the WWII period and much of the scholarship about pre-war Japanese imperialism and wartime activities are simply unavailable in Japan.

Chang was considered an excellent young historian and her death is a loss.

The New York Times obituary (click title) is excerpted below. Warning: one paragraph is un-edited and extremely explicit.
Iris Chang, a journalist whose best-selling book, "The Rape of Nanking," a chronicle of the atrocities committed in that city by occupying Japanese forces, helped break a six-decade-long international silence on the subject, committed suicide on Tuesday [09 November] near Los Gatos, Calif. She was 36 and lived in San Jose.
Ms. Chang was found in her car on a rural road south of Los Gatos, dead from an apparently self-inflicted gunshot wound, the local authorities told The San Francisco Chronicle. She had left a suicide note at home that she had painstakingly written, edited and rewritten, her husband, Brett Douglas said in a telephone interview yesterday.

"The Rape of Nanking: The Forgotten Holocaust of World War II" was published by Basic Books in 1997, the 60th anniversary of the massacre. The book documented the events in Nanking (now Nanjing) during the second Sino-Japanese War, in the years leading up to World War II.

In December 1937 Japanese troops entered the city, which until shortly before the invasion had been the Chinese capital. In less than two months they murdered more than 300,000 civilians and raped more than 80,000 women. Ms. Chang's book was the first full-length nonfiction account of the event.

Reviewing "The Rape of Nanking" in The New York Times Book Review, Orville Schell called it an "important new book," adding that Ms. Chang "recounts the grisly massacre with understandable outrage."

She had a keen personal interest in the subject. Ms. Chang's grandparents had fled Nanking just before the occupation, eventually settling in the United States. Growing up in the Midwest, she heard family stories of the massacre, but as an adult she was unable to find much about it in print. In China and Japan, and even in the West, the subject had been almost completely lost to history.

"The whole issue had scar tissue growing over it, but it had never really healed," Mr. Schell, the dean of the Graduate School of Journalism at the University of California, Berkeley, and a longtime observer of China, said in a telephone interview. "She sort of threw the curtain back on a period that the Chinese Communist Party and the Japanese hoped was shrouded in official declarations of a new collaboration. But it turned out there was a lot of unfinished business."

Fluent in Mandarin, Ms. Chang traveled to China, where she scoured archives and interviewed elderly survivors. What she learned would force her to describe the indescribable:

"Many soldiers went beyond rape to disembowel women, slice off their breasts, nail them alive to walls," Ms. Chang wrote. "Fathers were forced to rape their daughters, and sons their mothers, as other family members watched. Not only did live burials, castration, the carving of organs and the roasting of people become routine, but more diabolical tortures were practiced, such as hanging people by their tongues on iron hooks or burying people to their waists and watching them torn apart by German shepherds. So sickening was the spectacle that even Nazis in the city were horrified."

"The Rape of Nanking" spent 10 weeks on the New York Times best-seller list, and close to half a million copies have been sold, Ms. Rabiner said.

The book drew wide international attention. In Japan it prompted outrage among conservatives. (A planned Japanese edition was cancelled in 1999.) Elsewhere it engendered demands for the Japanese government to make reparations or, at least, a formal apology, something Ms. Chang to the end of her life felt had been inadequately done.

"There have been all sorts of little fragments and shards and bits and pieces," Mr. Schell said. "But no one has done what Willy Brandt did: got down on his knees in the Warsaw ghetto and asked forgiveness."

Iris Shun-Ru Chang was born on March 28, 1968, in Princeton, N.J. She grew up in Champaign-Urbana, Ill., where her father, a physicist, and her mother, a microbiologist, taught at the University of Illinois. Ms. Chang received a bachelor's degree in journalism from Illinois in 1989. After working briefly as a reporter for The Associated Press and The Chicago Tribune, she earned a master's degree from the writing program of Johns Hopkins University in 1991.

She published her first book, "Thread of the Silkworm" (Basic Books, 1995), when she was just 27. It told the story of Tsien Hsue-shen, a Chinese-born scientist deported from the United States during the McCarthy era, who returned to China and founded that country's intercontinental missile program. Ms. Chang also wrote "The Chinese in America: A Narrative History," published last year by Viking.

At the time of her death, she was researching a book on American soldiers who served in tank units on the Bataan peninsula before World War II, many of whom were captured and imprisoned by the Japanese. In the course of her research several months ago, Ms. Chang became severely depressed and had to be hospitalized.
Besides her husband, Ms. Chang is survived by her parents, Shau-Jin and Ying-Ying, and a brother, Michael, all of San Jose; and by a son, Christopher.

In a 1998 interview with The Straits Times of Singapore, Ms. Chang described her reasons for writing "The Rape of Nanking":

"I wrote it out of a sense of rage," she said. "I didn't really care if I made a cent from it. It was important to me that the world knew what happened in Nanking back in 1937."

Powell resigns

Colin Powell, Spence Abraham, Ann Venaman, Rod Paige, Don Evans, John Ashcroft. That's the current headcount of Bush Cabinet members who are resigning. Paige and Ashcroft are highly regretted losses. Powell is not -- despite his high Q rating among the press and the punditry, Powell's diplomatic interaction was simply minimalist -- he traveled less than virtually any SecState since the advent of air travel, and this has hurt US efforts abroad. Indeed, some of the US's best diplomatic initiatives are Powell-free, most notably the Proliferation Security Initiative -- an argument in itself to promote John Bolton to SecState.

As for Abraham, hopefully he will go back to Michigan and knock Jennifer Granholm out of the governor's chair in 2006. He's a credible moderate conservative who unfortunately lost his Senate seat to the mendacious Debbie Stabenow in 2000. Maybe he's priming for a Senate rematch -- if so, that would be nice because Michigan is a moderate state that is ill-served by two left-wing obstructionists in the Senate chamber.

Al Leiter on the Yanks

Not yet.

But soon if the Mets 'lose' Leiter trying to save 3 million dollars. Big game, NY proven lefty should be a good match for the Yanks. He walks a few too many and pitch counts would need to be monitored but sported a 3.21 ERA and .218 BAA.

Friday, November 12, 2004

GI Joe Phone Home

Help our troops phone their loved ones -- send them prepaid calling cards. Michelle Malkin has service-specific info, and the link in the title describes the whole program. The Monk just donated a total of 1650 minutes of prepaid vocal connection to three lucky GIs, none of whom he knows, all of whom he thanks.

Why I love the NY Post

HT: Powerline

The "moral values" voter myth

One of the myths of the 2004 election, propounded by the mainstream media and semi-mainstream bloggers like Andrew Sullivan, is that the major voting block that influenced the election was "moral values" voters -- a phrase that the media has transformed into a shibboleth for "evangelical redneck bigots."

The problem is, this myth is pure rubbish, just like the Angry White Males, Soccer Moms and other lines of horsepucky that the media has used to (mis)characterize elections. Proof? Read Charles Krauthammer's takedown of the moral values voter myth today. Then get some backup from the Pew Center research referenced in the title link of this post. Most salient fact that eviscerates the moral values voter myth? Bush increased his percentage of the vote MORE in the 39 states that did NOT have anti-homosexual marriage referenda on their ballots than he did in the 11 states that DID have those referenda up for votes. In Ohio, Bush increased his vote percentage by 1 percentage point over his 2000 take, but in the country as a whole Bush's share increased by more than 3 percentage points. Yet the media holds fast to the myth that Bush won Ohio by increasing the religious base vote thanks to the presence of Ohio's anti-gay marriage initiative on the ballot.

Finally, keep remembering that this is all pure fiction. Why? Because in a couple of years from now you will hear the mainstream media talking heads mention the moral values voters of 2004, probably after the 2006 mid-term elections. At least you'll know the truth.

HT: El Capitan

Thursday, November 11, 2004

Happy Veterans Day

To all US veterans.

And thank you for protecting us all.

More on the Dead Terrorist

Check out Honest Reporting's report on the life and times of terrorist totalitarian murderer Yassir Arafat. "Dark legacy" is a nice understatement.

BTW, Suha Arafat used to be reasonably attractive, now she's a fat sow. Look at her pic towards the end of the article.

Jeff Jacoby, the only reasonable writer at the BoGlo (and likely the only one who is not privately sorrowful over Arafat's death) nails fishface perfectly: Arafat the Monster.

Meanwhile, Hillary Clinton realizes that New York has JEWS and they don't like fishface, and they might remember how she kissed Suha after the sow finished an anti-Semitic diatribe (circa 1999), thus the former First Lady decries Arafat in her remarks. The sicker thing is that anti-Semitic reporter Bob Novak griped about Clintonette's criticism on CNN today.

Also, the Al-Aqsa Martyrs' Brigade is now calling itself the Yassir Arafat Martyrs' Brigade. No sh*t -- it's been that since its inception considering who really ran it and funded it. Unfortunately, Israel never "martyrized" Arafat when it could, and should, have.

Arafat's Record

See here, here and here for more on terrorist totalitarian murderer Arafat.

And see here for a timeline of Arafat's terrorist activities.