Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Thanks Gerhard Schroeder

As Germany moves towards key elections in three weeks, Kenneth Timmerman at the National Review online reminds us of the perfidy and idiocy of Social Democratic Prime Minister Gerhard Schroeder. Three years ago Schroeder played the anti-US card to narrowly defeat his CDU opponent Edmund Stoiber. Then he and Chirac led the obstructionists against the US making the Iraq effort much more difficult. Schroeder is going to the well once again.

Here's what a senior Iranian said about the 'negotiations' that Schroeder championed:

In December 2004, Iran's IAEA delegate, Hossein Mousavian, told reporters in Vienna that such violations were Iran's right under the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty. "It is natural that the Islamic Republic continues all its nuclear activities. Iran has only suspended the fuel cycle voluntarily, in the framework of its policy to build trust, without any legal obligations," he said.

On the eve of an emergency session of the IAEA's board of governors in Vienna earlier this month, Mousavian revealed to an Iranian television interviewer that Tehran had used the Europeans to "buy time" to complete their nuclear facilities. This is exactly what the Bush administration had been warning about for more than a year.

The IAEA had initially given Iran a 50-day ultimatum to cease all nuclear-fuel activities, including work on centrifuges and construction at the uranium-conversion facility (UCF) in Isfahan. "But thanks to the negotiations with Europe we gained another year, in which we completed the [UCF] in Isfahan," he said.
"We suspended the UCF in Isfahan in October 2004, although we were required to do so in October 2003," he said. "If we had suspended it then, [the UCF] in Isfahan would have never been completed. Today we are in a position of power: [The UCF] in Isfahan is complete and UF4 and UF6 gases are being produced. We have a stockpile of products, and during this period we have managed to convert 36 tons of yellowcake into gas and store it. In Natanz, much of the work has been completed. Thanks to our dealings with Europe, even when we got a 50-day ultimatum, we managed to continue the work for two years."

New Orleans/Bayou flood help

If you are interested in organizations helping the victims of Hurricane Katrina, please click the link at the title of this post to go choose an organization from the large list that Instapundit has prepared.

How Europe harms the world's poor

This has been going on for years: the European fear-mongering about genetically modified crops infects Europe's foreign policy to the extent that EU nations have warned poor African countries, whose citizens are starving (notably Mozambique and Namibia in recent years) to not accept US food aid because it might have some GM crops in it. The EU's irrational anti-GM crop position (have you ever had broccoli or yellow corn? then you've had GM food, period) has led it to threaten food aid and production help to any poor country accepting food (i.e., US food aid) that includes any GM crops whatsoever.

Ron Bailey discusses GM advances in food productivity and the benefits of certain GM foods, and Europe's heinous position that leads to just more death and poverty.

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Be Kind to al-Qaeda Party

That's the Democrats new appellation, thanks to the inestimable James Taranto.

A true democrat in Europe

Vaclav Klaus, second president of the Czech Republic, is our new hero here at TKM. Why? Because he has the intellectual honesty and intestinal fortitude to challenge the new socialism and anti-democratic nature of the EU -- something that other Eastern European leaders see and fear but will not speak against. Some cuts from his recent speech to the Mont Pelerin Regional Society Meeting in Reykjavik:

Fifteen years after the collapse of communism. I am afraid more than at the beginning of its softer (or weaker) version, of social-democratism, which has become – under different names, e.g. the welfare state or the soziale Marktwirtschaft – the dominant model of the economic and social system of current Western civilization. It is based on big and patronizing government, on extensive regulating of human behavior, and on large-scale income redistribution.

* * *

Illiberal ideas are becoming to be formulated, spread and preached under the name of ideologies or “isms”, which have – at least formally and nominally – nothing in common with the old-styled, explicit socialism. These ideas are, however, in many respects similar to it. There is always a limiting (or constraining) of human freedom, there is always ambitious social engineering, there is always an immodest “enforcement of a good” by those who are anointed (T. Sowell) on others against their will, there is always the crowding out of standard democratic methods by alternative political procedures, and there is always the feeling of superiority of intellectuals and of their ambitions.

I have in mind environmentalism (with its Earth First, not Freedom First principle), radical humanrightism (based – as de Jasay precisely argues – on not distinguishing rights and rightism), ideology of “civic society” (or communitarism), which is nothing less than one version of post-Marxist collectivism which wants privileges for organized groups, and in consequence, a refeudalization of society. I also have in mind multiculturalism, feminism, apolitical technocratism (based on the resentment against politics and politicians), internationalism (and especially its European variant called Europeanism) and a rapidly growing phenomenon I call NGOism.

All of them represent substitute ideologies for socialism. All of them give intellectuals new possibilities, new space for their activities, new niches in the market of ideas. To face these new isms, to reveal their true nature, and to be able to get rid of them, may be more difficult than in the past. It may be more complicated than fighting the old, explicit socialism. Everyone wants to have healthy environment; everyone wants to overcome loneliness of the fragmented post-modern society and to participate in positive activities of various clubs, associations, foundations and charity organizations; almost everyone is against discrimination based on race, religion or gender; many of us are against the extensive power of the state, etc. To demonstrate the dangers of these approaches, therefore, very often means blowing against the wind.

Read it all.

HT: Instapundit who hat-tipped Brussels Journal.

Monday, August 29, 2005

Cindy Sheehan's Puppeteer

Byron York discusses radical socialist organizer and veteran agitator Lisa Fithian's connections to and work with Cindy Sheehan. A one-mom protest? Is not now and never was.

Howard 1, Blair 0

With characteristic Aussie bluntness, Australia's Education Minister Brendan Nelson told Muslim immigrants that they should either accept Australian values and culture or "clear off." In other words, no more of the multi-culti nonsense: if you want to live in Australia, then BE an Australian. Here's his point writ large:
“We don’t care where people come from; we don’t mind what religion they’ve got or what their particular view of the world is. But if you want to be in Australia, if you want to raise your children in Australia, we fully expect those children to be taught and to accept Australian values and beliefs.”

Note that the LEAST radicalized Muslims immigrants in any western country are the ones in the United States. Why? Because we encourage assimilation, not mere immigration. Unlike Canada (which allows Muslims to run shari'a courts in Ontario), Britain (which has huge self-enclosed Muslim enclaves throughout its major cities), France (which houses its North African Muslim immigrants in crappy housing ringing its largest cities) and Netherlands (which never sought to promote Dutch cultural values to its Muslim immigrant population), the US has the lowest relative incidence of Muslim radicalism because fewer Muslim immigrants are interested in following the terrorist path.

Now Australia is sounding the right (albeit, indelicately phrased) note: be an Aussie or don't come to Australia:
“It is very hard for a government or any of its agencies to penetrate every aspect of life, and we don’t want to interfere with people’s enjoyment of life,” [Prime Minister John Howard] said.

“But equally, if people are not willing to give their first loyalty to this country, they obviously must understand that that will arouse enormous concern within the rest of the Australian community.”

A proper stance.

HT: Jawa and CaliCon.

Sunday, August 28, 2005

Good Luck Oyster

The Monk and I just want to wish Oyster and family Godspeed and good luck as they evacuate the Crescent City as Hurricane Katrina, alternating between category 4 and category 5, bears down on New Orleans.

Oyster, one of our faithful readers and commenters, runs this blog and we hope to hear from him again soon.

Saturday, August 27, 2005

Note to Texas jurors: you know not what you do

Richard Epstein, Professor of Law at the U. of Chicago, rips the jurors in the now-infamous Vioxx case, Ernst v. Merck, and the chicanery they bought into:

Forget the jury's whopping quarter-billion-dollar verdict in Ernst v. Merck, because it's cut 90% by the caps that Texas law places on punitive damages. Still, where do $25 million in actual damages come from? Robert Ernst died in his sleep, without pain and without medical bills. His lost income as a Wal-Mart employee was small. But the $24 million price tag for anguish and loss of companionship to his widow, Carol, is off the charts. And for what?

Not the death of her husband, whose arteries were 70% clogged and who died, so Dr. Maria Araneta's death certificate states, of arrhythmia, or irregular heartbeat. No mention of any heart attack. But in his dramatic 11th-hour maneuver, Mr. Lanier whisked Dr. Araneta back from the Arabian peninsula to testify conveniently that she really thought that an undetected blood clot had caused the death, but had been dislodged in the last-ditch efforts at resuscitation.

Pretend that this new account is true, and it still doesn't show that Vioxx caused the blood clot. Long before Vioxx, people died of heart failure from all sorts of causes, including physical exertion and dehydration. That second causal link to Vioxx was not made even if the first one to a blood clot is generously presumed. Carol Ernst's lawsuit should be dead on arrival right here, but a clever set of jury instructions allowed the jury to say that Vioxx may have been a contributory cause of death.

* * *
To understand the Angleton verdict, one would think that Vioxx were the moral equivalent of mustard gas. But in truth, we should be grateful to any firm that speeds its product to market when its anticipated use promises many more benefits than adverse side-effects. Merck should not apologize for pushing hard to win quick market acceptance; before Vioxx was withdrawn, countless people with chronic pain were able to get on with their lives. Now these folks are left far worse off because of a double whammy: a Food and Drug Administration that yanks too many drugs off the market because it has no idea how to evaluate risk, and individual jurors who think it is their solemn duty to "send a message" to the drug companies on whose products we so desperately depend.

* * *
So, in return, I would like to send my message to Mr. Lanier and those indignant jurors. It's not from an irate tort professor, but from a scared citizen who is steamed that those "good people" have imperiled his own health and that of his family and friends. None of you have ever done a single blessed thing to help relieve anybody's pain and suffering. Just do the math to grasp the harm that you've done.

Right now there are over 4,000 lawsuits against Merck for Vioxx. If each clocks in at $25 million, then your verdict is that the social harm from Vioxx exceeds $100 billion, before thousands more join in the treasure hunt. Pfizer's Celebrex and Bextra could easily be next. Understand that no future drug will be free of adverse side effects, nor reach market, without the tough calls that Merck had to make with Vioxx. Your implicit verdict is to shut down the entire quest for new medical therapies. Your verdict says you think that the American public is really better off with just hot-water bottles and leftover aspirin tablets.

. . . [The investment community] realizes that any new drug which treats common chronic conditions can generate the same ruinous financial losses as Vioxx, because the flimsy evidence on causation and malice you cobbled together in the Ernst case can be ginned up in any other. Clever lawyers like [Ernst attorney Mark] Lanier will be able to ambush enough large corporations in small, dusty towns where they will stand the same chance of survival that Custer had at Little Big Horn.

Your appalling carnage cries out for prompt action. Much as I disapprove of how the FDA does business, we must enact this hard-edged no-nonsense legal rule: no drug that makes it through the FDA gauntlet can be attacked for bad warnings or deficient design. In plain English, Mr. Lanier, you're out of court before you make your opening statement.

I don't think the legal rule Prof. Epstein advocates is hard-edged; instead it is common-sensical. We entrust the FDA to force manufacturers to prove the safety of their products and run a bureaucratice gamut to do so: design approval and three stages of drug trials costing as much as $100,000,000. Once the company has complied with these tests and satisfied the FDA's gatekeepers, they should receive a certain amount of legal protection from claims that essentially are based upon the drug's side effects. In this case, the Vioxx tests that led Merck to pull the drug off the market identified elevated heart attack risks for patients who took it for 18+ months. Mr. Ernst took it for 8 months and died of arrhythmia.

Here's hoping this gets flipped on appeal, but like Bendectin and Dow Corning breast implants, appellate reversals can never undo the damage caused by runaway jury verdicts.

Friday, August 26, 2005

Hitchens: Stand up and defend what's right

Christopher Hitchens, the heretic outcast from The Nation and one of the few liberals who has stood foursquare behind the deposing of Saddam has a fine piece on why the liberation of Iraq is "A War to be Proud of". And here are some of his top reasons:

We need not argue about the failures and the mistakes and even the crimes, because these in some ways argue themselves. But a positive accounting could be offered without braggartry, and would include:

(1) The overthrow of Talibanism and Baathism, and the exposure of many highly suggestive links between the two elements of this Hitler-Stalin pact. Abu Musab al Zarqawi, who moved from Afghanistan to Iraq before the coalition intervention, has even gone to the trouble of naming his organization al Qaeda in Mesopotamia.

(2) The subsequent capitulation of Qaddafi's Libya in point of weapons of mass destruction--a capitulation that was offered not to Kofi Annan or the E.U. but to Blair and Bush.

(3) The consequent unmasking of the A.Q. Khan network for the illicit transfer of nuclear technology to Libya, Iran, and North Korea.

(4) The agreement by the United Nations that its own reform is necessary and overdue, and the unmasking of a quasi-criminal network within its elite.

(5) The craven admission by President Chirac and Chancellor Schröder, when confronted with irrefutable evidence of cheating and concealment, respecting solemn treaties, on the part of Iran, that not even this will alter their commitment to neutralism. (One had already suspected as much in the Iraqi case.)

(6) The ability to certify Iraq as actually disarmed, rather than accept the word of a psychopathic autocrat.

(7) The immense gains made by the largest stateless minority in the region--the Kurds--and the spread of this example to other states.

(8) The related encouragement of democratic and civil society movements in Egypt, Syria, and most notably Lebanon, which has regained a version of its autonomy.

(9) The violent and ignominious death of thousands of bin Ladenist infiltrators into Iraq and Afghanistan, and the real prospect of greatly enlarging this number.

(10) The training and hardening of many thousands of American servicemen and women in a battle against the forces of nihilism and absolutism, which training and hardening will surely be of great use in future combat.

Army Retention Rates in Iraqi Units High

The MSM has devoted quite a bit of press on how US Army recruitment efforts are falling short of target due in large part to the casualties in Iraq. A WaPo article highlighting his though includes a gem - the retention rates of Army units in Iraq are quite strong:

Schoomaker said recruiting problems are offset by high retention among active divisions, especially in units that have served or are serving in Iraq. He said the Army has exceeded its personnel retention goal by 9 percent, with soldiers in the Third Infantry Division -- now on its second tour in Iraq -- reenlisting at 112 percent of the goal. The First Cavalry Division has the highest reenlistment rate, at 138 percent of the goal, according to the Army. All 10 of the Army's divisions are surpassing retention estimates.

Seems the soldiers on the ground believe in the mission but don't expect this to get any airtime now that Mother Sheehan is back at Crawford.

HT: The Corner

Rick Short Watch .389

For the love of the game we are instituting the Rick Short watch here. Short, as we indicated yesterday, is the New Orleans Zephyrs player who is chasing the magical .400. Short went 0-3 in the first game of a doubleheader and was a DNP in the second. Average stands at .389 with 13 games to go.

Thursday, August 25, 2005

Who's protecting the consumers from consumer protectors?

That's the question that Radley Balko asks in this interesting and entertaining review of The PayPal Wars.

Don't close the military bases

In OpinionJournal today Peggy Noonan comes out strongly against the recommended base closings that are making news. Her thesis: Think dark. Specifically of a grim scenario sometime in the future where the United States is attacked in a devastating way - Noonan imagines simultaneous WMD/dirty bomb strikes in half a dozen cities, crippling cyber attacks and assassinations - where the presence of the military in many different places may make the difference between chaos and survival.

We don't need these bases for sentimental reasons. We don't need them because local congressmen want the jobs and money they provide. We don't need them because we must never change the structure and operations of our defense system. We need them because someday they may very well help us survive as a nation. Seems worth the price, doesn't it?

This of course is pure guessing on my part. I can't prove it with data. My gut says that when things turn dark, we will need all the help we can get.

Another reason to have bases well distributed is that it anchors the military in a symbiotic way to the country. A major military base serves as an economic and political anchor for a given area; it's much easier for people to understand what the military does in peacetime and wartime if, well, the military is part of their everyday lives. In that way the intangible benefits of many bases in many states is better for the body politic than to have fewer perhaps more efficient 'super' bases.

For the Love of the Game

The WaPo has a great story today about Rick Short, a career minor leaguer (12 seasons) in the National's organization who is hitting .392. With two weeks left in the season he's chasing the magical .400 which hasn't been done in the minors since 1961 and not in the majors since Ted Williams in 1941.

Rick Short has been up to show twice, both this year, for four games.

"He belongs in the big leagues," New Orleans Manager Tim Foli says. He bases this judgment on one of baseball's most tired cliches: "He plays the game right." But in this case it might just apply. The Zephyrs are still talking about a game a few nights ago, when Short -- hitting .399 at the time -- kept trying to hit ground balls to the right side of the infield to move a runner from second to third, eventually grounding out to the first baseman.

"He could easily have swung away right there and tried to get his hits," says New Orleans teammate Marlon Byrd, who played 56 games for the Nationals this season. "Most guys, if you're going for .400, you're swinging to get your hits."

Every night Foli makes his plea to Nationals management: Take him, even as a pinch hitter, if nothing else. When the Zephyrs' season ends Sept. 5 and the Nationals are allowed to expand their roster beyond the 25-man limit, he likely will be called up.

Good Luck.

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Last Chewable Meal for 4-6 weeks

It's official: the last chewable meal before you get jaw surgery is . . .


At least down here deepinnahearta . . .

And evidently the day before surgery must be spent at the Red Door Spa running up a Monk's MasterCard tab. Anything for my little Monkette2B.

The Iraqi draft Constitution

Click the title for a copy of the draft courtesy of the New York Times. It's surprisingly concise actually.

NRO's Andy McCarthy who was very disturbed yesterday feels better today.

This is quite encouraging:
Article 151

No less than 25 percent of Council of Deputies seats go to women.

We don't support quotas here at TKM but for this we will make an exception.

Monday, August 22, 2005

Lisa Ramaci-Vincent rips Juan Cole

Juan Cole, a ranting anti-Bush Islamapologist professor at Michigan and self-styled expert on the Middle East, took a gratuitious swipe at murdered journalist Steven Vincent. We took issue with that here.

The Murdoc Online blog has run the full text of a letter from Lisa Ramaci-Vincent, Steve Vincent's widow, to Juan Cole. Cole will need about a hundred stitches to close the new rectal orifice that he now sports courtesy of Lisa Vincent.

After she crushed the assumptions Cole made in his swipe,

I did not see your blog until tonight. I was busy doing other things - fighting the government to get Steven's body returned from Basra days after I was told he would be sent home, planning the funeral, buying a cemetery plot, choosing the clothes to bury him in, writing the prayer card, fending off the media, dealing with his aging parents, waking and then burying him - but I could not let the calumnies you posted so freely against two total strangers go unchallenged.

You strike me as a typical professor - self-opinionated, arrogant, so sure of the rightness of your position that you won't even begin to consider someone else's. I would suggest that you ought to be ashamed of yourself for your breathtaking presumption in eviscerating Steven in death and disparaging Nour in life, but, like any typical professor, I have no doubt that you are utterly shameless.

Read it all. (Juan Cole has not replied on his blog)

HT: Jonah at NRO.

Editor's Note

My blogging will either resume in full force on Thursday/Friday or be absolute zilch. HRH the Monkette2B is having orthognathic surgery, which is nearly as nasty as it sounds -- a jaw reconfiguration. Ultimately, once she has healed, this will make The Monk/Monkette2B pulchritudinal disparity nearly reach Lyle Lovett/Julia Roberts levels. (Uh, I'm the Lovett-esque troll, for those of you who aren't clear on the concept -- I'm sure Oyster and Wongdoer can attest to that). Until then, The Monk will have either to run errands for her, blog while she sleeps it off (if I'm not catching up on a work backload that really sucks right now), or end up perpetually cleaning up what the cats are doing whilst Her Highness is not mothering them.

Anyway, just wanted to let all our regular readers (Hi Mom and Dad! and . . . hmm, any others?) know what's going on if the absence (or increased presence, it all depends) of The Monk is actually noticed.

Steyn on Sheehan

Mark Steyn takes on the jackals who have surrounded Cindy Sheehan. Among others he dismisses the deranged-left notion that soldiers who have died are 'children':

Cindy Sheehan's son Casey died in Sadr City last year, and that fact is supposed to put her beyond reproach. For as the New York Times' Maureen Dowd informed us: ''The moral authority of parents who bury children killed in Iraq is absolute."

Really? Well, what about those other parents who've buried children killed in Iraq? There are, sadly, hundreds of them: They honor their loved ones' service to the nation, and so they don't make the news. There's one Cindy Sheehan, and she's on TV 'round the clock. Because, if you're as heavily invested as Dowd in the notion that those "killed in Iraq" are "children," then Sheehan's status as grieving matriarch is a bonanza.

They're not children in Iraq; they're grown-ups who made their own decision to join the military. That seems to be difficult for the left to grasp. Ever since America's all-adult, all-volunteer army went into Iraq, the anti-war crowd have made a sustained effort to characterize them as "children." If a 13-year-old wants to have an abortion, that's her decision and her parents shouldn't get a look-in. If a 21-year-old wants to drop to the broadloom in Bill Clinton's Oval Office, she's a grown woman and free to do what she wants. But, if a 22- or 25- or 37-year-old is serving his country overseas, he's a wee "child" who isn't really old enough to know what he's doing.
The infantilization of the military promoted by the left is deeply insulting to America's warriors but it suits the anti-war crowd's purposes. It enables them to drone ceaselessly that "of course" they "support our troops," because they want to stop these poor confused moppets from being exploited by the Bush war machine.

I resisted writing about "Mother Sheehan" (as one leftie has proposed designating her), as it seemed obvious that she was at best a little unhinged by grief and at worst mentally ill. It's one thing to mourn a son's death and even to question the cause for which he died, but quite another to roar that he was "murdered by the Bush crime family."

Also: "You tell me the truth. You tell me that my son died for oil. You tell me that my son died to make your friends rich. You tell me my son died to spread the cancer of Pax Americana . . . You get America out of Iraq, you get Israel out of Palestine."
Contrast this with a statement from the family. Casey Sheehan's grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins put out the following statement:

"The Sheehan Family lost our beloved Casey in the Iraq War and we have been silently, respectfully grieving. We do not agree with the political motivations and publicity tactics of Cindy Sheehan. She now appears to be promoting her own personal agenda and notoriety at the expense of her son's good name and reputation. The rest of the Sheehan Family supports the troops, our country, and our President, silently, with prayer and respect."

[H]ow about Casey's father, Pat Sheehan? Last Friday, in Solano County Court, Casey's father Pat Sheehan filed for divorce. As the New York Times explained Cindy's "separation," "Although she and her estranged husband are both Democrats, she said she is more liberal than he is, and now, more radicalized."

Toppling Saddam and the Taliban (Mrs. Sheehan opposes U.S. intervention in Afghanistan, too), destroying al-Qaida's training camps and helping 50 million Muslims on the first steps to free societies aren't worth the death of a single soldier.
Casey Sheehan was a 21-year old man when he enlisted in 2000. He re-enlisted for a second tour, and he died after volunteering for a rescue mission in Sadr City. Mrs. Sheehan says she wishes she'd driven him to Canada, though that's not what he would have wished, and it was his decision.

And here's Frank Rich, a guest opiner for the New York Times, who amazingly packs an extraordinary amount of mad-left drivel into "The Swift-Boating of Cindy Sheehan." [He needed two pages for this and, naturally, it's the most emailed article in the past 24 hours]. Here's a sample:

THIS summer in Crawford, the White House went to this playbook once too often. When Mr. Bush's motorcade left a grieving mother in the dust to speed on to a fund-raiser, that was one fat-cat party too far. The strategy of fighting a war without shared national sacrifice has at last backfired, just as the strategy of Swift Boating the war's critics has reached its Waterloo before Patrick Fitzgerald's grand jury in Washington.

No, Frank. I think when Cindy caterwauls about the Bush Crime Family and the Daily Kos wants to call her "Mother Sheehan" sane folks start to tune out.

The Latest on Iraq

Check Iraq the Model blog. This is a pretty well known and respected local blog.

They have a better spin on the Islamic republic issue but we shall see shortly:

Regarding Islam and the constitution: it was agreed upon that no laws that are against the widely agreed upon values of Islam can be issued and no laws that are against the values of democracy and human rights can be issued.
Natural resources according to the draft will be managed in cooperation between the central government and the local administrations of the federal states/provinces.

Iraqi Constitution - Big Mistake?

There is disturbing news coming out of Baghdad as negotiators are trying to hammer out a draft Constitution by the deadline of midnight tonight local time (430pm EDT). According to radio reports and the WaPo:

The draft also stipulates that Iraq is an Islamic state and that no law can contradict the principles of Islam, Shiite and Kurdish negotiators said. Opponents have charged that last provision would subject Iraqis to religious edicts by individual clerics.

The Shiite and Kurdish negotiators also said draft calls for the presence of Islamic clerics on the court that would interpret the constitution. Family matters such as divorce, marriage or inheritance would be decided either by religious law or civil law as an individual chooses -- a condition that opponents say would likely lead to women being forced into unfavorable rulings for them by opponents demanding judgments under Islamic law.

If this is true this could be a disastrous misstep for the Bush administration and significantly impair our efforts to create a democratic, secular and pro-Western country in the heart of the Middle East.

It appears that the Bush administration, which has doggedly worked within timelines that it has set, e.g., the handover of sovereignty and the national elections , may have followed its heretofore formula too faithfully this time:

U.S. Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad kept up days of pressure on negotiators to complete the constitution, giving his sanction to the provisions on Islamic law, negotiators said.

Washington has been pushing hard to stick to a timeline on government-building that would allow for a significant troop withdrawal as soon as early next spring.

In its effort to stay within the timeline and the belief that any delays would only encourage the terrorists the US may have compromised too much. We have NO BUSINESS in encouraging the formation of an Islamic Republic where Islam the primary or main source of legislation. Clerics certainly should not be serving on the equivalent of a Supreme Court. Better I think to force them back to the negotiating table and eat more delays or perhaps even another election.

The thoughtful Andrew McCarthy at NRO had this to say:

For what it’s worth, this is where I get off the bus. The principal mission of the so-called “war on terror” – which is actually a war on militant Islam – is to destroy the capacity of the international network of jihadists to project power in a way that threatens American national security. That is the mission that the American people continue to support.

As those who follow these pages may know, I have been despairing for a long time over the fact that the principal mission has been subordinated by what I’ve called the “democracy diversion” – the administration’s theory that the (highly dubious) prospect of democratizing Iraq and the Islamic world will quell the Islamists...

Now, if several reports this weekend are accurate, we see the shocking ultimate destination of the democracy diversion. In the desperation to complete an Iraqi constitution – which can be spun as a major step of progress on the march toward democratic nirvana – the United States of America is pressuring competing factions to accept the supremacy of Islam and the fundamental principle no law may contradict Islamic principles.
But even if I suspended disbelief for a moment and agreed that the democracy project is a worthy casus belli, I am as certain as I am that I am breathing that the American people would not put their brave young men and women in harm’s way for the purpose of establishing an Islamic government. Anyplace.

It is not our place to fix what ails Islam. But it is utter recklessness to avert our eyes from the fact that militant Islam thrives wherever Islam reigns. That is a fact. When and where militant Islam thrives, America and the West are endangered. That is also a fact. How can we possibly be urging people who wisely don’t want it to accept the government-institutionalized supremacy of Islam?

Indeed the Sunnis can stil block the Constitution if two thirds of the voters in any three provinces vote against it. I'd hate to leave the future of Iraq in the hands of the Sunnis, many of whom have supported the terrorists and hope they do the right thing.

Friday, August 19, 2005

More enlightened Europeans

More racism writ large from Europe as Liverpool is petitioning UEFA regarding the monkey noises from Bulgarian fans everytime black Norwegian player Djibril Cisse touched the ball after scoring.

And before you think this is a mark of the unenlightened Eastern Euros, remember how the Spanish fans treated black English players last year in a Spain-England friendly match.

Weld to run for NY governor

The New York Times is reporting that Bill Weld, the former popular Republican governor of Massachusetts, will be running for Governor of New York. Weld, with his name recognition and proven ability to win as a Republican (albeit of the liberal wing) twice in Taxachusetts becomes a legitimate opponent of grandstanding attorney general Eliot Spitzer who has felt surely that he was a mortal lock for the governor's mansion.

Weld still faces an uphill battle in a state where registered Democrats outnumber Republicans something like 4 or 5 to 1. Weld is a serious candidate and is almost certain to get the backing of Giuliani, Bloomberg, Pataki and draw the interest of the national party who may now think that the Reps have a fighting chance.

Spitzer who customarily avoids battles by using the power of his office as well as threat of class action suits to compel plea bargains, now may have a real fight on his hands.

Good analysis, on the rocks

Vodkapundit is pretty accurate in his analysis of the Israeli withdrawal from Gaza. Here's the intro:

What's Israel get for getting out of Gaza? Let's take a look, but first let's scratch off what Israel won't get:

1. Increased respect from the international community.
2. Increased domestic security.
3. Increased domestic tranquility.

In fact, Israel will suffer a decrease in all three of those items.

The Monk has been quiet during this pullout because his position is and has been clear: the whole "Peace Process" from Madrid to Oslo to Camp David to the Road Map to the Withdrawal is a tragedy for Israel of hope over experience and fantasy over reality. Now Israel has accepted the principle that Gaza must be judenrein, that Arabs cannot have their own state where Jews reside, that land-for-peace is a worthwhile exchange when the former is given and the latter remains a pipedream, that it should obey the cries and wailing of the international community while making itself less safe with a post-Oslo armed terrorist nation on its border, and that peace at any price is a governmental policy that should be rammed down the collective throats of the lone democratic polity in the Middle East.

Wrong all around.

Thursday, August 18, 2005

Immoral Presbyterians

The Lutheran and Presbyterian churches in America are anti-Israel, pro-terrorist and immoral. Tragic.

From James Lileks:

The Presbyterian Church (USA) -- not the members, but the learned elders -- has announced it will use its stock holdings to target Israel for being mean to the Palestinians.

But they're not anti-Semites. Heavens, nay. Don't you dare question their philosemitism! No, they looked at the entire world, including countries that lop off your skull if you convert to Presbyterianism, and what did they choose as the object of their ire? A country the size of a potato chip hanging on the edge of a region noted for despotism and barbarity. By some peculiar coincidence, it happens to be full of Jews.

The right and the left seem to take turns deciding who's going to be anti-Semitic. But for some time now, the hard left in the West has led the charge against the Jews -- or, as the sleight-of-hand term has it, the Zionists.


A Father's Grief that HONORS his son

Robert Griffin tells the stories of other sons who gave their lives for this country in Iraq, and the parents that HONOR their service. Cindy Sheehan does not speak for them. But Griffin does. Here's his conclusion:

Thirty-five years ago, a president faced a similar dilemma in Vietnam. He gave in and we got "peace with honor." To this day, I am still searching for that honor. Today, those who defend our freedom every day do so as volunteers with a clear and certain purpose. Today, they have in their commander in chief someone who will not allow us to sink into self-pity. I will not allow him to. The amazing part about talking to the people left behind is that I did not want them to stop. After speaking to so many I have come away with the certainty of their conviction that in a large measure it's because of the deeds and sacrifices of their fallen heroes that this is a better and safer world we now live in.

Those who lost their lives believed in the mission. To honor their memory, and because it's right, we must believe in the mission, too.

We refuse to allow Cindy Sheehan to speak for all of us. Instead, we ask you to learn the individual stories. They are glorious. Honor their memories.

Honor their service. Never dishonor them by giving in. They never did.

The Yanks disgust me

I am sick and tired of this ridiculousness: the Skanks are 4-12 against the two worst teams in the AL, KC and Tampa. A .500 record against those two means the Pinstrippers are within a half-game of the Blosax and 2.5 up in the wild card race. The Wanks have not won a series against the D'Rays all year and this week choked TWO late-game leads into losses. Hold the leads, and the Blanks are within 2.5 of the Redsux and 0.5 up in the wild card race over suddenly gagging Oakland instead of 4.5 down in the division and 1.5 down in the WC race.

And The Monk is steamed that Torre chose Leiter over Small for the fifth starter's post. Small honked his relief appearance yesterday and his career as a reliever is weak, but his four starts for the Stanks have been solid, good, good, and very good. Leiter's 6 starts before yesterday were mostly painful because you couldn't tell if and when he'd find the strike zone (and the 5 BB yesterday do not help his WHIP ratio either). Leiter's inability to last more than 5.1 innings yesterday despite giving up only 2 runs while he was in the game (Small coughed up a run charged to Leiter) contributed to the Cranks failure because they had to go to a tired bullpen early.

Only 43 games to go . . . there's just not 'plenty of baseball left'. It's time for the Clanks' relief pitchers to step up just as the scrap heap starters (Chacon, Small) have and for the Mankees to beat some of the stiffs they should be feasting upon (6 more with TB, 7 with Baltimore, 3 each with KC and Seattle).

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Cox and Forkum -- Evicted

Sometimes I feel like I'm just shouting at the hurricane.

Another reason to cut the UN's funding

The UN bankrolled Palestinian propaganda, including production of paraphenalia (signs, T-shirts, etc.) with the PA's favorite slogan "Today Gaza, Tomorrow the West Bank and Jerusalem" that the PA distributed amongst Palestinians in Gaza to coincide with the Israeli pullout:

A special representative of the United Nations Development Program in the Gaza Strip, Timothy Rothermel, told Fox News that his office provided financial support for the production of materials that make up the Palestinian Authority's propaganda campaign, timed to coincide with the Gaza pullout. The Palestinian Authority's withdrawal committee developed and produced the posters and other items using U.N. money, Mr. Rothermel said.

In addition to the slogan "Today Gaza and Tomorrow the West Bank and Jerusalem," many of the materials displayed the logo of the United Nations Development Program, which operates in 166 countries and spends about half a billion dollars a year.

Asked by a Fox News correspondent about one of the banners bearing the words implying an impending Palestinian Arab takeover of the disputed areas, Mr. Rothermel, said, "That particular poster was prepared by the disengagement office with financial support from the United Nations Development Program."

This is heinous. That slogan is a nearly unveiled threat to eliminate Jews from the Holy Land. The UN's sponsorship is immoral. The PA's use of it is merely another reason why the whole "Peace Process" from Madrid to Oslo to Geneva to the Road Map to the Withdrawal is futile and only inspires more terrorism.

More Clintonian nonfeasance

Bill Clinton becomes a worse president every day. Today in the NY Times is the revelation that the State Department's intelligence indicated Osama Bin Laden was a terrorist mastermind whose power and influence would grow once he went from the Sudan to Afghanistan. The State Dept. issued this warning one year before the rest of the US intelligence community changed its assessment of Bin Laden as just a financier to Bin Laden as terrorist nutter. [Side note: the State Dept.'s internal intelligence tends to be very good].

Here's the key excerpt:

State Department analysts warned the Clinton administration in July 1996 that Osama bin Laden's move to Afghanistan would give him an even more dangerous haven as he sought to expand radical Islam "well beyond the Middle East," but the government chose not to deter the move, newly declassified documents show.

In what would prove a prescient warning, the State Department intelligence analysts said in a top-secret assessment on Mr. bin Laden that summer that "his prolonged stay in Afghanistan - where hundreds of 'Arab mujahedeen' receive terrorist training and key extremist leaders often congregate - could prove more dangerous to U.S. interests in the long run than his three-year liaison with Khartoum," in Sudan.

The declassified documents, obtained by the conservative legal advocacy group Judicial Watch as part of a Freedom of Information Act request and provided to The New York Times, shed light on a murky and controversial chapter in Mr. bin Laden's history: his relocation from Sudan to Afghanistan as the Clinton administration was striving to understand the threat he posed and explore ways of confronting him.

Before 1996, Mr. bin Laden was regarded more as a financier of terrorism than a mastermind. But the State Department assessment, which came a year before he publicly urged Muslims to attack the United States, indicated that officials suspected he was taking a more active role, including in the bombings in June 1996 that killed 19 members American soldiers at the Khobar Towers in Dhahran, Saudi Arabia.

The author of the article, Eric Lichtblau, indicates there is doubt that Clinton turned down a Sudanese offer to turn Bin Laden over to the US. But such doubts are false: as I noted here more than 15 months ago, Mansoor Ijaz brokered the deal that would have had the Sudanese turn Bin Laden over to the US.

Mary Jo White's prophetic prediction

On Friday I noted Deborah Orin's piece on the WALL between criminal investigations and terrorism investigations that Jamie Gorelick, former Justice Department Assistant AG and later a member of the 9-11 Commission, designed and which impeded investigation of terrorist activity in the US. In her article, Orin noted two memos from Mary Jo White, US Attorney for the Southern District of NY whose team (including Andy McCarthy) successfully prosecuted Ramzi Yousef (1993 WTC bomber) and the Blind Sheik Omar Abdel Rahman. One memo, later declassified, from White stated a polite but firm dissent from the wisdom of the WALL. The other, which has NOT been declassified, was more frank.

Orin obtained a copy of White's other memorandum that only the 9-11 Commission has seen. Today, Orin follows up on her previous piece with a description of the memo:

Looking back after 9/11, the memo makes for eerie reading — because White's team foresaw, years in advance, that the Clinton-era wall would make it tougher to stop mass murder.

"This is not an area where it is safe or prudent to build unnecessary walls or to compartmentalize our knowledge of any possible players, plans or activities," wrote White, herself a Clinton appointee.

"The single biggest mistake we can make in attempting to combat terrorism is to insulate the criminal side of the house from the intelligence side of the house, unless such insulation is absolutely necessary. Excessive conservatism . . . can have deadly results.

"We must face the reality that the way we are proceeding now is inherently and in actuality very dangerous."

Worse yet, White's prosecution team wrote a detailed six-page analysis of why the WALL would thwart investigations. Who was the memo's addressee? Jamie Gorelick.

More from Orin:

. . . The 9/11 Commission, charged with tracing the failure to stop 9/11, got White's stunning memo and several related documents — and deep-sixed all of them.

The commission's report skips lightly over the wall in three brief pages (out of 567). It makes no mention at all of White's passionate and prescient warnings. Yet warnings that went ignored are just what the commission was supposed to examine.

So it's hard to avoid the conclusion that the commission ignored White's memo because it was a potential embarrassment to the woman to whom it was addressed: commission member Jamie Gorelick. . .

* * *
"What troubles me even more than the known problems we have encountered are the undoubtedly countless instances of unshared and unacted-upon information that reside in some file or other or in some head or other or in some unreviewed or not fully understood tape or other," White wrote. "These can be disasters waiting to happen."

Indeed they were. And for more than five years after receiving her memo, the Clinton Administration did nothing.

The immoral Lutherans

John Hinderaker of Powerline takes issue with his church's immoral stance against Israel and its decision to stop allowing Palestinian terrorists to cross into Israel from the West Bank and detonate themselves. As Hinderaker notes, the Lutheran church's stance against the Israeli anti-terrorism fence is of a piece with its general approach to Middle East issues:

The failure even to mention, let alone denounce, Palestinian terrorism is a consistent hallmark of the ELCA's writings on the Middle East. The "Peace Not Walls" resolution, like the Lutheran article, makes no specific mention of Palestinian terrorism, never acknowledges that Israel is building the fence to keep out mass murderers, not to steal a few acres of land, and gives no hint that the fence has saved many Israeli lives by making it more difficult for terrorists to slip into Israel. Likewise, the ELCA's Strategy for Engagement In Israel and Palestine singles out the fence as a threat to peace, but is entirely silent with respect to Palestinian terrorism:

Maureen Dowd - Aggressively Obtuse

Maureen Dowd has just gotten back from a long hiatus [allegedly to write a book I think] and promptly pens a tired, whining piece against President Bush.

On Saturday, the current President Bush was pressed about how he could be taking five weeks to ride bikes and nap and fish and clear brush even though his occupation of Iraq had become a fiasco. "I think it's also important for me to go on with my life," W. said, "to keep a balanced life."

Pressed about how he could ride his bike while refusing to see a grieving mom of a dead soldier who's camped outside his ranch, he added: "So I'm mindful of what goes on around me. On the other hand, I'm also mindful that I've got a life to live and will do so."

This is after she compares how Bush I relaxed in Kennebunkport while we invaded Iraq the first time around. She goes to re-iterate her tired platitudes about how Iraq is a fiasco etc. It's an indication of how the Left has become unhinged in its loathing of Bush that they are now attacking his exercise habits and vacation. Jonathan Chait basically called Bush an idiot for following a rigorous exercise regiment and Dowd now complains about the Crawford 'vacation'.

As she and anyone who isn't demonstrably stupid knows any President's vacation is a misnomer. Does she really think that Bush isn't getting constant security and situation briefings daily and likely spending hours at 'work'? Essentially the White House has moved from 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue to Crawford, Texas for five weeks. (Note that August in DC is horrid and Congress is always adjourned.) The fact that the President may spend a few hours a day reading and clearing brush instead of photo-ops and meet-and-greets I doubt harms the republic.

Paul Krugman, whose latest rant on Social Security was ripped by Powerline, must feel good that his soul mate is back and he isn't the only moonbat on the Times opinion page.

OpinionJournal on a Roll

James Taranto's Best of the Web Today has an exceptional offering today:

1. He lambasts John Kerry for pioneering the crippled veterans ploy in 1971 which he reprised last year with Max Cleland. Kerry's antics are certainly some inspiration for Cindy Sheehan.

There's plenty of blame to go around for the appalling spectacle of Sheehanoia, but one name that hasn't been mentioned is that of John Kerry. Kerry might have invented, and he certainly pioneered, the tactic being employed by those who are exploiting Cindy Sheehan to further their political agenda. As he explained to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee in April 1971:

"I called the media. . . . I said, 'If I take some crippled veterans down to the White House and we chain ourselves to the gates, will we get coverage?' 'Oh, yes, we will cover that.' "

Do you remember the media spectacle in Crawford, Texas, a year ago? It was precisely the crippled-vet ploy. Kerry sent triple amputee Max Cleland, who had been defeated in his 2002 Senate re-election bid, to deliver a letter to President Bush demanding that the president denounce the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth. This move was stunning in its audacity, though not its effectiveness: Here was Kerry, staking his campaign on his authority as a Vietnam veteran, appealing to the authority of another Vietnam veteran in an effort to silence Vietnam veterans who opposed him.

2. The MSM hates Bush (ok no surprise). This quote appeared in a story:

Sheehan has vowed to continue her Texas vigil through the rest of President Bush's vacation ugh Bush's August vacation, unless he meets with her. She began her protest 10 days ago and has since been joined by more than 100 anti-war activists.

[Error quickly removed.]

3. Miracle of miracles?

A heartening piece of metajournalism appeared in yesterday's New York Times. It seems the Associated Press has come under pressure from American editors about the negativity of its coverage from Iraq.

See Arthur Chrenkoff! who by the way has an excellent post today on Cindy Sheehan. Taranto also notes:

The capital's Sadr City section was once a hotbed of Shiite Muslim unrest, but it has become one of the brightest successes for the U.S. security effort.

So far this year, there has been only one car bombing in the neighborhood, and only one American soldier has been killed.

A year ago, militiamen garbed in black and armed with automatic weapons and rocket-propelled grenades roamed the streets in open revolt against the American presence. But U.S. troops quelled the uprising, and today calmly patrol the district, aided by loyalists of the radical cleric who spurred the violence.
One additional bit of context: It was in Sadr City that Casey Sheehan was killed in action in April 2004. America's success there is further evidence that he did not die in vain.

4. ACLU have no respect for anyone who disagrees

People on the religious right often accuse their counterparts on the secular left of antireligious bigotry, a description the secular left regards as unfair. But here's someone who seems to be guilty as charged: Joe Cook, head of the American Civil Liberties Union in Louisiana, who's fighting with the Tangipahoa Parish school board over religious speech in government schools. Baton Rouge's WAFB-TV quotes him as follows:

"They believe that they answer to a higher power, in my opinion. Which is the kind of thinking that you had with the people who flew the airplanes into the buildings in this country, and the people who did the kind of things in London."


Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Facile and fallacious argumentation

Those who defend Cindy Sheehan by saying "she has the right to speak out" are engaging in a poor defense of her whinging that contributes nothing to the discussion of the MERIT of her statements. There's little merit in them, but that's not the point, as Jonah Goldberg notes:

if you want to defend somebody's controversial statements, saying "so-and-so has the right to his opinion" doesn't get you out of the gate. It just sucks up air and fills space. Intellectually, it's got the nutritional value of Styrofoam. You might as well say "Oo-ee-oo-ah-ah, ting-tang-walla-walla-bing-bang" instead and then move on to your next point. It's not interesting, not smart, not insightful. Saying Cindy Sheehan has a right to criticize the president is like saying she's a carbon-based life form: True, but utterly beside the point.

Indeed, the "right to speak" defense in the face of criticisms of a speaker's content has some implicit premises, most of which are intellectually immoral:

The great irony is that the people who resort to such "arguments" (they're really just insults) are the ones questioning free-speech rights, because they are suggesting the criticism was inappropriate and, in some vague and stupid way, unconstitutional. Right? That is the upshot of what they're saying. I mean, if you immediately assert that someone has the right to say something as a way to rebut criticism, aren't you implying that such criticism violated their rights — which is, by definition, unconstitutional.

The paranoia enters into it when you consider the nature of the accusation. If you immediately assume that criticism from the political Right is tantamount to questioning someone's constitutional right to speak in the first place, what you are really saying (Pace Dan Savage) is that if you scratch a conservative you'll find a Storm Trooper just under the surface . . . That so many on the Left seem to believe this says a lot about the intellectual and psychological state of Lefties while saying nothing of interest about conservatives . . . Not only does the "I have the right to speak" tantrum dodge the merits of specific criticisms, it starts from the assumption that as a matter of first principles left-wing protest should never be questioned.

Indeed, that's the reason the Left has rallied so fiercely behind Cindy Sheehan. Wedded to a form of identity-politics logic which says some "authentic" voices cannot be questioned and inauthentic voices need not be listened to, these hardcore left-wing activists love Cindy Sheehan because they think she's above reproach. They immediately resort to the argument "How dare you question a woman who lost her child!" Sheehan's loss is obviously a terrible one. But the death of her son does not make her anymore qualified to rant about Israel and oil tycoons controlling American foreign policy than it would be if her son was alive. But her backers do not care, indeed they don't think anyone has the right to even point this out.

Morally Reprehensible Mom

Quite honestly, it's time for Cindy Sheehan to shut up and go home. A grieving mother who remained quiet for a year, she now disregards her family (she has two other kids and HAD a husband until she decided to take her grief public), and DISHONORS her dead son.

I find it wholly disgusting that I know this woman's name immediately, but need to look up the name of the hero she gave birth to just over 24 years ago, Casey. I find it reprehensible that this woman has twisted the honor and courage of her son, who volunteered for our all-volunteer armed forces, into a daily barrage of hate, lies and idiocy. I find her actions morally reprehensible as she denies the evils of Saddam Hussein and the Palestinian terrorists whilst trumpeting false allegations against US soldiers and the IDF. And I find her to be a shameless self-promoter of her own childish solipsism that denigrates the adult, responsible and self-reliant choices her son made.

She is a morally reprehensible mom. I hope neither my mother nor my fiancee would ever act in a similar manner.

Two quick things on Cindy Sheehan

We haven't covered the Cindy Sheehan 'vigil' (woman whose son, a soldier, was killed in Iraq is sitting outside the Bush ranch in Crawford demanding an audience) but two bits caught my eye.

1. How the looney Left is looking to take advantage of the situation. The following is an excerpt from a Daily Kos post caught by LGF:

We are making errors with references to Cindy Sheehan.

What are we trying to accomplish with promoting her?

Emphasizing her sacrifice.
Relate her vigil over her dead son to universal archtypes of all vigils over dead children killed by dictatorial rulers throughout all history.

My suggestions below:

1. We should call her “Mother Sheehan”. We should never call her Cindy; I don’t know her. “Mother Sheehan” is her title, and expresses her ceremonial status as a bereaved mother, calling forth over the dead body of her son. She is not a person now, she is a mother, which is not an expression of her individuality, but rather the expression of her eternal character: the mother, the bringer of life who has been wronged by state power.

3. We should use the word “useless” frequently. The death of her son is a useless sacrifise, done for the vanity of the ruler.

4. We should not use the name of her son. Her son is a symbol of all sons who have been sacrificed for this useless and criminal war.
6. The right will try to INDIVIDUALIZE and SPECIALIZE her complaint. We must try to make her cry the UNIVERSAL and ETERNAL cry of all mothers whose children have died at the whim of the tyrannical and dictatorial ruler, who has made the decision to push children to the front of the army for his own, useless purposes. We must seek to make this like funeral vigils over all time. This is not Mother Sheehan’s vigil, this is a vigil over the dead son, killed by the ruler for his own selfish reasons.

7. If there are any persons who are theatre professionals at the Sheenan vigil, they should arrange things much more theatrically.

8. If I was there, I would not let Mother Sheehan talk to the press, but I would have her talk only through a spokesperson. In particular, I would not allow her to argue with critics, and would allow no critics to approach her. Her dignity must be preserved. If lesser emissaries from the ruler arrive (C Rice, etc), these should not be allowed to speak to Mother Sheehan.

2. And for an idea of Cindy Sheehan herself from a note to Daily Kos (HT The Corner)

I do this for all of our brave souls (American or Iraqi) who have been murdered by the Bush crime family. I told my Congressman that he needs to speak out against the lies and murder, because I am going to...when George Bush killed my son, they finally killed the wrong person.

If anything I do can shorten the war by one minute or save one life, or bring discredit to the evil bastards in the administration, my life will have been worthwhile..and Casey's sacrifice meaningful...

We grieve for her family and Casey Sheehan but this is becoming a circus.

CNN crows about Iraqi Constitution delay

CNN was rather annoying today in its European morning report. One of the anchors characterized the one week extension to which Iraqi delegates unanimously agreed as a "significant setback to the Bush administration". The report continued to portray the situation as being quite poor.

A Constitution, even a draft one, is a serious thing. A one week extension in a framework that essentially allows for two months 'extra time' is hardly a tragedy and should not have been entirely unexpected. The division of Iraq into autonomous regions, a deadlocked convention that would require new elections or sharia law enshrined in the document would be a serious setback. This extension hopefully will not need to be renewed and should not have been a surprise. CNN does its viewers a disservice with its ill-informed, or worse, intentionally biased reporting.

The CNN article on their website is much more balanced.

One of the reasons by Fox News is so popular. Unfortunately its not available overseas.

Monday, August 15, 2005

VJ Day - 60 years ago

60 years ago today Emperor Hirohito and the Japanese government surrendered to the Allies, accepting the Potsdam Declaration. It marked the end of World War II which to some officially began with the German invasion of Poland in September 1939 but many in the Far East believed began in 1937 at the Marco Polo Bridge in China or for others the Japanese annexation of Manchuria in 1931.

The Americans who fought in the War came to be known, rightly, as the Greatest Generation. This generation, the living, fighting arm of the Arsenal of Democracy, made it possible to turn back the tide of fascism in Europe and Asia. And while it left Communism to be dealt with another day - their efforts and sacrifice should never be forgotten.

Nor should the sacrifice of our many Allies, notably those of the British Commonwealth and the Chinese who lost untold blood and treasure in the struggle.

Global Warming - a secular religion?

James Schlesinger, a Carter appointee and the first Secretary of Energy, noted in OpinionJournal that

Michael Crichton...pointed out in his Commonwealth Club lecture some years ago that environmentalism had become the religion of Western elites...Most notably, the burning of fossil fuels (a concomitant of economic growth and rising living standards) is the secular counterpart of man's Original Sin. If only we would repent and sin no more, mankind's actions could end the threat of further global warming.

Just look at how Al Gore and the Hollywood elite have taken up the cause. The zealotry has even led some storied institutions astray.

Also, on the eve of the summit, the Royal Society issued a press release, supposedly on behalf of the national academies of science (these eve-of-the-summit announcements are not entirely coincidental). It was headlined "Clear science demands prompt action on climate change" and included this statement: "The current U.S. policy on climate change is misguided. The Bush Administration has consistently refused to accept the advice of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences."

A sharp riposte from the president of the National Academy of Sciences followed. Space does not permit full discussion of the rebuke. A few key phrases, however, are revealing: "Your statement is quite misleading. . . . By appending your own phrase, 'by reducing emissions of greenhouse gases' to an actual quote from our report, you have considerably changed our report's meaning and intent. . . . As you must appreciate, having your own misinterpretation of U.S. Academy work widely quoted in our press has caused considerable confusion both at my academy and in our government."

The "global warming is an original sin" proponents have declared the science to be 'settled' and will brook no further discussion. They blithely ignore the following:

Over the ages, climate has varied. Generally speaking, the Northern Hemisphere has been warming since the end of the Little Ice Age in the 17th century. Most of the global warming observed in the 20th century occurred between 1900 and 1940, when the release of greenhouse gasses was far less than later in the century. Between 1940 and 1975, temperatures fell--and scientists feared a lengthy period of global cooling. The reported rise in temperatures in recent decades has come rather suddenly--probably too suddenly given the relatively slow rise of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere.


Much has been made of the assertion, repeated regularly in the media, that "the science is settled," based upon a supposed "scientific consensus." Yet, some years ago in the "Oregon Petition" between 17,000 and 18,000 signatories, almost all scientists, made manifest that the science was not settled, declaring:

There is no convincing scientific evidence that human release of carbon dioxide, methane, or other greenhouse gasses is causing or will, in the foreseeable future, cause catastrophic heating of the Earth's atmosphere and disruption of the Earth's climate.

Let's get the science right first. Cutting emissions is a laudable goal but the draconian prescriptions of Kyoto would do little to affect the overall problem (no Third World signees) and potentially cripple some major economies.

Friday, August 12, 2005

The farcical legacy of the 9-11 Commission

For the infamous, political and ultimately useless 9-11 Commission, the Democrats chose to put Jamie Gorelick on the panel (which was staffed equally by Republican selectees and Democrat picks). Gorelick is the builder of THE WALL that prohibited the CIA from sharing its intelligence with the FBI -- a fool's policy that prevented the CIA from helping the FBI's counterespionage investigations in the US and prevented "criminal enforcement" investigators from speaking to FBI agents involved in counter-intelligence.

But this week, the 9-11 Commission is in the news yet again for burying information that would have been harmful to Gorelick, as this summary from Deborah Orin shows:

This week brought the stunning revelation that elite military spies pinpointed Mohammed Atta and three other hijackers as a terror cell more than a year before 9/11 — but were barred from alerting lawmen to try to lock them up.

A prime reason why that warning never came is that Gorelick — as top deputy to then-Attorney General Janet Reno — issued a 1995 order creating a "wall" that blocked intelligence on terrorists from being shared with law enforcement.

Commission staffers at first denied knowing about the elite military unit known as Able Danger, but later admitted they were briefed — twice — and Atta was specifically named. Still, it was conveniently left out of the 9/11 report.

It gets worse. Gorelick's defenders might argue that hindsight is 20-20. But that excuse doesn't work in this case, because she was warned way back then — when the see-no-evil wall was created.

That warning came right from the front line in the War on Terror — from Manhattan U.S. Attorney Mary Jo White, who headed up key terror probes like the prosecutions for the first World Trade Center bombing in 1993.

White wrote a temperate memo to Gorelick and Janet Reno protesting the WALL that came to light during the 9-11 Commission hearings. But that's not the only warning White gave, as Orin reports:

The Post has learned that White was so upset that she bitterly protested with another memo — a scathing one — after Reno and Gorelick refused to tear down the wall. With eerie foresight, White warned that the Reno-Gorelick wall hindered law enforcement and could cost lives, according to sources familiar with the memo — which is still secret.

The 9/11 Commission got that White memo, The Post was told — but omitted any mention of it from its much-publicized report. Nor does the report include the transcript of its staff interview with White.

So now we know that (1) the 9-11 Commission covered up the fact that military intelligence had tagged Atta and friends as al-Qaeda terrorists operating in the US in 2000, but the military intel agents could not inform the FBI thanks to the WALL; and (2) White blasted the WALL in a memo to Reno and Gorelick more than half a decade before 9-11 because of the likelihood that it could have the same effects it DID have: hindering law enforcement efforts in counter-espionage and counter-terrorism.

The 9-11 Commission ultimately laid blame at the CIA's feet and claimed an overall intelligence failure enabled the 9-11 terrorists to succeed. But the Able Danger crew knew about Atta, had reached an accurate conclusion about his activities, and therefore had SUCCEEDED in sniffing out at least a significant part of the threat to the US. But they couldn't do anything about it, thanks to the WALL. Now who really failed? Seems like Gorelick and Reno, first and foremost.

The Captain has been on this story for awhile and has set up a compendium of his posts. Unquestionably worth a look and a run-through.

Unimpressive BA

British Airways, the world's largest national airline, had operations at the world's busiest international airport, its hub at Heathrow, crippled yesterday by a sympathy strike by its Heathrow grounds-crew protesting the firing of fellow union members by another employer. Worse yet, BA lacked the organization and the means to help the 70,000 passengers stranded by the strike.

The Monk became sorely unimpressed by BA's crews and organization (with one exception -- a helpful staffer) last year when he and the Monkette2B traveled back from Edinburgh to the US through Gatwick. The plane for the Edinburgh-London leg of our trip arrived late, had a LONG turnaround prep for departure (so much for learning the ten-minute turnaround techniques of Southwest) and actually LOST time in the air despite favroable weather conditions. We missed our connection back to the US and had to go on American (which worked things out much better).

And in the chaos and the rush, The Monk missed his opportunities at the duty free!

Anyway, there was a time that the major national European carriers like Air France, BA, KLM and Lufthansa (Alitalia and Olympic, by contrast, were and remain poor) seemed to be the picture of efficiency, good service and relatively pleasant (to The Monk's knowledge, this is still true for Lufthansa -- mark this post b/c The Monk said something nice about Germans). Seems that competition, poor management and a disconnect from the customers is hurting air service worldwide, not just in the US.

Something Rotten in the State of New Jersey

It is appalling that Jon Corzine may win the New Jersey governorship in the Garden State's next election just because he's a Democrat. The NJ party is corrupt, Corzine is likely corrupt and the state is like a numb dog that doesn't react to the fleas feeding on it.

Thursday, August 11, 2005

The NARAL Bomb

CNN continues to run a patently false and slanderous ad by NARAL against John Roberts. John Hinderaker at Powerline (click title for link) was all over this when the ad first ran four day ago. It's still the best synopsis:

As a close observer of the political scene, I suppose I should be shock-proof. But what NARAL did today shocked me. It began running an anti-John Roberts television ad featuring Emily Lyons, victim of a 1998 bombing of an abortion clinic in Alabama that was carried out by Eric Rudolph. The ad goes as follows:

Announcer: "Seven years ago a bomb destroyed a woman's health clinic In Birmingham, Alabama."

Lyons: ""The bomb ripped my clinic. I almost lost my life. I will never be the same."

Announcer: ""Supreme Court nominee John Roberts filed court briefs supporting violent fringe groups and a convicted clinic bomber."

Lyons: "I am determined to stop this violence, so I'm speaking out."

It is not easy to fit so many lies and distortions into a 30-second commercial. The case referred to by NARAL is Bray v. Alexandria Clinic; you can read the Supreme Court's opinion here. The Bray case was decided in 1993; John Roberts was one of six Justice Department lawyers who signed an amicus brief on behalf of the federal government, and he argued the case for the government.

The Bray case arose out of an effort by the Alexandria Clinic and various pro-abortion entities to obtain an injunction against Operation Rescue to prohibit it from carrying out "rescues" at abortion clinics. The Court described the conduct at issue as follows:
No bombing or violence of any kind was at issue in Bray. Nor was there any question about the legality or propriety of the demonstrations carried out by Operation Rescue; they were plainly illegal under Virginia law. The issue addressed by the Court was whether, in addition to being an unlawful trespass, Operation Rescue's demonstrations fell within the ambit of a federal statute, 42 U.S.C. 1985(3). That section prohibits conspiracies to deprive "any person or class of persons of the equal protection of the laws, or of equal privileges and immunities under the laws." Under Supreme Court precedents, one of the prerequisites for application of the statute is that "some racial, or perhaps otherwise class-based, invidiously discriminatory animus [lay] behind the conspirators' action." Thus, the specific issue before the Court was whether opposition to abortion constitutes a discriminatory "animus" against women.

The federal government was not a party to the case; it filed an amicus brief because the Bush administration believed it had an interest in the outcome. Roberts and his colleagues explained the government's interest as follows:

Various acts of Congress exclude abortion services from the ambit of federal medical assistance programs. ... A decision by this Court that opposition to abortion is a form of gender-based discrimination could bring those laws into question, on the ground that they violate equal protection principles underlying the Due Process Clause by discriminating against women.

By a 6 to 3 vote, the Supreme Court agreed with the federal government that Section 1985(3) was inapplicable, in part because opposition to abortion cannot be equated with animus against women for purposes of the statute. Justice Scalia, writing for the majority, concluded:

Trespassing upon private property is unlawful in all States, as is, in many States and localities, intentionally obstructing the entrance to private premises. These offenses may be prosecuted criminally under state law, and may also be the basis for state civil damages. They do not, however, give rise to a federal cause of action simply because their objective is to prevent the performance of abortions, any more than they do so (as we have held) when their objective is to stifle free speech.

So NARAL misrepresents the Bray case in every particular. Roberts didn't "support violent fringe groups" or a "convicted clinic bomber." He supported the federal government's position on a specific question of law--correctly, as the Court found. NARAL's reference to a "convicted clinic bomber" is especially outrageous.

The Bray case had nothing to do with a bombing by Eric Rudolph or anyone else, and Rudolph attacked the Birmingham clinic--the bombing that is referred to in the NARAL ad--eight years after Roberts wrote the brief on the Section 1985(3) issues.

The more the merrier?

The great State of Texas is now a majority-minority state. That means that Caucasians are now a minority of the overall Texas population.

By and large, that's a non-factor. Latinos have a long and proud history of work, service, citizenship and integration into the fabric of Texas society. The vast majority have moved to Texas to become Americans and fit right in: hard work, familial devotion, sense of community, desiring legal citizenship. And to those who fit that bill, Texans are happy to say "welcome".

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Interesting cancer treatment

I'm post-dating this post for early this evening so that it remains at the top of our page for most of the day.

Here's the situation: Chris Muir, the Right's Garry Trudeau (here's his comic's homepage), has a sister with cancer. Her treatment course will take place at the American Cancer Ablation Center, which is a small clinic in Mobile, Alabama that uses a pair of new treatment methods to kill tumors. Click the title link to visit the clinic's home page and read about the treatment process.

Good luck Cathy.

Yankees: sinking like a stone

The Yanks are going from bad to worse even though they've been playing decently well. Consider: the best #3 and #4 starters they've had this year have been Shawn Chacon and Aaron Small! Chacon has been just shy of brilliant so far: 3 ER in 19 IP, but he's had no support and is 0-1. Small is 3-0 and has a 2.67 ERA in four starts, including his 7 IP, 1 ER performance in the Yanks' loss to the White Sawx. The real culprits for the Yanks' shakiness in the face of a tough schedule are erratic performances from the rotation's anchors, Mooooooooooose and Johnson, poor middle relief and Matsui's two-week slump.

Can they get past all their injuries and go to the postseason yet again? Right now, they're 4 behind Oakland for the wild card, 5 behind the RedSux and seemingly incapable of combining both good pitching and good hitting at the same time -- the prerequisite for a hot streak (see Oakland, Bahstin) that would help put the Yanks squarely in the mix.

Where's a deadline deal for David Cone when you really need it?

Dang foreign phones

Is the CIA the most incompetent intelligence agency in the world?

According to the article linked in the title of this post, the 19 CIA agents that a grandstanding Italian judge wants to extradite to Italy in connection with an investigation of the alleged kidnapping of Osama Moustafa Hassan Nasr, known as Abu Omar -- a terrorist cleric -- were traced in large part by their cellphone usage.

That's some pretty poor tradecraft by the US agents. Might as well wear the big button with the word SPY on it like in the Paddington Bear children's story.

The benefits of GM foods

This is for all the Precaution Principle devotees whose ignorance and alarmism would stop scientists from developing foods that increase yields and have extra nutritional benefits: GM foods are good.

Ever eat corn? Every ear of corn you eat is a product of genetic modification over years of plant breeding that rendered American Indian maize into the tastier and more nutritious form of yellow and white corn.

Second, every spear of broccoli you have eaten is the product of genetic engineering -- before about the middle of the 20th century there was no broccoli growing in farms anywhere. Yet broccoli is a wonder veggie: one of the four most nutritious (carrots, spinach and sweet potatoes are the other three) and with a surfeit of antioxidants that may completely prevent bladder cancer, according to the report linked at the top of this post.

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Approving Thuggery

Arbitrator Shyam Das has terminated the suspension of Rangers' thug/moron Kenny Rogers. The Players Union filed a grievance against Major League Baseball on Rogers' behalf complaining of the 20-game suspension that commissioner Bud Selig gave Rogers for assaulting a Dallas-area cameraman during pregame filming (something the Rangers allow the camera crews to do).

This is yet another poor ruling by an arbitrator when confronted with the heinous and criminal actions of a unionized professional sports athlete. Two words: Sprewell reinstatement. After choking coach PJ Carlesimo, Latrell Sprewell was suspended for the remainder of the year and all of the next season. The arbitrator split the baby and ruled that Sprewell had to be reinstated for the next season.

The arbitrators in both cases have approved thuggery by minimizing the harsh sentences (and Selig's was limited to just 20 games by contract -- he would have been justified in meting out a longer one) that the leagues have imposed. A bad message to the sports, the athletes and the fans.

Juan Cole denigrates Steve Vincent

Martin Kramer at the Sandbox blog savages University of Michigan Professor Juan Cole for denigrating free-lance journalist Steven Vincent who was murdered in Baghdad last week. Here's Cole from his site Informed Comment:

Was American journalist Steve Vincent killed in Basra as part of an honor killing? He was romantically involved with his Iraqi interpreter, who was shot 4 times. If her clan thought she was shaming them by appearing to be having an affair outside wedlock with an American male, they might well have decided to end it. In Mediterranean culture, a man's honor tends to be wrought up with his ability to protect his womenfolk from seduction by strange men. Where a woman of the family sleeps around, it brings enormous shame on her father, brothers and cousins, and it is not unknown for them to kill her. These sentiments and this sort of behavior tend to be rural and to hold among the uneducated, but are not unknown in urban areas. Vincent did not know anything serious about Middle Eastern culture and was aggressive about criticizing what he could see of it on the surface, and if he was behaving in the way the Telegraph article describes, he was acting in an extremely dangerous manner.

A loathsome, insidious snipe.

[By the way, here is the Telegraph article which does NOT indicate a romantic involvement with his interpreter.]

One might think it was just a careless reading of the Telegraph article but more likely as Kramer points out its a cheap shot against a fearless journalist who dared to challenge him:

But maybe what's really at issue here is Cole's ego (on his website, it usually is). Beneath his haughty dismissal of Vincent ("did not know anything serious") lies the fact that Vincent had the audacity to challenge him. Vincent didn't think much of Cole's armchair expertise or his claim to be driven by concern for Iraqis, and told Cole just that on his weblog:

You might want to review your own site and how well it reflects love and concern for the Iraqi people. After all, on "Informed Comment," pro-liberation Iraqi bloggers are accused of being CIA agents, the elections are practically dismissed as window-dressing and every terrorist--no, I mean guerrilla, as Cole would have it--attack is given marquis billing, as if their psychopathic bloodlust discredits the liberation of 26 million people. Whoops, I mean 23.5 million--because according to Cole's Wednesday post, 2.5 million Iraqis support the "resistance."

Well, I thank Cole for revealing his gut-level concern for the Iraqi people... My question to the Professor is, which Iraqi people--the fascist thugs he calls the "resistance," or the police, National Guardsmen, politicians, everyday people and eight million voters who comprise the true Iraqi "resistance"? We await his Informed Comment.

Cole didn't respond then. But now that Vincent is dead, Cole has seized the last word in the argument. Vincent shamed him, but now he has his honor back. He's taken his revenge. These sentiments and this sort of behavior tend to be rural and to hold among the uneducated, but are not unknown among full professors.

I will give Cole this: he does have cultural knowledge--enough to keep away from Iraq, which he's never visited.


"Arlen Specter sounds exactly like Chuck Schumer,"

Faint praise at best. Fighting words among respectable folk.

The New York Times reports that Snarlin' Arlen is doing plenty to help the Democrats who are determined to give John Roberts a tough grilling. According to the New York Times:

WASHINGTON, Aug. 8 - In the first hint of how he will steer the Supreme Court confirmation hearings of Judge John G. Roberts Jr., Senator Arlen Specter, the Judiciary Committee chairman, said Monday that he would press the nominee for his views on specific cases involving the authority of Congress to pass broad social legislation, a power that Democrats fear will be rolled back by a more conservative court.

In a three-page letter to Judge Roberts, Mr. Specter raises pointed questions about two recent court decisions invalidating legislation Congress passed under its authority to regulate interstate commerce. That power has for decades been used to produce expansive legislation, including environmental protections, civil rights laws and the Americans With Disabilities Act.

The current court has been trimming back the authority, however, and Democrats have vowed to make interstate commerce a big issue in the Roberts hearings. Now Mr. Specter, a Republican who is widely regarded as the panel's sharpest constitutional lawyer, is suggesting that he shares the Democrats' concerns.

"I think Republicans have a duty to pursue this line of questioning and any relevant line of questioning," Mr. Specter said on Monday in a telephone interview from his home in Philadelphia.

He said he was particularly upset that the court, under Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist, had questioned lawmakers' "method of reasoning" in striking down laws.

"Well, that's just another way of saying Congress is incompetent," Mr. Specter said, adding, "I'm not suggesting we pack the court, but at a minimum, the Senate is determined to confirm new justices who respect their role."

Democrats and liberal advocacy groups, caught off guard by Mr. Specter's letter, were elated.

"Pack the Court"???? Democrats and liberal advocacy groups "elated". It's not easy to make the Obstructionists happy but Arlen's done just that.

"Arlen Specter sounds exactly like Chuck Schumer," said Senator Charles E. Schumer, Democrat of New York and a member of the Judiciary Committee.

Mr. Schumer said that he viewed the letter as "a vindication of the campaign I've been waging" to have the nominee answer detailed questions about cases.

Specter is clearly opening the door to asking Roberts about what he thinks of (read how he would rule) on specific cases. This screams LITMUS TEST to me. And if that weren't bad enough:

Mr. Specter's letter to Judge Roberts came as Senator Harry Reid, the Democratic leader, urged the White House to reconsider its decision on Friday to deny Democrats access to legal memorandums the nominee wrote while in the office of solicitor general. In the interview, Mr. Specter did not rule out pressing President Bush on behalf of Democrats, saying instead that he was studying the law governing the White House assertion that the material is covered by attorney-client privilege.

"This is not something that you do a knee-jerk partisan reaction to," Mr. Specter said.

The Roberts nomination will get through. The Rehnquist replacement could be a lot dicier.

Space Shuttle landing

The Monk is no real fan of the Space Shuttle program. It's expensive and contributes little at this point to scientific knowledge. Better to have manned missions beyond the moon to Mars, the Asteroid Belt or beyond. The Monk finds it inconceivable that of all the planets in the Universe, ours is the only one with sentient life.

But The Monk is pleased and relieved that the Shuttle landed safely today.

And The Monk knows that a certain reader of his will likely latch onto the word "inconceivable" even though The Monk actually does know what it means.

NCAA - Multiculti Dupes?

This is infuriating.

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) -- Fed up with what it considers ''hostile'' and ''abusive'' American Indian nicknames, the NCAA announced Friday it would shut those words and images out of postseason tournaments, a move that left some school officials angry and threatening legal action.

Starting in February, any school with a nickname or logo considered racially or ethnically ''hostile'' or ''abusive'' by the NCAA would be prohibited from using them in postseason events. Mascots will not be allowed to perform at tournament games, and band members and cheerleaders will also be barred from using American Indians on their uniforms beginning in 2008.

Major college football teams are not subject to the ban because there is no official NCAA tournament.

How is "Seminoles" or "Illini" hostile or abusive?

''That the NCAA would now label our close bond with the Seminole people as culturally 'hostile and abusive' is both outrageous and insulting,'' Florida State president T.K. Wetherell said in a statement.

''I intend to pursue all legal avenues to ensure that this unacceptable decision is overturned, and that this university will forever be associated with the 'unconquered' spirit of the Seminole Tribe of Florida,'' he added.
''Certainly some things remain to be answered from today, and one of those things is the definition of what is 'hostile or abusive,''' said Tom Hardy, a spokesman at Illinois.

The NCAA did not give a clear answer on that.

Ah ha. FSU President T.K. Wetherell's response is here. Excerpt:

On June 17, the Tribal Council of the Seminole Tribe of Florida spoke unequivocally of its support for Florida State University in its use of the Seminole name and related symbols. Accordingly, I intend to pursue all legal avenues to ensure that this unacceptable decision is overturned, and that this university will forever be associated with the "unconquered" spirit of the Seminole Tribe of Florida.

National surveys have shown in recent years that an overwhelming majority of Native Americans are not offended by the use of Native American names and symbols. In making its decision, the executive committee has been swayed by a strident minority of activists who claim to speak for all Native Americans. It is unconscionable that the Seminole Tribe of Florida has been ignored.

But Wisco and Iowa are the good guys.

The committee also recommended that schools follow the examples of Wisconsin and Iowa by refusing to schedule contests against schools that use American Indian nicknames.

I think they are just chicken to go down to Tallahassee.

President Myles Brand noted that some schools using the Warrior nickname will not face sanctions because they do not use Indian symbols. One school, North Carolina-Pembroke -- which uses the nickname Braves -- will also be exempted because Brand said the school has historically had a high percentage of students, more than 20 percent, who are American Indians.

So it's not the name then? It's ok if the school has a lot of Native Americans? What kind of rubbish is this. I'll let The Monk have at this but I have all these bad vibes about Myles Brand -- seems to have a pattern of acting in a high-handed manner.

A two-year contract extension for Brand. His deal was to run through Dec. 31, 2007 and now includes an indefinite two-year rollover.

Just lovely.