Saturday, April 29, 2006

Dutch tolerance, fear and NIMBY syndrome

Ayaan Hirsi Ali is a target of Islamic terror: she has a price on her head for having the courage to speak out against Muslim honor killings and Islamis tolerance of violence against and the subjugation of women. More about her is available here. She lives in an apartment under heavy guard. And her neighbors want her out.

Worse, they invoked the European Treaty on Human Rights to support their effort to toss a woman under a death threat for speaking her mind out on the streets. The trial court tossed the case but the appeals court upheld the neighbors' complaint. More from Peaktalk (see link in title):

Firstly, it should be noted that Hirsi Ali is now booted out of her own house by virtue of the European Treaty for Human Rights which does indeed supersede Dutch law. Many cases are adjudicated by referring to this treaty, but given the subject matter here I would say: Euroskeptics, go knock yourselves out.

Secondly, and this is the one that really bothers me, is that somehow Hirsi Ali’s neighbors self-interest runs so deep that they are prepared to use the court system to throw someone whose life is in danger out of her own house.

It goes like this: we’re tolerant, we support free speech and a critical attitude, but if it comes too close to our front porch, sorry, we are no longer interested. On the contrary, self-interest is the deciding motivator. True, Hirsi Ali’s flatmates do have a reasonable point in arguing that the Dutch State has an obligation to ensure that their security measures benefit the entire complex. If the State has dropped the ball in that respect, they should be compelled by the courts to correct this, but to put the burden on Hirsi Ali is a very disturbing precedent. Yet, the plaintiffs are quite happy with the ruling . . .

Steve Howe: RIP

A true posterboy for the destructive effects of cocaine on talented players in the 1980s, Steve Howe died in a car accident yesterday at age 48. The former Dodger Rookie of the Year, who resurrected his career with the Yankees in the early 90s, missed four years on drug suspensions and wasted his career through his nostrils, Howe is the lesser of the three most notable 1980s stars (the others were Hall-of-Famers who would never be Dwight Gooden and Darryl Strawberry) who wasted an excellent baseball career on drugs. Howe had a mid-90s fastball, impeccable control and a golden arm. But seven drug suspensions and an addiction he could never beat cost him playing time, money, and four years of his career (1987-1990) before the Yankees signed him in 1991. He lasted 5+ seasons with the Yanks, including a stint as their closer in the 1994 strike-truncated season, before his arm deserted him in 1996 at age 38.

After baseball, Howe seemingly got his life together working in construction and doing marketing for sports drinks. He was returning from a business trip when his pickup rolled off the road, flipped over and Howe died.

Steve Howe, 1958-2006, RIP.

Friday, April 28, 2006

Being right in a world of idiots

It has to be tough to be Charles Krauthammer and be an inside-the-Beltway pundit whose IQ is above 150 yet commenting on the stupidity he sees in Washington on a daily basis. Today's boil of intellectual idiocy that Krauthammer lances -- the "price gouging" canard viz. oil companies:

Nothing can match the spectacle of politicians scrambling for cover during a spike in gasoline prices. And this time, the panderfest has gone all the way to the Oval Office. President Bush has joined the braying congressional hordes by ordering the Energy and Justice Departments and the FTC to launch an investigation into possible gasoline price-fixing.

What a disgrace.

Entirely too true. Unlike The Monk, who wrote a fine screed re: the oil supply and pricing situation earlier this week (if he does say so himself), Krauthammer was ripping the CLINTON Adminstration for failing to develop known oil fields 10 years ago:

American demand is up because we've lived in a fool's paradise since the mid-1980s. Until then, beginning with the oil shocks in 1973, Americans had changed appliances and cars and habits and achieved astonishing energy conservation. Energy use per dollar of GDP was cut by 30 percent in little over a decade. Oil prices collapsed to about $10 a barrel.

Then amnesia set in, MPG ratings disappeared from TV ads and we became ``a country of a million Walter Mittys driving 75 mph in their gas-guzzling Bushwhack-Safari sport-utility roadsters with a moose head on the hood, a country whose crude oil production has dropped 32 percent in the last 25 years but which will not drill for oil in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge for fear of disturbing the mating habits of caribou."

I wrote that during the '96 witch hunt for price gougers. Nothing has changed. Except that since then, U.S. crude oil production has dropped an additional 12.3 percent.

Yes, it gets worse: as The Monk noted, the US lacks ethanol supplies. It could import more ethanol, but will not because Iowa corn farmers will go ballistic. IT could alleviate the ethanol supply problems by ensuring liability protection for MBTE suppliers and allowing use of that additive, it did not. In other words, petty politics and false environmental concerns have stultified US oil production. So the result:

Last year's energy bill mandates arbitrary increases in blended ethanol use that so exceed current ethanol production that it is causing gasoline shortages and therefore huge price spikes.

Why don't we import the missing ethanol? Brazil makes a ton of it and very cheaply. Answer: The Iowa caucuses. Iowa grows corn and chooses presidents. So we have a ridiculously high 54-cent ethanol tariff and ethanol shortages.

Other regulation requires specific (``boutique'') gasoline blends for different cities depending on their air quality. Nice idea. But it introduces debilitating rigidities into the gasoline supply system. If Los Angeles runs short, you cannot just move supply in from Denver. You get shortages and more price spikes.

Wartime journalism -- don't lose sight of who is your country

One routine criticism I've had (and many conservatives have had) of diplomats and ambassadors is that the Foreign Service members too often has represented the countries they've been stationed in to the US instead of representing US interests in those countries. Indeed, this was part and parcel of the Bolton confirmation conflagration -- how can an unabashed promoter of American policy work with the UN as the "UN ambassador." That phrasing demonstrated the problem -- he's not the UN's ambassador to the US, he's the US ambassador to the UN and must represent our interests just as the great Pat Moynihan did decades ago.

There is a similar disengagement in the press. No, the average media member (as opposed to a Stars & Stripes writer) is not a government employee nor paid for by the taxes of US citizens. But reporters who are Americans have the same duty as every other American to not disseminate information that has been deemed secret (i.e., classified, secret, top secret, FYEO). Thus, Ralph Peters wonders why journalists want a scoop so badly that they would break the law and endanger the US:

. . . three questions of those journalists chasing prizes by printing our wartime secrets:

* Can you honestly claim to have done our nation any good?

* Did you weigh the harm your act might cause, including the loss of American lives?

* Is the honorable patriotism of Edward R. Murrow truly dead in American journalism?

If you draw a government (or contractor) paycheck and willfully compromise classified material, you should go to jail. If you are a journalist in receipt of classified information and you publish it to the benefit of our enemies, you should go to jail . . .

When a journalist is given classified information, his or her first call shouldn't be to an editor. It should be to the FBI.

Globalization for losers

Jonah Goldberg notes that there is more than one type of globalization -- not just Americanizing, but Islamicizing. And the latter is a movement fed, hosted, appealing to, and driven by losers. And the cultural cost is enormous. Here's how:

The Wall Street Journal recently reported the sad tale of the demise of Mak Yong, an ancient form of dance and theater in Southeast Asia drawn from pre-Islamic faiths[.] But such traditional cultural influences are now considered "un-Islamic." "Many Southeast Asian Muslims now navigate by guideposts from the Arab world," the Journal reported. "Young men in Indonesia are starting to wear turbans and grow beards. In Malaysia, Malays have adopted the Arab word for prayer, salat, to replace the Malay word, sembahyang, which literally means 'offer homage to the primal ancestor.' "

This is merely an extension of trends that have already transformed the Middle East. As Fareed Zakaria writes in "The Future of Freedom," until the 1970s most Middle Easterners "practiced a kind of village Islam that adapted itself to local cultures and to normal human desires. Pluralistic and tolerant, these villages often worshipped saints, went to shrines, sang religious hymns, and cherished art — all technically disallowed in Islam." This indigenous form of Islam was bulldozed by urbanization and radicalization. The Iranian Revolution was a harbinger of the transformation toward a more "universal" Islam that was also more doctrinaire: "Islam of the high church as opposed to Islam of the street fair," Zakaria writes.

* * *
Although Western-style globalization may force certain technological and economic changes on indigenous cultures, it also provides those cultures with the tools and flexibility to keep much of their culture. The hard Islam coming out of Riyadh and Tehran offers no such freedom. Recall that Afghanistan was a Muslim country for centuries, but it wasn't until the jihadi thugs of the Taliban took over that the historic Bamiyan Buddhas were deemed an offense to Islam and destroyed.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

As the House Goes...

An outstanding analytical piece on this years upcoming midterm Congressional elections by Jay Cost courtesy of OpinionJournal.

Cost shreds the conventional wisdom that the House will go Donkey and the Senate will stay with the GOP. He bases his observations on 46 observations (92 years) during which the House has never switched parties without the House also doing so. This is more than statistical anomaly - Cost cites some very compelling reasons. Among them, Senators, due to higher profile, inability to redraw districts and the likelihood of better organized opposition are much more vulnerable than their House counterparts.

Read it - it's well worth your time. This doesn't mean though that Ken Mehlman can rest of his laurels.


A funny from OpinionJournal

Seems Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY) has got a thing for shivs:

A 2003 plan for flexible work schedules instead of overtime? "A dagger to the heart of the middle class," Mr. Schumer said, according to the Associated Press. A 2002 plan by federal regulators to urge Wall Street firms to establish backup facilities outside New York City? A "dagger pointed at the heart of New York," Mr. Schumer said, according to the Daily News. High gas prices? "A dagger at the heart of our economy," Mr. Schumer said in 2000, according to the New York Times. A unilateral declaration of Palestinian statehood would be "a dagger through the heart of the peace process," Mr. Schumer said in 2000, according to the Agence France Presse.

There were lots more examples, both in that editorial and in the ensuing weeks. Here's the latest:

Any government which is formed in Iraq now--whether by Shiites or Zionist Kurds, or those who are dubbed Sunnis--would only be a stooge. They are a poisoned dagger in the heart of the Muslim nation.

OK, OK, that isn't Schumer. It's Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, head of al Qaeda in Iraq. Do they share a speechwriter?


Roger Toussaint's 10 days in jail and the $2.5 million in direct fines and losing the automatic benefits from the rank and file were deserved results from the TWU's three day strike just before Christmas.

Toussaint and the usual race demagogues are making it out to be a civil rights issue which it surely is not. Even the NY Times acknowledges the hijinks:

One goal is to cast the predominantly nonwhite union as the vanguard of a civil rights struggle, not merely another self-interested group. Mr. Toussaint has surrounded himself with figures like the Rev. Jesse Jackson and the Rev. Al Sharpton. "Roger Toussaint," Mr. Sharpton said at the rally yesterday, "comes from the lineage of Martin Luther King and A. Philip Randolph and Nelson Mandela."

HEADY company, indeed. During the strike, Mr. Toussaint also invoked the memory of Rosa Parks. In recent days, he let it be known that he was boning up for the Tombs by reading Dr. King's "Letter From Birmingham Jail."

In reality the the Transport Workers Union thought they could blackmail the city during the Christmas season and very clearly broke the law in doing so. Two million riders a day use the public transport system and their strike hurt a lot of lower to middle income folks. The judge who sentenced Toussaint and penalized the union was exactly right when he said, "New Yorkers took it in the neck."

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Green thumb sucking

The Monk is on record time and again with his view that the notion that global climate change is either manmade or heavily influenced by human activity is one of the more preposterous fictions in scientific theory. Simply stated, if the expected scientific outcome cannot be replicated, the theory cannot be proven. In the case of "climate change" (which used to be "global warming" before the preposterously cold winter of 2004-05), the proof and the theory do not jibe -- climate change computer modeling is so far outside an acceptable margin of error no scientist without a specific political agenda would tout the findings (the way to test the computer model that tries to predict 2007-2057 is to use its equations to try to replicate actual climate changes in the past, i.e. from 1907-1957).

Mark Steyn took on the latest global doom-mongering in his column for the Chicago Sun-Times last week because wooden-American Al Gore has an environmental doom predicting movie coming out soon entitled "An Inconvenient Truth." Some of Steyn's observations are worth noting:

Here's an inconvenient truth for "An Inconvenient Truth": Remember what they used to call "climate change"? "Global warming." And what did they call it before that? "Global cooling." That was the big worry in the '70s: the forthcoming ice age. Back then, Lowell Ponte had a huge best seller called The Cooling: Has the new ice age already begun? Can we survive?

The answer to the first question was: Yes, it had begun. From 1940 to 1970, there was very slight global cooling. That's why the doom-mongers decided the big bucks were in the new-ice-age blockbusters.

And yet, amazingly, we've survived. Why? Because in 1970 the planet stopped its very slight global cooling and began to undergo very slight global warming. So in the '80s, the doom-mongers cast off their thermal underwear, climbed into the leopardskin thongs, slathered themselves in sun cream and wired their publishers to change all references to "cooling" to "warming" for the paperback edition. That's why, if you notice, the global-warming crowd begin their scare statistics with "since 1970," an unlikely Year Zero which would not otherwise merit the significance the eco-crowd invest in it.

But then in 1998 the planet stopped its very slight global warming and began to resume very slight global cooling. And this time the doom-mongers said, "Look, do we really want to rewrite the bumper stickers every 30 years? Let's just call it 'climate change.' That pretty much covers it."

Given the track record of environmental doomsayers since the inception of the "environmental movement" in the 1960s, acting on anything this lot says is somewhere between unwise and flat stupid. Don't confuse political "science" for reality.

NRO: How Congress works in reverse

Following up on what The Monk himself noted yesterday, here's a fine piece by the National Review editorial board ripping the Republican Congress for its idiocy on the "overpriced" oil issue.

The truth is that today’s high gas prices have almost nothing to do with profit margins on oil, and that the “solutions” being batted around — windfall taxes, price controls, anti-gouging laws — would do much more harm than good.

* * *
. . . In a recent Cato Institute study, Jerry Taylor and Peter Van Doren reviewed the data and found that profit margins in the oil industry are comparable to those of other sectors. What’s more, the oil and gas sectors have actually been less profitable from 1970 to the present than the rest of the economy. Slapping a “windfall tax” on them now would amount to telling them that they must suffer losses during lean years but can’t make up for them in fatter ones.

That’s unfair, of course, but it’s also bad policy. What it would do — as would price controls — is distort economic incentives in such a way as to decrease domestic oil production. Oil companies are willing to make the huge capital investments associated with exploration and drilling because they have a reasonable expectation that the market will reward them. Diminish that expectation and you also diminish the amount of oil flowing from U.S.-owned wells. This isn’t just theory; it’s precisely what has happened whenever lawmakers have meddled in energy markets. Harvard economist Joseph Kalt found that price controls in place from 1974 to 1980 kept domestic production 0.3 to 1.4 million barrels per day lower than it otherwise would have been, and the Congressional Research Service estimates that the windfall tax on oil profits from 1980 to 1988 decreased domestic production by 3 to 6 percent.

Read the whole thing, but honestly The Monk said the same thing a day earlier here.

Very dangerous bedfellows

There are just some folks with whom one should NEVER get in bed. It's pretty hard to get ahead of Maoists on that list. Pro-democracy protesters in Nepal may come to learn this the hard way after they formed a common front with the Maoist insurgency to pressure the king (it's a constitutional monarchy) to concede to essentially allow a referendum on the Constitution and the future of the monarchy.

But the coalition also faced a stinging statement from the Maoist rebels, who had lately linked arms with them. In an apparent bid to ensure that they are not forgotten in an easy political settlement, the rebels denounced the parties' acceptance of the king's offer as "a historic blunder" and vowed to carry on with a blockade of the main roads leading to Katmandu, effectively preventing the flow of goods, including food and fuel, from reaching the capital.
The Maoists and the Seven-Party Alliance last fall signed an accord that obliges the politicians to accept the Maoists' demand for a vote on the constitution, while at the same time obliging the Maoists to agree to play by the rules of parliamentary democracy. It is a significant retreat from the Maoists' original goal of establishing a one-party Communist state. The mystery now is whether they mean what they say.
Going forward, the Maoists may not have it easy either. Their war has cost an estimated 13,000 lives over the last 10 years and not succeeded in bringing them to power. There seems no military solution in sight. Their only chance of coming to power and pushing through broad social reforms, starting with the demand for a kingless democratic republic, depends largely on their alliance with the politicians.

13,000 lives in a country of 28 million is equivalent to 150,000 lives in the U.S. Maoists in Peru have threatened the stability of that country as well.

Mao should be remembered as one of history's great butchers and those who seek to emulate him cannot ever be trusted.

Monday, April 24, 2006

The Republican Congress -- ARGH

The Monk has previously mentioned Stalinologist Robert Conquest's three laws of politics:

1. Everyone is conservative about what he knows best.

2. Any organization not explicitly right-wing sooner or later becomes left wing.

3. The simplest way to explain the behavior of any bureaucratic organization is to assume that it is controlled by a cabal of its enemies.

Numbers 2 and 3 now apply increasingly to the Republican Congress, an institution that has drifted left and into the mental abyss since 2003. The latest travesty:
House Speaker J. Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.) and Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-Tenn.) are preparing to send a letter to the president Monday asking him to direct the Federal Trade Commission and Justice Department to investigate alleged price gouging and instruct the Environmental Protection Agency to issue waivers that might make it easier for oil refiners to produce adequate gasoline supplies, Hastert spokesman Ron Bonjean said.

Hastert and Frist's letter comes amid charges by some consumer groups and Democrats that oil companies have manipulated refineries and oil inventories to drive up prices. Hastert also took aim at the rich pay package for Exxon Mobil Corp.'s retired chief executive, which he called "unconscionable."

Let's look at some reality:

1. Global demand for oil has increased drastically without concurrent increases in supply in the past 5-7 years.

2. No new refinery has been constructed in the United States in three decades.

3. Congress REFUSED to extend liability protection for MBTE, a gasoline additive used in high-pollution areas, but did so for ethanol -- the results are refiners refusing to use MBTE and now refining with ethanol.

4. Ethanol supplies are stretched thinner than onion skin -- the WSJ noted this two weeks ago -- and unlikely to increase.

5. The Congress has REFUSED to open up potentially useful areas of oil exploration in the Gulf of Mexico, off the Florida coast and in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.

6. Oil markets have been worried since day one of the US attack on Iraq because of the obvious potential that terrorist nutters would attack Iraq's oil supply AND because of the intermittent supply hiccups.

So where is the alleged gouging? There really isn't any by the oil companies -- the price of oil is set by the supply/demand on the world market and influenced greatly by OPEC's supply constriction policies. In other words, instead of targeting the oil companies, the Congress would be better advised to put OPEC nations under the microscope for their failure to increase supply during the massive upswing in demand -- that is, Congress is blaming American companies but giving OPEC nations (many of whom are America's enemies) a free pass.

And it doesn't get any better: Venezuela is seeking to increase the tax load it places on oil companies who are operating mineral leases in the Orinco basin AND wants to force non-Venezuelan companies to use "mixed" leases that would consist of partnerships with more than one company operating existing Venezuelan oil fields. Those partnerships would have at least 51% of the interest holders consist of VENEZUELAN-owned entities -- that is, controlled by Marxist Hugo Chavez. The alternative -- complete nationalization by Venezuela without compensation.

In the face of all these facts, the best Congress can do is blame the big corporations? That's just pure corporate bashing for petty political points -- straight out of the leftist playbook. It's disgusting that Hastert and Frist are now leading this charge.

Sunday, April 23, 2006

NL Preview

Now that we're nearly THREE weeks into the season, it's long past time for The Monk's NL Preview. There are really only two or three teams in the NL that have a chance to win the World Series -- although others could win the pennant. The NL has been so weak recently, that winning the league has meant little -- four of the last eight NL champs have failed to win a World Series game and that includes both the '99 Braves and '04 Cards, owners of the best record in baseball in those years.

One of the teams from the NL that is actually a World Series winning threat is the Mets. From dysfunctional baseball family to probable division winner, this year the Mess have more of everything that they lacked in past seasons. First and foremost, the closer -- Billy Wagner is the closest thing in the NL to a Rivera-quality game-ending deal-sealer. And acquiring him hurt the Phillies -- double win for the Mess. Second, obtaining Carlos Delgado, a deadly power hitter who notched his ninth-straight 30+ homer season last year for the Marlins. Third, addition by subtraction through tossing out Mike Piazza and his non-existent defensive skills and off-loading Kris Benson and his psycho slut wife to the Orioles. With a healthy Glavine, a lights-out Pedro again dominating NL hitters, a solid Steve Trachsel and decent relief, the Mess have enough pitching to win the division in a walk. Their lineup (Delgado, Wright, Matsui, Beltran) and mix of young and old (Nady, Bannister v. Glavine, Delgado) looks about right to break the Braves' streak.

The Braves still have Tim Hudson and John Smoltz, the two Joneses and . . . not much else. They took Edgar Renteria as a RedSawx castoff, they have some good young players, and . . . a lot of we'll see. Without Leo Mazzone to work miracles with the pitching staff, the Braves may be in trouble.

The Phillies are the best of a weak lot in the rest of the division. They have power (Abreu, Utley, Burrell) and some speed. The pitching stinks, and was weakened in the off-season with the losses of Padilla and Wagner. They shouldn't challenge this year. The Nationals are a mess, and getting the whingy Alfonso Soriano won't help -- the clubhouse cohesiveness helped the Nats outplay their talent last year. The Marlins are in the midst of yet ANOTHER salary purge that led them to toss aside Josh Beckett, AJ Burnett, Delgado and potentially Dontrelle Willis later this year.

In the Central, the Astros have done the opposite of 2004 and 2005 -- they've rocketed off to a good start thanks in large part to a soft schedule. Speaking of Rocket -- where Roger Clemens will land is anyone's guess at this point. But if he joins the 'Stros in May, and they're still in or near first place, they can beat the Cards for the division. With Pettitte, Oswalt, Rodriguez and Lidge, the Astros have the cornerstones of a solid pitching staff. They also have enough hitting to win, especially if Lance Berkman remains healthy for the whole year. Even if the Cards win the division, the Astros are the Wild Card favorites.

The Cards are the best bet to win the Central. They have the most balanced lineup and the most depth in the pitching staff (Carpenter, Mulder, Marquis, Isringhausen). They have Albert Pujols, the best hitter in baseball, Scott Rolen, and they have three Gold Glove quality fielders: Yadier Molina (youngest of the flying Molina catcher brothers), Rolen and Jim Edmonds. The Cards are just, to their opponents, infuriatingly consistent.

The 3-5 spots in the division are a jumble. The Pirates in last place are a given -- too young, too little talent. The Reds have loads of pop, but the pitching is horrendous (the five starters average giving up more than two homers per game). The Cubs are snakebitten -- losing Derrek Lee for two months after already suffering injuries to PriorWood. The Brewers are on the way up with Ben Sheets, the second-best Lee in the division (Carlos) and Rookie of the Year favorite Prince Fielder, son of the long lost (to gambling and assorted debts) Cecil.

The NL West winner will be . . . fodder for an early-round beating in the playoffs. Let's keep this simple: the Giants are old, the Padres can't hit, the Dodgers are a mess and the Snakes are lacking both hitting and pitching. The Rockies do not count as a threat -- if they can win 80 games with no pitching and no hitting, it's a miracle. Honestly, this is a terrible division that will end up once again as fodder for the other two divisions in the NL. The Giants have fewer questions if Bonds is healthy, especially after snagging Matt Morris. But it doesn't really matter -- this division is the one-star matchup from those NFL matchup ratings by USA Today -- for diehards only.

Happy Birthday to HRM Queen Elizabeth II

A belated happy birthday wish from us here at TKM to HRM Queen Elizabeth II. Fifty-four years ago the 26-year old Princess ascended the throne of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland after the death of her father, King George VI, the accidental king (his elder brother abdicated) who stood steadfast during the Blitz in World War II.

Since her ascension to the most visible throne in the world, Queen Elizabeth has been a paradigm of monarchical dignity despite the antics and idiocies of her offspring, heirs of the body (read: grandson #2), in-laws and siblings. She is the fourth-longest serving monarch in the British Empire (behind Victoria [64 years], George III [60 years] and Henry III [56 years]) and the best argument for Britain retaining its constitutional monarchy.

So happy 80th birthday to Her Royal Majesty. Here's hoping she retains the vibrancy and longevity she seems to have obtained from her mother, the late Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother (1900-2001).

Thought of the Day

From the homily given by a Catholic priest at a wedding I attended today:

"It's not love that sustains a marriage, it's marriage that sustains the love."

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Must read of the week

Mark Steyn, the "columnist to the world" according to Hugh Hewitt, has an interesting and thought-provoking essay in the new issue of City Journal -- Myron Magnet and the Manhattan Institute's conservative/libertarian political quarterly. The topic is Iran: what threat it poses to the world, what the US should do now, what the failure to act against it in the past 27 years has wrought.

The Steyn piece is long and intricate, but the most notable conclusion he reaches is this: Iran announced in 1979 that territorial sovereignty of the nation-state is meaningless when it conflicts with the needs of the Islamic Revolution. Here's an excerpt:

. . . The signature act of the [Ayatollah Khomeini] regime was not the usual post-coup bloodletting and summary execution of the [deposed] shah's mid-ranking officials but the seizure of the U.S. embassy in Tehran by "students" acting with Khomeini's blessing. Diplomatic missions are recognized as the sovereign territory of that state, and the violation thereof is an act of war. No one in Washington has to fret that Fidel Castro will bomb the U.S. Interests Section in Havana. Even in the event of an actual war, the diplomatic staff of both countries would be allowed to depart.

Yet Iran seized protected persons on U.S. soil and held them prisoner for over a year--ostensibly because Washington was planning to restore the shah. But the shah died and the hostages remained. And, when the deal was eventually done and the hostages were released, the sovereign territory of the United States remained in the hands of the gangster regime. Granted that during the Carter administration the Soviets were gobbling up real estate from Afghanistan to Grenada, it's significant that in this wretched era the only loss of actual U.S. territory was to the Islamists.

Yet Iran paid no price. They got away with it. For the purposes of comparison, in 1980, when the U.S. hostages in Tehran were in their sixth month of captivity, Iranians opposed to the mullahs seized the Islamic Republic's embassy in London. After six days of negotiation, Her Majesty's Government sent SAS commandos into the building and restored it to the control of the regime. In refusing to do the same with the "students" occupying the U.S. embassy, the Islamic Republic was explicitly declaring that it was not as other states.

We expect multilateral human-rights Democrats to be unsatisfactory on assertive nationalism, but if they won't even stand up for international law, what's the point? Jimmy Carter should have demanded the same service as Tehran got from the British--the swift resolution of the situation by the host government--and, if none was forthcoming, Washington should have reversed the affront to international order quickly, decisively, and in a sufficiently punitive manner. At hinge moments of history, there are never good and bad options, only bad and much much worse. Our options today are significantly worse because we didn't take the bad one back then.

Read the whole thing.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

AL Preview, part II

Out of the AL Central and the AL West only two teams will make the playoffs and a third will be in an end-of-season dogfight with the RedSawx and either the Yanks or BlowJs for the wild card. That's too bad, because no fewer than six of the remaining nine AL teams are decent enough to contend for the playoffs.

Start in the AL Central, where the defending champs added Jim Thome to their lineup for more pop and more baserunners (the ChiSax were near the tail end of the league in OBA). I don't credit the acquisition of Javier Vazquez much unless the Palehos use him as starter #5 and consider shifting Brandon McCarthy to closer (Bobby Jenks is certainly not a known entity). Credit where it's due: Ken Williams, the Sax GM, thought the Palehos could get Jose Contreras to show the stuff that wowed the scouts before the Yanks signed him in the '02-'03 offseason and Williams ended up with a #1 starter for just some pocket lint.

The Indians and Twins are intriguing. I still don't trust the Indians' pitching because Sabathia blows both hot and cold, Westbrook and Lee tend toward inconsistency (less of that with Lee), and losing the AL's ERA leader simply won't help. The Indians do have some very good players and enough talent to make a big run at the division. Twins are in a similar situation. With Mauer and Morneau healthy, the Twins should more than make up for the mid-level production that Jacque Jones provided. They still have a pitching staff notoriously parsimonious with walks. And they have one of the top closers in the league who has a decent setup group ahead of him. I expect more from the Twins this year than they provided in an injury-plagued '05.

The Royals are a lost cause, but the Tigers have some talent. Detroit is the best team in the AL to be victimized by the overall ability of the league -- the Tigers would penetrate the upper half of the NL but won't do the same in the AL. I like the fact that Jim Leyland was peeved with their loss on Monday to the Indians even though it's early-season and expectations aren't high -- he'll raise them and possibly teach that young team something. One issue with the Tigers: a lot of soft-tossing lefty starters (Rogers, Maroth, Robertson).

In the AL West, the question for the A's is whether the acquisitions of Frank Thomas and Milton Bradley will raise the team's offensive ability more than the players will raise ire in the clubhouse. Both are notorious headcases. The rotation is very good if healthy -- if Rich Harden can pitch a full season, this team can win the division. Don't believe the anti-hype -- the Monk foresees no sophomore slump for reigning Rookie of the Year Huston Street.

The Angels had a net talent loss in the offseason: no Bengie Molina, losing Paul Byrd and Jarrod Washburn and replacing them with Jeff Weaver. This team did not win with offense last year, and the team is now a year older without any talent upgrades and a net loss in the pitching. That said, the Angels still have that killer bullpen that has won them consecutive AL West titles and netted a World Series in '02.

The Rangers and Mariners will bring up the rear, but the Rangers may have legitimate pretensions of self-belief in their own decency. They upgraded the rotation with Millwood and Padilla -- although the extent of that improvement will be limited by the launching pad that is The Ballpark come summertime. Adam Eaton is a nonfactor -- a guy who fits the "good young pitcher" physical profile, without the track record (poor ERA in the best pitchers' park in baseball whilst in San Diego). The Rangers' strength will again be their excellent lineup.

The M's should improve after plucking Washburn from the Angels and getting a full year from Felix Rodriguez -- a righty version of Johan Santana who has great native ability. Still, they lack enough pitching and guts (Pineiro, Meche and the DL brigade) to make a large dent in the AL West race. I wonder if they should just build their team like the 1980s Cards -- speed, speed, speed with one or two bangers. Watch the progress of the latest Japanese import for team Nintendo, Kenji Jojima -- a catcher who can hit well too.

Sunday, April 16, 2006

The Monk's Baseball Preview: AL = part 1

Yes, we're two weeks into the season, therefore a baseball preview is a bit of a misnomer. Nonetheless, The Monk hopes there will be some value in this. After all, as the Yanks themselves proved after their 11-19 start last year that ended with an 8th-straight division title, it's a long season.

Thus, without further ado, The Monk presents his predictions and analysis for the season. First, we start with the American League, which is vastly superior to the NL as I noted it would be right after the ChiSax finished wiping out the Astros last October. In the AL, no fewer than 9 teams have legitimate reasons to believe they can win 85+ games, and many of those who can only dream of the playoffs (Tampa, Seattle, Baltimore, Detroit) have enough talent and ability to cause trouble for better teams throughout the year (the Royals are another story). So let's go division by division once again.

AL East

The Yankees should again win the East, for the ninth-straight time. This off-season, the Yanks remained relatively quiet -- they obtained Johnny Damon and Kyle Farnsworth and some bullpen filler. They liked their end-of-season rotation of Johnson-Moooooooosina-Chacon-Wang and with Pavano as a possible fifth starter (!), they should be ok. The keys are Wang keeping the ball down, Mooooooooose staying healthy, and Randy regaining his slider (which should be possible considering that the Yanks pitching coach is former fastball-slider lefty Ron Guidry).

Strengths: that lineup, especially the #1-6 hitters. Damon and Jeter are potential 130-run scorers, Sheff, Arod, Matsui and Giambi are all 30+ HR hitters with 100+ RBI likely. The addition of Damon means Jeter will threaten the 100-RBI mark for the first time since 1999. Other strengths include Arod's defense, Rivera (as usual) and Jeter's leadership.

Weaknesses: defense on the right side of the infield is a sieve; corner outfielder range is limited; no power pitching starters other than Johnson; health issues among the pitchers; Posada's decline.

Question marks: How will Farnsworth handle being Rivera's valet? Who will hold their rotation jobs after RJ and Mooooooose? Can the Yanks improve their defense and clutch-hitting?

The RedSawx made a number of upgrades in the field with appreciable degradation of the lineup. No more Bill Mueller, Kevin Millar (who stank last year) or Damon. The trade for Josh Beckett could be the best move any AL team made this off-season, or be a complete flop if Beckett continues his Kerry Wood/Mark Prior health profile.

Strengths: the rotation if Schilling and Beckett are healthy; Jon Papelbon is a fine pitcher so the Sawx need to find a permanent role for him; the defense improved with the additions of Coco Crisp, Mike Lowell and JT Snow; the two fatboys in the middle of the lineup are deadly; the upside -- if Schilling and Beckett are healthy all year, this team can win more than just the AL East.

Weaknesses: health questions abound among the starters -- physical for Schilling, Wells and Beckett; mental for Clement. The Sawx outfield defense is still questionable on a good day.

Question marks: Foulke's health, Wily Mo Pena's adjustment to platooning, Lowell's hitting, whether the fatboys will continue to have tons of men on base.

The third-best team in the division could have the best rotation, if it's healthy. The Blue Jays have Halliday, Burnett, Chacin, Towers and Lilly -- a five-man rotation that is the equal, on paper, to anything the Yanks or RedSawx can put together. The question is whether that rotation will be on the mound or in the training room. Halliday lost the back half of his season to injury, Lilly lost much time and Burnett has already missed starts this year.

Strengths: the closer, BJ Ryan; the rotation if Halliday anchors it; additional pop with Glaus and Overbay; a top defensive catcher in Bengie Molina.

Weaknesses: consistency is often lacking; set up relief cannot match the ability of the closer; offense only about 4th-best in division.

Question marks: Rotation health (notice a trend yet?); will the young players who performed above expectations last year improve? Will Burnett get his head and his arm in proper alignment?

Bringing up the rear will be the Orioles and D-Rays. The Os gained Kris Benson and his nutball slut wife, Leo Mazzone, and LaTroy Hawkins. That's not enough to overcome the pitching deficit the team had at the end of last season. The Os have 76 games against the best division in baseball and have too few difference makers to win. The D-Rays are better than they've ever been -- then again, The Monk has a vertical leap that would take him over most phonebooks so condemning with faint praise is about the best the D-Rays can get. Somehow, they won the season series from the Yanks last year. But their lineup is a mishmash of hasbeens and won't-bes; the pitching has no top young hurlers other than Kazmir and lost their closer from '05. Too little ammo to take on the AL East.

Saturday, April 15, 2006

Black Eye for Buckeyes


Officials at the Ohio State University are investigating an OSU Mansfield librarian for “sexual harassment” after he recommended four conservative books for a freshman reading program. ADF has demanded that OSU cease its frivolous investigation, yet the university is pressing forward, claiming that it takes the charges “seriously.”
Scott Savage, who serves as a reference librarian for the university, suggested four best-selling conservative books for freshman reading in his role as a member of OSU Mansfield’s First Year Reading Experience Committee. The four books he suggested were The Marketing of Evil by David Kupelian, The Professors by David Horowitz, Eurabia: The Euro-Arab Axis by Bat Ye’or, and It Takes a Family by Senator Rick Santorum. Savage made the recommendations after other committee members had suggested a series of books with a left-wing perspective, by authors such as Jimmy Carter and Maria Shriver.

Savage was put under “investigation” by OSU’s Office of Human Resources after three professors filed a complaint of discrimination and harassment against him, saying that the book suggestions made them feel “unsafe.” The complaint came after the OSU Mansfield faculty voted without dissent to file charges against Savage. The faculty later voted to allow the individual professors to file charges.

On March 28, ADF sent OSU officials a letter informing them of Savage’s constitutional rights. A copy of the letter can be read at The university so far has declined to stop the investigation, saying in its response that it takes “any allegation of sexual harassment seriously.”

HT: Instapundit and this fellow.

William Sloane Coffin, Jr. 1924-2006

The anti-establishment firebrand, chaplain at Yale, pastor of Riverside Church, died this week. Coffin championed civil disobedience, ranted about 'justice' over 'law', coddled the North Vietnamese and the Weather Underground and did his level best to delegitimize, well, just about everything.

Here is the ingratiating New York Times' obituary.

Roger Kimball offers a very different view.

Worthy bits

As Monk indicates - its been a busy week for both of us. So, in no particular order, here are some articles that I think are worth your time.

1. The New York Times had a big front page article today (above the fold) breathlessly reporting that six retired generals (with pictures) were calling for Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld's resignation.

A very good counter here.

President Bush's strong defense here.

2. Massachusetts Governor and presidential hopeful Mitt Romney's plan for universal health insurance in Massachusetts. Brendan Miniter's riposte here.

3. This wants me to stop using Google.

4. The Titanic went down 94 years ago today.

Out of all of the Titanic's passengers, 74 percent of women lived while 80 percent of the men died. Interesting, no?

5. Sad but true.

Historian Niall Ferguson might have been correct when he urged the application of U.S. power in far-reaching corners of the globe, but wondered whether we had the right stuff to pull it off: "America's brightest and best aspire not to govern Mesopotamia but to manage MTV; not to rule the Hejaz but to run a hedge fund. Unlike their British counterparts of a century ago, who left the elite British universities with an overtly imperial ethos, the letters ambitious young Americans would like to see after their names are CEO, not CBE [Commander of the Order of the British Empire]."

6. Hank Greenberg, ex-CEO of AIG, expounds:

"One of the biggest problems" facing America's competitiveness at the moment "is regulation," he states. He notes the legislative fiasco that flowed out of Enron--Sarbanes-Oxley. "Any time you publish regulations in a crisis mode, you probably do it wrong," he says, and as proof he points to all the companies now listing in London rather than New York.
After Enron, "the regulators became far more aggressive, threatening boards of directors with all kind of dire things if they didn't do certain things. What happens? The board simply takes over. And when that happens you don't have a company that is thinking about innovation or risk-taking. . . . And once you stop thinking about risk and thinking only about compliance, you are no longer going to be a growth company."

7. Greenspan doesn't like Sarbanes-Oxley either. (HT Instapundit)

As someone who works for a major international bank - Sarbanes-Oxley and the attitude that permeates corporate governance today - is a disaster.

8. DUKE LACROSSE - This is starting to remind me of Tawana Brawley. I think the actions of some of the team members are far less than stellar and IF this case is to be found without merit - where does the lacrosse team and Duke University go to get their reputation back? A good news site here.

The BEST article on immigration

I've seen is, not surprisingly, from Peggy Noonan.

It would be presumptous to attempt to paraphrase Noonan, a Reagan speechwriter, so in her own words:

I love immigrants...I love them because they are brave. They left their country and struggled their way to this one to get a better life...I love immigrants because they make themselves lonely for their children. They go to a place where few share their language, their memories, their references. They do this so their children will have a greater chance at happiness. I love immigrants because they invest in the future with the biggest thing they can invest with: their life.

Not sure its ever been said better.

This week I went to the immigration march in New York. We massed on the Brooklyn Bridge and then marched into lower Manhattan. I just wanted to be there and see who was marching and hear what they said.
I walked along with a young black woman, an American in her mid-20s, who was chatting in English and Spanish with those nearby. She was clearly in some organizational position, and she was carrying an American flag...But it was clear all the American flags were a strategic decision. All those Mexican flags in the marches in L.A. and elsewhere 10 days ago had been a public relations disaster. So now it was all American flags.
We curled past the courthouses of downtown, up Broadway, to Chinatown. Chinatown is of course largely populated by immigrants, legal and illegal, but they were not in the march. In fact, I did not see a single Asian in the march. They were all working, in the shops and on the street. They had no intention of letting yet another New York march get in the way of business. And you know, the marchers seemed to sense it. They didn't spend long in Chinatown.

Not a *single* Asian.

And Noonan's best point I think:

While the marchers seemed to be good people, and were very likable, the march itself, I think, violated the old immigrant politesse--the general understanding that you're not supposed to get here and immediately start making demands. It would never have occurred to my grandparents to demand respect. They thought they had to earn it. It would never have occurred to them to air mass grievances, assert rights, issue a list of legislative demands. Especially if they were here unlawfully.


We are a sovereign nation operating under the rule of law. That, in fact, is why many immigrants come here. They come from places where the law, such as it is, is corrupt, malleable, limiting. Does it make sense to subvert our own laws to facilitate the entrance of those in pursuit of government by law? Whatever our sentiments and sympathies as individuals, America has the right, and the responsibility, to protect the integrity of its borders, to make the laws by which immigrants are granted entrance, and to enforce those laws.
I think those whose primary concern is preserving the Hispanic vote for the Democratic Party, or not losing the Hispanic vote for the Republican Party, are being cynical, selfish, and stupid, too. It's not all about who gets what vote, it's about continuing a system of laws that has allowed America to become, among many other things, a place immigrants want to come to. And it's about admitting immigrants in a coherent, orderly, legal manner, with an eye first to what America needs. That's how you continue a good thing, which is what we've had.

A thought. Two generations ago City College (part of the City University of New York) was considered one of the finest colleges in the country - just a cut below the Ivies - and much more affordable to immigrants. A generation ago, in a paroxysm of egalitarian and multicultural overreach, a bunch of nitwits got together and decided that City College should have open admissions - basically anyone with a pulse ought to get in.

Unsurprisingly City College and the CUNY system saw the caliber of its students, its faculty and its reputation sink disastrously. It hasn't recovered.

Friday, April 14, 2006

Sports and society

In the wake of last week's dull conclusion to the poorly played Men's NCAA Tournament (I preferred watching the women's final and I had NEVER said that), and in anticipation of the World Cup that starts less than two months from now, The Monk offers two books for your consideration.

First, Franklin Foer's book, How Soccer Explains the World: An Unlikely Theory of Globalization. Foer's book is really a string of essays on how soccer reflects and influences society, politics, economics, religion, etc. in Europe and Latin America, and why it does not do so in the US with case studies on the "Jewish Question" in the English Premier League, the perverse Protestant/Catholic schisms in Scotland and Ireland, high culture/low culture tensions in Italy, corruption in Latin America, fascism in Eastern Europe and more. It's an interesting set of stem-winders from a fairly trenchant writer.

Second, and better, is Adrian Wojnarowski's memoir of a season inside the St. Anthony's basketball program -- The Miracle of St. Anthony. Here's what I wrote in my Amazon review:
This is one of the better sports books I've read -- as good as the classic A Season on the Brink and it deals with a far broader spectrum of life.

In Jersey City is a dilapidated schoolhouse that was abandoned by it parish and left to fend for itself decades ago. The school is kept alive through the diligence and dedication of the two nuns that run the school, Sister Felicia and Sister Alan (no misprint), and the ability to raise funds of Bob Hurley. The latter is the coach of the most famous high school basketball program in the country -- one that gained its fame NOT by being a basketball factory (like Oak Hill Academy) but because Hurley is the Mike Krzyzewski and John Wooden of high school hoops.

As much teaching and training Hurley does, the program and the school are successes because Hurley has the most important priority in place -- his players come from the worst areas of Jersey City and graduate high school to go to either four-year colleges or junior colleges that will prepare them for four-year schools.

Wojnarowski is a veteran reporter in North Jersey, and one of the better ones in the area. He knows the demographics of Jersey City, the slums and projects that the kids come from, the broken families and the obstacles they have to overcome just to make it through Hurley's practices while also battling the lure of the streets and of college and AAU coaches who promise them more than they can deliver.

Wojnarowski gives in-depth profiles of nearly each Hurley (Bob, wife Chris, sons Bobby and Danny), and of most of the players, assistants, and the St. Anthony administration -- for whom keeping the school afloat is an impressive labor of love and devotion.

This is an outstanding work that is more a slice of social history than merely a "basketball" book or look inside the program. Wojnarowski's opus is great stuff. Highly recommended.

Radio Silence

Sorry about the silence of the blog recently. Wongdoer is dealing with certain job limitations on his posting.

The Monk is in a pre-trial that makes the OJ Simpson case look efficient. When this fiasco is over, I'll give more detail. Suffice to say that we've had 11 days of pretrial over three weeks, in court every day arguing about exhibits (the judge wants to pre-admit them so they do not have to be proven up or argued about in front of the jury) and secondary and tertiary issues.

I regret that I haven't been able to post on the baseball season, and we're 10+ games in. Nonetheless, I'll have my entirely-too-late preview for you soon.

As for two other crucial issues -- the war and immigration -- I will try to put together some posts in the next couple of days.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Tuesday Roundup

1. A good political brief on Mexico who elects a new President in July. Is there a Mexican Chavez in the wings?

2. A second loss for Merck on Vioxx. Good news is that it doesn't seem to have affected the stock. An ugly war of attrition as Merck litigates each case. Having used it and have elderly parents who swear by it and can't get anymore - this is a damned shame.

3. NRO on the Italian elections - the evil of the two lessers? Only instability seems to lie in the future. And despite Berlusconi's foibles and alleged corruption of his associates I am thinking he is the better Atlanticist...

SHOCKING Treatment of Prisoners at Gitmo...

From the staunchly pro-American Guardian (UK):

...Tracked down to his remote village in south-eastern Afghanistan, Naqibullah has memories of Guantanamo that are almost identical to Asadullah's. Prison life was good, he said shyly, nervous to be receiving a foreigner to his family's mud-fortress home.

The food in the camp was delicious, the teaching was excellent, and his warders were kind. "Americans are good people, they were always friendly, I don't have anything against them," he said. "If my father didn't need me, I would want to live in America."

Asadullah is even more sure of this. "Americans are great people, better than anyone else," he said, when found at his elder brother's tiny fruit and nut shop in a muddy backstreet of Kabul. "Americans are polite and friendly when you speak to them. They are not rude like Afghans. If I could be anywhere, I would be in America. I would like to be a doctor, an engineer _ or an American soldier."

Damn those American cultural imperialists!


Monday, April 10, 2006

Mexico on Immigration

NRO has two brilliant posts on Mexico's duplicitous stand on immigration.

Here's one:

"In brief, the Mexican Constitution states that:

"--Immigrants and foreign visitors are banned from public political discourse.
"--Immigrants and foreigners are denied certain basic property rights.
"--Immigrants are denied equal employment rights.
"--Immigrants and naturalized citizens will never be treated as real Mexican citizens.
"--Immigrants and naturalized citizens are not to be trusted in public service.
"--Immigrants and naturalized citizens may never become members of the clergy.
"--Private citizens may make citizens arrests of lawbreakers (i.e., illegal immigrants) and hand them to the authorities.
"--Immigrants may be expelled from Mexico for any reason and without due process."

And, the other - aka Try Doing This in Mexico:

Enter Mexico illegally. Never mind immigration quotas, visas, international law, or any of that nonsense.

Once there, demand that the local government provide free medical care for you and your entire family.

Demand bilingual nurses and doctors.

Demand free bilingual government forms, bulletins, etc.

Keep your American identity strong. Fly Old Glory from your rooftop, or proudly display it in your front window, or on your car bumper.

Speak only English at home and in public and insist that your children do likewise.

Demand classes on American culture in the Mexican school system.

Demand a Mexican driver license. This will afford other legal rights and will go far to legitimize your unauthorized, illegal presence in Mexico.

Drive around with no liability insurance.

Insist that Mexican law enforcement teach English to all its officers.

Just keeping it in perspective.

Behind the immigration rallies...

is International A.N.S.W.E.R. They've claimed credit for the large Los Angeles rally on 25 March. Who is A.N.S.W.E.R.?

A.N.S.W.E.R. is a cover up for the Workers World Party, a Stalinist organization. According to Stephen Zunes, chair of the Peace and Justice Studies Program at the University of San Francisco,”Basically, A.N.S.W.E.R. is dominated by the IAC, which is largely a front for the Workers World Party.” David Corn, a writer for the liberal publication Common Dreams, stated, “A.N.S.W.E.R. is run by W.W.P. activists, to such an extent that it seems fair to dub it a W.W.P. front.”

A.N.S.W.E.R.’s director, Ramsey Clark, has served as the spokesman for the W.W.P since the early 1990s. Ramsey Clark is currently part of the legal defense team for Saddam Hussein, and was part of the legal defense team for Serbian dictator Slobodan Milosevic in the International Criminal Court. Another director of A.N.S.W.E.R., Brian Becker, is part of the W.W.P. Secretariat.

The former FBI Director under President Clinton, Louis Freeh, included W.W.P. in a talk about “domestic terrorist groups” on May 10, 2001 when speaking to Senate committees. He also denounced “Anarchists and extremist socialist groups - many of which, such as the Workers World Party, have an international presence and, at times, also represent a potential threat in the United States.”
The W.W.P. supports the Chinese communist government, and encouraged its use of tanks against students demonstrating in favor of democracy in Tiannamen Square in 1989, where many died. In the past, it defended Soviet suppression of worker rebellions in eastern European countries, and in 1991 supported the KGB coup against former Soviet president Mikhail Gorbachev. The W.W.P. is a staunch advocate of Kim Jong II.

Lovely folks.


Monday Roundup

1. A decent bit has been made in the national media-naturally-about the 'revelation' that Bush 'authorized' the 'leak' of certain information regarding Joe Wilson's Niger mis-daventure. A good, concise argument about the tempest in a teacup here:

Yes, the president authorized a top aide to leak portions of the National Intelligence Estimate, which was classified, although it would later be de-classified. But what is wrong with that? When the president decides to make something public, it can be made public.

Note this is about material relating to an NIE, not Valerie Plame.

2. Trenchant piece about what France, GM and upstate NY have in common. Unions.

3. France surrenders. Why does this surprise anyone? Just another step towards irrelevancy for the French economy. The silver lining here is that this is a stinging defeat for PM Dominque de Villepin. The de Villepin who did his level best to personally fracture the Atlantic alliance.

4. Paul Rusesabagina (Hotel Rwanda) castigates the UN and the world for ignoring Darfur. And rightly so.

5. Saddam planned to strike at the U.S.????

Iraq - three years after liberation

From an Iraqi, courtesty of NRO:

There is a major difference between Iraq before April 9, 2003, and Iraq today — now there is hope, there is the determination to win this war. We continue to believe in this new Iraq because we know that, despite the problems, Iraq is developing, and that despite the madness, there is progress.
Today the world is discussing why there was no plan for reconstruction. But such criticisms should be honest: Could anyone have imagined back then that the enemies of the new Iraq would blow themselves up in marketplaces, in front of schools, at funerals — almost anywhere — killing dozens, along with themselves, each time? Could anyone have expected that people transporting flour would have their heads cut off on live television? Could anyone have expected that Baghdad's water supply would be attacked on a daily basis?
World opinion says that this war was illegal because the Coalition found no weapons of mass destruction. What have been found, however, are heaps of bodies, buried in mass graves, which would not have been discovered otherwise. Five-hundred thousand people — men, women and children — had been executed or buried alive.
Saddam Hussein's 35-year war against the population of Iraq cost over two million people their lives, and this campaign is not over yet.
Now, however, we are no longer alone in this war. We have the United States on our side. We know that we can win this struggle. Our greatest worry is that we will run out of partners in the middle of the final, pivotal push.
The future of the Middle East will be decided in Iraq. The way America is perceived in the future will be determined in Iraq. The choice is between supporting this new generation a few years longer, and winning a grateful long-term ally, or betraying this generation of Iraqis which believes in, and risks its life every day for, the American dream of democracy.

We did and are doing good in Iraq. And it is very important. Take it from an Iraqi.

Programming Note II

Hi there, just wanted to say a word about our *uneven* production last week. As the Monk indicated here, he's all jammed up with a trial and will post when he can. Last week was particularly busy for me hence the radio silence.

We remain as committed to this project as ever so please do keep coming back.

And, as we mentioned here, anyone interested in being a third blogger please give us a shout.

Go Yanks!

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Wednesday Goodies

1. Johns Hopkins professor Eliot Cohen (whom I had at Harvard many years back) rips Walt and Mearsheimer. (HT: LGF, who btw is outstanding today)

Inept, even kooky academic work, then, but is it anti-Semitic? If by anti-Semitism one means obsessive and irrationally hostile beliefs about Jews; if one accuses them of disloyalty, subversion or treachery, of having occult powers and of participating in secret combinations that manipulate institutions and governments; if one systematically selects everything unfair, ugly or wrong about Jews as individuals or a group and equally systematically suppresses any exculpatory information -- why, yes, this paper is anti-Semitic.

2. HAMAS LIES. Making nice to the UN here; true colors here.

3. Larry Sabato, the UVa politics guru weighs in on DeLay (from yesterday)

My guess is that Tom DeLay took a cold, hard-headed look at the facts of the upcoming election, and he realized that ex-Rep. Nick Lampson (D) was likely to win. That’s my own evaluation of the polls in his district, added together with DeLay’s sub-par performance in his party primary, and the burden of ex-Republican Rep. Steve Stockman running as an Independent. DeLay didn’t want to go out as a loser, and he didn’t want the Democrats to gain his seat. Probably, a respectable GOP candidate can hold that seat now — -though we’ll have to wait and see who is selected. The person had best have few ties to DeLay.

On the whole, this is a plus for the GOP. DeLay would have been the focus of a thousand media stories in the fall general election, making the Democrats’ ‘culture of corruption’ point for them. Now he’s out of the autumn headlines, unless the Ronnie Earle trial drags on or DeLay is indicted in the Abramoff scandal. It was in DeLay’s personal interests for him to drop out, but he also did his party one last favor.

4. A new Secretary of the Treasury? Today's SecTreas needs to be a markets guy and not a captain of industry. The Bush administration is notoriously weak here. Between Hank Paulson and Stan O'Neal I think Paulson is the clear choice. Stan O'Neal came up the brokerage side of the business but to be chief at Goldman you HAVE to be OUTSTANDING.

5. Is a return to federalism an answer to the polarization of the American electorate? Fascinating piece though I am not sure I agree with all of it.

But an era where deep and fundamental moral questions divide the nation is in need of a revival of federalism. Federalism supplies the expansion joints that make America supple rather than brittle; make it a bridge that can ride out hurricanes without falling to pieces, that can sustain enormous twisting, turning, and tearing forces without cracking.

Monday, April 03, 2006


Tom "the Hammer" DeLay will retire from the Sugarland, Texas seat he has held in the United States House of Representatives since 1984. Details available later -- just saw the flash from the local CBS station.

A good decision, all things considered. DeLay's ethical scandal reeks and has tainted his colleagues in the Republican side of the House. Another scalp for the Left, but one they may well deserve to get considering his ethical lapses.

Florida's halfway to its Shining Moment

As The Monk noted last year before CBS did, no team has ever trailed by more than 10 points at the half of the NCAA Championship game and won. The record comeback is Kentucky's in 1998 from a 41-31 deficit to Utah. This is a stat that Jim Nantz and Billy Packer should be able to call up in memory IMMEDIATELY considering that they've called every NCAA title game since 1991 and this is the fourth-straight NCAA title game that has ended the first half with one team up by at least 11 points (Syracuse 53-42 over Kansas; UConn 41-26 over Ga. Tech; UNC 40-27 over Illinois; and Florida 36-25 over UCLA).

N.B. -- The Monk is hoping to be able to write his baseball preview all of five days into the season on Friday.

Correction -- Duke beat Maryland 95-84 in the 2001 Final Four; I wrote out the score as 99-84.

The execrable New York Times

Remember when the New York Times breathlessly reported 30 HEADLESS BODIES FOUND NEAR BAGHDAD?

It was a mistake.

The Mudville Gazette noted that they buried the correction in the 17th paragraph of a subsequent article.


HT: Powerline

Sudan blocks UN envoy

Sudan is openly defying even the toothless U.N. Sad to say I think the only hope for Darfur is the hated cowboy President. Who may not have enough chips left to do anything.

Monday Goodies

1. A sober critique of the current situation in Iraq by Reuel Marc Gerecht. Secure Baghdad. US troops must prevent an Algeria-style conclusion. A very good read.

2. GM selling a majority stake in GMAC, its profitable 'crown jewel', seems like a bad idea. "Throwing furniture into the fireplace to heat the house" indeed. Perhaps GM's troubles are actually worse than believed.

3. Good news from Iraq.

4. Deroy Murdock has a wonderful trenchant piece on the Yale Taliban.

The FBI should arrest this young Yalie and fly him south for spring break at Guantanamo. Then, Sayed Ramatullah Hashemi can help U.S. interrogators "increase understanding " of America's battlefield enemy.

5. LGF reports that several Saudi women, tired of discrimination, have had sex changes. Somewhere, someone is really unhappy about this.

6. The French are holding secret talks with Hamas. Figures. [French deny but Hamas confirms.]

Sunday, April 02, 2006

Just ugly stuff

Here are the scores of the Final Four Saturday games from 2001-2005

80-61, 99-84
73-64, 97-88
94-61, 95-84
67-65, 79-78
72-57, 87-71

Notice anything? In all but one year, three of the four teams scored 70+ points. A 70-point game is not a run and gun, back-and-forth score-a-thon.

This year, three of the four teams couldn't crack 60. That's ridiculous.

In the shot clock era, 1987-present in the NCAA Tourney, only two teams have failed to crack 60 in the NCAA Finals -- 1992 Michigan, which collapsed in the last 10 minutes of the game to turn a 48-45 deficit into a blowout 71-51 loss; and 2002 Indiana, which just stank up the court on offense. The lowest total for the champion was Maryland's rather putrid 64 in its win over Indiana. We're headed for something worse tomorrow.

Honestly, given the quality of basketball in the NCAA Tournament -- that is, the dearth of quality -- I've really not regretted missing the games with all the trial prep I've done in the past 3+ weeks. The old saw about how women's hoops lacked quality because the players couldn't shoot and the teams looked like wooden marionnettes lumbering around the floor is less true now than ever: the men cannot shoot, the men cannot hit jumpers, the men cannot hit layups. And the women's tourney is highly watchable in comparison.

Men's hoops needs some excellent offensive players to hit the courts next year and raise the quality of play. This year's tourney (59-45 for UCLA over LSU in the national semifinal!) has been horrid.