Wednesday, January 31, 2007
Pres. Bush had his chance to cut Chavez's ambition short in 2001 after Chavez's fraudulent retention election, but failed. In the past 5.5 years, the Bush Administration has allowed Chavez to become a cross between Castro and Khomenei -- left-wing anti-American Communist crackpot with oil money. This will be the worst legacy of the Bush years.
Turner is lauded around here because he was the offensive coordinator of the Cowboys' Super Bowl champions under Jimmy Johnson. He did help mold the Aikman/Emmitt/Irvin trio, but the talent of those three was top-end from day one. Although he's quiet and a non-firebrand, he's not a Tony Dungy type of stern, intense, no-nonsense quiet. Instead, Turner has been weak and vacillating with players and ownership throughout his career -- a reason that his record stands at a putrid 58-82-1 (fired with three games to go in 2000).
Some coaches are really good coordinators. Turner falls into that group, as does Ray Rhodes. Norv is not the next Joe Torre, who comes from the sport's wilderness after weak stints as a head man (manager, head coach, etc.) and becomes a Hall-of-Famer under a high-intensity owner at one of the sport's premier franchises. Torre had greater strength of character and force of will; Turner is not so driven.
If I were the Cowboys, I'd strongly consider hiring Mike Singletary, who interviewed with Jerry Jones for EIGHT hours yesterday. The interview has been criticized as a mere sop to the league to comply with the "Rooney Rule" requiring teams seeking head coaches to interview at least one minority candidate. If so, the 'Boys are making a mistake. The Monk would be more than pleased at seeing Singletary in the Red-and-Blue of the Giants in 2008 after the team smartens up and sacks Coughlin.
Tuesday, January 30, 2007
A heady undertaking, but it could be great fun if they pull it off.
An interesting synopsis of the operation in the Washington Post today, as a preview of Ivan Tolstoy's forthcoming account, The Laundered Novel.
For those of you who've read espionage fiction and believe that this all sounds a bit familiar, that's because it is. In the 1970s, Charles McCarry wrote The Secret Lovers, a novel whose main plot centered around the death of a courier who smuggled a manuscript out of Moscow. McCarry worked for the CIA in Europe during the Cold War. The Monk wonders at the origin of his plot idea.
Jan 29 - Part IV
I ask him (Mahmoud Abbas) about that Palestinian state along the ’67 borders: Will Palestinians accept that state, or will they regard it as a prelude to more? In other words, will the bulk of Palestinians accept the permanence of Israel? (A prominent Arab journalist groans, clucks, rolls eyes.) Abbas says yes, yes, yes: “We want to live in peace and end the conflict. Just give me the guarantees on the ’67 borders,” and that will be it.
As we so often say, in affairs both personal and societal: We’ll see.
Jan 28 - Part III
from Adnan Pachaci, Iraqi parliamentarian:
“We have inherited a terrible legacy: the culture of violence, the culture of corruption, and also the culture of dependence on government. When I returned [from exile] in 2003, Iraqis said to me, ‘Why isn’t there a government in place? We want the government to tell us what to do.’ I said, ‘I hope there will come a day when you tell the government what it should do.
and Saeb Erekat, senior negotiator Palestinian Authority:
Finally, Erekat makes this highly interesting statement: “I don’t care about the Palestinian cause anymore; I care about Palestinian society” — the very survival and hopefulness of the people.
Jan 25 - Part II
Novelist Paulo Coelho:
In his remarks, Coelho observes that there are only four stories — four types of story: 1) love between two people; 2) love concerning more than two; 3) a struggle; and 4) a journey. Every story we’ve ever encountered, he says, belongs to one or more of those categories. Some of the dinner’s participants try to refute this, or find exceptions, but they cannot.
Jan 24 - Part I
And Paul Wolfowitz, now of the World Bank, is here. Remember what Mark Steyn said about him, when Wolfowitz was in the Pentagon, and the world’s Most Reviled Neocon? He has a name that begins with a scary animal and ends Jewishly.
I should really say something about global warming, Topic Number One at Davos. (emphasis added) In the course of her remarks, Arianna says that there is no more debate over global warming: Everyone agrees that this is a real and perilous phenomenon. The likes of Michael Crichton are seen as kooks, unfit for respectable society.
And I agree with Arianna: Debate has been (largely) shut down (is the way I would put it). And this is not necessarily a positive development.
In my view, global-warming activists scored a big lexical and rhetorical coup when they decided to call skeptics, or opponents, “deniers” — paralleling with “Holocaust deniers.” As it happens, there are real deniers — Holocaust deniers — in Tehran, who, even as they deny the first Holocaust, are fervently vowing a second. This is a genuine threat, right on our doorstep, and all the world, it seems, is wringing its hands over “climate change.”
And wouldn’t it be a shame if all dissent and questioning on global warming were crushed? If skeptics or challengers were excluded entirely from the conversation? Surely global-warming activists have enough confidence in their position to mix it up with critics now and then.
McCain has aired his disdain for evangelicals in the past and has a history of betraying any conservative principle at a moment's notice. Giuliani is a fiscal conservative and defense hawk, but has too many divorces and a history of support for socially liberal policies. Romney's the proverbial leopard that continually tries to change his spots -- he was a social moderate to liberal in the 1990s and now seeks to position himself as the true social conservative.
Time for the hard tonic. First, the best potential GOP nominee is Jeb Bush. Unlike his brother, Jeb is a fiscal conservative, small government Republican instead of a profligate spender. Therefore he'd appeal to the libertarian centrists of the Western states who tend to vote Republican. He's also a strong social conservative, so the evangelical Right would rally behind him. Problem is, after big brother won the election in 2000, Jeb cannot run now and will not -- the "too many Bushes" argument is too powerful.
Second, The Monk agrees with the Ryan Sager analysis that indicates a fundamental problem within the party -- too much emphasis on social/moral issues that cater to one aspect of the party, too little emphasis on conservative economic principles that have broader and cross-party appeal. By jettisoning the conservative economic principles that were the foundation of both the Reagan economy AND the Gingrich Revolution, the GOP lost moderate voters and lost the House and Senate.
Third, the social conservatives do not have a choice in the general election between staying home or holding their nose and voting for a social moderate from the GOP. At this point, evangelicals have become as obvious a constituency for the GOP as blacks and Jews for the Democrats. There is no level at which Democrat values can attract the social conservatives. Instead, the core Democrat values as established by the Left-wing base, are anathema to evangelicals. Therefore, the social conservatives can either vote GOP or sit back and watch Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama become the 44th President.
The GOP does not need a candidate who can "rally the base". It needs a candidate who does not look and sound like the vapid Senators who seek to run a nanny state and control what everyone does with their money whilst concurrently concerning themselves with the perks of their office. The base of evangelical conservatives has a choice if the GOP picks a candidate that is not a staunch anti-abortion, anti-gay rights, anti-flag burning firebrand -- sit on its hands and deal with at least four years of President Rodham Clinton OR rally itself to prevent that calamity.
Monday, January 29, 2007
Contract issues like work rules, line relief and holiday pay amount to $630 per vehicle - costs that the Japanese don't have. And paying UAW members for not working when plants are shut costs another $350 per vehicle.
Here's one example of how knotty Detroit's labor problem can be:
If an assembly plant with 3,000 workers has no dealer orders, it has two options. One is to close the plant for a week and not build any cars. Then the company still has to give the idled workers 95 percent of their take-home pay plus all benefits for not working. So a one-week shutdown costs $7.7 million or $1,545 for each vehicle it didn't make.
If the company decides to go ahead and run the plant for a week without any dealer orders, it will have distressed merchandise on its hands. Then it has to sell the vehicles to daily rental companies like Hertz or Avis at discounts of $3,000 to $5,000 per vehicle, which creates a flood of used cars in three to six months and damages resale value. Or it can put the vehicles into storage and pay dealers up to $1,250 apiece to take them off its hands.
Olin lost a battle with cancer. The President paid tribute to her work after hearing of her death.
Deborah Olin-Eilbeck, RIP.
If Berger had been a Republican, this scandal would still be front-page news.
Friday, January 26, 2007
There are many reasons people think Mrs Clinton will not be elected president. She lacks warmth; she is too polarising a figure; the American people don’t want to relive the psychodrama of the eight years of the Clinton presidency.
But they all miss this essential counterpoint. As you consider her career this past 15 years or so in the public spotlight, it is impossible not to be struck, and even impressed, by the sheer ruthless, unapologetic, unshameable way in which she has pursued this ambition, and confirmed that there is literally nothing she will not do, say, think or feel to achieve it. Here, finally, is someone who has taken the black arts of the politician’s trade, the dissembling, the trimming, the pandering, all the way to their logical conclusion.
* * *
All politicians, sadly, lie. We can often forgive the lies as the necessary price paid to win popularity for a noble cause. But the
A NATO member ideally positioned to serve as a bridge between the West and the Middle East, Turkey's secular constitution and economic progress should have made it an example for other regional states to emulate. Instead, Turkey has been aping the blighted regimes of the Arab world.
This has been an emerging trend in Turkey for decades. Turkey's military views itself as the guardian of Turkish secularism, and effected a coup d'etat in 1980 against rising Islamist sentiment and pressured Islamist PM Necmitten Erbakan to step down in 1997. Today, however, the military is less secular than in years past. And as a country, Turkey has rejected its former silent alliance with Israel (against Syria and Ba'athist Iraq) and has become anti-American.
For Raye, and other pioneers in the NFL coaching ranks, the fact that they paved the way for two other black men to become head coaches and lead their teams to the Super Bowl gives a small
measure of satisfaction and vindication after the indignities and racism they fought. Jason Cole has a good feature article on some of the trailbreaking black coaches in the NFL.
Wednesday, January 24, 2007
Captain's Quarters has more.
The complaint by the North Carolina State Bar is on The Smoking Gun, where else?
In SOTU #8, I'd like the President to issue a warning for the future. There would be no better time than then for him to reverse his catastrophic failure to address the dangers of creeping Leninism in Central and South America and call upon those governments to hold full and fair elections and allow entrepreneurship and the rule of law to flourish. That call would help his successor, who will be saddled with the results of Bush's policy failures that have led to Chavez's increasing power in Venezuela, Morales' ascension in Bolivia, Ortega revenant in Nicaragua, and communist-leaning governments in Argentina and Ecuador.
Tuesday, January 23, 2007
The whole list is available by clicking the title of this post. Some quick comments:
(1) The Monk is cheering for Jennifer Hudson to win a little gold man. She carried EVERY scene that contained her character in Dreamgirls. The Monk understands the logic behind the studio's decision in positioning Hudson in the Best Supporting Actress category, but there was no justification to deem Beyonce the lead in the movie or push for her in Best Actress. Also nice to see Abigail Breslin, the young girl Olive in Little Miss Sunshine (and the little girl with water issues in M. Night Shyamalan's Signs) get a nod in this category.
(2) The Monk is also cheering on Eddie Murphy and Forest Whitaker. Murphy had a great turn as the James Brown figure in Dreamgirls and showed the full range of happy-to-dismal of a bipolar drug addict very well. Whitaker, a veteran known for big teddy bear or ugly tough guy roles (he's listed on IMDB.com as 6-2 and 220, but he's been 250+ for years) blew away the critics in his portrayal of Idi Amin. The Monkette and I have The Last King of Scotland on our list for next weekend. Hudson, Whitaker and Murphy are the favorites to win in their categories -- three black winners in the acting categories would be a first in the Oscars.
(3) Monkette and I saw The Queen last weekend and I don't envy the task Helen Mirren undertook in playing one of the most respected and respectable public figures of our time. She's the bet-the-house favorite to win a little gold man as Best Actress, and probably should be. The movie itself is unworthy of Best Picture when cast against The Departed. The script is fine but the casting is really poor -- other than Dame Helen and Michael Sheen (PM Tony Blair), and to a lesser degree James Cromwell as HRH Prince Philip, the Prince Consort, the rest of the actors are terribly miscast. The woman who plays HRM Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother was much heavier than the late Queen Mum, walked stooped over whereas the Queen Mum was upright nearly to her final days, and looked nothing like Mirren (the Queen Mum's first daughter bore her a striking resemblance); the woman who played Cherie Blair was brassy and normal-sized, Mrs. Blair is thin and screechy; the man who played HRH Prince Charles looked like Lady Diana's brother, not like her ex-husband. Even getting past all those flaws, The Monk was still appalled by the maudlin reaction of the British after Diana's death.
Monday, January 22, 2007
The second history-making event occurred at the final whistle of the Colts-Patriots game. The Colts' victory means that not only will the NFL have a black head coach in the Super Bowl for the first time ever, it will have the first black head coach to WIN the Super Bowl because the Colts' Tony Dungy became the first black head coach to win the AFC crown.
The Monk likes the fact that Dungy, who personifies dignity, and Smith, who personifies integrity, are both persons with class as well as ability. Smith is a huge bear of a man who is the big brother/father figure to his players. In his first year, 2004, the Bears were 5-11; now they're NFC Champs.
After all of Dungy's near misses, the painful indignity of watching Tampa win the Super Bowl the year after he left the team to go to the Colts after coming close in previous seasons, the questions about whether his quietly intense demeanor could translate to championship-caliber coaching in an NFL filled with fire-and-brimstone coaching personas, and the death of his son last year, it's especially good to see him win a conference title.
In other news, Tom Coughlin will coach the Giants next year.
Quick thoughts from yesterday: (1) The Monk is happy to see Thomas Jones thriving in Chicago. Jones is a U.Va. grad and looked like the next Emmitt Smith when he played for the Cavs: low center of gravity, quick feet, breakaway speed. Then he got drafted into the football abyss in Arizona. Yuk. After getting cut, landing in Tampa, performing fairly well and then winding up with the Bears in '04, Jones finally was healthy enough in body and mind to be useful. He took over from Anthony Thomas and ran for more than 900 yards. Last year, despite the Bears' decision to draft overrated hotshot Cedric Benson, Jones scampered for more than 1300 yards. This season, he totaled another 1200+ despite more playing time for Benson. He's scored two TDs in each of the Bears' playoff games this year, and ran on the last seven plays of the Bears' only first-half TD yesterday. Good on ya, TJ.
(2) The monkey on Peyton Manning's back was really barely hanging on before yesterday's game against the Patriots. Despite his well-documented honks against the Pats, Peyton's record against Brady head-to-head had improved to 2-4 before last night's game. Easily forgotten were both Indy's beatdown of the Pats in Foxboro last year (40-21, and it wasn't that close) and its close win in New England this season. Whatever mastery of Manning that Belichick's teams had began to wane in the autumn of '05. So yesterday's success was not a stunner. Instead, the manner of that success is the real surprise: coming back from a 21-3 deficit, rolling the Pats' defense for four TDs and 32 points in the second half, throwing for 349 yards with all-Pro and all-Pro/Hall-of-Famer-to-be WRs Wayne and Harrison combining for just 109 yards on nine catches, none longer than 18 yards, no TD.
The Colts took a page from the Pats' playbook with a fatboy flat pass -- using a tackle-eligible play at the goal line for a TD. And beat on the Pats' defense with short passes and inside runs in the second half while allowing New England only 8 yards rushing after halftime. For those of you counting along at home, the Colts are 0-for 16 holding opponents under 100 yards rushing in the regular season, 3-for-3 in the playoffs.
Other thoughts on this one: (a) kudos to Peyton for shaking off the mantle of Wilt to Brady's Russell and by doing it primarily with his third option, Dallas Clark (6 catches, 137 yards), The Monk hopes Peyton wins the Super Bowl; (b) kudos to the Colts for sticking with their game plan in the second half and not abandoning the run, evidently they saw that the Pats were beginning to wilt at the end of the first half when the Colts used a long drive to set up a half-ending FG; (c) the lost skill personnel factor finally bit the Pats in the rear -- reclamation-project WR Reche Caldwell had two horrendous dropped passes: one in the end zone, one on a later drive when he was wide open at the Colts 7 with no one near him. The first didn't matter because the Pats scored a TD on the next play; the second cost the Pats four points because they settled for a FG on that drive. Four point swing in a game they lost by four -- you figure out the importance of that.
Super Bowl preference? Go Colts!
Friday, January 19, 2007
The UNDP's program in the Democratic People's Republic "has for years operated in blatant violation of U.N. rules, served as a steady and large source of hard currency and other resources for the DPRK government with minimal or no assurance that UNDP funds and resources are utilized for legitimate development activities." Mr. Wallace declined to speak with me, but Richard Grenell, spokesman for the U.S. Mission, said yesterday: "We have raised serious concerns with UNDP regarding their oversight of the programs in North Korea . . . We want to ensure that U.S. tax dollars are not used to fund illicit activities."
While the precise amount of hard currency supplied through UNDP isn't known, the documents suggest it has run at least to the tens of millions of dollars since 1998 and one source says it could be upward of $100 million. An internal 1999 audit notes a budget of $27.9 million for 29 projects. David Morrison, a UNDP spokesman, says "the overall size of the program" in North Korea has been reduced in recent years. While $22.2 million was budgeted for 2005-2006, the agency spent only $3.2 million last year and $2.1 million in 2005, he says. Programs fall into four areas: humanitarian assistance, public health, environment and agriculture, and the economy.* * *
Unlike Oil for Food, there's no evidence to date that corrupt UNDP officials are in on the game--though given the U.N.'s record of late, it would be unwise to rule that out before a full investigation. There is, however, plenty of evidence of willful blindness on the part of the UNDP, which let myriad rules be broken and allowed itself to become a large source of hard currency for the regime. Nor did it bring these irregularities to the attention of its governing body, the 36-member executive board.
The Rangers with a B+ after gaining the "potential" effectiveness of Eric Gagne, signing over-age wastelander Kenny Lofton and failing to re-sign Carlos Lee. That B+ is too high even with the trade for Brandon McCarthy.
The Red Sux with an A despite failing to address their biggest problem -- late-inning pitching. Simply stated, the offseason is the time to handle up on the team's worst problems. The Sawx landed a top starter, but having four top starters including two no-doubt Hall of Famers and one likely one from 1993-99 still netted the Braves only one title.
The Yankees with a B- seems a bit harsh after the Yanks dumped the Unit, dumped Sheffield's attitude and pricetag for Detroit's best pitching prospect, re-signed Pettitte, obtained a firstbaseman who can play defense and re-stocked their minor league system with the Sheff and Unit trades. I agree that the grade rises to A- if Clemens wears pinstripes. Nonetheless, Heyman gave the Dodgers an A- for landing Jason Schmidt and Randy Wolf while wasting money on Juan Pierre and Luis Gonzalez and gave the Padres a C+ for failing to upgrade the offense despite landing Maddux and probably Wells. Where's the consistency?
And why ignore the stupid 24.5M/3 Adam Eaton signing in praising the Phillies?
Heyman's usually worth a read, even if you disagree with him.
If you commented on one of our posts, cannot find the comment, and are not a spammer, please forgive the inconvenience and post again. Remember our simple rules: no overt profanity, no idiot screeds -- we're more than happy to have disagreements with our commenters but prefer that you support your argument with links, reported facts, etc., not the Bushisevil/Cheneyisthedevil crap that wanders around the left-wing blogosphere. I cannot stand Hillary Clinton, but won't hurl similar calumnies at her in this blog.
Thursday, January 18, 2007
Here's one of Hutton's worst bombshells:
Few western critics today appreciate the scale of the task confronting any moderniser of China in 1949. Western economies created the surpluses to finance industrialisation through incredible exploitation - of their own working class, and in the US via slavery. It was never likely that China could achieve self-sustaining economic growth without great collective pain to achieve its own surpluses, or that this could be done without the involvement of the state. Spontaneous market-led industrialisation is a myth.
(1) Central planning was the core precept of both the Great Leap Forward and the Cultural Revolution -- both disasters. Hutton's claim is akin to saying that Hitler paved the way for German economic strength in the post WWII era by improving the foundations of German infrastructure during the 1930s or that Ceaucescu deserves credit for the modern Romanian state due to his industrialization policy that defenestrated Bucharest and Romanian agriculture.
(2) The US did not achieve industrialization through slavery because (a) most US industrialization from 1800-1900 occurred after 1861 and (b) the South was an agrarian backwater until Reconstruction -- slavery kept the South agricultural, not industrial; finances for industrialization came from the more sophisticated economies of the North.
Hutton is a fool.
Just read her preposterous blog entry. This demonstrates the lack of significant intellectual thought that characterizes most journalists.
Wednesday, January 17, 2007
"Do you hope that the troop surge succeeds in pacifying Iraq and giving the country a chance?"
The smart ones, like Rahm Emanuel -noted in the post below by the Monk-, will hem and haw and complain that it's a loaded question. (By the way here is the link to the David Ignatius article cited by Tony Blankley)
There is really only one answer to this question whether or not you supported the war - essentially do you want to continue to see Iraqis and Americans die or not?
For those who answer yes, albeit grudgingly, here is the follow-up:
"Would you do what you can to help the President's effort succeed?"
I think you'll find that it's not Adlai Stevenson's party anymore.
Rahm Emanuel's Democratic Party is so bereft of a sense of national responsibility, that he apparently feels comfortable brazenly telling The Post that his plans for his Democratic Party is to not even try to stop things from getting worse in Iraq — so they can pick up the political pieces afterward. Mr. Emanuel is a "smart" politician. He thinks the more dire America's place in the world is in 2008, the more likely the voters are to vote Democratic. The more of our troops are left in more pieces the better for Rahm Emanuel's Democrats.
Maybe he is right — electorally. In pre-revolutionary Russia, Vladimir Lenin wrote a famous pamphlet in which he referred favorably to Nikolai Chernishevsky's appallingly cynical phrase: "The worse, the better" — the political view that the worse the social conditions for the poor, the more willing they would be to support a revolution."
Let me be careful — I am not accusing Mr. Emanuel of being a Leninist (that would at least require convictions — albeit perverted convictions). Mr. Emanuel has merely bought into the cynical view that party interests are more important than national interests.
Now Clay swings with a right
what a beautiful swing
and raises the bear
straight out of the ring;
Liston is rising
and the ref wears a frown,
for he can't start counting
'til Liston comes down.
Now Liston disappears from view,
the crowd is getting frantic.
But our radar stations have picked him up
somewhere over the Atlantic.
Who would have thought
when they came to the fight
that they'd witness the launching
of a human satellite?
Yes the crowd did not dream
when they laid down their money
that they would see
a total eclipse of the Sonny.
At this website, you can see Ali's pre- and post-Liston fight rants, including his famous "I shook up the world" diatribe.
Ali became a controversial figure shortly after beating Liston: he joined the Nation of Islam, changed his name from Clay to Muhammed Ali, was persecuted by the US government for his refusal to fight in Vietnam ("I ain't got no quarrel with them Vietcong, none of them ever called me 'nigger.'") and lost more than three years (and his world title) during the prime of his career to the legal fight he should never have had. When he returned to the ring, he lost to Joe Frazier in Ali-Frazier I. He won Ali-Frazier II and III -- the latter was the famous "Thrilla in Manila."
A worldwide celebrity, Ali cemented his legacy as a superstar who transcended sports when he agreed to fight George Foreman in Zaire in 1974. Foreman was the world champion who had waxed Frazier to gain the crown. Cheered on by throngs of adoring fans shouting "Ali, boumaye" (kill him, Ali), and less affected by the jungle heat than the larger and slower Foreman, Ali employed the Rope-a-dope to wear out the champion before winning on an 8th-round knockout.
Ali is a legend. The extent of the legend is reflected in this special report the BBC prepared for Ali's 60th birthday. Now, rattled by his long fighting career and slowed by severe Parkinson's Syndrome, weakened by spinal stenosis -- the narrowing of the spine that impinges the nerves (the injury that ended Michael Irvin's career), and fogged by the medications that help him get through the day relatively pain-free, Ali is far from the athlete who shook up the world 43 years ago. But, as one of his daughters notes, he's at peace. And he still has the aura of Ali, no matter where he may be.
Happy Birthday to The Greatest.
STRASBOURG, France, Jan 17 (Reuters) - German Chancellor Angela Merkel warned on Wednesday that failure to revive the European Union's constitution would be a "historic mistake" that would leave the bloc divided and mired in bureaucracy.
Efforts to overhaul Brussels' unwieldy structures have been in limbo since French and Dutch voters rejected the charter designed to streamline decision-making in 2005.
"A lumbering bureaucratic, divided Europe will not solve the challenges it faces, be they in foreign and security policy, climate and energy, European research, cutting red tape or in dealing with enlargement and with our neighbours," she said.
Appealing for the EU to deepen ties with the United States and Russia, and make its influence felt from the Balkans to the Middle East and Africa, Merkel said it was time the EU had its own foreign minister -- a key provision of the constitution.
Merkel made it clear her scepticism about more referendums, rejecting a call for a pan-European plebiscite. The treaty can only enter into force if all 27 member states ratify it.
Behind the scenes, diplomats say Germany is sounding out its partners on what would have to be removed from the text ratified so far by 18 member states to enable the remaining countries to endorse it, if possible without referendums.
Critics of the charter slammed Merkel's approach as undemocratic in the debate that followed her speech.
"The EU's political establishment is now going full steam ahead to thrust the constitution upon us," eurosceptical British Conservative Neil Parish said. "If the leaders of the EU attempt to airbrush out the wishes of the French and Dutch voters, they risk destroying the very institutions they revere."
Merkel, a Christian Democrat, is ostensibly on the side of the angels. She is, though, clearly of the opinion that the people should be bypassed for the greater good. It's dangerous sentiment when the 'greater good' is the current EU run from Brussels. It may be that someday the nation-state may be superseded as the guardian of the rights of citizens but this EU is not it.
It's 27 degrees (Fahrenheit, for you non-Americans) in Dallas; yesterday temps ranged from 26-31 even though normal temps for mid-January are 34-54 (jealous yet, New Englanders?). And there's snow on the ground today, which has farked up traffic mightily because Southerners can't drive in anything other than perfect weather.
Think that wintry weather is a lovely thing? Consider that California is seeking disaster aid after freezing weather hit that state, and caused more than $1,000,000,000 damage to citrus crops. And across the country there are nearly 80,000 homes still without power after the winter storms in the Southwest last week.
Tuesday, January 16, 2007
The divisional round of the playoffs historically has been the worst of the playoff rounds since the NFL expanded to the 12-team playoff format. This is because the bye-week recipient has all-too-often waxed the poor stiff that played the week before. In 2002 and 2004, three of the four games were wipeouts. From '90-'01 about 1/2 the games each year were home-team routs of the wild card. This year, the two NFC teams each won by a field goal thanks in no small part to their opponents' blunders; the two AFC homers honked.
The worst whiff of the weekend is a tough call. The Eagles mismanaged the clock; the S'Hawks mismanaged the ball; the Ravens mismanaged the offense and the Chargers flat-out choked. Let's look at all four:
The Colts won because they suddenly have a defensive clue. Peyton Manning has 1 TD, 5 INT in two playoff games and the Colts are in the AFC title match. Baltimore needs more than a caretaker on offense. The 2000 paradigm that Brian Billick is using (no offense, killer defense) only worked by good fortune that season -- the Titans rolled the Ravens up and down the field in their playoff game but committed two key turnovers that reversed the teams' fortunes. Turnovers are more a matter of good happenstance than skill and the Ravens need more from their offense than mere lack of mistakes to beat a top team in the playoffs.
The Saints won because Deuce McAllister is now a good inside runner. Before his injury that quashed 2/3 of the 2005 season, McAllister was a poor man's Tomlinson -- cutback runner, outside speed. Since the injury, McAllister has reincarnated as a pounding interior runner and he beat the Eagles physically on Saturday. A negative note: Reggie Bush puts the ball on the ground too often. I thought it ironic that on Friday I read an article on ESPN Page 2 ripping Andy Reid's clock management (remember the Pats-Eagles Super Bowl and the greenbirds' slow-motion offense in the fourth quarter down by 10?), and then on Saturday Reid PUNTS THE BALL with 1:50 left and his team down by 3. I don't care about down and distance at that point, you go for it. The Saints ran out the clock thereafter.
The Bears are really shockingly weak. The S'Hawks stink and could have won that game. I think they should be worried that Seattle found so much success over the middle considering that Brian Urlacher thebestlinebackersinceSingletary is supposed to be preventing such success. The Saints exploit the empty pockets of the opponents' defense better than any other team -- just ask the Cowboys.
The Patriots beat a better team. During the entire game, there was no question that the Chargers were faster, equally strong, and had better skill players (other than Brady). The fact that Brady led his team from 14-3 down to a crucial end-of-half TD; the fact that the Chargers failed to pound the Pats' defense; the fact that scrap-heap WRs Reche Caldwell and Jabbar Gaffney had 18 catches for more than 180 yards; and the incredible fumble allowed the Pats to win a game they had no business winning. That fourth-down play -- six minutes left, Pats with fourth and 8 in Charger territory, Brady passes, Chargers intercept, Pats' WR Troy Brown causes a fumble on the return, Pats' WR Reche Caldwell recovers, Pats restart their drive and score the tying TD -- encapsulated the game. The Chargers win if the DB just knocks down the pass. The Chargers win if they don't get too cute on offense. The Chargers win if . . .
One note on the Chargers -- they had no business whining and crying about the Pats' celebration on the field after the game. And calling the Pats classless is simply sore-loserdom at its worst. LT2 and his teammates overreacted.
More fun this Sunday -- and appropriately the AFC title game gets a prime time slot.
[The Bill] changes [ ] the legal definition of "grass-roots lobbying" and requires any organization that encourages 500 or more members of the general public to contact their elected representatives to file a report with detailed information about their organization to the government on a quarterly basis.
Such a report (above) would require, among other things, the detailing of the organization's expenditures, the issues focused on and the members of Congress and other federal officials who are targeted. A separate report must address each policy issue the group is advocating.
Causing additional heartburn among the critics of the new law is a broad exemption they say is wholly unfair and unbalanced. Significantly, the reporting requirement spelled out above would not apply to messages targeted at an organization's members, employees, officers or shareholders. In effect, this would let most corporations, trade associations and unions off the reporting hook.
Thus, the legislation would harm the most effective conservative organizations by forcing them to comply with burdensome regulations, but would exempt the Left's best political drum-beaters -- the unions.
Of course, John McCain favors the bill.
. . . the Democrats have been wriggling uncomfortably in their response to Bush's new approach [on Iraq]. My colleague Rich Lowry on the National Review asks: "Why don't the Democrats have the intellectual honesty to say that they think the war is lost and that we should get out of Iraq?"
* * *
So what holds them back? There are four reasons for their caution--three of which represent hangovers from Vietnam:
First, they fear being blamed for the consequences that might flow from a U.S. withdrawal. These could include massacres of Sunni Muslims in Iraq, ethnic cleansing, refugees flooding into Jordan and Saudi Arabia or Iran, the overthrow of friendly regimes in the region, a wider war, and so on. After Vietnam we forgot about the region for two decades. That helped the doves of both parties to avoid responsibility for the Cambodian genocide and the Vietnamese boat people. The Middle East is too important to be neglected in this way. Similar disasters would be widely debated -- and maybe laid at their door.
Second, Bush's new policy might succeed and make the Democrats' defeatism look foolish and unpatriotic. Admittedly, this is unlikely -- the odds are now against the president -- but it is not impossible. If it were to happen, Bush might be hailed in the Middle East as a liberator.
Third, Democrats could seem to be weak on national security even if the public agrees with them on withdrawal. Most Americans were against continued U.S. participation in the Vietnam War by 1970, but they wanted neither an American defeat nor a North Vietnamese victory. . .
Sounds about right.
Friday, January 12, 2007
"You're not going to pay a particular price, as I under stand it, with an immediate family," Boxer (D- Calif.) ranted.
"Who pays the price?" she repeatedly demanded during Rice's Capitol Hill grilling.
"I'm not going to pay a personal price. My kids are too old, and my grandchild is too young . . . So who pays the price? Not me, not you."
Imagine the outrage if a conservative accused a liberal of that.
Thursday, January 11, 2007
. . . transnational progressivism has become not merely a prominent jurisprudential current but, in fact, the dominant ideology of American and British courts. With the potent combination of a seismic shift in public attitudes away from democratic self-determination and toward oligarchic juristocracy (or rule by courts), as well as a sweeping infrastructure of so-called “international human rights law,” this movement is now poised to realize much of its goal: A world in which the nation state, the organizing geopolitical paradigm and engine of human progress since the Treaty of Westphalia, substantially gives way to a post-sovereign order of global governance led by supra-national tribunals (or tribunals that, though nominally “national,” pledge fealty to the higher calling of “humanity”). Like other utopian projects, the end of this one is tyranny.
Wednesday, January 10, 2007
Today the Giants settled their internal dischord by announcing that Tom Coughlin will return as the head coach next year. Because the Giants do not want the coaches to be perceived as a lame duck, they also renewed Coughlin's contract through the 2008 season. Today is a bad day for Giants fans.
Coughlin really doesn't fit the current game. He's a hothead, a screamer and a fit-thrower in a locker room full of big egos, solid veterans and young players who don't respond to the Bob Knight motivational tactics. Once Jacksonville transformed from an expansion team full of players just happy to be in the NFL to a solid bunch with the potential to reach a top level, Coughlin's diatribes and drill sergeant persona wore out his players and the Jaguars tossed him to the curb.
As a coach, he makes poor tactical decisions constantly and is shockingly predictable for a solid offensive mind (his Boston College teams always ran effective and innovative offenses). He has not been able to harness the ability of Eli Manning, who is (for better or worse) the team's franchise QB and who has the ability to live up to his hype (see the first 8 games of 2005). This season collapsed in a heap when the Giants were decimated by injuries, but at least one similarly injury-weakened team coached by a Parcells disciple, the Patriots, maintained their excellence.
The Giants are frustration incarnate. They are undisciplined like the Raiders, which is a far cry from the Parcells, Reeves and even Fassel teams. The defense is unreliable and the defensive coaching is rarely better than poor. The offense is predictable.
And we get to see it all again next year.
He comes out of upstate New York and put himself through college with ROTC, and found himself with the 1st Armored Division in Baghdad in the summer of 2003 fighting George W. Bush's war. He spent 15 months in Iraq and now they want to send him back in the spring, make him part of this great surge that we will hear about from the White House tonight, one that is less about saving what is left of Iraq than it is saving what is left of this President's reputation.
This President has moved all these top managers around, made John Negroponte a deputy secretary of state and replaced Gen. George Casey in Iraq with Lt. Gen. David Petraeus and made Adm. William Fallon his new head of the Central Command. This is the way sports owners do it with bad teams, as a way of showing some kind of movement to the fans when there is none in the standings.
This is all about the men and women running one of the worst and weakest administrations in American history trying to save face now.
Lip managed to shovel a pile of offal and try to make himself relevant by adding a (weak) sports metaphor. Is Zip so thick-headed that he doesn't realize that this President's enduring reputation is inextricably linked to how Iraq turns out? He has every incentive to get Iraq right for all the right reasons the least of which is his reputation.
If one must use a sports metaphor what Bush has done isn't Steinbrenner firing Billy Martin but more like Notre Dame firing Gerry Faust and bringing in Lou Holtz. I'd be shocked if Lip knew anything about General David Petraeus - one of the reasons why I am a little optimistic about Iraq. (The other is that retired Army General Jack Keane - whom we referenced here - apparently has had significant input into the new plan.)
It's not about saving face, it's about saving a country - Iraq - and affecting the future of the Middle East and West. But I guess it's too much to ask a sports columnist to understand that.
This is a fine example of a targeted assassination and exactly the type of action the US should take against terrorists. It's also exactly what Israel did to Hamas' leading terrorists in 2005 to howls of indignation in the world community. Somehow, there's always a different reaction if Israel defends itself by killing terrorists.
Miniter's column is a warning for the GOP -- as Dick Morris noted earlier this week, there is no true cultural conservative within the GOP ranks who can win a Presidential campaign. The two front-runners in 2008 are both culturally liberal or neutral (Giuliani, McCain); the most prominent cultural conservative is a Mormon. Without rallying the Christian Conservative base, Republicans cannot win the Presidency in a close election. But rallying the base may turnoff the Libertarian Right that wants lower taxes, less government spending and less noticeable religiousity.
Not quite a Gordian knot. But a definite problem for the GOP if it has any hope of beating the ultraliberals Obama and Clinton next year.
Tuesday, January 09, 2007
Gwynn was another no-brainer: 3141 hits, seven batting titles, seven Silver Sluggers, five Gold Gloves (before he fattened up, he was a top-notch rightfielder), five 200-hit seasons, and he had SEVEN seasons of hitting better than .350. That's amazing. He also was in the middle of a possible .400 season when the players walked out in 1994 (Gwynn won the batting title at .394). Gwynn is also one of the most notable "good guys" in baseball -- he's a paragon of the San Diego community. Ripken may be a bit of a churl, but Gwynn is sunnier than Kirby Puckett and never had the post-retirement issues Puck had.
Goose Gossage missed by 21 votes. Pick any 21 dingdongs of the 157 that screwed up and failed to vote for him and Goose would be enshrined as he should be. The Monk questioned the lunacy of Bruce Sutter's election without Gossage too last year. Goose is no less deserving this time around.
Conspicuous by his absence from the inductee list is Mark McGuire. This is simply stupid. McGwire's credentials are unquestionable: he's the Ruth of this generation. From 1996-1999 he hit 52, 58, 70 and 65 homeruns. He hit 583 in an injury-scarred career, 7th on the all-time list. His at-bat to homerun ratio is the best in baseball history, yes, even better than Ruth's.
But McGwire allegedly took steroids. He refused to answer a direct question on that issue during testimony before the US Senate; his former teammate Jose Canseco claims he saw McGwire juice himself. So what?
The notion that "everybody knows" McGwire juiced is irrelevant. The innuendos are not proof, and the word of Canseco is infamously untrustworthy. But aside from that, did McGwire do anything that the league did not allow? Even if he took massive steroids, no.
McGwire himself admits taking a pseudo-steroidal supplement, androstenedione, to help his muscles repair quicker after workouts. He did heavy weightlifting, which added muscle to the relatively thin frame he had as a rookie (who hit 49 homers). He hit 217 homers in his first six full seasons, years before his physique enlarged to the mid-to-late '90s size that McGwire's critics cite as proof of his steroid use. The "fact" of his steroid use is no fact at all -- it has never been established.
Ultimately, I don't care if McGwire juiced in the '90s. The same baseball writers association that voted Whitey Ford (who admitted doctoring the baseball) and Gaylord Perry (who unquestionably did -- you could see crud flying off the ball during the pitch, even on The Monk's 25-inch B&W TV in the '70s) into the Hall now seeks to uphold some sort of morality by claiming it will not vote for a cheater or that "there are questions". That's ludicrous. We now have confirmed cheaters in the Hall and an alleged cheater left out.
Take away McGwire's alleged steroids, and he was still a star. Just ask the pitchers of the 49 homers he hit in his rookie season. What were the alleged steroids worth -- 10% more homers? 15%? Fine. He's still a 500-homer man who people paid to watch because he could hit a baseball farther than anyone else. And considering the juiced ball of the early 1990s that's still in use today, how can you discern the effects of the steroids?
McGwire was the Ruth of the era. He helped lead baseball back from its post-strike doldrums in 1998. He performed better in a better pitcher's league. He hit 70 homers in a season, then 65 in the season after that. He made batting practice a standing room only event. He's dogged by questions and controversy despite the lawless and see-no-evil attitude that prevailed throughout baseball. Now he's being punished for "cheating" without proof of the cheats.
He should be in the Hall of Fame.
I'm amazed that Ohio State is 0-8 in bowls against SEC teams. The Big Tenplusone and the SEC have had bowl tie-ins for about 15 years, so OSU should be able to handle SEC teams. For instance, the SEC and Big Ten match up in both the Capital One and Outback Bowls each year. Since 1991, OSU has played and lost five bowls to SEC teams. The SEC teams are quicker and nearly as strong, but so are Pac-10 teams. Something else must be amiss with OSU because since joining the Big Tenplusone in 1993, Penn State is 4-2 against SEC teams in bowl games, including two upsets of Tennessee and a complete thrashing of Auburn.
Each game is, naturally, different and OSU's tactics simply stank. The Buckeyes never ran hot routes against the Gator blitzes, sought to pass first instead of running, and completely failed to use Florida's defensive aggressiveness against it with draws, screens, quick-outs and reverses. OSU never adjusted. That's a bad night for the coaches.
The Big Ten came up very small in the Bowl season: Michigan lost any claim it had to a rematch with Ohio State by getting whomped by USC; Minnesota blew a 31-point lead; Purdue was blasted. The only Big Ten teams to exceed expectations were Iowa, which lost a close one to a solid Texas squad, and Penn State, which beat a decent Tennessee team. Ultimately, perhaps Florida, from a conference that won most of its bowls, was simply better trained for facing a top team in a top bowl than OSU.
Monday, January 08, 2007
This is a fitting first post of the year. I think it's gonna be a rough 2007 for the side of the angels and before we start talking about Nancy Pelosi, this is a great story for our non-Metro NY readers.
On January 2nd, Wesley Autrey, a 50 year old construction worker and Navy veteran, who was taking his daughters home on the subway, leapt into the New York City subway tracks in front of an oncoming train to save a young man who had had a seizure and fallen moments earlier. Unable to get the man up he shoved 20 year old Cameron Hollopeter into the foot-high depression in the middle of track (generally filthy by the way) and held him down as the subway roared over the two of them with barely an inch to spare.
Helping someone who falls on the tracks is one thing but to make a split second decision to save a stranger and to then to make the right decision is truly outstanding.
He was invited on Letterman a couple of days later and he's just a regular guy.
This weekend we had a true rarity in professional sports: all the NFL home teams won. This means the Cowpatties and my sorry Giants are able to set up tee times. Some quick thoughts from the weekend's NFL games:
(1) Herm Edwards ultimately does not have a clue. The Monk does not think he's a good game coach. The Chiefs ran LJ only 13 times, their interior line was dominated by a notoriously small and questionable Indy defense and Trent Green (a 4000-yard passer last year) was ineffective. Of all performances this weekend, the Chiefs had the worst: sub 200 yards against a poor defense, 44 rushing yards against a team that hadn't held any opponent under 100 all year, 430+ yards of offense for the Colts, etc. That game was worse than the 23-8 scoreline and the Chiefs supposedly had the best matchup of all the wild card teams.
(2) The Giants have to be rated among the disappointments of the season. The defense played well for about 1/3 the season, the revamped secondary was subpar even when healthy, Osi Umenyiora never approached his rookie season production (never mind last season's Pro Bowl quality work), Manning looked clueless for much of the year, the team never developed a WR to help Burress when Toomer went out. The team visibly wilted in some games and didn't show up against New Orleans. Ultimately, the coach is wrong for the players. Coughlin should go, and so should Tim Lewis the subpar defensive coordinator.
(3) Credit the Jets, who played the Pats closer than 37-16. Then again, credit Bill Belichick and his staff for drafting up a gameplan that enabled the Pats to carve up a team they'd already seen twice this year.
(4) The key play for the Cowboys in their loss to Seattle was the horrendous receiver screen near their own goal line that resulted in the S'Hawks' safety and reignited that team. Ever since Joe Thiesman threw the interception on a near-own-goal-line screen that paved the way for the Raiders to stomp the Redskins in SB XVIII, the play has been out of fashion at the least. With a battering-ram runner like Marion Barber, the Cowmanures should just have pounded their way out of their bad field position.