Friday, June 27, 2008

The sad fact about DC v. Heller that four Supreme Court justices voted to overturn the Second Amendment arrogating to themselves the wisdom and the powers of the Founding Fathers who wrote the Constitution.

The Second Amendment is remarkably short. As ratified by the States it reads:

A well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the People to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.

The Founders did NOT intend, as the narrative before and after the amendment was passed made clear, that the right to bear arms was predicated on their participation in a militia.

Repealing or altering the Second Amendment is possible and there is a process for it; the Constitution itself must be amended. It is not an easy procedure nor was it ever intended to be. A supermajority of both houses are required which would need to be followed by ratification by three quarters of the states within a given time frame.

That's very different than five unelected judges.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Got three right

The Supreme Court of the United States wrapped up its term by getting three of its final four most important decisions right. First, the Court yesterday reduced the $5 billion punitive damages award by an Alaska jury against Exxon for the Valdez spill in 1989 to $507+ million. Thus limiting the punitive damages to the same amount as actual damages and allowing only a doubling of the actual damages award. The Ninth Circuit, in one of the various appeals (justice may be slow, but cases don't take 19 years just to go from trial court to appeal to Supreme Court), had previously limited punitive damages to $2.5 billion.

Second, the Court rejected the Millionaire Amendment to the Bipartisan Campaign Finance Reform Act, which limited the ability of certain candidates for federal office to spend their own money on their campaigns. This is a restriction on political speech, pure and simple, and violates the First Amendment.

And third, the Court held that the Second Amendment is actually there -- right there, in the Constitution! Seriously, people actually DO have the right to keep and bear arms, just like the Constitution says! And even if they're just doing so to protect their own homes, like Mr. Heller, a policeman in the District of Columbia, they can still get a gun! Better yet, people keeping guns in the house for self-defense do not have to keep the guns disassembled or hobbled by a trigger lock! Seriously, which part of this case should not have been a no-brainer.

Of course, the Court bonked by extending protection from a swift and painless death to convicted perverts who raped children, but at least Kennedy only honked one big one, not four.

Die Berliner Luftbruecke

60 years ago today thirty-two US cargo planes ferried milk, flour and medicine on the first day of what became known as the Berlin Airlift.

[Berliner Luftbruecke translates literally into Berlin Air-Bridge as the Airlift is known in German. A nod to Frau Rummel who taught this author 25 years ago.]

Two days earlier the Soviets had completed a full blockade of West Berlin, the allied controlled enclave deep in East Germany. It was the Soviet intention to force the Allies out of the German capital after the Germans themselves, Berliners particularly, indicated their preference for democracy over Communism in municipal elections.

The United States and Great Britain delivered over 2 million tons of food, medicine and fuel over the next year and finally broke the will of the Soviets. 70 allied lives were lost in the operation.

The Berlin Airlift kept West Berlin alive and free for forty years until the Wall fell.

A fine hour.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

...a Hill of Beans

Without the ChiComms on board all the Kyoto treaties of the world won't amount to...

NEW YORK, June 25 (Reuters) - The world's emissions of the main planet-warming gas carbon dioxide will rise over 50 percent to more than 42 billion tonnes per year from 2005 to 2030 as China leads a rise in burning coal, the U.S. government forecast on Wednesday.

China's coal demand will rise 3.2 percent annually from 2005 to 2030, the Energy Information Administration said in its International Energy Outlook 2008.

U.S. coal use will rise 1.1 percent during the same period, the statistical arm of the Department of Energy projected.
EIA raised its forecast of annual Chinese carbon emissions in 2030 by 6.8 percent from its outlook released last year, while cutting its forecast for 2030 carbon emissions in the United States by 13.8 percent.

"Coal's share of world energy use has increased sharply over the past few years, and without significant changes in existing laws and policies, particularly those related to greenhouse gas emissions, robust growth is likely to continue," the agency stated.
China's annual carbon emissions should hit slightly more than 12 billion tonnes per year in 2030, up from more than 5.3 billion tonnes per year in 2005. U.S. carbon emissions should hit 6.9 billion tonnes per year in 2030, up from nearly 6 billion tonnes per year in 2005, EIA said.

Spain going ape?

I'm not sure exactly how to comment other than "Don't they have anything better to do?"

MADRID, June 25 (Reuters) - Spain's parliament voiced its support on Wednesday for the rights of great apes to life and freedom in what will apparently be the first time any national legislature has called for such rights for non-humans.

Parliament's environmental committee approved resolutions urging Spain to comply with the Great Apes Project, devised by scientists and philosophers who say our closest genetic relatives deserve rights hitherto limited to humans.

"This is a historic day in the struggle for animal rights and in defence of our evolutionary comrades, which will doubtless go down in the history of humanity," said Pedro Pozas, Spanish director of the Great Apes Project.

Spain may be better known abroad for bull-fighting than animal rights but the new measures are the latest move turning once-conservative Spain into a liberal trailblazer.

Spain did not legalise divorce until the 1980s, but Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero's Socialist government has legalised gay marriage, reduced the influence of the Catholic Church in education and set up an Equality Ministry.

The new resolutions have cross-party or majority support and are expected to become law and the government is now committed to update the statute book within a year to outlaw harmful experiments on apes in Spain.

"We have no knowledge of great apes being used in experiments in Spain, but there is currently no law preventing that from happening," Pozas said.

Keeping apes for circuses, television commercials or filming will also be forbidden and breaking the new laws will become an offence under Spain's penal code.

Keeping an estimated 315 apes in Spanish zoos will not be illegal, but supporters of the bill say conditions will need to improve drastically in 70 percent of establishments to comply with the new law.

Philosophers Peter Singer and Paola Cavalieri founded the Great Ape Project in 1993, arguing that "non-human hominids" like chimpanzees, gorillas, orang-utans and bonobos should enjoy the right to life, freedom and not to be tortured.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Sanger, Singer, abortion and Obama

Senator Obama, the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee, is the most pro-abortion politician in the Senate. Even NARAL and Planned Parenthood could not even begin to complain about him. After all, he voted against the partial-birth abortion ban that even the majority of Democrats supported.

The roots of the abortion movement are, ultimately, heinous. Margaret Sanger, founder of Planned Parenthood, was so racist that she should have worn a white hood in public. Here's some more of her background:

As editor of The Birth Control Review, Sanger regularly published the sort of hard racists we normally associate with Goebbels or Himmler. Indeed, after she resigned as editor, The Birth Control Review ran articles by people who worked for Goebbels and Himmler. For example, when the Nazi eugenics program was first getting wide attention, The Birth Control Review was quick to cast the Nazis in a positive light, giving over its pages for an article titled “Eugenic Sterilization: An Urgent Need,” by Ernst RĂ¼din, Hitler’s director of sterilization and a founder of the Nazi Society for Racial Hygiene. In 1926 Sanger proudly gave a speech to a KKK rally in Silver Lake, New Jersey.

One of Sanger’s closest friends and influential colleagues was the white supremacist Lothrop Stoddard, author of The Rising Tide of Color Against White World-Supremacy. In the book he offered his solution for the threat posed by the darker races: “Just as we isolate bacterial invasions, and starve out the bacteria, by limiting the area and amount of their food supply, so we can compel an inferior race to remain in its native habitat.” When the book came out, Sanger was sufficiently impressed to invite him to join the board of directors of the American Birth Control League.

Sanger’s genius was to advance [eugenicist E.A.] Ross’s campaign for social control by hitching the racist-eugenic campaign to sexual pleasure and female liberation. In her “Code to Stop Overproduction of Children,” published in 1934, she decreed that “no woman shall have a legal right to bear a child without a permit shall be valid for more than one child.” But Sanger couched this fascistic agenda in the argument that “liberated” women wouldn’t mind such measures because they don’t really want large families in the first place. In a trope that would be echoed by later feminists such as Betty Friedan, she argued that motherhood itself was a socially imposed constraint on the liberty of women. It was a form of what Marxists called false consciousness to want a large family.

Read the whole piece to see how the malign influence of Margaret Sanger has led to the immoral "ethics" of Peter Singer and created the foundations for the worst aspects of modern liberal thought.

Mandela on Zimbabwe

Not a WORD from the preeminent African statesman on the abortion in Zimbabwe.

President Thabo Mbeki, he of the 'quiet diplomacy', taciturn as ever.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Stupidest column ever

Alan Fram and Eileen Putnam are evidently two of the shallowest thinkers that the AP has on its payroll. Thus, they cobbled together the most solipsistic, puerile and unremittingly asinine junior high school thoughts and turned it into a stream-of-conscious reflection of how the liberal media currently thinks.

Just click the link and grit your teeth. Feel free to print out the article on toilet paper so at least it will be useful for something.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Sweden: We don't need FISA

The Swedes have done the right thing by allowing their authorities to monitor all cross border telephone and internet traffic without the encumbrance of a FISA like body:

STOCKHOLM, June 18 (Reuters) - Sweden passed a law allowing all cross-border Internet and telephone traffic to be monitored, despite public protests and opposition from civil rights groups.
The law, announced on the parliamentary website, allows the military National Defence Radio Establishment to monitor Swedes' Internet usage as well as content from e-mails, phone calls and text messages.
The revised proposal provides for increased oversight from the Swedish Data Inspection Board, a public authority, and a new parliamentary committee. These two bodies will oversee monitoring activities by the authorities until 2011.

Currently, Swedish police can apply for permission to monitor phone and Internet traffic in the investigation of serious crimes. The new bill will allow the authorities to eavesdrop on conversations and communications by default.

Who are the fat cats now?


WASHINGTON, June 19 (Reuters) - U.S. Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama said on Thursday he has decided to forgo public financing of his election campaign against Republican John McCain.

The decision frees him up to collect money privately, which could be a help to him strategically ahead of November's election. During the Democratic primary, Obama smashed records for fundraising, largely on the success he achieved in raising money over the Internet.

"We've made the decision not to participate in the public financing system for the general election," Obama said in a video statement emailed to reporters.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Tiger's great tale

Let's see: not only did he first play a full 18 at the US Open after knee surgery, he walked the course for five straight days because he forced a playoff (only the US Open has a full 18-hole round as a playoff) and won despite TWO stress fractures in his leg.

So Tiger Woods, fresh off arthroscopic knee surgery despite a medical need to reconstruct the whole knee, and with TWO stress fractures, won the most difficult tournament on the PGA Tour in a playoff that forced him to walk the course for five full days.


As if he wasn't already a legend.


The only sad part of the story is that he will have reconstructive knee surgery, which will ensure that he will not compete in the British Open or PGA Championship -- the other two majors this year. Thus, he'll miss two chances to get closer to Jack Nicklaus' 18-major level (Tiger's won 14, all four majors at least 3 times).

But for what he did last weekend. WOW.

The NBA Finals = OK, I bonked

So I went 1-for-2 on the NBA Finals, right? I picked the number of games, I just missed out on who'd win.

And kudos to the Celtics, who humiliated the Lakers 131-92 last night to wrap up a series in which they completely outplayed their Western Conference opponents. Not since the Spurs whacked the Knicks has one team's defense so thoroughly stifled its opponent, and unlike the Lakers, the barely over .500 Knicks were never supposed to be a match for their opponent.

Look: I only preferred the Lakers because I cannot stand Bostonians (I lived there for a year when the Yankees-RedSox rivalry was relatively dormant and the place still sucked, what a racist dump).

Personally, I like KG and Ray Allen. Both are solid guys, good team players, not pigheaded and unselfish (aside from their desire to win). I like Doc Rivers -- he's a former Knick, was a decent coach in Orlando, did a fine job as a color commentator on NBA broadcasts and seems like a man with integrity. His new teeth are cool too (Doc was infamous for his UK quality orthodontics while he played). Pierce is a decent fellow, too.

And I cannot stand Phil Jackson, who is really looking more like the pathetic little man behind the curtain than the great and powerful wizard after his Lakers teams have been killed in their last two Finals appearances (they were a Kobe miracle away from getting swept by Detroit in '04, which wags called a "five-game sweep" after the Pistons dominated the games in Detroit). Don't be fooled: but for the Lakers' FT disparity in game 3 and a clutch defensive play in game 5 by Kobe, this series would have ended in LA. The Lakers never effectively adjusted to the Celtics, but the Celts had answers for LA's tactics. Jackson shepherded two all-time greats to glory (Jordan x6, Shaq x3) by helping them and the team get their mental approaches correct, but as a tactician he was outperformed by Doc this year, and by Larry Brown in '04. And nothing excuses a 39-point buttwhipping to lose the series in game 6.

Colin Cowherd was right when he observed after game 1 that the Celts got the shots they wanted (layups, open jumpers) a lot easier than the Lakers and if that continued in LA (it did), the Celts would win. Mike Tirico was right when he proclaimed on the radio in game 5 that "THE LAKERS ARE LAZY" as they stood watching the Celts charge after rebounds and Jordan Farmarr did a matador imitation while covering a Ray Allen drive. That's a problem. The Lakers never fixed it.

Congrats to the Celts.

Randolph, the Mess and a mess

Want to know why Willie Randolph is dignified and upstanding? Talk to his momma. Sam Borden did and her reaction to his firing by the Mess makes the other New York team even more of a clod.

Minnie Randolph spent most of the time talking about how blessed her son was yesterday, the same day the Mets fired Willie Randolph in a manner that was classless and unprofessional and deserving of much more ire than this proud mother would give.

"I'm not upset," Minnie said, talking from her home in Holly Hill, S.C. "I'm relieved. Now is the time he can finally exhale. This season seemed tenser than the ones before."

She paused for a moment then, before adding, very quietly, "It could have been done at a different time that wouldn't have insulted him so much, but it happened when it did. I guess that's just what happened."

Just some sadness from a loving mom. And Borden's contrast of the Randolphs with the Mess is clear:

[Mets general manager Omar] Minaya isn't a bad guy - he's genial, warm and genuinely personable - but he still handled this horrifically. He actually stood at a podium in Anaheim yesterday and said the impetus for making this change was the environment that surrounded the Mets recently (as opposed to just saying it was the losing). "It was not fair to the organization to have this cloud hanging," he said, which sounded great except for the fact that the Mets created that "cloud" in the first place.

After all, Minaya conceded that the numerous reports regarding Randolph's tenuous job status were a main reason for the negative atmosphere around the club, and then went on to take "100 percent" responsibility for the organizational leaks that, by definition, led to the reports.

In other words, Minaya (and the rest of Mets management) were responsible for creating the situation that led to Randolph's firing, and then used that situation as the excuse for finally axing him the way they did.

Yup, the Mess are a mess.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Thank you NY Giants

for preventing a TRIFECTA of championships which would have made Bawstonians truly insufferable.

Bill "The Sports Guy" Simmons had a great line the other day:

Forget comparing Kobe to MJ.

Just a second-rate team

The Mets fired Willie Randolph at 3:11 a.m. Eastern time this morning. The team had just finished a homestand on Sunday, flew across country to begin a series with the Angels (no misprint - it's interleague) and THEN the Mess fire the manager after they win the game.

The way the Mess went about this is preposterous. First, there have been rumors since early in the season that Randolph's job was tenuous because of the Mess' collapse last year. In May, Randolph had a meeting with the ownership and general manager Omar Minaya in which the Mess made no decision other than to keep the bad situation bad. In June, Randolph's been criticized for bad managerial decisions but the Mess' failure on the field has been worsened by Billy Wagner blowing three consecutive saves. Now, the Mess decide to can Randolph in the middle of the night (in NYC). Want an explanation?

Mets owner Fred Wilpon told 1050 ESPN New York's Andrew Marchand that the decision to fire Willie Randolph and his coaches and the timing of the move were solely Minaya's.

"Omar is in charge," Wilpon told 1050 ESPN New York Tuesday morning. "It was his decision. He made that decision a short time ago, obviously, and decided what to do. You have to ask Omar about that."

That's just ludicrous buck-passing. And typical of the Mess' front office, as Buster Olney explains:

The personnel meetings the Mets hold are said by participants to run on for hours, the discussion often turning circular and pointless. And maybe that's when it starts to happen in their organization when they get to the point where the staff members are so beaten down emotionally and intellectually that they don't have the ability to stand up and scream: Are you people crazy? Are you serious? Because this is a really bad idea -- no, no, wait, let's go one step further: It's really just flat-out nuts.

* * *

When the Mets sputtered in April, the backstabbing began, with Randolph being undermined along the way. Words of Randolph's honest player evaluations in those staff meetings somehow made their way to the ears of players. That left the manager in a brutal position of trying to draw performance out of veterans who heard that behind closed doors the manager wasn't so sure if they had the right stuff anymore. Some on-field staff members doubted whether they could trust the front office.

And when the losing continued, the front-office leaks to the newspapers became rivers of rip-jobs, the leakers inoculated by the fact that they fired first. It's better to blame the manager and his coaches, after all, than to take responsibility. But even after Randolph's demise became a fait accompli, which was sometime in the last days of May, the decision-makers stopped focusing on the change itself and started becoming concerned about properly scripting his firing.

And that's why the Mess are New York's OTHER team.

For a tremendous screed that completely shreds the Mess' front office, read this great piece from Mike Vaccaro.

Monday, June 16, 2008

What the Supreme Court hath wrought

A jurisprudential disaster with deadly consequences for US soldiers. And the author of the Boumediene decision is Anthony Kennedy, the accidental justice (he was the "appointable" candidate after the Bork and Douglas Ginsburg nominations ended in disaster for Pres. Reagan), has again reconfigured the Constitution to accord with the popular tastes of foreign opinion.

Andy McCarthy saw this coming even before the Supreme Court's Hamdan disaster that extended Geneva Convention protections to unlawful enemy combatants. He prophesied before the Court's 2006 opinion was announced that if the Supreme Court ruled against the Bush Administration

Anyone want to bet against me that this won't come to mean criminal trials with virtually all the protections required to be given to U.S. citizens under the Constitution?

And so it has come to pass.

The Kozinski mess, part II

Marcy Tiffany, Judge Kozinski's wife, responds to the LA Times story and the current kerfuffle over allegedly sexually explicit material on the judge's personal website.

Upon further review, my initial post on this subject looks wrong and the situation is beginning to look like a set-up by a disgruntled attorney who hacked into the Kozinski page (which actually was not fully open to the public) and then shopped the story until he found a taker.

Read the whole email that Ms. Tiffany sent to

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Too strange for words

Evidently black-furred animals have a lower rate of adoption as pets. Who knew?

And the Austin NAACP has lashed out against Williamson County's "Black is Beautiful" campaign to adopt the darker-furred critters.

Some folks need better things to worry about.

Personally, I think the reason for not adopting black kitties is that so many may qualify for this site. And I know we have had two of those in our neighborhood.

For the record, The Monk's handicapped black kitty (he has scoliosis) is the most spoiled furball in the house (we have three . . . or four if you include me). He's also the sweetest. So go adopt a black kitty or one with that really cool charcoal gray color.

Kozinski's fall

I agree that it is news that 9th Circuit Chief Judge Alex S. Kozinski had publicly accessible pornographic content on his own website (not the official page he has as a judge, but a privately hosted page). And he certainly did not seek to exculpate himself -- he said his son called and said he put some of the pics on the site, but the judge didn't say all of them came from others.

This is rather ridiculous. As a judge, your public image must be as clean and positive as possible. Kozinski failed that test badly.

Lawfare: how to lose a war through litigation, part II

In another 5-4 decision unsupported by the Constitution or reality, Justice Kennedy again ruled against the Bush Administration's ongoing efforts to anticipate the ever-shifting nature of what the Supreme Court views as constitutional law. The case, brought by a lot of big firms representing Gitmo Bay prisoners pro bono publico, challenged the government's use of administrative tribunals and denial of habeas corpus rights for the prisoners.

Here's the crux of the decision:

Petitioners have the constitutional privilege of habeas corpus. They are not barred from seeking the writ or invoking the Suspension Clause's protections because they have been designated as enemy combatants or because of their presence at Guantanamo.

The Suspension Clause has full effect at Guantanamo. The government's argument that the Clause affords petitioners no rights because the United States does not claim sovereignty over the naval station is rejected.

This is patently ridiculous. As unlawful enemy combatants, the Gitmo detainees could have been shot dead as spies. They are not lawful combatants entitled to Geneva Convention rights, but somehow they are due every right given to an American citizen in an American court. I'm with Mark Levin on this:

It has been the objective of the left-wing bar to fight aspects of this war in our courtrooms, where it knew it would have a decent chance at victory. So complete is the Court's disregard for the Constitution and even its own precedent now that anything is possible. And what was once considered inconceivable is now compelled by the Constitution, or so five justices have ruled. I fear for my country. I really do. And AP, among others, reports this story as a defeat for "the Bush administration." Really? I see it as a defeat for the nation.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

President Carter II

John McCain recently said that Barack Obama is running for the second presidential term of Jimmy Carter. This is an EXCELLENT line of attack that McCain should pound Obama with for the next five months.

There are few presidencies that were worse than Carter's. His policies led to high inflation, high interest rates, high gas prices, high unemployment and the most dramatic weakening of the United States' stature in the world in US history. He was weak, vacillating, coddled dictators inimical to US interests and actively opposed leaders who were friendly to the US (most notably, the Shah of Iran). Since he was drubbed in the 1980 election (the worst ever defeat for a sitting president), Carter has been counterproductive to US interests. He's an enemy of Israel and friend to Arafat and Hamas. He hijacked the Clinton Administration's foreign policy regarding North Korea and actively worked against the US during both Iraq wars. And he believed the American distrust and distaste towards the USSR demonstrated an irrational fear of communism.

Americans remember Carter's failed presidency, especially Americans age 46+ who could first vote in the 1980 election and who are more likely to vote than the younger generation upon which Obama depends. Indeed, the 46+ year-old voters include thousands of the "Reagan Democrats" -- the moderate to conservative Democrats who rejected Carter and voted for President Reagan. So McCain's pitch is well-tuned.

And with good reason. Obama is perhaps the most radical left-wing candidate to achieve his party's nomination since George McGovern. He started his working career as an organizer for ACORN - itself a radical left-wing group best known for its anti-capitalist policies and its intentional voter fraud tactics, which it has used in more than 1/4 of the states.

Pointing out these facts about Obama is wise campaigning by McCain. And he should continue to do it.

The United States doesn't need a second term (or third) for Jimmy Carter.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

A good question

Because even a blind boar can find an acorn, Massachusetts uber-liberal Ed Markey (who celebrated the low-cost heating oil propaganda ploy that Venezuela dictator Hugo Chavez used in 2005) asks why the Bush Administration is helping Saudi Arabia obtain nuclear power. After all, Saudi Arabia has ample natural gas to power the country for decades, gets ridiculous solar exposure that could supplement its power supply (especially if solar power becomes more efficient) and is home to the virulent Wahhabism that comprised the theological foundation of al-Qaeda.

Oh yeah, it's also close to Israel and chock full of Islamofascist nutters.

Congressman Markey asks a good question.

Oranje Crush

For the World Champs, it was the beating of a lifetime. Yesterday Netherlands whupped Italy in the European Cup soccer finals 3-0. It's the first time Italy EVER allowed three goals in a Euro cup match. The three goals topped the total (two) that Italy allowed in SEVEN matches in the World Cup in 2006, and of those two, one was a penalty (which the taker should score) and one was a fluke deflected into the Italian net by an Italian defender. All told, yesterday's match was a complete rout.

Good for the Dutch. They play some of the most exciting soccer (not an oxymoronic concept) in the world and dominated the match from the 10 minute mark of the first half to the end. Unlike World Cup '02, where they were screwed, or World Cups '90, '94 and '98, where they lost on penalties, the Italians took a beating.

As a semi-Italian, I'm shocked. But at least the match was interesting, unlike all too many Euro tournament matches that reach new depths of dullness (see Euro '04). Go Oranje!

Monday, June 09, 2008

A Giant Champion retires

Michael Strahan, the most gregarious, liveliest, loquacious and perhaps smartest defensive end in football is retiring. The Giants are holding a press conference tomorrow to make the announcement official.

The Giants' loss is the NFC's gain.

The Giants took Strahan with their second-round pick in the 1993 amateur draft -- a bit of a reach considering that he played at a small school (Texas Southern) with minimal decent competition. But after a year-long apprenticeship in 1993, Strahan excelled. By 1995, he was basically a 60 tackle per year player -- a good total for a defensive end. From 1997-2005, he was a seven-time Pro Bowler with six 10+ sack seasons and four with more than 70 tackles. The Giants' seasons collapsed in 2004 and 2006 when he lost significant playing time to injury. And the Giants' defense transformed from horrid to strong after Strahan regained his playing shape in 2007 -- the Giants allowed 80 points and 11 touchdowns in their first two games as Strahan played his way back to shape after a training camp holdout; by the end of the year, Big Blue was among the top 10 teams in total defense.

Strahan was THE leader of the Giants. NFL Films has great cuts of Strahan in last year's playoffs exhorting the team, telling the offensive line how "17-14, 17-14 will be the final score in this game; if you believe it, it will happen" during the Super Bowl. He also took a young player, from a small school, also a second-round draftee, under his large wing . . . and Osi Umenyiora is the Pro Bowl caliber heir to Strahan's mantle.

So here's to Big Mike -- a complete defensive end who could bury the quarterback and defend the run. In five years or so, we'll hopefully hear him give the speech of a lifetime at his induction to the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

Only Congressional Democrats . . .

Can do the research, put together the information, show their work, and STILL claim that their dead-wrong answer is the right one. Senator Jay Rockefeller has repeatedly spouted the "Bush Lied, People Died" nonsense that is a catechism on the left, yet here's what the Rockefeller Commission, which he headed with a mandate to analyze the pre-Iraq War intelligence and use of it by the Bush Administration, found:

On Iraq's nuclear weapons program? The president's statements "were generally substantiated by intelligence community estimates."

On biological weapons, production capability and those infamous mobile laboratories? The president's statements "were substantiated by intelligence information."

On chemical weapons, then? "Substantiated by intelligence information."

On weapons of mass destruction overall (a separate section of the intelligence committee report)? "Generally substantiated by intelligence information." Delivery vehicles such as ballistic missiles? "Generally substantiated by available intelligence." Unmanned aerial vehicles that could be used to deliver WMDs? "Generally substantiated by intelligence information."

As you read through the report, you begin to think maybe you've mistakenly picked up the minority dissent. But, no, this is the Rockefeller indictment. So, you think, the smoking gun must appear in the section on Bush's claims about Saddam Hussein's alleged ties to terrorism.

But statements regarding Iraq's support for terrorist groups other than al-Qaeda "were substantiated by intelligence information." Statements that Iraq provided safe haven for Abu Musab al-Zarqawi and other terrorists with ties to al-Qaeda "were substantiated by the intelligence assessments," and statements regarding Iraq's contacts with al-Qaeda "were substantiated by intelligence information." The report is left to complain about "implications" and statements that "left the impression" that those contacts led to substantive Iraqi cooperation.

That's the analysis of Fred Hiatt, the Washington Post's Editorial Page Editor -- not a water carrier for the Bush Administration.

Our nightmare, their dream = $4 gas

The horror of $4/gallon gasoline in the US is a pipe dream to Europe. Even in 2004, when the dollar was stronger and the price of gas decidedly lower, The Monk paid $5.70/gallon in the UK (based on about 80p per liter and a 1.80/1 exchange rate USD/GBP). In 2007, when The Monk took Monkette on our babymoon, we paid $5.35 /gallon for diesel (gasoline was $6.85) in France, based on the $1.30/1 USD/Euro exchange rate. And for the Euros, those were the good old days.

This site says the average price for premium gasoline, per gallon in USD, was more than $8.70 in France, Belgium, Italy, Netherlands, Germany and UK last week. Take off 70 cents per gallon for a lower fuel grade, and none of those major European countries had a per gallon cost of less than $8. That makes Japan, with prices around $6.50-7 per gallon, look affordable.

Why so expensive? Taxes. In the UK, when we paid 80p per liter, about 65-67p went to the government. Taxes remain high, and refining costs have also escalated as the global oil price has risen.

And that's why The Monk liked taking the train so much in Japan.

Wednesday, June 04, 2008


Derek Jeter collected his 2,415th hit last night at the Stadium in Joba Chamberlain's first start (decent) but in an otherwise forgettable loss to Toronto.

Jeter turns 34 later this month and has accomplished this in 12 and one-third seasons.

This ties him with Mickey Mantle for 3rd most in Yankee history. Ahead of him are only Gehrig (2,721) and Ruth (2,873). Gehrig was 33 when he did it and Ruth 36+.

Assuming no major injuries and 175 hits a year for the next six years (never had less than 180 in a full season and has averaged 200) Jeter should garner about another 1,050 hits and finish with approximately 3,450 which would put him in the top ten all-time.

There is an outside possibility at 4,000 if Jeter could maintain status as a full-time player into his early forties.

Pretty dang good company already.

Petty dictators destroy nations

This is the lesson of Robert Mugabe and Zimbabawe.

Zimbabwe’s president, Robert Mugabe, speaking on Tuesday at a United Nations food conference in Rome, accused nongovernmental organizations of interfering in politics and contended that the West had conspired “to cripple Zimbabwe’s economy” and bring about “illegal regime change.”

“Funds are being channeled through nongovernmental organizations to opposition political parties, which are a creation of the West,” he said. “These Western-funded NGOs also use food as a political weapon with which to campaign against government, especially in the rural areas.”

On Friday and Monday, representatives of aid groups were summoned by administrators in four districts and instructed to cease all work in the field until a bitterly contested presidential runoff was held on June 27 between Mr. Mugabe, in power for 28 years, and the opposition leader, Morgan Tsvangirai.

In other words, Mugabe is justified in starving the people of Zimbabwe because aid organizations want him removed from power.

This is the logic of the insane.

There is no political solution

Think there's no military solution to terrorism? Think again.

Bret Stephens notes the facts:

For the week of May 16-23, there were 300 "violent incidents" in Iraq. That's down from 1,600 [per week] last June and the lowest recorded since March 2004. Al Qaeda has been crushed by a combination of U.S. arms and Sunni tribal resistance. On the Shiite side, Moqtada al Sadr's Mahdi Army was routed by Iraqi troops in Basra and later crumbled in its Sadr City stronghold.

In Colombia, the 44-year-old FARC guerrilla movement is now at its lowest ebb. Three of its top commanders died in March, and the number of FARC attacks is down by more than two-thirds since 2002. In the face of a stepped-up campaign by the Colombian military (funded, equipped and trained by the U.S.), the group is now experiencing mass desertions. Former FARC leaders describe a movement that is losing any semblance of ideological coherence and operational effectiveness.

In Sri Lanka, a military offensive by the government of President Mahinda Rajapaksa has wrested control of seven of the nine districts previously held by the rebel group LTTE, better known as the Tamil Tigers. Mr. Rajapaksa now promises victory by the end of the year, even as the Tigers continue to launch high-profile terrorist attacks.

And the conclusions to draw from those facts: (1) terrorists can be militarily defeated; (2) they will not agree to political solutions until they have been militarily defeated. More explanation:

There's also a tendency to misjudge the aims and ambitions of the insurgents: To think they can be mollified via one political concession or another. Former Colombian president Andres Pastrana sought to appease the FARC by ceding to them a territory the size of Switzerland. The predictable result was to embolden the guerrillas, who were adept at sensing and exploiting weakness.

The deeper problem here is the belief that the best way to deal with insurgents is to address the "root causes" of the grievance that purportedly prompted them to take up arms. But what most of these insurgencies seek isn't social or moral redress: It's absolute power. Like other "liberation movements" (the PLO comes to mind), the Tigers are notorious for killing other Tamils seen as less than hard line in their views of the conflict. The failure to defeat these insurgencies thus becomes the primary obstacle to achieving a reasonable political settlement acceptable to both sides.

Read the whole column.

Rivalry renewal -- the NBA Finals

Other than the Dallas-Miami clash in 2006, this will probably be the first NBA Finals that I actively watch since the end of the Jordan Era (the Knicks-Spurs matchup was a foregone conclusion). And there's a good reason for it: RIVALRY.

Although announcers and sports pundits love to prattle on about parity, underdogs and the great unknowns, the simple fact is, and has always been, that big teams and their big rivalries sell.

White Sox-Astros? Who cares? Show us another Series with the RedSax or Yankees.

Spurs-Nets? Why bother? We all know who'll win, it's a question of when.

But marquee teams and marquee rivalries are the foundation of sport: Yankees-RedStiffs, Duke-Carolina, Canadiens-Bruins (or the modern version, Avalanche-Red Wings), and the biggest NBA rivalry of all, Celtics-Lakers.

From 1959 to 1984 the Celtics and Lakers met 8 times in the NBA Finals, and the Celtics won all 8. In that same period, the Celts won 14 times in 14 NBA Finals appearances (that's incredible -- the Yankees' best is 8 wins in 8 WS from 1927-1941; the Canadiens won 9 Stanley Cups from 1968-86 without losing in the finals), the Lakers were the basketball version of the Brooklyn Dodgers -- 3 wins, 11 losses. In 1985 and 1987, the Lakers broke through -- beating the Celts in the NBA Finals in six games each time. In 1985, the Lakers took four of five after Boston blew them off the court in game 1 and the press said Kareem looked old and slow next to Robert Parish (Kareem was the MVP); in 1987, the Lakers rolled the Celts in six games with three blowouts in LA.

This is the first time the Celts are in the NBA Finals since that 1987 loss to the Lakers. They have three of the best players in the NBA on the team -- Kevin Garnett, Ray Allen and Paul Pierce (kudos to you if you knew off the top of your head that Pierce is the leading scorer). The Lakers have the single best player in the NBA, Kobe Bryant, and two under-the-radar stars in Lamar Odom and Pau Gasol.

Although historically I've rooted for the Lakers in this rivalry, The Monk leaned toward cheering on the Celtics because he likes KG and Ray Allen, and cannot stand Phil Jackson (Knicks-Bulls rivalry from the '90s) . . . but then I realized that ESPN's The Sports Guy, Bill Simmons, the embodiment of Bostonian fandom would be thrilled beyond belief by a Celtics win. That's unacceptable. Plus, a 66-win team that pathetically struggled to win seven-game series against two teams that couldn't even qualify for the playoffs in the Western Conference should not be the NBA champ.

Go Lakers.

And for an actual prediction: Lakers in 6 -- the Celts are the best defensive team in the league, the Lakers are the best on offense (remember, they don't play at the Warriors-Nuggets-Suns breakneck pace, so their offensive efficiency is likely better than that of the three teams that outscored the Lakers); the Lakers have better rebounding and a better bench and, to my chagrin, a better coach; and basketball is an OFFENSIVE game first.

Monday, June 02, 2008

Honestly, has he been honest? The McClellan Follies

Peggy Noonan says Scott McClellan seems honest and that his memoir should be viewed as such. Why? Her general instinct about him and the book.

Just one problem -- Robert Novak (no friend of the Bush Administration) says that McClellan did not allow truth to get in the way of his own story. This is why McClellan continues to parrot the now-disproven Democratic interpretation of the Valerie Plame affair:

In claiming he was misled about the Plame affair, McClellan mentions [Richard] Armitage only twice. Armitage being the leaker undermines the Democratic theory, now accepted by McClellan, that Bush, Vice President Cheney and political adviser Karl Rove aimed to delegitimize Wilson as a war critic. The way that McClellan handles the leak leads former colleagues to suggest he could not have written this book by himself.

On Page 173, McClellan first mentions my Plame leak, but he does not identify Armitage as the leaker until Page 306 of the 323-page book -- and then only in passing. Armitage, who was antiwar and anti-Cheney, does not fit the conspiracy theory that McClellan now buys into. When, after two years, Armitage publicly admitted that he was my source, the life went out of Wilson's campaign. In "What Happened," McClellan dwells on Rove's alleged deceptions as if the real leaker were still unknown.

While at the White House podium, McClellan never knew the facts about the CIA leak, and his memoir reads as though he has tried to maintain his ignorance. He omits the fact that Armitage identified Mrs. Wilson to The Post's Bob Woodward weeks before [Armitage] talked to me. [McClellan] does not mention that Armitage turned himself in to the Justice Department even before Patrick Fitzgerald was named as special prosecutor.

So Scott McClellan is peddling false concepts in his memoir. There is no value in false history. There is no value in false testimony -- that is why knowingly giving false testimony under oath is a criminal act. That's why Noonan's position -- "In that sense one should always say of memoirs of those who hold or have held power: More, please" -- is wrong. If there is a legitimate viewpoint or fact to add to an ongoing debate, by all means, add it. In this case, however, the issue is dead and the "Karl Rove outed Plame as revenge" notion is only alive in the fevered minds of the worst Bush-haters.

Considering that Novak says most of McClellan's memoir is about this incident, it means most of McClellan's memoir is untrue. That's not history; it's historical fiction.