Tuesday, May 31, 2005


In short, as the president’s critics are rightly reminding him, more time has passed since 9/11 than transpired between Pearl Harbor and the surrender of the Japanese empire, and our most lethal enemies are still in power and still killing our people and our friends. It is good that the desire for freedom is now manifest among the oppressed peoples of the Middle East and Central Asia, and it is very good that dramatic strides toward self-government have been taken by the Georgians, Kyrgistanis, Ukrainians, Iraqis, and Lebanese. But it is not good enough. Indeed, it is shameful that we have yet to seriously challenge the legitimacy of the terror masters in Tehran and Damascus, who represent the keystone of the terrorist edifice.

So writes Michael Ledeen in his piece titled "Drifting" over at NRO. I'm not sure if it's a condemnation of how and where the GWOT is prosecuted or a policy-piece designed to push action against the likes of Iran and Syria. Perhpas some of both?

Very Anti-climactic

Career FBI man, W. Mark Felt is Deep Throat. Who?

More reasons to hate Fantasy baseball

  1. Randy Johnson.
  2. Jason Schmidt.

Especially for you!

Sim and I share something aside from our history of battling idiocy at ESPN. Namely Phoenix, Arizona.

Sim did his MBA work here in the valley. During that time, I'm told anyway, that he developed a special relationship with Sheriff Joe Arpaio of Tent City and chain-gang fame. With that in mind, I offer you this my friend.

Apparently Sheriff Joe had some recent car trouble.

Arthur Andersen conviction overturned

The Supreme Court has overturned the conviction of the Big Five firm in 2002 on obstruction of justice charges related to destruction of documents in the Enron debacle. While I find that somewhat odd and a bit interesting, I'm not likely to get worked up about it. It's the left that's more of an anti-corporate interest. Silly, but they're welcome to it.

What I do disagree with--and maybe I have a few things to learn about Justice Department prosecutions--is the Post's assessment that the ruling is a setback for the Bush Administration. Huh?

The Post writes: The decision said jury instructions at trial were too vague and broad for jurors to determine correctly whether Andersen obstructed justice.

"The jury instructions here were flawed in important respects," Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist wrote for the court.

The ruling is a setback for the Bush administration, which made prosecution of white-collar criminals a high priority following accounting scandals at major corporations. After Enron's 2001 collapse, the Justice Department went after Andersen first.

The conviction was overturned because of vague jury instructions. That starts and ends with the bench, not the prosecutor. The only people who can think that somehow is a blow to the Administration's Justice Department and their commitment to go after corporate criminal malfeasance speak in talking points.

Color me stoopit!

I thought they were dead. Deader than dead. Dead as an opossum caught under your wheels on the highway in the dead of night dead. Anyway, you get the idea.

For the first time in 4 games, the Suns played like the Suns and won a tough one. They have a glimmer of hope, and Amare. His block on Duncan with about 30-odd seconds left was the epitome of clutch.

So much for that...

What to say about this piece in the NY Times that effectively ends this CIA covert op?


Health blogging, part II

Been a week plus since my wife's surgery and results are mixed. The immediate troubles that were caused by the poorly functioning gall bladder have, for the most part, ended. But last week we got a two-night stay in the hospital while they tried to figure out if another bout of severe nausea and stomach trouble was a complication of the surgery or something else altogether.

Frankly, 3 days later and we still don't know. She'll be scheduling a second unrelated surgery for another, different, minor problem this week. At this point we wonder if it is also influencing what is going on with her this last week. I'm no doctor, but it makes as much sense as anything they're telling us...


Monday, May 30, 2005

Where do they find these people?

(Or, How Talking Points memo's are all you need!)

There is a poster at ESPN who speaks only in talking points. I think I've found they're real identity! From today's Republic, this letter to the editor is nothing but talking points joined together with a few conjunctions and some punctuation:

I am an American. You don't have to know my age, my politics, my background, my religion or anything else. But you do have to know the dangers facing this country right now.

The government has just declared NPR and PBS too liberal. Comedian Bill Maher has just been accused of treason by a Republican U.S. representative, who wants him off the air for remarks Maher made. on HBO. Our judges are under fire for being too liberal. Professors in universities all over the nation are also under fire for pretty much the same thing.The conservative right is going too far. We have always been an open society and could say pretty much what we think. I truly believe we are heading to a closed society, where we will be judged by the views of others about what we think and say. This is unacceptable.

The executive, legislative and judicial branches of our government are there for a purpose - as balance to protect us from one or two branches wielding too much power. But as it is now, the executive and legislative branches are extremely conservative and have the power to do pretty much as they please. What will happen when the Supreme Court loses one of its members? Frankly, as an American, I am worried. And you should be, too.

VDH: On Anti-Americanism and Hypocrisy

Regaining the fighting form I love to see, Victor Davis Hanson capitalizes on the occassion of Pepsi Cola CEO Indra Nooyi's remarks to graduates at Columbia Business School to address the utter hypocrisy of today's strain of anti-Americanism.

Nooyi's shrill and unfortunate comment that

“This analogy of the five fingers as the five major continents leaves the long, middle finger for North America, and, in particular, the United States."

is, of course, something we are seeing with increasing frequency. But it is quite rare for anyone as distinguished as Hanson to show some spine by calling these nitwits to task for their blatant and shameless hypocrisy.

Modern anti-Americanism is not just bombastic, it also seems largely devoid of perspective, unsupported by historical facts and unarmed with intellectual integrity. Most on the Left either share this bankrupt viewpoint or are simply content to just roll over and take it because we "deserve it." No, folks, you've got it backward. Rolling over and taking it is what makes us deserving...

Col. David H. Hackworth RIP

On May 5, America lost a true hero, Col. David Hackworth. "Hack," as he was known, lied about his age to sign up to fight in World War II and then spent a half century valiantly fighting for his beliefs, American values and fellow soldiers on military and political battlefields all over the world.

Hack became a controversial figure as a result of his stinging criticisms of the American political and military leaderships and their 'mismanagement' of military personnel. Hack never had a problem telling you what was on his mind. I'll never forget being thoroughly impressed by his knowledge and bluntness when I first encountered him in a series of interviews on a Dallas talk-radio station in 1994-5.

While I didn't always agree with Hack's views, I strongly respected his deeply informed and heartfelt insights. And no matter the military issue at hand, I always sought to hear him out before defining my own position too rigidly. No one ever cared more about this country or our fighting men and women than Col. Hackworth. And his brand of realism-driven integrity and honesty are something that this country could use a in a far stronger dose.

Today, Hack will be layed to rest in Arlington National Cemetary. Fittingly, it is Memorial Day.

The truth about outsourcing

Last summer the Kerry campaign precluded all meaningful and rational discussion of the phenomenon of offshore outsourcing by using it as a demagogic tool for attacking George W. Bush. Thus, it was with great delight that I came across an insightful article in Foreign Affairs which placed outsourcing in its proper context. Penned by Daniel Drezner, the article raised many questions about the intellectual and factual integrity of Kerry's droning rhetorical drumbeat which sought to portray outsourcing as a chief driver of unemployment in the U.S. In particular, Mr. Drezner illustrated that even in the worst-case scenarios only about 0.2% of the American workforce would be affected by outsourcing.

Fortunately, Mr. Drezner has continued to stay on top of the issue and shares a variety of links to research which confirms how outsourcing's scale has been exaggerated at the same time that its complexity has been minimized.


Since I had family in town last week, I thought it would be cool to take 'em out to The Bronx for the renewal of the most bitter rivalry in sports, Yankees-Red Sox. My aunt and cousin are big baseball fans so it was a real treat for them to see what can only be described as the most exciting baseball games one can really attend.

The games are exciting not because of the teams (I really have no rooting interest, except a slight Red Sox skew since the Yankees are the Evil Empire), but because of the spirit of the fans. It is a lot of fun to look at all the homemade "Boston Sucks" t-shirts, the leaflets being handed out with the boxscore detailing a Yankee drubbing at the hands of the Red Sox in 1995, etc. You would never expect to go into Yankee Stadium and expect 1/2 of the stadium to begin chanting "Let's Go....Red Sawwwx" in the top of the 5th inning. But that's precisely what happened on Saturday afternoon just before Edgar Renteria launched a Paul Quantrill pitch into left-center for a grand slam. Of course, as Renteria was rounding the bases, the cheers were suddenly drowned out by a chant of "Let's Go....Yankees" in retort. Later in the inning, Sox Nation was treated to a three-run jack by Trot Nixon, which effectively put the game out of reach, in what would become a 17-1 Red Sox laugher.

We stayed until the bitter end, but enjoyed watching the beer-infused back-and-forth between groups of fans. The derisive "Let's Go... Ass-hole" chant every time Manny Ramirez stepped into the batter's box was my personal favorite. There were a couple of small fights, but it was mostly just a lot of loud talk, heckling and some occassional good-natured ribbing. To be clear, the good-natured banter is very occassional. Usually, it's mean, brutal and funny. But it seems to rarely boil over into anything dangerous. The hatred is real and genuine. It's not uncommon to hear a child hurl verbal abuse at his or her enemy, only to go uncorrected by his or her accompanying parent.

Good stuff.

Broom City

SBC Park in San Francisco has been a house of horrors in recent years for my beloved Friars. But yesterday's 9-6 victory over the Giants sealed a weekend sweep for San Diego, which now sits alone atop the NL West with a 2.5 game lead over Zona and a 4.5 game lead over TrolleyWreckInc. The win also marked the Padres' 20th victory in May against just six defeats. The club continues to get solid starting pitching, strong relief from the majors' best bullpen, and timely late-inning hitting heroics from an ensemble cast.

An interesting aspect of this amazing run is that starting pitcher Woody Williams has been on the DL for the entire month, SS Khalil Greene and super-sub Geoff Blum missed the first half of the month, and 2B Mark Loretta has missed the last two weeks due to a thumb injury. While Brian Giles, Phil Nevin and Ryan Klesko have played well throughout the streak, it has been the work of the unheralded Padres that has fueled the growing confidence of this team. OF Dave Roberts, C Ramon Hernandez and bench players like Blum, Mark Sweeney, Robert Fick and yesterday's hero, Damian Jackson have played extremely well and have delivered when called upon. It seems no late inning deficit is insurmountable for this bunch. They just believe they are going to get it done.

Gang of 14 Fallout

Howard Fineman provides some interesting perspective on how last week's Gang of 14 'coup' reflects the broader views of the American electorate and dramatizes the battle lines being drawn within the Republican party for 2008:

Inside the Big Tent, the “Gang of 14” deal pitted libertarians against the religionists, with Bush —who rose to power by taming both—caught in the middle. Faith-based conservatives felt betrayed by the bipartisan deal and with good reason: they were betrayed. But most of the GOP members of the Gang don’t feel guilty about it—they are (privately) delighted. Many other Republican senators, who stayed away from the filibuster-judges deal for various reasons, were relieved that rules of the Senate were saved and that religious conservatives were, in essence, told to shove it. Bush and Karl Rove had hoped to change the rules before the big clash over the Supreme Court, clearing the way for the president to put forward a jurist considered solid by the religious right on their cluster of crucial issues: abortion, euthanasia, stem-cell research, cloning and gay marriage. If I know Bush, he will go ahead and do so anyway. If he does, I bet that the Democrats in the Gang of 14 will declare the existence of the kind of “extraordinary circumstance” that will free them from their vow not to use the filibuster. And then the GOP moderates will have to declare themselves—and the war within the Republican Party will be on, big time.

Saturday, May 28, 2005

Fitting somehow

Cardinal players Larry Fitzgerald and Kurt Warner are representing the NFC at the 45th Annual Pop Warner Scholar All-American Banquet in Southern California tonight.

I find it somehow fitting that the words 'Cardinals' and 'Pop Warner' would appear together in the same sentence. At all, ever.

Blogging notes

I was nowhere to be seen yesterday, and for good reason. My wife required not one, but two trips to the ER on Friday to determine whether her severe upset was a result of post-surgery complications.

After 4 hours there during the day, we loaded up at 10 p.m. and took her back. That became an all night stay which became a second-night when her upset continued last night after dinner.

We appear to have turned the corner this morning as she has reported feeling much better and has kept down everything she's eaten so far this morning. Just waiting for the go-ahead to bring her home.

And no, it wasn't a post-surgical complication...


Friday, May 27, 2005

Amnesty Absurdity

I believe I've been very clear about my position on rendition and torture. I'm very worried about the United States inhabiting a legal gray area where our human rights credentials can be legitimately questioned by everyone from North Korea to Sudan to Iran. Unfortunately, by occupying such a space we provide fuel to our opponents and allow utterly ridiculous people to levy utterly ridiculous charges against us.

And such is the case with Amnesty International. The Secretary General of Amnesty International recently called the Guantanamo Bay detention center the "gulag of our time." While I am not overjoyed with the handling of prisoners at Gitmo, to compare it with Soviet death camps which killed millions is to minimize the harshness, cruelty and suffering endured by those who perished in the Gulags. It's abhorrent that someone who should know better would utter such irresponsible spew. Oxblog elaborates.

UPDATE: Paul here...found this in my digital meanderings today. A lengthy exposition on the nature of Camp X-Ray (aka Torture Central) and in-depth comparison of it's failings with those of the Soviet Gulags. Guess which one comes out looking worse?!

Young Superstar Subdues Snakes

Jake Peavy was absolutely dominant last night in Phoenix. He won a must-win rubber game against the D'Backs to catapult the Friars into first place. He gave the bullpen a breather by pitching a complete game two-hitter. He was incredibly efficient.

Folks, we are watching the emergence of an elite stopper-type pitcher. This is fun.

Thursday, May 26, 2005

Not much time

but had a couple of free moments and felt an urge to contribute. Been slogging around in the rain for the last two days on the massive sightseeing tour. Dogs are barking. Mind is mush. Full belly of ridiculously expensive and high-quality chow.

But then I came across this clip from last season. And it made me smile.

Jerry Porter, meet Randall Godfrey. And know....

that you just got JACKED UP!

Someone needs to remind the man

The average temp in Arizona for 7 months a year is over 80-degrees. It's just as easy to get tired of being hot as is being eternally cold.

On a side note, I'd take the Republic with James Lileks even if I moved out of the state!

Am I a neo-con if I disagree with Max Boot?

Max has an editorial in today's LA Times taking on the issue of gays and women in the military. Suffice to say, I'm not sure I agree with him on this. And if you're not sure, check out my posts on the subject.

Do I have to surrender my credentials if I publicly disagree with a prominent neo-con?

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Fair is fair

Columnist Robert Robb takes on the Governor's budget vetoes in today's column. As a reminder, Governor Napolitano vetoed 4 budget bills on Friday last that she and Republican leaders in the state legislature had agreed to as part of a larger budget-compromise. Said Republican leaders did not react kindly to what they perceived as her betrayal of that agreement.

Says Robb: Gov. Janet Napolitano undoubtedly believes that her actions on the state budget were justified.But it's hard to square those actions with any reasonable notion of fairness or honor.The budget deal was struck between Napolitano and Senate President Ken Bennett and House Speaker Jim Weiers.

According to Napolitano, the deal included a sunset provision requiring the corporate tuition tax credit to be reauthorized after five years and an English-learner program that legislative Democrats supported.According to the Republican leaders, the deal was to subject the corporate tuition tax credit to the same legislative review that all tax credits receive, which does not require reauthorization. The English-learner commitment was to pass a program and to consult with Democrats about it, but not necessarily to pass a program that Democrats supported.

The most important discussions took place with only the principals, so it's impossible for an outsider to know precisely which is the more accurate account. However, their plausibility can be evaluated.


As a result of this huge philosophical divide[on the English learner provision in the education bill(s)], it's highly unlikely that Bennett and Weiers would make a commitment to an outcome (a bill Democrats would support) as opposed to a process (a bill would be passed and Democrats would be consulted).

All this serves as set-up to the main point. Napolitano made the agreement, she broke it and what she said after-the-fact doesn't jibe:

Regardless of what the deal actually was, Napolitano's chief budget negotiator, George Cunningham, signed off on the corporate tuition tax credit language before it was passed with the five-year review rather than the hard sunset. He scrutinized the language carefully enough to insist that a $5 million-a-year cap apply to all donations, not just large ones, as initially drafted.

Napolitano's subsequent veto effectively neuters Cunningham, who generally has done a very good job for the governor, as a future negotiator. After all, the governor has demonstrated that he does not speak for her.

Neutering Cunningham may not be smart management, but it's largely Napolitano's business. Nevertheless, there was a week between the passage of the budget bills and their transmittal to the governor. Republican leaders were holding them up to include an English-learner program, to fulfill what they perceived to be their commitment.

During this week, the Governor's Office discovered the lack of a hard sunset on the tuition tax credit. If this was fatal and would earn a veto, she had an obligation to so inform the Republican leaders. Republicans could then decide whether to acquiesce or to re-evaluate their willingness to give Napolitano what she wanted.

Instead, Napolitano sandbagged the Republican leaders. Her staff raised the sunset provision along with a handful of other lingering budget issues. But there was never any indication that the corporate tuition tax credit would be vetoed without a hard sunset provision.

If the problem as defined in her post-veto comments truly existed, she had the time and the responsibility to make it known. Robb goes on in agreement with me when he says:

The governor's lack of straight-dealing enabled her to pocket all of what she got out of the accord, while negating the cement she knew held the Republican votes together to get those things to her in the first place. Republican leaders were left feeling, with considerable justification, betrayed.

He says it far more eloquently than I, but the conclusion is the same; Janet comes off looking like a self-serving Indian-giver.

In the interest of fairness, I want also to post commentary from state Democrats on this issue. The other day I posted comments from state Representative Steve Tully (R).

Democrat Harry Mitchell of Tempe responds today to Rep. Tully's statements in a letter to the Republic. Read and decide for yourself which analysis rings more true.

Admission against interest

Red State is reporting that a King County supervisor of absentee ballots has admitted in court proceedings that she falsified a report to match the total votes cast with the number of registered voters. Curiouser and curiouser...

The margin of error appears to be greater than the margin of victory -- and to top it off -- there are 900 felon voters to enter into evidence. The judge is admitting everything.

At least one media-outlet confirms the story with this in the Tri-City Herald: The supervisor, Nicole Way, said she repeatedly told her bosses as early as spring 2004 that the King County elections department couldn't tell how many ballots were being mailed out or received back. About two-thirds of the county's 900,000 votes in the November election were mail ballots.

Under questioning by GOP attorney Harry Korrell, Way said she and other workers tried to create a computer spreadsheet to track ballots they were mailing out, but eventually gave up.

In a sworn deposition, Way said that she and her direct supervisor, Garth Fell, an assistant elections superintendent, approved a Nov. 17 mail ballot report that falsely showed all absentee ballots had been accounted for. She said they couldn't get the numbers to add up otherwise.

Local pooch goes missing

Three weeks after a fire destroyed their home, Glendale residents Art, Teresa and Devin Pasillas lost two of their three dogs when they escaped from the side yard of their rental home. Sadly, one of the dogs was found soon-after dead, but Jake remains missing.

If you find Jake

Jake, a small beagle/spaniel mix, stands approximately 9 inches high and weighs around 10 pounds. He was wearing a blue collar with a tag that has his name and phone number. Jake has black and brown medium-length hair. He has brown and black back legs and face.The Pasillas family is offering a $1,000 reward for his return. Information may remain anonymous.Call (623) 842-0008 or (602) 463-3073 with any information.

The first time we used our dog-run to lock Lacy up for a few hours last year, I inadvertently forgot to secure the side-gate when I went back inside the house. At some point, she in her curiosity pushed it open and left the yard.

I went back outside some time later to check out the oddly-quiet side-yard and discovered the open gate and no dog. I ran back inside and within two minutes my wife and I were back outside calling for her and preparing to cruise the neighborhood looking for her.

Just as we were about to load up in the car, she came crawling out from behind our neighbor's car right next-door. She hadn't strayed more than 15 or 20-feet to our next-door neighbor's yard, for which we were very grateful!

I feel for the Pasillas'. Pets become family and no one want to lose family members.

Of like minds

(Or, Say it here and it happens there...again!)

The editorial board of the Arizona Republic appears to agree with me. We're likely to be right back here in a couple of months:

The senators used their signed agreement as a platform to "encourage" the president to consult with both Democratic and Republican senators prior to submitting any new judicial nominees. Obviously that recommendation commits President Bush to nothing. But as early as Tuesday morning several Democratic leaders were voicing their expectation that Bush should vet his nominees past their party's Senate leaders if he expects confirmation.

It seems their interpretation of "encourage" may be more dogmatic than Republicans see it. Regardless, the compromise appears to leave Democrats free to return to filibusters if the president's level of consultation fails to meet a vague threshold.

And since some people are saying that a Supreme Court nomination is a de-facto extraordinary circumstance...

Here's one she missed

Reasoned Audacity has been shining a light on the issue of women in combat for some time now. Here is an interesting case that she might have missed. A young Tucson woman was killed last month when her Humvee was blown up by a roadside IED. Her dad has some interesting things to say about it all.

In response to legislation passed in the House of Representatives, Mr. Huff says that his daughter would have opposed the legislation that calls for keeping women out of combat situations: Bob Huff, a retired Tucson police officer, said the legislation is wrong. His daughter enlisted and risked her life by choice, just like thousands of other men and women. Even if he could rewrite history so such a law was passed before April 17, he wouldn't."My daughter would come back and haunt me if I said otherwise," he said.

Later he adds the following: Bob Huff said his wife, Maggie Williams, served as an air-traffic controller with the Marine Corps in Vietnam, and he worked alongside "plenty of girls in the police department, who did a good job."

With all due respect to Mr. Huff, it isn't about the competency of your daughter Sam or any other woman in the Armed Forces. It's about how civilized societies treat their wives and daughters, their moms and sisters. While Charmaine has focused hard on the practical problems with women in combat and combat-support units, I will continue to point out the immorality inherent in subjecting women to the vagaries of combat.

Apparently I have nothing to worry about

If I believe Robert Kuttner in the Boston Globe, I have nothing to be upset much less concerned about in this Senate deal. Problem is, I'm not sure what universe Kuttner is writing in. This "analysis" of things so mis-states and misunderstands the conservative position that it's like reading a 5th-graders attempts at explaining Economic theory; he just isn't getting it.

Too harsh you say? Well, start with the headline: "Bush and Frist got what they wanted." Huh?! The explanation of the thesis becomes a conspiratorial exercise in deceit and underhanded politics:

By threatening what amounted to a parliamentary coup d'etat, Frist got nearly everything he wanted. A rules change requires a two-thirds vote. Frist's ''nuclear option" would have had the leadership rule from the chair that the filibuster can be scrapped for judicial nominees; then a simple majority of 51 senators would have upheld the parliamentary ruling. End of filibuster.

Faced with bad publicity for this show of crude force, several Republicans looked for a face-saver that would still preserve the substantive result -- confirmation of extremist nominees. They and Frist won. This was no mutiny against the Senate leader; it was merely a change of tactic.

I find this hard to swallow. For all the shouting about extreme extremists and their extremism (and this is a point made by others smarter than me or my dogs), the very fact that Dem leadership would allow any scenario where they win confirmation is telling, to say the least. It wasn't about the extremism, it was, among other things about establishing the precedent prior to the next SC nomination.

From here, Kuttner moves to a clarification of the compromise and what's coming next: What does the vaunted compromise actually do? First, it guarantees an up-or-down floor vote on three of the most reactionary judges ever to come before the Senate: Janice Rogers Brown, William Pryor, and Priscilla Owen. It was Democratic resistance to these appellate nominees that caused Frist to go nuclear in the first place. He and George W. Bush won. The three judges are now likely to be confirmed, and other extremist nominees will keep coming.

Second, the deal commits the GOP to relent on the plan to scrap the filibuster, but only for now. Frist is free to revive the nuclear option any time he likes, say, when the first Bush nominee to the Supreme Court comes before the Senate. Frist can hold this threat over the heads of Democrats, who are committed to minimize the use of filibusters.

I could almost believe that, but for the fact that we pretty much know for certain that at least 2 filibustered nominees are laying under the bus and one or more may be lying down a bit further up the road. Additionally, while Frist is not locked into anything through his own signature, this agreement explicitly ties the hands of at least 5 Republicans when it comes to any future rule change. The clarifications of Graham and DeWine not withstanding, I truly do not know how Kuttner misses this point.

As in any good piece of writing, the author saves his best for last: In the end, seven of the 55 Senate Republicans decided to pursue this ''compromise," leaving him two votes short. But if these Republicans were genuinely moderates, they would not just be providing this parliamentary fig leaf; they would be voting against confirmation of these extremist nominees when they come up for a floor vote.

If you want to look for profiles in courage, see whether ''moderate" Republicans like Susan Collins and Olympia Snowe of Maine, John McCain of Arizona, and Lincoln Chafee of Rhode Island actually oppose any of these nominees. For the most part, these people posture moderate and then do Bush's bidding.

You almost have to re-read that last line. "For the most part, these people posture moderate and then do Bush's bidding." Precisely. McCain was secretly acting as a Bush proxy when he co-sponsored the McCain-Feingold Campaign Finance reform legislation. Chafee was all about the Bush-agenda in his criticism's of- and votes on the war in Iraq. No doubt!

For the most part, these people posture moderate and then do Bush's bidding. I wish!

Turn out the lights...

The party's over. The Suns fell to 0-2 against the Spurs in the Western Conference Finals last night.

I fear for my city. From what I hear, the outwards signs of Sun-fever were more plentiful in 1993, but I have no doubt that this city is on the verge of something very, very bad. It's collective sports-psyche is about to be ruined, utterly.

There is so much emotion invested in this team and it's regular-season best 62-wins, that I fear the impending reality of their series loss to the Spurs will do serious harm. And make no mistake, they will not win this series:

Looking ahead
It's grim. The Suns have three days off before Game 3 to figure out how they can come back from losing the first two games at home. Only two teams have ever done that in a seven-game series.

Steven A. Smith on ESPN last night made it clear why. "The Suns will not win 4-out-of-5 from the Spurs. It is over!"

Generally I'm not a huge Smith fan, but to his credit he doesn't dither; he says what he means and means what he says, and in this instance I must agree.

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

Would too that it were true

There's a report floating around on-line that terrorist Abu Musab Al-Zarqawi may be injured:

Al-Qaida's branch in Iraq, blamed for numerous terror attacks on U.S. and Iraqi targets, said Tuesday in an Internet posting that its leader, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, had been wounded and called on supporters to pray for his recovery.The posting's authenticity could not be verified, but it was posted on a Web site known for carrying prior statements by al-Qaida in Iraq and other militant groups.

Please God, please!

Just when you think your money is safe...

Your trustees decide to change your 401(k) plan.


I've got lots of reading to do tonight...

Or maybe not

Galley Slaves makes a point. Just as one can argue the rightness of Bush's policies based on who it pisses off, one can make certain assumptions about this deal based on who likes it:

Sayeth Nancy Keenan, president of NARAL:

[we are] heartened that the crisis has been averted and the right to filibuster preserved for upcoming Supreme Court nominations. We are confident that a Supreme Court nominee who won’t even state a position on Roe v. Wade is the kind of "extraordinary circumstance" this deal envisions.

And the summary nails it on the head: If Democratic senators agree with Keenan then we have an answer to whether this was a deal or a capitulation on the part of Senate Republicans.

Precisely what I and others feared about any "agreement" to end filibusters. Orrin Hatch was right; they should have demolished this with a rule-change when all these shenanigans began.

Should we rethink the whole thing?

The closest thing to moderate Democrats going aren't thrilled with this deal either:

So a deal has been struck on the filibuster. Republicans will allow Democrats to keep the filibuster as long as Democrats never use it. This way, both sides win (except for the Democrats).

Once again, the Republicans have shown their skillfulness when it comes to resetting parameters. Until recently, the perception had been that Bush had consistently filled the courts with extreme conservatives, with only a handful of truly batty nominees failing to meet the standards of Democrats. Now, facing the threat of the "nuclear option," Democrats have backed down on these as well.

At the same time, some surprising folks to their left are also upset. Is anybody happy about this piece of junk?

Did anyone, aside from the facilitators, enablers and signatories get something they can live with?

Attack of the Pansies

You say it here and it happens there.

The Pansie caucus strikes again. Republican senators unwilling or unable to find a backbone have walked away from a party-vote on the filibuster. It's the usual suspects and you know the names:

Republicans: John McCain (AR), John Warner (VA), Mike DeWine (OH), Susan Collins (ME), Olympia Snowe (ME), Lindsey Graham (SC), Lincoln Chafee (RI).

The surprises in my mind, if you can call them that, are Lindsey Graham and Warner. As many are opining at Confirmthem, this is a horrible deal. Harry Reid not only gets his scalps but he also gets to keep the tomahawk tucked away for use on a future date.

Where was the leadership? Why were these 7 allowed to go so far off the reservation, thus undermining the position of the Senate Republicans as a whole? Bill Frist ought to be breaking legs today but that would require leadership and a spine, something sorely lacking in the Republican Majority.

Blog schedule

Not sure how much I'll be contributing through the end of the week. My aunt and cousin are in town and want to see it all. So I'll be bedraggled tour guide for much of the time. A nice respite comes on Saturday when we head out to the Bronx to catch the Sawxes and Yanks. But until then, I'll be sketchy on the blog front...

..the me you've come to know and love :)

A frivilous respite

Lifted from Sullivan's blog. British troops in Iraq doing the almost full-Monty. Fun stuff.

Hitchens is on Fire

Ridiculous British MP George Galloway garnered a lot of headlines with his strong showing against the in-over-his-head Norm Coleman last week. His sidestepping was an impressive gambit in responding to the charges of a neophyte. But a bit of history, some scotch, a backbone and a brain could easily have dressed him down for all the world to see. Unfortunately, Christopher Hitchens isn't a U.S. Senator. Moneymaker:

TO THIS DAY, George Galloway defiantly insists, as he did before the senators, that he has "never seen a barrel of oil, owned one, bought one, sold one, and neither has anybody on my behalf." As a Clintonian defense this has its admirable points: I myself have never seen a kilowatt, but I know that a barrel is also a unit and not an entity. For the rest, his defense would be more impressive if it answered any charge that has actually been made. Galloway is not supposed by anyone to have been an oil trader. He is asked, simply, to say what he knows about his chief fundraiser, nominee, and crony. And when asked this, he flatly declines to answer. We are therefore invited by him to assume that, having earlier acquired a justified reputation for loose bookkeeping in respect of "charities," he switched sides in Iraq, attached himself to a regime known for giving and receiving bribes, appointed a notorious middleman as his envoy, kept company with the corrupt inner circle of the Baath party, helped organize a vigorous campaign to retain that party in power, and was not a penny piece the better off for it. I think I believe this as readily as any other reasonable and objective person would. If you wish to pursue the matter with Galloway himself, you will have to find the unlisted number for his villa in Portugal.

I've said it before and I will say it again: The mysteries of Iraq, WMD, Curveball, France, Russia, UNSCOM-UNMOVIC will be revealed through the Oil-for-Food scandal. When all is said and done, it will likely occupy prime real estate on page D23 of the NYT, but it will be documented. Follow the money. Meanwhile, can we get someone with more gravitas to run the investigation than Norm Coleman????

Read this whole Hitchens piece and marvel. Like VDH, the guy knows his history and his analysis and skill are simply unavailable in most of the MSM.

Korangate continued.

Anne Applebaum nails it:

But surely the larger point is not the story itself but that it was so eminently plausible, in Pakistan, Afghanistan and everywhere else. And it was plausible precisely because interrogation techniques designed to be offensive to Muslims were used in Iraq and Guantanamo, as administration and military officials have also confirmed.

Straddling the line...or straying beyond the line of torture does us no good. None. The extracted information is dubious. The PR fallout counterproductive. The immorality unquestionable.

That America finds itself stripped of its democracy credentials at a time when 'democracy' is the tip of the foreign policy spear is utterly baffling.

Riddle me this?

What now? The death of Frank Gorshin leaves us all wondering.


Monday, May 23, 2005

I got a bad feeling about this...

Centrists from both parties reached a compromise Monday night to avoid a showdown on President Bush's stalled judicial nominees and the Senate's own filibuster rules, officials from both parties said.

Keith Thompson 1, Nattering Nabobs 0

Writer Keith Thompson bids farewell to his ideological brethren in this piece published yesterday in the San Francisco Chronicle. The money-quote (He gets right to it with this volley aimed straight between the eyes):

I'm leaving the left -- more precisely, the American cultural left and what it has become during our time together.

I choose this day for my departure because I can no longer abide the simpering voices of self-styled progressives -- people who once championed solidarity with oppressed populations everywhere -- reciting all the ways Iraq's democratic experiment might yet implode.

My estrangement hasn't happened overnight. Out of the corner of my eye I watched what was coming for more than three decades, yet refused to truly see. Now it's all too obvious. Leading voices in America's "peace" movement are actually cheering against self-determination for a long-suffering Third World country because they hate George W. Bush more than they love freedom.

Setting records

"It's like Africa-hot."

Clarifying the vetoes

I blogged Saturday on the vetoed bills that Governor Napolitano refused to sign as part of her budget deal with the Republican-led legislature. I stressed, or at least tried to, the nature of that deal as a "compromise":

Both parties knew this budget represented a compromise, and to see the Governor take what she got and slam the door on what she gave is beyond disappointing. When you compromise, you get part of what you want and you give part of what you don't want. Frankly, Janet looks like an Indian-giver.

The Republic printed a letter-to-the-editor yesterday from a member of the state legislature that explains and echoes those sentiments:

The Legislature agreed to many of the governor's personal demands, including all-day kindergarten expansion and funding for the downtown medical school. In exchange, the governor agreed to sign a bill creating corporate tuition tax credits. These credits would allow poor children to attend private schools on scholarship.

That was the deal. Each side got something they wanted and agreed to something they disliked. On Friday, the governor reneged on the deal by vetoing the corporate tuition tax credit bill with the claim that the bill was not exactly as she remembered the agreement.

This, even though her staff reviewed, made changes to, and ultimately approved the amendments to the bill. In fact, the governor's staff reviewed the amendments as many as six times prior to passage by the House and Senate. And while she vetoed the bills she disliked, the governor did not veto the bills passed by the Legislature that she favored.

It just smacks of opportunism and political betrayal. On the face of it, how do you now accept Janet at her word?

Hitch Parks One

I just love guys with great memories. Christopher Hitchens clobbers the NYT/MSM with this riff. Here's just one gem among many:

A letter from Zarqawi to Bin Laden more than a year ago, intercepted by Kurdish intelligence and since then well-authenticated, spoke of Shiism as a repulsive heresy and the ignition of a Sunni-Shiite civil war as the best and easiest way to thwart the Crusader-Zionist coalition. The actions since then have precisely followed the design, but the design has been forgotten by the journal of record. The Bin Laden and Zarqawi organizations, and their co-thinkers in other countries, have gone to great pains to announce, on several occasions, that they will win because they love death, while their enemies are so soft and degenerate that they prefer life. Are we supposed to think that they were just boasting when they said this? Their actions demonstrate it every day, and there are burned-out school buses and clinics and hospitals to prove it, as well as mosques (the incineration of which one might think to be a better subject for Islamic protest than a possibly desecrated Quran, in a prison where every inmate is automatically issued with one.)

The rest effectively demonstrates the vacuity of the Fundamentalists we're battling and their fellow travelers in the MSM of the West.

Governor Scream and the DNC chair

He is the voice and the face of the party (Heh!). Yesterday was one of his first appearances with the major talking-heads in DC. As such, it was greatly anticipated by some.

No major melt-downs or shrieking reduxes, but there was this. What Trey Jackson has called a slip-of-the-tongue:

Howard Dean on Meet the Press with Tim Russert made the following statement:

Dean: "But the thing that really bothered me the most, which the 9-11 Commission said also wasn't true, is the insinuation that the president continues to make to this day that Osama bin Laden had something to do with supporting terrorists that attacked the United States. That is false. The 9-11 Commission, chaired by a Republican, said it was false."

As Glenn Reynolds put it, "Sadaam, Osama, what's the difference?"

Indeed...who cares about accurate reporting of facts when there's President-hating to do!?

Captain Fabuloso's Cave of Hair

The state of Arizona wants to memorialize it's 'first lady,' Polly Rosenbaum who served in the state legislature for 45 years from 1949 to 1994. The State legislature last year voted to create a statue to memorialize the former legislator. The statue will stand in the Capitol rose garden.

But there's one little catch in all this, and for that the legislature has turned to the public for help:

The difficult part of the piece is capturing Rosenbaum's hairstyle. To assist the artist, the Arizona State Library, Archives and Public Records is holding a contest.

Hair stylists and cosmetology students around the state may enter by styling a customer's hair to look like Rosenbaum's.

VDH's Orientalism

Don't get my wrong, I LOVE Victor Davis Hanson. The guy is brilliant and his analysis of history is unparalleled. As a writer, there's nobody better these days. Always eloquent and always lucid.

But his analysis of Islamic Fundamentalism in light of Korangate strikes me as, well, Orientalist. Of course the Muslim world cannot claim the developmental successes we in the West can claim. However, to associate this with some sort of inherent cultural backwardness is to ignore the historical realities of the Middle East...and that's hard to imagine when it comes to VDH. But so be it.

You simply cannot blame Islam or ancient cultures for the "failure" to keep up with the Western Joneses. One needs to look at factors that are largely beyond the control of those cultures for insight as to why they have not evolved at the same pace as more developed regions of the world. Centuries of crusades, colonialism, proxy battles in the East-West struggle, artificially drawn borders and artificially-created despotic monarchies have done much to suppress development in the Middle East. We are talking about civilizations which gave rise to the pyramids, written communication, mathematics, etc. so it is hardly credible to suggest that these people have had nothing to contribute to say, a cell phone. If anything, we are standing upon THEIR shoulders. To argue anything else is, frankly, orientalist.

For a parallel that Hanson would understand, one need only look at Eastern Europe. Over a 300 year period, Poland was partitioned three times and invaded by armies from Prussia, Russia, France and Austria-Hungary. Much of the rest of the region was victim to ongoing wars not of their making and suffered from seemingly continual re-drawing of borders. Comprised of numerous ethnicities with no natural affiliations, the region was artificially drawn together by both the Austrians and the Ottomans and later the communists. The peoples of the region suffered under the most brutal of hatreds, in which every effort was made to make them less Hungarian, less Czech, less Polish, less Romanian, less Serb, less Montenegrin and more Austrian or Turkish. Religious and language identities were imposed and every effort was made to make them subjects rather than partners.

And yet, prior to WWII, the artificial geographical expression known as "Czechoslovakia" had the second highest standard of living in Europe behind Switzerland. And then communism and Soviet domination ensued. Is it any wonder, then, that the Czechs have not been among the historical leaders in technology development since WWII? Are we really surprised that a United States which has not had the same constraints is a technical leader while the Czechs lag behind? And what do we see happening in the Czech Republic since 1989? Growing technology and an increasingly skilled workforce.

So again, is it any wonder that Egypt isn't the source of leading Internet technologies? Hanson's analysis seems to me terribly misguided. True enough, there has been terrible "mismanagement" of regional resources over centuries. But to what extent is that the fault of Muslim moderates? To what extent is that the fault of corrupt leaders like the Shah of Iran, Saddam, Assad, Arafat, and Khaddafi? To what extent do global powers like Britain, the US, the Soviets/Russians, Germans, French, etc. bear responsibility?

I'm sorry, but it's just not as simple as Hanson would have us believe.

Obligatory Friars Post

After dropping two of three to the M's at Safeco this weekend, my Padres have dropped a half game behind the Snakes as they head to Phoenix for a battle for first place this week (please note that the Dodgers are not involved in said battle for divisional lead).

The weekend series in Seattle was disheartening because it marked the end of San Diego's eight game win-streak. The Padres only managed a win with Peavy on the mound. He blew away 10 M's on Friday night. The kid now has 71 K's on the season and just looks dominant. But the Pads were unable to get it done at the plate despite decent starts by BLaw and Stauffer (whom I would have written about last week, but for fear of him being snapped up by you-know-who in our fantasy league. Nevermind, someone else nabbed him. But just goes to show you that you really can't expect complete transparency in my baseball analyses. Sorry, I have my priorities.)

In watching the series, I also have to give the Mariners credit. Aaron Sele pitched a helluva game yesterday and Richie Sexson, Adrian Beltre (yes, him), and particularly Ichiro flashed some damn impressive leather. On various plays, they probably saved 7 runs over the weekend. Give 'em credit.

On to PHX.

Hat Tip

Well, the results are in and Paul beat me 5-4 in fantasy baseball this week. Blech. A bitter pill to swallow, as I'd been leading all week. So props to the man who made best use of his Rally Monkey.

My team continues to suffer with injuries. Mark Loretta injured his thumb on Wednesday and hasn't played since. He also refuses to go on the DL. I picked up Freel to replace him, but now he has a back injury. Guillermo Mota's still on my DL along with Barry Bonds (motherfather). And now I learn that Odalis Perez is looking at a DL stint. Meanwhile, Lance Berkman has yet to start hitting since his return from surgery. If I could get everyone but Barroid healthy, I'd feel pretty solid about my club. I'm just hoping to hang in there until mid-season, get everyone healthy and then make the late season push.

Saturday, May 21, 2005

"The Governor lied to me."

So says Arizona state-house speaker Jim Weiers in response to the Governor's vetoes of select bills negotiated as part of this month's budget deal. Friday, the Governor was to sign the budget bills but she chose to veto 4 of them including the education tax-credit bill on which hinged the entire deal for state Republicans:

An angry Jim Weiers, the House speaker who worked with Napolitano to break the budget impasse, wrote, "There is only one way to put this: 'The governor lied to me.' "

He and other Republican legislative leaders believed that in exchange for allowing the governor to expand her all-day kindergarten program she would give the go-ahead for the tax credit that would allow companies to get tax relief for donating money for scholarships in private schools.

The Governor's version of events is that other components of the agreement fell through when Republican legislator's pushed through education bills that differed from what she asked for: Napolitano pinned the blame for the veto on Republicans, saying they broke the deal when they ignored Democrats during negotiations on a bill designed to help students who struggle to learn English. She vetoed that bill as well."Part of our agreement was that they would reach a bipartisan agreement on English-language instruction," Napolitano said. "They did not."She also wanted the tuition tax-credit plan to end after five years; the Republicans ended up pushing through legislation that called only for a review at the end of the five years.

Both parties knew this budget represented a compromise, and to see the Governor take what she got and slam the door on what she gave is beyond dissapointing. When you compromise, you get part of what you want and you give part of what you don't want. Frankly, Janet looks like an Indian-giver.

Her number-1 stated priority in the budget was the all-day kindergarten funding, and she got it. All of it. In return, she agreed to a modified-version of what Republicans had asked for in the education bills. And both parties agreed to it, happily:

Just two weeks ago, both sides were smiling after shaking hands on a "bipartisan budget." Napolitano had agreed to the school-choice measure in exchange for $17 million to expand all-day kindergarten, $7 million for first-year funding for a downtown Phoenix medical school and a host of other spending increases for children and families. The creation of corporate-tax credits for businesses that donate to private-school scholarship funds would have been capped at $5 million for the next five years.

Her explanations aside, to conservatives the perception is and will be that she went back on her deal: Sidney Hay of the Alliance for School Choice said Napolitano's credibility is on the line."Are we confident? Can we trust her after she went back on her word?" Hay asked. "It's sad when you can't trust the leader of your state to keep her word."

I wrote just Thursday about how I, despite my strong conservative stances on issues, had not been given any good reason to blind-vote Republican in the '06 Governor's race. Perhaps I just spoke too soon.

While we're on the subject...

While we're on the subject of reductive orientalism, lets take a gander at Victor Davis Hanson's latest offering at NRO. I hope it doesn't get posted at ESPN by any of our intrepid young conservatives; if so, they're gonna get ripped, and ripped big-time. Consider:

Yet there is something far more to these bizarre events than mere "interconnectedness," or even media-savvy fundamentalists who have got the hang of Western telecommunications and know how to use them to stir up the mob.

There is not a necessary connection in the Middle East — or anywhere else — between the occasional appearance of technological sophistication and what we might call humanism, or the commitment to explain phenomena through reason and empiricism. We forget that far too often as we kow-tow to extremists and seek to apologize or fathom the holy protocols surrounding a religious text.

In the West, the wonder of a cell phone in some sense is the ultimate expression of a long struggle for the primacy of scientific reason, tolerance, critical consciousness, and free expression. That intellectual journey goes back to Galileo, Newton, and Socrates.

Everything from CDs to Starbucks that we take for granted is a representation of millions of past Western lives. These forgotten scientists, inventors, and entrepreneurs, along with other reformers in politics, journalism, economics, and religion, created our present liberal environment. Only its institutions led to our prosperous modernity.


That long odyssey is not so in the world of bin Laden or an Iranian theocrat — or the ignorant who stream out of the madrassas and Friday fundamentalist harangues along the Afghan-Pakistani border. These fist-shaking, flag-burning Islamic fascists all came late to the Western tradition and now cherry-pick its technology. As classic parasites, a Zawahiri or al-Zarqawi wants Western sophisticated weapons and playthings — without the bothersome foundations that made them all possible.

An Afghan who riots because he learns of a rumor in a Western magazine, and those like him who explode and behead in Iraq, are emblematic of this hypocrisy. Nothing they have accomplished in their lives, either materially or philosophically, would result in a free opinion magazine, much less the technology to send out the story instantaneously — or, in the case of al-Zarqawi, to have his murdering transmitted globally on the Internet.

Instead, our Afghan rioters, and the Islamist organizations that have endorsed them, live in the eighth century of rumor, sexual and religious intolerance, tribal chauvinism, and gratuitous violence — but now electrified by the veneer of the 21st-century civilization that is not their own, but sometimes fools the naïve that it is.

With a cursory reading (and that's all it will get at ESPN), my first impression is a picture of cultural--not just personal--ignorance hidden beneath, as Hanson describes it, a "21st-century" polish. That kind of thinking doesn't go down well at the ever-tolerant ESPN boards. All cultures, after all, have intrinsic value and none ought to be valued more than another for any reason. Even the ones that tell us that upholding religious values justifies killing innocent citizens in your own country.

A more in-depth reading takes it a bit deeper: Despite cheap, accessible, and easy-to-operate consumer goods imported from the Westernized world, the thinking of a bin Laden or Muslim Brotherhood still leads back to swords, horses, and jihad, not ahead to iPods and Microsoft.

They want such things to use to destroy, but not along with them the institutions like democracy and freedom that would allow such progress in their own countries — and shortly make al Qaeda and the fundamentalists not merely irrelevant, but ridiculous as well. Thus, we can understand the increasing hatred of the United States and its policy of democratic idealism abroad that threatens to put them out of business.

As we learned on September 11, they try to kill us now with our own appurtenances before they are buried themselves under modernism, liberality, and freedom. That really is what this war is about: a last-ditch effort by primordial fascists to prevent the liberalization of the Muslim world and the union of Islamic society with the protocols found in the rest of the globe and which many in the Middle East prefer if given a chance.

As a military-historian and professor of classics, Hanson can get away with such declarations. Whereas a Sim or myself would get slapped down quickly for our prejudiced views of Muslim culture. Hanson's point is simple though; the 19 hijackers were well-to-do Arab Muslims. 19 well-to-do Arab Muslims that despite the finery they exhibited on the outside, were corrupted by the "swords, horses and jihad," that corrupts the Sheikh himself. Even the best the culture can offer is tainted by something poisonous.

Ultimately Hanson draws it all together in his close, after a discussion of self-loathing in Las Vegas:

Abroad, we battle Islamic fascists who hate us for our success and want to kill us with the tools of the modern world they despise. But at home, we are also at odds with our own privileged guilt-ridden aristocracy, whose very munificence has made them misunderstand why they are hated.

The Islamists insist, "We kill you for being soft." Westerners in response feel, "We are killed because we are not being soft enough."

And so they riot and kill in Afghanistan over a stupid rumor, and we seek to apologize that it somehow spread.

How truly sad.

Such reductive orientalism doesn't go down well at the bastion of tolerance known as ESPN. As for Sim and I, who knows where this might take the discussion, as it was published the same day as this tale of dictators and underpants.

Friday, May 20, 2005

Foolishness on Parade (Or another bad analogy gone horribly wrong)

I had lots of time to sit around and read today. Hours and hours in fact, so I did what I rarely get the opportunity for; went through the paper front-to-back. And there I saw it, like a gift from God.

A letter to the editor, as if written by Indra Nooyi herself. Or maybe some woman trying to channel Indra Nooyi. While the Republic had the right to publish her name, I will not include it with the text--she gave them permission to publish her but she has not given me permission to scoff publicly.

Here, quoted in all it's brilliance is what was on her mind as she considered the opening of the new Star Wars film:

Emperor George bellows from 1600 Pennsylvania Ave.: "If you're not with us, you're against us!" and lies to start wars.

Darth Vader Dick instills fear while cloaking his Imperial lust for power, oil and Halliburton profits.

The Imperial Mainstream Media responds: "We're with you, sires! WE'll cover up your crimes with shoot-the-messenger (Newsweek, Dan Rather) stories, the Michael Jackson circus and runaway-bride trivia!"

The Death Star of destruction, violence and terror continues around the world, making the Empire hated everywhere except in the hearts of its Imperial believers, who are convinced they are on a holy crusade.

The Imperial senators seek to dismantle the last shreds of democracy and social justice with their one-party powers.

When will the Force rise up in rebellion? Where are the rebel leaders when we need them most?

It's so bad it belies any sort of analysis. She took every liberal activist's talking points of the last 2 years, mushed it together with a mangled take on Lucas' universe and...voila!

As for the rebel leaders she so desperately yearns for, they're out there...numerous, strong and organized. Sadly, for her and for their own cause, they are also shrill, inept and ineffective.

If Luke, Lea and Chewie had been this incompetent, they'd still be looking for a way out of the garbage chute.

This is why...

A few weeks ago I lamented about how and why we bother to refer to medicine as 'science.' Well, today is why.

As I mentioned before, my wife had surgery today. The procedure in question is fairly common and not all that involved, but even so...

she was done in less than 40 minutes and at one point considering whether or not she'd come home with me rather than stay overnight at the hospital!

In the end, it was decided that she'd stay and so as we speak she is sleeping it all off, waiting the chance to come home tomorrow. When my mother had this same surgery in the 60's, she was out of commission for nearly two weeks.

All that to say, the surgery was a smashing success with nary a complication! God is good, all the time!

Thursday, May 19, 2005

Talk to the Thumb!

With all due respect to PepsiCo CFO Indra Nooyi's ability to make money, she doesn't know a thing about anthropology. It's not about the fingers, even the middle finger, it's all about the thumb.

Without an opposable thumb we're no better off than a monkey in a tree or either of my dogs pawing at their rawhide but unable to grasp it. Smarter, yes, but no better off.

A horribly un-informed analogy. If I can learn this basic truth from the likes of Hawkeye Pierce, what is her excuse?

Can't make any promises

About blogging anyway. My wife has surgery tomorrow afternoon, and while it is a fairly-routine and simple procedure (99.9% certain it will be performed laproscopicly), there is simply no telling how much recovery time she'll need. And of course that means changes for both our schedules.

At the same time work has reared it's ugly head again, and so the blogfest's of yesterday and Tuesday aren't likely to continue today. Combine that with personal issues at home and we have a sort of Perfect Non-blogging Storm.

Assuming that Sim will be popping in and out, I leave you in eminently capable hands. At the very least tomorrow I'll make the effort to at least give a basic status report about the surgery.

Update: Alternative hypothesis for any non-blogging over the weekend. I might be dead...

She is smart, I'll give her that!

Napolitano avoids Dean during Phoenix visit

And wisely so:

The Democratic governor has thrived politically in Republican-oriented Arizona by appealing to moderate voters and portraying herself as a pro-business, centrist. Napolitano is up for re-election next year and could face a challenge from U.S. Surgeon General Richard Carmona or Marilyn Quayle, the wife of former vice president Dan Quayle.

The governor has avoided getting mixed in with the more left-wing, Michael Moore/MoveOn factions of the Democratic Party. Napolitano did not endorse Dean or another Democratic presidential hopeful last year until after Sen. John Kerry won the Arizona primary and had essentially secured the nomination.

Dean rallied Democratic partisans during his Phoenix visit on Wednesday, trying to boost their spirits after Bush and the GOP carried the state in November. The DNC chair has visited a number of GOP "red states" since taking over as party chief executive earlier this year.
The DNC chair advocated universal health coverage and criticized the Bush administration for proposed Social Security privatization, budget deficits and tax cuts for the wealthy.

Dean called the GOP a "corrupt party' but lauded Republican Sen. John McCain for opposing conservative efforts to chain Senate filibuster rules in order to get votes on Bush judicial nominees.

In this state he'd get her killed. Figuratively speaking.

The GOP doesn't have a candidate yet for '06 and there are folks like me, staunchly conservative and inclined to vote Republican but who also have no reason to actively dislike Napolitano. Seeing her holding hands on-stage with the likes of Governor Scream would give GOP voters like me a reason to blind-vote Republican in year-and-a-half.

She's no dummy.

Still a bad day to be Andrew Sullivan

Expatriate Brit's taking it on the chin today:

Give me a break!

Andrew Sullivan is Mrs. Anakin Skywalker

As Mickey Kaus has noted, Andrew can be excitable.


I've suggested in the past that Sullivan would be more persuasive in a cause with which I actually agree (I've long been anti-torture, after all) if he displayed more rigor and didn't turn the volume to "11."

Another day, another disagreement.

Can the Republic survive?

Glenn Reynolds agrees with Kos. But before anybody has a heart attack, it's not a political matter, per se. That would just be...well, a mind-bender of the highest order!

How much do we directly affect?

Sim expounds on reductive orientalism, and offers a clear explanation of where/how he might differ with me (if at all) on the issue of muslim hate, where it comes from and how to deal with it.

While I understand why we would want to better police our behaviors and better articulate our messages as Sim suggests, at the end of the day I wonder just how much of an effect we can have in that regard. Ultimately, what he so wants to see is some fundamental changes in Muslim nations. Question is, how much of that do we directly affect?

Short of more conflicts like Iraq, how do we change the way the governments of Iran, Jordan, Egypt or even Saudi Arabia work? Syria and Lebanon offer some hope that the "example" of Iraq might be enough to prompt some change from the inside, but still the question remains: How much do we directly affect this?

More importantly, how can we directly affect the behavior of the madrassas and the clerics who live off the 'proof points' as Sim refers to them? Consider the following hypothetical.

We give Osama Bin Laden what he asked for when he published his 1998 fatwa, the original call to arms against the United States. Would the jihad end?

I for one think not. And if acting in response to the direct request of jihad's de-facto leader weren't to get us any closer to the desired response (credit for what we do right vis-a-vis Muslims), will ensuring that Koran-gate and Abu Ghraib have no sequels garner us any of that desired response?

And in reference to Abu Ghraib directly, I don't know if Sim has read Heather McDonald's City-Journal piece. For me, the greatest service performed there is drawing the distinction between the infamous torture-narrative and what the actual policies were and have become in response to the Abu Ghraib photos.

She also points out how we backed away from techniques that were working in response to the bad press. To me, that's an overreaction. A bad overreaction that earns us no goodwill and neither helps us obtain information. Simply not a good combo.

As to accountability, I don't believe that Sim was one who agreed with the torture-as-policy assessment and the attendant clamor for the head of Rumsfeld and Gonzalez et al. The courts-martial proceedings of Private Graner, Ms. England and in fact every other soldier to date has substantiated the belief that Abu Ghraib was a result of a select few service members left to themselves without appropriate discipline or leadership. That being the case, I'd wonder what is to be done aside from the action already taken against General Karpinski as the responsible officer.

All of which takes us back to the starting point, namely what do we do?

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Reductive Orientalism Explored

No, Paul, you're not a reductive orientalist. But I think that this is a very complicated issue which needs deeper thought by those both smarter and at higher pay-grades than our own.

As a theroretical construct, you are absolutely right. Why should we, at the end of the day, really concern ourselves with Osama bin Laden's perverse and petulant rationales for waging jihad against America? He and his jihadis have all the proof that they need and are fanatical and deluded enough to kill as many Americans and westerners as they possibly can. There is nothing that can be done about these people. We cannot change their minds and we cannot negotiate with them. We cannot prevail upon them to eventually give up on their twisted missions. With these people, all we can hope to do is apprehend or kill as many of them as possible and hope that we achieve those objectives before they kill any of us.

But as a practical matter, the real battle is not being waged against Osama himself. The real battle is being waged against Osama and Islamic fascists for the hearts and minds of moderate Muslims. The strategy, is in part, to avoid providing our enemies with incendiary "proof points" which can be used to substantiate their outrageous claims. While this sounds easy enough, it is not.

Consider our relationship with Israel and our role in "mediating" Middle East peace. Consider the abuses at Abu Ghraib and the verified violations at Guantanamo and elsewhere. Consider the inexplicable policy of "rendition" and how the United States suddenly finds itself comfortable with torture. Consider our relationships with the governments of Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and Egypt. Consider the failure to find WMD in Iraq and the elaborate conspiracy theories which have emerged to explain the "real reasons." Consider the freedom of our press and the proliferation of Internet outlets which allow such conspiracy theories to gain traction worldwide. Consider "friends and allies" in the Middle East (and around the globe) who seek to deflect the attention of domestic populations from their own shortcomings by leveraging state-run medias and "useful idiots" to impugn U.S. motives. And consider our own government's inability to properly articulate our positions or get serious about conducting effective public diplomacy initiatives.

When viewed through this lens, is it then surprising that increasing numbers of moderate Muslims view Bush's democracy rhetoric with great skepticism? When one considers the widespread illiteracy in that part of the world and the role that word-of-mouth plays in proliferating the angry rantings of fanatical mullahs, is it any wonder that stories about the desecration of holy books find purchase among the masses? How can one expect policy "nuances" like our support for Israel and $2B a year to Egypt to resonate with moderates in the region? When we straddle the line on torture, whether indirectly by not holding senior-level officials accountable for Abu Ghraib or directly indirect via rendition, can we really expect Islamic fundamentalists to discount the word of Newsweek? Let's face it, through word and deed, we have made our bed. Abu Ghraib stripped us of many of our democracy credentials. Nevermind that it was childs play in comparison to My Lai , it was captured on hundreds of photos disseminated via the Internet and it stands in direct opposition to our proclaimed ideals of spreading freedom and democracy. While those in the Middle East aren't generally familiar with the accountability of democratic systems, we also aren't showing them much, either.

So, yes, actually we do have to bend over backwards and swim the "broad symbolic ocean" if we are to compete for the hearts and minds of those in the Muslim world who aren't already too far gone. Pete Peterson's work in the area of public diplomacy has not been adopted quickly enough by this administration. And not enough effort has been made to clarify our policy vis-a-vis Israel and despotic regimes in the region. Only by increasing the transparency, reaching out via public diplomacy and showing accountability when we goof, will we have any hope of developing credibility with moderate Muslims. In the meantime, we must also be aware that our fumbles have set us back. And therefore, it is incumbent upon us to go the extra mile.

Former Presidents and the freedom to speak

Seems to me that freedom from campaigning means that ex-presidents have a liberty to speak candidly that those still serving can only dream about. Which brings us to comments from former-president Bill Clinton.

"There is no point living in the past," Clinton said. "Look at where we are now. Everyone, all freedom-loving people would be better off with a genuinely representative, effective, free government in Iraq whatever your feelings are about what went on before."

  1. Had he exhibited this much sense while he was President, I'd have a much different view of him and his presidency.
  2. Like Pejman said, would it be too much to ask to see someone take that message to the Democrats?


In the arms of an angel

"This is the last call for Officer David Uribe, Number 4276," a dispatcher said over the police radio.

Continuing conversation

With Sim's post still ringing in my ears, I offer you this from NRO's Jonah Goldberg. To borrow-from-Sim-who-borrowed-from-Andrew, the moneyquote (as far as I'm concerned):

I don't know how to read the minds of Islamist fanatics, but it seems to me they have all the excuses in the world they'll ever need to hate us. Osama bin Laden says the Crusades are reason enough. When he blew up that train in Spain, he said it was partly out of a desire to avenge the taking of Andalusia-- i.e. Muslim Spain in the 15th century. At some point you need to start saying, "Who cares what makes these people angry?" As Mark Steyn put it beautifully during the whole "blame the Crusades" moment:

Shortly after Pearl Harbor, the Japanese took Tarawa in the Gilbert Islands and arrested 22 British watchkeepers. The following year, they tied them to trees, beheaded them, and burned their bodies in a pit. You won't find that in the Geneva Convention. The Japanese fought a filthy war, but here we are less than 60 years later, and Britain and Japan sit side by side at G-7 meetings. If America is really "paying for" events that occurred seven centuries before the Republic's founding, then that's the Muslim world's problem, not ours.

Precisely. How do you measure this? Can you, really? I mean, does someone saying to you, "I hate you plus 10," mean more than they're simply saying, "I hate you!"...?

The point is, and always has been, that a select number of people hate us. We can quibble about exactly how many they are and what sub-segment and percentage of the Islamic population they represent but that is all a side-show to the main event.

They've taken their hate to the farthest extreme possible, taking up arms and killing. While we ought not go out of our way to exacerbate the problem, I don't think we ought likewise, go out of our way to tip-toe around it all as if we can somehow, magically, shove that big-fat genie back into the teeny-tiny bottle.

As an aside, I ask you a question Sim since I know you're an expert on this topic: Does such a view make me a reductive orientalist?

Update: Friars Late Inning Stats

Updating a point from yesterday's analysis of San Diego's late inning numbers, Tim Sullivan of the San Diego Union Tribune identifies the key stats. San Diego has outscored opponents 86-28 from the seventh inning on. That speaks to a combination of confident, patient hitters and a tremendous bullpen.

Korangate: Who lied? How many died?

I was going to do my own analysis of 'Korangate,' but stumbled across Joe Gandleman's breakdown which includes a number of links and a pretty balanced view of the issues. Moneyquote:

On the other hand, Newsweek notes in its second report that Al Qaeda operatives are supposed to make allegations that inflame passions: It quoted a U.S. military spokesman, Army Col. Brad Blackner, as saying: "If you read the Al Qaeda training manual, they are trained to make allegations against the infidels.." Did Newsweek's investigative reporters learn in their digging about this Al Qaeda tactic? Why wasn't that noted in the original report? They could have still made the allegation and balanced it with the tidbit that Al Qaeda operatives are supposed to make allegations and perhaps have avoided this.That would have been truly effective CYA. Right now it would seem that the A needs a corporate spanking.

Overall, the issue here isn't just that Newsweek got it wrong. The issue is why Muslims are so prepared to believe such accusations. Let that one percolate for awhile.

The Manchurian Candidate

(Or how I mangled a classic)

Last year I was looking forward to seeing Jonathan Demme's remake of The Manchurian Candidate. Then people started reviewing it and it became obvious that something was being lost in translation, so we saved our dimes.

Saturday night we grabbed three titles at Blockbuster; Manchurian was one of them (the bad-movie annoyance quotient is exponentially smaller for rentals). We watched it last night.

If you ignore the pseudo-Halliburton uber-conspiracies, it's actually pretty entertaining. Better acting than the original, though nobody can replace Frank Sinatra for sheer moxie. Interesting plot tweaks--aside from the evil corporation supplanting the evil communists--with making Sgt. Shaw the political candidate.

I was pleasantly surprised. Didn't hate it like I thought I would; in fact, I kinda liked it.

'Comeback Kids' do it again!

Like the Phoenix rising from the ashes! Like Bill Clinton in New Hampshire! Like....I dunno what. But last night the Padres did it again. It's been an amazing run. Six straight. Fifteen of eighteen. I know June is just around the corner, but please permit me a little gloating.

On a side note, one of the joys of staying up late on the East Coast to watch West Coast baseball is dozing off in the 5th inning with the good guys down 1-0, only to wake up to the din of Petco rowdiness just as Khalil Greene plops the game winning hit into left-center...

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

If that's a retraction, imagine what the hit-piece looks like!

Alright, I'm embellishing some but Charmaine didn't take too well to Newsweek's 'retraction' of it's desecrated-Koran story yesterday. She makes a good case that what we read and heard from them yesterday isn't so much a retraction but a retrenchment hidden behind an apology.

Read it and draw your conclusions as to how convincing an argument it is. I immediately noticed her reference to Heather McDonald's piece from City-Journal published earlier this year. It is, hands down, the best refutation of any and all the conspiracy-as-policy theories that we suffered through last year about Abu Ghraib.

I am still struck--as I was when I first read it--at the disconnect that exists between the picture that gets painted of policy and procedure by interrogators involved with such and the musings of Uncle Sy and the like:

A master narrative-call it the "torture narrative"-sprang up: the government's 2002 decision to deny Geneva-convention status to al-Qaida fighters, it held, "led directly to the abuse of detainees in Afghanistan and Iraq," to quote the Washington Post. In particular, torturous interrogation methods, developed at Guantánamo Bay and Afghanistan in illegal disregard of Geneva protections, migrated to Abu Ghraib and were manifest in the abuse photos.

This story's success depends on the reader's remaining ignorant of the actual interrogation techniques promulgated in the war on terror. Not only were they light years from real torture and hedged around with bureaucratic safeguards, but they had nothing to do with the Abu Ghraib anarchy. Moreover, the decision on the Geneva conventions was irrelevant to interrogation practices in Iraq.

McDonald goes on to recount exactly what the safeguards were, what the actual policies were and what did/didn't work to extract information from combatants and suspected terrorists. Furthermore, the US Armed Forces own dealings in the matter counter the conspiratorial musings.

The courts-martial proceedings of Charles Graner and Lyndie England, and frankly every other soldier involved with the abuses at Abu Ghraib, continue putting the lie to the torture narrative. While allegations similar to what Newsweek mentioned have floated around for years now, it is wise to consider something before drawing any conclusions.

As Jack Shafer points out in Slate yesterday: Could it be that the Gitmo prisoners lied or exaggerated about the Quran story, pushing forward the most outrageous meme in their inventory, and that their inflated charges percolated up to Newsweek? The Abu Ghraib photos and reports from various U.S. military lock-downs around the world should prepare us for the possibility that U.S. handlers committed such sacrilege. But if the original source of the allegations turns out to be prisoners, we might want to view their charges with the same doubts we apply to any testimonies about prisons from prisoners.

It is entirely possible that the conduct alleged did in fact occur, and that is why it bears investigation. But this predilection for trusting anonymous sources over and over with the assumption that it is always appropriate to dis-believe everything you hear from your government is damaging. Damaging to the nation's effort to win a war and damaging to the credibility of the press operation it burns.

Yet they don't learn. As Charmaine points out in making her primary point: [From Newsweek] More allegations, credible or not, are sure to come. Bader Zaman Bader, . . .claims, as the inmates' latrines were being emptied, a U.S. soldier threw in a Qur'an. After the inmates screamed and protested, a U.S. commander apologized. Bader says he still has nightmares about the incident...

Essentially, what they are saying is: "Well, our source at the Pentagon was wrong about the Koran desecration coming out in their own internal investigation, buuuuutttt, it really is happening anyway.

It's fake but accurate all over again.


Yesterday marked the 25th anniversary of Magic Johnson's magical game-6 performance in the 1980 NBA Finals against the Philadelphia 76ers. I'm old.

I watched that game as a 14-year old in awe, as I had done all season long, of Magic's talent and intensity. It started with his opening-night dish to Kareem for the winning sky-hook against the-then San Diego Clippers which resulted in the now-famous clip of Magic jumping into Kareem's arms to celebrate, and culminated in the 42-point, 15-rebound, 7-assist game-6 masterpiece.

When discussed relative to some of what we've seen in the years since, it begins to seem somewhat less fantastic. Afterall, later in the 80's we saw a baby-faced Michael Jordan score 63 against the Celtics, Dominique Wilkins and Larry Bird score at will in the Eastern Conference Semi's, and Isiah's 25-pt 4th quarter against the Lakers in another game-6 dandy.

In the 90's, it was all-Jordan, all-the-time; six three-pointers in one-half against Portland in game-1 of the 92 finals, the flu-game against the Jazz, and his game-6 winner in 98.

Magic did it first. Not that there weren't great playoff performances before 1980, because there were. But in the 1980's and 90's, these things became more common, nay even expected.

But the enchanted Golden Age that culminated with Michael Jordan's 6th NBA title started with the rookie sensations of '79; Magic Johnson and Larry Bird (I still wonder how Bird won Rookie of the Year over Magic that season). Magic's game-6 tour-de-force was the first of many, many amazing playoff performances that elevated the game to new heights of excellence and popularity both.

This old sports fan remembers it like it was just last week.

Veni Vidi Vicente

What to make of this flap over Mexican President Vicente Fox's recent remarks in Puerto Vallarta? Frankly, I'm not sure.

During a question-and-answer period with U.S. food producers on May 13, Fox decried the American crackdown on illegal immigration by saying,

"There's no doubt that Mexican men and women--full of dignity, willpower and a capacity for work--are doing the work that not even blacks want to do in the United States."

While there's no doubt that Fox scored a perfect 10 on the Dumb-O-Meter (TM) with this utterance, what does it really mean? And what to make of yesterday's obligatory apology and phone calls with Reverend Al and Jesse Jackson?

I think there is a kernel of truth in the notion of Mexican illegals taking jobs which many Americans wouldn't accept, but I am not sure whether this is a racially-driven issue in any sense whatsoever. Moreover, there is something deeply disconcerting about Fox saying that illegals take jobs that "even" blacks would not accept. I'm hopeful that it was just a poor choice of words by someone speaking English as a second language rather than a racist overtone. In fact, emphasis on one non-epithet word shouldn't generally rise to the level of racist-indicator, which in our society it is all too-frequently.

I guess what I find more troubling is Fox's seeming detachment from the notion of legal immigration. While Fox's musings on who takes what jobs is effectively accurate, it certainly shouldn't mean that illegal immigration should be tolerated. Just because Mexican illegals will accept these jobs, it doesn't mean that they should. Just because someone can do something doesn't make it alright. When one considers that illegal immigrants also represent free-rider costs and strains on everything from education to healthcare to auto insurance and national security, it's not all for the good. It seems to me that this should be our deeper concern about Fox's statement.

That notwithstanding, Fox's real PR blunder was in even going there. Now he finds himself being called on the carpet by the Twin Towers of Stupidity, Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson. Talk about putrid, marginalized figures! First of all, how on earth does Al Sharpton have any credibility after his pompadour, sweatsuit, Tawana Brawley days? How does this man find himself on a stage with Democratic presidential candidates? Why is Vicente Fox accountable to him? Admittedly, dude can talk and sometimes even speaks some wicked truths. But come on. Of course Jesse's got more credibility, but not much.

But why is Fox consorting with and apologizing to these opportunists and not...oh...Condeleeza Rice? Harold Ford, Jr.? Barack Obama? Because it's a sham. And we see this in Jesse's statement that he's "sure" Fox had no racist intent. One wonders if he would have given Trent Lott such a free pass? Of course not, because Jackson's only real credibility among power players is on the international stage. Nothing to be gained from defending a white, domestic conservative. But when it comes to the president of Mexico, you can be sure that Jesse sees future chips that could be called in. In fact, in the Chicago Tribune article he even suggests a meeting with Fox. It's one thing to watch this crap played-out here domestically and watch it further divide our nation. But it's quite another to watch it get sustenance internationally. No shame.

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