Friday, March 31, 2006

And I thought it would be the World Baseball Classic

Headline in The Onion: "Steinbrenner Names Johnny Damon As New Yankee Scapegoat."

Three cheers for predictably liberal columns by E&P's editor

Editor & Publisher's editor, Greg Mitchell, wrote a piece yesterday showing just the sort of "unbiased" analysis that makes E&P, according to its mission statement, "the authoritative journal covering all aspects of the North American newspaper industry." And I applaud E&P for running it.

In the piece, Mitchell attacks Washington Post columnist Richard Cohen for a piece Cohen wrote three years ago. Apparently Mitchell approved of a piece Cohen wrote this week ("Bush Wanted War"), but it reminded him of a more hawkish Cohen column of several years ago. So Mitchell took the opportunity to lay into Cohen:
That’s all well and good, but where was Cohen a little more than three years ago, when this fact was as plain as the smirk on the president’s face, and the columnist agitated for war anyway?

If there was an “I’m sorry for being so stupid” embedded in Cohen’s column I didn’t spot it.
This piece of "unbiased" analysis comes from E&P's editor, no less.

While I'm not generally inclined to agree with Mitchell's politics--if his point of view isn't apparent from the excerpt above, skim some of his prior columns; you'll get the idea quickly--I find his column a helpful tool in understanding the biases behind the E&P leadership.

Indeed I think it would be helpful if all supposedly unbiased journals made the biases of their leadership known. (In fact I've been quite critical when journals hide who their leadership really is.)

So, three cheers to E&P for publishing its editor's predictably liberal columns. They let the E&P reader beware.

"Stop Genocide" rally for Darfur: Why I may not attend

The rabbi at a local reform Jewish temple is trying to recruit people for a rally next month in Washington to raise awareness about the horrors in Darfur--a good and noble cause. Here is an excerpt from a message I sent him today:
... I noticed that the website to which you linked states that "The Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism is coordinating the Movement’s participation." This makes me feel uncomfortable. As I have written you in the past, I feel alienated by the RAC and URJ. I would rather not lend them my implicit endorsement by participating in their activities. I'd feel far better attending the rally if I could be sure my participation would not be connected in any way to the RAC or URJ.

See you at kids' shabbat tomorrow.

Oh to be a flame-throwing southpaw

Consider these annual revenue numbers:
  • Year 1: $70,000
  • Year 2: $150,000
  • Year 3: $350,000
  • Year 4: $1,392,500
  • Year 5: $2,625,000
  • Year 6: $3,325,000
  • Year 7: $4,675,000
  • Year 8: $6,025,000
  • Year 9: $6,325,000
  • Year 10: $6,000,000
  • Year 11: $9,700,000
  • Year 12: $13,350,000
  • Year 13: $13,350,000
  • Year 14: $13,350,000
  • Year 15: $15,000,000
  • Year 16: $16,000,000
  • Year 17: $16,000,000
A record of sustained growth. Compound annual growth rate of 101% through year 7, and 13% thereafter through year 17. Companies have gone public with less to show.

So what are these figures? Randy Johnson's (you know, that guy on The Simpsons) annual salary from playing baseball, according to Wikipedia. Not bad money for being able to throw a baseball hard.

Performance anxiety

Performance anxiety: What surgical patients may experience when they know strangers are praying for them. May cause post-operative complications.

Seriously. It's all in a front-page article in today's New York Times.

Geoffrey Chaucer hath a blog

For all your Middle English fans,
Geoffrey Chaucer hath a blog and it hath been making me laugh hysterically. You would think that medievalle spellynge would get old after a while, but every post is funny and the "Brokeback Mountain" parody and King Richard's "downtime requirements" are inspired. (And the comments are great too.)

Geoffrey's Blogspot profile.

And thow kanst buye a Chaucer Blog t-shirte if it pleseth thee.

Thursday, March 30, 2006

Should a one-state solution for Israel be back on the table?

In Israel's thinking about its big picture policy options, it has essentially ruled out a one-state option. Perhaps it is time to reconsider.

Statistics showing the Arab population growing significantly faster than the Jewish population mean that a one-state solution would eventually put Arabs in the majority, and the concept of a Jewish state would largely disappear. But according to a new study (which I wrote about earlier), those statistics are wrong.

The study, "The Million Person Gap: The Arab Population in the West Bank and Gaza" (by Bennett Zimmerman, Roberta Seid and Michael L. Wise of The Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies at Bar-Ilan University), shows that the population of the West Bank and Gaza has been over-stated by over 50% in official numbers, and that the growth rate is lower than reported.

Perhaps the most revealing line of the study for Israeli strategists is this nugget hidden on page 54:
Israeli concerns about demographic pressure from the West Bank and Gaza have evidently been exaggerated. The demographic threat to Israeli society has not quantitatively changed since 1967.
Rabbi Mark Ankcorn in his reporting on the study writes,
One of the surprising statistics to come from this demographic survey is that the Jewish birth rate is actually significantly higher than the Arab birth rate in the region. Since 1967, the study argues, the Palestinian population of the Territories has remained stable at one-quarter of the total population west of the Jordan River. Excluding Gaza, the Jewish population stands at 67% of the total, and is growing at a rate of 2.1% annually, where the West Bank Palestinian population is growing at 1.8% annually.
Perhaps we are too far down the road to a two-state solution to consider backtracking. But this does raise the possibility.

Fewer Palestinean Arabs than anyone thought

The officially accepted number of Palestineans in the West Bank and Gaza is overstated by over 50% according to a new academic study. The study found that the actual number (as of the middle of 2004) is likely 2.49 million, while the official number is 3.83 million, producing a gap of 1.34 million people. The study explains,
The Israel Central Bureau of Statistics (ICBS) had been responsible for recording population data in the Territories during Israel’s Civil Administration from 1967 until 1994-1995 when, in conformity with the 1993 Oslo Accords, it transferred this responsibility to the PA and ceased its own work. The PA established the Palestine Central Bureau of Statistics (PCBS) to perform this function. In 1997, it conducted its first census and used the results to develop population growth projections for each year from 1998 to 2015.1 It is these predictions that the PA has officially issued each year as its population size. These statistics have been routinely accepted by Israeli government agencies, the UN, the World Bank, the EU, the US State Department, and many demographers have used the PCBS data for their own projections.2 However, the PCBS methodology, statistics, and assumptions have never been fully examined or evaluated.
Some of the reported discrepancies include:
  • Inclusion of non-resident Palestinean Arabs living abroad (325,000)
  • Inclusion of Jerusalem Arabs already counted in Israel's population figures (210,000)
  • Unexplained increase over ICBS records (113,000)
  • Items that kept the post-1997 growth rate lower than forecast:
    • Fewer births (238,000)
    • Alterations of recorded birth data (70,000)
    • Migration to Israel (105,000)
    • Other migration--net emigration instead of immigration (310,000)
Why does this matter? Rabbi Mark Ankcorn (from whom I learned of the study), cites two reasons:
  • First, foreign aide from the US and Europe is based in part on population data.
  • Second Israel's strategic thinking could change significantly. If this study is correct that the Palestinean population is growing slower than expected, then a one-state solution might be a viable alternative for Israel. The conventional wisdom has been that Palestinean population growth would eventually make Jews a minority in a hypothetical one-state environment; this would be the effective end of Israel as a Jewish state. (I will discuss this more in a future post.

The New York Times and its own correction policy

The New York Times had a sloppy mistake in a front-page, above-the-fold article on March 29. The error was minor, but the paper is still fumbling about and not fully correcting it. If the Times cannot follow its own ethical journalism guidelines on a small, easy-to-correct item, it does not inspire confidence in its ability to handle the big problems.

The article in question, entitled "Top Aide Leaves White House Job; Budget Chief In," confused outgoing chief of staff Andrew Card with his replacement, Joshua Bolten, in this paragraph:
"He thought it might be time to return to private life," Mr. Bush said of Mr. Bolten, who has served longer than any other chief of staff except Sherman Adams, who worked under President Dwight D. Eisenhower from 1953 to 1958.
I e-mailed the Times about the error (and poked fun of it) early in the morning of March 29, the day it was published.

The Times has since corrected the online version of the article, but two problems remain:
  1. There is no indication that the online article has been changed. This is in violation of the Times's own document, "Preserving Our Readers' Trust," which states,
    A correction should appear in the text of the online article, with a note appended to inform readers of the change.
  2. There is no correction on the paper's corrections page, either in print or online. This is in apparent violation of , the Times's "Ethical Journalism: A Handbook of Values and Practices for the News and Editorial Departments," which states,
    It is our policy to correct our errors, large and small, as soon as we become aware of them.
The Times's guidelines on corrections seem appropriate. So why did the paper not follow them? Perhaps it was deemed that an informed reader who was paying attention would likely have realized the error. True, but not sufficient reason to neglect making the correction. Or perhaps the error was deemed to small to worry about. After all, it was not on the front page, but on the continuation on page A16. Again, insufficient rationale.

Update: On March 31, the Times corrected the error. The correction is appended to the original article and [As of April 7, the correction is no longer appended to the original article. Wierd.] appears on the corrections page. Here is the text of the correction:
Correction: March 31, 2006

Because of an editing error, a front-page article on Wednesday about President Bush's selection of Joshua B. Bolten, his budget director, to succeed Andrew H. Card Jr. as the White House chief of staff referred incorrectly to the aide Mr. Bush was discussing when he said, "He thought it might be time to return to private life." It was Mr. Card, not Mr. Bolten.
Two cheers for making the correction. Two Three questions remain:
  • The paper was made aware of the mistake early in the morning of March 29, so why did the correction not appear until two days later? (Remember, it is the Times's policy "to correct our errors, large and small, as soon as we become aware of them.")
  • Why was there a lag (of either one or two days) between modifying the article online and noting that the change was made? (Remember, "A correction should appear in the text of the online article, with a note appended to inform readers of the change.")
  • Why was the correction appended briefly to the original article, and then removed? (Again, corrections should have "a note appended to inform readers of the change.")

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Charlsie Farrior Teal, RIP

Glenn Reynolds's writing is so much a part of so many of our lives, we feel like we know him personally--and so we grieve with him.

Our thoughts are with you, Glenn. Thanks for all you do.

He makes time stand still

In a March 29 New York Times article on Andrew Card stepping down and Josh Bolten assuming the chief of staff position, David Sanger wrote,
Mr. Bolten, who has served longer than any other chief of staff except Sherman Adams, who worked under President Dwight D. Eisenhower from 1953 to 1958.
Bolten's role was announced yesterday. Today he's the second longest serving chief of staff ever. Impressive.

Update: The Times has corrected the online version of the article, sort of.

Related posts on this blog:

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

A look back at Bolten's OMB record

Now that Josh Bolten has become the president's chief of staff, I decided to look back at his record as budget director.

Bush has taken serious heat from Conservatives for lack of spending restraint. I asked earlier, to what degree was Bolten part of the problem? Certainly Congress has its say on spending, as does the President; to some degree the head of OMB is merely carrying out administration policy. But it is a cabinet-level post that presumably carries with it some ability to influence that policy.

Let's take a look at federal spending numbers in the Bolten OMB era. According to his bio on the OMB site, Bolten took over OMB in June 2003, which I believe means he had significant impact starting with the FY 2005 budget.

I first looked at federal outlays as a percent of GDP. In FY 2005 federal spending comprised 20.1% of GDP, and in FY 2006 it was estimated to be 20.8%. FY 2007 outlays are estimated to come in at 20.1% of GDP. How do these data stack up historically? Here is a graph of federal outlays as a percent of GDP from 1979 through 2007 (est). The last three bars are the Bolten era at OMB:

(Click on image to enlarge in separate window.)
Source data from US Budget for Fiscal Year 2007, Historical Tables, table 1.2

Federal spending in the Bolten OMB era, as a percent of GDP, was higher than at any prior time since the mid 1990s. But it was lower than any time in the 1980s through the mid 1990s.

What if we look at the annual increase in federal spending? Here is a graph of the year-over-year spending increase for each year since 1979. Once again, the last three bars represent the Bolten era at OMB:

(Click on image to enlarge in separate window.)
Source data from US Budget for Fiscal Year 2007, Historical Tables, table 1.1

The increases in federal spending in 2005 (7.8%) and 2006 (est) (9.6%) were both high by historical standards. Indeed the 2006 increase is the highest since 1985, but lower than four of the six years from 1980 to 1985. In 2007, if you believe the number, growth in outlays will slow to 2.3%.

So overall, how did Bolten do restraining spending? So so. Given that we were paying for a war, not terribly.

Next up we need the same analysis for spending exclusive of defense and homeland security.

Related posts on this blog:

Chief of Staff Bolten

Budget Director Josh Bolten has replaced Andrew Card as the president's chief of staff. (White House announcement here.)

One of the Bush presidency's real shortcomings has been poor budget management. To what degree was Bolten part of the problem? Perhaps it's good to get him out of OMB.

Related posts on this blog:

"That of the empty signifier"

The latest in clear writing, from University of Virginia professor Eric Lott, as he tries to sum up the work of another leftist academic:
Its most important move is to argue that the only acceptable political notion of the universal--and therefore of the organizational imperative--is that of the empty signifier, not a present, given, or essential fullness waiting for troops but an impossible ideal whose very emptiness and lack create a pluralized, difference-based competition on the part of various particularisms in a democratic social-symbolic field to assume the position of the universal organization.
Um, right. Crystal.

It comes from Lott's new book, The Disappearing Liberal Intellectual, as excerpted in a review in The Nation. The book apparently argues that the current American left is not nearly far enough left.

Not that I was likely to read the book anyway--when The Nation says a book is too far left to be relevant, that's saying something--but with prose like that, is anyone going to read it?

Mixed marriage

My wife and I have a mixed marriage: she dances, I do not.

Now a genetics journal says it might be in our genes:
The authors hypothesized that there are differences in aptitude, propensity, and need for dancing that may be based on differences in common genetic polymorphisms. Identifying such differences may lead to an understanding of the neurobiological basis of dancing.
Of course it was this sentence that really clarified things for me:
In the current study, 85 current performing dancers and their parents were genotyped for the serotonin transporter (SLC6A4: promoter region HTTLPR and intron 2 VNTR) and the arginine vasopressin receptor 1a (AVPR1a: promoter microsatellites RS1 and RS3).
(Via John Derbyshire.)

Monday, March 27, 2006

Quote of the day

Self-described "Southern philosopher, political pundit and straight-shooting humorist all rolled into one," Dick Yarbrough:
Yale University does not want the American military around campus because of its policy on gays, but has sought out and welcomed a former official of a group that willingly stones homosexuals to death.
(Hat tip: Clint Taylor.)

John Fund continues on the Yale Taliban case

John Fund quotes an Afghani women's rights pioneer discussing Yale's decision to admit former Taliban spokesman Sayed Rahmatullah Hashemi:
"All should raise their voice against such criminals," she told a crowd of 200. "It is an unforgivable insult to the Afghan people that he is here. He should face a court of law rather than be at one of your finest universities."
Fund proposes a more deserving Afghani to take Hashemi's spot at Yale. He's got one in mind.

Sunday, March 26, 2006

"I can no longer in good faith remain part of the Reform Jewish movement" (or Congregation Micah)

Following is a Reform Jew's letter of resignation from his temple and the Reform Jewish movement. Compelling stuff. Are the folks at the URJ paying attention?

December 27, 2005

Congregation Micah
Brentwood, TN


Dear [xxx],

There is a fair amount of history between [my] family and the Reform Judaism movement in Nashville, much of it good and strong. My great-grandfather... arrived in Nashville from Cincinnati in 1864, imbued with the spirit and teachings of Rabbi Isaac Mayer Wise. He—[my great-grandfather] that is—was one of the founders of the first reform synagogue in Nashville, which, after incarnations, eventually morphed into The Temple. This history, however, has also been tinged with resentment felt by some family members who happen to be free-market Republicans. That resentment had been directed towards a progression of Reform rabbis, whose preaching at times stepped outside the Jewish liturgy into the American political arena, with an undeniable left-of-center tilt.

I have been sitting in reform synagogues for more than 40 years now. I have listened to excellent and intelligent rabbis say many insightful and important things. I have also heard them, on a regular basis, speak in condescending terms of Republicans and conservatives. I have heard them offer political views antithetical to the advance of free people and of free markets. In short, virtually every reform rabbi I have ever encountered has eventually trampled on the very values that I hold dearest. This trampling is done publicly and sanctimoniously. These rabbis—good people all—simply have a blind spot when it comes to believing that their view on American politics is the only correct, moral or “Jewish” view.

Thus, the recent and much-publicized actions of the Union of Reform Judaism, and of Rabbi Eric H. Yoffie, the union’s president, come as no surprise to me.

As you no doubt know, the URJ, at its recent biennial conference, passed yet another spate of resolutions in support of what some consider to be knee-jerk liberal political positions. One resolution opposed the nomination of Judge Samuel Alito to the U.S. Supreme Court. Another called for a “clear exit strategy” from Iraq. Clearly, these are defensible positions, even if they may not be my own. But what they have to do with Reform Judaism is beyond me.

The most offensive words were found in the press release that accompanied the resolutions. This release contained a statement from URJ’s president, a section of which I quote verbatim: “The sentiment was clear and overwhelming,” said Rabbi Eric H. Yoffie, President of the Union. “American Jews, and all Americans, are profoundly critical of this war and they want this Administration to tell us how and when it will bring our troops home.”

My brother... wrote shortly afterwards, by way of response: “All Americans? Please. Not this American. Not this reform Jew. Not in my name, Rabbi Yoffie.”

To be fair, the response from some quarters of American Judaism has been swift and on-point. The Republican Jewish Coalition quickly launched an ad campaign in major newspapers, including The New York Times. The Republican Jewish Coalition is a Washington D.C.-based grassroots organization with five full-time offices, 41 chapters, and a membership roster of more than 20,000 Americans. That ad read, in part:

“THE UNION FOR REFORM JUDAISM DOES NOT SPEAK FOR US. The recent statement by the Union for Reform Judaism saying American Jews oppose the President on Iraq is misleading and wrong. We support the President and the War on Terrorism. We stand behind our troops and their mission of creating a safe, democratic Iraq. This mission is vital not only for the continuing fight against terrorism and the stability of the Middle East, but also for making the world a safer place for our children.”

Other comments from prominent Jews were reassuring. If nothing else, the extremism of Rabbi Yoffie’s comments seemed to have focused attention on an issue—the left-leaning tilt of the leadership of the Reform Jewish movement—that has long been in need of critical spotlight.

Rabbi Mark Gellman penned a piece in Newsweek, titled, “Historical Blindness: The Union of Reform Judaism’s vote to oppose the war in Iraq was a mistake and embarrassment for my movement.” Rabbi Mark Ankcorn, a signatory to the RJC ad, wrote that the URJ “couldn't be more wrong” on Iraq. Sen. Norman Coleman even took to the floor of the U.S. Senate to take issue with URJ’s latest campaign.

But where is URJ? Where is the apology? Where is the call for moderation? Where is the statement reaching out to all Reform Jews, whatever their political beliefs? Here in Nashville, where is Micah? Where is common sense and decency?

The deafening silence from Micah, and from the Reform movement is profound, sad, and disturbing.

Of course, the sad irony in all this is that Reform Judaism, which bows to none in its titular commitment to liberalism and diversity, is institutionally incapable of being gracious, inclusive or tolerant of Republicans in its own midst. One wonders, when the history of Reform Judaism is written objectively 200 years from now, how the actions of Rabbi Yoffie and his ilk will be perceived. As stalwart protectors of, and advocates for, Reform Judaism? Or as narrow-minded zealots who presided at the nascent stages of an irreparable rift in the movement?

To bring the story back to Nashville, the question I face is: What does this mean for me and for my family? My wife... and I have very different politics. But we each acknowledge and respect that the other has valid beliefs and opinions. Our children... are the product of a mixed (political) marriage. We try to teach them not to judge people by their politics. Our children are happy at Micah, as is [my wife]. As such, she plans to stay at Micah and to educate our children there.

I remain fiercely committed to the preservation of Judaism and of Israel. However, I can no longer in good faith remain part of the Reform Jewish movement. With this letter, I officially tender my resignation from Congregation Micah. URJ has taken its stand. Micah has stood silent. I simply can no longer stand with either and be true to my own values. But I want to be clear: My resignation has been 40 years in the making. Recent events galvanized the issue, but my decision is based on my lifelong affiliation with, and alienation from, Reform Jewish organizations.

I hope that my resignation will, in its own tiny way, send a message to the leadership of Reform Judaism. As well, I’d like to give Micah a written heads-up that our self-determined dues in the future will reflect my departure from the synagogue.


Willy May Stern
(Letter posted with permission from the writer, a relative of this blogger. The links were added by David M.)

  • A correspondent writes, "My sister just resigned from her reform temple in Newton, Mass, for the same reason." The first rumblings of an army of Davids?
  • Matt Brooks writes in, "This remains a critically important issue."
Related posts on this blog:

Saturday, March 25, 2006

Memo to Yale: Consider my gift sapped

The Yale Herald headline reads, "Yale confident Hashemi debate won’t sap gifts."

Your humble host of this blog has a couple of Yale degrees and is in an undergrad reunion year. Memo to Yale: Consider my gift sapped.

(Via Clint Taylor who is, as ever, on the case.)

Blogosphere gets results

As I noted at the time (in "Moral equivalence run amok"), Reuters ran a piece Thursday on the equivalencies between the Danish cartoon kerfuffle and the Afghani death-to-the-Christian-convert kerfuffle.

After receiving criticism from the like of Charles Johnson ("Possibly the most insane case of extreme moral equivalence ever seen in mainstream media") and James Taranto ("Only in Reuterville"), Reuters significantly revised the article (though without any apparent acknowledgement that the article was changed).

The original version of the article went like this:
Afghan convert controversy mirrors cartoons row

By Tom Heneghan, Religion Editor
Thu Mar 23, 8:25 AM ET

ROME (Reuters) - The strong Western response to a threatened death sentence for an Afghan convert to Christianity looks something like a mirror image of the Muslim reaction to the Prophet Mohammad caricatures printed in the European press.

There have been no riots or sackings of Afghan embassies, unlike the violence that marked the uproar in Muslim countries after the Danish cartoons were published, but the shock and mutual incomprehension expressed in both cases are similar.

The difference lies in the issues at stake. In the cartoons row, Muslims stressed the sanctity of Mohammad, whom they say nobody -- even non-Muslims -- can criticize. The subtext was resentment against perceived Western prejudice against Islam.
In fairness to Reuters, the point seems to be that the reactions to the controversies were similar, even though the underlying issue was different. But that's not the impression given by the headline or a quick look at the article.

The updated version has lost much of the stench of moral equivalence:
Western, Muslim worlds clash again over religion

By Tom Heneghan, Religion Editor
Thu Mar 23, 4:23 PM ET

ROME (Reuters) - Western political leaders and the media have reacted with mounting indignation to the news that a Kabul court threatened to impose the death sentence on an Afghan man who abandoned Islam and coverted to Christianity.

Two months ago, political and religious leaders in the Muslim world were rounding on Western European media and governments for printing and defending caricatures of the Prophet Mohammad that they considered blasphemous.

The cases are clearly different.
The edits continue. Here is one notable selection from the original:
Amin Farhang, the Afghan economy minister who lived in exile in Germany for 22 years before returning to Kabul in 2001, saw the parallels and warned against any escalation.
And here is the no-moral-equvalizing update:
Amin Farhang, the Afghan economy minister who lived in exile in Germany for 22 years before returning in 2001, illustrated the gulf between Western and traditional Islamic views when he tried to make a link between the two controversies.
Good for Reuters for eventually getting it right.

Next time, let's hope they can do it on the first try. The papers around the world that print what Reuters writes cannot easily update their print versions when Reuters messes up.

Those darn Blue Devils

LSU's upset victory over Duke eliminated me from the office tourney.

Fewer casualties. But it must be bad news.

John Edwards spoke an effective line in 2004 about how increasing monthly troop deaths showed how badly the war was going:
The reality you and George Bush continue to tell people, first, that things are going well in Iraq -- the American people don't need us to explain this to them; they see it on their television every single day. We lost more troops in September than we lost in August, lost more in August than we lost in July, lost more in July than we lost in June.
Presumably then, Edwards would think that ever decreasing amounts of lost troops would be a positive sign. Well, as the Commissar points out (using these source data),
we lost fewer troops in March than in February, lost fewer in February than in January, lost fewer in January than in December, lost fewer in December than in November, lost fewer in November than in October.
That must be why we're seeing all that good news from Iraq in the headlines! (See, for example, the New York Times, "IRAQ: After Three Years of War, Results are Disastrous"; UPI, "US Iraq Casualties Stay High"; the San Francisco Chronicle, Bush's PR push on Iraq seen as a tough sell."; or AP: "58 Dead As Violence Continues in Iraq.")

Friday, March 24, 2006

The Angry Left at

[A hearty welcome to readers of Instapundit, Ed Driscoll and Captain's Quarters.]

The Washington Post hired young conservative blogger Ben Domenech for a very brief stint hosting a new in-house righty blog, "Red America." Then Domenech left under a cloud of plagiarism allegations (generally from his pre-blogging, print days). Technically, as the folks at the Post are taking pains to emphasize, Domenech's brief employ was with, a separate company from the Washington Post.

Domenech was urged to give up his position by bloggers from the left and right. Instapundit has a round-up full of links, including to Domenech's self-defense.

In the meantime, I skimmed through the comments on a post from's blog announcing Domenech's (then) forthcoming blog. Some of the comments were reminiscent of my prior forays into the thoughts of the Angry Left at Atrios. But this time the posters were not on a far-left blog, but on mean, c'mon!

I've chosen some direct quotes and placed them in four broad categories. You'll notice some themes emerging.

Theme 1: Domenech is a bad guy/Nazi/fascist:
  • Your "Red America" is only a Right Wing Hackery (RWH), and it is only a pure Nazi-like Propaganda Machine.
  • you guys bring in a snot nosed little Hitler to add comment.
  • with his cockamammy regurgitated fascist mantras.
  • Your new blogger... lied and said that his right-wing sicko ilk is...
  • With fascists behind the scenes it will be that much more difficult to know what is real.
  • fascist propaganda
Theme 2: Conservatives are Nazis/fascists:
  • The more time goes on the more neocons resemble the early Nazi movement, although most of them are so illiterate I doubt if they would grasp the undertones of the allusion.
  • those who knowingly or unknowingly adhere to the principles of fascism.
  • right-wing, crypto-fascist hacks
  • Red Amerika, the land where fascism has found at last its true home. And the Washington Post ... gives these not quite yet humans a space to exhibit their excrement.
  • The inevitable descent into fascism has begun!
  • This country is skidding into fascism and now the Washington Post is going to distinguish itself by becoming a political tool...
  • Shame on you for caving in to the fascists.
  • Giving a Bush Inc. drone his own blog is not balance.... ; it is decreasing the already drastically reduced credibility of journalism in this country. Where lies are treated as truth, where facts are presented as opinion, where partisan agenda is given the weight of actual reporting, there is the work being done of those who are pushing journalism, government and the people of this country toward fascism.
  • Red * America?? This is it - the communits fascists _have_ taken over America!
Theme 3: Bush is a Nazi:
  • George Bush Jr.'s junta is today's equivalent of Hitler's Nazis, that my friend is not an opinion it is a fact.... George Bush Jr.'s junta is just as far on the road now that the Nazis were on in about 1933.
Theme 4: Bush looks like a chimp:
  • 51% voted against Chimperor GeeDub in '00.
  • the brain dead chimp in the whitehouse
Ah, the finest of American brain power at work, kicking around some intellectual ideas on the web site of our capitol city's paper of record.

Cheney's morning papers

The Smoking Gun has obtained and posted Vice President Dick Cheney's requirements for a hotel room when traveling. It's fairly mundane stuff, like a pot of decaf and diet caffeine-free Sprite.

I found the most interesting part to be his news sources. He wants televisions tuned to Fox News, and he requests five papers:
  • New York Times,
  • USA Today,
  • Wall Street Journal,
  • local paper and
  • Washington Post.
The highbrow Washington and New York papers, plus the two national dailies and a local paper. But no Washington Times or New York Sun.

For what it's worth.

Quote of the day

French diplomats on why French President Jacques Chirac (who speaks English fluently) and several of his ministers stormed out of the European summit when another Frenchman insisted on speaking in English:
[The] ministers all needed a toilet break at the same time.

Blogs and Firefox -- this is cool

When I type various first names directly into my Firefox brower (into the spot the URL would normally go), I am directed straight to the relevant blogs. Cool.

Typing michelle yields; glenn yields Instapundit; hugh yields; corner yields; and yes, david m yields

Betsy and Andrew don't get to the relevant blogs, though. And it doesn't seem to work at all on Internet Explorer.

I suspect Firefox is directing me to the first Google hit for the item. Or does Firefox somehow know what blogs I visit?

The Left on the Yale Taliban

Yale BA and PhD and editor of the New Haven Advocate, Mark Oppenheimer:
It was with only mild interest that I read the Feb. 26 New York Times Magazine article about Rahmatullah Hashemi, the former Taliban diplomat who is now a Yale student. I briefly considered writing about it, then decided that the story would be forgotten by the time our issue hit the streets.

How naíve I was. In the week since, right-wing boobs from O'Reilly to Hannity have been doing their fake-fury thing, asking questions like, "How can the Taliban get into Yale but ROTC can't?"
I like to think he's not representative of the Left in general. But I'm an optimist.

Update: Oppenheimer has now apparently changed his mind. Says his earlier view point was essentially a gut reaction that the right must be wrong.

Tenebra et subjectio

"[W]hile Mr. Hashemi sailed through Yale's admissions process, the school turned down the opportunity to enroll women who really did escape the wreckage of Afghanistan."

Yale Taliban

Documentary film director Evan Coyne Maloney visited Yale to investigate the Yale Taliban kerfuffle:
Evan sauntered outside where he interviewed Natalie Healy, a woman who lost her son Dan - a Navy SEAL - in Afghanistan last year. Naturally, Ms. Healy is outraged that a man who was an official of a murderous regime that killed her son has been given a place at Yale while many thousands of better qualified American kids are sent rejection letters every year.

Apparently this was too much for the Yale administrators who sent the police to give Evan and our cameraman the same message that is sent to ROTC and military recruiters every year: Get off campus!
(Via K-Lo.)

Lest you're considering going wobbly on Iraq...

Read Jay Nordlinger's "Running without shame, &c."

The Boundary Waters and Sigurd Olson for credit?

Click on image to enlarge in separate window.

If you cannot read the flyer, here is what it says:
THE WAY OF A CANOE: Paddle, Portage, and Study of the Life of a Legendary Wilderness Advocate
(Taught in the Minnesota Wilderness)
[Colorado College] EV260/HS 202, BLOCK A, JUNE 5 - JUNE 23, 2006

Study the life, writings, and philosphy of Sigurd F. Olson - perhaps the most compelling and articulate wilderness advocate of the last century.

Read Olson’s best-selling books and meet with scholars, environmentalists, and others who knew him well.

Take a ten-day canoe trip in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness in Minnesota - paddle and portage amongst the very lakes that Olson loved.

Around the campfire, delve into Olson’s philosophical musings, study his role as a conservationist, and try your hand at the type of nature writing which Olson pioneered.

Participate in a volunteer trail maintenance project in conjunction with the US Forest Service.

No camping experience necessary.
For more information, e-mail the instructor or click on the logo below to visit the Colorado College course listing.

Disclosure: The instructor's a relative.

Thursday, March 23, 2006

ABC News producer: "Bush makes me sick"

When stories like this one on ABC's Good Morning America conclude with, "It is all part of the massive security problem here that is plaguing Iraq," is it a sign of left wing bias?

Probably not any intentional bias. But is it reflective of the underlying bias of those who produce the show? Perhaps. Wouldn't it be helpful to know what that underlying bias might be? Read on.

Consider this e-mail (unearthed by Drudge) sent by John Green, the executive producer of Good Morning America's weekend edition where the above piece aired:

Image via Drudge. Click image to enlarge in new window.

The e-mail reads, "Are you watching this? Bush makes me sick. If he uses the 'mixed messages' line one more time, I'm going to puke."

Certainly, one impromptu e-mail does not determine someone's entire outlook. (While I've yelled at Bush's image on the TV screen on more than one occasion, "Its nu-cle-ar, not nu-cu-lar! Got it? Nu-cle-ar, nu-cle-ar, nu-cle-ar!," you'd be hard-pressed to label me a Bush basher in general.) But still, wouldn't it be helpful to know the biases of the folks behind the news? As Roger Simon points out, Green has done viewers a public service by revealing his opinion.

(Hat tip: Instapundit.)

Moral equivalence run amok

Afghan convert controversy mirrors cartoons row

By Tom Heneghan, Religion Editor

ROME (Reuters) - The strong Western response to a threatened death sentence for an Afghan convert to Christianity looks something like a mirror image of the Muslim reaction to the Prophet Mohammad caricatures printed in the European press.
(Hat tip: LGF.)

UPDATE: Reuters has updated the article to downplay the moral equivalence angle. See related post here for a comparison of the new and old text.

Taliban Man at Yale

John Fund's latest, "Taliban Man at Yale: The story thus far," is out today:
Never has the moat separating elite universities from the rest of America been wider than in the case of Yale's Taliban Man.
(Background available here.)

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Saddam's Delusions

A new and illuminating article in Foreign Affairs takes a look at what we now know about what was going on in Iraq before the invasion, based on a recently declassified "comprehensive study [by the US Joint Forces Command] of the inner workings and behavior of Saddam Hussein's regime based on previously inaccessible primary sources."

The article, entitled "Saddam's Delusions: The View from the Inside," is written by Kevin Woods, James Lacey and Williamson Murray, principal participants in the USJFCOM project.

Here (via Hugh Hewitt and Stephen Hayes) is one incredible sentence from the article:
The Saddam Fedayeen [created in by Saddam in 1994] also took part in the regime's domestic terrorism operations and planned for attacks throughout Europe and the Middle East. In a document dated May 1999, Saddam's older son, Uday, ordered preparations for "special operations, assassinations, and bombings, for the centers and traitor symbols in London, Iran and the self-ruled areas [Kurdistan]." Preparations for "Blessed July," a regime-directed wave of "martyrdom" operations against targets in the West, were well under way at the time of the coalition invasion.
Another notable passage, from the one-page summary press release (my emphasis):
What made Saddam so complacent? His belief that the United States did not have the will to take casualties in a serious war and that if necessary France and Russia would keep him safe.
And this:
Did Saddam plan the current insurgency? No. He thought the United States would never attack, and was confident that even if it did, the resulting war would follow essentially the same script as the first Gulf War in 1991.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Dickens couldn't have come up with a better name

Why did ABC News Primetime feature this story: "Outrage After Teen Gets 10 Years for Oral Sex With Girl"?

Perhaps it was the prurient interest. Or the opportunity to comment on the capriciousness of mandatory sentencing.

But I like to think it was the name of the defense attorney: B.J. Bernstein.

[/adolescent humor]

Old man Molitor

Baseball fans, take a look at this chart from the New York Times. See anything funny about Paul Molitor? Seems he was in the Bigs in 1945. No wonder he broke 3000 hits, what with 40-something years to do it.

(Note: It has since been corrected. Via John Hinderaker.)

Monday, March 20, 2006

Bush lied! straightforwardly fielded hostile question

President Bush today, in nimbly and honestly handling a hostile question, drove home two important points:
  1. In the lead-up to the invasion of Iraq, he did not link Saddam and 9/11; rather he said that Iraq under Saddam was a state sponsor of terrror, and
  2. Our intelligence was flawed and regaining credibility on intelligence is vital. "Like you, I asked that very same question, where did we go wrong on intelligence."
Here are the question and answer:
Q: Mr. President, at the beginning of your talk today you mentioned that you understand why Americans have had their confidence shaken by the events in Iraq. And I'd like to ask you about events that occurred three years ago that might also explain why confidence has been shaken. Before we went to war in Iraq we said there were three main reasons for going to war in Iraq: weapons of mass destruction, the claim that Iraq was sponsoring terrorists who had attacked us on 9/11, and that Iraq had purchased nuclear materials from Niger. All three of those turned out to be false. My question is, how do we restore confidence that Americans may have in their leaders and to be sure that the information they are getting now is correct?

THE PRESIDENT: That's a great question. (Applause.) First, just if I might correct a misperception. I don't think we ever said -- at least I know I didn't say that there was a direct connection between September the 11th and Saddam Hussein. We did say that he was a state sponsor of terror -- by the way, not declared a state sponsor of terror by me, but declared by other administrations. We also did say that Zarqawi, the man who is now wreaking havoc and killing innocent life, was in Iraq. And so the state sponsor of terror was a declaration by a previous administration. But I don't want to be argumentative, but I was very careful never to say that Saddam Hussein ordered the attacks on America.

Like you, I asked that very same question, where did we go wrong on intelligence. The truth of the matter is the whole world thought that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction. It wasn't just my administration, it was the previous administration. It wasn't just the previous administration; you might remember, sir, there was a Security Council vote of 15 to nothing that said to Saddam Hussein, disclose, disarm, or face serious consequences. The basic premise was, you've got weapons. That's what we thought.

When he didn't disclose, and when he didn't disarm, and when he deceived inspectors, it sent a very disconcerting message to me, whose job it is to protect the American people and to take threats before they fully materialize. My view is, he was given the choice of whether or not he would face reprisal. It was his decision to make. And so he chose to not disclose, not disarm, as far as everybody was concerned.

Your question, however, the part that's really important is, how do we regain credibility when it comes to intelligence? Obviously, the Iranian issue is a classic case, where we've got to make sure that when we speak there's credibility. And so, in other words, when the United States rallies a coalition, or any other country that had felt that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction is trying to rally a coalition in dealing with one of these non-transparent societies, what do we need to do to regain the trust of not only the American people, but the world community?

And so what I did was I called together the Silberman-Robb Commission -- Laurence Silberman and former Senator Chuck Robb -- to take a full look at what went right and what went wrong on the intelligence, and how do we structure an intelligence network that makes sure there's full debate among the analysts? How do we make sure that there's a full compilation of data points that can help decision-makers like myself feel comfortable in the decision we make?

The war on terror requires the collection and analysis of good intelligence. This is a different kind of war; we're dealing with an enemy which hides in caves and plots and plans, an enemy which doesn't move in flotillas, or battalions. And so, therefore, the intelligence-gathering is not only important to make a diplomatic case, it's really important to be able to find an enemy before they hurt us.

And so there was a reform process they went through, a full analysis of what -- of how the operations worked, and out of that came the NDI, John Negroponte and Mike Hayden. And their job is to better collate and make sure that the intelligence-gathering is seamless across a variety of gatherers and people that analyze. But the credibility of our country is essential -- I agree with you.

Cogent anti-war protest

On the March 18 anniversary of the invasion of Iraq, A.N.S.W.E.R. organized a series of rallies. A guy who calls himself Zombie (who frequently photographs protests rallies) took some pictures of the San Francisco rally. You can see them here.

In an effort to convince the undecided on the war, the protesters seemingly did their best to present reasoned arguments against the war. And what reasonable person wouldn't be swayed by the cogency of the phrases I've culled from Zombie's pics of signs, banners and buttons? Here are some of my favorites:
  • Bush equals Hitler
  • 9-11 was a fraud! An excuse for imperialist wars to control world oil supplies and impose US & Israeli empire
  • F--- Bush [Vulgarity edited. This is a family blog.]
  • Free Iraq & Palestine! Stop U.S. & Israeli killers & torturers! End their imperialist occupations now!
  • Support our Brave AWOLs COs and Deserters
  • If we must kill, let it be capitalism!
  • US Israel, partners in crime, in Iraq and Palestine
  • Jail Bush for the murder of JFK!
  • I support the Iraqi resistance
  • Israel out of the Occupied Territories! For a Socialist Federation of the Near East
  • Smash the Jewish State
  • Defend the Cuban revolution. US hands off Venezuela. Socialist Workers Party, Young Socialists.
  • Bush is the symptom. Capitalism is the disease. Revolution is the cure.
(Hat tip: John Hawkins. All phrases from rally photos by Zombie, except the last which comes from a photo posted by ANSWER. )

UN Watch

The following statistics are from UN Watch, an organization whose mandate is "to monitor the performance of the United Nations by the yardstick of its own Charter":
  • 19: Number of resolutions condemning Israel passed by the UN General Assembly in its 59th session (2004-2005).
  • 0: Number of resolutions on the genocide in Darfur passed by the General Assembly in the same period.
(Hat tip: Eye on the UN, a web site dedicated to "making transparent the UN's record on its fundamental promise - to identify, condemn, and protect against human rights violations." It is a project of the Hudson Institute and the Touro Law Center Institute for Human Rights.)

Sumners at Harvard--views from Dershowitz and Hewitt

I have not written about Lawrence Summers' ouster as president of Harvard, but Alan Dershowitz has:
...The Faculty of Arts and Sciences includes, in general, some of the most radical, hard-left elements within Harvard's diverse constituencies. And let there be no mistake about the origin of Summers's problem with that particular faculty: It started as a hard left-center conflict. Summers committed the cardinal sin against the academic hard left: He expressed politically incorrect views regarding gender, race, religion, sexual preference, and the military.

...In the minds of at least some vocal members of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences, expressing such politically incorrect views is the academic equivalent of provoking Islamic extremists by depicting Prophet Mohammed in a political cartoon. Radical academics do not, of course, burn down buildings, at least not since the 1970s. Instead they introduce motions of no confidence and demand resignations of those who offend their sensibilities (while insisting on complete freedom of speech for those with whom they agree -- free speech for me but not for thee!).
And here is Hugh Hewitt comparing the Sumners debacle at his alma mater, Harvard, to the Taliban debacle at Yale:
I'm so happy about Yale, because my alma mater had so embarrassed itself with the dismissal of Lawrence Summers last week, that I thought we would be in the basement of stupid moves for a long, long time. But evidently, they've dug a floor in the cellar, and Yale's gone into it, led by their dean of fundraising at Yale Law School. Tell people how he reacted to critics of the Yale Taliban.


In my prior post I linked to a Penraker post on the Yale Taliban.

Thought I'd investigate who this Penraker was. Didn't learn a lot of personal details, but you've got to like someone whose first blog post's first paragraphs were,
I propose that the following Constitutional amendment be immediately enacted:

"The Supreme Court of the United States shall have the authority to decide, without limitation, which liberties are fundamental. They need not base their decision on anything written in the Constitution. From time to time, as they see fit, and in accordance with changing social mores and customs (as they see them), they may expand or contract those rights that are considered fundamental to liberty. No act of any other branch of government may overturn, override or interfere with their decision."

The majority in Lawrence v. Texas announced this rule by judicial fiat - why not make it official?

Yale Taliban round-up

For those who haven't been paying attention, an erstwhile spokesman for the Taliban is now a Yale student. (Chip Brown's sympathetic New York Times Magazine cover story broke the story--some of the letters in response were not so sympathetic.)

Nobody has covered the issue more thoroughly than John Fund. Scroll to the end of this post for links to and excerpts from the Fund coverage. And Fund says that "Thou Shalt Not Debate Public Issues at Yale" by Penraker is the best piece on the topic.

Now, some questions.

Will the episode affect applications to Yale? Perhaps:
Like many parents, I’ve devoted much time to figuring out which college would be best for my son. This week, I narrowed down the list: any school but Yale.
- Ann Morse

Even though she'd be a legacy, I don't think I'll encourage my daughter to apply to Yale.
- Yale alumnus Glenn Reynolds
Will it affect contributions to Yale? At least a little:
If you do have some connection with Yale, please tell them so in your letter and explain that you are withholding your donations until they end the disgrace of allowing America’s unrepentant enemy an opportunity which thousands of smart, deserving kids in Afghanistan, America or anywhere, who have been studying diligently instead of shilling for a brutal regime of retrograde, misogynist, terrorist-abetting, drug-running, Buddha-blasting, gay-murdering, freedom-hating tyrants, never received.

Feel free to point out the hyprocrisy of Yale’s decision to admit Sayeed Rahmatullah Hashemi, who supported a regime that killed homosexuals, stoned women, tortured/killed many, and destroyed Buddhas, even though Yale keeps ROTC off campus and files briefs with the Supreme Court protesting the military’s right to recruit on campus.

Most importantly, send your money somewhere else.
- Yale alumni Debbie Bookstaber and Clint Taylor
... [M]y alma mater will not be high on my giving list in this reunion year.
- Yale alumnus David M
Will it affect the faculty? At least one:
I do not care to have this fellow in my dining hall, my college, or my country.
- Yale student Daniel Gelernter [Note: this quotation was at first mis-attributed (here and in the source blog) to Yale Professor David Gelernter, Daniel's father.]
(By contrast, Yale lecturer Jim Sleeper reacted by attacking John Fund.)

Will the government intervene? We'll see:
Mr. Hashemi was an official spokesmand for the Taliban, which gave safe haven and other material support to Al Qaeda and Osama bin Laden, and continued to do so even after the terrorist attacs of September 11th. Yet the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) admitted him into the United States on an F-1 student visa. I would like to know what steps the Department of Homeland Security is taking to determine whether Mr. Hashemi was properly admitted and whether the Department of Homeland Security will seek to deport Mr. Hashemi under one of the terror-related grounds of removal.
- US Senator John Cornyn
And now those links and excerpts from John Fund's ongoing coverage (in reverse chronological order):
  • From "Sayed and de Man at Yale: The campus that ran off a Nazi propagandist today welcomes one from the Taliban." (today, Mar. 20):
    In light of this history, and given Mr. Rahmatullah's service to one of the most brutal regimes since the Nazis, why should anyone--especially at Yale--give him the benefit of the doubt, especially when he has not publicly renounced the Taliban? Late last year he wrote an essay in which he said that the regime "honestly practiced what they had learned in their religious schools. They did what they had been taught to do. Whether what they had been taught was good or bad is another subject." When a Times of London reporter asked Mr. Rahmatullah this month about the Taliban's public executions in a Kabul soccer stadium, he quipped, "There were also executions happening in Texas."

    Yale refuses to defend its position, but others are talking. Afghan exiles are appalled that Mr. Rahmatuallah was given a coveted place that could have gone to an Afghan man or woman who had been oppressed by the Taliban. Author Sebastian Junger reports from Afghanistan in the current Vanity Fair on the atrocities the Taliban are committing today. They include skinning a man alive and leaving him to die in the sun. Another man was forced to watch as his wife was gang-raped. Then his eyes were put out, so that the horrific crime would be the last image he would ever see. The relatives of U.S. soldiers killed in action in Afghanistan are likewise appalled. "It's not like the Taliban ever signed a peace treaty," Natalie Healy, the mother of a Navy SEAL killed by a Taliban rocket last year, told me. "They're still killing Americans."
  • From " 'Temporarily Relieved': Yale suspends the anonymous emailer who blasted Taliban critics" (Mar. 16):
    I spoke with an American military officer who is about to return to his post in Afghanistan. "I can't imagine explaining to my troops back there that while they just lost four of their comrades to the Taliban that one of America's most prestigious universities is giving a valued place as a student to a largely unrepentant Taliban official," he told me.
  • From "You've Got Mail (It's From Yale): A university official calls Taliban critics "retarded" while the university maintains a stony silence." (Mar. 13):
    The president's alma mater is experiencing a similar flood of leaks, as the community there reacts to omertà the university has practiced in refusing meaningful comment on its admission of a former top Taliban official, Sayed Rahmatullah Hashemi. Beyond a single vague 144-word statement (later expanded to 281 words, including a defense of Yale's not hosting a ROTC program), Yale won't let anyone comment officially, citing student privacy issues and hoping they can keep silent and last out the storm. But unofficially, some Yale administrators are privately trashing critics.
    From "Taliban Man at Yale: University officials are embarrassed--but not embarrassed enough." (Mar. 6):
    Last week it emerged that Sayed Rahmatullah Hashemi, former deputy foreign secretary of the Taliban, is now a student at Yale while at the same time the school continues to block ROTC training from its campus and argues for the right of its law school to exclude military recruiters. King George's troops played the music to "The World Turned Upside Down" as they surrendered at Yorktown. Perhaps the Ivy League should adopt that tune as they surrender all vestiges of common sense.
  • From "Jihadi Turns Bulldog: The Taliban's former spokesman is now a Yale student. Anyone see a problem with that?" (Feb. 27):
    Never has an article made me blink with astonishment as much as when I read in yesterday's New York Times magazine that Sayed Rahmatullah Hashemi, former ambassador-at-large for the Taliban, is now studying at Yale on a U.S. student visa. This is taking the obsession that U.S. universities have with promoting diversity a bit too far....

    "In some ways," Mr. Rahmatullah told the New York Times. "I'm the luckiest person in the world. I could have ended up in Guantanamo Bay. Instead I ended up at Yale." One of the courses he has taken is called Terrorism-Past, Present and Future.

    Many foreign readers of the Times will no doubt snicker at the revelation that naive Yale administrators scrambled to admit Mr. Rahmatullah. The Times reported that Yale "had another foreigner of Rahmatullah's caliber apply for special-student status." Richard Shaw, Yale's dean of undergraduate admissions, told the Times that "we lost him to Harvard," and "I didn't want that to happen again."
Stay tuned.

  • Townhall has set up a blog on the topic with tall sorts of links and commentary: "Nail Yale: Fighting the Talibanality of Evil in the Ivy League":
    We’re four Yale alumni who are outraged by our alma mater’s decision to admit former Taliban official Sayeed Rahmatullah Hashemi as a special student. Mr. Rahmatullah’s sole qualification for admission appears to be his service as an apologist for a brutal, misogynistic, terrorist-abetting tyranny. There’s something broken at Yale if they thought admitting him was a good idea, and we want it fixed.
    The Nail Yale name comes from this column, wherein an alumna writes that she "won’t give Yale one red cent this year, but maybe I will give them a red fingernail instead," referring to the Taliban’s policy of pulling off the fingernails of Afghani women who donned fingernail polish.
  • Drudge has linked Fund's Mar. 20 piece.
  • From a letter to Yale by a reportedly left-leaning alumna (who incidentally does not advocate withholding contributions):
    By giving special treatment to the ambassador of the Taliban regime, an individual with subpar qualifications who was admitted because of, rather than in spite of, his involvement with that regime,Yale is sending a pretty mixed message. Aren't there other foreign individuals with diverse viewpoints that they could have admitted? Ones who weren't the spokesmen for violent, intolerant regimes? Maybe even ones who were academically qualified?

    And this is an issue that the right wing does not--and should not--own. The right wing doesn't own the market on common sense. There are lots of Democrats out there who can agree that it's pretty upsetting that Yale is giving the Taliban spokesman the opportunity to earn a Yale education. And I daresay that there are a lot of Liberals (gasp!) and Feminists (oooh!) who think the same way.

    ...This is not diversity--this is a lapse in judgment. Diversity doesn't mean abandoning your sense of right and wrong.

Saturday, March 18, 2006

Saddam document

Iraq the Model has translated an interesting document recently released from the Saddam archives. A highlight:
Our Afghani source... has informed us that Afghani consular Ahmed Dahistani... had spoken before him of the following:
  1. That Usama Bin Ladin and the Taliban group in Afghanistan are in contact with Iraq and that a group from the Taliban and Usama Bin Ladin's group had conducted a visit to Iraq.
  2. That America possesses evidence that Iraq and Usama Bin Ladin's group had cooperated to strike targets inside America....
ABC questions the document's value:
(Editor's Note: The controversial claim that Osama bin Laden was cooperating with Saddam Hussein is an ongoing matter of intense debate. While the assertions contained in this document clearly support the claim, the sourcing is questionable -- i.e. an unnamed Afghan "informant" reporting on a conversation with another Afghan "consul." The date of the document -- four days after 9/11 -- is worth noting but without further corroboration, this document is of limited evidentiary value.)
Michelle Malkin questions ABC's value:
Will we see that helpful disclaimer--"this document is of limited evidentiary value"--the next time ABC News or Newsweek or the NYTimes or the Washington Post uses unnamed, uncorroborated informants?

Blogger blues, part 4: Betsy's (almost) back

Betsy's back!

Well, kinda. Seems the insta-link is the only way into her site.

Let the record show, I've never even met Glenn Reynolds

Quasi-blogger extraordinaire James Taranto once wrote of this blog,
Isn't this a perfect example of how bloggers are amateurs?
I guess that would make me pretty much the ideal amateur blogger (ideal: "perfect example"). And now Andrew Keen writes about blogger extraordinaire Glenn Reynolds on The Weekly Standard's web site,
In many ways, Reynolds has been seduced by the ideal of amateurism.
Combining the logic of Taranto and Keen, it would seem that Instapundit's been seduced by, well, me. But he's not even my type.

Friday, March 17, 2006

Bloggish navel gazing

Can you guess what the following phrases have in common?
If you click on the above links, you'll find that this blog is the first search result for each. Weird, given the fairly small readership of this blog. I guess the interlocking links of the blogosphere raise all blogs' placements in search results. I suspect that the pro-blog bias will change somewhat as search engines get more sophisticated.

(For the curious, yes, this post is symptomatic of a blogger spending too much time looking at referral logs.)

Blogger blues, part 3: "001 EOF..."

I've been trying unsuccessfully to post on Blogger for quite a while. My experience mirrors this guy's to a tee. Only he's got more of a sense of humor about it than I do:
Me: Okay Blogger, I'm clicking publish... go Team!
Blogger: There were errors
Me: Nonsense
Blogger: No seriously..there were errors, you should click here to see what they were
Me: Allrighty then *click*"
Blogger: 001 EOF while reading from control connection
Me: What the duce?
Blogger: 001 EOF while reading from control connection
Me: (reaches for google search)
::Three seconds later::
Google: It means there is a problem on, go do something important and fiddle with it later.
Other recent Blogger blues posts here and here.

Blogger blues, part 2 -- Betsy's Page is down

Blogger extraordinaire Betsy Newmark is having serious problems with Blogger, the host of her blog (and this blog as well). They seem to have lost all her posts and temporarily allowed someone to hijack her site.

Her site is at when it is working.

Related Blogger blues post here.


Anne Bayefsky writes on the UN's new Human Rights Council.

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Medicare price controls: like ordering a Diet Coke with your Big Mac and fries

Paul Howard of the Manhattan Institute's Center for Medical Progress writes today,
[P]olicymakers who are serious about controlling costs (and not providing a fig leaf for future spending) need to put much more purchasing power directly into the hands of Medicare patients. Negotiations and pricing schedules may seem attractive politically, but in the long run they are the equivalent of ordering a Diet Coke to go with your Big Mac and fries.

The vagaries of Google

Need a copy of the Communist Manifesto? Guess what site pops up first.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

From the Mike Adams presidential platform

Mike Adams has a new twist on withdrawing troops from Iraq:
Unless they advise otherwise, I plan to withdraw troops from Iraq and send them into Syria to recover the WMDs hidden there by Saddam Hussein prior to the Iraq War. After they are recovered, our troops will head to Tel Aviv to hand the WMDs over to the Israeli Army.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

So shall you reap

John Tierney:
When we reached Justice David Souter's home, a ramshackle old farmhouse along a dirt road, Keith Lacasse explained his plans for it if he's voted onto the town's Board of Selectmen in the election today.

The first plan, which Lacasse and his friends drew up right after hearing of Souter's vote in the Kelo eminent-domain case last year, was for the town to seize Souter's property and turn it into a park with a monument to the Constitution.

Iran Holocaust Cartoons

Here are the Iran Holocaust cartoons, on a site that puts them in appropriate context: Israel News Agency.

And for the benefit of search engines, which should be directed to the right place: Iran Holocaust cartoons, Iran Holocaust cartoons, Iran Holocaust cartoons, Iran Holocaust cartoons, Iran Holocaust cartoons, Iran Holocaust cartoons. And some more: Iran Holocaust cartoons, Iran Holocaust cartoons, Iran Holocaust cartoons, Iran Holocaust cartoons, Iran Holocaust cartoons, Iran Holocaust cartoons.

And some context from Power Line.

Update (3/14, 2:45 pm): Googling Iran cartoons yields Cox & Forkum , the blogosphere's pre-eminent cartoonists, first and the Israel News Agency second. Cool. And stay tuned, Cox & Forkum may do something more with this.

Advice for Democrats

Glenn Reynolds:
[I]f the Democrats stopped harping on the war, they'd do a lot better. Their continual war-baiting merely serves to remind a lot of people who are unhappy with Bush of why they don't like the Democrats either. Bush's best hope is that the Democrats won't be smart enough to figure that out.

Ah, politics

Washington Post:
Democrats sharpened their attack yesterday on President Bush's warrantless surveillance of Americans, with a liberal senator [Russell Feingold (D-Wis.)] introducing a censure resolution and party leaders showing a willingness to debate the matter.

...Sensing a Democratic misstep, Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-Tenn.) labeled the resolution a "political ploy" and called for an immediate vote....
Heh. Nothing like some childish gaming on the Senate floor.

(Not that the Post has any slant, but a different framing of the lead line would have instead mentioned "warrantless surveillance of international conversations between al Qaeda and Americans.")

David Daniel Gelernter on the Yale Taliban (oops)

David Daniel Gelernter (David's son), writing in "Phi Beta Cons: The Right Take on Higher Ed," NRO's newest blog:
I do not care to have this fellow in my dining hall, my college, or my country.

Blogger blues

Is it just me, or does it seem that of late Blogger (the free software platform I use to publish this blog) is down as often as it's up?

Monday, March 13, 2006

Shame on Yale

John Fund and two young Yale alumni lay out some reasons that my alma mater will not be high on my giving list in this reunion year.

Sunday, March 12, 2006

"If you want to be a real progressive, keep reading the New York Times"

Leave it to the New York Times to bend over backwards to put a negative spin on positive news about the economy as long as a Republican is in the White House.

Friday, March 10, 2006

Perhaps the coolest thing about this is that it is routine enough not to be big news

After a seven-month, 310 million-mile journey, the orbiter arrived at Mars Friday

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

All the news that's fit to print "If you want to be a real progressive, keep reading the New York Times"

Background point one: For those who do not follow left wing word usage, progressive is the preferred, supposedly more palatable, term for liberal.

Background point two: For those who have not read Instapundit in recent months, Glenn Reynolds has a new book, An Army of Davids, which is getting remarkably positive reviews. Not terribly surprising given Reynolds' well-known ability to "make even the dumbest sh** interesting."

Now, onwards to the body of the post.

A member of the Angry Left who goes by "Social Justice" has posted on Amazon an unhinged of review the book. This of itself is not terribly notable. What is notable is the reviewer's astute comprehension of the New York Times. Here's an excerpt from the review:
Right-Wing Trash
I've been and educator, journalist and activist for over 30 years and I am sick and tired of this right-wing trash.... I know I will do my part to keep this manifesto away from schools and our children. If you want to be a real progressive, keep reading the New York Times or go to real blogs such as DailyKos. [My emphasis.]
Might make a good slogan for the Times' marketing department: If you want to be a real progressive, keep reading the New York Times.

Speculation on Cheney's resignation

I'm late on this, but here is Insight magazine on Feb. 27:
Senior GOP sources envision the retirement of Mr. Cheney in 2007, months after the congressional elections. The sources said Mr. Cheney would be persuaded to step down....
I think Cheney should serve out his term, but his resignation would certainly give Bush a chance to anoint the favorite for the 2008 GOP nomination.

Tuesday, March 07, 2006


Two good people died young.

RIP, Dana Morosini Reeve.

RIP, Kirby Puckett.

NYT unskeptically reports on Cubans' professed love of country

The headline on the front page of yesterday's New York Times sports section reads,
Passion in Work and at Play: Cubans Talk of Their Love for Baseball and Country
There is no mention anywhere in the article of what would happen to the players if they expressed anything except love of their country.

Here is a scan of the article:

(Click on image to enlarge in separate window.)

(The online version of the article is missing the offending part of the headline.)

The article's body, as well, talks unskeptically about the players' love of Cuba. For example, it mentions a Cuban infielder who
parlayed a question about [Alex Rodriguez's] big salary to express his devotion to Cuba.
Memo to Jack Curry, the article's writer, and his editors at the Times: Last I heard Cuba was a one-party communist dictatorship without freedom of speech. Might it have been a sensible caveat to warn readers that the players' professed love for Cuba might have been a wee bit influenced by the potential repercussions if they had said anything else?