Sunday, September 30, 2007

NFL Picks

I'll make it quick--it's almost game time!
Houston favored by 3 at Atlanta. Pick: HOUSTON. Schaub over Harrington.

Jets favored by 3 at Buffalo. Pick: JETS. J.P. Losman is out for the Bills.

Baltimore favored by 4 at Cleveland. Pick: RAVENS. That defense is just too tough.

Dallas at home favored by 13 over St. Louis. Pick: ST. LOUIS. Dallas will win, but 13 pts is too much to cover.

Chicago favored by 2.5 at Detroit. Pick: BEARS. The Lions have to prove they can come up big in a big game. They haven't done it yet. The Bears have.

Miami by 3.5 at home over Oakland. Pick: MIAMI. They're due to play well at home.

Minnesota favored by 1 at home vs Green Bay. Pick: PACKERS. Minnesota just can't score.

San Francisco favored by 2 at home vs Seattle. Pick: SAN FRANCISCO. Seattle not that good on the road.

Carolina favored by 3 at home vs Tampa Bay. Pick: BUCS. They're on the road, but Delhomme is out for the Panthers.

Indianapolis favored by 10 at home vs Denver. Pick: COLTS. They have Denver's number.

Pittsburgh favored by 5.5 at Arizona. Pick: STEELERS. Too much disarray in AZ with the QB situation, etc.

San Diego favored by 11.5 at home vs Kansas City. Pick: CHIEFS. San Diego's offense isn't in sync yet; they'll win, but 11 is too much to cover.

NY Giants favored by 3.5 at home vs Philadelphia. Pick: EAGLES. That offense is ready to roll.

New England favored by 7.5 at Cincinnati. Pick: PATRIOTS. How can you pick against them given what they've done the first 3 weeks?

Poll watch

A Newsweek poll has Obama leading Clinton etc in Iowa.
Senator Clinton remains the frontrunner for the Democratic nomination.
But I've said it before and I'll keep saying it--if she loses Iowa, the ballgame changes and it's a real, big-time race. She certainly won't be able to intimidate others in the party with the "inevitability" argument.

Funny to meet you here

Chris Rock, Bill Clinton, Bono, and others were in Harlem's Apollo Theater yesterday to champion youth activism. Rock: ""I think we're trying to make activism cool again for kids."
Clinton later made an impassioned speech about young peoples' chance to change the world etc etc.

Bill sure is brazen sometimes. Did he ever stop and think, just for a moment, what his presidential administration--with its scandals, its endless cynical spin, its falsehoods, his obvious skirting of the law with regards to campaign financing, his own lies with regards to Monica Lewinsky--did he ever stop and think about what THAT did to young peoples' cynicism and their willingness to be involved? Young people were as cynical and as uninvolved with politics during the Clinton era as we'd ever seen them.

Not a way to support the troops

U.S. military personnel, returning to the U.S. (finally) from Iraq after a tour of duty, land at Oakland's airport but are kept in a quarantined area and are not allowed to enter the terminal.

A fine way to welcome our soldiers home. The airport needs to quit blaming others, and make sure it doesn't happen again. And all airports should bend over backwards to make sure our returning troops receive every courtesy when they get home.

Usual media bias dept

The Washington Post trumpets that the Environmental Protection Agency under the Bush administration "pursues fewer polluters."

Sigh. 1] They write that as if it's automatically a bad thing. It's not. The federal government must avoid over-regulation and the use of heavy-handed tactics. 2] In any case, the headline is false. The EPA isn't pursuing fewer polluters. Instead, they're pursuing fewer major prosecutions against accused polluters, and instead making deals and plea-bargains, gaining compliance that way. They have the same goal as do environmentalists; they just use different tactics. It's sad that the liberal headline-writers at the Post can't, or won't, acknowledge this.

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Another bum rush for Rush

Rush Limbaugh's opponents are after him again--and again unfairly.
He makes a comment about one soldier, a soldier who apparently has indeed been proven to be rather dishonest--and so he's supposed to be attacking all soldiers who criticize the war? Come on; this is worse than usual.

Cubs win! Cubs win!

Somewhere, Harry Caray is smiling.
I live only a little more than 100 miles from Chicago, so it's not hard to follow the Cubs.
My hometown team is the Tigers, as I grew up in Michigan; but I like to see the Cubs win too.
And you have to feel good for them and their fans. Partly, it's of course because the Cubs haven't been to a World Series since 1945. Isn't it their turn?

But partly too it's because for so long the Cubs were a laughingstock, a joke, a punch line. Everyone assumes the Cubs can't win and will never win. Actually, though, the Cubs since 1984 have won 3 division championships and been to the playoffs 4 times. Not exactly a dynasty, but hardly a team that will never win. Maybe, for the Cubs and their fans, next year is here.

Friday, September 28, 2007

But what she said about the coach's decision still goes

In their biggest game of the year, the coach of the U.S. women's soccer team decides to yank his shutout-pitching goalie and play someone else. Decision backfires. Yanked goalie (Hope Solo) criticizes the coach, and receives criticism in return. She apologizes for any perceived criticism of the woman who replaced her in goal; but she stands by what she said about the coach's decision.

And good for her! The coach was nuts, pulling someone who'd pitched 3 shutouts in the last 4 games. Miss Solo was being honest; and she stood by what she said. Refreshing these days...

Whither Newt?

Ed Morrisey makes an interesting argument: that Newt Gingrich is looking to run in 2012, not 2008. Most compelling point: why indeed say you won't run unless you raise $30 million in three weeks (an impossible goal)? Seems like it's set up to fail. But it could allow Newt to begin setting up an organization and a constituency that could make the real run (against Hillary, Newt suspects) in 2012.

It could be a real candidacy of ideas and principles, or so Mr. Gingrich keeps suggesting (no matter when he runs) and if he's serious about that, more power to him. Although I of course don't think the 2008 election is a lost cause for conservatives; far from it.

Remember Goose Creek

He explained that he made the tape to assist those persons in Arabic countries to defend themselves against the infidels invading their countries...”

Haven't talked about this case in this space yet, but it's significant. A couple of guys with ties to terrorism, planning terrorist acts, with (unsurprisingly) Muslim/Middle Eastern backgrounds (and it's sad that this is no longer surprising) were caught right here in the U.S. of A, in South Carolina.

And some in the news media at first tried to laugh them off as just transporting "fireworks."
Some in this country decry measures such as the Patriot Act and Department of Homeland Security threat level warnings, suggesting that any threat is overblown. They're wrong.

Today's good news from Iraq

An Al Qaeda leader is killed: "The U.S. military in Iraq has killed a senior leader of al-Qaeda in Iraq who was responsible for bringing foreign fighters into the country and kidnapping U.S. soldiers in 2006, an Army general announced today. The senior leader, a native of Tunisia who goes by the pseudonym Abu Usama al-Tunisi, was killed in an air strike Tuesday by a U.S. Air Force F-16 jet as part of a series of raids on the al-Qaeda in Iraq network, Army Brig. Gen. Joseph Anderson, chief of staff for Multinational Corps Iraq, told a Pentagon briefing. "

And by the way, statistics now show that the U.S., dating back to 2003, has killed over 19,000 terrorist insurgents in Iraq. That's 19,000 fanatics who can no longer kill American men, women, and children.

Cozying up to the greens

President Bush is trying to do so, it appears. Quote: "President Bush assured the rest of the world today that he takes climate change seriously and vowed that the United States "will do its part" in crafting "a new international approach" to reduce the greenhouse gases that are warming the planet."

Great! But then comes the next line: "However, he proposed no new initiatives to do so." Slam!
And even if he had done so, many environmentalists would have denounced them as insufficient, too late, not enough, etc etc etc.
Fundamental: when Republicans reach out to liberals or progressives or to the left--when they try, that is, to be "moderate"--it never works. In fact, i'd argue it only earns them contempt from the very persons to whom they try extend a hand.

"There has to be a better way to do this"--but there isn't

Federal agents raid a bunch of McDonald's restaurants in Nevada and arrest perhaps close to 100 illegal immigrants.

There's the usual outrage from the radicals on this issue: "We don't approve of the Gestapo methods ICE is using," said Gilbert Cortez, a Latino leader who urged Hispanic workers to stay home from work in protest Friday." Yes, right, arresting those who broke the law automatically is "Gestapo" behavior. Such nonsense.

A local mayor in Nevada whose town was one of the targets of the raids wasn't happy, either: "He said that he opposes illegal immigration, as well as immunity for illegal immigrants, but that "there has to be a better way to do this." "Think of some of the people who were arrested and picked up; they have children. They don't know where their mama or their daddy is. That's not right." Hey, Mr. Mayor, I think many of us are all for punishing employers who are either negligent in vetting their employees, or who knowingly hire illegals. Great.

But picking up illegal immigrants is also going to have to be a part of this. There has to be a penalty for engaging in illegal immigration in the first place, not just for hiring them.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

By the way, what's Democratic presidential candidate Bill Richardson's position on Iraq?

James Taranto's "Best of the Web" on has the answer (scroll down a bit) on the former ambassador and governor who's tried to distinguish himself from the other candidates by advocating a U.S. pullout from Iraq within months:
"New Mexico's Gov. Bill Richardson is running for president, and his position on Iraq can be summed up in 20 words: get out, vamoose, flee, scram, skedaddle, don't look back, bolt, beat it, go AWOL, quit, escape, run for your lives!"

Hey, it's a nice, concise summary.

She's still got it

Rappers like Kanye West get all the pub.
But look whose album soundly outdistanced his, and everyone else, this week:
Reba McEntire, with her Reba Duets album, sold over 300,000 copies last week.
I've always loved her music. Congrats, Reba!

Member of the gotcha media gets gotcha'd

From the "Shenanigans" blog on "Looks like MSNBC correspondent David Shuster may have deprived loyal MSNBC viewers of their favorite GOP talking heads—at least for now. This week, the MSNBC reporter “sandbagged” Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.) during an interview by asking her to name the last solider from her district to die in Iraq. After she couldn’t, Shuster named the solider himself and then scolded the Tennessee Republican for her hypocrisy. But it turns out that the soldier Shuster named— Pvt. Jeremy S. Bohannon,—was not from Blackburn’s district after all. The incident landed Shuster in some GOP hot water, and the newsman was forced to make an on-air apology for the incident last night. But that might not be the end of it, as irked Republican Hillers are now planning a boycott Shuster’s employer. "

Heh. We live in such a "gotcha" culture. But what goes around comes around.
Serves him right.

Ahmadinejad, Iran, Democrats, and our Iran policy

Jim Geraghty on National Review online, watching the Democrats debate last night from a New Hampshire bar and seeing all, pretty much every one of them, call for direct talks with Iran, had a great take on it: "The McCainiac and I exchanged incredulous glances when candidate after candidate said their preferred way to deal with Iran was direct talks, some of them mentioning Ahmadinejad. That prospect looks a little different after watching the man talk about God, the angels, the prophets and Islam for twenty-five minutes straight at Columbia University, and then follow it up by contending his country has no gay people. It took… how should I put it… the willing suspension of disbelief to contend that face-to-face meetings with Ahmadinejad seemed like a productive avenue to pursue. We concluded that the only man on stage who looked like he was willing to be tough on Iran was Tim Russert."

Fearing Hillary

No, not Republicans. Some of the other Democratic candidates for president. Quote: "Biden suggested Clinton's experience as first lady in the administration of her husband, former President Bill Clinton, when she tried unsuccessfully in the 1990s to reform health care, would hamper her effectiveness as a U.S. president. "I'm not suggesting it's Hillary's fault. I think it's a reality that it's more difficult, because there's a lot of very good things that come with all the great things that President Clinton did, but there's also a lot of the old stuff that comes back," Biden said. As Clinton fixed a chilly stare on him, Biden hurriedly added: "When I say old stuff, I'm referring to policy, policy."

I didn't realize "chilly" stares had such power.
What are the other candidates so afraid of? Does Hillary really have that much power, hold that much sway, already?

As for the debate itself, from a principled point of view, Democrats remain their liberal selves--vying to be most antiwar with regard to Iraq but not be too nutty, talking about tax increases for Social Security, for more governmental involvement in health care. There should be, and needs to be, a clear choice between the two parties in 2008 on the issues.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Don't mess with the Clintons

An owner of a New York Italian restaurant puts a picture of himself posing with Chelsea Clinton. Soon comes a letter from President Clinton's lawyer, complete with veiled threats.

"What kind of crap is that?"

Indeed. And I agree with Ann: "Nino, I'm not your lawyer. I'm just a law and politics blogger. But I say leave the photograph up. Clinton won't come after you over this. He'll look like a complete jerk.I mean, he already does."

Even worse--he looks and sounds like a corporation.

On Ron Paul

"Ron Paul is a pencil head, leading a jacquerie of wicked idiots. "
Sadly, given that his opposition to the war of Iraq seems so poorly thought out, and seems to be leading his followers to an absolutist anti-war position, 'tis true.

A Hilton coming to Rwanda

But not a hotel. "There's so much need in that area, and I feel like if I go, it will bring more attention to what people can do to help," Hilton says.

Go, Paris! Good for you.

That's a funny way to do "ethics"

Lynne Stewart, a disbarred lawyer who got in trouble because she was found to have facilitated a terrorist client's communication with other terrorists, is scheduled to speak at a Hofstra University legal "ethics" conference.

But hey, with all the other lawyers there, she might just fit right in.

I think this also qualifies as the Outrage of the Day.

Mom of cop killer: kids do 'stupid stuff"

Her son is a teenager who last year shot and killed a police officer 4 times, killing him. "I know kids do stupid stuff, but I don't think he should be punished forever."
Of course, the officer in question, and his family, will be punished forever.
"Stupid stuff" indeed.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

More for NFL fans

By the way, if you love football and the NFL, naturally check out the NFL Network...
Especially the show "NFL Replay", mainly on Tuesdays and Wednesdays.
It's basically a shortened version of the original network broadcasts of the 5 best games of the week. Each game is done in 90 minutes; all key plays are included, along with extra player/coach commentary. But all the timeouts etc...gone. Good stuff.

President Bush at the UN today

"It wasn't a bad speech. It could have been so much better."

I mean--Burma? Myanmar? A laundry list of support for UN initiatives? Today? Right after Ahmadinejad at Columbia?

Captain Ed: "The UN does not need a State of the Global Union address -- it needs blunt, honest truths about its shortcomings and the necessary steps to bring prosperity and freedom to the entire world." Amen.

More Ahmadinejad fallout

Much of the talk today is about the strong words directed at friend Mahmoud by Columbia University president Lee Bollinger: "Mr. President, you exhibit all the signs of a petty and cruel dictator."

Good. But here's the thing: what really did we, or Columbia, get out of Ahmadinejad's freedom to speak? Well, Mahmoud busily questioned the Holocaust ("if" it happened), suggested that research into it has been somehow stifled (an even worse lie than his first statement), proffered the notion that there are no gays in Iran, and at best the previous is either yet another lie, or is the result of heavy-handed repression/gay-cleansing, Iranian-style. Wonderful! So glad we got to hear all that.

Oh, you say, but it gave Ahmadinejad a chance to destroy himself with such silly speech. It opened our eyes. Yes--and if that was truly the reason why the pooh-bahs at Columbia chose to allow this Islamofascist thug a platform from which to speak, great. But you and I both know that wasn't why they did it. They did it because they think any rabble-rousing terrorist has a "right" to speak, even though Columbia is a private entity and in fact need not allow anyone to speak (it's not a government bound to enforce the 1st Amendment). Even though we are not bound to allow someone seeking to sponsor and fund those killing American soldiers the right to speak. Columbia allowed this guy to speak because its leaders, and many others in this country, have bound themselves to a fundamentally mistaken, illogical, and ideological brand of "free speech." And it's very sad.

Debating debates

Some wonder why Republican presidential candidates won't attend debates hosted by minority groups and organizations. Former African-American congressman J.C. Watts is particularly upset, saying that Republicans should at least try to reach out to blacks.

Perhaps---but then, what about Democrats boycotting debates sponsored by FoxNews?
Shouldn't Democrats at least try to reach out to FNC viewers?

Monday, September 24, 2007

Why are the terrorist insurgents in Iraq losing?

From a highly-respected American officer on the front lines:

“Since the last week of January, 2007,” he said. “When I first got here my area of operations was the southern half of downtown. It was ugly then, especially for the civilians. We found more than 50 dead in just one grave in the desert. 50,000 – 70,000 people have returned so far since the war ended in April.”

[On being asked to describe the progress he's seen]: “Sure,” he said, “let’s look at the Abu Bali area for example. 6,000 or so people live there. When I first arrived there were 10 attacks every day just in that small area alone. Since May 1, 2007, we’ve had only one attack total in that area. The people went from having two to three hours of electricity a day to having twelve hours a day. Insurgents kept blowing up the power lines, but now that they’ve been cleared out the government has put them back up. Commerce has really taken off.”

The NY Times finally seeks to move on from MoveOn

The Gray Lady gave MoveOn a discount for its anti-Petraus ad when it shouldn't have.
Hey, it only took a couple weeks for them to finally admit the obvious!
Note that the Times' media cousins at the Washington Post did their best to soften the blow by slamming Republicans a bit. Quote: "Many Republicans have seemed to prefer talking about MoveOn's ad rather than the war itself. "

Actually, for the past two months Republicans have talked exhaustively about the war, pointing out that the surge in Iraq is working, about why it would be a bad idea for the U.S. to pull out of Iraq, etc. But when our liberal friends who make up a majority of those who populate the mainstream news media in this country want to blast those they don't like, there's no stopping them.

Brad Pitt: give me pub, but don't look too close

Brad Pitt can't believe the media pays so much attention to Brangelina: "I still get amazed at the media attention that follows fame; it seems to be at an all-time high. There’s so much competition out there, so many different outlets for it and such a hunger for the best pictures or the best stories,” Pitt told FOX. “I don’t quite understand why everybody cares so much, especially when so much of what is printed and reported has such a negative focus. I don’t find it particularly healthy — for any of us.”

Hmmm---er, so how many photo ops have you and Angelina done lately? How many interviews? How many times have you posed for the paparazzi? Down how many red-carpeted runways have you walked? You and Angelina do plenty to encourage the 24/7 celeb media culture.

Ahmadinejad flunks history

So Iranian strongman Ahmadinejad is here in this country.
Speaking to the National Press Club today, he said: "...if the Holocaust is a reality, why don't we let more research be done on it?"
Hello? Anybody home? Apparently the Iranian leader has missed the literally hundreds of historical works and first-person memoirs that are now part of what we call Holocaust Studies, from Daniel Goldhagen to Elie wiesel to Primo Levi and on and on and on. The Holocaust is one of the most well-documented historical events of all time. "If" it happened? Give us a break.
I suppose it is however a good thing that this anti-Semitic moron is being allowed to speak freely. We can all see for ourselves what racist stupidity looks like.

I bet he wants to be veep

Indiana's Senator Evan Bayh to endorse Hillary Clinton today.
The Clinton camp must be delighted to receive the endorsement of this conservative Democrat; makes her look more moderate.

Sorry no picks...

Sorry I wasn't able to do any NFL picks for week 3. I was on the road, away from home.
But given some of the (again) bizarre results from week 3 (Jacksonville winning at Denver? The Bears losing by 24 at home???) it's likely I would have replicated week 2's results again, not those of week 1. But we'll come back strong for week 4...
Meanwhile, I like the Saints tonight---at home again, too much talent to keep struggling as they have been.

Friday, September 21, 2007

The stalled antiwar movement

Another sign today that the antiwar movement in Washington has lost momentum.
Always remember--national politicians, including senators, always know where the polls stand.
If indeed setting strict timetables on pulling American troops out of Iraq was so popular with the American people, it would be reflected in the congress, especially given its Democratic majority.

Today's good news from Iraq

This time it's coming from Diyala Province. Quote: "Most of the major tribes in a strategic province northeast of Baghdad have signed agreements to support U.S. and Iraqi forces, a sign the alliance-building initiative that started in Anbar province is spreading.
In Diyala province, tribal leaders representing 20 of the province's 25 major tribes have signed agreements brokered by the local government, said Army Col. David Sutherland, a brigade commander there. The shift has led to more tips from citizens and a reduction in violence, the U.S. military says. Weekly attacks in Diyala province have declined from an average of 125 three months ago to 70 last week."

Republican battling at the NRA

All the Republican candidates will appear at the convention of the Nationa Rifle Association.
I see today that, so far, Senator McCain is using his appearance to take obvious swipes at his main rivals, especially Mayor Giuliani.
I find it interesting though, and significant, that Rudy will appear before the NRA convention himself, and face any music there is to be faced.
He's made it clear that he supports the 2nd amendment. I think his willingness to explain his views before the NRA will show some forthrightness.
P.S.: it's clear who Senator Clinton believes to be her main Republican rival.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Interesting thing about the "Jena 6"

They are six African-American students who have been charged in the beating of a white classmate. Note: many say the initial charge against them (attempted murder) was too harsh.

Nobody seems to be claiming these six are innocent.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Poll watch

You can see the latest state primary polls and national polls here.
What jumps out: Fred Thompson is pretty competitive everywhere, among Republicans.
I note that Mayor Giuliani continues to lead in states such as Florida and Ohio, and in most national polls of Republicans. So much for the idea that he has no chance of winning.
Senator Clinton is certainly running strongly amond Democrats.
Although, in some national polls of Democrats, her take of the vote is as low as 35%.
Still some worry about her electability, along with a dash of Clinton fatigue, one suspects.
Again, if Senator Clinton loses Iowa, the whole ballgame changes, among Democrats.

Don't know much about history dept

The Washington Post suggests that millions of Soviet soldiers in World War II died for "liberty."
Ed Morrissey: "It's a ludicrous, almost ghoulish argument in the face of what followed World War II in Europe."

Exactly right. But Josef Stalin right now, somewhere, is smiling. All of Uncle Joe's propaganda from the war STILL affects some people!

Cognitive dissonance

There's a new poll out, with some results concerning the thinking of young people. So you think you understand young people today? Quote: "The youngest voter group—those 18 to 30—are the least likely to support "the death penalty," "embryonic stem-cell research," "the separation of church and state," "abortion rights," "physician-assisted suicide," or "affirmative action." These voters are, however, the most likely to support "gay rights" and "same-sex marriage."

Outrage of the day

Jesse Jackson on Barack Obama: the senator is "acting like he's white."
Ostensibly this all has to do with the fact that Obama has failed to make the fate of the "Jena 6"-African-American teenagers accused of a serious crime--the centerpiece of his campaign.
But really it's much deeper than that. "Acting white" is a phrase you hear, coming from some African-American teenagers, in junior-high or high schools. It's a term of derision, directed at black students who study hard and seek high grades.
We don't want ANY kids denigrating achievement in schools.
But what do we have here? A supposed leader of the black community spits it out at someone who's apparently not marching enough in lockstep with the Jackson agenda. What a great example to set for African-American children. This is a shame.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

What if it occurred at a Bush rally?

Somewhat of a pain-in-the-neck student is tasered at a John Kerry Q&A.
Not that big of a deal, but as Bill Crawford points out, what if the guy had been zapped at a Bush rally? The screaming about what a "fascist" state this is, etc etc would be going on yet.

Hillary and the language

Note the word, repeated over and over and over again, written on her backdrop as she rolls out her health-care plan. This is an old Clinton abuse-of-language tactic (remember how the Clintons always used to claim that tax cuts had to be "paid for.")

If only repetition made it so.

Mukasey, mighty Mukasey

Some in the media portray President Bush's selection of Michael Mukasey as his new Attorney General as a major concession to the Democrats. The suggestion is that President Bush wanted to choose the conservative Ted Olson, but that Harry Reid's signal of firm opposition to that possible appointment warned Bush off.

But of course, there's nothing, from a principled perspective, wrong with choosing a nomineee who is "confirmable." The only thing that could be wrong with it is if the president, in seeking confirmation, chose an AG nominee completely out of step with conservative principles. I see no evidence of that. Indeed, the support for Mukasey from persons such as William Kristol suggests Mukasey will be just fine.

OJ mania returns

Mainly, it looks to me like O.J. Simpson should examine the "friends" he chooses.
I don't see how it can be claimed, however, that he was "set up." No one appears to have pushed him into planning this ambush. It was his idea.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Demonstrating little passion

There was supposed to be big antiwar demonstrations in Washington over the weekend. But they draw relatively few attendees.

By comparison, antiwar demonstrations during the Vietnam war era could easily draw over 100,000 participants. Which means that concerning the present antiwar movement, when it comes to passion and momentum...there's no comparison.

Why you need deep pockets in Zimbabwe; or, another reason why debit cards can be cool

What runaway inflation can do.
Sadly, this kind of economic instability on the continent of Africa is nothing new--it dates back, unfortunately, to the beginning of the post-colonial age there. Colonialism in Africa was thought to be the source of all ills. History suggests that wasn't so (not that we could or should go back to colonialism).

Outrage of the day

Barry Manilow won't appear on "The View" because the show dares to have the conservative Elisabeth Hasselbeck as one of its hosts. Barry: ""I strongly disagree with her views. I think she's dangerous and offensive. I will not be on the same stage as her."

Sigh. I don't care who appears or doesn't appear on "The View." Barry Manilow has every right to refuse to appear on any TV show he wishes, and instead to go off and contemplate his glory days of singing "Mandy" and "I Write the Songs." So why is this an outrage? Because, to be blunt, Manilow's being so stupid. Hasselbeck is one conservative voice among--what? 4 or 5 other women on that show? It's terrible to have even one (and as far as I can tell, a rather mainstream) conservative represented (albeit outnumbered 3 or 4 to 1)? Please.

What's outrageous is the lack of thought some people exhibit.

HillaryCare redux

Senator Clinton as part of her presidential campaign offers a blueprint for universal health-care coverage. "This is not government-run," she says. Really? Quote: "She called for a requirement for businesses to obtain insurance for employees, and said the wealthy should pay higher taxes to help defray the cost for those less able to pay for it. She put the government's cost at $110 billion a year."

No, no, no government involvement here at all. But by the way, there'll be a major new government mandate, and a significant tax increase. Mrs. Clinton and her aides also claim her plan won't mean a major expansion of the federal bureaucracy, despite the fact that those without health insurance would be allowed to get coverage from an insurance plan offered to federal employees. Right, I mean, if a million new people choose that plan, why would anyone ever think that might require more bureaucrats?

Mrs. Clinton sounds more like her husband every day.

Perp-walked again

"No Johnny to save you this time, O.J.!"

NFL week 2 wrap-up

I didn't pick the games nearly as well as last week---this time I only got 5 correct. That'll teach me. But I'm a fan of both the Colts and Lions, and they both won yesterday. Lions fans, given the team's recent sad history, are practically delirious over a 2-0 start.

UPDATE: even Jon Kitna thinks the Lions' victory yesterday was a miracle!

Sunday, September 16, 2007

NFL Predictions: week 2

Here we go again. Somehow I went 11-4 last week. Keep your fingers crossed:

Cincinnati 7 over Cleveland (home). PICK: BENGALS. Cleveland is just bad.

Indianapolis 7 over Tennessee (home). PICK: TITANS. Colts will win the game, but it'll be close, thanks to the running ability of Vince Young and co.

St. Louis (home) 3 over San Francisco. PICK: RAMS. Niners looked rusty even in their win last week, and I can't see the Rams losing two straight at home.

New York Giants (home) 2.5 over Green Bay. PICK: GIANTS. Late word is that Eli Manning will start; Giants are at home.

Pittsburgh (home) 10 over Buffalo. PICK: STEELERS. Too many weapons, and at home.

New Orleans 3.5 over Tampa Bay (home). PICK: SAINTS. Too many weapons.

Carolina (home) 6.5 over Houston. PICK: PANTHERS. The combo of Jake Delhomme to Steve Smith is clicking again.

Jacksonville (home) 10 over Atlanta. PICK: JAGUARS. Joey Harrington is 23-44 as a starting QB, and he's even worse on the road.

Detroit (home) 3 over Minnesota. PICK: LIONS. Things seem a little different there now under Marinelli.

Dallas 3.5 over Miami (home). PICK: COWBOYS. Miami's offense just can't get untracked--ever, it seems.

Seattle 3 over Arizona (home). PICK: CARDINALS. Seahawks were underwhelming last week, and don't seem to play that well in the Valley of the Sun.

Chicago (home) 12 over Kansas City. PICK: BEARS. Looks like a real down year in KC. A shutout wouldn't be a surprise here for the Bears' aggressive D.

Denver (home) 10 over Oakland. PICK: BRONCOS. They're at home, and it appears Oakland QB Josh McCown is dinged up now.

Baltimore (home) 10 over New York Jets. PICK: RAVENS. Especially with Chad Pennington hobbling.

New England (home) 3.5 over San Diego. PICK: PATRIOTS. I don't see them being distracted by all this week's fuss, and Randy Moss gives their offense a whole new look.

(Monday) Philadelphia (home) 6.5 over Washington. PICK: EAGLES. It's a lot of points to give, but you have to think Donovan McNabb's offense will run a lot smoother than it did in week 1.

Mad at Elizabeth Edwards

Some on the hard left are mad at her, that is. Her husband is one of their favorite candidates. But Mrs. Edwards committed the cardinal sin of criticizing over their anti-Petraeus ad. So they're mad. And yes, almost scary mad: "So here’s the rule. You never repeat right wing talking points to attack your own, ever. You never enter that echo chamber as a participant. Ever."

Why do I have this feeling that Communist Party cell leaders were saying this kind of thing back in the 1930s.

Starlight, Star bright

Or, my celebrity's bigger than yours.
Barack Obama has Oprah. But Senator Clinton has Magic Johnson.
I suspect Oprah's the bigger catch, though.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Let's welcome Alan Greenspan to our ranks

Alan Greenspan, long-time Fed chairman, long-time Republican economist, has a new book out, highlighted eagerly today with a big headline in the Washington Post. The Post unsurprisingly emphasizes his criticisms of President Bush and Congressional Republicans. To wit: "...he expresses deep disappointment with Bush. "My biggest frustration remained the president's unwillingness to wield his veto against out-of-control spending," Greenspan writes. "Not exercising the veto power became a hallmark of the Bush presidency. . . . To my mind, Bush's collaborate-don't-confront approach was a major mistake."

So this is big news? Many Republicans and conservatives have been saying exactly this, that this was perhaps the major mistake made by the national Republican leadership, for months. I'm glad Chairman Greenspan finally saw fit to join the parade. If the Post's editors think Greenspan's critique was, er, unique, they are (again) confused, as usual.

"They hit us, they really hit us!"

In 1966, Richard Nixon was planning to run for the presidency again. Most observers at the time didn't give him much of a shot. He'd lost narrowly to John F. Kennedy in 1960, and then was defeated soundly in 1962 in a race to be governor of California, by Pat Brown. ABC News later that fall ran a documentary titled "The Political Obituary of Richard Nixon." But by 1966 Nixon was on the way back, changing his image, re-establishing himself within the Republican Party, campaigning for GOP candidates in the '66 midterm elections, and relentlessly criticizing the Johnson administration over Vietnam. But did the powerful in Washington see him as relevant? Was he havng any effect? Suddenly, in a fall press conference, President Johnson lashed out at Nixon, suggesting he was just a failed politician who only knew how to criticize. You wouldn't think that a national politician would enjoy criticism. But Nixon and his team did, exulting in the fact that President Johnson thought him important enough to attack him, and loving the resultant publicity it would bring Nixon. "They hit us, they really hit us!", marveled Nixon's press aide Patrick Buchanan when the news came out. (For a good description of this, see the second of Stephen Ambrose's biographies of Nixon).

I tell that story because I see the same thing happening between the rival Giuliani and Clinton campaigns. The other day Rudy Giuliani hit Senator Clinton hard, attacking her over her failure to disavow the ad suggesting that General Petraeus betrayed his country and her own criticisms of Petraeus. Now today the Clinton camp has struck back. Quote: "Later Friday, Clinton's campaign shot back, saying:"It's hardly surprising that Mayor Giuliani is running the first negative ad of the '08 campaign, given his inability to justify his unqualified support for President Bush's failed Iraq strategy."

The Giuliani camp should be glad. Perhaps his jabs at Senator Clinton have drawn a little blood. And her response certainly shows that they think him relevant (you don't see her responding to anything Ron Paul says).

Friday, September 14, 2007

An alternative view of Britney Spears

From the always interesting and provocative Ben Stein of the American Spectator, from a few weeks ago. Did you catch it? Good men and women battle terrorism and famine and criminals every day. And yet...Quote:

Okay. This country has now gone completely insane. It is Saturday night August 11, 2007. I am in the most wonderful place on this earth, Sandpoint, Idaho, looking out at the moonlit (slightly) Lake Pend Oreille, listening to the BNSF freight trains rolling by, and what do I see and hear as the lead item on CNN Headline News at midnight?Nancy Grace urgently telling us that Britney Spears is endangering her children's lives by (and I am not making this up):1.) Giving them soda and fruit juices in baby bottles, thereby endangering their teeth.2) Giving them high fat snacks like Doritos instead of fruits and vegetables.3.) Taking the kids with her on her lap in the car.4) Not always having their child seats attached properly.That's right. Because Britney is a normal human being, not a Stalinist mind controlled, food police approved, Whole Foods Bolshevized perfect new Soviet woman mommy, but is a normal mother like other mothers, the media is howling for her head. This is insanity, pure and simple.

Outrage of the day

So Bill Belichick, the team's head coach, and the New England Patriots of the NFL are heavily fined and lose a draft pick for getting caught red-handed violating league policy--videotaping, on the sidelines during a game, the coaches' signals of another team. But no one is suspended. Coach Belichick certainly didn't get suspended.

Meanwhile, Wade Wilson, an assistant coach with the Dallas Cowboys (he no longer is an active player) is suspended by the league for FIVE GAMES for taking a prohibited substance (human growth hormones, which apparently he hoped would help with his diabetes).

What the Patriots were doing could affect the outcome of a game.
What Wilson did could not possibly affect the outcome of a game.
Yet Wilson is suspended, but nobody from the Patriots is.

Rudy rolls out an ad...

...released on the web--you can find it here.
It's a bit long. But it's effective, criticizing Hillary Clinton for her attack on General Petraeus and her refusal to disavow the ad.
Giuliani is being smart in attacking Senator Clinton. First, he can say he's obeying the age-old Republican Eleventh Commandment--thou shalt not attack another Republican. So instead he attacks Hillary. Second, pointing out Mrs. Clinton's failures on this issue will appeal to the Republican base. And third, if in fact Senator Clinton will be the Democrats' nominee in 2008, there's no reason to wait in pointing out negatives about her.
Note too that Republicans have a lot of cover on this issue--why, even Elizabeth Edwards ripped MoveOn today. Quote: “Someone who’s spent their life in the military doesn’t deserve ‘General Betray Us,’” said Edwards, wife of Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards."

Although other polls show the Republican presidential race as very tight, meanwhile, the latest Fox News poll has Giuliani leading by 12 points.

Signs of changing times

A college course on YouTube.

A new California laws makes it illegal for teenagers to drive while talking on their cell phones.

In football, you no longer cheat by trying to listen in on the other team's huddle--now you film opposing coaches with a video camera.

Put the benchmarks report on the bench...for now

So one day after President Bush's speech claiming some "success" in Iraq, the White House report concerning whether real progress has been made in Iraq, based on 18 "benchmarks" comes out today, and everyone is reporting it as containing discouraging news. There's been progress on 7 benchmarks; progress on 2 others has been "mixed", and 9 others have seen unsatisfactory gains.

So here's the argument the White House needs to make: OF COURSE there has been slow progress on these benchmarks. There's been a great deal of violence in Iraq. Terrorist insurgents there are doing everything they can to obliterate progress in any and all areas. How can you make gains when security is tenuous? But now, the security situation has improved. Everyone agrees it has. So now let's see over the next 6 months what progress the Iraqis can make--given that now they'll have more security in which to do it. It's much easier to achieve political reconciliation when you don't have to constantly be looking over your shoulder. It's easier to make progress and to work for a free Iraq when you don't have to be concerned about being blown up. The White House and President Bush need to make this case, now.


For something completely different (and sad)...
Over 80 cats are removed from a southwestern Michigan home.
A goodly number of them were dead and being kept in a freezer.
We hear about this kind of thing far too often--why do people do this?

Thursday, September 13, 2007

The President's speech

President Bush's theme tonight in his speech---the more success we have, the faster troops will come hom. I liked this too: ""Some say the gains we are making in Iraq come too late. They are mistaken. It is never too late to deal a blow to al-Qaida. It is never too late to advance freedom. And it is never too late to support our troops in a fight they can win...Whatever political party you belong to, whatever your position on Iraq, we should be able to agree that America has a vital interest in preventing chaos and providing hope in the Middle East," the president said.

Good stuff. Republicans need to be aware, however---with the president's poll numbers having been down this long, with (unfortunately) public opinion having hardened on the president and Iraq (regrettably helped along by the negative spin put on everything to do with Iraq by some Democrats and those in the media), President Bush would be doing very well if his approval ratings by January 2009 got up to, say, 45%.

Bush wants to reduce troops in Iraq; Democrats just say no

So President Bush tonight will announce a troop drawdown in Iraq, by next year, of some 5,700 troops. Interesting--recently, a Democratic Party political strategist predicted Bush's move and said Democrats should simply "take yes for an answer" to it. Quote: "The Democratic strategist takes my notebook again and writes out the statement he would like to issue after Bush announces that he intends to begin withdrawing U.S. troops: "This is an important and historic step away from the status quo of more troops, more money, more time and more of the same. It is however the first step, and only the first step." That's the smart Democratic strategy, he argues, to take credit for altering the course of the war."

But right now it appears Democrats will just say no. And, perhaps (yet again) begin to move away from the mainstream.

Rudy slams the NY Times...

...over that ad slamming General Petraeus.
And why indeed did the Times apparently give MoveOn the ad at a discount rate?
I have no doubt that Giuliani's outrage over this is genuine.
Remember, too--it's smart politics. Rudy knows the Republican base has absolutely zero love for the New York Times.

Water-boarding KSM

Confessed terrorist Khalid Sheikh Mohammed confessed--because he was subjected to water-boarding. Quote: "Water-boarding has been denounced as "torture" by human rights groups and many U.S. officials, including Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., who likened it to a mock execution.
But what if that one episode of water-boarding KSM had not occurred? It is a question at the center of the debate over the harshest technique in the CIA's repertoire that has raged for three years now, a time frame, intelligence officials note, in which the technique has not been used.
Would the agency have eventually worn KSM down?"

We can't be sure. Torture is nothing we want to take lightly. But in this day and age, and given the kind of terrorists we're dealing with, it doesn't seem all that sensible to take its use completely off the table.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Where the GOP presidential race stands

There's certainly been no dramatic erosion of support for Giuliani, as some have claimed.
Quote: "The real story, post Labor Day, has been the solid pop for Fred Thompson following his formal announcement last week, the resurgence of John McCain, the small but steady improvement for Mike Huckabee, the lack of any national follow-through for Mitt Romney following his bounce after the Iowa straw poll and the continued stability of support for the GOP front-runner Rudy Giuliani."

Today's good news from Iraq

Sectarian murders are down: "The number of ethno-sectarian murders has declined significantly since the height of the sectarian violence in December 2006. Iraq-wide, the number of ethno-sectarian deaths has decreased by over 55 percent, and it would have decreased much further if it not for the casualties inflicted by barbaric al-Qaeda bombings attempting to reignite sectarian violence."

The good news from General Petraeus' report that hasn't gotten nearly enough play: "Probably the two most interesting statements in Petraeus’s report will get little coverage. First, that the data analysis he used to brief Congress was found by two intelligence agencies to be the best available on the Iraq war, and that reenlistment rates of troops in Iraq are above average: 130 percent among younger enlistees and 115 percent among those in mid-career. Those statistics constitute telling evidence that the troops themselves continue to find great meaning in their work, suggesting that they certainly don’t believe the cause is lost...If the surge has helped fortify political progress on the ground at the tribal level in Anbar and other regions of the country—by solidifying the Sunni alliance against al-Qaeda—then perhaps we should not rush toward the exit gates. Just because we can’t engineer change at the top does not mean that we can’t engineer change at the bottom in a way that will gradually and organically affect the top. As Crocker said, “The current course is hard; the alternatives are far worse.” Indeed, as Petraeus indicated, a rapid withdrawal would unleash centrifugal forces in Iraq that would tear the country further apart, whereas a slow and gradual withdrawal over time will improve the situation."

A bit of a scandal that still can't be Hsu'd away

More coverage of the trouble the Clinton campaign got into with tainted fund-raiser Norman Hsu. This time from the NY Times. Quote: “People have often said about the Clintons, they don’t care who they hang out with as long as the people can be helpful to them,” said one of Mrs. Clinton’s major fund-raisers. “The larger point in all of this is that the Clintons are the ultimate pragmatists in who they hang out with; if you can be useful to them, they will find a way to make it work.”

Fundamental: sometimes "who you hang out with" says a lot about you.
UPDATE: still not going away. Now word comes out that Hillary's campaign was warned about Hsu--but ignored it.

The real betrayers--of principle

Remember's vicious attack the other day upon General Petraeus?
Only a tiny few national Democrats have had the courage to denounce the ad (one of them, amazingly enough, was John Kerry). Most rather obviously chose to punt.
Senator Clinton's campaign was typical. Her spokesman was asked for a comment on the ad. Quote: "Phil Singer, a spokesman for Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, said his boss would "keep her focus where it should be, on ending the war."

The underlying issue

Remember last month when 3 teenagers were killed, gangland/execution-style, in Newark, New Jersey? The city yet reels from those teenagers' deaths. But note the following, pointed out not long after the killings by Steven Malanga in CityJournal:

"According to 2005 figures from the U.S. Census Bureau, only 32 percent of Newark children are being raised by their parents in a two-adult household."

"An astonishing 60 percent of the city’s kids are growing up without fathers."

"The city has one of the highest out-of-wedlock birthrates in the country, with about 65 percent of its children born to unmarried women. And 70 percent of those births are to women who are already poor, meaning that their kids are born directly into poverty."

Such figures are astonishing, and explain a lot.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

The anniversary of 9/11

We must never forget. What I most remember of that day is snapshots...

It was a beautiful, gorgeous sunny day.
Then came the news of planes hitting buildings, etc. Rumors flew.
Shocked, bewildered faces of the people on the campus where I taught.
Wide-eyed faces sitting at hastily-set-up television monitors in the student lounge, staring at images of fire, clouds of smoke, destruction.
Some classes canceled. Others go on.
Me working in my office with a radio tuned to an all-news station, all day. Fragments of hard news here and there. Going to news sites online to see the latest horrible images of the attacks.
Driving home late that night, seeing American flags popping out everywhere, in the windows of cars and trucks, hung on fences and balconies. But also seeing nervous drivers in their cars, creating long, long queues at gas stations, Rumors had flown all day about gas shortages.
Getting home, late at night, watching the latest updates on Nightline--knowing everything, now, was different.

The new hardball politics: websites

For example, a nasty anti-Thompson website, it turns out, was linked to someone...who works for a firm...which is a major player in the Romney campaign in South Carolina. The Romney campaign now disavows the site. They claim the guy who put it up wasn't an "employee" of theirs. Oh, but he was certainly an employee of a company with direct links to the Romney campaign.

Cheap, hardball politics in the internet age. Romney's man didn't cover his tracks very well. The Romney campaign seems awfully ham-handed at times.

Bush administration crafting Iran bombing plan...

...but remember that administrations always are war-gaming and planning possible scenarios concerning almost anything. It doesn't mean an attack against Iran will happen soon. And any attack would involve an aerial bombardment only against Iranian nuclear weapons facilities.

But the Bush administration is most certainly, given this news, moving their discussions to a more active phase. Myself, bombing Iran should be a last resort. Fundamental: we've got a lot on our plate already.

Senator Clinton's campaign

Still trying to shoo Norman Hsu away. Only NOW are they going to seriously vet (that is, do criminal background checks etc) on their donors?

Monday, September 10, 2007

Whither Fred?

Fred Thompson today on what should happen to Osama Bin Laden. Quote: Fred Thompson said today in South Carolina that Osama bin Laden should be granted "due process."Speaking to reporters in Greenville, Thompson said the leader of Al Qaeda "needs to be located and killed."But, according to the AP, the former senator said such a punishment shoudn't be immediately meted out.''No, no, no, we've got due process to go through'' depending on the circumstances, he said. ''I'm not suggesting those things happen simultaneously."

Ugh. Even the Clinton administration now says they didn't try to give Osama due process; they claim they tried to assassinate him several times. Which is what most think we should do. One hopes this is simply Fred slipping up on the campaign trail, and not a fundamental misunderstanding of what needs to be basic principle of this war on terror.

Outrage of the day

The liberal antiwar group publishes a full-page blast today in the NY Times vs. General David Petraeus. Quote: "...the antiwar group is running a full-page advertisement in the New York Times under the headline: "General Petraeus or General Betray us? Cooking the books for the White House."

Democrats have made their intentions clear here. Quote: “No one wants to call [Petraeus] a liar on national TV,” noted one Democratic senator, who spoke on the condition on anonymity. “The expectation is that the outside groups will do this for us.”

Liberals are attempting to smear General Petraeus, and it's not pretty.

Jane Wyman, RIP

Jane Wyman has died today, at the age of 93. She was famous for a lot of things; she was a film star, and for nearly 10 years starred in the TV series "Falcon Crest." But she'll also always be known as the first wife of Ronald Reagan. After they divorced, she never said much of anything about him publicly at all, even after he was elected to high office. Why not? In 1968, she explained why not. Quote: "It's not because I'm bitter or because I don't agree with him politically. I've always been a registered Republican. But it's bad taste to talk about ex-husbands and ex-wives, that's all. Also, I don't know a damn thing about politics."

There's honor and grace for you. RIP, Ms. Wyman.

NFL: week one update

So yesterday against the spread, i went 9-4. Not bad!
Even Buffalo, who lost the game, came through for me, beating the spread by losing by just 1, not 3. And I touted Jon Kitna and Mike Martz and the Lions, and Kitna responds by throwing for nearly 300 yards. Made me look good.
Week 2 will be tougher. Stay tuned!

Sunday, September 9, 2007

NFL Predictions: week 1

I'm going to predict the games against the spread, which is hard---but let's see how I do.
We'll start with tonight's late game, then Monday's games:

Dallas, at home, favored by 6 over the Giants. Pick: Dallas. The Giants' running game is shaky, bad news on the road vs Dallas' pass rush.

Baltimore favored by 2.5 over Cincinnati (home). Pick: Cincinnati. Not a diss on the Ravens, I just have a feeling Carson Palmer et al come up big at home.

San Francisco (home) 3 over Arizona. Pick: San Fran. When's the last time Arizona came up big on the road? And they're still breaking in a new coach.

Today's games:

Denver 3 over Buffalo (home); Pick: Buffalo. I'm not yet sold on Jay Cutler, on the road especially.

Pittsburgh 5 over Cleveland (home). Pick: Pittsburgh. Cleveland with too many holes; Brady Quinn to start sooner rather than later for the Browns.

Philadelphia 3 over Green Bay (home). Pick: Philly. Donovan McNabb has looked very good in pre-season; the Pack with too much youth.

St. Louis (home) 2 over Carolina. Pick: St. Louis. Marc Bulger should get more media love; he's developing into an outstanding QB.

Minnesota (home) 3 over Atlanta. Pick: Minnesota. Just too many distractions for the Falcons, and on the road.

New England 6 over NY Jets (home). Pick: Jets. Not to win--I think the Pats will squeak this one out, but in a close one. 6 pts is a lot to give the Pats for a divisional game on the road.

Miami 3 over Washington (home). Pick: Miami. Though this is a tough one. But give the nod to Miami's defense over the nicked-up Jason Campbell.

Jacksonville (home) 7.5 over Tennessee. Pick: Tennessee. Again, not to win--I suspect Jax will win this one in the end. But 7 and 1/2 is a lot of points; Tennessee and Vince Young to cover.

Kansas City 3 over Houston (home). Pick: Houston. Easily. Matt Schaub and the Texans to shine big at home.

Oakland (home) 3 over Detroit. Pick: Detroit. I'll probably regret it. But I'm going with Jon Kitna to generate enough points out of Mike Martz's passing game to pull the Lions through.

San Diego (home) 6.5 over Chicago. Pick: San Diego. Can't go against the loaded Chargers, from the stronger conference, at home in week 1.

Seattle (home) 6 over Tampa Bay. Pick: Seattle. Seahawks always tough at home, Shaun Alexander is healthy, and the Bucs with multiple question marks.

The power of O

As has been widely reported, Oprah held her big fundraiser for Obama last night.
She's going to be involved in this campaign. She says she will back Obama in a big, visible way.
Fundamental question: yes, a lot of people watch Oprah's show. But how much influence on VOTERS does she have? Will she influence how people VOTE? Stay tuned.

The Washington Post finds the unremarkable remarkable

Big headline today in the Washington Post highlighting some divisi0ns within the Bush administratioin over what to do in Iraq. Wow! You'd think presidential administrations had never seen arguments before. Except they have---there are ALWAYS opposing viewpoints in the White House. Factions in the Clinton administration fought to the death over welfare reform. In the Carter White House in the late 1970s, it was Cyrus Vance vs Zbigniew Brzezinski. In the Johnson White House regarding Vietnam, it was George Ball and (eventually) Bill Moyers against the world. In George Washington's first term as president, Secretary of State Thomas Jefferson fought tooth and nail with Alexander Hamilton.

Internal administration debates aren't that big of a deal. And in any case the article actually demonstrates that, now, there's a lot of unity in the administration concerning Iraq, as Ed Morrissey demonstrates very well.
Another problem with surge critics can be seen in today's NY Times front-page piece on it--the article makes a big fuss about the fact that sectarian conflict in Iraq has been slowed, but not ended. What surge supporter claimed it was?

Saturday, September 8, 2007

Catching Keith: counting down Olbermann's errors dept

Last week, our friend Mr. Olbermann was trying to argue that Republicans tolerated sex-scandal-plagued pols like Larry Craig for far too long. And hey, no way, Keith doesn't think Democrats have done the same thing! Quote: "That sounds really nice and tough, Dana, invoking Ted Kennedy as he did tonight on “Hardball.” But isn‘t Mr. Delay skating past a fact that even Kennedy [in 1969, when Mary Jo Kopechne, a passenger in a car Mr. Kennedy was driving, died at Chappaquidick] went to the cops within 36 hours. "

Wow! Yes!! Such moral dynamism!! Senator Kennedy crashes his car, the woman riding with him dies in a watery grave, and it only took Mr. Kennedy 36 hours to go to the cops!!

Ugh. Think, Mr. Olbermann.

The mainstream media is at it again

Headline in today's Washington Post: "Petraeus Disappointed At Political State of Iraq."
Oh, but look further, at the beginning of the piece: "In a preview of his report to Congress next week, Gen. David H. Petraeus yesterday expressed disappointment in the lack of progress toward political reconciliation in Iraq. Administration officials said he wants to return to Washington for another assessment in six months to allow more time for Iraqi politics to catch up with what Petraeus regards as rapidly improving security conditions."

In other words, the main point here is that, even though Petraeus would have liked to have seen more political progress in Iraq, still he is not in favor of a rapid pullout, he thinks that the surge deserves more time to work, and he hints that things could improve in Iraq in six months (otherwise, why give it that six months?). This is far different from the negative headline given the story by the Post. Do those in the news media truly not realize that we can see through this kind of obvious bias?

Michael Moore's sicko answer

ABC News' John Stossel last night on "20/20" questioned Michael Moore closely on his film "Sicko", which says a lot of nice things about Cuba's health-care system. But Moore got a lot of his statistics on Cuba from the Cuban government, Stossel noted; and isn't that government known to, well, lie? Moore's non-answer: ""Let's stick to Canada and Britain and this stuff because I think these are legitimate arguments that are made against the film and against the, the so-called idea of socialized medicine. And I think you should challenge me on these things, and I'll give you my answer."

Know your enemy

President Bush made a good point today concerning yesterday's Osama Bin Laden video, linking it to the war in Iraq:
President Bush said Osama bin Laden's mention of the Iraq war in his video message is a reminder of al-Qaida's long-term objectives in Iraq and of the "dangerous world in which we live."
"Iraq is part of this war against extremists," Bush said, responding to the terrorist leader's message but never using his name. "If al-Qaida bothers to mention Iraq, it's because they want to achieve their objectives in Iraq, which is to drive us out."

Friday, September 7, 2007

An offer we can refuse

Osama, to Americans, from his video released today (apparently authentic): "To conclude, I invite you to embrace Islam."

No, thanks.

The most interesting thing about the video, for the blogosphere today, has been parsing the strange ideological brew Osama's mixed together. Note the extreme corporation-bashing along with the claim tey control the news media. At times, it makes one wonder if Islamofascism isn't quite the right designation for Al-Qaeda-think--maybe instead it should be Islamo-Marxism.

(p.s.--if Osama really thinks his video will convert significant numbers of Americans to Islam, he's not just our enemy; he's nuts.)

Friday's good news from Iraq

Helpfully summarized by an editorial in today's Wall Street Journal. Quote:
What's more important is to note the changes that have taken place in Iraq, all of which indicate that the "surge" is working and that we are at last on our way toward a positive military outcome. As General David Petraeus and Ambassador Ryan Crocker prepare their testimony to Congress later this month, it's worth pointing to a few indicators:

• There were 30 "multiple fatality" (usually suicide) bombings in August 2007. In August 2006 there were 52.

• There were 120 daily attacks by insurgents and militias last month, down from 160 in August 2006.

• 60,000 prisoners were being held by the U.S. and Iraq as of last month, up from 27,000 a year earlier.

• Iraqi security forces currently number 360,000, up from 298,000 a year ago.

Lest one suspect the figures cited above are Bush Administration propaganda, we hasten to add they were assembled by Michael O'Hanlon and Jason Campbell of the liberal-oriented Brookings Institution and published Tuesday on the op-ed page of the New York Times.

Nor are these the only positive indicators. According to General Petraeus, the number of weapons caches seized by coalition forces rose to 4,141 in August from 1,977 in January. At the same time, he says, the incidence of sectarian violence is down by 75%.

In Anbar province--which last year the U.S. military judged "lost" to the insurgents--tens of thousands of Sunni men are joining local, U.S.-allied security forces as well as the Shiite-dominated Iraqi Security Forces. It turns out al Qaeda overstayed its welcome. The ring of cities and towns around Baghdad, which for years had provided sanctuary for the insurgents, are being cleared out by U.S. and Iraqi military forces. Radical Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr has unilaterally called a halt to attacks by his militia on coalition and Iraqi forces. Sadr is reportedly hiding out in Iran.

Unfortunately, it's everywhere

From today's Detroit Free Press: "Past the dead-end street and open cemetery grounds in a Pontiac neighborhood, there's a rugged, weed-infested path leading to the place where pit bulls fought. A bloody towel dangles from a branch. A chain with a padlock is wrapped around a tree trunk. When animal cruelty investigators responded in July to pleas for help from nearby residents, they found three scarred pit bulls chained to trees -- with bloody puncture wounds to their faces, legs and ears...Once thought of as confined mainly to the rural South, dogfighting is a growing national phenomenon that cuts across social, economic and racial lines...The Humane Society of the United States estimates 40,000 people participate in dogfighting nationally.
The Michigan Humane Society's Detroit office investigated 159 dogfighting complaints in 2006, up from 119 in 2005. This year, it investigated 74 through August, with 38 of those occurring since June."

The late, great conservative writer Frank S. Meyer used to say that civilization is, to a degree, always under threat from the "barbarians." Maybe this is another example. You just never know how barbarism will rear its ugly head.

Outrage of the day--II

This story, on ABC News' website, details how, yes, for the first time since August 2003 the U.S. economy lost jobs (4000 of them). However it also noted that the unemployment rate held steady and there's certainly no reason to panic.

Oh, but suddenly-hysterical ABC will have no truck with showing such calm reason. On its front page, the link taking you to the above story reads: "Recession? Jobs Fall for First Tim in 4 Yrs." The mainstream media--never lacking for a little hysteria.

Outrage of the day--I

Southwest Airlines almost booted this young lady off of a flight, claiming her clothing was too revealing.

Good grief. I teach at a university and I see this kind of clothing daily. Whether you approve of the clothing or not is a matter of taste. But unless Southwest is going to be lot more consistent over who gets in trouble for revealing clothing and who isn't, picking on this particular young lady was an outrage.

Fears about Fred

So Fred Thompson is in the presidential race. But not all Republicans and conservatives favor him. Here's a troubling analysis of his social conservatism. Quote: "Remember Fred on CNN in August? Would Fred as president actively support a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage? A simple question. A clear question. See Fred on videotape promise, "Yes."
Fred is not a flip-flopper. He doesn't talk out of both sides of his mouth. Like him or hate him, Fred lets you know where he stands. Right?... Does Fred support the Marriage Protection Amendment or doesn't he? The amendment a majority of GOP senators supported in 2006? The one that's simple first sentence reads: "Marriage in the United States shall consist only of the union of a man and a woman"? No one can tell. So Team Thompson tidies up the mess to National Review online: "Fred Thompson does not support a constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage." "If necessary," though, Team Thompson says he might support some other constitutional amendment that has the word "marriage" in it. Oh dear. Fred's "yes" to Anderson Cooper actually meant "no." Was Fred confused by the question? Or was he trying to confuse us?"

A bit troubling. Conservatives and the American people want a straight shooter in this election. There seems no doubt of that. Is former Senator Thompson the one? Stay tuned.

Thursday, September 6, 2007

Don't bother me with the facts, my mind is made up dept

Speaker Nancy Pelosi isn't waiting for General David Petraeus' report on Iraq. She says she already knows all she needs to know. Quote: "Speaker Nancy Pelosi is pointedly referring to the Petraeus testimony as "the Bush report presented by General Petraeus," as opposed to an independent assessment by the top military man in Iraq that has been billed for months now. "Progress is not being made," Pelosi insisted in a Capitol presser this afternoon, no matter how some people might want to "cherry pick" stories of success. "The plural of anecdotes is not data," she added."

How does she know this before she's read the final report? Your guess is as good as ours.
But then, more than once, Democrats in Washington in the last couple of months have admitted that American success in Iraq would be a "problem" for them.

If it has to happen, do it with class dept

So often, Hollywood divorces are messy. But today there's an exception--Jenna Fischer, who plays Pam Beesly on one of my favorite shows, "The Office" on NBC, is divorcing her husband. But the two of them aren't rolling about in the mud or throwing spitballs. Quote: "In another note on MySpace, Fischer asked that their fans respect their privacy and refrain from mudslinging, however well-intentioned. "We appreciate your support over the years, and would be overjoyed to have you continue supporting us both," she wrote. "You might be tempted to make one of us 'feel better' by putting the other one down in a post. Please don't—we still have the utmost respect for one another, and we'd have to delete you. "

Good for them.

But I'm sure he claims he "supports the troops"

Senator Charles Schumer of New York oughta be in trouble. Quote: "The violence in Anbar has gone down despite the Surge, not because of the Surge. The inability of American soldiers to protect these tribes from Al Qaeda said to these tribes: We have to fight Al Qaeda ourselves." — Sen. Charles Schumer (D-NY), Congressional Record, 9/5/07, p. S 11090.

I doubt our soldiers in Iraq think much of Senator Schumer's views of their abilities or inabilities. And most military analyses I've read suggest that Schumer is dead wrong.

Illegal immigration dept

Bush administration Director of Homeland Security Michael Chertoff slams sanctuary cities for illegal immigrants. The Bush administration should have cracked down on this long ago.

The latest GOP debate

I watched the Republicans debate last night in New Hampshire. Some quick impressions:
One minute for an answer isn't really long enough to give a full, nuanced, presidential answer.
Mike Huckabee has a good sense of humor.
I thought his go-round with Ron Paul on the war in Iraq, however, smacked of trying to wipe Rudy Giuliani's anti-Paul playbook from the debate back in June, when the Mayor did a smackdown on Paul. It's been done, Mike.
I suspect some liberal, antiwar Democrats packed the hall, which explains the loud applause for Ron Paul's get-out-of-Iraq comments.
John McCain did well, speaking succinctly, on point, at times eloquently. Clearly the shots he took at his rivals--at Romney concerning the surge, at Giuliani concerning his foreign policy experience--reflect the fact that McCain realizes he has to come from behind.
I thought Mayor Giuliani did fine, although it's hard to stand out every time when you're one of 9 on a stage. I think he's wise to cite his experience and accomplishments as Mayor of New York, and he does so effectively. I was surprised when Frank Luntz's voter focus group, highlighted on FoxNews' post-debate wrap-up, reacted so negatively to Rudy. It made me wonder what debate they were watching. I suspect most of them weren't Giuliani supporters, at all, to begin with. Other writers today have suggested this may have been a function of typical New Hampshire-ite anti-New York bias.
Mitt Romney hits hardest at McCain and at Giuliani. He knows who his main rivals are. I think his attacks on the mayor concerning immigration are weak, given that Romney did little concerning "sanctuary" cities when he was governor of Massachusetts.
Ron Paul doesn't sound like a libertarian on foreign policy. He sounds like a radical leftist, blaming the United States for most everything wrong anywhere.
UPDATE: In thinking about this, let's also remember all the fundamentals on which most candidates at last night's debate agreed: 1] They believe illegal immigration is a serious problem, upon which the government must act. It's about the rule of law. 2] Most support the war in Iraq, support the surge, and continue to advocate vigorous U.S. action in the war on terror. 3] Most candidates are hostile to new taxes; indeed, they favor continuing to seek to reduce taxes and regulation. 4] Most of the candidates are hostile to abortion rights, though there is some disagreement on exactly what the federal government could and should do about it.

Hovering over all of this is Fred Thompson. Welcome to the race, Fred; come on in, the water's fine!

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

On greed

Thomas Sowell had a profound but often-overlooked point in his column of the other day:

"A recent study showed the median income of major corporate CEOs to be about $8 million a year. That's less than a third of what Alex Rodriguez earns and less than one-thirtieth of what Oprah Winfrey makes. But no one is denouncing them for "greed."

Senator Clinton on privatization

Conservatives like to claim that Hillary Clinton is actually pretty liberal.
Many in the mainstream media and elsewhere poo-poo the notion regularly.
But occasionally Senator Clinton slips up and perhaps shows us her real self.
For example, the other day there was this:

"WASHINGTON — Democrat Hillary Rodham Clinton promised retirees that if elected president she will not cut Social Security benefits, raise the retirement age or privatize the taxpayer-funded system. "This is the most successful domestic program in the history of the United States," Clinton said to applause from seniors gathered in Washington to push their policy agenda. "When I'm president, privatization is off the table because it's not the answer to anything."

Privatization---not the answer to "anything", hmmm?
I don't see anyone urging the re-regulation of the airline industry.

Wednesday's good news from Iraq

Katie Couric, reporting from Iraq, says there has been significant improvement. Quote: "We hear so much about things going bad, but real progress has been made there in terms of security and stability," Couric said Tuesday. "I mean, obviously, infrastructure problems abound, but Sunnis and U.S. forces are working together. They banded together because they had a common enemy: al Qaeda."

Here's more information on yesterday's significant breakthrough in negotiations between Iraqi Shiite and Iraqi Sunni representatives in Helsinki. It appears to be a significant step forward towards political reconciliation, including agreement on a 12-step framework for finding peace. Details here. And indeed it's a shame that this peace deal hasn't gotten more coverage.

Shooed-away Hsu a no-show

Major Clinton campaign contributor Norman Hsu fails to show up for his court hearing.
Just the news that the Clinton campaign did not want to hear--they want this negative story to go away ASAP. But, now, it won't; at least for a bit longer.

Moving up your primary, chopping off your schnozz, spiting your...

...well, you get the idea. Example: Michigan Governor Jennifer Granholm, on why Michigan moved up the date of its Democratic presidential primary in the face of the party's directives not to do so: “January is important because if you have it later — our caucus was set for Feb 9 — this contest is going to be over by then,” Granholm explained. “What we want is these candidates to come here to hear our issues, to talk about our issues and to campaign on issues of fair trade, of universal health care, investing in the infrastructure for alternative fuels — the things that are going to help Michigan, including the Great Lakes. We aren't going to hear a candidate talking about that unless they come to Michigan."

Too bad pretty much every Democratic candidate is now pledging not to campaign in states that violate party directives in this way.
Fundamental: this race to become the first state to hold a presidential primary is absurd. It's creating a primary "system" where primaries and caucuses will be piled on top of each other early in 2008, and nominations will apparently be sewn up in a mad rush of campaigning. There will be precious little time for reflection, for seeing how candidates hold up over a long haul.

And it will create one of the longest GENERAL election campaigns in history. I doubt this is what anyone really wants. But it is what they will get.

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

What do they hate?

Some of us have tried to make the point that Islamic fascist terrorists, such as Al Qaeda, have attacked America and the West because they do, indeed, hate our freedom.
Many on the other side of the aisle poo-poo this, and suggest that the attacks come out of political differences, and could be alleviated through U.S. concessions.
Even Osama Bin Laden himself tried to make this argument. On one of his early videos, he sneered that if it was about freedom, "why did we not attack Sweden?"
Well. The other day, his followers indeed we were not planning to attack Sweden.
They were planning to attack Denmark.
But I'm sure it was all America's fault.


One of Hillary Clinton's big donors (over $170,000 to her) sure does spread around a lot of cash (over $1.6 million tracked down so far). And pretty much all to Democrats. Did Clinton and other Democrats do any background checking on this guy? Did they even try?

Tuesday's good news from Iraq

Frederick Kagan on NRO highlights the incredible achievements we've made in Anbar province. Quote: "Frederick Kagan points out the good news in Anbar province. Quote: "Anbar, as everyone knows, has been one of the hotbeds and the most important base for both the Sunni rejectionist insurgency and al Qaeda in Iraq since 2003. It has been one of the most violent provinces in Iraq, and one of the most dangerous for American soldiers and Marines, until recently. Now it is one of the safest — safe enough for the war cabinet of the United States of America to meet there with the senior leadership of the government of Iraq to discuss strategy. Instead of talking about how to convince the Anbaris that the Sunni will not retake power in Iraq any time soon, Bush, Maliki, Petraeus, Talabani, and Crocker talked about how to get American and Iraqi aid and reconstruction money flowing more rapidly to the province as a reward for its dramatic and decisive turn against AQI and against the Sunni rejectionist insurgency. In any other war, with any other president, this event would be recognized for what it is: the sign of a crucial victory over two challenges that had seemed both unconquerable and fatal. It should be recognized as at least the Gettysburg of this war, to the extent that counterinsurgencies can have such turning points. Less than a year ago, it was common wisdom and the conclusion of the Marine intelligence community in Anbar that the province and its people were hopelessly lost. Now the Anbaris are looking to the Americans and the government of Iraq for legitimacy, for protection, and for inclusion in a political process they have spurned for years. What is that if not a major victory in this war?"

Political reconciliation in Iraq is moving forward as well, with agreements made between the feuding parties. Details here.

How to support the troops

One small but perfectly good way some folks in northern Indiana did it.

Monday, September 3, 2007

Monday's good news from Iraq

Today, it's simple: U.S. casualties in Iraq have dropped by more than half since their peak at the surge's beginning. They've dropped significantly three months' running. Experts suggest it's precisely because the U.S. has gone on the offensive. It has the enemy on the run, unable to easily conduct offensive operations. Much more here.

There they go again

On the History News Network, the historian Robert Brent Toplin wants to know: how can so many Republicans continue to back President Bush's policies in Iraq? After all, he writes, such support is "sharply" at odds with the "facts" out of Iraq, which he claims demonstrates that the war is a disaster. Naturally, he turns to psycho-social theorizing, that some must see Bush in his position of authority as some kind of savior, or that they have a kind of "authoritarian personality" which forces them to believe in obedience to the men at the top.

There's nothing new about this (as Toplin himself admits)--this kind of psychoanalysis on the part of liberals towards their political opponents goes back to the 1950s. In the 1964 campaign, a number of psychiatrists tried to suggest that Barry Goldwater was off his rocker. It's mainly a sign of liberal arrogance, elitism, laziness, illogic, and to a degree ignorance. Don't feel like dealing with your opponents' ideas? Just assume the facts you like are the only facts, and suggest your opponents are kinda nuts. There must, just must, be something wrong with people who don't believe what you do anyway. Democrats--long-time war opponents, no less--such as Brian Baird come back from Iraq and support the surge? That doesn't seem to enter into Mr. Toplin's thinking. Does Baird have psychological issues? What about Joe Lieberman? What about all the evidence--I've highlighted a ton of it here on this blog--that in fact the surge is working and Mr. Toplin's "facts" aren't all there is to know? Why are politicians coming back from Iraq in increasing numbers supporting the surge, anyway? You'd never know, from Mr. Toplin's essay, that persons like Baird or Lieberman or John McCain even exist, much less the ideas they express.

But then it's much easier to define your opponents as nuts than to engage their ideas.

Democrats Campaign 2008 update: battle of ideas

Note, in this NY Times article today on Senator Clinton's campaign, this nugget concerning her major campaign speech of yesterday. Quote: "Mrs. Clinton spoke on the first day of a two-day kickoff for her fall push, which her camp is calling “The Change We Need,” a parry to Mr. Obama’s effort to position himself as the candidate of change. The stage at Mrs. Clinton’s rallies, in Concord and here in Portsmouth, included the words “Change + Experience” — an example of the Clinton camp’s argument that she is the most experienced candidate and would still represent change, as a woman and an ideological opposite of President Bush. “Some people think you should have to choose between change and experience,” Mrs. Clinton said in Concord. “Well, with me, you don’t have to choose. I have spent my entire life fighting for change.”

Problem: this shows that Mrs. Clinton is on the defensive. Senator Obama has already claimed the "change" idea for himself. Hillary up to now has discussed the notion of change some, but had not made it an emphasis of her campaign. But now she is. It smacks of "Look, I'm for change, too." That's playing defense, with the issues framed the way Obama wants them framed. It's not a good sign for the Clinton campaign. Senator Clinton is identified with Washington D.C; she's seen as an insider. Barack Obama's relative youth, the fact that he hasn't been in Washington nearly as long, will make it almost impossible for anyone to trump him in the "change" department. We'll see if he's able to take full advantage of this.

Why do we tolerate the president of Mexico's slams against U.S. sovereignty?

Yesterday, Mexican President Felipe Calderon made his annual state of the union speech in Mexico City before the Mexican national legislature. Quote: "I want to express again an energetic protest at the unilateral measures taken by the U.S. Congress and government which exacerbate the persecution and abusive treatment of undocumented Mexican workers," Calderon said in his state of the union speech..."The Mexican government will continue to insist firmly ... on the need for an integral immigration reform and the categorical rejection of the building of a wall on our common border," Calderon said to raucous applause."

1] I'm glad he admits these workers are "undocumented." Of course, actually it means they're illegal. They are in violation of U.S. law.
2] It's therefore the United States' business as to how it handles those in America who have broken the law. Not President Calderon's.
3] One notes President Calderon isn't inviting the U.S. to give an opinion on how Mexico should handle those who illegally enter Mr. Calderon's country. But somehow he has the right to lecture the United States on how it handles its illegal immigrants.
4] Is it President Calderon's view that the U.S. somehow has an obligation to allow anyone who enters our country illegally to do so with no penalty, and to be allowed to stay as long as they wish?

I doubt it. I suspect that President Calderon said what he said in order to satisfy public opinion in Mexico. But I hope that in our diplomatic discussions, U.S. officials make the case forcefully to the Mexican government that we cannot and will not tolerate illegal immigration continuing at its current level, nor can illegal immigrants in America expect break the law and to get away with it with no penalty.

Ever-growing nanny state dept

If John Edwards ever is elected president, the universal health care plan he would seek to pass would make regular doctor checkups mandatory for adult Americans.

Fundamental: regular checkups are a good idea for many people, but they should come out of an adult individual's free choice.

President Bush is in Iraq...

...right now. He's meeting with General Petraeus and other American officials there, along with Maliki and other Iraqi leaders. They're meeting at an airbase in Anbar province, a place that was very dangerous and insurgent-infested a year ago, but security is much improved now. Indeed that's why the administration chose it, as a symbol of the improvements we've seen in Iraq.

Bush administration officials claim the meeting was necessary prior to the September 15th deadline for deciding what will come next in Iraq--that the president needed to "look Petraeus in the eye" and get the real scoop on Iraq. Well, maybe--but I suspect there were a lot of politics behind this trip as well. It allows President Bush to show the American people that he's not afraid, or above, traveling to Iraq and being with his soldiers. And that he 's willing to do it on a holiday--in this case, on Labor Day. Remember the surprise visit he made at Thanksgiving 2003? That trip gave him a boost in the polls. The administration wouldn't mind seeing that happen again. Bush also surely wants to give the impression that no final decision has been made, that it is truly seeking input from Gen. Petraeus and the military as a whole.

Who knows? It might work. I give President Bush credit for going to Iraq. It's important for the commander-in-chief to go out to the field and see his troops.

Sunday, September 2, 2007

Global warming update

Falsehood alert: for quite some time now, there's been a lot of talk from environmentalists about how the cars Americans drive are big gas-guzzlers which leave too much of a "carbon footprint." John Edwards just the other day said Americans ought to be willing to "sacrifice" their SUVs (I wrote about it here). Problem: abandoning, say, a Hummer in favor of, say, a Prius won't get the job done, despite what everybody says. George F. Will addressed this issue a couple of months ago. Quote: "Speaking of Hummers, perhaps it is environmentally responsible to buy one and squash a Prius with it. The Prius hybrid is, of course, fuel-efficient. There are, however, environmental costs to mining and smelting (in Canada) 1,000 tons a year of zinc for the battery-powered second motor, and the shipping of the zinc 10,000 miles -- trailing a cloud of carbon dioxide -- to Wales for refining and then to China for turning it into the component that is then sent to a battery factory in Japan. Opinions differ as to whether acid rain from the Canadian mining and smelting operation is killing vegetation that once absorbed carbon dioxide. But a report from CNW Marketing Research ("Dust to Dust: The Energy Cost of New Vehicles from Concept to Disposal") concludes that in "dollars per lifetime mile," a Prius (expected life: 109,000 miles) costs $3.25, compared with $1.95 for a Hummer H3 (expected life: 207,000 miles)."

Sunday's good news from Iraq

Iraqi forces, in combination with U.S. Special Forces, in a raid capture over 30 suspected terrorist insurgents.

More reports of success in Fallujah. Quote: "Meet the new defenders of the city of Fallujah. For years, the Marines have been trying to behead the insurgent hydra that’s been terrorizing the people here. Now, they’ve got a plan that, for the moment, seems to be working. Attacks on American troops are way down; the streets are relatively clean; men are sitting around in outdoor cafes. The progress could always be temporary, of course. Tal Afar, Mosul, and other cities were once defused, only to detonate again. But, at least right now, Fallujah is calm. Cops and cop-wannabes like Am’r and Safa are part of the reason why. "

Figures from an American battalion operating in southeast Baghdad further detail improvements being made. (hat tip to All Things Conservative) Quote: "This is working,” Andersen said. “We should have been doing this four years ago. We got so many things wrong. In my experience, most Iraqis just want peace and quiet and want to get on with their lives.” The battalion’s statistics tell a stark story. In June, at the height of the fighting, 80 roadside bombs were detonated against its patrols. In August it was 19. There were 32 mortar or rocket attacks in June, but only 11 last month. "