29 November 2005

Leave Jay (Feely) Alone

New Yorkers and other out-of-state Giants fans can quit roasting Jay Feely and thank the officials from Sunday's game that the Giants even got to overtime. It seems the league called the Seahawks on Monday and apologized for two bad calls. After further review by the league, touchdowns by Jeremy Shockey and Amani Toomer should have been overturned.

Watching the game on DVR last night till 2am, I came to the same conclusion.

Plus, the three field goals Feely missed were longer than 40 yards and he made two other field goals earlier in the game. Just think, if the officials would have called the game right, Feely wouldn't have been put in the position to be the goat. The G-Men simply would have lost the game 21-6 and East Coast analysts wouldn't be crying about how the better team lost on Sunday because of a stupid kicker.

Give me a break. The Seahawks won the game because the football gods weren't going to let the officials give the game to New York. Feel bad for Feely that he happened to be on the receiving end of their (the football gods) wrath.

U2 Sucks

At BYU where U2 is king (and has been for the last 20 years), I am often derided when I say that I do not like their music. And I don't think Bono does much good advocating debt relief for tyrants and whatever else it is that he does. Here's a great piece from Best of the Web, the Indianapolis Star, and Blender magazine.
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"Irish rocker Bono says Canadian Prime Minister Paul Martin's inability to further increase foreign aid mystifies him, especially when he's facing an election in a country that clearly favors more foreign aid," the Associated Press reports from Ottawa:

Bono said he was heartened by polls suggesting most Canadians support a boost to foreign aid. He wants Canada to increase foreign contributions to 0.7 percent of its gross domestic product.

That would more than triple the $2.5 billion Canada spends on foreign aid each year.

Meanwhile, the Indianapolis Star reports that "when U2 singer Bono found himself in Italy without his favorite hat, he spent $1,700 to have it flown to his side--first class." And if Bono can spend that kind of money for a lousy hat, is it really too much to expect every taxpayer to cough up at least as much for foreign aid?
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That Bono, a true humanitarian.

Top 10 Back Again

I took a week off for Thanksgiving, I hope you did too. We were supposed to fly to Cancun after the BYU game vs. Utah. I was looking forward to finally beating the Utes and spending the week on the beach. With the elements combined against us (Hurricane Wilma) we put off our trip and BYU lost. Result? Instead of flying to Cancun we drove to Washington. That and the loss left me in a bad mood. An improbable Seahawks win and a bowl bid later and I am back on track--even if the new snow makes me wish I were skiing rather than engaged in yet another hour-and-a-half-long-boring-class-discussion.

1. Jay Feely
Could it be anyone else? This Giants kicker (he is also the kicker on my fantasy football team) gave the game to my Seahawks on Sunday. His three missed field goals land him in the Seattle "Hall of Infamy." Congrats Jay, you ruined R Jones's day. (Despite Feely's poor showing I still beat Rob in fantasy football) Credit also to Qwest Field fans who helped the Giants to 11 false start penalties. Oh yeah, the Giants will probably meet the 'Hawks again in the playoffs, but they will still have Seattle fans to deal with.

2. Reggie Bush
513 all-purpose yards. As mentioned before here, the most exciting player in all of football, whatever level. Whatever happened to to that guy at Ohio State--the "Reggie Bush of the East" (what was his name?)? Vince Young and Brady Quinn fans should collectively stop kidding themselves, Bush has got the Heisman locked up.

3. Mr. Miyagi
He may have been the best coach in movie history but he's still only #3 in this week's Top 10. Oh, not to ruin anyone's week, but he passed away last week. Reading ESPN's Page 2, I came across a review of the Karate Kid Trilogy by Bill Simmons. It is one of the funniest things I have ever read, ever.

4. Caroline Christianson
This Top 10 listing should have come sooner, sorry Caroline. As co-host of the local KBYU tv show "Talk It Up Provo", Caroline has helped to put on a good show. I haven't seen too many of them, but I think I've got them all on DVR. Check it out, Thursdays @ 7pm. Hey Caroline, have you mentioned my blog?

5. Cougar Basketball
First time over .500 in a year? No problem. Just don't let Marc's critique get to you.

6. XBox 360
I haven't played it yet, but friends of mine who don't do anything but play say its "incredible" (thanks for the word Pete). I'll get a better review in the next week or so, here's a pretty good one for now.

7. Lost
The best show this side of Jack Bauer (don't you love that raspy voice?). Jack is the name of the best characters in both shows. Coincidence? I think not.

8. Apple
I have a 12" PowerBook, an old 3rd Generation iPod and an iPod Shuffle. Just before Thanksgiving break I had a problem with my shuffle. Thursday afternoon I sent them an email explaining my problem. Friday (the next day!) I had a new shuffle in my PO box. Now that's what I call customer service.
I should get money for these plugs, seriously.

9. Hot Tamales
Its not a good list unless I promote one of my favorite foods. Everyone should eat more Hot Tamales.

10. Christmas Trees
We were going to cut down one of the trees near my apartment but we couldn't find anyone with an axe or a saw. So we bought one at Rite Aid for $17. You should too. By the way, click on the link to play Attack of the Mutant Artificial Trees. I got to the third round and scored 7000 points. Good luck chumps.

Also:
Happy 25th Bday to Ammon Sullivan. Welcome to the Quarter Century Club.
Lee Greenwood is one of the Top 10 Christmas Albums. Seriously. I'll put out a list later. Read the blurb about the "Iraqi Coins" on the Lee Greenwood website. It's a good story.

26 November 2005

Harry Potter & College Football

Harry Potter = Awesome. However, you wont want to take your young siblings. I wrote before that I expected it to be good, and it was. If you're like me and you have read all the books, you have been (by the earlier films) and will be amazed out how the movie looks exactly as you imagined it.

It seems the snow gods have heard our prayers and answered with a significant snowfall. I took a call from one friend (MB) this evening who asked me to be his moral compass. Fear not my U of U and UW friends, it had nothing to do with marriage. If you don't ski or simply don't observe the Sabbath you might find it laughable that he was wrestling with whether or not to ski the "pow" tomorrow. I'm just glad I will be traveling back to school and wont have to fight the temptation.

Meanwhile, BYU had another good win tonight. Granted, it was against the hapless Thunderbirds of SUU, but a win is a win. My roommate Marc left a message with his expert analysis, but his message was completely unintelligible so you'll have to read the BYU press release.

It looks like MWC Commissioner Craig Thompson must have been a good boy this year, because it appears that all MWC bowl eligible teams will get to go to the ball, er bowl. The latest from SI's Stewart Mandel has BYU playing Toledo (where is Toledo?) in the Vegas Bowl, Utah vs. NC State in the Emerald Bowl, TCU vs. Iowa St. in the Houston Bowl, Colo St. vs. Navy in the Poinsettia, and New Mexico vs. Memphis (they play football too?) in the Fort Worth Bowl. Happy New Year.

By the way, how does beating a weak Pac-10 team (Stanford) make Notre Dame's BCS slot "secure." Stanford got beat by UC-Davis and ND barely beat Stanford. Oh, and after last week's performance by Reggie Bush, is there any doubt about his Heisman supremacy? I think he is easily the most exciting player in all of football--whatever level. Also, the Big-12 and Big-10 = seriously overrated. Take that East Coast Bias.

Who is Lying About Iraq? - Conclusion

If you push any metaphor or analogy far enough, it will fall apart. I'll try not to do that with this one.

9/11 was like the shooting that woke up the city to the problem with gangs. Previously they had attacked other people, but this shooting was in our own backyard. In the past we had paid lip service to "getting tough" on gang violence. In one case we had cited a gang for 16 separate violations of the law(Iraq)--they were so blatant that we got the entire city council to sign off on these citations--despite the fact that they were getting kick-backs from the gang. In another case we had a boycott (Libya) against the gang.

Well, we went after the gang (al-Qaeda, Taliban, & Afghanistan) that perpetrated the shooting, raided their crack house and put their leaders behind bars. Unfortunately this was not the end of the gang problem--it was only a serious setback for one of the gangs. Repeat, the marginalization of one gang did not end the threat of gang violence in the city.

What changed on 9/11 was the understanding that we cannot sit around, twiddling while we wait for the terrorists to decide when and where they want to attack. They and their leaders do not behave rationally or by the so called "rules of war." They kill women and children and other non-combatants. They cannot be negotiated with. Traditional strategy like Cold War-era ideas about "Containment" do not apply. Threats must be analyzed and where possible, eliminated.

In the case of Iraq we had a country that we knew supported, harbored and sponsored terrorists--in the case of suicide attacks against Israel (our ally), they were very vocal (Saddam promised money to the families of suicide bombers on top of the virgins in paradise). We knew he had rape rooms and killed and terrorized his people daily--the human rights abuses are well documented. We knew he had used chemical and biological weapons against his own people and in the war against Iran. We knew he was playing hide-and-go-seek with weapons inspectors (even after the threat of invasion). Weapons inspectors proved conclusively that he had developed missiles which had the range and capability of striking neighboring countries (Israel) and being fitted with chemical, biological, or even nuclear payloads. Though the "Atta in Prague" link is still not confirmed, we knew there had been meetings between Iraqi intelligence officials (mentioned previously here). And we knew, despite Joe Wilson's (who is he?) current claims to the contrary, that Saddam pursued (albeit unsuccessfully) nuclear material in Africa. Above all we knew Saddam had defied 16 (count 'em, sixteen!) separate UN resolutions. If we allowed Iraq to get away with that, how could we ever expect any terror-sponsoring country to take us seriously?

Iraq was that unique collision between self-interest and virtue in foreign policy. Anyone familiar with basic economic principles knows fighting terrorism is a public good. Other countries can be free-riders--not only can they enjoy the benefits of our terror-fighting, but they can criticize us too (talk about having your cake and eating it). With the still unfinished oil-for-food investigations and the dirt dug up about money given to officials of the UN, France, Germany and Russia, is it any wonder that they didn't want to attack the proverbial "gift horse?"

Finally, the conclusion to "Who is Lying About Iraq?" by NORMAN PODHORETZ. Stay tuned for success in Iraq.
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Which brings us to Joseph C. Wilson, IV and what to my mind wins the palm for the most disgraceful instance of all.

The story begins with the notorious 16 words inserted--after, be it noted, much vetting by the CIA and the State Department--into Bush's 2003 State of the Union address:

The British government has learned that Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa.

This is the "lie" Mr. Wilson bragged of having "debunked" after being sent by the CIA to Niger in 2002 to check out the intelligence it had received to that effect. Mr. Wilson would later angrily deny that his wife had recommended him for this mission, and would do his best to spread the impression that choosing him had been the vice president's idea. But Nicholas Kristof of the New York Times, through whom Mr. Wilson first planted this impression, was eventually forced to admit that "Cheney apparently didn't know that Wilson had been dispatched." (By the time Mr. Kristof grudgingly issued this retraction, Mr. Wilson himself, in characteristically shameless fashion, was denying that he had ever "said the vice president sent me or ordered me sent.") And as for his wife's supposed nonrole in his mission, here is what Valerie Plame Wilson wrote in a memo to her boss at the CIA:

My husband has good relations with the PM [the prime minister of Niger] and the former minister of mines . . ., both of whom could possibly shed light on this sort of activity.

More than a year after his return, with the help of Mr. Kristof, and also Walter Pincus of the Washington Post, and then through an op-ed piece in the Times under his own name, Mr. Wilson succeeded, probably beyond his wildest dreams, in setting off a political firestorm.

In response, the White House, no doubt hoping to prevent his allegation about the 16 words from becoming a proxy for the charge that (in Mr. Wilson's latest iteration of it) "lies and disinformation [were] used to justify the invasion of Iraq," eventually acknowledged that the president's statement "did not rise to the level of inclusion in the State of the Union address." As might have been expected, however, this panicky response served to make things worse rather than better. And yet it was totally unnecessary--for the maddeningly simple reason that every single one of the 16 words at issue was true.

That is, British intelligence had assured the CIA that Saddam Hussein had tried to buy enriched uranium from the African country of Niger. Furthermore--and notwithstanding the endlessly repeated assertion that this assurance has now been discredited--Britain's independent Butler commission concluded that it was "well-founded." The relevant passage is worth quoting at length:

a. It is accepted by all parties that Iraqi officials visited Niger in 1999.

b. The British government had intelligence from several different sources indicating that this visit was for the purpose of acquiring uranium. Since uranium constitutes almost three-quarters of Niger's exports, the intelligence was credible.

c. The evidence was not conclusive that Iraq actually purchased, as opposed to having sought, uranium, and the British government did not claim this.

As if that were not enough to settle the matter, Mr. Wilson himself, far from challenging the British report when he was "debriefed" on his return from Niger (although challenging it is what he now never stops doing), actually strengthened the CIA's belief in its accuracy. From the Senate Intelligence Committee report:

He [the CIA reports officer] said he judged that the most important fact in the report [by Mr. Wilson] was that Niger officials admitted that the Iraqi delegation had traveled there in 1999, and that the Niger prime minister believed the Iraqis were interested in purchasing uranium.

And again:

The report on [Mr. Wilson's] trip to Niger . . . did not change any analysts' assessments of the Iraq-Niger uranium deal. For most analysts, the information in the report lent more credibility to the original CIA reports on the uranium deal.

This passage goes on to note that the State Department's Bureau of Intelligence and Research--which (as we have already seen) did not believe that Saddam Hussein was trying to develop nuclear weapons--found support in Mr. Wilson's report for its "assessment that Niger was unlikely to be willing or able to sell uranium to Iraq." But if so, this, as the Butler report quoted above points out, would not mean that Iraq had not tried to buy it--which was the only claim made by British intelligence and then by Mr. Bush in the famous 16 words.

The liar here, then, was not Mr. Bush but Mr. Wilson. And Mr. Wilson also lied when he told the Washington Post that he had unmasked as forgeries certain documents given to American intelligence (by whom it is not yet clear) that supposedly contained additional evidence of Saddam's efforts to buy uranium from Niger. The documents did indeed turn out to be forgeries; but, according to the Butler report:

The forged documents were not available to the British government at the time its assessment was made, and so the fact of the forgery does not undermine [that assessment].

More damning yet to Mr. Wilson, the Senate Intelligence Committee discovered that he had never laid eyes on the documents in question:

[Mr. Wilson] also told committee staff that he was the source of a Washington Post article . . . which said, "among the envoy's conclusions was that the documents may have been forged because 'the dates were wrong and the names were wrong.' " Committee staff asked how the former ambassador could have come to the conclusion that the "dates were wrong and the names were wrong" when he had never seen the CIA reports and had no knowledge of what names and dates were in the reports.

To top all this off, just as Mr. Cheney had nothing to do with the choice of Mr. Wilson for the mission to Niger, neither was it true that, as Mr. Wilson "confirmed" for a credulous New Republic reporter, "the CIA circulated [his] report to the Vice President's office," thereby supposedly proving that Cheney and his staff "knew the Niger story was a flat-out lie." Yet--the mind reels--if Mr. Cheney had actually been briefed on Mr. Wilson's oral report to the CIA (which he was not), he would, like the CIA itself, have been more inclined to believe that Saddam had tried to buy yellowcake uranium from Niger.

So much for the author of the best-selling and much-acclaimed book whose title alone--"The Politics of Truth: Inside the Lies that Led to War and Betrayed My Wife's CIA Identity"--has set a new record for chutzpah.

But there is worse. In his press conference on the indictment against Mr. Libby, Patrick Fitzgerald insisted that lying to federal investigators is a serious crime both because it is itself against the law and because, by sending them on endless wild-goose chases, it constitutes the even more serious crime of obstruction of justice. By those standards, Mr. Wilson--who has repeatedly made false statements about every aspect of his mission to Niger, including whose idea it was to send him and what he told the CIA upon his return; who was then shown up by the Senate Intelligence Committee as having lied about the forged documents; and whose mendacity has sent the whole country into a wild-goose chase after allegations that, the more they are refuted, the more they keep being repeated--is himself an excellent candidate for criminal prosecution.

And so long as we are hunting for liars in this area, let me suggest that we begin with the Democrats now proclaiming that they were duped, and that we then broaden out to all those who in their desperation to delegitimize the larger policy being tested in Iraq--the policy of making the Middle East safe for America by making it safe for democracy--have consistently used distortion, misrepresentation and selective perception to vilify as immoral a bold and noble enterprise and to brand as an ignominious defeat what is proving itself more and more every day to be a victory of American arms and a vindication of American ideals.

25 November 2005

Walk the Line

I've seen this movie before--it was called Ray.
Every review I can find, here, here, and here waxes positively Academic about this latest attempt at VH1 "Behind the Music" writ hollywood blockbuster.

In case you haven't seen it or aren't familiar with the storyline, let me fill you in. Struggling musician finally makes it big, gets caught up in the hype, experiments with drugs, becomes addicted, neglects wife and kids, addiction grows worse, extra-marital affairs abound, hits rock bottom, friend pulls 'em out of a hole, returns to making music and lives happily ever after etc. etc.

Joaquin Phoenix and Reese Witherspoon deliver great performances. They do their own singing and (I'm told) are believeable as Johnny Cash and June Carter. However, the dynamite, Academy-Award worthy duo of Paul Walker and Jessica Alba they are not. Walk the Line does not meet the high standard of She's All That or The Fast and the Furious.

Other than that, you'll excuse me if I was disappointed to watch what amounted to a Ray sequel. How about a video biography about someone who doesn't rehash the now-tired theme of sex, drugs and rock 'n roll? I suppose that wouldn't make for a "compelling" enough story.

Are there any good movies playing? Has anyone seen a good movie lately? I guess there's always Harry Potter.

23 November 2005

Who is Lying About Iraq? - Part V

If only al-Qaeda were the only terrorist group and Iraq the only rogue nation trying to acquire WMD in the world. Unfortunately, this is not the reality we live in. If it were, Afghanistan might have been both the beginning and the end of the war on terror.

9/11 woke the world up to the threat of terrorism. It shouldn't have taken that long. The bombing of Marine barracks in Beirut, the Pan-Am explosion, the attempted take-down of the Trade Towers--all of these and more should have shaken us from the post-Cold War day-dream we were in. But they didn't.

Rationale for invading Iraq never required and I never needed a point to point to point connection between Iraq and al-Qaeda. I still maintain that a connection exists, and a close reading of the actual report by Murray Waas does not refute coordination between key Iraqi officials and al-Qaeda. Unfortunately for us, Murray Waas does not identify a single source, and even contradicts himself as to whether or not the detailed CIA report on which President Bush's PDB (President's Daily Brief) was based was given to the Senate Intelligence Committee (it was).

Murray Waas, Joe Wilson, and other "Bush Lied!" history re-writers have some things in common. They re-hash the same ridiculous arguments about pre-war intelligence. They go back and forth between 2-3 different critiques, as soon as one is thoroughly answered they resurrect the other--giving life to Dr. Frankenstein's monster--in the form of Powell's former Chief of Staff, Joe Wilson, and now Rep. Murtha.

The key (and only) source in Waas' article is a "former administration official." Could this source be none other than the "irrefutable" Joe Wilson? Probably. If my only source were someone who has been shown here and elsewhere (note: this is a link to a "very" good article by Michael Barone) to have lied and contradicted himself on numerous occasions, I too would keep him anonymous.

Way to go Murray Waas for regurgitating an argument with evidence and sources that have already been refuted--and getting paid for it too.

Without further delay, Part V in "Who is Lying About Iraq?" by NORMAN PODHORETZ--a scholarly rigorous article with legitimate sources.
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Liberal politicians like these were seconded by the mainstream media, in whose columns a very different tune would later be sung. For example, throughout the last two years of the Clinton administration, editorials in the New York Times repeatedly insisted that "without further outside intervention, Iraq should be able to rebuild weapons and missile plants within a year [and] future military attacks may be required to diminish the arsenal again."

The Times was also skeptical of negotiations, pointing out that it was "hard to negotiate with a tyrant who has no intention of honoring his commitments and who sees nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons as his country's salvation."

So, too, the Washington Post, which greeted the inauguration of George W. Bush in January 2001 with this admonition:

Of all the booby traps left behind by the Clinton administration, none is more dangerous--or more urgent--than the situation in Iraq. Over the last year, Mr. Clinton and his team quietly avoided dealing with, or calling attention to, the almost complete unraveling of a decade's efforts to isolate the regime of Saddam Hussein and prevent it from rebuilding its weapons of mass destruction. That leaves President Bush to confront a dismaying panorama in the Persian Gulf [where] intelligence photos . . . show the reconstruction of factories long suspected of producing chemical and biological weapons.

All this should surely suffice to prove far beyond any even unreasonable doubt that Mr. Bush was telling what he believed to be the truth about Saddam's stockpile of WMD. It also disposes of the fallback charge that Mr. Bush lied by exaggerating or hyping the intelligence presented to him. Why on earth would he have done so when the intelligence itself was so compelling that it convinced everyone who had direct access to it, and when hardly anyone in the world believed that Saddam had, as he claimed, complied with the 16 resolutions of the Security Council demanding that he get rid of his weapons of mass destruction?

Another fallback charge is that Mr. Bush, operating mainly through Mr. Cheney, somehow forced the CIA into telling him what he wanted to hear. Yet in its report of 2004, the bipartisan Senate Intelligence Committee, while criticizing the CIA for relying on what in hindsight looked like weak or faulty intelligence, stated that it "did not find any evidence that administration officials attempted to coerce, influence, or pressure analysts to change their judgments related to Iraq's weapons-of-mass-destruction capabilities.

The March 2005 report of the equally bipartisan Robb-Silberman commission, which investigated intelligence failures on Iraq, reached the same conclusion, finding "no evidence of political pressure to influence the intelligence community's pre-war assessments of Iraq's weapons programs. . . . Analysts universally asserted that in no instance did political pressure cause them to skew or alter any of their analytical judgments."

Still, even many who believed that Saddam did possess WMD, and was ruthless enough to use them, accused Mr. Bush of telling a different sort of lie by characterizing the risk as "imminent." But this, too, is false: Mr. Bush consistently rejected imminence as a justification for war. Thus, in the State of the Union address he delivered only three months after 9/11, Mr. Bush declared that he would "not wait on events while dangers gather" and that he would "not stand by, as peril draws closer and closer." Then, in a speech at West Point six months later, he reiterated the same point: "If we wait for threats to materialize, we will have waited too long." And as if that were not clear enough, he went out of his way in his State of the Union address in 2003 (that is, three months before the invasion), to bring up the word "imminent" itself precisely in order to repudiate it:

Some have said we must not act until the threat is imminent. Since when have terrorists and tyrants announced their intentions, politely putting us on notice before they strike? If this threat is permitted to fully and suddenly emerge, all actions, all words, and all recriminations would come too late. Trusting in the sanity and restraint of Saddam Hussein is not a strategy, and it is not an option.

What of the related charge that it was still another "lie" to suggest, as Mr. Bush and his people did, that a connection could be traced between Saddam Hussein and the al Qaeda terrorists who had attacked us on 9/11? This charge was also rejected by the Senate Intelligence Committee. Contrary to how its findings were summarized in the mainstream media, the committee's report explicitly concluded that al Qaeda did in fact have a cooperative, if informal, relationship with Iraqi agents working under Saddam. The report of the bipartisan 9/11 commission came to the same conclusion, as did a comparably independent British investigation conducted by Lord Butler, which pointed to "meetings . . . between senior Iraqi representatives and senior al-Qaeda operatives."

BYU vs. WSU

I don't know how many games (pre-season or otherwise) BYU Men's bball has played in Provo this year, but I haven' been to one. Tonight, however, we drove 2 hours north to Spokane to watch the BYU Cougars play the WSU Cougars.

We sat just down the row from Trent Plaisted's dad who apparently grew up in the same town as my old man. Despite some homecooking from the officials (he had 4 fouls while the guy he was defending had 0) he had a good game. The entire team, for that matter, had a good game.

I was quick to write off a team that listed freshmen as two of its best players (Lee Cummard & Trent Plaisted) and a walk-on (Brock Reichner) as one of its starters. I may have been too hasty. They surged to an early lead and held it all game--winning by 8.

One friend of my brother who attends WSU told us to watch out for #12 because he was the "people's champ." Well, #12 scored 3 points in this losing effort and looked more like a chump. I think WSU fans might better spend their time watching less WSU bball and listening to less Paul Wall and more time driving to Spokane and watching Gonzaga.

In case you missed it, the 'Zags beat Maryland on Monday and Michigan St. in triple overtime on Tuesday. I'm going to go ahead and predict that they will make a lot of noise come March. So will UW for that matter...

Tough luck for Utah. I know, I know, they will probably go to the Emerald Bowl, but in the hierarchy of Bowls, it's no Fiesta Bowl--or Las Vegas Bowl for that matter. I mean, they beat BYU and still get the snub from the Vegas Bowl crowd. Ouch.

22 November 2005

Who is Lying About Iraq? - Part IV

If you have been following this series, you have probably begun to wonder how anyone could possibly believe that "Bush Lied!" about Iraq. Other intelligence agencies both in and outside the US independently confirmed our intelligence or brought their own, President Clinton ignored the threat , and the editorial boards of the Washington Post and NYT (leading purveyors of the "Bush Lied" history re-write) wrote editorials about the importance of dealing with the Iraq-Saddam-WMD threat. Despite the large volume of history supporting the widespread belief about the imminent threat from Iraq, Democratic leaders (who are they?), liberal editorial boards and others are daily peddling the idea that "Bush Lied!".

Here then is Part IV of the series "Who is Lying About Iraq?" by NORMAN PODHORETZ.
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But the consensus on which Mr. Bush relied was not born in his own administration. In fact, it was first fully formed in the Clinton administration. Here is Bill Clinton himself, speaking in 1998:

If Saddam rejects peace and we have to use force, our purpose is clear. We want to seriously diminish the threat posed by Iraq's weapons-of-mass-destruction program.

Here is his Secretary of State Madeline Albright, also speaking in 1998:

Iraq is a long way from [the USA], but what happens there matters a great deal here. For the risk that the leaders of a rogue state will use nuclear, chemical, or biological weapons against us or our allies is the greatest security threat we face.

Here is Sandy Berger, Clinton's National Security Adviser, who chimed in at the same time with this flat-out assertion about Saddam:

He will use those weapons of mass destruction again, as he has ten times since 1983.

Finally, Mr. Clinton's secretary of defense, William Cohen, was so sure Saddam had stockpiles of WMD that he remained "absolutely convinced" of it even after our failure to find them in the wake of the invasion in March 2003.

Nor did leading Democrats in Congress entertain any doubts on this score. A few months after Mr. Clinton and his people made the statements I have just quoted, a group of Democratic senators, including such liberals as Carl Levin, Tom Daschle, and John Kerry, urged the President "to take necessary actions (including, if appropriate, air and missile strikes on suspect Iraqi sites) to respond effectively to the threat posed by Iraq's refusal to end its weapons-of-mass-destruction programs."

Nancy Pelosi, the future leader of the Democrats in the House, and then a member of the House Intelligence Committee, added her voice to the chorus:

Saddam Hussein has been engaged in the development of weapons-of-mass-destruction technology, which is a threat to countries in the region, and he has made a mockery of the weapons inspection process.

This Democratic drumbeat continued and even intensified when Mr. Bush succeeded Mr. Clinton in 2001, and it featured many who would later pretend to have been deceived by the Bush White House. In a letter to the new president, a group of senators led by Bob Graham declared:

There is no doubt that . . . Saddam Hussein has invigorated his weapons programs. Reports indicate that biological, chemical, and nuclear programs continue apace and may be back to pre-Gulf war status. In addition, Saddam continues to redefine delivery systems and is doubtless using the cover of a licit missile program to develop longer-range missiles that will threaten the United States and our allies.

Sen. Carl Levin also reaffirmed for Mr. Bush's benefit what he had told Mr. Clinton some years earlier.

Saddam Hussein is a tyrant and a threat to the peace and stability of the region. He has ignored the mandate of the United Nations, and is building weapons of mass destruction and the means of delivering them.

Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton agreed, speaking in October 2002:

In the four years since the inspectors left, intelligence reports show that Saddam Hussein has worked to rebuild his chemical- and biological-weapons stock, his missile-delivery capability, and his nuclear program. He has also given aid, comfort, and sanctuary to terrorists, including al-Qaeda members.

Senator Jay Rockefeller, vice chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, agreed as well:

There is unmistakable evidence that Saddam Hussein is working aggressively to develop nuclear weapons and will likely have nuclear weapons within the next five years. . . . We also should remember we have always underestimated the progress Saddam has made in development of weapons of mass destruction.

Even more striking were the sentiments of Bush's opponents in his two campaigns for the presidency. Thus Al Gore in September 2002:

We know that [Saddam] has stored secret supplies of biological and chemical weapons throughout his country.

And here is Mr. Gore again, in that same year:

Iraq's search for weapons of mass destruction has proven impossible to deter, and we should assume that it will continue for as long as Saddam is in power.

Now to John Kerry, also speaking in 2002:

I will be voting to give the President of the United States the authority to use force--if necessary--to disarm Saddam Hussein because I believe that a deadly arsenal of weapons of mass destruction in his hands is a real and grave threat to our security.

Perhaps most startling of all, given the rhetoric that they would later employ against Mr. Bush after the invasion of Iraq, are statements made by Sens. Ted Kennedy and Robert Byrd, also in 2002:

Kennedy: "We have known for many years that Saddam Hussein is seeking and developing weapons of mass destruction."

Byrd: "The last U.N. weapons inspectors left Iraq in October of 1998. We are confident that Saddam Hussein retains some stockpiles of chemical and biological weapons, and that he has since embarked on a crash course to build up his chemical- and biological-warfare capabilities. Intelligence reports indicate that he is seeking nuclear weapons."

18 November 2005

Madeleine Albright, Foreign Policy Expert

Looking for a little humor? Try this piece from the Austin-American Statesman, with commentary.
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The Clinton Legacy

It must be very frustrating to be Bill Clinton. The president who was obsessed with his "legacy" is unquestionably going to be overshadowed in history by his successor--and that's true even if, or perhaps we should say especially if, President Bush's detractors are right and he's the most gawdawful president in world history. Anyway, the Austin American-Statesman reports on an appearance by Madeleine Albright, Clinton's secretary of state, who made a weak effort to burnish her erstwhile boss's legacy:

Albright criticized the Bush administration for "a deliberate way of not learning the lessons" of Clinton's efforts to make peace between the Israelis and the Palestinians. She said Clinton had so impressed the Arabs that he "could be elected president of any country" in the Middle East.

How many countries in the Middle East even had free elections when Bill Clinton was president? If you limit it to Arab countries, you can count them on the fingers of one foot.

BYU vs. Utah (& Cougars vs. Huskies)

Calling all predictions

I mentioned in this week's Top 10 that I picked BYU to win by 2.5. With Ute QB Brian Johnson out, BYU seems to be the consensus pick. I'd be interested to know everyone else's take on the game.

Also, in Modern Germany today one of the students arrived decked out in red Utah gear. Dr. Kerry asked him about it and I asked if perhaps he had lost a bet. He insisted that he was a "die hard" Ute fan and Dr. Kerry suggested that was probably how Utah would lose on Saturday. Good natured jabs aside, what is a BYU student doing wearing Utah gear? I can understand a BYU fan cheering for Utah against anyone else--but against your own school? Can you be that jaded about BYU football? Where is the loyalty?

Seattle-ites: Do they still play football at the University of Washington? Pullman? Is anyone paying attention to this game? Is anyone going to attend? Who will win? Utah papers have had innumerable articles about the BYU vs. U of U matchup. The three Seattle-area papers I read have had virtually nothing about the UW vs. WSU game. What gives? Predictions?

Who Is Lying About Iraq? - Part III

What is often ignored about the intelligence leading to war in Iraq is the fact that it wasn't just the US that signed off on our findings. Germany, France, Great Britain and Israel all independently confirmed the findings of the US. In the US itself, it wasn't just the CIA that made determinations about Iraq's WMD capability--the State Dept. also confirmed their findings. AND it wasn't just Intel. agencies under the Bush administration that saw Iraq as an ongoing WMD threat--officials, intel committee chairs and media all viewed Iraq as a huge problem left over from the Clinton presidency--one which Clinton had largely ignored and left for Bush to solve. It is much easier to do nothing and appease Islami-Fascists than it is to openly confront them.

And now, the next installment from NORMAN PODHORETZ
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So, once again, did the British, the French and the Germans, all of whom signed on in advance to Secretary of State Colin Powell's reading of the satellite photos he presented to the U.N. in the period leading up to the invasion. Mr. Powell himself and his chief of staff, Lawrence Wilkerson, now feel that this speech was the low point of his tenure as secretary of state. But Mr. Wilkerson (in the process of a vicious attack on the president, the vice president, and the secretary of defense for getting us into Iraq) is forced to acknowledge that the Bush administration did not lack for company in interpreting the available evidence as it did:

"I can't tell you why the French, the Germans, the Brits and us thought that most of the material, if not all of it, that we presented at the U.N. on 5 February 2003 was the truth. I can't. I've wrestled with it. [But] when you see a satellite photograph of all the signs of the chemical-weapons ASP--Ammunition Supply Point--with chemical weapons, and you match all those signs with your matrix on what should show a chemical ASP, and they're there, you have to conclude that it's a chemical ASP, especially when you see the next satellite photograph which shows the UN inspectors wheeling in their white vehicles with black markings on them to that same ASP, and everything is changed, everything is clean. . . . But George [Tenet] was convinced, John McLaughlin [Tenet's deputy] was convinced, that what we were presented [for Powell's UN speech] was accurate."

Going on to shoot down a widespread impression, Mr. Wilkerson informs us that even the State Department's Bureau of Intelligence and Research, known as INR, was convinced:

"People say, well, INR dissented. That's a bunch of bull. INR dissented that the nuclear program was up and running. That's all INR dissented on. They were right there with the chems and the bios."

In explaining its dissent on Iraq's nuclear program, the INR had, as stated in the NIE of 2002, expressed doubt about:

"Iraq's efforts to acquire aluminum tubes [which are] central to the argument that Baghdad is reconstituting its nuclear-weapons program. . . . INR is not persuaded that the tubes in question are intended for use as centrifuge rotors . . . in Iraq's nuclear-weapons program."

But, according to Wilkerson:

"The French came in in the middle of my deliberations at the CIA and said, we have just spun aluminum tubes, and by God, we did it to this rpm, et cetera, et cetera, and it was all, you know, proof positive that the aluminum tubes were not for mortar casings or artillery casings, they were for centrifuges. Otherwise, why would you have such exquisite instruments?"

In short, and whether or not it included the secret heart of Hans Blix, "the consensus of the intelligence community," as Mr. Wilkerson puts it, "was overwhelming" in the period leading up to the invasion of Iraq that Saddam definitely had an arsenal of chemical and biological weapons, and that he was also in all probability well on the way to rebuilding the nuclear capability that the Israelis had damaged by bombing the Osirak reactor in 1981.

Additional confirmation of this latter point comes from Kenneth Pollack, who served in the National Security Council under Clinton. "In the late spring of 2002," Pollack has written:

"I participated in a Washington meeting about Iraqi WMD. Those present included nearly twenty former inspectors from the United Nations Special Commission (UNSCOM), the force established in 1991 to oversee the elimination of WMD in Iraq. One of the senior people put a question to the group: did anyone in the room doubt that Iraq was currently operating a secret centrifuge plant? No one did. Three people added that they believed Iraq was also operating a secret calutron plant (a facility for separating uranium isotopes)."

No wonder, then, that another conclusion the NIE of 2002 reached with "high confidence" was that "Iraq could make a nuclear weapon in months to a year once it acquires sufficient weapons-grade fissile material." (Hard as it is to believe, let alone to reconcile with his general position, Joseph C. Wilson IV, in a speech he delivered three months after the invasion at the Education for Peace in Iraq Center, offhandedly made the following remark: "I remain of the view that we will find biological and chemical weapons and we may well find something that indicates that Saddam's regime maintained an interest in nuclear weapons.")

17 November 2005

Polygamy and Same-Sex Marriage

After successful passage of legislation in some 17 states last fall defining marriage as being between a man and woman, much of the furor over the issues of same-sex marriage has died down. You'll recall that these measures came as a direct result of and response to the ruling in Massachussetts Supreme Court and a certain rogue mayor in San Francisco (what was his name?) who ordered the issuance of marriage certificates to gay couples. One is a case of judicial activism (about which the column has written quite a bit--see Roe v. Wade) and the other executive activism--situations where they acted outside of lawful parameters as decided by democratically elected legislators--legislators whose job it is to write the laws. The only argument that could be made in favor of their position is that a sort of "tyranny of the majority"--the majority being those voters who passed, by referendum, amendments to their state constitutions defining marriage as being between a man and a woman. I don't necessarily buy that argument--in part because no one seems to be arguing it from that angle--but I would be interested to read an intelligent opinion from that angle.

The following is further explanation of the riots in France from the perspective of polygamy--apparently a current practice in France among some people. I have been developing an idea about why the riots in France would not happen in the US--differences in society, market organization etc. and should have it posted in the next few days. Stay tuned.
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Too Much 'Pluralism'

"France's employment minister on Tuesday fingered polygamy as one reason for the rioting in the country," the Financial Times reports:

"GĂ©rard Larcher said multiple marriages among immigrants was one reason for the racial discrimination which ethnic minorities faced in the job market. Overly large polygamous families sometimes led to anti-social behaviour among youths who lacked a father figure, making employers wary of hiring ethnic minorities," he explained.

Another problem with polygamy is that, by reducing the supply of available women, it makes it virtually impossible for low-status men to marry, and a large population of frustrated, undomesticated young men is a clear danger to society.

There's a lesson here for the debate over same-sex marriage, too. Marriage, while far from a perfect institution, is crucially important to social stability. That's why most sensible people, while adopting a live-and-let-live attitude toward homosexuality, draw the line at messing with the definition of marriage.

Who Is Lying About Iraq? - Part II

Attacking the intelligence used to justify invading Iraq is by no means the only basis for critique of the war in Iraq. Reasonable objections can be had about the success of the war itself as a part of the overall war on terror and our own stated goals of establishing democracy in the Middle East. However, we should not confuse unforseen and negative consequences (endemic to war in general) as specific critiques of the Iraq war. These critiques are not unique to this conflict. To be sure, incidences of torture, US soldier and Iraqi civilian casualty, and continued unrest, are regrettable. However, they are general critiques of war and must be weighed against justifiable reason for going to war.

In my Modern Germany class I have recently focused my reading and study on post-WWII Germany. De-Nazification (like de-Baathification) was a difficult proposition. Millions of German citizens were given surveys to determine their level of commitment to the Nazi party--it was a nearly impossible effort to separate the sheep from the goats. From these surveys came thousands of trials including the famous Nuremberg trials. US officials were left with difficult decisions--many of those with ties to the Nazi party were the highly trained officials needed to help rebuild war-torn Germany. That, combined with the threat of Communism curtailed many of the trials and led to widespread amnesty for former Nazi collaborators. It seems that history has repeated itself at least in this instance. Eventually the common threat of communism brought the US and Germany into a tight alliance. Germany embraced free-market and democratic principles and eschewed the Marxist elements of German society. Founded on these principles they experienced miraculous growth and recovery--in large part due to the successes of the Marshall Plan--and became a strong ally in the Cold War where they had previously been our greatest enemy. There is potential for the same thing to occur in Iraq. We are betting that free-market principles will bring prosperity and that democratic ideals will foster resistance of islami-fascism.

Now, the second part of "Who Is Lying About Iraq" by NORMAN PODHORETZ
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The main "lie" that George W. Bush is accused of telling us is that Saddam Hussein possessed an arsenal of weapons of mass destruction, or WMD as they have invariably come to be called. From this followed the subsidiary "lie" that Iraq under Saddam's regime posed a two-edged mortal threat. On the one hand, we were informed, there was a distinct (or even "imminent") possibility that Saddam himself would use these weapons against us or our allies; and on the other hand, there was the still more dangerous possibility that he would supply them to terrorists like those who had already attacked us on 9/11 and to whom he was linked.

This entire scenario of purported deceit was given a new lease on life by the indictment in late October of I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, then chief of staff to Vice President Dick Cheney. Mr. Libby stands accused of making false statements to the FBI and of committing perjury in testifying before a grand jury that had been convened to find out who in the Bush administration had "outed" Valerie Plame, a CIA agent married to the retired ambassador Joseph C. Wilson IV. The supposed purpose of leaking this classified information to the press was to retaliate against Mr. Wilson for having "debunked" (in his words) "the lies that led to war."

Now, as it happens, Mr. Libby was not charged with having outed Ms. Plame but only with having lied about when and from whom he first learned that she worked for the CIA. Moreover, Patrick J. Fitzgerald, the special prosecutor who brought the indictment against him, made a point of emphasizing that "this indictment is not about the war":

This indictment is not about the propriety of the war. And people who believe fervently in the war effort, people who oppose it, people who have mixed feelings about it should not look to this indictment for any resolution of how they feel or any vindication of how they feel.

This is simply an indictment that says, in a national-security investigation about the compromise of a CIA officer's identity that may have taken place in the context of a very heated debate over the war, whether some person--a person, Mr. Libby--lied or not. No matter. Harry Reid, the Democratic leader in the Senate, spoke for a host of other opponents of the war in insisting:

This case is bigger than the leak of classified information. It is about how the Bush White House manufactured and manipulated intelligence in order to bolster its case for the war in Iraq and to discredit anyone who dared to challenge the president.

Yet even stipulating--which I do only for the sake of argument--that no weapons of mass destruction existed in Iraq in the period leading up to the invasion, it defies all reason to think that Mr. Bush was lying when he asserted that they did. To lie means to say something one knows to be false. But it is as close to certainty as we can get that Mr. Bush believed in the truth of what he was saying about WMD in Iraq.

How indeed could it have been otherwise? George Tenet, his own CIA director, assured him that the case was "a slam dunk." This phrase would later become notorious, but in using it, Mr. Tenet had the backing of all 15 agencies involved in gathering intelligence for the United States. In the National Intelligence Estimate of 2002, where their collective views were summarized, one of the conclusions offered with "high confidence" was that "Iraq is continuing, and in some areas expanding its chemical, biological, nuclear, and missile programs contrary to UN resolutions."

The intelligence agencies of Britain, Germany, Russia, China, Israel and--yes--France all agreed with this judgment. And even Hans Blix--who headed the U.N. team of inspectors trying to determine whether Saddam had complied with the demands of the Security Council that he get rid of the weapons of mass destruction he was known to have had in the past--lent further credibility to the case in a report he issued only a few months before the invasion:

The discovery of a number of 122-mm chemical rocket warheads in a bunker at a storage depot 170 km [105 miles] southwest of Baghdad was much publicized. This was a relatively new bunker, and therefore the rockets must have been moved there in the past few years, at a time when Iraq should not have had such munitions. . . . They could also be the tip of a submerged iceberg. The discovery of a few rockets does not resolve but rather points to the issue of several thousands of chemical rockets that are unaccounted for.

Mr. Blix now claims that he was only being "cautious" here, but if, as he now also adds, the Bush administration "misled itself" in interpreting the evidence before it, he at the very least lent it a helping hand.

16 November 2005

Who Is Lying About Iraq? - Part I

Joe Wilson, John Kerry, Hillary Clinton and anonymous posters to this blog have at least one thing in common--repeated, loud, ad hominem, attacks on the war in Iraq.

From the Oxford English Dictionary (OED)
Ad hominem - A phrase applied to an argument or appeal founded on the preferences or principles of a particular person rather than on abstract truth or logical cogency.

Apoplectic attacks and commentaries which rely on insult, insinuation, and intimidation appeal to the lowest common denominator and serve to persuade or convince no one. They are like the child on the playground who throws a tantrum--an entertaining specatacle to be sure--but who usually takes her or his ball and goes home. It is reminiscent of a debate I once had with several friends about "branding" and the value of buying naming rights to sports venues and events. The discussion was heated and ended abruptly, not because one of the two parties won, but because one of those involved dropped the "f-bomb"--effectively shocking and offending all involved. Was this a successful conclusion to the debate?

Apoplectic - Suffering from, or showing symptoms of, apoplexy
Apoplexy - A malady, very sudden in its attack, which arrests more or less completely the powers of sense and motion; it is usually caused by an effusion of blood or serum in the brain, and preceded by giddiness, partial loss of muscular power, etc. Further, overcome with anger - having symptoms of a stroke.

On Monday Norman Podhoretz, editor-at-large of "Commentary" and 10 books, wrote an excellent article. He responded at length and in great detail about the accusations of deceit on the part of the Bush administration in leading us to war. It is long but warrants serious examination. Owing to its size and complaints about my over-long posts I will break it up into bite-sized portions.
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Who Is Lying About Iraq?
A campaign of distortion aims to discredit the liberation.

BY NORMAN PODHORETZ
Monday, November 14, 2005 12:01 a.m. EST

Among the many distortions, misrepresentations and outright falsifications that have emerged from the debate over Iraq, one in particular stands out above all others. This is the charge that George W. Bush misled us into an immoral or unnecessary war in Iraq by telling a series of lies that have now been definitively exposed.

What makes this charge so special is the amazing success it has enjoyed in getting itself established as a self-evident truth even though it has been refuted and discredited over and over again by evidence and argument alike. In this it resembles nothing so much as those animated cartoon characters who, after being flattened, blown up or pushed over a cliff, always spring back to life with their bodies perfectly intact. Perhaps, like those cartoon characters, this allegation simply cannot be killed off, no matter what.

Nevertheless, I want to take one more shot at exposing it for the lie that it itself really is. Although doing so will require going over ground that I and many others have covered before, I hope that revisiting this well-trodden terrain may also serve to refresh memories that have grown dim, to clarify thoughts that have grown confused, and to revive outrage that has grown commensurately dulled.

14 November 2005

The Upper 10

Between grading American Heritage tests and writing a paper that was due two weeks go, I pause to bring you this week's Top 10. On a personal note, thanks to all who wished me Happy Birthday* this last week.

1. Marc Sitterud
Two weeks ago Marc played former BYU Athletic Director Val Hale in the Cascade golf course tournament. He won. Last Friday he played Val's brother for the championship. With two holes to go, Marc locked up the course championship while the brother Hale expressed the negative self-talk of the voices in his head and cussed his every bad shot. On Saturday our flag football team played Val Hale's son-in-law's team--the Mighty Ducks. While Hale obnoxiously complained to the officials the entire game, Marc made throw after throw and Jared Meibos made catch after catch en route to an overtime victory and a spot in the Elite 8. Has any one man ever so completely dominated a family the way Marc did the family Hale? I think not. Props also to Ryan Howes for making a key one-handed grab and another crucial catch on 4th down. For our game schedule this week click here.

2. Seattle Seahawks
I debated about whether or not to list Shaun Alexander independent of the team but decided that would be bad karma. Shaun did his thing rushing for 165 yards and 3 TDs. He will undoubtedly win the rushing title and could potentially break the record (it could happen). Not to be overlooked was the play of the defense. With Bulger, Bruce and Holt all back together for the first time in weeks and Marshall Faulk having his best game of the season, one might guess that the Rams would score a lot of points--they didn't. It wasn't until the 4th Quarter when the game was no longer in doubt, that the Rams finally found the end zone. At 7-2 these 'Hawks look like contenders.

3. Cougar Football
I continue to call for Curtis Brown to win MWC Player of the Year. On Saturday he had 153 yards rushing and 24 receiving and scored 2 TDs. The only thing I can't figure out is why we weren't doing this a the beginning of the year. At 6-4 BYU is bowl eligible and will undoubtedly get an invite if for no other reason than the fact that BYU fans tend to travel well (San Diego St., UNLV, Notre Dame). However, I hate to think that we have to count a win against a D-II school as one of our 6 qualifying wins. I wont be satisfied unless we beat Utah. I've long said (and still believe) that BYU could lose every other game, beat Utah, and I would be happy. Since coming to BYU as a freshman way back in the fall of '99 I've attended 4 BYU-Utah games and I've yet to see the Cougars win. I hate to think that I could graduate without seeing BYU beat Utah. Despite the gift-wrapped excuse given to Utah fans with the loss of QB Brian Johnson I still see this being a close game. Call it BYU by 2.5.

4. Deadlocked
On Friday night Mike Lowe and his band Deadlocked died a premature death. It was to be their finaly show and they called it a funeral and asked people to wear black. I wore white to protest, to no effect. It was a great show, if a little underattended (owing to the distance) and a good way to end a great run. Thanks to Mike Lowe and the rest of Deadlocked for giving me and the rest of the still-single folk of Provo something to do on the weekends for the past couple years.

5. Otis Spunkmeyer Cookies
Back in the high school glory days the Southridge business class used to bake Otis Spunkmeyer cookies in the school store and sell them to me and the other mindless masses at 3/$1. I was never a fat kid (the opposite actually) growing up, but I do remember getting headaches when I wouldn't get my daily dose of OSC. This is one addiction (don't worry mom, there aren't any others) I'm happy to renew. Every Sunday night my roommate Marc bakes a batch of these delicious treats and I try and eat them all before anyone can get one. Now THAT'S a tradition.

6. Into the Blue
If you haven't seen this masterful performance by Paul Walker, you should. On Saturday night Matt and I finally had a chance to review this latest Academy Award-caliber achievement and we were not disappointed. Riveting dialogue, captivating action and ample opportunities to ogle Jessica Alba... what more can you ask for? Into the Blue? Two thumbs way up.

7. Rain in the Valley means Snow in the Mountains
Ski season is right around the corner and I've got the itch. We bought our passes nearly three months ago and on the 17th Alta opens for the season. My personal record is 50 ski days. Graduation permitting, maybe I'll exceed that total this winter.

8. USC
They're still the best. And Reggie Bush will win the Heisman. And there is no way Brady Quinn is better than Matt Leinart. Oh, and I told you Alabama would lose. Would someone explain to me, please, why Notre Dame with two losses, is ranked higher Alabama, Oregon, UCLA etc. (and in one poll V-Tech)?

9. Polk Audio
I've blown two of their MM12" subs and they have replaced both of them without question. This is a good company with a great sounding sub. And seriously, can great bass be overrated? What am I listening to as I drive down the road? You mean besides Neil Diamond? Lee Greenwood Christmas, that's what.

10. Josh and Ethan Torgersen
On Saturday my young cousins played in the championship games of their respective football leagues. Matt and I watched both and were proud to see our cousins play hard and well. Remember boys: work hard, play hard.

Also receiving votes:
A-Rod (AL MVP), Rashard Lewis, Amy Grant Christmas, Sorry! (the board game)

*I turned 25 on Tuesday.

13 November 2005

Another View On Immigration

My post on immigration from several weeks ago fomented much more discussion than I had anticipated. Though several good comments were attached to that post, some of the best dialogue was had with people I ran into on campus and in my American Heritage labs. Among the several emails I received on the topic was one from my aunt, Laura Wright, which I think warrants an independent post.

I will readily admit that one of the difficulties associated with problem solving as a student is that we are so far from the problems themselves. It is all too easy to look down on the world from the "ivory tower" of academia and presume to have all the answers. I guess its a natural fallacy accompanying the idealism of the college years. For this reason I encourage and appreciate the insight of those who actually live where the problems exist. As a long-time resident of Southern California, my aunt has ample experience on which to base her opinions.
__________
I don't have a problem with legal immigration. I can understand someone looking at the average American lifestyle and wanting it. That is the American Dream. What really ticks me off is all the illegal immigration going on. Living in CA, we see the effects of all the illegal immigrants streaming into our state. They sneak over the border, move into a slum, and get a job that pays less than minimum wage. The employers love these workers - they pay them next to nothing, don't have to provide benefits, and they don't have to claim them. Of course, there are no taxes being paid anywhere in this arrangement. And yet, the immigrants take complete advantage of our state-supported school system, medicare, food stamps and other welfare, without contributing a red cent toward keeping the system intact and running. Therefore, the system is bankrupting itself. We have hospitals closing all over Los Angeles county. The school system is a mess. Even our traffic is affected - the roads are in terrible condition, and there is very little money to fix them. Where does the money come from to keep it all running? The tax rates on small business owners in the state of California make it almost not worth being in business. (If we didn't have student loans and a few other deductions, we would be paying out more than 50% of Chad's income in taxes) But that is a whole different story...related, but different.

I have watched the current administration to see what they would do about this problem. What a disappointment. Obviously, the changes are not going to come from the government. The only thing I can see that may have any effect on it is for all of us to stop employing illegal immigrants, and to stop supporting businesses that employ illegal immigrants (Home Depot and Walmart, to name a few). This will be a toughie. People like the prices that illegals charge. Employing a legal immigrant will inevitably cost more. But if you take into account the additional taxes we are all paying to cover the cost of these illegal immigrants, it evens out.

And don't even get me started on the national security aspect of this mess...

Well, you probably aren't too worried about this matter from the taxpayer's perspective yet, but you will be. Especially if you end up in CA.
__________
Point taken. Depressing though it may be, eventually I will have to get a job.

11 November 2005

Bombs over Amman

No doubt you've read of the bombs exploded in Amman, Jordan that killed at least 59 people. Best of the Web had the following insightful take on the response of Muslims and Jordanians to these latest attacks by al-Qaeda.
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"Thousands of Jordanians rallied in the capital and other cities shouting 'Burn in hell, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi!' a day after three deadly hotel bombings that killed at least 59 people. Officials suspected Iraqi involvement in the attacks, which were claimed by al-Qaida's Iraq branch," the Associated Press reports:

As protesters in Jordan and elsewhere in the Arab world denounced the Jordanian-born leader of al-Qaida in Iraq, security forces snared a group of Iraqis for questioning and officials said one of the bombers spoke Iraqi-accented Arabic before he exploded his suicide belt in the Grand Hyatt Hotel.

The main demonstration in Amman lasted for more than an hour. But honking vehicles, decorated with Jordanian flags and posters of King Abdullah II, cruised Amman's streets until late in the night, as passengers chanted "Death to al-Zarqawi, the villain and the traitor!" and anti-terrorism slogans.


Hmm, al Qaeda in Iraq--or, as the Democrats call it, al Qaeda Which Has Nothing to Do With Iraq in Iraq Which Has Nothing to Do With al Qaeda. Another AP dispatch reports on the reaction of Palestinian Arabs in Silet al-Thaher, in the disputed territories:

In this Palestinian village, the Akhras clan mourned 17 relatives killed by a suicide bomber in Jordan--the first time Palestinians have been a target in a suicide attack.

"Oh my God, oh my God. Is it possible that Arabs are killing Arabs, Muslims killing Muslims?" asked a weeping Najah Akhras, 35, who lost two nieces. . . .

"Palestinians have tasted the blind violence that does not differentiate between people--children, women, wedding parties, ordinary people," said Palestinian newspaper commentator Hani al-Masri.

"I expect now a significant change in the Palestinian political culture," he said. "For sure, this attack will push Palestinians to reconsider this way of suicide bombings, and I think it would reduce support for attacks that kill people without any differentiation."


Let's hope it also reduces support for attacks that kill Jews with "differentiation." Anyway, this is further evidence of how al Qaeda has squandered the world's goodwill since 9/11.
__________
Iraq and al-Qaeda? Nah, not likely.

10 November 2005

Scorpion Watch

This story has become a favorite among some of us here at BYU, mostly because of its ending--"you knew what I was..." Here's an excerpt from a column today by Stephen Moore (Political Diary).

Regarding the business interests you have supported Democrats campaigning on increasing taxes, he says:
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This trendy impulse in the business community of supporting pro-tax candidates appears to be spreading throughout the country. In Michigan, for example, industry groups are splintering from Republicans in the legislature in order to seek special tax breaks and corporate welfare handouts.

In the end, the Chamber of Commerce folks and the Fortune 500 lobbyists don't seem to understand that, when they help elect pro-tax Democrats, they also elect a slate of anti-free trade, pro-regulation and class warfare candidates. These newly elected politicians are like scorpions: They will sting the very business groups who helped carry them into the winner's circle at their earliest convenience. Conservatives can hardly be blamed if they refuse to rescue the corporatist turncoats from this fate.
__________

Hopefully Republicans can figure things out before next year's elections--the ones that really count.

09 November 2005

"Locked on Sports"

There are too few good sports columns out there. Many (like mine) consist of inane lists that require little thought or insight. One of the few good ones is "Locked on Sports," by David Locke. He has a talk show weeknights from 7-10pm on Sports Radio 950 KJR-AM in Seattle.

I've only listened to his radio show a handful of times, but I read his column in the Seattle PI every Wednesday. In today's column he does a review of his predictions from the last year. In it he mentions his missteps, (predicting the Sonics would win 20-40 games; they won 52 games and the division) and his truest of statements.
__________
"With that said, there were two things I wrote that I know are right. Bud Selig needs to resign and Notre Dame sold its soul for wins."
__________
Steroids are a serious problem and if anyone watched Sen. McCain on the news, you know Congress is going to force baseball's hand.

ND recently gave Charlie Weiss a 10 year contract after beating... nobody. Willingham (I'm glad UW got him) had 8 straight wins against tough teams and he got the boot after three years. Weiss is winning with Willingham's players but he (CW) is getting all the credit. I just hope that race wasn't an issue.

07 November 2005

Judicial Review

The following is an excerpt taken from a book review by Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia. Here he clearly states his views on the role of the Supreme Court in deciding various debates.
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Justice Scalia writes:

[In] a democracy, it is not the function of law to establish any more social policy than what is fairly expressed by legislation, enacted through prescribed democratic procedures. It troubles Smith, but does not at all trouble me -- in fact, it pleases me -- that giving the words of the Constitution their normal meaning would "expel from the domain of legal issues … most of the constitutional disputes that capture our attention," such as "Can a macho military educational institution dedicated to what is euphemistically called the 'adversative' method admit only men? Is there a right to abortion? Or to the assistance of a physician in ending one's life?" If we should read English as English, Smith bemoans, "these questions would seemingly all have received the same answer: 'No law on that one.'"

That is precisely the answer they should have received: The federal Constitution says nothing on these subjects, which are therefore left to be governed by state law. Smith's response is revealing: "We have not been content with this sort of modesty in our law." The antecedent of the pronoun is unspecified, but I fancy it refers to the legal academic community which establishes the permissible boundaries for Smith's thinking, or at least his writing. Many Americans outside that community yearn for this sort of modesty. Indeed, it was something of an issue in the last election…
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Comments on the role of courts? Affirmative action? Assisted suicide? Abortion? Capital punishment? Any role? No role?

Vegas Top 10

From the swirl of brights lights, black jack and bbq comes this weeks Top 10--delayed somewhat by a road trip and change in time zone.

1. Go Trojans!
Yet another pretender to the crown (V-Tech) bit the dust this week. I imagine 'Bama and their fans are crying about being snubbed in favor of Texas. To Alabama: cry some more. If you don't get beat by LSU you'll get beat by Auburn.

2. My LV Mother
Everybody should have one. My Las Vegas mother housed us, fed us, and amongst the ills of LV, kept us safe. Thanks to Karen and Leesee for taking care of us this past weekend.

3. Seinfeld
In case you forgot how good this show was you should promptly go to Costco and buy seasons 1-4 on DVD. Matt and I did just that and watched 8 episodes on the way down and 4 on the way back. Any coincidence that I was eating an apple while talking to a cute girl in the hall today? I think not.

4. Southridge Football
They walloped Walla Walla on Thursday en route to their first ever 10-0 season and Big 9 championship. Before the game I called up their special teams unit and gave them a few tips. I noted that the weather forecast called for high winds. Wind combined with the turf of Lampson stadium created a unique opportunity to try out a little theory of mine. After their defense dominated woeful WaHi near their endzone I instructed them to closely watch the ball and avoid touhing it; that it would sail high into the air and bounce back toward the goal line giving SHS a chance for a TD or safety. They did just that and watched as WaHi punted out of their own endzone in the air to about the 30 where the wind caught it pushing it backwards. It landed, bounced, and rolled toward the endzone where the pitiful Blue Devils attempted to knock it out of bounds to avoid the TD. They got lucky and SHS only got a safety. Oh well, my advice was heeded and they trounced the Walla Walla Bumpkins, er, Blue Devils.

5. Seattle Seahawks
Last Sunday the hapless Cardinals were plucked, roasted, and devoured by my Seahawks. After Shaun Alexander narrowly missed winning the rushing title last year to the much less talented Corey Dillon I told him he would have another shot, and he has. The only thing that ticks me off is that he is not on my fantasy football team.

6. GWB
The Commander-in-Chief made a bold and courageous decision and dialed up Sam Alito as the next Supreme Court Justice. But wait, there's more, this is just the first step on his path to reclaim the mandate of the 2004 Presidential election.

7. Grandma and Grandpa Torgersen
My maternal grandparents fed us some delicious chili potatoes on the way home from Vegas yesterday (Sunday). While there I found out my connection to USC (and thus my legitimacy as a fan) runs deeper than I thought. While in dental school, my grandfather worked as an usher at the Coliseum so he could watch SC games. Taking a job to watch your team play because your finances are tight? That makes for a true fan.

8. Rosa Parks
Just goes to show you can start major movements while remaining on your posterior. Lets hope her passing does not mark the passing of courage like hers--the courage to fight for a good cause.

9. Pizzookies
I was introduced to this creation of creations Saturday night at "BJ's," a great restaurant in Vegas. This dessert combines two of my favorites--cookies and ice cream--to become perhaps the greatest treat ever.

10. My Flag Football Team
We demolished our first opponent and had a gut-check against the 2nd team. They were the most athletic team we had played yet, but all it took was a few defensive adjustments and we won. The rest of the bracket better watch out, we won't let another team sneak up on us like that one.

Ronald Reagan

From BOTW and James Taranto, an appropriate tribute to RR during election week.
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Silver Anniversary

The assassination of John F. Kennedy on Nov. 22, 1963, marked the end of an American political era: the age of confident liberalism. Lyndon B. Johnson carried forward JFK's legislative legacy, cutting taxes and pushing through landmark civil rights laws. But LBJ's overambitious wars in Vietnam and on poverty were damaging to America and shattering for liberalism. The late 1960s and the 1970s saw skyrocketing crime and illegitimacy, American humiliation in Vietnam, and the tragedy of Watergate.

Finally, with the presidency of Jimmy Carter, the country hit rock bottom: malaise, gas lines, the Soviets in Afghanistan, the invasion of the U.S. Embassy in Tehran. Blessedly, 25 years ago today, it came to an end with the election of Ronald Reagan and the dawn of the age of confident conservatism. The ensuing two decades saw unprecedented economic growth, victory in the Cold War, and a gradual diminution of the timidity about employing U.S. military force overseas that is known as the "Vietnam syndrome." By the mid-1990s, a Democratic president was even undoing the worst excesses of LBJ's Great Society.

We're inclined to view the presidency of George W. Bush, and especially his muscular foreign policy, as a continuation of the Reagan era. There is an argument to be made on the other side: that conservatism is now in its LBJ phase, having produced swollen government at home and overextended America's capabilities abroad. The left, meanwhile, is as weak, angry and paranoid as the right was in the heyday of the John Birch society--but perhaps one day it will reconnect with reality and resurge politically.

History will reveal itself in due course, but for today let us remember how, on Nov. 4, 1980, America began to reverse its decline by electing a man who shared the country's faith in itself.
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Any comments on the general trend of American politics?

Running up the score

I guess UNLV head coach Mike Sanford had some hard feelings after Saturday's pasting at the hands of the my Cougars. It appears he did not want to go to midfield to shake BYU head coach, Bronco Mendenhall's hand. All of this begs the question, what, exactly, constitutes running up the score?

Against TCU and later Air Force it seemed we had the game in hand and the team and play calling seemed to be dialed back a bit. Result? TCU beat us in overtime on a controversial call and Air Force scored four 4th Quarter TDs. Fearing a repeat performance of either one of those games, Bronco wisely stuck with his gameplan--adding a little bit more of the run. If we were really trying to run up the score Curtis Brown would have gotten a lot more touches. Blame for the score should instead be laid at the feet of the UNLV offense. They turned the ball over three times and gave us great field position.

Offensive Game Ball goes this week to the offensive line. These guys could arguably have the OGB in any given week. I have long believed that an offense only goes as far as its offensive line. Inexperience and youth and other issues could largely be blamed for our offensive woes over the last three years--not, as some have claimed, the QBs. Even Matt Leinart or Brady Quinn couldn't thrown the ball with the entire defensive line in their face. A good offensive line like ours can make an all-star out of a QB--much like Maurice Stovall and Jeff Samardzija make Brady Quinn look like Heisman material and lead many people to say he's better than Matt Leinart--he's not, and Reggie Bush locked up the Heisman weeks ago. Congrats to Jake Kuresa and Co. for the most consistent, excellent play of any group on the team.

The DFG finds was intercepted by Justin Luettgerodt who intercepted his second pass in as many weeks. He of 46+ tackles, 2 INTs and 4.5 tackles for loss, should join Cameron Jensen on the All-MWC First team. After the ND game Coach Mendenhall called for a focus on making the big play and the defense has responded with 6 turnovers in the last two games. Credit the BYU defense for not giving up and improving every week.

Population Control

The WSJ is running an Op-Ed today about the confirmation of Ellen Sauerbrey. She and President Bush have come under fire because of their refusal to support the UN's Population Fund. The UN Population Fund, they note, gives funds to such illustrious family planning programs as the Chinese one-child policy. In case you've missed, oh, I don't know, anything relating to China and Human Rights, you know that this is a coercive policy that has led to the loss of 40 million Chinese girls from the current demographic. Result? Sex rates currently list some 117 boys to every 100 girls.

Pro-choice groups are out in force to deny the appointment of Ms. Sauerbrey and are decrying the refusal of funds to the UN. This program and its stateside proponents sound familiar. They are vaguely reminiscent of Nazi-era eugenicists who advocated forced sterilizations, abortions, and infanticide--all things being practiced in China and supported by the UN Population Fund.

03 November 2005

miss Jerome James? "Miss Jerome James" maybe

DVR plus College Gameplan have combined to be a powerful one-two punch to my studies this fall. NBA League Pass could do the same.

Last night I watched the Sonics lose to the alien(Sam Cassell)-led Clippers. Sure, it was embarrassing. I was asked if the Sonics were going to miss Jerome James. My answer was an immediate and emphatic, no. If you just tuned into the playoffs and watched JJ play well for a couple of games, you can be forgiven. But anyone who followed the Sonics closely last year knows that the Knicks will soon regret giving him a fat contract. Without Ray Allen to babysit him in NYC...? Good luck Larry Brown.

Antonio Daniels? A whole other matter entirely. Last night's 4th Quarter implosion is due in part to the lack of the focus, smart, turnover-less brand of basketball AD brought to the court each and every game. His loss cannot be overstated. What was Ronald "Flip" Murray thinking taking three consecutive shots in the 4th quarter when the ball should have gone to Ray or Rashard? On one possession, for lack of a better description, he quite literally gave the ball away. AD was always praised for having among the lowest turnover per minute played ratios in the NBA. His presence will be missed.

To the nay-sayers: Last year the Sonics were within one Tim Duncan bucket in the 4th Quarter of Game 6 of advancing to the Western Conference Finals. They did that without Rashard Lewis or Vlad Radmanovich--the #2 & #3 leading scorers on the team.

Joe Wilson Lied!

I've written before in response to those who claim "Bush Lied!" in leading us to war--apparently to little effect. In today's edition of the WSJ, the editorial board uses Libby's indictment as an opportunity to clarify who knew what.

Harry Reid called for a closed session in the Senate to review Libby's indictment and how it supports their ongoing effort to prove Bush cooked the (intelligence) books in leading us to war. The truth is four separate investigations (read 'em, 4!) have found no evidence of intelligence manipulation.
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- In July 2004, the Senate Intelligence Committee released a bipartisan 500-page report that found numerous failures of intelligence gathering and analysis. As for the Bush Administration's role, "The Committee did not find any evidence that Administration officials attempted to coerce, influence or pressure analysts to change their judgments related to Iraq's weapons of mass destruction," (our emphasis).

- The Butler Report, published by the British in July 2004, similarly found no evidence of "deliberate distortion," although it too found much to criticize in the quality of prewar intelligence.

- The March 2005 Robb-Silberman report on WMD intelligence was equally categorical, finding "no evidence of political pressure to influence the Intelligence Community's pre-war assessments of Iraq's weapons programs. … analysts universally asserted that in no instance did political pressure cause them to skew or alter any of their analytical judgments. We conclude that it was the paucity of intelligence and poor analytical tradecraft, rather than political pressure, that produced the inaccurate pre-war intelligence assessments."

- Finally, last Friday, there was Mr. Fitzgerald: "This indictment's not about the propriety of the war, and people who believe fervently in the war effort, people who oppose it, people who are -- have mixed feelings about it should not look to this indictment for any resolution of how they feel or any vindication of how they feel."
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Everyone who has looked at the intelligence concluded that there was no distortion of intelligence except Joe Wilson. Remember him? It was his wife who was "outed" by Robert Novak. The independent investigation of this brought Libby's indictment which many have taken as a sign that Bush must have lied. Truth is, Mr. Wilson lied in his report to the press on Saddam's negotiation with Niger.

"Those reports clearly showed that, while Saddam had probably not purchased yellowcake from Niger, the dictator had almost certainly tried."

Mr. Wilson knew that Saddam had tried to purchase nuclear material from Niger which would seem to indicate (to a reasonable observer) that SH was pursuing development and production of WMD.

Question: Who else besides Bush thought Saddam had WMD? A clue: these people all saw the same intel as Bush.

Answer:
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Here is Al Gore from September 23, 2002, amid the Congressional debate over going to war: "We know that he has stored secret supplies of biological and chemical weapons throughout his country."

Or Hillary Rodham Clinton, from October 10, 2002: "In the four years since the inspectors left, intelligence reports show that Saddam Hussein has worked to rebuild his chemical and biological weapons stock, his missile delivery capability, and his nuclear program. He has also given aid, comfort, and sanctuary to terrorists, including al Qaeda members…"

Or Senator Jay Rockefeller, the Democratic Vice Chairman of the Intelligence Committee, who is now leading the "Bush lied" brigades (from October 10, 2002): "There is unmistakable evidence that Saddam Hussein is working aggressively to develop nuclear weapons and will likely have nuclear weapons within the next five years… We also should remember we have always underestimated the progress Saddam has made in development of weapons of mass destruction." If Mr. Bush is a liar, what does the use of the phrase "unmistakable evidence" make Mr. Rockefeller? A fool?
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As the WSJ notes, "the scandal here isn't what happened before the war. The scandal is that the same Democrats who saw the same intelligence that Mr. Bush saw, who drew the same conclusions, and who voted to go to war are now using the difficulties we've encountered in that conflict as an excuse to rewrite history."

As a historian-in-training I understand the power of history in creating the collective identity of a people. Change history, change a people's collective memory, and you change and control the agenda. Democrats hope that by repeating a lie often enough that it will somehow be believed (evidenced by many comments and opinion polls) and accepted as truth. For some reason, established media is facilitating this re-write, this 'propogandization' of history.

Black Conservatives and White Cornerbacks

I've been thinking a lot about issues of race and the legacy of the Reconstruction and Civil Rights Movement. Eventually I'll produce something coherent and post it here. On Monday a friend emailed me an article from the Washington Times that reports on racism by liberal African Americans against conservative African Americans. It seems that this racism is--in some cases--at least tacitly supported by more mainstream members of the Democratic party. Credit MB for his lead--BOTW picked it up and gave a good commentary the next day.
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Race to the Bottom

Every time a Republican president nominates someone to the Supreme Court, the left trots out the "mainstream" trope. Anyone who doesn't believe the Constitution sanctions abortion through the fourth trimester or that the Second Amendment is an optical illusion is deemed "out of the mainstream." Liberals so abuse the term that we are hesitant to use it at all.

And yet surely there are some positions that can be considered "mainstream"--that, in 21st-century America, command such a widespread consensus that anyone who rejects them can fairly be labeled "out of the mainstream." One such proposition is this: Black Americans are entitled to full citizenship. A corollary is that it is invidious to disparage black people on account of their race.

A Washington Times report from Maryland illustrates that many black Democrats are out of the mainstream:

Black Democratic leaders in Maryland say that racially tinged attacks against Lt. Gov. Michael S. Steele in his bid for the U.S. Senate are fair because he is a conservative Republican.

Such attacks against the first black man to win a statewide election in Maryland include pelting him with Oreo cookies during a campaign appearance, calling him an "Uncle Tom" and depicting him as a black-faced minstrel on a liberal Web log. . . .

But black Democrats say there is nothing wrong with "pointing out the obvious."

"There is a difference between pointing out the obvious and calling someone names," said a campaign spokesman for Kweisi Mfume, a Democratic candidate for U.S. Senate and former president of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.

State Sen. Lisa A. Gladden, a black Baltimore Democrat, said she does not expect her party to pull any punches, including racial jabs at Mr. Steele, in the race to replace retiring Democratic U.S. Sen. Paul S. Sarbanes.

"Party trumps race, especially on the national level," she said. "If you are bold enough to run, you have to take whatever the voters are going to give you. It's democracy, perhaps at its worse, but it is democracy."

Delegate Salima Siler Marriott, a black Baltimore Democrat, said Mr. Steele invites comparisons to a slave who loves his cruel master or a cookie that is black on the outside and white inside because his conservative political philosophy is, in her view, anti-black.

"Because he is a conservative, he is different than most public blacks, and he is different than most people in our community," she said. "His politics are not in the best interest of the masses of black people."

This is the equivalent of racist white politicians in the pre-civil-rights South denouncing a white liberal as a "[African American pejorative] lover." If black Democrats--and white Democrats, for that matter--cannot disagree respectfully with a conservative who happens to be black, they have no moral authority when it comes to combating racism in other manifestations.
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Fisher DeBerry's comments this past week, while inexcusable, highlight the level of tension over race issues in America. Almost every day someone calls for a serious discussion of racial issues but it seems the only ones they want to comment are black Americans.

On Bob Costas' HBO show on Sunday he interviewed a retired white NFL receiver (can't remember the name). Asked to opine on DeBerry's comments he declined. Costas then pushed him to explain his reluctance to address the issue and he replied that it was something about which only black Americans could speak, that he wasn't going to go near it.

Later, when asked if he had ever, in his eight year career, been defended by a white cornerback, he could recall only one instance, for one play. Asked what happened this WR noted, "he (the white cornerback) fell down."

WFB and Conservatism

I've been reading "Buckley: The Right Word," a compilation of the interviews and writings of William F. Buckley Jr. He was the founder and editor of the National Review and host of "Firing Line." He is recognized as the ideological forefather of Ronald Reagan and during the '70's and '80's was the only conservative voice in town (DC). I think his observations on conservativism as an ideology and how they contrast with liberals is interesting--especially in light of President Bush's nomination of Sam Alito to the Supreme Court.

The following is taken from an interview by Mona Charen of WFB which ran on 17 August 1979 for Columbia University's yearbook, "The Columbian."

In response to the liberal accusation against conservatives that they are merely "reactionaries" WFB responded,

"...conservatives are guided substantially by prescriptive reactions. One can, for example, register a disapproval of the proliferation of pornography without experiencing the necessity to externalize one's thoughts in theoretical parades. The liberals, on the whole, would rather write than think; let alone act."

He continues, "a conservative in my judgement is guided less by absolutes than by presumptions. That is to say, there is a presumption against state interference, not an absolute law."

With Alito's nomination it is important to note that conservatives can be at least mildly supportive of a woman's right to choose while being opposed to the jurisprudence of Roe v. Wade. Just because this column happens to oppose Roe AND abortion (with exceptions) does not mean that someone who would vote to overturn Roe must be anti-abortion or pro-life. In fact, this seems to be the position of Justice Breyer--a liberal who is pro-choice but anti-Roe.

The position Alito holds that ought to build majority support among Americans--liberal, conservative or otherwise--simply because because he judicial philosophy is process rather than outcome based.

That said, this nomination could still end in filibuster and, inevitably, the so-called "nuclear option."

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