Sunday, August 23, 2009

Supporting "the War"

I read some blurbs today from Reuters and AFP that Adm. Mike Mullen is concerned that the war in Afghanistan isn't going so well, and now 50% of Americans by one poll say it wasn't worth fighting for.

It was this Admiral Mullen who testified in front of Congress that "the war in Afghanistan will not have a military solution". This is the guy who supports limited rules of engagement to preclude bombarding too close to houses. We read about that, and we read that the US government is reaching out to the "moderate elements" in the Taliban.

If we're not fighting to wipe out the Taliban, but get them to accept a political subjugation and a cease-fire with the national government, then we're asking for something unprecedented in our history. In VietNam and Korea the goal at least was to make the bad guys leave, not stick around and lose elections.

If that's "the war in Afghanistan", I don't feel like supporting it either. I thought we were looking to win.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

David Frum, You're a Bum

"Contra Rush Limbaugh, history’s actual fascists were not primarily known for their anti-smoking policies or generous social welfare programs. Fascism celebrated violence, anti-rationalism and hysterical devotion to an authoritarian leader. To date, the Obama administration has fallen rather short in these departments. Perhaps uncomfortably aware of the shortcoming, the hardliners have developed — okay, invented really — their own mythology about Obama “brownshirts.” (The popular conservative website literally uses the term.) The complaint rests on a single case — that of conservative activist Kenneth Gladney, who got into a scuffle at a townhall in St. Louis, Missouri. The altercation was captured on video and you can watch it on YouTube. What you’ll see is a man, already on the ground, and another man stepping back in order to avoid tripping over him. The man on the ground is Gladney. Gladney walked away from the confrontation and later went to hospital, where he was treated for light injuries and released the same day. Whatever happened and whoever started it, this happily bloodless encounter bears not even the most glancing resemblance to the brutality that made Hitler’s brownshirts notorious. And yet, look up Gladney’s name online and he’s suddenly a poignant martyr.

Can we get a grip here? It is possible to express opposition to a president’s policies without preposterous name-calling — without diminishing and disparaging the unique experiences of those who did actually suffer from actual persecution by actual Nazis. After all, you know who else trafficked in hysterical exaggeration? That’s right: Hitler!"

Here's the video. I think we can tell a lot more than that:

You know what's more despicable than saying "Hey, I see similarities between our hostile ogliarchic unconstitutional Administration and Hitler"?

Watching a guy getting beat up and saying "What beating?"

David Frum has such a stake in seizing "conservatism" from the conservatives, he can't allow the public to be more repulsed by Obama & Co. than by Limbaugh. Even if that means ignoring Democrat crimes.

Why, why is it that "moderate" Republicans are so sleazy?

Thursday, August 06, 2009

Dumbest Man in America

Prince Fielder

A Day After Fielder Tries to Storm a Clubhouse, Cool Heads Prevail
Published: August 5, 2009
LOS ANGELES — Prince Fielder gazed intently into the bathroom mirror in the visiting clubhouse, studied his freshly cut hair for a moment and then gave his approval with a smile.

Although Fielder seemed content with the cut Wednesday afternoon, the Brewers’ slugger was not so pleased with the man who had left a mark on him the night before.

After the final out of the Brewers’ 17-4 loss to the Dodgers on Tuesday, Fielder charged through the hallway that joins the visiting and home clubhouses in an effort to confront Dodgers reliever Guillermo Mota, who had hit Fielder with a fastball in the thigh with two out in the ninth inning.

Fielder was stopped from entering the clubhouse by a security guard, who soon had reinforcements from other officers and some of Fielder’s teammates. They led Fielder back through fans who waited for players’ autographs and into the Brewers’ clubhouse.

The Brewers felt Mota’s pitch was in retaliation for Brewers reliever Chris Smith’s nicking the Dodgers’ best hitter, Manny Ramirez, with an inside fastball in the seventh inning. Another Milwaukee reliever, R. J. Swindle, hit Juan Pierre in the eighth.

What Fielder intended to do if he had breached the home clubhouse apparently will be left to the imagination. He deflected questions Tuesday night, and on Wednesday, the Brewers’ director of media relations, Mike Vassallo, stood sentry in front of Fielder’s stall and informed reporters that Fielder would not be answering questions about the incident.

It was not the only extra security detail. The Dodgers called in several guards three hours earlier than usual, so they had eight deployed around the clubhouse by 2:30 p.m., when many players began to arrive.

Ramirez was out of the lineup Wednesday in the last regular-season game between Los Angeles and Milwaukee, which also happened to be Manny Ramirez Poster Night. Manager Joe Torre said the lineup change was not related to the previous night’s incident. When Brewers Manager Ken Macha was informed that Ramirez would begin the night on the bench, he channeled his inner Captain Renault. “Shocking,” he said.

Macha said he was on the phone for an hour with Major League Baseball officials, who will be determining whether to fine Mota, who was ejected, or Fielder for their actions.

Macha was the rare man in uniform who was interested in discussing the matter Wednesday. Several players in each clubhouse declined to talk, and others gave bland answers. Torre, who often patiently answers any question — including those in the wake of Ramirez’s drug suspension — was not in the mood, either.

“I’m a little surprised and disappointed that this is taking all the attention,” Torre said to about 30 members of the news media who gathered in the dugout before the game. “I’m not going to waste a lot of time trying to discuss and viewpoint this and viewpoint that.”

By hitting Fielder, Mota at least seemed to be answering questions about the resolve of Dodgers pitchers to protect their hitters. In last year’s National League Championship Series, Phillies pitcher Brett Myers threw a fastball under the chin of Ramirez, and Dodgers pitcher Chad Billingsley did not retaliate.

But Torre said such a link between then and Tuesday was a reach. “You’re trying to connect the dots with a very long line,” he said.

As it turned out, Fielder was the center of attention again Wednesday in Milwaukee’s 4-1 win. Each time he came to the plate, the crowd of 50,276 booed vigorously. Fielder was 0 for 5, but he did chug down the line to beat a relay throw, thwarting a double play and allowing the Brewers to tie the score, 1-1. He also caught the Dodgers by surprise, stealing second with a thunderous head-first slide.

“I expected it,” said Fielder of the fans’ booing. “Their team is the Dodgers.”

The Brewers talked about Tuesday’s incident in a pre-game meeting. But save for Ramirez’s pinch-hit appearance in the seventh inning — he grounded out with two runners aboard — there was not much other drama. Mota, who threw 38 pitches Tuesday, did not pitch.

It was also a less eventful evening for William Gomez, who has stood guard outside the Dodgers clubhouse for seven years, but had never encountered a player like Fielder.

It is common for opponents to head past him after games on their way to use the weight-lifting equipment and batting cages that are past the Dodgers’ clubhouse.

Gomez said he heard Fielder arguing with his teammate Ryan Braun. “I thought something’s up,” Gomez said. “I told him, ‘I can’t let you in, sir.’ ”

Gomez was more successful at keeping the 270-pound Fielder at bay than any of his teammates who tried.

“Try?” asked Braun. “It was like a raging bull.”

Rare as it may be for a player to go into an opposing clubhouse to challenge another player, it is not uncommon for Mota. In 2002 and 2003, during his first stint with the Dodgers, he upset Mets catcher Mike Piazza by hitting him with pitches in spring training games. After the first incident, Piazza wrapped both hands around Mota’s neck between innings. The next year, Piazza at first charged Mota on the mound and later went into the Dodgers’ clubhouse after the game, but Mota had already left.

“Why do people get so mad?” Mota said Wednesday. “It’s baseball. We have to pitch inside, whether it’s Piazza, Braun or Fielder. We have to pitch inside.”

Mota said he was particularly surprised by Fielder’s reaction.

Fielder lay on the ground after being hit with a look of disbelief, wondering why Mota — his teammate last year — would have hit him. It was a look of bemusement, rather than anger.

“I was thinking he was a good friend,” said Mota, who was lifting weights when Fielder made his run toward the clubhouse. Mota said he found out about Fielder’s charge when he returned from his postgame workout.

A few minutes earlier, as Mota returned to his stall, he could not betray his feelings. The clubhouse television was tuned to ESPN, and Steve Phillips, the former Mets general manager who had criticized Mota for hitting Piazza, now seemed to be siding with him. Phillips said that if Fielder had a problem with Mota, he should have settled it on the field.

“Exactly,” Mota shouted, pointing at the television and perhaps another confrontation down the road.

You have to be on something serious to start a fight at Dodger Stadium...

Monday, August 03, 2009

The Futility of Organized Diplomacy

From Powerline:

David Ignatius argues that, rather than pursuing talks with the Iranian regime, the U.S. should let it stew in its own juice for now. He analogizes the regime to a "neighborhood troublemaker" who has driven his car into a ditch. The best response, Ignatius argues, is to let him remain there for a while with his wheels spinning.

So far, so good. But Ignatius is determined that we should appease someone. So, with Iran sidelined as a candidate, he argues that we should respond by appeasing its allies: Syria, Hamas, and even Hezbollah. He argues that, given Iran's current problems, its friends may want to hedge their bets by becoming more friendly with us. But unless we're prepared to fund the terrorist activities of Hamas and Hezbollah, as Tehran does, Iran clearly remains their one good bet.

Understandably, then, Ignatius glosses over the question of what it would take for the U.S. to befriend these bloody terrorist entities. However, he does urge, inevitably, that the U.S. take advantage of Iran's predicament by striving to create a Palestinian state. Is there any development in the region that commenators like Ignatius cannot spin into an argument for coercing Israel into agreeing to a state for its sworn enemies?

The notion that the U.S. can shake things up in the Middle East by appeasing bloodthirsty terrorists has long passed for bold, strategic thinking -- and indeed realism --in the salons and op-ed pages of Washington, D.C. The frightening thing is that we cannot be confident that it does not pass for such in the Obama administration.

Long ago, George Shultz was confronted with the fact that Reagan had gone longer than any President without a summit deal with the Soviet Union. His response was "So what. No deal is better than a bad deal."

The career diplomatic bloc in D.C. seems adamant that sort of thinking does not take root. They prefer "movement", dealmaking, to no deal. If American interests prohibit that approach, it's time to rethink American interests.

The notion that we can appease and enable terrorists like Hamas, Hezbollah and the Taliban without injury to the United States has already failed, and this failure will be demonstrated again. It's a good question whether any majority party in Washington will be allowed to do anything about it for some time.