Well, I called all four games last week; let's see if I can keep the run going.
Indianapolis at Baltimore: I'll take the Ravens in this one. They've got a far better defense than the Colts and were 7-1 at home while Peyton and company were 4-4 on the road. McNair's got plenty of playoff experience, and Brian Billick has won it all before.
Eagles at Saints. Philly seems on a roll, and New Orleans has gotta be feeling the collar tightening. The Saints did win the regular season matchup, but it was by a field goal late, and it was against McNabb. Take the Eagles and the points.
Seattle at Chicago. Very tough game to pick. Hasselbeck's got loads of playoff experience; Rex Grossman lost his only attempt. I'll pick Chicago to win this one, but they seem unlikely to cover the points.
New England at San Diego. One simple rule: Don't bet against Tom Brady in the postseason.
At a moving ceremony in the East Room of the White House, President Bush on Thursday made a posthumous presentation of the nation's highest award for valor to Marine Cpl. Jason Dunham. The 24-year-old lost his life two years ago in Iraq during hand-to-hand combat with an insurgent who released a hand grenade.
"Corporal Dunham did not hesitate. He jumped on the grenade, using his helmet and body to absorb the blast," Mr. Bush said.
And we don't often give huzzahs to Hillary Clinton and Chuck Schumer, but they earned them as well:
The Dunhams were to meet later in the day with New York senators Charles Schumer and Hillary Rodham Clinton, who had pressed for Dunham to be posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor.
UC Santa Cruz Cancels Job Fair Over Security for Military Recruiters
You may recall the near riot that happened last year when the military recruiters appeared at a UC Santa Cruz job fair. Nathan Bradfield remembered and discovered that the job fair has been canceled because the university cannot guarantee the safety of military recruiters.
The reality, of course, is that there are students who are interested in a military career. And whether a shouting, shoving group of protesters likes it or not — these students have a right to meet with whomever they want.
This "I'm right, you're wrong" attitude pervades the American university system, and it's a great failing of campuses today. Too often, the attitude in lecture halls and in informal discussions is that inclusiveness and diversity has its limits.
I love the bit (about 4:00 in) about how "This is not black helicopter stuff." But at the same time (3:45) "All of these things will be done by memos of understanding..." You know, because you can alter the constitution with memos of understanding.
Pam noted in the comments on my post regarding the Yale singing group that was assaulted in SF after singing The Star Spangled Banner that there was more to the story. Here are some additional details:
As Rapagnani tells it, his 19-year-old daughter was hosting a New Year's Eve party at the family's Richmond District home for the Baker's Dozen, who were in town as part of a West Coast tour.
The 16 singers showed up late to the party wearing preppy sport jackets and ties, and launched into "The Star-Spangled Banner."
A couple of uninvited guests started mocking them, and allegedly the words "faggot" and "homo" were tossed -- and so were a couple of punches.
The loud noise drew relatives from next door, who promptly ordered the house cleared.
The Yale kids, most of whom were staying with a family a block away, began heading home.
But witnesses said one of the uninvited guests -- who happens to be the son of a prominent Pacific Heights family -- pulled out his cell phone and said, "I'm 20 deep. My boys are coming."
Interesting stuff. The good news is that there will be pressure to make arrests:
As if that weren't enough, the dean of Yale College has weighed in, as has one of the victim's fathers, Sharyar Aziz -- a prominent New York banker whose son's jaw was busted in two places. He has not only called the mayor's office and police chief -- he's also retained the law firm Gonzalez (as in former mayoral candidate Matt Gonzalez) and Leigh to keep the heat on the cops and make sure "the individuals behind this heinous assault (are) apprehended."
A 1994 videotape mysteriously posted on YouTube.com prompted Republican Mitt Romney to declare Wednesday, "I was wrong on some issues back then," while also insisting to social conservatives key to his presidential campaign that he is one of them.
"If you want to know where I stand by the way, you don't just have to listen to my words, you can go to look at my record as governor," Romney said during a late-day appearance on the "Glenn and Helen Show," a radio program featuring Tennessee psychologist Helen Smith and her husband, Glenn Reynolds.
"Frankly, in the bluest of states, facing the most liberal media in the country, I've led the fight to preserve traditional marriage. I've taken every legal step I could conceive of, to prevent same-sex marriage."
Except, of course, that the result was same-sex marriage in his state.
Romney's a fine candidate. He's moderate, like me. I just don't like him claiming to be something he's not.
The Carsey Institute at the University of New Hampshire says the population of residents aged 25-to-34 declined in New England much more sharply than the national average from 1990 to 2004. During that period, the number of young adults in the region declined nearly 25 percent, compared to the national average decline of 7 percent.
Management Professor Ross Gittell, who wrote the report, said New England lags behind the national average in growth of all age groups, but the young people decline is the most alarming. He said all 67 counties in New England, except for Nantucket County in Massachusetts, saw a decline in the number of young adults.
The report said Nevada, Utah, Arizona, Idaho, Colorado, Georgia and Oregon saw a more than 10 percent growth in the population of young adults.
It's quite mysterious indeed, but I suspect that the population of residents 25-34 years old may have something to do with birth rates and abortion rates, oh, say, 25-34 years ago?
Members of the a cappella Baker's Dozen were performing at a party in San Francisco at the new year when their rendition of the "Star Spangled Banner" apparently sparked taunts and threats from fellow partygoers.
As the group left the house, they were attacked by dozens of assailants, suffering scrapes, black eyes and concussions, said Connecticut's News Channel 8.
This is what the conspiracy theorists don't want you to realize because once you get out of the weeds and stop talking about roads, obscure reports, and professors, it becomes obvious that this conspiracy theory doesn't hold water. But, people like Corsi have gone too far out on a limb to ever admit that. So, they'll keep on insisting that the Bush Administration is about to implement a North American Union until Bush is out of office and then they'll try to take credit for preventing the implementation of a non-existent plot rather than admit that they didn't have the slightest idea what they were talking about.
This is why I've pretty much decided not to create the posts I talked about the other day, about the Amero and the NAFTA Superhighways. They're not the issue. The issue is that Corsi and the others pushing this conspiracy theory don't have anything to tie this to the Bush Administration. And without that tie-in, what they've got are some academics who think a North American Union and the Amero would be a good thing. Yawn. We've also got academics who think humans marrying sheep would be a good thing; nobody (yet) has suggested that this is the secret agenda behind Rudy Giuliani's support of Civil Unions for gay couples.
Shifting Sands: Mitt Romney Changes His Mind Again
When interviewed by Human Events back in December, he had no opinion on the proposed "surge" in troop levels in Iraq:
I’m not going to weigh in. I’m still a governor. I’m not running for national office at this stage. I’m not going to weigh in on specific tactics about whether we should go from 140,000 to 170,000. That’s something I expect the President to decide over the next couple of weeks and announce that to the nation. I want to hear what he has to say.
Apparently recognizing that not taking a stand was hurting him, Romney now says he supports the surge:
"In consultation with Generals, military experts and troops who have served on the ground in Iraq, I believe securing Iraqi civilians requires additional troops. I support adding five brigades in Baghdad and two regiments in Al-Anbar province. Success will require rapid deployment."
No serious contender for the GOP nomination in '08 could remain silent on this issue, and Romney's reluctance to lay out his position beforehand shows the learning curve he faces as a first-time national candidate.
This highlights Romney's weakness on the foreign policy front. Back in the 1990s many people felt we had reached "The End of History" and that foreign policy could be neglected. We learned painfully that was a mistaken notion on September 11, 2001.
And for those who think that Mitt might be a little light on foreign policy experience, but at least he's a solid conservative on the social issues unlike John McCain and Rudy Giuliani, check out this:
I absolutely think there's a place in the Republican party for people who believe what Romney professes in there. But you can't then turn around and proclaim yourself the "real conservative" in the race and the "successor to Reagan".
I have to admit, I was somewhat startled to discover that only 25% of the the electors for the Baseball Hall of Fame voted for Mark McGwire. I anticipated that he'd come close or make it; as it was he was only about 1/3rd of the way there.
Considering that these same voters were prepared to vote Pete Rose in despite his lifetime banishment from the game for gambling, it seems just a tad hypocritical. Of course, Rose was a reporter's player: somebody who loved to talk about the game after the game, a ready source of the quotes and insight that every sports reporter depends on. As I have observed many times in the past, if you want good press, talk to the press.
And, predictably, the reporter on this story brings up that exact point:
Meanwhile, as all this sportswriter soul-wringing has been spilling out, do you know what McGwire has been doing? What one of the most prolific home run hitters ever has been up to? What he has had to say?
Of course you do. He has done nothing. Said not a word. Not one objection. Not one word in his defense. Not one solitary peep. And that brings up the most important question in this sadly drawn-out saga.
If Mark McGwire doesn't care about his place in the Hall of Fame, why in the heck should we?
I got on CPR radio briefly during the interview with Dr. Corsi. He was, it is safe to say, quite unhappy with my post below, and accused me of doing much the same as Michael Medved and John Hawkins in dismissing his arguments with ad hominems. When I pointed out that I had specifically avoided that, he claimed that "debunking" constituted a personal attack. Obviously, it doesn't.
It is fair to point out that I started with the assumption that Dr. Corsi is wrong, most specifically with regard to his allegations that President Bush supports this North American Union, and that it is imminent. Do I believe that there are academics who would support a North American Union? Sure. Do I believe that the professors that he mentioned on the show support it? Yep. Do I believe that Robert Bartley, the late editor of the Wall Street Journal's editorial page endorsed it? I'd like to see the editorial myself, but I do know he was very much an open borders kind of conservative. Update: Look here for a good discussion of Bartley immigration policy prescriptions, which apparently included in 2001 a call for a North American Union.
But none of that makes a story. That President Bush might believe in a North American Union makes it a story, and that's where Corsi's argument is missing a crucial link; hence the "connecting the dots" language of the conspiracy theorist.
Debunking Dr. Corsi Part 1: The North American Union
Dr. Jerome Corsi did the Republican Party and President Bush a huge favor in 2004 when he collaborated with John O'Neill and researchers from the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth on the New York Times' bestseller Unfit for Command, which exposed John Kerry's fraudulent record in Vietnam. It was a terrific book, one that I wholeheartedly endorsed at the time.
However, Dr Corsi is now working on a new theme, which will not be as helpful to Republicans and President Bush. He has published several articles at Human Events, claiming that there is a secret plan by President Bush to combine the United States, Canada and Mexico into one entity, the North American Union, "erasing our borders with both Mexico and Canada." The new political union would have a common currency, the Amero, and would be criss-crossed with "NAFTA Superhighways".
It is safe to say that many conservatives do not agree with Dr. Corsi on this conspiracy theory. Michael Medved wrote a scathing column in late December on the topic.
This paranoid and groundless frenzy has been fomented and promoted by a shameless collection of lunatics and losers; crooks, cranks, demagogues and opportunists, who claim the existence of a top secret master plan to join the U.S., Canada and Mexico in one big super-state and to replace the good old Yankee dollar with a worthless new currency called “The Amero.” Another delusion usually associated with these fears involves the construction of a “Monster Highway” some sixteen lanes wide through Texas and the Great Plains, connecting the two nations on either side of the border for some nefarious but never-explained purpose.
John Hawkins has also scorned Dr. Corsi's theory. In a ranking of the 21 most annoying people on the Right in 2006, Hawkins placed Corsi as #3, between page molester Mark Foley and convicted bribe-taker Duke Cunningham. Hawkins said of Corsi:
Nobody has worked harder to convince people that the completely moronic North American conspiracy theory is real than the right's version of Dylan Avery, kooky Jerome Corsi.
Much of the criticism of Dr. Corsi's claim has been ad hominem in nature; indeed Medved's column contains little else. To a certain extent, these ad hominem attacks are valid. For example, few conservatives will waste a lot of time on the 9-11 conspiracy theorists, dismissing them as "kooks" and "nutbars". But these types of personal attacks are never convincing to those who believe in the conspiracy theory, and may not be effective even with fence sitters.
So I have decided to take a long, hard look at Dr. Corsi's claims, without engaging in the invective that has marked some of the previous debate. This analysis will be broken down into four separate blog posts:
1. The North American Union (analyzed in this post) 2. NAFTA Superhighways (forthcoming) 3. The Amero (forthcoming) 4. Similarities Between Dr. Corsi's Theory and Other Conspiracy Theories
Dr. Corsi made his opening salvo in a May 19, 2006 article for Human Events entitled, "North American Union to Replace USA?"
The first three paragraphs state the thesis rather concisely:
President Bush is pursuing a globalist agenda to create a North American Union, effectively erasing our borders with both Mexico and Canada. This was the hidden agenda behind the Bush administration's true open borders policy.
Secretly, the Bush administration is pursuing a policy to expand NAFTA politically, setting the stage for a North American Union designed to encompass the U.S., Canada, and Mexico. What the Bush administration truly wants is the free, unimpeded movement of people across open borders with Mexico and Canada.
President Bush intends to abrogate U.S. sovereignty to the North American Union, a new economic and political entity which the President is quietly forming, much as the European Union has formed.
We can all agree that's a rather extraordinary claim. Is there anybody in the USA who thinks things would be better if the United States, Mexico, and Canada were all combined into one economic and political entity?
So let's look at the proof that Dr. Corsi presents of this theory:
The blueprint President Bush is following was laid out in a 2005 report entitled "Building a North American Community" published by the left-of-center Council on Foreign Relations (CFR). The CFR report connects the dots between the Bush administration's actual policy on illegal immigration and the drive to create the North American Union:
At their meeting in Waco, Texas, at the end of March 2005, U.S. President George W. Bush, Mexican President Vicente Fox, and Canadian Prime Minister Paul Martin committed their governments to a path of cooperation and joint action. We welcome this important development and offer this report to add urgency and specific recommendations to strengthen their efforts.
What is the plan? Simple, erase the borders. The plan is contained in a "Security and Prosperity Partnership of North America" little noticed when President Bush and President Fox created it in March 2005:
In March 2005, the leaders of Canada, Mexico, and the United States adopted a Security and Prosperity Partnership of North America (SPP), establishing ministerial-level working groups to address key security and economic issues facing North America and setting a short deadline for reporting progress back to their governments. President Bush described the significance of the SPP as putting forward a common commitment "to markets and democracy, freedom and trade, and mutual prosperity and security." The policy framework articulated by the three leaders is a significant commitment that will benefit from broad discussion and advice. The Task Force is pleased to provide specific advice on how the partnership can be pursued and realized.
To that end, the Task Force proposes the creation by 2010 of a North American community to enhance security, prosperity, and opportunity. We propose a community based on the principle affirmed in the March 2005 Joint Statement of the three leaders that "our security and prosperity are mutually dependent and complementary." Its boundaries will be defined by a common external tariff and an outer security perimeter within which the movement of people, products, and capital will be legal, orderly and safe. Its goal will be to guarantee a free, secure, just, and prosperous North America.
Dr. Corsi does a little sleight of hand here. It may appear from the way he writes that the last two paragraphs, which contain the part about the "outer security perimeter", come from the Security and Prosperity Partnership of North America, but in fact they are taken from the Council on Foreign Relations document that Corsi cited earlier.
So how does Dr. Corsi tie the CFR document to the Bush Administration? The answer is that he doesn't. Instead he claims:
The CFR report connects the dots between the Bush administration's actual policy on illegal immigration and the drive to create the North American Union....
Now anybody who has dealt with conspiracy theorists as I have on the 9-11 madness will recognize the exhortations to "connect the dots" as a rhetorical effort by the writer to avoid actually making the connection himself. "Bush administration actual policy on illegal immigration." Dot. "Drive to create the North American Union." Dot. Connect the dots!
Okay, now I think we can all agree that the administration's actual policy on illegal immigration can probably be described as laissez-faire. But to say that you can immediately connect that to a document created by a "left of center" group like the CFR raises an obvious question: What is the connection?
Basically what Corsi's saying is "I don't like Bush's policy on illegal immigration, and looky, here's something somebody else wrote talking about merging the US with Mexico, and that must be what Bush is trying to do." He admits as much in his debate with Hawkins:
Then what is Hawkins’ explanation for why Bush won’t secure the border?
Hawkins answers this quite sensibly in my view:
I think Bush has been soft on illegal immigration largely because of pressure from businesses that want cheap illegal labor and because he believes, incorrectly, that the only way the GOP can compete for Hispanic votes is to cater to illegal immigrants.
But Corsi prefers to believe that it's because Bush is secretly trying to unite the country with Canada and Mexico. Or is it so secret? Corsi jumps back and forth on this issue:
I have argued that the plan to establish the North American Union as a regional government is being advanced by the U.S. government through internal executive branch administrative action in order to keep the plan below the radar of U.S. public scrutiny. In accordance with this plan, I would argue that President Bush has intentionally avoided revealing his true plans to the American people.
Get it? It's a stealth plan. Or maybe not:
Again, I have never argued for a conspiracy theory. Quite the contrary, I have consistently argued that the evidence for my arguments is in the open, often published on government websites. True conspiracies are not hidden in plain view.
The "Building a North American Community" report, which was produced by a Council of Foreign Relations-sponsored task force, not the US government. Let me make sure everyone is getting this. The "Building a North American Community" report is not US government policy, it's just a report produced by a think tank-sponsored task force.
Clearly, the Council on Foreign Relations is a non-governmental organization (NGO) that has no binding control on U.S. governmental policy-making. We are equally sure that Mr. Hawkins is fully aware of the influence NGO’s such as the CFR have exerted on U.S. governmental policy-making for decades.... We next turn to the Department of Commerce’s website devoted to the Security and Prosperity Partnership. Under the first bar to the left, we find the June 2005, “Report to Leaders,” submitted on the exact timetable specified in the CFR report. Reading this document, we find a close correspondence between the cabinet level working groups already set up by the Bush administration under the auspices of this Department of Commerce office and the working agenda specified by the CFR report (note especially pages 24-26).
Essentially what Corsi is arguing here is that the administration is following the suggestions made in the CFR report, so therefore we can look at the CFR Report as a blueprint for the administration's plans.
So let's look at the CFR document which Corsi apparently believes calls for "effectively erasing our borders with both Mexico and Canada."
On page 30 of the PDF file, the CFR report calls for the three countries to work together to:
"Develop a North American Border Pass. The three countries should develop a secure North American Border Pass… [which] would allow its bearers expedited passage through customs, immigration and airport security throughout the region.".
Now wait a minute! Why would we need a North American Border Pass for expedited customs and immigration if we're going to erase the borders? How does this "dot" connect?
Answer: It doesn't. And this is where Corsi's conspiracy theory really breaks down. Not only can't he connect the CFR report to the Bush administration, but the CFR report doesn't even call for erasing the borders.
Update: Geoff from Please Make It Clear has also been looking into this, and Dr Corsi will be appearing on CPR Radio this afternoon at 4:05 Eastern to discuss his theory.
Joe Biden has announced that he's running for president in 2008.
“I am running for president,” he told “Meet the Press” anchor Tim Russert. “I’m going to be Joe Biden, and I’m going to try to be the best Biden I can be. If I can, I got a shot. If I can’t, I lose.”
Of course, a lot of people will use this occasion to dredge up his plagiarism incident from the 1988 campaign, where Biden borrowed the words of a British Labour Party leader named Neil Kinnock. But it's his own ditzy words that should really come back to haunt him. Anybody remember his suggestion that we go "mano-a-mano" with the Taliban in Afghanistan? Or this memorable gem:
Of course, it also can make Biden look like a maniac. According to The New Republic, in October 2001, Biden encountered a group of airline pilots and flight attendants who wanted his help in passing emergency benefits for laid-off airline workers. "I hope you will support my work on Amtrak as much as I have supported you," Biden told them. "If not, I will screw you badly."
On which note, let us turn to the gay sheep. Apparently, researchers at Oregon Health and Science University and Oregon State University have been experimenting with ovine hormonal balances in order to persuade homosexual rams of the error of their ways. It seems they've had "considerable success" with injecting hormones into the rams' brains. Suddenly the lads are playing the field and crooning a couple of choruses of "Embrace me, my sweet embraceable ewe."
Gay groups (human gay groups, that is: Even America does not yet have a 24/7 gay sheep lobby group with offices on K Street) are not happy about this. Martina Navratilova, the nine-time Wimbledon champ, has called for the project to be abandoned and for scientists to respect, as the Sunday Times put it, "the right of sheep to be gay."
This is one of those columns where you wonder where he's going with all this, and suddenly it hits you like a battering ram. Terrific reading!