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May 30, 2003

Pop Conservatism

I read a quote today from Virginia Postrel about Bill O'Reilly that sort of helped me understand why I just can't sit through his show any more. Before I get to it, let me state that I don't watch much TV at all, outside of my sports addiction. I did get into Fox News as the best of a bad lot, especially in the run-up to, and during the war in Iraq. I really like Brit Hume and Tony Snow. And at first I enjoyed O'Reilly, I guess before he became a best-selling author and ratings giant, and as a result, just a bit too full of himself to remain entertaining for me.

His show is only rarely informative, usually feeding the public two or three day old news, and lately his guests are used as little more than props for the airing of Bill's viewpoints. While I would stop just short of calling him a bully, as others do, he is often short with guests, especially those with opposing views, and the show's format jumps from 3-minute segment to 3-minute segment, doing nothing in depth, and of course always ends with Bill's self-amused reading of his mail, book and web site promos, yada, yada. It's conservative fluff.

Annoyed by his "bullying" of guests and, like me I guess, frustrated by the lack of any real content to the show, Postrel opines:

Contrary to his image as some kind of conservative ideologue, O'Reilly is just a long-winded cab driver with a TV show and no real interest in policy, ideas, or facts.

Right. Now maybe the "cab driver" personna helps explain some of the ratings success. He poses as a "regular guy", a common sense man. One that your average middle-American might talk with about the news of the day from the back seat of a cab. Cabbies don't talk "spin".

But let's face it. He's an entertainer, not an idea man. Same thing with Rush Limbaugh, although Rush is a much more "likeable" personality, while no less a self-promoter. I believe Rush's secret is his refusal to take himself all that seriously, while the Left is apoplectic over the success of both men. ("Dangerous", etc., etc.)

What this longwinded post is trying to get around to is my frustration with friends, acquaintances and others who, when they hear me express myself from a conservative point of view, assume that those views are a "product" of exposure to Rush and/or O'Reilly. Since that is their only exposure to "conservatism" in the media, they assume the same is true of me.

On the topic of conservatism in the media, Jonah Goldberg has a column about how the NYT has discovered that there exists a phenomenon called "conservative college student", so in keeping with their "automaton" stereotypes, they pose a group of them in identical George Bush T-shirts and photograph them, frowning and sinister, to accompany the article.

A friend recently responded to something I said with "Boy, you sure have been listening to Rush Limbaugh too long". Another person, when I criticized some network anchor or another, asked "so, who DO you like on TV... besides O'Reilly?" The notion of legions of "mind-numbed robots" tuning in each day to Rush to get their conservative talking points is a source of amusement for Rush and his listeners, but it is an all too real perception on the Left, and among the apolitical.

In most (but not all) cases, the people responding to me this way are not being nasty or even (gasp!) judgmental. They are friends of mine. I send a lot of articles on specific subjects to people as a way to follow up on a conversation, make a point, win an argument, or just to inform in more depth. But for the most part, the scores of writers and thinkers, living and dead, that inform my opinions and my worldview, are well off the radar of all but a few of my friends.

I'm sure no "deep thinker", but I love reading what such people write, and trying to learn, synthesize, and understand, (okay, sometimes just to retain) some of what I'm reading. Even among current, regular writers, columnists, critics, pundits, and bloggers, there is so much quality and variety of opinion and analysis to read, that I run out of time long before I run out of material.

So when someone assumes that I'm one of Rush's "robots", I try to resist the temptation to tell them that I'm really a part of the neo-conservative cabal that has hijacked American foreign policy to do Israel's bidding, and establish a new American empire. Instead I just ask them to "give me a break". I tell them that there's a long list of writers and thinkers whose work I read and respect. And the names Limbaugh and O'Reilly aren't on it.

May 27, 2003

Time's Up in Iran

Michael Ledeen's advice to the U.S. government as regards our policy towards Iran over the last few years has been, "Faster, Please". Ledeen has long advocated a stronger U.S. position in support of the Iranian people, and against the repressive regime of the mullahs. He's not warmongering. He proposes a number of concrete steps we can take short of military force. However, nothing short of regime change is the necessary result, according to Ledeen. Iran has long been the chief sponsor of terrorism, and now their funding and support of Al Qaeda threatens our goals in Iraq and elsewhere. Ledeen's message has become "Now, please. Time's up". An excerpt:

...if the United States chooses to give real support to the regime's opponents, there could well be a replay of the mass demonstrations that led to the fall of Milosevic in Yugoslavia and the Marcoses in the Philippines. If the Bush administration instead falls back on merely repeating the president's many words of condemnation of the regime and praise for the opposition, the mullahs may survive to kill us yet another day.

It is impossible to win in Iraq or to block the spread of weapons of mass destruction throughout the terror network without bringing down the mullahs. Iran is not only a participant on the other side; it is the heart of the jihadist structure. If we are really serious about winning the war against terrorism, we must defeat Iran. Thus far, we haven't been serious enough.

On Sorenstam

I know I'm not alone in my opinion that there are way too many Martha Burks out there, and not nearly enough Annika Sorenstams. I was knocked out by the way that Annika handled herself before, during and after her appearance in the Colonial last week. The contrast with Burk's posturing at Augusta was striking. Annika was pure class, pure competitor. She asked for no special considerations, and made no excuses. And what a player! Among the players that she outscored over those two rounds were a couple of winners from last year's men's tour. It was also gratifying to see how she was embraced and encouraged by her playing partners and the other pros at the event.

Andrew Sullivan has a take in today's Dish on the secret of Annika's popularity. Read it all, but here's an excerpt:

She's different but equal. Americans are far more comfortable with this kind of social message - and for a good reason. It's about integration, not separatism. It's about personal achievement, not group grievance. It's about merit, not complaint. It's about golf, not politics. Sorenstam cannot be accused of claiming any "special rights." She's embracing the old American virtue of doing your best against the best, and not letting anything - gender, race, class, religion, sexual orientation - get in the way. That was once the core, simple, unifying message of the civil rights movement. Odd, isn't it, that it took a Swedish female golfer to remind us.

May 26, 2003

View From London

William Shawcross, a respected British writer and broadcaster offers a European perspective on George Bush, his advisors, and their domestic and foreign policy goals in a rather long but very informative essay called After Iraq: America and Europe This is no fawning tribute by any means. Shawcross does not however, think Bush is a "moron":

George Bush may not be obviously eloquent. He may address his remarks more frequently to Lubbock Texas than to Islington, but that does not make him stupid. What in fact we have here is not a stupid leader but one of the most radical in recent times. Bush leads a team which really wants to change the world. It is perhaps that which makes Europeans uncomfortable. But not wishing to acknowledge this, they take refuge in the stupidity claim.

It's worth reading for facts and insights that you won't see or read in the American media. (Hat tip to Andrew Stuttaford in The Corner for the link)

Tobacco Hoopla

An appeals court Wednesday reversed a $145 billion jury award to plaintiffs in a tobacco industry lawsuit, for a variety of legitimate reasons, not least among them the grossly unethical practices by the plaintiffs' attorney. As George Will states in his syndicated column :

the appeals court did not confine itself Wednesday to overturning the class-action $145 billion judgment against the tobacco industry. The court also roasted the plaintiffs' attorney. But his behavior, although contemptible, is congruent with the increasingly cynical government policy of keeping tobacco companies prosperous enough to be worth looting.

Now I've been a non-smoker for 23 years now, and I don't really have a dog in this fight except as a taxpayer, but this case demonstrates the potential of trial lawyers and a malleable jury to literally bankrupt a legitimate industry. The story of the malpractice by Rosenblatt, the attorney in this case, is stunning.

A certain segment of our society, (a similar segment it seems, that in other matters decries government involvement in our personal, private behaviors) demonizes tobacco companies for daring to make a profit selling a legal product to willing consumers. At the same time state governments are politically addicted to the revenues, both in taxes and lawsuit settlement dollars that a prosperous tobacco industry generates. The politicians are desperate to make sure that the lawyers don't kill the Golden Goose. It's amusing and sickening at the same time.

This WSJ piece nicely summarizes the facts of the case, and this Jacob Sullum article adds an additional angle not mentioned by Will or the WSJ. You see, even though they lost on appeal, the plaintiffs still receive a cool $700 million. Sullum explains it, but it's about what you'd expect when trial lawyers, politicians, and scared businessmen get together to carve up a couple of hundred billion dollars, all in the interest of righting wrongs, serving justice, and protecting us common citizens and, you know.... the children.

May 23, 2003

Tough Windmill Hole

Okay, so it's not exactly Zelda, but Jonah Goldberg linked to this Mini-Putt golf game in The Corner today, and it's not too bad.

UPDATE: Wow, it's already out: Mini-Putt 2.0 This one is a lot better!
UPDATE II: Okay so I've played it a couple of times. My best score (on MiniPutt2) is now a 33.

Looking Back Two Years

Victor Davis Hanson is so good at seeing the big picture in the Middle East, and so eloquent in writing about it for the rest of us.

The Streak

So I was going to the Indians game Thursday night, and I was pretty optimistic about getting that first win of the season. (I was officially 0-4 plus a rainout, coming into this game). Better yet, the team was hot, on a three game winning streak, with the hapless Tigers in town ready for one more pasting. Long story short, it took 11 innings, but my perfect record is intact. We lose 3-2. The edge is taken off the bad vibe of losing by hearing the news on the radio during the game that the Cavaliers win the NBA Draft Lottery, and that LeBron James will be staying "home".

Wait a minute......a lucky break for a Cleveland sports team? What's next....dogs and cats living together in harmony?

May 22, 2003

"Dotting The I"

Tom Orr is a young contributor to The O-Zone, a web site for Ohio State sports fanatics like me. He had recounted the Top Ten Buckeye sporting events that he had personally attended in a two part article. He's too young to tell any stories of Archie Griffin or Clark Kellogg, much less any of Jerry Lucas or Jack Nicklaus, but if you'd like, you can read his reflections here and here.

He then asked readers to submit their personal favorites, and when I really thought about it, my highlight turned out to have little to do with the memory of an actual game. Here's the text of my email to Tom:

One of my most memorable Buckeye sporting events was, ironically, associated with one of the low points in OSU football in the past couple of decades. In 1993 I traveled to Ann Arbor with three of my friends to watch the unbeaten (9-0-1) Buckeyes take on the hated Wolverines with a possible national title at stake. As is well documented and long lamented, our Bucks got trounced that day in a game featuring Cleveland's Desmond Howard striking his Heisman pose after a long punt return for a touchdown. The final was 28-0. The national championship possibilities were officially down the tubes.....again.

My moment however, came before the game ever started. It was a bitterly cold day, and we had no real idea going in where our seats were located. Turns out we were in the first row off the field, right in the center of the endzone. I remember I could stand up in my seat and reach out and touch the flagpole, which was planted in the stadium turf just outside the back line of the endzone. My buddy and I were in seats 3 and 4 of our row, so we had to squeeze past an elderly couple who were sitting on the aisle. The usual small talk ensued before the game, and when the OSU band took the field during the pregame, and were about to begin the "Script Ohio", the gentleman next to me could no longer contain himself. His pride was getting the better of him, and he just had to tell somebody, and I happened to be the somebody. He smiled and announced, "My grandson is dotting the 'I' today".

All I could muster in response was "Wow, that's fabulous!", and as I watched the band go through the script, and watched this young sousaphone player take his final "dotting" bow, I realized what an unbelievably special moment this was for him, and obviously for his grandparents, who by this time were in tears. Hell, I was in tears, and I had just met these people! Knowing the band's tradition from all those years of bleeding Scarlet and Gray, I was immediately able to feel and share the "moment." To "Dot the I" is a huge honor, reserved for senior sousaphone players, and to get to do it in the Michigan game is an even greater tribute.

The best part came when the band filed off the field, right into the endzone in front of us. The kid, who had just had perhaps the proudest moment of his young life, knew right where his grandparents were sitting and gave a quick look and a huge smile up to the stands as they marched through the endzone. At this point, the band members broke ranks right in front of us, and the celebration began. This kid was treated to hugs and high-fives from his band-mates, while his grandparents and a 40-year old guy from Cleveland that they had just met, sat in the first row with tears streaming down their cheeks. I never learned their names, and the rest of the afternoon was downhill from that point, but to this day I can't tell the story without choking up. Utterly unforgetable!

UPDATE: Tom Orr emailed me back and refreshed my memory. I was wrong about the Desmond Howard reference. It was on my first trip to Ann Arbor two years earlier, in 1991, in another humiliating OSU defeat (31-3), that Howard had his big game, complete with the famous Heisman pose. Thanks Tom, for pointing that out. BTW, he said he's going to use my story in his follow-up article.

UPDATE: Here's a link to the Tom Orr article that includes my story and those from numerous other Buckeye fans. He even gave me a little special mention. Also, here's Part One of that same series of articles.

May 20, 2003

...he's gotta wear shades

What a great kid Brandon Phillips seems to be. He always has this huge smile on his face, like he's having the time of his life. And why not? He's 21 years old, he's starting in the major leagues, and he figures to be a very rich man before too much longer. In interviews he says all the right things but, unlike some other athletes, it doesn't sound forced or scripted like something his agent told him to say. Tonight he won the game for the Indians with a 3-run, walk-off home run in the bottom of the ninth, rounding out a three hit game. In his rookie year and playing a new position, he's leading the league in fielding percentage for second basemen, and the batting average is climbing. His humility seems sincere, and while being a bit awestruck at what is happening to and for him might have something to do with it, it certainly is refreshing.

May 19, 2003

Sullivan on Sidney

I just read Andrew Sullivan's scathing review of Sidney Blumenthal's new book, The Clinton Wars. An excerpt:

Reading this book is like listening to music on a Walkman with only one earphone in. Not only is Bill Clinton morally right, he’s close to politically flawless. All the facts of the Presidency are marshaled, sometimes with good narrative skill and smooth prose, to defend this assumption. There is not an argument as such in the book, if by argument you mean an attempt to grapple with an alternative worldview. You’d be unaware, for example, if this was the only Clinton book you had ever read, that anyone ever had a problem with Bill Clinton’s relationship with the truth. You’d be largely unaware of any character defects in the 42nd President at all. In fact, the only reason Mr. Blumenthal ever gives for opposition to Mr. Clinton is resentment that he was elected in the first place. All the legitimate disagreement with Mr. Clinton—from the left all the way through to the center-right—is reduced in this book to the ravings of the right-wing extremists.

Christopher Hitchens also has a review of the book coming up soon, but for now he just wants to correct the record about Blumenthal's personal smears, distortions and misstatements of and about him. (hat tip to AS)

UPDATE: Michael Isikoff goes off on Sidney Blumenthal. Great.

UPDATE 5/30: David Horowitz gets in his two cents.

May 17, 2003

Maggie Speaks

It sure was refreshing to hear from Margaret Thatcher after a long absence from the public eye. Her recent speech in New York was full of quotables. Among them:

“For years, many governments played down the threats of Islamic revolution, turned a blind eye to international terrorism and accepted the development of weaponry of mass destruction. Indeed, some politicians were happy to go further, collaborating with the self-proclaimed enemies of the West for their own short-term gain — but enough about the French. So deep had the rot set in that the UN security council itself was paralysed.”

Not only did she and ally Ronald Reagan know what "worked"....

“We knew, too, what did not work, namely socialism in every shape or form. Nowadays socialism is more often dressed up as environmentalism, feminism, or international concern for human rights. All sound good in the abstract. But scratch the surface and you will as likely as not discover anti-capitalism, patronising and distorting quotas, and intrusions upon the sovereignty and democracy of nations"

And on the "pervasive culture of anti-Westernism"....

"There are too many people who imagine that there is something sophisticated about always believing the best of those who hate your country, and the worst of those who defend it."

May 16, 2003

Palestine Resource

Here is an excellent site for history, maps and information on Palestine called palestinefacts.org. (a tip of the hat to steynonline.com for the link)


I've taken a bit of a blogging break for a few days, so permit me to jumble a few things together in one place. Not only have I been busy with some home improvement-type jobs, and extending my streak of attending only Indians losses this season to five games, but I just haven't had the inclination to blog much on the two main topics du jour, Bill Bennett and Jayson Blair, along with their various supporters and detractors. So much ink has been spilled over these two, and other bloggers have done such a great job documenting it, that if you're interested, Sullivan and Reynolds are two good places to start.

I've been interested to see Democratic presidential candidates cannibalizing each other, irritated by Democratic Senators filibustering judicial appointments ad nauseum, and amused by Texas Democratic representatives actually fleeing the state to avoid the vote on Republican gerrymandering of congressional districts that they so relished doing themselves when they were in the majority a few years ago.

Michael Ledeen is keeping track of what's going on in Iran.

And SARS, while not yet a real domestic issue, remains a concern, not least because we do not yet know the extent of the disease in China. I learned a few things from this WSJ piece by Claudia Rosett on the ways in which the nature of totalitarianism complicates and exacerbates the situation there.

And speaking of exacerbating things....What's worse than watching the Tribe get pounded 9-1 in a game that was essentially over in the third inning? Why, sitting through a two and a half hour rain delay so that the fourth inning isn't over till after 11 o'clock. With the good guys down 7-0 when the rains came, most of the 200 or so fans who stayed were hoping for a rainout, (and a rain check for the makeup game), and many (OK, me too) booed when they started to take the tarp off the infield to resume play. On the plus side, a fan's odds of getting a souvenir foul ball went up considerably after the delay, but that didn't prevent me from remaining O-for-my lifetime in foul balls retrieved. Sorry, borderline whining.

May 11, 2003

That Boy Could Make a Dog Laugh

Marguerite Kelly writes the Family Almanac column for the Washington Post, in which she answers reader questions and solves their problems. Now she's the one with the problem. How to feel, and how to deal with the death of her only son, journalist Michael Kelly.

May 9, 2003

More Asses Than Chairs

Michael Barone has a piece called A Tale of Two Nations in the new U.S. News, but Barone's two nations are not the "red and blue" states of America we've all heard about, or the "right and the left", but rather "Hard" and "Soft" America. In seeking to explain why America's creates such "incompetent" 18-year olds, and yet such capable 30-year olds, Barone faults in part, the educational system. It's all worth reading, but here's an excerpt:

from the age of 6 to 18, our kids live mostly in what I call Soft America--the part of our society where there is little competition and accountability. In contrast, most Americans in the 12 years between ages 18 and 30 live mostly in Hard America--the part of American life subject to competition and accountability; the military trains under live fire. Soft America seeks to instill self-esteem. Hard America plays for keeps.

Of course this might all be explained by simply saying that when they're 18, they're kids, and when they reach 30, they're adults. And I'm not too sure that today's 18-year olds are any more coddled, spoiled or "soft" than my generation was. Nor am I convinced, however, that it's "tougher for kids today", which I hear constantly from contemporaries of mine, (usually those with underachieving kids).

I'm not so sure we should be throwing 12-year olds to the wolves of life's cold realities, and I don't think Barone does either. But there is a certain lack of discipline and accountability in today's educational system that values self-esteem above achievement, and the results (or causes?) include social promotion and grade inflation. I know it's tough to tell a 16-year old anything, much less warn him or her about the cold, cruel world of Hard America that awaits if they don't excel in school. But to me there's no excuse for not demanding more of them while they're there. One way is to refuse to lower the bar, just because someone fails to get over it.

There will always be those in any society that need to be, and should be supported, yes, "carried", by that society's productive members. I think that many on the left in America lose sight of the truth of Barone's closing remark:

a sensible society also understands.....that Soft America lives off the productivity, creativity, and competence of Hard America. And that we have the luxury of keeping part of our society Soft only if we keep most of it Hard.

Lexington Green is one of the bloggers at Chicago Boyz, who posts a response to the Barone piece that I wanted to share. His permalinks weren't working so I'll excerpt most of it below: (He explains in his comments that his use of the term "losers" is facetious)

Barone is almost always good. He is extremely knowledgeable about the real facts of American life. The piece hits home. I got introduced to Hard American in my early jobs in high school, and I got Hard America right socko in the teeth at U of C, which was do or die. I owe any success I have had in life since then to the U of C's f*** you attitude -- we give Ds and Fs here, so show me something or there's the door. Yep, they do in the workforce, too. That's training for reality. That's Hard America.

One element Barone doesn't play up, which I think is real, is that most parents believe at some level that adult life, and work in particular, which is every waking moment most of us have, is pretty much an umremitting, vulgar, ugly, loveless snakepit with a few winners and a lot of losers. In response, these parents figure that especially younger children can be spared the full brutality of it for a while. But by junior high anyway, these coddled darlings need to start understanding that dogs do eat dogs, that rats do race, and that there are far more asses than chairs when the music stops.

That's Hard America. God bless it. It is better than all the alternatives. It rewards merit and punishes sloth. It produces wealth, freedom and opportunity -- all very great goods. And it has, so far, conquered the world. Barone is probably right that it should be pushed down the age axis, so it starts at about age 12 from a current age 18. Then we will all work harder and sort out the winners from the losers earlier, and have more money.

I think it was Schumpeter who said that a certain pretty large proportion of any society will simply not be able to cut it in a capitalist economy. Let us call these people "losers." So, according to Schumpeter, or whoever it was, these losers need to be given busy work and an income out of the social surplus of the productive part of society. This way these losers will feel like they are doing something useful, and have a modicum of human dignity, whether or not they have earned it. If this is not done, these losers will raise Hell and destroy the whole system. He was onto something.

There is a libertarian dream world in which there is no Soft America at all, a world of the future, if only this or that would happen today. This vision beckons half-glimpsed on the horizon, somewhat like the Marxian workers' paradise, except with cleaner bathrooms and crisp efficiency and no grade inflation. It is an Ayn Randian world of competent "winners," and no bureaucrats, toadies, or parasites like that half-retarded nephew of the boss working in the mailroom.

But this All-Hard-American-All-The-Time utopia will never be more than a delusion. There will always have to be a pretty big Soft America. There will always have to be a place to warehouse and cabin-off the losers who cannot hack it, who will always be misfits in the cash economy. Otherwise, these losers will have time to brood about their failures, find like-minded losers with grievances, blame society for their inability to compete successfully, and agitate for socialism, or whatever equivalent snake oil is fashionable, thus killing the goose for everybody. Much more prudent and humane to have them all work at the Registry of Motor Vehicles. They pretend to work, we actually pay them, and they don't start a new Nazi or Bolshevik party or join Al Qaeda. Not necessarily a bad buy.

(Such thoughts are why I am a Conservative and not a Libertarian.)

Green's readers respond that the European welfare states, (generally very "soft" societies) have not prevented radical or even terrorist groups from developing, despite massive bureaucracies with plenty of places to "warehouse" potential malcontents. But when I speak of those people that should be "carried" by the productive segment of society, I'm referring to the disabled, retarded, infirm, or aged among us, not just those who are looking to blame someone else for the mediocrity of their existences, and as such are willing customers for the statist snake oil salesmen.

Don't Despair Tribe Fans

Any Indians fan that doesn't know who Jeremy Guthrie is won't be able to say that for long. I know it looks bleak for the major league version of the Tribe right now, but every organization in baseball would kill to have the young pitchers that Mark Shapiro is grooming for Cleveland. Of the group that includes C.C. Sabathia, Cliff Lee, Jason Davis, Jake Westbrook, Danys Baez, Jason Phillips, Ricardo Rodriguez, Billy Traber, and Guthrie, all but Lee, Phillips and Guthrie are currently taking their lumps and learning at the big league level.

And another group of young pitchers is right behind this one in the low to mid-minors, and includes names like Cabrera, Cruceta, Denham, Martin, Foley, Caraccioli, Tallet, and Denney. All four of the Indians minor league teams are in first place in their respective leagues at the moment.

The team appears to be well set at catcher, centerfield, and the middle infield positions, in terms of young players and prospects, so the emphasis must be on the "corner" positions, both infield and outfield, (3B, 1B, LF, RF) when we consider drafting, trades and player development in the next couple of years. The team has four of the first 48 picks in next month's amateur draft, (picking up the 18th and 31st picks as compensation for losing Jim Thome) so the "pipeline" will be replenished once again. Now I just wish I had more faith in owner Larry Dolan to spend the money to keep the players that pan out when the time comes to pay market value to major leaguers.

May 8, 2003

Cleveland Boy

An enjoyable article on the career of Bob Hope. Some funny stuff, and quotes from him I had not heard before.

May 7, 2003

She Crossed Uday

First person accounts of life under Saddam's regime continue to be reported from liberated Iraq. Some gave up hope as they watched thousands of their countrymen die. Some, like Lahib Nouman, a female attorney who had the misfortune to make an enemy of Saddam's son, kept on fighting.....and soon there was nothing left to lose.

Al Qaeda links to Iraq

Stephen Hayes details some of the links between the Iraqi regime and Al Qaeda, in case you've missed it.

May 5, 2003

Dem Debate

In today's Best of the Web, James Taranto has an enlightening summary of the Democratic candidates' debate the other night. Below is part of his take on Howard Dean's candidacy, (but read the whole thing...)

Dean made a lot more sense on Saturday than he had in the past--but this is actually a drawback for his campaign. Dean's appeal is to the demented wing of the Democratic Party--the folks whose entire worldview centers on the delusion that President Bush "stole" the election. These people sympathized with Dean's pro-Saddam stance not because they care one way or the other about Iraq, but because in their minds the freedom of the Iraqi people and the security of the world were worth sacrificing in order to deny Bush a political victory. By bowing to reality, Dean can't help but alienate his base, and it's unlikely he picked up many sentient Democrats' votes either.

George Will handicaps the race as well. But it's not promising for Democrats, as Will notes:

The potential for volatility among Democrats is suggested by a poll conducted April 10-16 by the Pew Research Center showing that 69 percent of Democrats cannot name any of the nine candidates. Kerry, the most frequently named, is named by just 9 percent of respondents. Nine percent think Al Gore is running. The president has 71 percent job approval. Ronald Reagan had 58 percent in 1984, when he swept 49 states.

Price and Eustachy

Mike Price and Larry Eustachy, two major college coaches were fired this week for moral misconduct, for lack of a better description. In the case of Mike Price, who had yet to coach a football game at Alabama, the school decided that having a night out at a topless bar was a firing offense. Well, there's more than that. Strong indications are that one of the bar "dancers" may have spent the night in Price's room, since the next morning she ordered one of everything from the room service menu, to the tune of a $1000 tab charged to Price's room bill. So in the best light it's a bawdy night out, at worst, an adulterous one night stand.

Eustachy's conduct was somewhat tamer, it seems. The head basketball coach at Iowa State was photographed drinking and partying with students, and when confronted, admitted to being an alcoholic. Eustachy said he was going to seek treatment on the same day the President of the University recommended his firing. There was also a separate allegation that a couple of players had been slipped a twenty dollar bill for making a free throw, at one time or another.

Both coaches had recently agreed to multi-million dollar contracts, although Price had agreed in principle but had not yet actually signed his $8 million deal, making it much easier for Alabama to fire him. Price may try to sue, possibly with an eye to improve his final financial settlement. Eustachy "settled " today with Iowa State officials for just a bit less than a million dollars, and seems ready to now just move on to whatever one does with a million dollars. I do hope he starts with alcohol treatment.

What happened is real world stuff. Two college Presidents and their trustees and their administrations decided that these two guys, despite their considerable coaching abilities, their charisma, their good intentions, and their golden parachutes, simply had to go. For the good of the "program", the institution, yada, yada.

It occurs to me that Price might have tried this defense:

Sure he was a public official, entrusted with leadership responsibilities, expected to be an "example" and a man of good character. But this conduct seems to have been pretty much playful good fun. Nobody got hurt. No crimes were committed. It was personal conduct, and was about sex. There's no indication that this conduct would prevent him from being a successful football coach, so his ability to do his job is not necessarily affected. Enemies of his probably took the photos and were conspiring to get him fired. We're not even sure if he took an immoral act "to completion". (Is there a dress?) And finally, this behavior, while regrettable, and quite possibly even "wrong", does not rise to the level that would merit his removal from the position.

You take Price's conduct, multiply it by three times on the seriousness index, throw in a gross sexual imposition, another non-consensual sexual molestation, add two felonies for perjury for lying to a grand jury, and you have what we let Bill Clinton off the hook for. Our Senate said, effectively, "That's okay.....You can stay on as the Head Coach...I mean President."

Alabama and Iowa State just couldn't "move on" with Price and Eustachy still in their jobs. The two were shamed, and told that they could no longer represent the universities that had employed them.

You'd think that journalists everywhere would be sticking up for these guys. I haven't seen any so far. Is Sidney Blumenthal working?

Just Wondering...

Joel Engel just has a few questions. An example:

Why was the United States blamed for the way Iraqis looted Iraq and stole from an Iraqi museum? And where was Maxine Waters, demanding that we understand their rage?

Jennings' Bias

I'm sure most people are as shocked, shocked!, as I was to hear that Peter Jennings personally edited and re-worded news stories to reflect his own biases and sympathies, primarily as relates to leftist causes. Here's the story.

May 4, 2003


A little bit late with this edition of Quotes of the Week. Let's start with something from the POTUS:

"With new tactics and precision weapons, we can achieve military objectives without directing violence against civilians. No device of man can remove the tragedy from war. Yet it is a great advance when the guilty have far more to fear from war than the innocent." George W. Bush

"I couldn't help but be impressed with Alan Greenspan's testimony Wednesday. He made the obvious point that it's good to cut taxes if you also cut spending. Duh. This administration, alas, is one of the most spend-thrift in recent times and yet still wants massive tax cuts. Thank God for some of the saner Republicans in the Senate. At least some people haven't forgotten that conservatism means limited government, personal privacy and fiscal responsibility, in contrast with the hard right's big government, sex police and mounting debt." - Andrew Sullivan

"The administration gave the perfect response to the United Nations claim that it alone can confer legitimacy on the running of Iraq: We ignored it. It does not even merit a rejoinder. The idea that legitimacy flows from the blessings of France and Russia, Saddam's lawyers and suppliers, is on its face risible. Legitimacy does not come out of U.N. headquarters in New York; it will come out of the ground in Iraq, as more and more factions join in the construction of a provisional government." - Charles Krauthammer

"Too many Europeans still cherish the belief that they are close to an end to war, hunger, want, and meanness — ideals inseparable from a light work week, cradle-to-grave care, protection by an uncouth American military, and a steady stream of fertile, darker, unassimilated peoples to take out their trash and clean their toilets." - Victor Davis Hanson

"Norman Mailer has become Norman Maine, a former matinee idol whom loved ones best keep an eye on, because if this is the best he can now muster, he'll no doubt be walking purposely into the surf off Provincetown any day now. And as Mr. Mailer's prostate gradually supplants his ego as the largest gland in his body, he's going to have to realize, as is the case with all young lions who inevitably morph into Bert Lahr, that his alleged profundities are now being perceived as the early predictors of dementia." - Dennis Miller

May 2, 2003


Democratic politicians, entertainers and liberals of all stripes have been full of righteous indignation in recent weeks, in protest of the suggestion, (expressed or imagined) that their opposition to U.S. policy in Iraq, or the War on Terror in general makes them somehow "unpatriotic". There was "a chill wind" blowing for Tim Robbins, and Hillary literally shrieked that Republicans wanted to make "disagreement" the equivalent of a lack of patriotism.

Some who were strident in their opposition in the lead-up to the Iraqi intervention are now "weaseling" for political purposes by use of the "I support the troops, but oppose the mission" stance. Even after the liberation and the attendant revelations about Saddam's regime, Bush is still excoriated by the left, and America's motives are called "imperialistic". This could be dismissed as just garden variety political partisanship, an opposition to the Bush agenda whatever it might be. If it were truly a principled opposition to U.S. military intervention, surely we would have heard from these people a few times during the Clinton administration.

Or this illogical opposition to the deposing of a monster could be taken as a statement against America itself. Pure, unadulterated anti-Americanism by Americans. People who are ideologically opposed to the democratic republic that is our mode of government, and the capitalist economy that is the engine of our prosperity and power. Who would deny that this sentiment exists within the American left today? Those on the "hard-left" are self-identified. In many cases, they are admitted socialists. It doesn't require a "red-baiter", a modern day Joe McCarthy to "out" them. They're out.

David Horowitz calls them the "neo-coms" in his new two-part essay "Taking on the Neo-Coms", at frontpagemag.com. (Part 1 )(Part 2) Horowitz defines the neo-coms as:

....people who identify with hostile regimes like North Korea, Cuba, and China, or – more commonly -- believe the United States to be the imperialist guardian of a world system that radicals must defeat before they can establish "social justice" on the planet.....Adherents of this anti-American creed variously describe themselves as "Marxists," "anti-globalists," "anti-war activists" or, more generally, "progressives." Their secular worldview holds claims that America is responsible for reaction, oppression, and exploitation across the globe and causes them to regard this country as the moral equivalent of militant Islam’s "Great Satan."

Horowitz also does us the service of identifying said neo-coms, from intellectuals Chomsky, Said, and Vidal to cultural icons like Tim Robbins and Michael Moore, to Congressional sympathisers like Barbara Lee and Dennis Kucinich. It is useful to assign a name to this group, Horowitz says:

The purpose of the term “neo-communist” is to identify a segment of the left that regards the United States as the root cause of international evil because it is the guardian of the international property system. In the eyes of radicals, this makes America the bulwark of the prevailing system of “social injustice” in the world. These propositions have profound implications for one’s political loyalties and commitments, and explain how individuals who claim to honor peace, justice, equality and freedom, can interpose themselves between America and a fascist like Saddam Hussein.

My problem is that the ideological lines of separation on the left are kind of fuzzy as we move along the line from Ramsey Clark to Edward Said to Barbara Kingsolver to Michael Moore to Hillary Clinton. In other words, from those who openly hate America to those who would have a shit fit if you suggested that they were "unpatriotic", much less "anti-American".

And those lines are fuzzy because the people at both ends of that spectrum advocate statist, socialist positions and programs, in terms of what our government ought to be and do, and seem hostile to the notion that American power can be a force for good around the world. As Horowitz notes, however, they are quick with the "defense" if called by their name:

One of the hard left’s survival secrets has been its ability to embargo attempts to identify it by labeling those who do "red-baiters" and "witch-hunters," as though even to name it is to persecute it. These same people, on the other hand, think nothing of labeling their opponents "racists" and "fascists," or calling the President of the United States a "Nazi" puppet of the oil cartel. Yet their defense strategy is highly effective in the tolerant democracy they are determined to destroy. I myself have been called a "red-baiter" and "McCarthyite" for pointing out that the current "peace" organizations like International ANSWER and Not In Our Name are fronts for the Workers World Party – a Marxist-Leninist vanguard that identifies with North Korea -- and the Revolutionary Communist Party, a Maoist sect. The facts are obvious and unarguable, but their implications are unpleasant and therefore suspect.

The core of the message from Horowitz of course, is that despite the catastrophic and murderous failures of socialism in the 20th century, there still exists the utopian impulse in America today, and that impulse is personified by the neo-coms and their ideological cousins in the Democratic Party, and finally, that the "leopard" has not changed its spots:

A key to the mentality of the left is that it judges itself by its best intentions, and judges its opponents -- America chief among them -- by their worst deeds. Or by the fantasies of what their worst deeds might be. By imagining a perfect world of social justice that leftists (unopposed) will surely create, even America’s most positive achievements can be made to look bad. If a world can be made in which everyone will be fed and have shelter and medical attention, then the fact that they don’t can be attributed to America, because America is the guardian of the international “status quo.”

Without any "successes" of socialism to point to, the left has only "negative" ammunition, according to Horowitz:

There are always (and inevitably) two sides to the revolutionary coin. The first is negative and destructive, since it is necessary first to undermine the beliefs, values and institutions of the old order which must be destroyed before a new one can be established. The second is positive and utopian, a vision of the future that condemns the present and encapsulates the idea of a redemptive fate.

For half a century now, ever since Khrushchev’s revelations about the crimes of Stalin, the left has been exclusively driven by its negative agendas. (This has become even more the case since the pathetic implosion of the socialist system.) Leaders of the contemporary left have put forward no serious plans for the post-capitalist future. More importantly, none of the energies that drive them are inspired by such plans. The left’s inspirations are mainly negative and nihilistic, and have been so for nearly fifty years.

An optimistic America, confident in its freedoms, prosperous economically, succeeding in its war on terror, and helping to bring "government by the people" to the far corners of the globe, is the worst nightmare for the neo-coms.

The Republicans have repudiated Trent Lott and marginalized Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson for their "unrepresentative" positions. Their love of country has never been in doubt. Yet the mainstream Left continues to march behind the banners of International A.N.S.W.E.R., cheer the hate speech of Edward Said, and then act insulted if it is suggested that they might share some of that knee-jerk antipathy to traditional American ideals.

Let's ask all of the Democratic candidates to renounce socialism as a failed economic and social model, as a precondition for representing one of our nation's great political parties in the coming election. That shouldn't be too difficult for Tim Russert or someone to accomplish, should it? I won't hold my breath.

Let's hear Howard Dean or Ted Kennedy or Hillary Clinton or Tom Daschle or John Kerry renounce the extremism of the neo-coms. Why is it beyond the pale to call on purported "moderates" to publicly validate American ideals by repudiating those who openly despise her and seek to destroy her? Horowitz once again, on the bankruptcy of the idea of socialism:

In practice, socialism didn’t work. But socialism could never have worked because it is based on false premises about human psychology and society, and gross ignorance of human economy. In the vast library of socialist theory (and in all of Marx’s compendious works), there is hardly a chapter devoted to the creation of wealth – to what will cause human beings to work and to innovate, and to what will make their efforts efficient. Socialism is a plan of morally sanctioned theft. It is about dividing up what others have created. Consequently, socialist economies don’t work; they create poverty instead of wealth. This is unarguable historical fact now, but that has not prompted the left to have second thoughts...

....Neo-communists survive on bad faith. In the past, Communists believed in what they did; today, neo-communists justify their deeds by invoking the excuse of good intentions. But isn’t this just what all utopians do? If you believe in a future that will redeem mankind, what lie will you not tell, what crime will you not commit to make the future happen?

Steyn on Canadian SARS

Now that the travel ban to Toronto has been lifted, it is a good time to go back and read the Mark Steyn article on how Canada's vaunted national health care system made what should have been a minor SARS problem into a much larger one.

Landing on Deck

Opinions differ on whether the President's decision to land in a Navy fighter on the deck of the U.S.S. Lincoln last night was a wise one, politically or practically. He took a lot of heat from certain corners for what was viewed as a cheap marketing stunt, and let's be honest, it was a bit over the top.

But this one was for the troops on the ship as much as it was for the TV audience back home, and the reception he got on the Lincoln showed that he is as respected and admired by the military as his predecessor was reviled. Besides, if we take the word of this Corner reader as someone who knows what it's like to land on the deck of a carrier, it was certainly a risky stunt for a U.S. President to attempt if any little thing goes wrong, and a stressful and uncomfortable one, even when everything goes right. It made this pilot want to go back to easier work:

I recall being very happy to get back to my "safe" job; jumping out of helicopters into storm tossed seas at night as a rescue swimmer.

Regardless of your political persuasion, your feelings about Bush are doubtless confirmed by this event. One side sees a courageous, charismatic leader of a nation. The other side is equally convinced that this guy's a "moron."

UPDATE: Mark Steyn weighs in on this topic in his inimitable way

Rethinking Europe

Victor Davis Hanson spells out his ideas for an adjusted U.S. foreign policy in Europe, including recommendations for NATO and the U.N., to reflect new realities:

Given the antics of Belgium with its wild criminal courts and anti-American rhetoric, it is a cruel joke to house NATO in Brussels. Better to move the headquarters to Warsaw or perhaps Rome. France should decide whether it is in or out of the alliance, but it can no longer be both...It might be wise also to lift all quotas on skilled Europeans who wish expedited American citizenship — both for our own good, and to discover how many talented people might prefer leaving a creeping socialism...

...Reform at the U.N. should be a centerpiece of our new policy. There is no reason why a billion people of a nuclear, democratic India, an increasingly confident Japan, or a vast country like Brazil should not be represented as permanent members of the Security Council. In addition, we must move to require democratic government for participation in the General Assembly; it makes no sense to give despots the privileges they don't extend even to their own people. Let the U.N. become an assembly of free peoples, and allow Libya, Syria, North Korea, and Cuba to form their own United Tyrannies

And thanks VDH, for speaking out in favor of reform of our own State Department. It's long overdue..

Our ambassadorships....should be carefully examined to ensure that we have resolute, principled men and women there to present our new views forcefully, rather than apologizing for the United States or triangulating within the Bush administration. Now is not the hour for oil men, think-tankers who have taken or will take Saudi money, State Department apparatchiks, or Atlantic Alliance yes-men whose careers are predicated either on pleasing their bosses, making money, or hopping in and out of academia. For these radically new times, we need folk of a different nature, who are convinced the events of the last two years were not an aberration.

He speculates on why "the angst arises" in Europe, and anti-Americanism replaces Christianity as the "religion" of the times...

could it even be because we are optimistic about the future, and believe we can still assimilate our newcomers, grow the economy, expand our military, and promote freedom — even while they fret about stagnant growth, a demographic time bomb, and rising unassimilated minorities. Maybe, too, the angst arises because of the youth of Europe, who desire America’s popular and often crass culture enough to worry their older guardians of hallowed values? Who knows? Who cares?

May 1, 2003


It took two New Jersey teenagers to arrange the reunion of Harry and Hanne, who hadn't seen each other since 1938, when they lived in the same apartment building in Karlsruhe, Germany. George Will tells the story of how the war forced them on their separate paths, and a program called "Adopt-A-Survivor" resulted in their lunch date this week in Washington, D.C.

With Holocaust denial still a scourge to be dealt with, this program, in which the young people of 2003 commit to telling the stories of the Holocaust in 2045, when all the survivors will be gone, seems a worthwhile step in the right direction.