Friday, October 12, 2007
Wednesday, January 17, 2007
Monday, July 31, 2006
Big news! Humungous news! Ginormous news!
Probably for the rest of the year, I will be moving the obvious insights and lame jokes normally seen at Soxblog over to Hugh Hewitt’s site. Yes, it’s true – I have become Hugh’s new guest blogger. But wait, there’s more – I’ve already made my first post.
For those who have complained I don’t post enough, your time has come. With Hugh kindly granting me access to his very large audience, I plan to begin pounding the uninitiated with the bludgeon-like Soxblog wit that readers here have come to so adore.
There is some sad news. I know many of you have gotten very attached to the white-on-black format that I adopted at the start of the year. I’ve received countless letters saying they appreciated the challenge of deciphering the text and wishing that books were published in a similar format. Alas, Hugh’s site publishes in conventional black-on-white. Let us consider this a return to legibility.
So click over to Hughhewitt.com. That’s where I’ll be for the next five months.
Responses? Thoughts? Please email them to me at email@example.com
Friday, July 21, 2006
THE URGE FOR A CEASEFIRE
I UNDERSTAND THE URGE. I just detest it. The usual suspects like the clueless masses at the United Nations act as if it is imperative that we end the shooting. It’s fair to ask, to what purpose?
If you think about it, the goal on December 8. 1941 wasn’t to figure out a way to immediately end the gunplay. Nor was that the goal on September 12, 2001. The only reason those who are clamoring for a ceasefire do so is because a ceasefire will allow them to once more bury their heads in the sand and deny the immediate and massive danger that Hezbollah, Iran and Syria pose.
The goal should not be a ceasefire. The goal should be victory. Victory means Hezbollah is sufficiently destroyed and their Iranian sponsors sufficiently chastened that they no longer represent any danger. Accomplishing this won’t be easy, and it certainly won’t be bloodless.
But I wish those urging a ceasefire would for once be asked what they think a ceasefire is supposed to accomplish. In the real world, all a ceasefire will do is give Hezbollah the breathing space it needs to recover from a grievous miscalculation.
But those urging a ceasefire are never required to explain themselves. After all, they are purportedly on the side of the angels, craving peace. The rest of us have to explain ourselves because we’re a bunch of bloodthirsty warmongers. It would be wonderful to see a widely public debate on the purportedly salubrious effects of a ceasefire.
I’ll volunteer to take the contrary position.
LAST NIGHT I READ Elie Wiesel’s “Night.” I’m not sure if that act makes me an adjunct member of the Oprah Book Club or not. Regardless, I can’t believe I let so much of my life go by without reading this masterful slim volume.
“Night” briefly chronicles Wiesel’s journey through the Holocaust. It is harrowing; it is not uplifting. There’s no happy ending, no neat little moral that makes the story easier to digest. It is a somber meditation on the evil man is capable of, and the effects that such evil have.
Roughly four decades after being liberated from his concentration camp hell, Wiesel received the Nobel Peace Prize. In his acceptance speech, he offered the following simple counsel that was the product of hard - the hardest - experience – “We must take sides.”
The world didn’t take sides when Hitler, Stalin, Pol Pot, Mugabe and others were doing their thing. Tens of millions died.
Right now, the stakes are similarly consequential. And much of the debate centers on how we can find a way not to take sides, how we can achieve a ceasefire and then go back to pretending that the time of choosing has not arrived.
It’s here – it’s time.
Responses? Thoughts? Please email them to me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Tuesday, July 18, 2006
George F. Will wrote a column today that took some shots at my friends at the Weekly Standard. Before offering my thoughts on his piece, I should note that I don’t speak for the Standard nor am I authorized to speak for the Standard. Hell, I’m not even an employee of the Standard; I’m just a frequent contributor to their virtual addition, the Daily Standard.
But I am thrilled by my association with the Weekly Standard for a number of reasons. Foremost among these is that the intellectual leadership at the Standard has had the guts to take a hard-headed look at a disquieting world. While most of the American media and even more of America’s purported intellectual class has blushed at identifying the hard duties and long road that lie ahead for our country, the people at the Standard have not.
Will’s column today takes several gratuitous potshots at the Standard’s personnel. The ad hominem nature of the attacks are beneath Will. Will’s most scathing commentary is the following:
"The national, ethnic and religious dynamics of the Middle East are opaque to most people, but to The Weekly Standard -- voice of a spectacularly misnamed radicalism, 'neoconservativism' -- everything is crystal clear: Iran is the key to everything.
"'No Islamic Republic of Iran, no Hezbollah. No Islamic Republic of Iran, no one to prop up the Assad regime in Syria. No Iranian support for Syria ... ' You get the drift. So, The Weekly Standard says:
"'We might consider countering this act of Iranian aggression with a military strike against Iranian nuclear facilities. Why wait? Does anyone think a nuclear Iran can be contained? That the current regime will negotiate in good faith? It would be easier to act sooner rather than later. Yes, there would be repercussions -- and they would be healthy ones, showing a strong America that has rejected further appeasement.'
"'Why wait?' Perhaps because the U.S. military has enough on its plate, in the deteriorating wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, which both border Iran. And perhaps because containment, although of uncertain success, did work against Stalin and his successors, and might be preferable to a war against a nation much larger and more formidable than Iraq."
Lets’ take some of Will’s points one-by-one:
1) “The national, ethnic and religious dynamics of the Middle East are opaque to most people, but (not) to The Weekly Standard."
It’s true that to most people the ethnic and religious dynamics of the Middle East are opaque. As Alan Jackson sang in “Where Were You When the World Stopped Turning,” there are no doubt a lot of people who “don’t know the difference in Iraq and Iran.”
But surely George F. Will is not one of them. Nor for that matter are the people who write about such things in the Weekly Standard. The people at the Standard can tell the difference between a Shiite and a Sunni. Speaking just for myself, I’ve made something of a study of so-called Radical Islam. I’m familiar with the principles that govern the pursuit of Jihad in Fundamentalist Islam; I think the people who fear the actions of Al Qaeda, Hezbollah, Hamas and Iran and are suggesting policies have likewise acquainted themselves with the facts on the ground.
The national and religious dynamics of the Middle East are anything but opaque. They are, however, new to the typical American who will have to do a lot of studying to get up to speed. Will’s comment is a ruse and a smear, a crude attempt to suggest that Standard writers have made suggestions while in a position of ignorance.
2) "The Weekly Standard (is the) voice of a spectacularly misnamed radicalism, 'neoconservativism.'"
He called us radicals. Ouch! Sticks and stones!
3) “'Why wait to (deal with Iran)?' Perhaps because containment, although of uncertain success, did work against Stalin and his successors, and might be preferable to a war against a nation much larger and more formidable than Iraq."
That’s Will’s opinion, and he’s entitled to it. He thinks if we could contain the Soviets, surely we can do likewise with the Iranian mullahs. As Michael Corleone might say, now who’s being naïve? And simplistic, for that matter.
I really don’t care to respond to the notion that Iran can be contained. Suffice to say that I disagree, but to respond to the argument and do it justice demands a few thousand words, something I don’t feel like writing today and you probably don’t feel like reading.
I do feel the need to make one key point, though. Will’s suggestion that we roll the dice and wager that we can contain Iran is an expensive gamble. If he’s wrong, the butcher’s bill will be in the millions. Dozens of them.
Care to belly up to the table and make a bet?
There’s one last point about this article that I want to make. Making it will require at least a semi-putdown of Will, something I’m not entirely comfortable with since I have little evidence for what I’m about to suggest and I admire him as a writer and a person.
But Will and Peggy Noonan (who I admire for her chic hairstyle) often beg the inference that they are as stuck in the past as some of the baby-boomers that we all have so much ridiculing. For these two writers, everything always seems to go back to Reagan and other Cold War heroes. Reagan deterred the Evil Empire, so certainly comparably courageous leadership could deter the forces of Fundamentalist Islam.
This is a senseless analogy. The current struggle bears as much relation to the Cold War as it does to the Mexican-American war. Such an analogy is both sloppy and dangerous.
You don’t have to be a radical to know that.
Responses? Thoughts? Please email them to me at email@example.com
Thursday, July 13, 2006
THE HUNT FOR NOLAN RYAN
Yesterday Mrs. Soxblog and I flew out to Santa Fe in Delta’s new Steerage Class ™. It was a wonderful way to spend the better part of a day, and it made me long for the inevitable day when the last of the traditional airlines die their long overdue death and are replaced with sensible value-oriented airlines like JetBlue and Southwest who actually make their customers feel appreciated.
The preceding is a long-winded way of saying I spent most of yesterday out of pocket. It wasn’t until around 9:00 E.S.T. that I learned that war in the Middle East had broken out. Only as I type am I reconnecting with my beloved internets, pecking away at a Santa Fe Starbuck’s.
Because I’m on holiday and have not long to write, I have time to make only a couple of brief observations on the latest “crisis” in the Middle East:
1) I always watch developments like this with a gleam of hope that at last the civilized nations of the world will do what they have to do with the likes of Hamas, Heezbollah, and their state enablers/sponsors. It is Israel’s fate to be on the front lines of any such struggle. Hezbollah’s pathetic missiles will be targeted at Israeli population centers, not Kansas.
But one hopes that America will realize that this fight will have to be fought eventually, and we might as well do it before Syria, Iran and Palestine develop the abilities to destroy Western society. I haven’t watched or read much news, but if I hear any State Department calls for Israeli “restraint,” I may well mount the highest foothill surrounding Santa Fe and attempt a dive of a 3.8 difficulty.
2) On a less significant front, I couldn’t help but notice that the Daily Kos’ front page is completely silent on the Middle East crisis. You see the normal pictures of Montana Senate candidate Jon Tester smiling in his Army fatigues and the details of Joe Lieberman’s most recent perfidies, but there is literally not a single word on what may be the first developments in the story that may well dominate the news for the foreseeable future. So benumbed are the blogosphere’s leftists, they couldn’t even manage a post blaming the whole thing on Bush!
This curious silence buttresses my theory that the modern left just can’t deal with reality, circa 2006. The left likes to think of itself as the reality based community, but when confronted with disquieting real world events they choose to behave as if Joe Lieberman is our greatest threat to a happy future.
I’ll be trying to post over the next few days. If I don’t, rest assured it’s just because of my travel schedule and my obsession with finding the man who makes Bill Richardson’s toupee. It has nothing to do with any sudden relapse in my physical condition.
(By the way, today I am officially 39 - it's my birthday! If you're a family member reading this and you've yet to call and wish me well, know that I'm keeping a list.)
Responses? Thoughts? Please email them to me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Tuesday, July 11, 2006
SPANNING THE WEB - 7/11/2006
1) CRACKING THE POLITICAL MENDOZA LINE!!! – The latest Gallup Poll shows President Bush boasting a stratospheric 40% approval rating. Similarly, the eerily accurate Rasmussen robots show the President’s approval rating hovering at 43%. Both polls show Bush winning only something in the neighborhood of ¾ of the approval of self-identified Republicans. In other words, if Bush’s numbers were where they should be with his own party, he’d be above 50%.
Why the improvement? My feeling is that whenever the Democratic Party gets its moments in the spotlight, Bush’s numbers can’t help but go up. Just as Bush’s support soared as the country got to know John Kerry, Republicans will do better as the country becomes better acquainted with the Democratic Party, circa 2006.
Longtime readers here will note I never boarded the “2006 will be a GOP disaster” train, always happily convinced that Democrats would wrest resounding defeat from the jaws of seemingly likely victory. That’s been my story, and I’m sticking to it.
2) WHO WOULD’VE THUNK IT? It turns out that the Bush tax cuts and the roaring economy have generated unexpectedly high tax revenues. If they want to, Democrats could stop saying that the tax cuts are horrible. But they won’t. Democrats are convinced that the American people just love being taxed, and that any politician who gets himself on the side of higher taxes has himself a winning issue. Me, I just love writing out a check for excise tax or fishing for coins to pay some sales tax – makes me feel all warm inside.
According to the New York Times’ report on the matter, Democrats are carping that federal tax revenues are just now approaching their 1999 level. Never mind the fact that the 1999 numbers were wildly inflated by a bubble-icious stock market, a fact that even the likes of Nancy Pelosi is no doubt familiar with. Let the Democrats make a disingenuous plea for the need for greater taxation. Sounds like a ballot box winner to me!
3) THE ALL KNOWING JVL – Before he left for an extended holiday, Jonathan V. Last penned an article for the Philadelphia Inquirer that identified the real problem with soccer. I always thought the sport’s biggest problem was 0-0 games (er, matches) that were more boring than watching Astroturf not grow. But JVL labeled the real problem as the “flop and sprawl,” the act where soccer players mimic great injury hoping to get the other team penalized. Literally dozens of times a game, a player will hit the turf writhing in agony as if he had been impaled, only to bounce up shockingly unaffected after it becomes apparent that the referee will not punish his putative assailant.
Having watched more soccer in the past month than I had in the rest of my life, I could not believe how common this risible practice is. It also served as a wonderful metaphor for the difference between European football and real football. In real football, players carry on stoically in spite of broken bones. In soccer, players pretend to have the pain threshold of a two year old in the hope that they can swindle the referee.
Anyway, JVL took great delight in the Frenchman Zidane’s headbutt, an act of unrepentant savagery that provided the World Cup’s only recognizable sporting moment for those of us weaned on football and hockey. Zidane did what Dave Schultz would have done, or the great John Wensink who used to pummel Schultz with some regularity.
So Zidane’s act cost his country the World Cup. JVL seems to argue that it gave France some dignity, dignity it has lacked since World War II. If so, losing that puny little World Cup trophy is a small price to pay in such a trade.
4) MOONBAT MATH – You remember John Dean, the former Nixon counsel who wound up in prison over Watergate, right? You probably know that Dean has enjoyed a resurgence of fame thanks to his willingness to be an outspoken critic of George W. Bush (who he labels “worse than Nixon” without any apparent sense of irony) and conservatives.
Dean has a new theory: "23% of the populace falls into the follower category" said Dean. "These people are impervious to fact, rationality and reality. And their numbers are growing." Wouldn’t you know it? All 23% are conservatives which means basically half of George W. Bush’s supporters “are drawn into the Leader/Follower archetype, where the Leaders are considered infallible, and the loyalty of the Followers is completely unshakable.”
What I find hilarious about this “study” isn’t the ridiculous theory but rather the transparently ludicrous attempt at specificity. 23% of the population has blind fealty to a conservative leader, not 22% or 24%. How do we know this? The honest and reliable John Dean has done the math.
5) OLD NEWS – But I feel the need to touch on it anyway. In the past I’ve praised the Dixie Chicks. I like their new album, even though, judging by their lyrics, their disregard for free market principles evidences a shockingly childish naivete even by the entertainment community’s standards. These ladies really seem to think that they have the right to say things that will offend members of their audience, and yet their audience must remain obliged to support them in all their endeavors.
Alas, it doesn’t work that way; if my barber hosted an “Impeach Bush” sign in his window, I would get my hair coifed elsewhere. Most businesspeople know this, which is why unless they’re running a hemp shop, they don’t festoon their place of business with political manifestoes.
Anyway, the Chicks’ tour has been a huge bust in terms of ticket sales. They’ve had to move to smaller venues across this great land of ours. Not in Canada, though – their Bush-bashing has done nothing to harm their careers in the north country. One wonders if they’ll be able to connect the dots of how their foray into domestic politics has affected them in the domestic market. And one wonders whether they have any opinions on Canada’s affairs they would like to share with their Canadian fans.
6) AND CLEARING ONE THING UP – I’ve received a lot of mail over my “Salt Water and Other Miracles” essay. Some of it has come from the Cystic Fibrosis community, which has been extremely gratifying. I do feel the need to set something straight so everyone has their expectations in the right place – the inhaled saline treatment is not a cure. It’s likely not a control, either.
What it is, or may well be, is an effective treatment, something we haven’t had a whole lot of. Based on my experience (a study of one, which any good researcher will tell you to nothing to wager the farm on), it may well extend lives. This is great, but it’s very, very different from a cure.
Anyone in the CF community who wants to talk about this, please don’t hesitate to contact me directly.
Responses? Thoughts? Please email them to me at email@example.com
Monday, July 10, 2006
SPANNING THE WEB - 7/10/2006
1) WORLD CUP RECAP – In brief, some bald French guy delivered a savage head butt to the chest of one of Italy’s players. The bald guy was some sort of well-known football player, engaged in his final match, and was ejected from the pitch for, as near as I could tell, the wanton stupidity of his actions more than anything else. Hockey fans everywhere asked themselves, “Why in the name of Dale Hunter did he head butt that Italian defender?”
A couple of serious notes about the World Cup: 1) I watched some of it and found it surprisingly entertaining. I think I may have even picked up some of the terminology; and 2) Was it not wonderful to see French perfidy directly lead to France’s defeat? If only the real world worked like that.
My favorite single moment of the Cup was in the aftermath of the head-butting Zidane’s ejection, when both he and his coach had the audacity to protest even though the replays clearly showed Zidane’s guilt. Some fine French whine it was.
In case you didn’t guess, I’m happy Italy won.
2) ANOTHER ONE BITES THE DUST – Chechen psychopath Shamil Basayev received justice today, being on the wrong end of some angry Russian Special Forces. The lead item on Basayev’s resume was the Beslan school massacre, perhaps second only to 9/11 in terms of barbarism and cruelty in the annals of Jihadist terrorism. The explosive laden truck that Basayev was riding in blew up; Basayev was identified by his prosthetic leg and his head, which apparently boasted a distinctive beard which is now sure to wow all the virgins in paradise anxious to service the new shahid.
Vladimir Putin was unrepentant regarding Basayev’s demise, declaring simply that it was “deserved retribution.” (I personally prefer Putin’s earlier rhetoric where he vowed to “wipe out in the outhouse” the likes of Basayev. I know it doesn’t make some sense, but it still rings of a certain poetry.)
3) A NEW LOW FOR THE GLOBE? - Maybe. In today’s edition, the Globe publishes an op-ed piece by one Mona El Farra titled “My Life in Gaza.” Get your violin ready because El Farra has a scoop for us – life in Gaza at the moment is pretty grim:
“Ostensibly, this bombing campaign started because of the soldier's capture. To the outside world it might seem like an easy decision for Palestinians: Let the soldier go, and the siege will end. Yet for Gazans, even in the face of this brutal violence, another decision comes, not with ease, but with resolve. He is one soldier who was captured in a military operation.”
There follows a lot of rubbish about how Israel was planning the attacks anyway and that Israel attacked “within hours of a national consensus accord signed by Fatah and Hamas, which could have led to negotiations between Palestinians and Israeli.” Darn the luck!
Actually, El Farra doesn’t understand how her obtuse op-ed clearly shows the justification for Israel’s actions. The Palestinian people elected Hamas, a government that they knew would wage such “military operations” as sneaking across the Israeli border, killing two soldiers and abducting a third. In El Farra’s piece, there is not a shred of condemnation or even regret regarding this act. One can infer from her piece that she supports the “military operation.”
The only part of the calculus that El Farra and her like-minded citizens failed to accurately gauge was the Israeli response. Apparently, they were quite certain that Israel would react with “restraint” as it has in the past when the Palestinian people have been subject to the whims of pseudo-populist strongmen/terrorists. Now, there is no denying amongst Israelis the obvious fact that they are facing a Palestinian government that reflects the popular will of the Palestinian people.
It would make much more sense if the popular will of the Palestinian people was to try to reach a settlement with the Israelis rather than stake everything on the pathetic little statelet’s ability to wipe the modern power off the map. Alas, that is not the path they have chosen, and judging by Al Farra’s op-ed, they’ve got a way to go before peaceful coexistence becomes the popular option.
4) RALLY BEHIND JEFF – Jeff Goldstein runs a hilarious and insightful blog at www.proteinwisdom.com. For some reason or another, he has a unique talent for getting under the skin of unhinged leftists. While surely this talent must be fun to possess, it no doubt has its downsides, too.
As it did this past weekend. An adjunct professor at the University of Arizona named Deborah Frisch commented on Jeff’s blog that she would not be sad if Jeff’s two year old child was “Jon Benet Ramseyed.” Believe me, after spending hours over the weekend monitoring this scandal, that’s about the nicest thing she said. There were also numerous comments of a frankly depraved sexual nature. I say that not as an uptight Republican, but rather as a true-blue American who thinks linking someone’s two year old child to sexual acts, as Frisch did with Goldstein’s, is unpardonably sickening.
Since the imbroglio, Jeff’s website has been under constant Denial of Service attacks. You don’t have to be an unhinged conspiracy theorist to question the timing.
This also brings me to a meta point I’ve been meaning to make for quite some time. Many of you have probably seen Markos Moulitsas on TV. During these appearances, he’s usually pleasant, laughing and smiling easily. He seems like a nice guy. But at his keyboard, he butches up. It’s all threats and bile and anger.
Markos is typical of a lot of people who have carved out on line identities for themselves. Many people who wouldn’t have the guts to challenge someone for stealing a parking space from them transform themselves into snarling virtual Clint Eastwoods while they troll the internets.
I can’t tell you how pathetic these people are. In my dealings with them, they vanish as soon as they know you’re reading what they write. Even a confrontation over the internet overwhelms their courage.
In Deborah Frisch, the potty-mouthed sick-minded University of Arizona wacademic, these people have a new champion, someone who perfectly exemplifies their nature. And mind you, these people are almost running the Democratic Party now.
5) LET’S PRAISE ‘DEADWOOD’ – Has there ever been a more compelling series than HBO’s “Deadwood”? Take it from a writer, the writing is super-sharp. But most impressive are the characters. Al Swearingen is certainly the most memorable TV character to come down the pike since Tony Soprano. At least.
By the way, for those of my fellow “Deadwood” addictees out there, most of the main characters (including Swearingen and Seth Bullock) were real people. Doing a Google search will reveal their ultimate destiny if you can’t wait to see how the show concludes. Warning though – it will diminish the suspense.
6) READER MAIL – I can’t tell you all how grateful I am for the outpouring of warmth you’ve sent my way over the essay, “Salt Water and Other Miracles.” There are several dozen readers I correspond with regularly – I think of them as friends and they do likewise. It was great hearing from them, and it was great hearing from a lot of other readers who have been out there the last few years but who have never written in.
By the way, if I haven’t responded to yet, give me a bit of time. I’ve got a backlog of a couple of hundred now and I’m getting to them. Each one has touched me deeply.
Responses? Thoughts? Please email them to me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Saturday, July 08, 2006
SIX YEARS OF MANNY
In the Winter of 2001, spendthrift Red Sox General Manager Duquette signed Manny Ramirez to a seven year contract. Duquette wasn’t foolish for signing Ramirez; he was foolish for paying such a high price. Duquette so overpaid for Ramirez, in the 2003 off-season no team would take Manny for free, the only stipulation being that they would have to pay Manny what the Sox were paying him.
Okay, so the Duke overpaid for Manny, but my attitude about such things has always been pretty sanguine. It’s not my money, and I fully support the concept of Red Sox ownership spending its way into poverty so that I might have the pleasure of rooting for a great team.
Although he paid too much, Duquette gave Red Sox Nation an incredible gift. Besides, because Duquette was renowned as such an unlikable fellow, the only way he could bestow such a gift upon the Fenway Faithful was to pay way too much for it.
When Manny came to the Sox in 2001, there was a question as to who was the best right-handed hitter in baseball – Red Sox incumbent shortstop Nomar Garciapara or Manny. After a few weeks, even the most die-hard Nomar fans had to confess the obvious – there was no comparison between the two. As brilliant as Nomar was during that phase of his career, at the plate Manny was infinitely better.
Manny also quickly proved himself a fruit-loop. Oh, there have been times when Manny has made the Sox’ preternaturally cranky fan-base crimson with fury. There was the time he grounded to the pitcher and rather than trot to first he turned around and went back to the dugout. There was the time he was too sick to play in an important series with the Yankees but was well enough to do some late night carousing with one of the hated Yankees while the pinstripes were in town. And there were many, many more incidents of a similar nature.
It has been Manny’s great good fortune to play in Boston during an era when the Boston sports community is in a pretty good mood. Normally we give Philadelphia a run for its money as the country’s most misanthropic sports town. But since the Patriots won their first Super Bowl (in the first off-season of Manny’s tenure with the Sox), we’ve been a happy bunch in the Hub. Normally we’d be heaping opprobrium on the Bruins and Celtics for having dreadful decades. Instead, we’re just indifferent.
Manny also helped himself with some great play. I think Manny made even his gravest sins forgivable with two swings of the bat. The first came in Manny’s first plate appearance in Fenway Park as a member of the Red Sox. The Sox had spent the first week of the season on the road, and Manny had struggled. Predictably, the media was abuzz about what a bust the Manny signing was.
In the bottom of the first inning of the home opener, Manny came to the plate with two men on. He hit a bomb over the Green Monster for a three run homer. “This,” Sox fans said to themselves, “is how things should be. The high priced free agent signing is performing as God intended.”
The second swing came in the 2003 post-season and is now largely forgotten, but at the time it was huge. In the deciding game of the Red Sox and A’s five game series, the game was tied 1-1 in the sixth inning. Manny came up with two men on and hit a three run homer that propelled the Sox to the Championship Series. Again, this was things as they should be – the big bat producing when it was most needed.
One of the things I remember about that homerun against the A’s is the Fox announcers’ commentary regarding Manny’s reaction to his blast. As he does after every time he hits the ball solidly, Manny posed for an extended period of time. The broadcasters were scandalized; Sox fans were not.
It was around this time that Sox fans developed a way of dealing with Manny’s eccentricities – Sox fans all but officially announced a tolerance for “Manny being Manny.” This was a subtle but far reaching compact – so long as Manny kept producing like one of the greatest players in history, Red Sox Nation would indulge the lack of hustle, the annoying eccentricities, the trade demands, and a lot of other crap that literally no other athlete in Boston ever got away with. Remember, Boston is the city that booed Ted Williams, Carl Yastrzemski, Roger Clemens and Kevin McHale.
Now that there are unquestionably more days behind Manny’s Red Sox career than ahead of it, this deal with the devil can be called an unqualified success. Manny is an incredible athlete. Although the baseball world is rightly abuzz over the feats of Manny’s teammate David Ortiz, Manny is having a much better year than Ortiz. Manny’s on base percentage, batting average, and slugging percentage are all much higher than Big Papi’s.
An upcoming book on the Sox reveals that stats guru (and one of my intellectual heroes), Bill James, did a study for Sox ownership that showed that of 60 documented moments of non-hustle by a Red Sox, Manny authored 30 of them. I revere Bill James, so I don’t mean this as a criticism of him, but I can’t imagine why there was a need to research whether or not Manny hustles. One might as well conduct a study to determine whether the sun is hot or whether John Kerry is pathetic.
Manny doesn’t hustle. Manny does a wealth of other things that annoy the hell out of any serious Sox fan. But by tolerating his antics, we’ve been able to enjoy one of the best batting careers in baseball history. By focusing on the positive and ignoring the negative with the blithe dismissal, “It’s just Manny being Manny,” Sox fans have allowed themselves to have a better team and not kill that team with our often poisonous negativity.
Manny’s going into the Hall of Fame some time in the next decade. He’ll be wearing a Red Sox cap. And the Sox may win another championship or two thanks in no small part to Manny’s mighty bat.
The Manny Ramirez experience has been, to put it mildly, a good one.
Responses? Thoughts? Please email them to me at email@example.com
Friday, July 07, 2006
SALT WATER AND OTHER MIRACLES
Okay, people are rightly annoyed/concerned over my recent paucity of postings. Here’s what happened.
To bring newcomers quickly up to speed, I have Cystic Fibrosis and the last few years have been something of a roller coaster ride. At one point, I had even made it to the top of the waiting list for lung transplants, which is pretty serious business. Anyway, as I’ve written in the recent past, I’ve been doing much better over the last several months.
Roughly two weeks ago, I had a regularly scheduled check-up. For people with serious conditions, such appointments are moments of truth – you take some tests and get some news. You hope it will be good news.
Going into this appointment, I was confident. I know my body well, and am usually not swayed by even by my most ardent efforts at self-deception. In other words, I felt well and was not just hopeful but confident that the tests would bring good news.
As regular readers of this blog know, I spend more time being right than being wrong. So if you were expecting this introduction was a lead-up to a boy-was-I ever-wrong-and-got-a-crushing-blow moment, you should be kicking yourself. Not only did the tests turn out well, they turned out better than I could have possibly expected. It turns out that I’m in the best shape I’ve been in for five years. Not by a little, but by a lot.
WHEN YOU HAVE A CHRONIC AND PROGRESSIVE disease, you really don’t expect anything like this to happen. So, inquiring minds must be asking, how did this occur?
It’s actually a pretty good story. In the interests of space and keeping this remotely interesting, I’ll go easy on the scientific stuff.
Some time probably about 18 months ago, a CF doctor in Australia noticed that his patients who were surfers were far out-performing his patients who weren’t. Although the mechanisms that make CF such a destructive disease aren’t completely understood, it is known that the root cause of CF’s problems have something to do with the patient’s inability to process salt.
As a matter of fact, the test to see if someone had CF was, in the days before genetic screening, called a sweat test. A few electrodes were attached to the patient’s arm to generate a little swath of sweat which the guys in white coats then analyzed for its salt content. I may not have the number exactly right, but CF patients have roughly seven times the amount of salt in their sweat as normal people do.
Anyway, back to Australia. The CF doctor there had a theory that his surfer patients were thriving because of their prolonged exposure to salt water. This gave him an idea – he wanted his patients to inhale an aerosolized form of salt water a couple of times a day.
In this tiny Australian study (fewer than two dozen participants), the results were amazing. The patients who inhaled the hypertonic saline (the SAT-word way of saying “salt water”) showed markedly increased lung functions. More importantly, they showed a dramatically decreased rate in exacerbations.
Word of this study soon spread stateside. In North Carolina, a larger study was done that showed a similarly dramatic decrease in the rate of exacerbations but no statistically significant increase in lung function.
This is when the news of the hypertonic saline treatment went public. In mid-January, there was a story about the Australia and North Carolina trials in the New England Journal of Medicine. For those who don’t read the New England Journal of Medicine, the story even made it into WebMD, CNN, and a certain major New York newspaper whose name I refuse to type.
Naturally, the New England Journal of Medicine editorialized that we needed to know more about the treatment and that no one should run off half-cocked eager to suck down some salt water. (Obviously, I’m paraphrasing.) Reading about all of this in Southern Soxblog Manor, and after talking about it with my doctor, I made a few inferences.
First, I had known from previous studies where I had inhaled a placebo that even inhaling a placebo has a positive effect on a CF patient’s lungs. The name of the game in CF well-being is airway clearance. We have lungs filled with junk; if we get that junk up we feel okay. I knew by empirical first hand knowledge that any kind of inhalation treatment provokes airway clearance, which strikes the rest of you as us coughing our heads off.
Additionally, my doctor told me that sucking down this salt water was a vile treatment, one that even hard-core CF patients like myself had trouble complying with. This got me to making some conjectures as to why there were the differing results between North Carolina and Australia. In Australia, the study was smaller so patient non-compliance with the program would be easier to address. Additionally, perhaps because of their surfing experience, the Australians found the treatment more tolerable. Either that, or their flinty Down Under nature made them more likely to stick with it than their American counterparts.
Whatever the reason, the differences between the Australian and American results struck me as an obvious case of a patient compliance disparity. In sum, I felt the porotocol, if followed, had an excellent chance of being extremely helpful. What’s more, being just salt water, there was no way it could be harmful.
IN MARCH I FLEW UP from Florida to Boston and became Massachusetts General Hospital’s first patient to begin the hypertonic saline regimen. The stuff came as advertised – inhaling it was awful. I compared it to inhaling an aerosolized version of lox. Also, it took forever – almost half an hour, twice a day.
Now remember, I was already starting this additional treatment from a relative position of strength. I was doing as well as I had in a while and was feeling good. But shortly after starting the treatment, I began doing better – a lot better.
I hadn’t done any medical tests to support this feeling, but I felt more energetic than I had in memory. Lifting weights, I felt almost the same in the gym as I had when I was in my 20’s. People who hadn’t seen me in a while almost uniformly commented that I looked extremely healthy. While people always say that to sick people, even if we look like death warmed over, I could tell that in these instances they meant it.
Two weeks ago I went to the doctor’s office to get the numbers. At these appointments, you blow into a device that measure how well your lungs are functioning. While they always say when the numbers stink that you shouldn’t worry too much, when you’ve been around this stuff for long enough you know the numbers don’t lie. For the past five years, each appointment like this has given me the same I feeling I had on the morning of the SAT’s.
I wish I did as well on my SAT’s as I did on these lung function tests a couple of weeks ago. As I said up top, my lungs are now in better shape than when they began to significantly deteriorate five years ago. I’ve reclaimed a lot of lost ground.
From my perspective, this seems like if not a miracle, something damn close to it. For years good people, the world’s best, have been pouring their hearts, souls and money into finding effective treatments for CF and generally coming up with very little. And all of a sudden, a super-promising new treatment comes along. And it’s salt water!
There’s also the additional minor miracle that being just salt water, the treatment didn’t have to spend the better part of a decade navigating the FDA approval maze before reaching the general CF public that so desperately needs it. If a similarly effective treatment had been a medicine hatched in the labs of Genzyme, the FDA would have kept it out of the hands of the seriously ill people (who would eagerly roll the dice on an experimental treatment) until those seriously ill people had become seriously dead.
As an additional benefit, because it’s just salt water and thus cheap to make, no one will make much money off of it which means the CF community will be spared the ghastly sight of our nation’s Ted Kennedy types demonizing the pharmaceuticals who just pioneered a life-saving treatment for being profit oriented.
In other words, everyone wins!
SO WHY THE LIGHT BLOGGING? Fair question, and a not obvious answer. I’m almost 39. For a few years, I had considered myself fairly well along in my golden years. I had made peace with that fact, and had allowed myself to truly enjoy the good times I had left. I was also dealing with my regrets and disappointments, addressing those I could, letting lie those I couldn’t.
Two weeks ago I got the shocking news that I may not be so far along in my golden years as I figured. I may get a second crack at bat. The situation would be analogous to a 70 year old in declining health going to the doctor and finding out that not only might he make it to 80, his 70’s will be a lot better health-wise than his 60’s were.
This is incredibly thrilling news. It’s also daunting, and a bit disorienting. This news has turned my life as I knew it upside down. Given that my “right-side up life” represented serious illness followed by imminent death, there are a lot worse than things having such a life turned upside down.
I may be in the process of receiving a remarkable gift. Although it probably seems like an ingrate’s reactions, I have felt considerable self-induced pressure not to blow it and to use it wisely. I’ve been very promiscuous with rhetoric the last few years that I wish I had a fraction of the health and energy I did when I was young now that I have the knowledge of an old man. Woops! Looks like I’ve sort of backed myself into a corner.
But it’s a happy corner to be in, especially when the alternative was a pine box. While I’m not over my minor existential crisis, I am back to writing. That’s what I most want to do with this amazing second chance I have. I think it’s where I have the most chance to accomplish something meaningful and lasting. It’s also something I love.
In short, Soxblog is now re-opened for business.
Responses? Thoughts? Please email them to me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Monday, June 26, 2006
LIBERALS BEHAVING BADLY
In the late 1930’s and early 1940’s, there was a bunch of Americans who disgraced themselves in the run-up to World War II. Call them nativists, isolationists, nitwits – pick your term – but history has treated people like Father Coughlin and Charles Lindberg rather unkindly.
But compared to the modern day left, the America First movement et. al acquitted itself heroically. Within days after Pearl Harbor, America First folded its tents and joined the war effort. Having been proven catastrophically wrong by events, they aided the war effort rather than make a consistent effort to undermine it.
I’m convinced that we’ll look back at the New York Times’ latest choice to reveal a classified program for battling terrorism as the left’s bridge too far. In a way, this is unfair to the left. Being a religious reader of the liberal blogs (and what a week it’s been on that front!), I’ve found nary a word of support for the Times’ chosen course of action this time around. Normally these are people who relish trumpeting the Bush administration’s purported trampling of our civil liberties; this time, they’ve been curiously mum.
Alas, the Times is undoubtedly a creature of the left and is widely considered to be representative of the left. Some call it the house organ of the Democratic Party. It is universally recognized as the most prominent voice of liberalism. Fairly or not, the Times’ black eye is the left’s black eye. Liberalism and the left will inevitably be tainted by the Times’ actions, just as the efforts of Woodward and Bernstein 33 years ago gave them a halo.
Along with other creatures of the left, the Times has given rise to the impression that its support for the America war effort is less than whole-hearted. Its tendency to publish every setback, its curious focus on the Abu Ghraib “atrocities” without any effort to put those “atrocities” in context, its recent coverage of the suicides at Gitmo again acting as if suicide in prison is an unprecedented phenomenon – all of these and countless other examples of the paper’s coverage have led not just wild-eyed conservatives but common Americans to ask, “Whose side is the Times on?”
Today, the Times shows two signs of making a hasty and ill-planned retreat. The first comes in Editor-in-Chief Bill Keller’s lengthy explanation for exposing the classified program. In his letter, Keller acknowledges the program is legal. More tellingly, he erects a straw-man for why people object to the story – Keller’s letter suggests that the principal objection rests on the fear that the Times’ exposure of the program will kill the program.
Alas, I have not heard a single Times’ critic use this as the basis for their critique of the Grey Lady. The issue obviously isn’t the continued existence of the program – it is its continued effectiveness, Tellingly, Keller spends only one paragraph dealing with his critics’ principal objection – that the Times’ expose will “lead terrorists to change tactics.” Amazingly, Keller waves this complaint away, saying without any basis in fact, “That argument was made in a half-hearted way.”
Keller’s main rebuttal to this line of argument is that the terrorists probably/sort of/kinda knew about the program anyway. “It has been widely reported — indeed, trumpeted by the Treasury Department — that the U.S. makes every effort to track international financing of terror. Terror financiers know this, which is why they have already moved as much as they can to cruder methods.” Regrettably for the interests of intellectual coherence, this point is belied by Keller’s earlier defense of his paper’s coverage of the story that insisted, “We cited considerable evidence that the program helps catch and prosecute financers of terror.”
Earlier I mentioned that the Times showed two signs of making a retreat this morning. The second one? Today’s edition has a front page story that begins, “Enrollment in Iraqi schools has risen every year since the American invasion, according to Iraqi government figures, reversing more than a decade of declines and offering evidence of increased prosperity for some Iraqis.”
Regular readers of the Times will note this as an oddity – the Times reporting good news from Iraq. What’s more, this front page piece contradicts the Times’ entire narrative that has been running for three years now – that America’s cowboy-like intervention ruined the sandy paradise that Saddam Hussein had created. If people begin saying things like “Iraq is better for the U.S. invasion,” what will the ever-sympathetic creatures of the left say? After all, do they not obsess over the fortunes of the less fortunate?
Today’s front page story sticks out like a proverbial sore thumb. Perhaps the Times as an institution is beginning to realize it backed the wrong horse on this one. The Times will be okay, insofar as a member of a dieing industry can ever be okay.
The American left will not be so fortunate.
Responses? Thoughts? Please email them to me at email@example.com
Monday, June 19, 2006
BACK AND SPANNING!
First, I must apologize.
I write two essays that pertain to my health and then disappear for an extended period of time without word or explanation. Meanwhile, it never dawns on me that this might beg the inference that all is not well. This officially makes me an idiot. Anyway, my condition remains excellent, relatively speaking, which by my standards is pretty damn fine. I was even able to golf 63 holes this weekend in a tournament. Let me put it this way – I wish I played as well I felt. So does my patient and long-suffering partner.
An additional word about my absence – sometimes it just seems necessary to recharge the batteries. Some people sometimes observe that things seem stale around here. When they make these observations, they’re usually correct. My blog writings are dependent on outside events. When outside events keep repeating themselves, I tend to keep repeating myself.
Or, as one correspondent put it, “Your blog has become all Muslims and moonbats.” Clever alliterations aside, I think I always make a distinction between Muslims and fundamentalist Islam, two things that have an overlap – determining the extent of that overlap is one of the most pressing issues of our day, one that the mainstream media and both American political parties refuse to even acknowledge.
And, as regards the moonbats, I’m pretty sure I’ve been documenting their coming takeover of the Democratic Party longer than anyone in the media. In my first piece for the Standard almost 18 months ago, I forecast primary problems for Lieberman. At the time, this was far from conventional wisdom, but it’s growing more conventional by the day.
Anyway, I hereby pompously announce my battery is now officially recharged and that I’ll be back to being my relatively prolific self which is either good news or dreadful news depending on how you look at things.
Without further adieu, let’s span the web!
1) PHIL!!! - Long time readers will recall I am no fan of golfer Phil Mickelson. I don’t know what it is – the phony smile, the jiggling pectorals, the almost pathological need to convince America that his is the perfect family – but there’s something about this guy that really rubs me the wrong way. So it chagrined me when he won the Masters in April. I had to reluctantly concede that he was entering the halls of greatness.
So you can only imagine the feeling of nausea that swept over me as Mickelson appeared to be rolling to this third straight victory in a major yesterday. I had to leave my house to commence Father’s Day celebrations at 6:45 p.m. At the time, Mickelson was standing on the 17th tee with a two stroke lead. I feared all was lost.
So you can imagine my delight when I returned home to learn that he had lost the tournament in spectacular fashion, double bogeying the 18th hole. While I am of course riddled with despair that I missed Johnny Miller savaging Phil in real time, I take consolation in the fact that Phil will probably go down as one of those athletes more famous for the titles he lost than the ones he won.
Move over, Wilt Chamberlain. Slide down, Greg Norman. Make room for Phil.
2) WHY NO LINKS? - I’m still working on this Mac waiting for my freshly ordered Gateway to arrive. The Mac software doesn’t interact with the blogger software properly and it’s tough and time consuming to enter links. Because I’m convinced no one follows the links except for those stories that aren’t widely familiar, I figure it’s no big deal. I swear, I don’t know how you Mac users do it. Don’t you feel like you own a Betamax or something?
3) YEARLY KOS – One of the reasons I figured last week was a good week to take off was because I would have spent an inordinate amount of time commenting on the Yearly Kos, a subject that would no doubt have bored the vast majority of you.
Two related points: On the Weekly Standard’s site, Matt Labash has an account of his journey through the blogospheric Inferno that was the Yearly Kos. Yes, he was at Las Vegas attending the conference and wrote a great column on it, one that included a shout out to yours truly. On a related note, I had a piece in the Standard that documented the blogosphere’s latest loss and where the progressive blogosphere goes from here. Markos thinks they should reinvent themselves as libertarians, so it’s safe to say that everything is on the table.
4) “DON’T GET HIGH ON YOUR OWN SUPPLY” – That was the sage advice that Tony Montana’s criminal mentor gave Tony in the 1983 film “Scarface.” These quotes from Markos Moulitsas brought that advice to mind:
“I wouldn't want to be a senator or congressman. I'm able to influence politics much more effectively doing what I do. Now I can shape the national political debate. The only way I could exert more influence would be if I were president. But I’d never want that guy’s job. Never.”
”Joe Trippi contacted us about helping Howard Dean. And we successfully used our tools and methods to make him one of the election's more important candidates…It was a little scary to carry so much responsibility on your shoulders. And it still is. I daydream about turning things over to a younger generation, but people wouldn't allow it. Not yet.”
One thing I wonder about Markos, and I really hope to ask him in person someday – does he really believe his own bullshit? I know a lot of the liberal bloggers do, and that’s why in Wile E. Coyote fashion they continue to be shocked by election returns that stubbornly refuse to bow before the progressive blogosphere’s will. But Markos is kind of bright. Does he really think he’s shaping the national debate? Can he really believe it?
5) SPEAKING OF BELIEVING YOUR OWN B.S. – John Kerry last week “demanded” that the U.S. pull all its troops out of Iraq immediately if not sooner. I don’t want to debate the wisdom of the Senator’s “demand” nor do I care to hazard a guess as to what dark forces animated Kerry’s latest pathetic gambit. All I want to talk about is his choice of the word “demand.”
Where did he get the idea that he’s in a position to demand anything? What does he think, he’s in an upscale eatery and that he can demand his overcooked rack-of-lamb be sent back for one that is suitably red in the middle?
He’s a Senator and a member of the minority party to boot. Kerry has a reputation as being haughty and arrogant. He’s come by this reputation the old fashioned way – he’s earned it.
6) DWYANE WADE – I just have to say this: Last week I was out to dinner and insisting that Dwyane Wade is the best player in the NBA since Michael Jordan. This was when Miami was losing the series 2-0.
Predictably, my audience responded with a chorus of “Lebron! Lebron! Lebron!” I told them that living in Florida, I watch a lot of Heat games, and not just to marvel at the tautness of Pat Riley’s 63 year-old face. Lebron is fantastic and has an unlimited upside, but as of this writing, Wade does everything better than him – shoot, pass, ball-handle, rebound and defend. Literally everything. The only area where Lebron eclipses Wade is in the hype department. If half of Nike tirelessly slaved away to ensure Wade would be as famous as Jordan, we wouldn’t even be having this conversation.
Do I feel vindicated by the NBA Finals? You bet.
Responses? Thoughts? Please email them to me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Monday, June 12, 2006
THE NEW NORMAL
I don’t want to turn this into a blog that focuses on my health – I really don’t. Although the topic might interest you now, it would grow tired fast. Trust me. But there are lessons that I’ve learned from my health issues, and those lessons have helped make me the creature of the right that I’ve become.
About a year ago, I wrote about the man I once was. Although never a particularly good athlete (former basketball and softball teammates would consider that a rather generous assessment), I was always in good shape. My trademark athletic accomplishment was completing a race up the 50 Story Prudential Building in Boston in less than 8 minutes.
That race was in 1992. As my health situation eroded over the following decade, such achievements became an increasingly distant memory. At one point, Mrs. Soxblog and I lived in an apartment that was otherwise just about the coolest unit in greater Boston. I hated it. Why? Because getting to it required climbing two flights of stairs.
The process from where I could glide up 50 stories to where I couldn’t wait to move to escape two short flights was gradual. As the process unfolded, I’d often get angry. But at some point, a light bulb went on – I was entering a “new normal,” and I either could accept it and learn how to enjoy life in my new normal or be a miserable ass for the rest of my days.
Believe me, the choice was far from academic. Adapting to my new normal required accepting what I had previously considered unacceptable. And I’ve been around enough sick people to know that a lot of them refuse to accept their situation, and just wallow in misery and self-pity.
Actually, the latter course is the easier one. You get to put yourself on the cross, deny inconvenient realities, and spare yourself the bother of coping with a new normal that frankly sucks compared to the old one. I’m not trying to put myself forth as hero – finding my way required the good fortune of being suddenly struck with insight that it took me years to come by. I didn’t adapt to my new normal either quickly or painlessly.
I WAS THINKING ABOUT this over the weekend in the context of the war on terror. As some of you may remember, I spent a decade teaching at a Saturday program for 4th – 6th graders. On the Saturday after 9/11, two 6th grade girls were having a serious debate: One would have preferred to burn to death, while the other was adamant that she would instead have jumped out a 95th story window.
For days we had been hearing that 9/11 would change everything. Overhearing this exchange was a graphic illustration of that fact.
As a society, coping with our new normal has not been easy. Compared to our old normal, it stinks. On September 10, 2001, most of us were blissfully unaware that there were people who just couldn’t wait to savagely kill as many of us as possible. As the years after 9/11 have rolled by, it has become increasingly clear how rotten this new normal is. The people who want to kill us aren’t some strange fringe movement as we tried to convince ourselves in the days immediately following the attack. There are many millions of them, and there’s no doubt that they intend us harm.
What I’ve seen with people who can’t accept or refuse to accept their new normal are two primary techniques. One is denial, the other is misplaced anger. Denial is a concept you’re probably familiar with – we choose to sweep things aside that are too painful to deal with. The experts agree; denial is not a particularly effective coping mechanism.
But misplaced anger (as opposed to just ordinary anger/frustration over one’s situation) seems to get less attention. Last week, I was speaking with someone I’m very close with whose wife is dealing with some very serious health issues. He asked me, “Do you ever feel like screaming at people who are concerned about stupid stuff? When you here someone talking about how they’re angry about their golf score, do you just want to tell them to shut up and let them know what’s really important?”
The answer was yes. I used to feel that way. But at some point you realize the rest of the world is still spinning and is indifferent to your fate. And allowing yourself a righteous anger at the bozos in the Grille Room or the supermarket check-out line or at the next table over for complaining that their rack of lamb is medium instead of medium-rare just gives you the excuse to not deal with your very real challenges. It’s much more comforting to clamber up the Cross and assume a position of moral superiority. It’s also self-defeating. I’ve never seen anyone become a happy or productive person because they skillfully use misplaced anger.
WHAT I SEE ON THE AMERICAN LEFT is a ton of denial and misplaced anger. It would be swell if the left were correct, and the intrusion into our privacy by NSA wiretaps was the biggest threat to American society. It would be even more comforting if, as people of the left often proclaim, George W. Bush were the world’s worst terrorist. After all, we know he’s not going to set off a dirty-bomb in Midtown Manhattan.
But the sad new normal is that we’re at war, with a large, cruel and determined foe, Can the left acknowledge this reality?
I think it’s becoming increasingly apparent that much of what remains of the left cannot. Allow me to call your attention to this blog post by Jeralyn Merritt of Talk Left. A few words about Jeralyn – she’s not what right wing bloggers typically refer to as a moonbat. A practicing attorney, her left wing blog is thoughtful and devoid of the hysteria and juvenile patois that characterizes most of the left wing blogosphere.
So it’s particularly depressing when someone like Jeralyn pens a brief essay that refers to Zarqawi’s death as a “murder,” a “state sanctioned murder,” and an “assassination.” She is particularly upset over President Bush being thrilled that Zarqawi was “brought to justice.” “Since when,” Jeralyn asks, “is assassination bringing one to justice?”
Ladies and gentlemen, this is seriously obtuse stuff. Such an essay makes you wonder what it will take to bring some portions of our society around to the fact that we’re at war with some really bad people.
The question is rhetorical. But if you’ve got an answer, I’d love to hear it.
Responses? Thoughts? Please email them to me at email@example.com
Saturday, June 10, 2006
NOT IN MOURNING
No time for real blogging today, just a quick hit that struck me as pretty revealing. As you may have heard, three “detainees” at Gitmo killed themselves today. In case you’re wondering, we will not be sitting Shiva in Soxblog Manor. No need to plan a visit or to swing by some deli-meats.
At the Daily Kos, they are quite a bit more depressed about the incident. Weighing in from her parents’ house, law student Georgia10 can barely suppress her outrage. “Today's news is sad,” she writes, “but not surprising. When man manufactures hell on earth, it is not surprising that death becomes a tempting avenue of escape.” Death a tempting avenue of escape? Man, that’s so heavy! It’s tempting to dismiss Georgia10 as an arrogant youth who knows nothing about the way the world spins. It’s a temptation I personally cannot resist.
Occasionally I’ll get letters saying that I’m out of touch. But as Michael Corleone would say, now who’s being naïve? What percentage of Americans will register a scintilla of sadness over the demise of these men? If it cracked double digits, I’d be shocked. Come on kids, don’t you know there’s a war on?
Responses? Thoughts? Please email them to me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Friday, June 09, 2006
ANN COULTER CONTINUED
I lack the time for real blogging today, what with the demands of keeping up with the goings on at the Yearly Kos. So what to do?
I’ve got it! As Andrew Sullivan would say in such a circumstance, I have the smartest, savviest, most intelligent and best-looking audience in the blogosphere. I will turn it over to them to forward our conversation on Ann Coulter. For what it’s worth, that single little piece produced more reader mail than anything I’ve written in the past month, including the essay where I poured my heart out regarding my physical condition. (Query: Are you people made of stone???)
In the spirit of this being the season of the Yearly Kos, I will assign all correspondents names that sound like they could belong to Kos Diarists.
“Longhorn Scribbler,” truly one of my favorite correspondents even though he has the maddening audacity to occasionally disagree with me, wrote this essay for another blog. He forwarded it to me in an email:
"I’ll say it again: Ann Coulter is a national treasure and I stand by her completely. What she said about those widows are the facts as she sees and believes them to be. Instead of being angry at Ann; why don’t you check out the activists that she is confronting? I have no sympathy for them or Cindy Sheehan. You all act like these people are the only people to have ever lost a loved one in a violent act. Those situations give NONE OF US the right to say whatever we want and not be challenged on it with the same vitriol. Wake the Hell up. And no… I don’t care if Ace or Allahpundit or Michelle or any other blogger is mad at Ann. Why in God’s name would THAT change my mind about her?
"Do you guys actually think that Ann’s supporters are that stupid? Do you think that we cannot think for ourselves? Sorry guys but I didn’t drink the “blog-aid”. Half of you are only angry because you don’t have the guts to actually speak the truth like Ann Coulter. The other half of you hated her anyway so why would I care what you think? Pathetic.
"Again, take a look at her targets and then come back and tell me how horrible Ann Coulter is. If you can do that then you are an idiot; but at least you would be a principled idiot."
I should note, it was other bloggers who got LS’s Irish up, not me. He’s normally a pretty temperate guy; his preface to the blog post evidenced the collegiality that always characterizes our correspondence.
“The Normster” amplifies Longhorn Scribbler’s point, and also puts some more meat on the bones of Ann’s argument:
"I do disagree with you about Ms. Coulter. I applaud both the tone and the substance of her harangues. She is a meticulous researcher and a talented writer. And yes, she is a quipster.
"With respect to (what is to you) her current "offensive" remarks about the "wider women" of New Jersey, consider this:
"Why are we seriously contemplating spending a billion dollars and devoting several acres of Manhattan real estate to memorialize the poor SOB's who happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time? Since when did we build memorials to VICTIMS? (since Oklahoma City, btw).
"We build monuments to HEROS, not VICTIMS. I make it a point when I pass a memorial to try to stop and visit it -- to read the dedications and to try to imagine the feelings of the folks who felt obliged to spend the time and resources to commemorate their dead. I live in Greenwich and the the surrounding towns are filled with small memorial parks. And it's fascinating to visit them, to look at the architecture and the dedications.
"So, why are we about to build this monstrosity in downtown Manhattan? Why should we build a memorial to some of the victims of 9/11 that is bigger than all of the memorials to all of the heroes who fell in all of the wars this nation has fought -- put together? Why not a simple monument to the brave policemen and firemen who gave their lives to try to save others? Because of our current culture of victimhood -- the way our media exalts those with the most heartrending tales of woe -- the way the left wing pundits use these victims to advance their agendas.
"This was Ann's point -- that the left chooses messengers with whom it's impolite to argue.
"As it happens, I worked in the WTC and I was high up in tower 1 in '93, when they first tried to kill all of us. And I knew a great many people who were murdered in '01. And I think the proper way to honor our dead is:
1) By putting headstones on their graves -- commemorating their LIVES.
and 2) By killing the m********s who did this to our brethren.
"I heartily resent the Jersey widows and the Cindy Sheehans who claim the moral authority to run our country. I applaud Ms. Coulter who calls a spade a spade."
I actually like Normster’s argument about our culture’s unseemly tendency to exalt one’s victim status. I think it’s half Oprah’s and half Barbara Walters’ fault; they made public teariness not just acceptable but chic.
But the real issue with Ann, as I said yesterday, is her style. The Normster distills her rhetoric down to its substance; the only reason such an exercise is necessary is because her rhetoric is unnecessarily laden with ad hominem insults, personal invective and gratuitous bomb throwing. If Coulter wants her ideas to be taken seriously, she should cease burying them under the personal attacks that her work so prominently features.
That’s pretty much the point Steel Weaver makes in our final letter:
"Something that most adults learn is this: you don't say everything that comes into your head.
"Even if we have some agreement with Ann Coulter's take on the Jersey Girls, intelligent people know that there are strategic and tactical reasons why we should exercise a little discretion and keep our pie holes shut. Alternatively, we could address the issue tactfully as you suggested.
"Apparently, Coulter doesn't feel bound by the rules of good judgment to which most of us adhere. And I agree with you: the reason is because her method sells books.
"There was a time when Coulter was one of my favorite conservatives. Now, she's occupying some of the territory in which Pat Buchanan resides. (She's in the Buchanan territory not because she shares his anti-Semitism, because she doesn't. She's in his territory because she is an individual of great potential who has fallen out of favor with mainstream conservatives.) And if her latest book sells, I'm sure she will be quite happy to reside there.
"I'm disappointed. But our disappointment will not make Ann Coulter change her ways. I think we are just going to have to ignore her. She will always have a core of fans, just as Buchanan does. But among mainstream conservatives, I see her being marginalized."
Allow me to expand on one point for you youngsters out there: If your wife/girlfriend/date asks, “Does this outfit make me look fat?” I don’t care if the outfit in question makes her look like the Goodyear Blimp. The only possible answer is, “No, dear. You look beautiful.”
Does this make you intellectually dishonest? Does it make you a liar? Does it mean your relationship is built on a foundation of untruth?
In short, who cares? There are certain social niceties that must be observed in life. For those of you who think there is ever an appropriate time to offer a sober and unsparing assessment of your mate’s appearance, I wish you luck in your virginity.
Among the social niceties that we must observe is to not pick on widows, regardless of their opinions, appearance, whatever. You can question their substantive views; as I mentioned yesterday, Dorothy Rabinowitz wrote a much-discussed piece in the Wall Street Journal about the Jersey Girls whose substance was far more scathing and intellectually thorough than anything Ann Coulter ever came up with.
And guess what? There were no conniption fits on either side of the political spectrum. Such matters can be discussed, but when discussing them one must do so sensitively.
Responses? Thoughts? Please email them to me at email@example.com
Thursday, June 08, 2006
SPANNING THE WEB - 6/8/2006
As we speak, I’m working away on a Mac. Mac users keep insisting that I’ll fall in love with it. If I do, it will be like one of those implausible movies where the boy and the girl hate each other in the first reel but are wedded in the third. As of this writing, I can’t stand the frickin’ thing.
Then again, I had grown so attached to my old laptop, given that I had probably typed out close to a million words on it the past two and a half years, any new computer would come up wanting. Anyway, enough about me. There are wonderful developments to discuss.
2) STUCK CLOCK WATCH – Al Qaeda in Iraq has made the following pronouncement: "We announce the joyous news of the martyrdom of our warrior Sheikh Abu Musab al-Zarqawi in Iraq." It isn’t often when I feel groups like Al Qaeda get it right what with their urge to kill all the infidels and the rest of that crap. But this time they’ve hit the nail on the head. The death of Zarqawi is indeed joyous news. May the United States Special Forces continue to bring such joyous news with vigor and frequency.
3) BUT NOT EVERYONE SEEMS THRILLED – Daily Kos front pagers “Bill inn Portland Maine” and “Georgia 10” do a poor job of hiding what may be chagrin. Bill observes, “ For those of you keeping score at home, this is Iraqi Turning Point #697.” Meanwhile, the site’s resident shopaholic (who lives at home with her parents while attending law school in order to best satisfy her shopping jones) links to the news of Zarqawi’s death with only one word of commentary – “Finally.” Naturally, if you wished to wade through the site’s diaries, you would find far more, ahem, spirited opinions, but these front pagers are at the top of the Kossack heap. Is it just me, or does it seem like they were a lot more excited about Haditha than they are about Zarqawi being blown to smithereens?
4) SUPPORTING THE TROOPS – The president of The Hairclub for Moonbats, Hollywood Liberal, shows how his blood is not just red, but actually red, white and blue. To display his patriotic bona-fides, he offers the following uplifting appraisal of the American troops (who among other things defend the citizenry’s right to wear ill-fitting toupees): “The U.S. military needs to recruit very dumb, totally uneducated, and mostly southern cracker soldiers who are already racist bastards who have never left their hometowns and believe all the garbage they are taught in school about how we are the good guys, and everything we do is just and right. The Army can then brainwash them to treat other human beings in such a grotesque and inhuman manner.”
5) WHAT CAN YOU SAY? – Michael Berg, the father of beheaded hostage Mitch Berg, must deal with unspeakable grief on a daily basis. I’ve seen parents lose children before – there’s no pain like it.
But the sad fact is that in his current incarnation when he speaks publicly, Michael Berg is an embarrassment. Yesterday Berg addressed the death of Abu Mussab al-Zarqawi, the man who had personally killed his son:
"Well, my reaction is I'm sorry whenever any human being dies. Zarqawi is a human being. He has a family who are reacting just as my family reacted when Nick was killed, and I feel bad for that…You shouldn't be surprised, because I have never indicated anything but forgiveness and peace in any interview on the air…
"Well, you know, I'm not saying Saddam Hussein was a good man, but he's no worse than George Bush. Saddam Hussein didn't pull the trigger, didn't commit the rapes. Neither did George Bush. But both men are responsible for them under their reigns of terror.
"I don't buy that. Iraq did not have al Qaeda in it. Al Qaeda supposedly killed my son.
"Under Saddam Hussein, no al Qaeda. Under George Bush, al Qaeda.
"Under Saddam Hussein, relative stability. Under George Bush, instability.
"Under Saddam Hussein, about 30,000 deaths a year. Under George Bush, about 60,000 deaths a year. I don't get it. Why is it better to have George Bush the king of Iraq rather than Saddam Hussein?"
A couple of thoughts spring to mind: 1) Given his loss, one wants to be charitable to Berg; and 2) What sort of sick game is the media playing, sticking a microphone in front of this obviously troubled man?
The eagerness with which the media enables Berg is perhaps more disturbing than the rantings of this very tragic figure.
6) THE INDOMITABLE SPIRIT…that characterizes the modern moonbat is almost inspiring. Inspiring in a pathetic sort of way, but inspiring nonetheless. After losing the race in California’s 50th District which brought the nutroots’ record to a truly Washington Generals-like 0-20, the leftwing blogs are all atwitter because Ned Lamont, Joe Lieberman’s primary opponent, has pulled to within striking distance. In the latest Quinnipiac Poll, Lieberman now leads 55-40 amongst likely Democratic voters. If liberal blogs were capable of being disturbed, they would find the fact that amongst all voters (running as an independent), Lieberman leads Lamont 56-18. So if Lieberman were to lose the primary and run as an independent, he would almost surely win and vote with the Republican caucus.
Does this mean the nutroots have yet another moral victory coming up? If political winners were determined by moral victories, the nutroots would now control the White House, the Congress, the Supreme Court and probably the Academy of Arts and Sciences.
7) THE AFTERNOON BRINGS MORE CANDOR – The Daily Kos’ resident shopaholic weighs in from her parents’ baement, “Understandably, there is a lot of media coverage on Zarqawi today. In all the hours and hours of coverage, has anyone mentioned that the President could have killed Zarqawi before the Iraq War but chose not to? Or that he was caught and then released to kill again by an incompetent Iraqi government?”
She should be careful. Comments like that almost lead one to conclude that the Kossacks are so addled with Bush hatred that they’re actually angry when good news comes out of Iraq.
8) ANSWERING SOME READER MAIL…I sometimes get letters asking me what I think of Ann Coulter. I always respond to those who write in with that question with a little personal anecdote about a tiny piece of personal history that Ann and I share and then get to my conclusion – I don’t like her.
My lack of fondness for her isn’t because I think she lacks talent. Oft-times she makes me laugh. And it isn’t because I get the sense that she’s a bad person. On that score, I’m agnostic.
I don’t like Ann Coulter because she’s a deliberate bomb-thrower who often brings embarrassment to my side of the political debate. I don’t like her for the same reason I wouldn’t like Al Franken or Markos Moulitsas if I were a liberal. She’s one of the most recognizable faces of conservative America, and she makes us look awful. Furthermore, I believe she does this because her bomb-throwing sells book. So in other words, she sells out her movement for personal gain.
As proof of this theory, look no further than her odious commentary regarding the 9/11 widows known as the Jersey Girls. The Jersey Girls and their agenda have been addressed politely but firmly by journalistic luminaries like Dorothy Rabinowitz and Holman Jenkins; I bring their work up only to show that a responsible conversation regarding the matter is possible.
Here’s what Coulter said: “These self-obsessed women seem genuinely unaware that 9-11 was an attack on our nation and acted like as if the terrorist attack only happened to them. They believe the entire country was required to marinate in their exquisite personal agony. Apparently, denouncing bush was part of the closure process…These broads are millionaires, lionized on TV and in articles about them, reveling in their status as celebrities and stalked by griefparrazies. I have never seen people enjoying their husband’s death so much.”
What can one add. If you remain a Coulter fan, we’ll have to agree to disagree.
Responses? Thoughts? Please email them to me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Tuesday, June 06, 2006
SPANNING THE WEB - 6/6/2006
1) THE REVOLUTION STARTS NOW? – It’s June 6, 2006, and that means a young blogger’s fancy turns to California’s 50th District where two aspirants are running-off to inherit Duke Cunningham’s congressional seat. You might recall that Cunningham, a Vietnam war hero, has been sent to prison by an ungrateful nation for using his office to enrich himself by several millions of dollars. If Cunningham had been smart, he would have invoked the cloak of inviolability that ensconces Jack Murtha, and instead of wearing an orange jump suit today he would be happily sobbing on Oprah’s couch.
Anyway, many political seers have declared the race in California’s 50th to be portentous with national implications. If Democrat Francine Busby wins, the conventional wisdom holds, it heralds an oncoming Democrat tsunami in November. If Republican Brian Bilbray wins, it means nothing.
While conservative pundits like Opinion Journal’s Brendan Miniter appear anxious for out of touch Beltway Republicans to finally hear the voice of an enraged electorate, Democrats seem scarcely more hopeful. Daily Kos diarist “sculi2000” (a handle that probably sounded really futuristic in 1995) is “pissed off” over what he/she/it considers the impending Democratic defeat that will run the nutroots’ record to a still unblemished 0-23:
Hell yea, we all want to win. And hell yea, we're all bummed out about what happened last week. But Jesus Christ...Francine is taking one for the team in this race, you know? Who among us would like to endure the Republican machine head on?
We're busy trying to get our fucking country back.
For those of you who haven’t been paying close attention to the race, “the Republican machine” ingeniously found a way to have Busby say in a speech last week, “You don't need papers for voting.” In a southern California district where illegal immigration is a major issue, this apparent plea for votes from illegals was something of a boo-boo. Even Busby’s compelling excuse that she misspoke has failed to arrest the damage. As the above-quoted Kos diarist suggests, the race (which seemed to be breaking to Bilbray anyway) was probably lost by Busby’s spectacular miscue.
So noteworthy was Busby’s boo-boo, no less an authority than that nice Alan Colmes suggested that we should all just accept her contention that she misspoke and let the race be decided on other factors. Alas, politics does not work in such a way. For Democrats who eagerly pounced on every Dan Quayle miss-pronouncement, this cry for mercy at the 11th hour of a combative campaign seems somewhat womanish. And not in the good sexy way.
If Busby does go down to defeat, (which given the support she has received from the nutroots seems all but inevitable), and her ridiculous “misstatement” is a leading cause for said defeat, then the entire episode should prove instructive for those of us in the pundit class. It is true that the Republican Party has become frustrating on a good day, pathetic on a bad one. But in order to win all the individual races out there, the Democrats will have to provide a superior alternative. Given the state of the Democratic Party, this promises to be no easy feat.
You’d have to say the California 50th race was a winnable one for the Democrats, even if it weren’t the year of a putative Democratic tidal wave. After all, the former Republican incumbent now sports an orange jump suit. And yet, it appears like it won’t work out because the Democratic candidate just wasn’t up to snuff.
Will it be different elsewhere, or will Republicans have the great good fortune to be opposed by weak opponents across this great nation of ours?
2) SPEAKING OF PATHETIC DEMOCRATS – Some of you might remember that the best person the Democrat party could belch forth to pursue the presidency in 2004 was an obscure Massachusetts Senator named John Kerry. Kerry has been back in the news in the blogosphere because of an off-the-record conversation he had with a slew of California bloggers; one of the bloggers in attendance dutifully blogged the off-the-record session for posterity’s sake.
This isn’t the first time such a thing happened. Back when Dick Durbin was in the soup over making the comparison between American G.I.’s and the Khmer Rouge, he sought succor in an off-the-record conference call with a bunch of nationally prominent left wing bloggers. Bloggress Annatopia of the MyDD site went to the bother of “live-blogging” the conference call. I brought her memorable blog post (since removed) to greater attention in a Weekly Standard article, whose thrust was the query, “How can politicians be so silly to trust these kids to act like full grown adults.”
History has repeated itself, although this time it was even more farcical than the first time around. A blogger named Hollywood Liberal documented many of Senator Kerry’s comments during the off-the record session. Among the more memorable lines in Hollywood Liberal’s post was that, “Kerry agreed completely with someone’s assessment that everything that Bush does is solely for the purpose of looting the country. He basically said that Bush and his cohorts are criminals and that history will judge them so.”
What makes this episode so embarrassing for Kerry is he doubtlessly does not believe that Bush’s principal goal in office is to “loot the country.” He might perhaps argue that Bush has recklessly and unconstitutionally pursued an expansion of presidential powers and an erosion of civil rights, but the looting comment is something that could only spring from someone in the full throes of Bush Derangement Syndrome. It’s a ridiculous non-sequitur.
And yet Kerry is so needy and so desperately craves the approbation of tin-foil hat wearing bloggers, he’s willing to yes them to death. Have I used the word pathetic yet today?
(By the way, while it is beneath this blog’s dignity to ridicule another person’s physical appearance, I do feel the need to note the following: In the photo accompanying this entry, the man standing next to John Kerry is Hollywood Liberal himself. I would be remiss if I did not point out that Hollywood Liberal’s “hair” has a striking resemblance to the toupee Joe Pesci wore in “JFK.”)
3) A TRUE PARTNER FOR PEACE? – Mahmoud Abbas is doubtlessly winning international plaudits for proposing a pan-Palestinian referendum that will IMPLICITLY recognize Israel. I am inferring that because the recognition of Israel will be implicit, it will not be explicit.
Such is the state of things in the Middle East that many people consider Abbas’ proposal a sign of progress. Almost 60 years into this thing, and only two Arab nations have been able to bring themselves to explicitly recognize Israel.
In considering Abbas’ latest maneuver, Western policy makers will want to recall that delusion is never a wise policy.
4) ON A RELATED TOPIC…Andy McCarthy of National Review has had the audacity to take notice of the elephant in the Canadian holding cell – that all the young men in said cell are Muslims. Also noteworthy is that none of the men have a connection to Al Qaeda. From reading the New York Times’ reports on the matter, I’m not sure if this news is supposed to make us feel better or worse.
5) THEODORE DALRYMPLE WOULD PROBABLY SAY WORSE – Writing in City Journal, Dalrymple reviews “Islamic Imperialism: A History” by Efraim Karsh. I really can’t summarize it without just reprinting it. So just go read the whole thing – it takes today’s prize.
Responses? Thoughts? Please email them to me at email@example.com
Monday, June 05, 2006
SPANNING THE WEB - 6/5/2006
1) AT LONG LAST, HAS SHE NO SHAME? The New York Times editorialized yesterday on the Haditha investigation. Actually, it editorialized on the results of the Haditha investigation, which was passing odd since the investigation has yet to conclude. Nevertheless, the Times knows what happened there was “an apparent cold blooded killing.” Given the speculation I’ve heard, that a handful of Marines went on a rampage after one of their buddies was cut down, just the opposite would seem to be the case. But facts will not deter the Grey Lady from its tedious purpose – to pin this one on its political adversaries.
Taking its best we-told-you-so stance, the Times wags its bony finger, lecturing, “Critics of the war predicted that American troops would become an occupying force, unable to distinguish between innocent civilians and murderous insurgents, propelled down the same path that led the British to disaster in Northern Ireland and American troops to grief in Vietnam.” (Wait! Now they’re saying the soldiers were confused, “unable to distinguish between innocent civilians and murderous insurgents”? I thought it was cold blooded murder!)
Furthermore, the Times doesn’t want the “cold blooded kill(ers)” to be held accountable for their cold blooded killing. Not when the real blame lies in higher places: “This affair cannot simply be dismissed as the spontaneous cruelty of a few bad men.” (Wait! I thought they were confused and couldn’t distinguish friend from foe as the Times had so presciently forecast. My head is spinning!)
Even though the Times doesn’t seem to be thinking or expressing itself clearly, Haditha has given the paper a moment of apparent perfect-storm delight. It senses that it can trot out its ancient Vietnam analogies, and adopt a tone of moral outrage while opportunistically advancing its own political agenda. But, once again, the Times miscalculates.
One of the themes of the left’s anti-war stance has been that we shouldn’t care about Iraqis. You might recall a long ago Democratic nominee for president decrying the fact that we were building firehouses in Baghdad and under-funding firehouses in America. The underlying message was that Iraqis weren’t worth bothering with. First, they weren’t worth delivering from the depredations of Saddam Hussein. Next, their future wasn’t worth fighting Baathist dead-enders and Syrian no-goodniks over.
Sad to say, the Times has won this aspect of the debate. Even on the right, there is a sense of “why are we bothering with these people.” When the Iraqi premier chastises the American troops who make his regime viable, he does little to dispel this sentiment.
But if you spent the last three years trying to convince America that the Iraqis’ well-being should not be an American concern, it becomes a tough sell to convince Americans to get outraged over alleged war time atrocities when the victims are the very people you’ve been so determinedly marginalizing. Americans will support their troops and give them every benefit of the doubt. Even if it turns out to have been cold blooded murder, the vast majority of Americans will view the situation through a prism most favorable to the troops.
And they certainly won’t rush to label something “cold-blooded murder” before all the facts are in.
2) WHAT ABOUT JACK? In the previous few paragraphs, I questioned the New York Times’ motives. I bet even the most hardened lefty wouldn’t begrudge me the right to do so. But Jack Murtha? Man, he’s off limits.
The reasoning goes something like this: Murtha served in Vietnam. Because he served in the shit 40 years ago while others in our current political class jerked around their ROTC commandants, had better things to do, or joined the state-side national guard, Murtha is deemed on a higher moral plane. Questioning his motives is strictly forbidden.
I have to be honest here – the logic escapes me. Every politician’s motives are inherently suspect, regardless of his background.
Let’s do a little thought exercise. Let’s say there was a young man who had performed heroically for his country in a previous war. Let’s say less than 15 years later that man sought his nation’s highest office. Would his moral purity be beyond question? If you said yes, then you just gave a pass to an Austrian Corporal who went on to lead Germany in a decidedly immoral fashion. At the very least, you said you could disagree with the man’s positions but you mustn’t question his character.
But if I write a negative word about Jack Murtha, my inbox fills with critiques that I’m “swift-boating” him. Since I’ve never done anything that event faintly smells of questioning his Vietnam service, I truly don’t follow. Besides, I have no interest in the Jack Murtha of 1966. I guess the argument is Jack Murtha is beyond reproach.
What’s next? A “Free Duke Cunningham” movement?
3) THE NYT HEADLINE READS... “In Paris Suburbs, Worrying Attack by Youths.” As you read on in the New York Times report, you’ll eventually discover about 12 paragraphs into the thing that a lot of the youths are Sub-Saharan and North African immigrants. No word yet on whether the youths might have anything else in common. Stay tuned.
4) THE NYT HEADLINE READS… “17 Held in Plot to Bomb Sites in Ontario.” Reading on, you learn that the “17 men were mainly of South Asian descent.” You also learn from a helpful Canadian official, clearly taking valuable time away from monitoring the Stanley Cup Finals, “They represent the broad strata of our society. Some are students, some are employed, some are unemployed."
Indeed. The names of ages of these representatives of the “broad strata” of Canadian society are Fahim Ahmad, 21; Zakaria Amara, 20; Asad Ansari, 21; Shareef Abdelhaleen, 30; Qayyum Abdul Jamal, 43; Mohammed Dirie, 22; Yasim Abdi Mohamed, 24; Jahmaal James, 23; Amin Mohamed Durrani, 19; Steven Vikash Chand, alias Abdul Shakur, 25; Ahmad Mustafa Ghany, 21; and Saad Khalid, 19. It does sound like these men ably represent all the swaths of the great Canadian mosaic.
The Times’ story is mute on what, if anything, could have brought these 19 spectacularly diverse individuals together to form such a nefarious plot. My theory is that the grinding poverty and hopelessness of Canadian life, what with that nationalized health care system and everything, drove them into a nihilistic and murderous world view. But only time will tell.
5) THIS WOULD BE THE BOTTOM STORY OF THE DAY…The Boston Globe headline reads, “Vt. state senator calls for troop withdrawal.” Alas, the state senator in question, one Peter Welch, is now a candidate for congress and actually gave the Democrats’ nationally broadcast radio address on Saturday.
Welch wants to leave Iraq, so we can focus on fighting terror. Specifically, Welch wants to fight terror by focusing on securing our own ports and borders.
With comments like this, Democrats reveal their soft political under-belly. As the left eagerly reminds the country at every chance, Iraq is now a haven for Al Qaeda fighters. If you want to fight terror, Iraq is where you have to be.
Sometimes I question whether or not people of the left really want to fight the so called war on terror. After all, if you can’t even bring yourself to identify the enemy...
6) FROM THE GET OVER YOURSELF DEPT. – Markos Moulitsas explains the poor functioning of the Daily Kos website by asserting that it’s tough to maintain “a site growing as rapidly as this one.” That line struck me as odd, since I had thought the Daily Kos’ growth had flatlined along with rest of the blogosphere’s several months ago.
Being the intellectually curious type, I clicked over to the DK’s sitemeter. Last October, the site had roughly 23 million visits. In May, the figure was around 16 million. What’s more, the “progress” between last October and May was pretty uniform. In other words, the graph of the site’s visits over the past eight months resembles a ski slope.
But Markos knows what he’s doing. Just like Hilary Clinton, he has to create an air of inevitability around his site’s ascendancy. This is do-able because most politicians have as much of a conceptual understanding of the blogosphere as they do about the ovulation cycle of a three-toed sloth. They see the blogosphere as a growing and soon-to-be-formidable force.
Actually, the opposite is true. The blogs are a mature force, just as the newspapers are. They are not growing more powerful by the minute. They are what they are.
But shush! Don’t tell the pols. If they ever get wind of this, there’s a good chance those fun conference calls will be a thing of the past!
Responses? Thoughts? Please email them to me at firstname.lastname@example.org