Friday, October 29, 2004


Reading the tea-leaves after having FoxNews on all day in the background:

1) PRESIDENT BUSH seems energized. When you’re in a campaign, you know when you’re stuck in the mud and you know when you’re moving. The Prez definitely looked like a man on the move this morning in New Hampshire. He seems confident and to be enjoying the moment. On the other hand…

2) SENATOR KERRY seemed even more dour and defeatist than usual today. You’ve probably heard that Kerry dropped the whole Al Quaqa thing. I haven’t seen this tactical adjustment credibly analyzed elsewhere, so I’ll do the heavy lifting.

Why did he drop it? Do we think he suddenly had a surge of conscience and decided this was simply distasteful opportunism and no matter what Carville says he should eschew it (cue laugh track)?

No, it says here he stopped using this line because his internal polls showed it wasn’t working. Or, let me put it this way: If it were working, is there any chance he would have stopped using it?

It should come as no surprise that it wasn’t working. Kerry’s whole challenge, and what he did so ably in the eyes of many Americans during the debates, was to become a at least a little likable. The problem with playing Monday morning quarterback (which is what Kerry was doing with the Al Quaqa thing) is, even if you’re right, you look like a jerk.

3) WELCOME BACK OSAMA – Here’s the really good news – I’m quite sure Osama would have preferred blowing up a building to making some lame-o tape. Here’s the even better news – he’s alive which means we get to capture him and kill him proper. And here’s the best news – he was citing propaganda directly from “Fahrenheit 9/11”.

That last point is indeed the big one. The left might be able to credibly (but still inaccurately) say that it’s all miss-direction and that Osama is bashing Bush just to help the President. But when Osama parrots talking points of the left – does that not show how truly hateful some on the left have become?

Responses? Thoughts? Please email them to me at

James Frederick Dwight


Have you ever seen the movie “The Road Warrior?” I bet most of you have. For those unfamiliar with the film, it’s a visionary masterpiece that takes place in the Australian Outback after nuclear Armageddon. The good guys in the movie are normal people who are desperately trying to harbor the resources necessary to leave the Outback and return to something resembling civilization. These relatively normal people are endlessly attacked and otherwise tormented by a bunch of post-apocalyptic freaks who desire nothing but destruction and mayhem and petrol.

In an early scene the freaks surround the good guys’ camp. Their leader, a massively muscled guy who calls himself The Humungous and who wears a skimpy black leather outfit and a goalie’s mask, yells threats into a loud speaker. While he’s talking, one of his fellow freaks loses his discipline. The Humungous clutches his underling to him and says, “Remember, fear is our ally,” which is a surprisingly thoughtful notion from a guy who walks around the Outback in a black leather jockstrap. After he says this, the camera shows The Humungous from behind and we see wispy hairs protruding from the open back end of the goalie’s mask, implying that the omnipotent looking Humungous is wasting away from cancer.

The scene tells us everything we need to know about the bad guys: All the leather and chains are for show, meant to sow fear. They’re not as crazy as they look, or at least they’re not just nuts but calculating as well. And they’re surprisingly human and vulnerable.

Yesterday’s pathetic tape of the purported terrorist reminded me of that scene. If there’s one thing the Al Qaeda types know, fear is their ally. Their whole strategy rests on the premise that they can do enough to terrify us that we’ll beg for peace. I’m not saying we don’t have reason to be afraid. They know that. The question is whether or not we’ll let our fear be our master.

The stagecraft of this speech was also reminiscent of “The Road Warrior.” The speaker clutches a machine gun not because he’s about to go goose hunting but because he expects this prop will make his unsupported boasts regarding “rivers of blood” more credible. Also like The Humungous, he wants to look invincible but this attempt is foiled by the very human set of eyeglasses that apparently correct his flawed vision. He wants to come across as a medieval bad-ass, but instead he looks like a weirdo reading a teleprompter.

His was the desperate face of a guy who knows he can’t win. Either they go away or we’re going to kill all of them. From their perspective, the sad fact is this: If they destroyed every high rise in America, they would still hardly touch America’s military. And that unscratched military would reap a fearsome and total retribution.

We will destroy them; it’s inevitable. The only issue is whether or not their destruction comes with 9/11 having been the low point of this war for us or not. Regardless, like the Humungous, the guy on yesterday’s tape is headed to defeat.

And he knows it.

Responses? Thoughts? Please email them to me at

James Frederick Dwight

Thursday, October 28, 2004


Some more thoughts swirling around my mind on this wonderful day after:

1) SCHILLING – What a stud! And now he’s supporting Bush – can it get any better?

Parenthetically, one of my favorite blogs, The MartiniPundit, had a post a couple of days ago titled, “Shilling for Kerry.” For a moment, since I wasn’t reading carefully, that title nearly gave me heart failure. I thought he was saying the Sox ace had endorsed Senator Nuance. This was impossible; if there’s ever been an athlete who demonstrates conservative right wing virtues, it’s Curt Schilling. What he did with that heel? Unbelievable, and indicative of an individual who believes in just getting the job done and keeping the complaining to a minimum. Now, if he had retained counsel and petitioned the Commisioner’s office to raise the pitcher’s mound in order to compensate for the unfairness of his ill-timed ankle injury, then I would have believed he was a Kerry voter.

Since this kind of thing was on my mind anyway, you can imagine my delight when I heard that Schilling urged America to vote for Bush while appearing on Good Morning America. Kerry can have all those effete Hollywood poseurs and grungy former rock singers – we’ve got Curt!

2) CABRERA BATTING SECOND – A lot of the stats oriented types complained about Orlando Cabrera batting second during the World Series. The thinking is that someone with a higher on base average like Meuller or Bellhorn should have been there and Cabrera’s presence in the number 2 slot provided further evidence that Francona is a dolt.

I’m a stat geek myself, but I still never complained about Cabrera batting second and I think his presence there confirms Francona’s brilliance. Seriously.

Logic suggests a certain batting order type should produce the most runs. You know, the speedy guys get on base, the bashers drive them in, etc. But according to a ton of statistical modeling, the batting order makes no difference in terms of how many runs you’ll score. Now there’s a chance that the models just haven’t found the runs and that they’re there somewhere, but we can safely infer from the research that the order the guys bat in makes little if any difference.

But here’s what does make a difference: Mark Bellhorn and Bill Meuller perform better when they’re lower in the order. They’re more relaxed so they become better players. Moreover, when Cabrera’s higher in the order he becomes a much more patient (and better) hitter.

Francona knows these things about his personnel and responds accordingly. As thanks, he gets the non-stop abuse of the talk radio types and the sportswriter types who put this forth as further proof that Francona’s a moron. Like President Bush, Terry Francona is a pathetic excuse for a dullard.

3) FOUR IN A ROW - Before Game 7 against the Yankees, FoxSports “analyst” Terry Kennedy (an authentically dumb former Red Sox manager) predicted a Yankees victory because he couldn’t imagine the Sox winning four in a row. Similarly, before Game 4 yesterday Hall of Famer George Brett picked the Cards to win last night because he couldn’t picture the Cards losing four in a row.

I’ve followed sports closely for over three decades but it still amazes me that people are capable of such silliness. The Sox didn’t have to win four in a row last night; they just had to win one in a row. The hard part of the four in a row (the first three) was already done.

You want to make some money? In the NFL playoffs this year or next, there will be a match up between two teams, one of whom will have beaten the other twice during the regular season. The media will begin talking about the difficulties of winning “three in a row” and the team that clearly has the other team’s number will either be the underdog or favored by less than they should be. Wager on that team, and send me a thank you note.

4) SAYING DIE – 20 teams have been trailing a World Series 3-0. 17 of them lost Game 4. That means the trailing team won only 15% of the Game 4’s. To give you an idea of how statistically anomalous that is, consider this: The worst team in baseball beats the best team in baseball at least 25% of the time.

What would account for these Game 4 flops? I think it has to be because the trailing team usually decides to pack it in. Last night the Cardinals and their genius manager signaled a get-it-over-with attitude by having their hottest hitter bunt in the first inning.

All the Francona bashers might at least give him a little credit for getting his team to put up a fight when all seemed lost; historically most other teams in similar circumstances have not.

5) SPEAKING OF THE CARDINALS’ GENIUS MANAGER – I’ve never had a lot of respect for Tony LaRussa. Because he’s in the baseball industry, he’s deemed to have a towing intellect by virtue of his law degree from Florida State. He may indeed be quite a bright guy, but a law degree from FSU is not prima facie evidence of a brilliant mind.

LaRussa has now been swept twice in the World Series. Each time he had a terrific team that went kersplat in a most gruesome manner. Some of his strategic moves such as the insertion of the immortal Hector Luna were a tad curious. And his constant and obvious anger ushered his team into its increasingly vicious downward spiral.

Cards fans, listen to me: I know you like him, but you’d be better off with a new manager.

6) AND AT LAST A LITTLE POLITICS – Wasn’t it the original JFK who said a politician should never be photographed wearing a hat? Well, the latter day JFK was trotting around a stage wearing a Red Sox cap today. This was a mistake.

It wasn’t a mistake only because he looked like a front-runner donning a Sox hat only in the moment of triumph. After all, curious voters might ask, where was this support for his allegedly beloved Red Sox when they needed it most, staring up at a 0-3 deficit to the hated Yankees? Alas, Kerry’s fondness for front-runners is an aspect of his character that has been well known for quite some time. Just ask his fellow Swift Boat Veterans.

But besides looking callow, Kerry also looked like a dork. Caps do not flatter him; indeed, does anyone fancy Senator Kerry stumbling to his favorite diner unshaven wearing a baseball cap?

Sure, right after he’s gone goose hunting.

Responses? Thoughts? Please email them to me at

James Frederick Dwight


Okay, some guy in an Arab head-dress makes an hourlong videotape vowing that the American streets will “run with blood” and we infidels have it coming to us and blah blah blah blah. The tape, apparently originating from an ABC News source based in Waziristan (where, oddly enough, Mrs. Soxblog and I considered spending our honeymoon) is quickly shipped by ABC to our intelligence agencies to be “authenticated.”

Excuse me, but authenticate what? Do we need to authenticate that the guy wearing the head-dress is indeed an honest to goodness Al Qeada? Or are we concerned that his boasts might be accurate, that Qaeda has created a “streets running with blood” machine and of this we best beware?

Really, why is this newsworthy? Yes, the Al Qaeda types want to kill us. One would think by now this would qualify as stale news. And yes, Al Qaeda frequently announces their intent to deal us grievous harm. And yes, they tend to make these pronouncements with colorful yet ghoulish imagery. I don’t see how the identity of the kook in the head-dress makes any difference. Whether the guy’s a bona fide terrorist or a confused Orange County youth playing dress up, this tape is irrelevant.

They’ve made a ton of these threats in the past, right? Do we not consider it a standing fact on the ground that they wish to make our streets run with blood? You don’t need a John Kerry sized nuance detector to figure that out.

If the tape is “genuine”, the only story here is they think they can still scare us. Some bozo makes a tape and they think we’ll put it on the air and lament the imminent falling of the sky. And, some gullible bloggers (who I respect) are all pissed that ABC didn’t air the tape? Presidential politics aside, we should all be grateful. This tape is crap.

And redundant - we should be scared already. But resolved.

Responses? Thoughts? Please email them to me at

James Frederick Dwight


Obviously a happy day in delirious Boston, a day most of us never thought we’d see. Some thoughts from a very serious and long suffering Sox fan:

1) WHITHER THE CURSE? Can you kill something that never actually existed? A lot of media types had a lot of fun creating the alleged “curse” but this was the first time in my lifetime and only the second time since 1918 that the Sox actually had the best team in baseball. (The other time was in 1946 for those of you scoring at home.) Does it make you cursed because your inferior teams repeatedly fail to win a title? 1986 was indeed special – the most painful loss in the history of big-time American sports. But you know what? I bet fans of the ’81 76ers or the ’92 Pirates would dispute that contention.

Until very recently, the post-1967 (The Impossible Dream - season that ignited baseball in Boston) Red Sox managed to be competitive only because of the resources provided by their rabid fan base. Make no mistake, though - for most of the time between 1918 and the end of the century this was a dreadful franchise. For much of that period, the team was owned and operated by an unrepentant racist and anti-Semite who a compliant Boston media oddly chose to lionize – go figure. When he died, his widow partnered with a couple of incompetent boobs named Haywood Sullivan and Buddy Leroux who tormented Sox fans for over a decade. When they mercifully departed the scene, good-baseball-man Lou Gorman took over and orchestrated brilliant maneuvers like shipping off 21 year old Hall of Famer-to-be Jeff Bagwell in exchange for one month of service from a middle reliever. Gorman was succeeded by Wonderboy Dan Duquette who brought in a parade of aging misanthropes who unsurprisingly failed to end the “Curse.”

With the 2002 sale of the team, the Red Sox got something that they seldom had enjoyed the previous 80 years – competent and dedicated management. Organizations win titles. The Red Sox historically had been a crappy organization; now they’re a great one. We have every reason to expect we won’t have to wait 86 years until the next championship.

2) SELF CONGRATULATIONS – On April 29 I wrote, “One of the reasons I started this blog was to go out on a limb with some of my thoughts and be praised for the ones that are prescient and accountable for the ones that are irretrievably boneheaded. Okay Red Sox, I’m going out there with you now: I think this team will be one of historical significance, one of the best ever. Please, please, please - don’t make me look dumb.”

I thought they would win 118 games. That didn’t happen because the team got sidetracked first by a Pedro soap opera that started the day after I wrote that piece and then by the protracted Nomar nightmare. It’s hard to imagine, but for three whole months this great team played .500 ball. But…How does an unprecedented 8 game post-season winning streak sound? And being the first team in baseball to overcome a 3-0 deficit should certainly qualify as historically significant, no? Okay, I didn’t nail it, but I was close.

3) WILL REDSOX FANS LOSE THEIR RAISON D’ETRE NOW THAT THEY’VE WON? - Gosh, that whole line of questioning is just so damn stupid I can hardly stand writing about it. Look, I’ve been a Celtics fan my whole 37 year long life. For the first half of that life, the Celtics enjoyed moderate success (8 championships). Rooting for the winner Celtics was great and let me assure you, it beat the hell out of rooting for the heart-breaking loser Red Sox. The suggestion that the narrative has ended is just plain dumb. The Yankees have won something like 106 titles and it still seems like their fans show up and care. The city’s passion for the Sox will only increase because of this title – I guarantee it.

4) THE CARDINALS – You know, I had a comprehensive piece written before the Series detailing why the Sox would win. The takeaway wasn’t that they were destiny’s children and that it was meant to be or any other Shaughnessy/Gammons style nonsense, but that the Sox were the better team and matched up exceptionally well against the Cardinals.

The Cardinals hadn’t faced a lineup like the Sox’ all year. For my Cardinal fan readers, I bet you’d agree – this Sox lineup just keeps coming, batters 1 through 9. The Cards were by far the best offense in the N.L. and they scored fewer runs than the Sox. A lot fewer. Conversely, the Sox had seen lineups like the Cardinals’. The Yankees, the Texas Rangers, even the Baltimore Orioles, presented similar challenges; I have no doubt that the Sox pitching staff never felt intimidated or overwhelmed by the Cards’ lineup. It’s a good line-up, maybe even a great line-up, but nothing that we hadn’t seen many times.

The key to the Cards’ success was that they complemented their terrific line-up with good pitching. The problem for the Cards was that their pitchers were the type that these Sox hitters just kill. Before the Series, I saw Sox pitching significantly slowing the Cards’ offense with Cardinal pitching being unable to deal with the Sox offense. I also foresaw a sweep or 5 game victory (ask the people in my office pool who are paying me today), but if I had written anything to that effect my family and friends who had already been tormented by my “buzz-saw” piece might have killed me.

The Cards are a terrific team; they’ll be back. But the 2004 Sox, in the end, were indeed a buzz-saw.

I’ll be back a bit later with many more Sox observations. Thanks for bearing with me. Warning - before the next Sox piece, a brief word on terrorism will be issued.

Responses? Thoughts? Please email them to me at

James Frederick Dwight

Wednesday, October 27, 2004


It doesn’t seem real. There’s actually a chance that I will live long enough to witness the Red Sox win a championship. If you talk to serious Sox fans, the word they’ll use most often is “unreal.” We’re almost dealing with a failure of imagination here – the Red Sox actually winning the championship remains unimaginable to us even though it might happen some seven hours from now.

A few weeks ago I wrote that this team was a Buzz-saw and even had the audacity to compare them to the 1986 Chicago Bears. While my admiration for this team has only grown since I published that post, I now must admit I still can’t imagine the dream actually coming true. “The World Champion Boston Red Sox” – can such a thing really transpire?

I think of the pain. I think of October 25, 1986 and the early moments of the next day when the ball dribbled through Bill Buckner’s legs. I think of Bucky Dent. And I think of Red Sox players who screwed the pooch long before I was even born. This team has given me more pain than the table in my hotel room at Bandon Dunes that was apparently put there for the sole purpose of thwacking the shins of unsuspecting guests as they stumble to the bathroom in the middle of the night.

And yet, I persevered (both with the Red Sox and to get to the bathroom at Bandon). Lots of Sox fans dropped out. It’s true – many of my friends vowed to never be hurt again like they were in 1986 and actually got lives. But here I am, ready to enjoy the ultimate moment of redemption.

But what if it’s all a tease? What if the epic collapse of 2004 surpasses 1986 by several magnitudes? It can’t be; it mustn’t.

This is our time. Am I nervous? Yes. I have to be. In my heart of hearts, I KNOW the Sox will blow this series, probably in four consecutive 16 inning fiascos.

But in my head, I know what I wrote three weeks ago was correct: This team is a buzz-saw. And, at last, our time has come.

Tonight, maybe, my heart will be able to come to know what my head has known all along. COME ON SOX – NOW IS THE TIME!

Responses? Thoughts? Please email them to me at

James Frederick Dwight


President Lincoln comes before us seeking re-election. As future tennis great John McEnroe will some day say, you cannot be serious.

Can anyone really say that the country is in better shape now than it was in 1860? In 1860, we were at peace. And we were one country, not half a country and a fledgling country-wannabe. And how many war dead were there before Lincoln came to office? How does zero sound. Now there are literally hundreds of thousands dead and the carnage shows no signs of abating.

How about the economy? Well, I don’t know for sure because it seems like history books don’t talk much about the GNP and all, dwarfed as they are by the day’s big issue (you know, the War), but I bet it sucks. I’m sure the economy hasn’t been helped by the way Lincoln has pissed of our European allies who are desperate to remain neutral in the colonial squabble. And I’m quite confident that the only thing that has prevented President Lincoln from cutting the income tax for his rich friends is that the income tax won’t come down the pike for another 40 years or so.

George McClellan has a plan. Besides, he knows the President is a baboon who talks to God and has the audacity to consider himself an instrument of the Lord. What is McClellan’s plan? No one really knows for sure but everyone knows that when a bright guy like McClellan has a plan, it’s going to be freakin’ good one.

In summation: 1860 – country united, at peace, economy strong. 1864 – country divided, at war, economy in the crapper. How could anyone think this President deserves re-election?

Responses? Thoughts? Please email them to me at

James Frederick Dwight


As many of you know, the Sage of Provincetown ended the suspense that had gripped the nation a fortnight ago and at long last made his endorsement for President. With a neutral like Andrew Sullivan deciding to enter the fray, a lot of you have been moved to write to me suggesting that I too select a candidate.

Like Andrew Sullivan, it wasn’t easy for me to decide who to endorse. As you all know, I’ve been tortured – tortured – by this question and have made a virtual fetish of hewing to an analytical neutrality throughout the campaign season. While some of you really close readers out there may have detected a pro-Bush bias on these pages, I assure you I have been objectively sifting the data for several months now.

Much of my research has led me to websites like the Daily Kos, Talking Points Memo, that site run by that thoughtful young Harvard grad Matthew Yglesias, and of course Sullivan’s Daily Dish. I have also made a point of watching at least one Kerry or Edwards speech a week for the past two months.

I have found much of the stuff I’ve seen persuasive, surprisingly persuasive. It may have taken me a few months, but I’ve come around. I now know that George W. Bush is a very bad man, maybe even the anti-Christ. He hates homosexuals unless they’re related to the Vice-President. He gladly sacrifices American soldiers to make Halliburton a few bucks. He’s a stupid man, although oddly adept at global conquest for a dunderhead. And, of course, he’s most eager to sell out the American agenda to a bunch of neo-con Jews. This he does while setting Christian zealots like John Ashcroft loose upon the land to ensure that The Ten Commandments is posted in every court and a nativity scene is present on every city green, even in July.

But still, I support President Bush and I encourage you to do the same. Why do I support Bush, knowing what I do? Because I, too, am evil. A while ago Al Gore called me a Digital Brownshirt, and boy did he have that right. While it would be difficult for me to be an actual Nazi being Jewish and all, I gladly consider myself at least a metaphorical Nazi. I hate all that is good and holy.

That’s why I support George W. Bush and so desperately fear his opponent, the remarkably decent, honorable, honest, and self-less John Kerry. Unlike the blood-thirsty Bush, Kerry would never harm anyone except terrorists, ‘Charlie’ and the occasional goose. If such a remarkably decent and noble man were to win the Presidency, all the evil we’ve accomplished the past few years will be undone.

So vote for Bush. Please. Don’t let the nightmare die.

Responses? Thoughts? Please email them to me at

James Frederick Dwight


The voting is done in the virtual Dixville Notch that is Slate Magazine and it wasn’t even close. Kerry beat Bush somewhat handily garnering 45 of the Slatesters’ votes compared to Bush’s 4. That’s right, you didn’t miss-read – the final tally was 45 - 4 (with 3 Slate staffers picking either Nader or that Libertarian moonbat to prove just how damn bright and independent they are).

Actually, I don’t think it was really as close as the 45 – 4 score indicates since two of the four misbegotten Bush voters were an intern and a copy editor. While I admire the pluck that both of these individuals apparently possess being so willing to buck their intellectual betters and all, you have to wonder about their inclusion in the poll. An intern? One must wonder why the receptionist and the janitor didn’t get to vote.

But here’s the best part of the poll. You have to go all the way down to the bottom to read Slate contributor Robert Wright’s pithy assessment of the contest and why he’s picking Kerry: “He's a long way from being the Messiah, but at least he's not the anti-Christ.”

And there you have it. Of course Wright’s not voting for Bush – Bush is the anti-Christ. What I find most amazing about this sentiment is that Wright feels comfortable enough not just to say it out loud but to publish it where Slate’s dozens of readers can read it. Such a sentiment isn’t just a trifle over the top; it’s offensive to anyone who plans for voting on Bush since it says in effect, “You’re so dumb you’re voting for the anti-Christ.”

If you live a remotely normal life, you would never give voice to such an opinion. If you hang around with at least a few people who support the other candidate, you try to be at least respectful enough to not refer to their guy as the anti-Christ.

But at Slate, the only people supporting the other guy are copy editors and interns. Who needs to be respectful of them?

Responses? Thoughts? Please email them to me at

James Frederick Dwight

Tuesday, October 26, 2004


Some smart people are trying to reconcile some seemingly contradictory facts:

1) George W. Bush is without a doubt the best friend Israel has ever had in the White House; and

2) The Democratic Party serves as a hospitable host to Jew-baiters like Fritz Hollings and Michael Moore as well as “former” outspoken anti-Semites like “Reverend” (If he can call himself “Reverend,” I’m going to start calling myself “Admiral”) Al Sharpton; and

3) The Republican Party has purged itself of comparable embarrassments like Pat Buchanan and David Duke; but

4) 80% of American Jews are going to vote for the Democratic nominee next week.

Joel Engel writing for The Weekly Standard today (a cap tip to the Galley Slaves) provides a lot of insight into why this is happening. His thesis, which I endorse whole-heartedly: American Jews are tribal Democrats. Just like born and bred Bostonians reflexively root for the Sox, American Jews tend to reflexively vote for Democrats.

Engel’s piece is a great one, and if the subject interests you I strongly encourage you to follow the link. I have only one thing of interest to add regarding the strange voting patterns of my co-religionists:

Many American Jews don’t care about “Jewish” issues like Israel. For those who do, there’s an obtuseness that is best illustrated by looking at Abraham Foxman’s Anti-Defamation League.

The ADL purports to be dedicated to specifically Jewish concerns. Now, speaking as a Jew, it seems obvious to me that there’s one Jewish issue that’s paramount – the survival of the Israeli people. Israel is surrounded by 300 million hostiles who are pledged to her destruction and are on the verge of acquiring nuclear weaponry. In the Middle East, fear of another Jewish Holocaust isn’t akin to the hysterical reaction that the ADL and its cohorts had for Mel Gibson’s “The Passion.” For Israelis, the threat is real and a disturbing fact on the ground.

But the ADL virtually ignores the Middle East, at least when compared to the virulence it has for Mel Gibson. The ADL gives the three Nazis in Idaho a lot more attention than Hamas. Literally.

The problem is, from my perspective, the ADL reflects its American support base. A lot of my friends feel that those three Idaho Nazis pose a grave threat. A ton of them thought “The Passion” would practically trigger pogroms throughout the heartland. I’m not kidding; a rabbi I know wrote an essay regarding “The Passion” that would have left you believing that American Christians are a just a provocative movie away from morphing into saber wielding Cossacks looking for Jewish women to plunder and cattle to rape. Mind you, this all goes on while our putative allies in the Democratic Party are coining a new code word to signal filthy Jew – “neo-con.”

Without reason, a lot of Jews distrust Christian America. And there are no Christians they distrust more than the Evangelicals and the Born-agains who wear their faith on their sleeve. Why is this so? It probably has something to do with the scars left from the Holocaust, but ultimately I have no idea. Make no mistake, though - it’s real. Believe me, the presence of a man in the White House who talks to God and has a relationship with Jesus alarms American Jews.

Now of course this is all very, very stupid. What should alarm American Jews are the terrorists who want to kill all Jews and who will have little interest in stopping if they should kill the Israeli ones. What should alarm American Jews is Team Kerry’s promise this week to “lean on” Israel, whatever that means. And what especially should alarm American Jews is how the Democratic Party now winks at anti-Semitism and anti-Semites rather than condemning both.

Maybe we’ll come around in 2008.

Responses? Thoughts? Please email them to me at

James Frederick Dwight

Monday, October 25, 2004


Some of the smart kids become doctors, some investment bankers, some lawyers, and even a few become poets. But I’m convinced that none of the smart kids become pollsters, or at least pollsters that appear on television talking about the 2004 election.

CSPAN ran one of their little panel discussions this afternoon that featured some of the glitterati from the polling world spewing their conventional wisdom that was minted around 1950 and has hardly been refreshed since then. One of the panelists said something that went like this: “Maybe 9/11 changed everything, but assuming this election is like every other election…”

He might as well have stopped the analytical train right there, because that’s where I got off. Speaking from a statistical and analytical perspective, let’s take that innocuous looking phrase “every other election.” I think all sensible people would agree that elections that took place before the widespread advent of television have virtually no relevance in terms of analyzing the 2004 contest. For instance, the Blaine/Cleveland race was surely a humdinger, but obviously America is quite different now than it was in the 1880’s.

So that leaves us with every election since 1952. Since that time, there have been 7 elections where the incumbent has sought re-election. Any analytical person would tell you that a body of data consisting of a mere seven pieces is thin gruel upon which to base an industry worth of assumptions.

And yet that’s exactly what these pollsters do. For instance, they say the undecideds will break for the challenger because it has ever been thus. But there’s never been a race where the beleaguered incumbent has been so much more personally appealing than the challenger. The only two other beleaguered incumbents, Carter and Bush 41, suffered from a certifiable charm deficit compared to their silver-tongued antagonists.

So the Bush/Kerry race is unique. Duh. 9/11 makes it unique. The combatants make it unique. The “internets” and the Iraqi war make it unique. But why should something being unique in a sample group numbering only seven come as a surprise? The past provides superficial parallels, nothing more.

So don’t look to the past for ironclad rules that can be molded into conventional wisdom. Not if you’re one of the smart kids anyway.

Responses? Thoughts? Please email them to me at

James Frederick Dwight


I had the good fortune of attending last night’s Red Sox game. Amazingly for a 37 year old who has made a point of being at his teams’ biggest games over the years, it was my first World Series game. Oh, the things I saw.

1) THE BLEACHERS - Our seats were deep in the right field bleachers. As was the case when I reported flying coach last week, I sense your disappointment. You may have fancied me hob-nobbing with Beantown’s elite in the luxury boxes or the glass enclosed splendor of the .406 Club. Au contraire, I prefer the solid blue-collar goose-hunting values of my fellow bleacher denizens who according to my informal survey had forked over an average of $800/ticket to gain entrance to the event.

I spent my college days going to Sox games in the bleachers, but it was different then primarily because the park was usually 30-40% empty. This year the Sox sold out every game.

The extra space back then came in handy because ancient Fenway’s seats were built on the assumption that the average occupant would be pygmy-sized like the typical early 20th century man. (Actually, like all the mythical rubbish surrounding the Sox and the “Curse of the Bambino” that’s a patently false trope. Until the late 1970’s, Fenway’s bleacher seats were just wood benches. Individual seats weren’t installed until around 1980.) Anyway, for those who have only known the comfort of the modern day sporting palace, the accommodations at Fenway would be unrecognizably tight and uncomfortable.

Also, in the bleachers, you’re a million miles from the action. But there’s an offsetting aspect to that. The situation is analogous to having seats behind the stage at a Springsteen concert. 98% of the concert is naturally directed at the 98% of the people sitting in front of the stage. But the 2% that is directed at you when you’re sitting behind the stage is thrilling.

Sitting in the bleachers, there’s the occasional special moment when you’re right THERE. Last night, when Schilling came out our way to do his warm-ups, the excitement and emotion were incredible. Similarly, when closer extraordinaire Keith Foulke made his way out to the bullpen after the 5th inning (as is his wont), the outpouring of emotion was truly moving.

2) MUSICAL EVENT – Last night’s game wasn’t just a baseball game – it was a musical event that no doubt seismically shook the recording industry.

Before the game, there was a little concert stage set up on the centerfield grass. We all knew that could mean only one thing: One of Boston’s legendary bands would be doing a mini-set before the game. The only question was who. Would it be Aerosmith or ‘Boston’ or J. Geils?

The reality exceeded our wildest expectations. At last yielding to public demand, The Standells staged a mini-reunion right there on Fenway’s hallowed lawn before a World Series Game. What, you never heard of The Standells? The one-hit wonders from the 1960’s who sang “Dirty Water”, the tune that has become such a signature at Boston sporting events the past decade?

Here’s the amazing part. The Standells are now three doughy looking 60 year old men, but they sounded great. They didn’t look so hot, though.

3) But The Standells were hardly the only musical highlight of the evening. Pulling out all the stops, Red Sox management arranged for James Taylor to sing the National Anthem

So how did he do? Let me put it this way. If you always fancied Francis Scott Key a sentimental singer/song-writer whose signature tune has been sullied with undue bombast the past two centuries, last night was your night. Accompanying himself with his trademark acoustic guitar, Taylor sang the most sensitive version of “The Star Spangled Banner” I’ve ever heard. In other words, ick.

4) EL GUAPO - In the late ‘90’s and early years of this decade, the Red Sox had a reliever named Rich Garces who became a beloved local hero primarily because of his odd physical dimensions – Garces was about 5’8” tall and 6’ wide. He weighed over 300 lbs. The Latino Garces became known as El Guapo for reasons no one quite understands.

Fenway’s bleachers currently serve as host to a colorful local denizen also known as El Guapo because of his striking physical resemblance to Garces. This El Guapo doesn’t pitch for the Red Sox; instead he runs around the bleachers waving a Dominican Republic flag joyfully playing shout and response games with his fellow bleacher patrons.

El Guapo runs up and down the bleacher steps. Every thirty seconds or so he stops and yells something like “SCHILLING!” to which the crowd responds with a spirited military style “HOO- AAHHH!” Then he’ll wave his flag. Then he’ll run a few more steps and yell “PEDRO!!!” The crowd will again dutifully respond “HOO-AAHHH!” Guapo once more waves his Dominican flag and then moves on.

This goes on all night. And it never gets old.

5) SWEET CAROLINE - If you don’t go to Sox games, you probably don’t know this. Between the top and the bottom of the 8th inning, every night, the Fenway P.A. system plays Neil Diamond’s “Sweet Caroline.” And the crowd goes nuts. We sing along to every word and even add several new ones that all loyal Fenway patrons are familiar with.

Boston’s a strange city – it gets swept into a frenzy by a Neil Diamond ballad.

6) A WORD ABOUT BASEBALL – I’ve been prohibited from making any optimistic comments or predictions along the lines of my now notorious “buzz-saw” column of a couple of weeks ago. That ties my hands a bit, because I certainly don’t have anything bad to say.

As Red Sox fans, we’ll be nervous if the Sox are up 3-0 in games and winning 9-1 in the 8th inning of Game 4. The franchise’s history dictates such “prudence.” But I think even the most jaded Sox fans now feel good about our team’s prospects.

The Red Sox are up 2-0 and a rested Pedro pitches in Game 3. Cardinal pitching has shown no ability to slow the Sox offense. Sometimes life is good.

Responses? Thoughts? Please email them to me at

James Frederick Dwight

Friday, October 22, 2004


It all reminds me of 1981.

The Celtics in 1981 hooked up with their archrival Philadelphia 76ers in the semi-finals. Larry Bird was young then – it was only his second season in the league. The previous year, the Bird-led Celtics also met the Sixers in the semi-finals, and they got killed.

The Celtics fell behind in the 1981 series 3-1. At the time, only thee teams in N.B.A. history had recovered from such a deficit. In other words, it was a death sentence not unlike the one the Red Sox had to deal with this week.

The Celtics shocked the basketball world and won games 5, 6 and 7 by a total of 5 points. Every game featured a big Celtic comeback; even in Game 7, the Celtics had to rally from a 10 point deficit with 5 minutes left in order to make possible their 1 point victory. That series was the most exciting thing I’d ever seen in sports.

Until this week. The Red Sox came back from a deeper hole and were even a little deader than the ’81 Celtics were. And while the Celtics’ comebacks in all the games were impressive, things never looked quite as grim for the Celts as they did for the Red Sox entering the 9th inning of Game 4.

But there is one difference between the ’81 Celtics and ’04 Red Sox. If you ever see Game 7 of that series on ESPN Classic, be sure to note the Celtics’ reactions as the final buzzer sounded. They went NUTS. Larry Bird, especially, lost it; Bird jumped up and down in place, almost stamping, all the while issuing a primal scream while being apparently oblivious to the hundreds of fans rushing around him. The Celtics that day celebrated like they had won a championship, even though there was more work to do. They were a young team and it came as little surprise that they were flat when the Finals began against the overmanned Houston Rockets.

But this veteran Red Sox team is different. I stayed up into the wee hours of the morning Thursday watching the Red Sox’ clubhouse celebrations and was struck by the subdued nature of the proceedings. They had just pulled off the biggest comeback in sports history, but there was still a very serious tone to things. It was almost like they wanted to party in a manner that let the world know that they understood the job wasn’t done yet.

In my controversial “buzz-saw” piece (which I now really, really regret) I did have one insightful comment. These Red Sox were assembled to win a World Series. Anything short of winning a championship means the 2004 season will have been a disappointment.

Even with the thrills of the past week and the satisfaction of thwacking the Yankees, that still holds. If there’s one team in this World Series that will just be happy to be there, it won’t be the Red Sox.

Responses? Thoughts? Please email them to me at

James Frederick Dwight


I love it when John Kerry butches up. Really, I do.

I had given him up to be some sort of effete Francophile, and then he dons the camo and kills some damn geese. What a man! I hope the mullahs were watching! That whole tableaux will make them think twice before crossing a President Kerry. This guy’s not just a Senator, he’s Dirty Fucking Harry: Go ahead, Goose - make my day.

What I especially love about such photo-ops is how they’re so obviously geared to obscure the real John Kerry. In 1988, Saturday Night Live had a memorable sketch called “Dukakis After Dark” which worked because we all just knew an exciting night for Michael Dukakis consisted of curling up with a piece of serious fiction instead of the usual policy briefing. Similarly, we knew that Ronald Reagan in his spare time liked riding horses and hanging out at his ranch, just as we know George W. Bush watches sports while eating pretzels when he’s not otherwise occupied trampling hapless third world peoples or dreaming up new ways to disenfranchise the poor.

And we’re all quite certain that a typical night at a Kerry/Heinz-Kerry mansion does not consist of the exhausted Senator stumbling home from a day of hunting and watching the local baseball nine while ordering in from Domino’s. Like I’ve said before, Kerry wouldn’t know normal if it bunked with him at a Swedish boarding school. And yet there he went yesterday partaking in that regular guy past-time of goose murder while proclaiming himself to be “giddy” over the Red Sox’ victory.

Being a carnivore and a Republican, I can’t get too worked up over the death of an innocent goose. But Senator, I beg you in the name of all that is Holy, please stay away from my Red Sox.

Responses? Thoughts? Please email them to me at

James Frederick Dwight


This probably isn’t a national story, and I bet you’ll find it interesting.

As you might have heard, here in the Hub we’re a little buzzed about the Red Sox right now. As you also probably know, we Bostonians serve host to a number of colleges. There’s a bunch of colleges that you’ve heard of like MIT and the trade-school on the Charles that styles itself the World’s Greatest University. There are also a slew of lesser known entities that have probably never crossed your mind unless you attended one of them and even then, there’s probably only a 60% chance that you’d recognize their name.

Every fall a bunch of America’s teenagers or barely post-teenagers descend on Boston to call it home for the next 9 months. Most of us here like their presence. They spend some money, give us an infusion of youthful vigor, and buy virtually any cheap crappy product our local merchants can conjure.

But sadly, on the rare occasions when our city has something worth celebrating these kids behave like a bunch of assholes. Two recent Super Bowl victories were tarnished by tens of thousands of undergrads taking to the streets of Boston and behaving like “Escape from New York” extras.

Speaking on behalf of all “townies”, we hate these displays. First, these kids have no right to use our public areas as their personal sandbox. Second, these kids aren’t Boston sports fans overcome by the emotion of a big win. Most of them aren’t even from here. For them, a Boston sports triumph has just afforded them the opportunity to indulge in some middle class wilding.

The preceding is offered just as a little context so what follows can be understood. After Wednesday’s Red Sox win, 80,000 “jubilant and mostly young fans” converged on Kenmore Square (where Fenway Park is located). There, they proceeded to behave as jubilant young people often do – like cretinous pinheads. They consumed great quantities of alcohol, turned over cars, set small fires, and even tried to scale Fenway’s hallowed Green Monster to gain entrance to the Park.

To break up the riot in the making, the police fired shots from a “non-lethal” pepper spray gun into the crowd. Tragically, one of the fired projectiles struck a 21 year old undergrad in the eye and mortally wounded her.

The local reaction to this incident has been, to my mind, astonishing. As you know, Massachusetts is a pretty left-of-center place and Boston has been ground-zero for mush-minded liberalism for decades now. I’m not being partisan here, just descriptive. So you’d expect the city’s reaction to this tragedy would be filled with some solemn head-shaking and serious navel gazing.

Instead, several of the city’s pillars are snarling like unrepentant latter day Wyatt Earps. Mayor Thomas Menino yesterday labeled the revelers “knuckleheads” and has threatened to ban alcohol sales from the area. The city’s perennially politically correct Police Commissionerette condemned “in the harshest words possible the actions of the punks” who filled Kenmore Square.

But the most interesting reaction was the one penned by Boston Globe columnist Bryan McGrory. While describing McGrory as a local institution would overstate things, he is the Globe’s most prominent columnist and an indicator of the city’s pulse. McGrory opens his piece with this mild comment: “Here we go again with these petulant little punks stepping on a city's reputation.” McGrory goes on to label the revelers “morons” and later promotes the “punks” to “spoiled punks.”

Amazingly, at no point in his column does McGrory yield to the temptation to throw in a lip-service paragraph about how bad he feels about this. He never calls the death a “tragedy.” Tellingly, he doesn’t spend a word lamenting the woman’s demise. His sole reference to her comes when he reports, “A 21-year-old woman (was) accidentally killed by police in the mayhem following the Red Sox pennant victory.”

The Globe’s editorial on the subject, of course, takes the opposite tack and offers a slew of the old tired clichés in its tedious finger-wagging manner: “Self-restraint is the key to a successful celebration. And that applies equally to students, business owners, and police.” While I have trouble seeing how an increase in business owners’ self restraint would have made much of a difference Thursday morning, there’s always a lot in the Globe editorials that goes over my head.

But this time, the Globe isn’t setting the tone but instead finds itself to be an outlier. I think all people of good-will would agree that it’s a tragedy that this girl died. Whatever she was doing, she didn’t deserve such a cruel fate.

But the city of Boston, the Globe editorial board notwithstanding, seems to have a rare moment of consensus here. This is a great time for our city and we expect the student population to behave. And our sadness over this poor woman’s death is far outpaced by our fury at the “morons”, “punks”, and “knuckleheads” who continue to abuse our city’s goodwill.

Responses? Thoughts? Please email them to me at

James Frederick Dwight

Thursday, October 21, 2004


I’ve been trying all morning to compose myself enough to make a coherent post on the Red Sox but have been unable to do so. What follows is choppy and a bit rambling. For those of you who turn to this site for political commentary, I promise to embed a couple of nasty and practically irrelevant slams at Senator Kerry in this piece.

Some things that stand out:

1) THE MANAGER – It is a Red Sox manager’s fate to be constantly maligned. For Terry (“Tito”) Francona, things have been no different. Francona hasn’t helped his cause by looking a little silly. Until the weather cooled, he managed most games in a pull-over sweatshirt thing that looked like it was a Dr. Denton’s pajama top. He also routinely stuffs his mouth with a piece of chaw that’s bigger than a beach ball. And some of his strategy choices, like those of all managers, have been debatable.

But Tito does a lot right. How easy would it have been for this team to pack it in after falling down 3-0? It seems like virtually every team in baseball history that found itself in such a circumstance did exactly that.

Tito’s biggest strengths come in the leadership department. He’s the leader of this team and this team has unusual quantities of unity and sense of purpose. Does the manager not deserve a fair amount of credit for that?

2) THE MEDIA – The Boston sports media is justly renowned for its negativity. Several years ago Red Sox infielder John Valentin put it perfectly when he said, “All we hear is crash, flop, Bambino.” But now we’ve entered a Bizarro World where the Boston media is now cheerleading and the New York media is now the omnivorous predator cruelly devouring its hapless prey.

Speaking of the New York media, I’ve spent the past 90 minutes on line happily reading the New York papers’ coverage of the Series. A correspondent wrote in to say that the NY media’s response to Game 7 reminds him of the scenes in the movie “Ghost” where all the ghouls rise up and surround the bad people and then drag them off to what promises to be a most unpleasant after-life. To a Sox fan, that’s a most fitting analogy all the way around.

It should be a fun off-season in the Bronx. Sort of like the past 86 off-seasons here in the Hub.

3) THE YANKEES – I’m a Boston Celtics fan so I consider myself something of an authority on the topic of fallen dynasties. Last night the Yankees neatly emulated the pathos that have characterized the Celtics organization for the past two decades.

Bucky Dent throwing out the first ball? Are you kidding me? How classless was that, and how sadly pathetic. Unfortunately for the Yankees, events of a generation ago had nothing to do with the goings-on on the field last night.

In recent years, the Celtics have made a fetish of having all their legends from years past show up at the games and wave to the crowd and associate themselves with the franchise. Unfortunately, the guys currently doing the playing for the Celtics have only similar looking uniforms in common with their illustrious predecessors. The Celtics were running on fumes 15 years ago yet management figured, “Hey, we’re the Celtics and things will work out.”

Things only work out if you have the best team and the Yankees most assuredly do not have a championship outfit right now. They have a bunch of good players but only Jeter and maybe Matsui are champions. The Yankees’ 2004 campaign will be remembered by that pathetic slap delivered by their overpaid third baseman.

The question remaining is whether that will be the Yankees’ defining moment just for 2004, or for an entire generation.

4) THE RED SOX – God, we love this team. They’re such a great group – noble, scrappy and really, really good. We so want them to win, I really doubt if even normal sports fans can understand the fondness this team’s fans have for their heroes.

5) SOX FANS – But to be a Red Sox fan is to always anticipate disaster. I received several emails from Sox fans saying how they were nervous in the 9th inning when Timlin gave up that lead-off single. I was also. Until all these demons are put to rest once and for all with a World Series victory, such nerves will be our fate.

But last night helped. Yes indeed, it helped.

PS – A quick Kerry prediction: Every local Red Sox fan knows that Senator Kerry is indifferent to the plight of the Red Sox. That’s fine – some of my best friends aren’t Red Sox fans. But watch as the chronically disingenuous and front running Senator adopts the die hard Sox fan pose the next ten days. Mark my words.

Responses? Thoughts? Please email them to me at

James Frederick Dwight

Wednesday, October 20, 2004


A few semi-formed/half baked thoughts while I try to kill time until 8:09 p.m. arrives:

1) ANDREW SULLIVAN - Like a lot of you, I used to read Andrew Sullivan all the time. Now, I pop in only on the occasional basis to receive the Sage of Provincetown’s oft-repetitive nuggets of wisdom. But imagine my surprise when I read today, “I'm still working on my own (Presidential) endorsement. I was planning on just abstaining. But that's a cop-out.”

Oh Andrew, you tease – who ever will it be? The suspense is just killing me.

But, inspired as I am by Sullivan’s brave refusal to cop-out, I too figure it is my duty to offer a presidential endorsement. So for the next few days I will be carefully scrutinizing the combatants trying to determine which is worthier of the official Soxblog seal of approval. Can you stand the suspense?

2) The ever insightful Soxblog Brother wonders why no one has compared the blood on Curt Schilling’s uniform to the blood on Robert Redford’s uniform in “The Natural.” If you’ve seen the movie, I bet you just slapped your head.

Of course, Roy Hobbs’ bleeding was indicative of a life threatening condition, while Schilling’s bleeding was indicative of a really sore heel. But, as a counterpoint, it should be noted that Curt Schilling is a real person while the celluloid Roy Hobbs was a Bernard Malamud/Barry Levinson/Robert Redford generated fantasy.

3) If the nearly impossible occurs and the Red Sox win tonight, Schilling’s performance will be remembered as one of the greatest in sports history. I honestly can’t remember an injured player performing so bravely and heroically in such huge circumstances. The only one that leaps to mind is Kirk Gibson in 1988 but that was only one at-bat.

4) Not to spoil the mood, but I find it very annoying that Pedro Martinez didn’t travel with the team to New York and wasn’t there last night. This kind of shit was okay when he was the best pitcher in baseball but now that he’s just another good pitcher? No way. Actually, this kind of shit was never okay, it was just that he was once so good it was worth tolerating. Something tells me one of the happy moments of this post-season for the Red Sox organization will be when it can wish Pedro luck in all his future endeavors and urge him to not let the door hit his ass on the way out.

5) We’ll get back to intensive political coverage in the next day or so. It’s just that right now I don’t have a whole lot to say. Kerry’s naked ambition makes him at times quite loathsome. For a Massachusetts voter, this is not a new story. In terms of the horserace, it’s close, distressingly close. I’m confident of a Bush victory but I think my confidence derives from the fact that I’m like Hugh Hewitt in that I simply can’t imagine Americans choosing John Kerry as their President knowing everything they know about him.

I used that logic once before. Does anyone else remember President Dole?

That’s all for now – Go Sox!

Responses? Thoughts? Please email them to me at

James Frederick Dwight


Here’s what it is to be a Red Sox fan: Last night while Tony Clarke was at the plate in the bottom of the 9th, I began to categorize where this loss will rank in the pantheon of Red Sox disasters after Clarke hits his homerun. Worse than Bucky Dent? Definitely. Worse than Aaron Boone? No question. Worse than Buckner? A dead heat.

Last night Mrs. Soxblog and I were making it back from Oregon. Our connecting flight from Denver took off at 8:10 E.S.T. and we were due to land in Boston at 11:59 p.m. While I joked that this schedule meant we were likely to miss the first five innings, I knew I would probably miss the whole game.

As we boarded, the pilot made an unexpected but most welcome announcement. Due to popular demand, he would find the Red Sox game on the radio and put it on the audio “entertainment” system on channel 9. He told us that we would keep losing the signal and he’d have to find a new station when the signal was lost, but it would definitely be better than nothing.

My mind zipped back to the last day of the 1978 baseball season when the Red Sox were trailing the Yankees by one game. If the Sox won that day and the Yankees lost, the two teams would meet in a one game playoff the following day.

My family was driving back to Boston after spending the weekend in New Jersey visiting my cousins (who shift their loyalties back and forth between the Mets and the Yankees depending on which team is doing better at a particular time). During the trip my father frantically punched up the games on the radio, having to switch stations every 20 minutes or so as we would lose the signal. The games both turned out well, and if you don’t know the name of the Cleveland Indians pitcher who defeated the Yankees that day you’re not much of a Sox fan. (The next day’s playoff game, alas, turned out a little worse.)

One of the memories that’s seared – seared – in my mind from that day is how my brother and I would repeatedly whine from the backseat, “Change the station!” or, “Don’t change it yet!” or, “The signal’s getting stronger,” or, “I can’t hear a THING!” Last night, the pilot had a cabin full of grown-ups acting that way. It was an interesting trip.

But it worked out really well. I got to hear almost the whole game. The only glitch was that we landed half way through the top of the 9th. We figured we’d race into one of the airport bars and catch the end of the game, but this being Boston all the bars were closed. As we got to the luggage carousel thingie, I frantically searched for anything that would allow me to watch the game’s conclusion. Nothing.

So I called my father and asked him to give me a pitch by pitch account of the proceedings. And he said no! The betrayal!!! He called me this morning to sell me on the notion that his girlfriend was sleeping and that other people in his house were similarly engaged, but I ain’t buying.

Deliverance, however, was soon found. I spied several people flocking to the lost luggage claim area. The workers there had set up a rabbit eared TV where they had been watching the game. Suddenly they were joined by 30 die-hards who had just landed from Denver.

Again, if you’re not a Red Sox fan, you probably can't imagine how torturous games like last night's are. Believe me, when Tony Clarke stepped in as the winning run, we were all sure that he would hit a three run homer. See, it would have been perfect. Tony Clarke played for the Red Sox a couple of years ago. While the media perpetually lauded his no doubt impressive personal nature, to call his Red Sox on field performance “shit-on-a-stick” would dramatically overstate his effectiveness. So the Sox wisely got rid of him. Now he was going to come back and crush us.

And then, when Clarke received his second strike, announcer Joe Buck told the audience that the Red Sox were now “one strike away” from forcing a deciding Game 7, 30 strangers and I groaned and cursed in the baggage claim area. In Red Sox Nation the phrase “one strike away” evokes powerful memories of 1986 and only 1986.

But this isn’t 1986, or at least not yet. Last night we had something that we don’t often have in Red Sox Nation – a happy ending. So what will happen tonight? I really don’t know. But if you ask any Red Sox fan whether or not, in his heart of hearts, he expects Derek Lowe to lead the Sox to the promised land this evening, if he says yes he’s lying.

A BRIEF WORD ABOUT A-ROD – What an embarrassment, the way he slapped at that ball. He looked like a little school-girl. Nay, he looked like a French little school-girl. When he goes into Cooperstown, I doubt the clip of last night’s rule breaking Nathan Lane-in-“The-Birdcage” impersonation will be highlighted.

Responses? Thoughts? Please email them to me at

James Frederick Dwight


We’re back to regular blogging today. I appreciate your patience these last few days. I’ve also fallen behind on email responses. One again, sorry and thanks for your patience. A few random thoughts that have arisen the last few days:

1) The Bandon Dunes Resort had two CNN’s but no FoxNews. This seems to be common in a lot of hotels, even though Fox enjoys something like three times the viewership of its turgid rival.

So, for my news fixes for most of the past week I’ve been at the tender mercies of the CNN operations. If you’ve grown accustomed to Fox over the past several years, you may have forgotten how pronounced and often silly CNN’s biases are. A report on cargo inspections is followed by Lou Dobbs solemnly intoning, “And this is three years after 9/11,” and then shaking that dignified gray head of his in a resigned and rueful manner. Meanwhile, a scroll at the bottom of the screen blares, “I’LL PICK SADDAM!” with the explanation that the speaker is an “ordinary” Iraqi being asked to choose between Saddam Hussein and George W. Bush. One Iraqi expresses this sentiment, and it apparently qualifies as CNN-worthy news.

I’m not saying Fox isn’t biased; Fox’s biases are just a lot more to my liking. But Fox also expresses its biases a little more smartly. Make that a lot more smartly.

2) A few readers wrote in following Monday’s post saying that Mary Cheney is “fair game” because she is her father’s campaign manager and that fact somehow puts her into play.

Whoa! Hold the phones! Fair game for what? Are you telling me she was being attacked in some way? I was assured by both John Kerry and John Edwards that they were complimenting all relevant Cheneys by mentioning the younger Cheney’s sexual proclivities. Are you telling me now that this was somehow a broadside at Republican hypocrisy or something? If so, that would mean the Senators lied about their reasons for mentioning Mary! I’m stunned!!!

As is so often the case, logical coherence remains tantalizingly beyond the grasp of the Kerry/Edwards campaign.

3) The Red Sox gave us some thrills, but it’s over now. The great New York Yankees will surely regain their footing in tonight’s deciding game. The Sox’ pitching staff is exhausted, and the line-up is spark-less since Johnny Damon has become a latter day Rick Miller.

So, Sox fans, let’s enjoy the last three days, for the ride surely ends tonight. (Wink-wink – the foregoing was for the superstitious J.D. – you can stop hiding under the covers now.)

See you later this morning.

Responses? Thoughts? Please email them to me at

James Frederick Dwight

Monday, October 18, 2004


When I wasn’t looking, the Kerry Magic finally came back with that Mary Cheney comment. I may have to consider not watching any future Red Sox playoff game(s).

I think a primer on the Kerry Magic is in order. I first coined the term “Kerry Magic” in response to the Senator’s summer-time proclamation that as a good Catholic he believed that life began at conception. Through a three decade long political career, the Senator had never mentioned his fealty to the fetus, yet he wanted it to be known now that he had a national stage that he sympathized with the pro-life types, especially those living in places like Missouri and Ohio and who might have had their union jobs outsourced to New Delhi during the past 4 years.

This comment was a perfect example of the Kerry Magic because it met a three pronged test:

1) It was total bullshit.
2) It was both condescending and a transparent attempt to pander; and
3) It would cause offense to those on both sides of the issue. In this case, the pro-lifers sensing the bullshitness of the comment would be offended, while the pro-choicers knowing that such a position could lead to things like Laci’s Law and threaten the moral underpinnings of abortion-on-demand were also ripped.

What Kerry and Edwards did with their Mary Cheney comments at the debate easily passed steps 1 and 2. Does anyone believe that Kerry and Edwards respect anything about Dick Cheney, the man who they just know is willing to sacrifice thousands of American lives to expand Halliburton’s bottom line? And does anyone think they have any regard for Mary Cheney, beyond appreciating her usefulness as a political tool? Of course, their salute to lesbianism also didn’t sound totally heartfelt.

On point 3, things get a little sticky. If the gay community is offended by Kerry’s comment, I haven’t noticed. But this was a particularly powerful instance of the Kerry Magic since that hardly mattered.

It didn’t matter because something far grander was offended by this strategy – the American sense of fair play. Americans respect that politics ain’t beanbag, and they don’t mind candidates tearing each other apart almost without limits. Let’s face it, for better or (more likely) for worse, you know if you enter 21st century presidential politics every inch of you will be slandered and calumnied in ways you probably couldn’t have even imagined.

But Americans have always felt, and still feel, that a politician’s family is off limits. Sometimes respecting that feeling is tough; it surely hasn’t been easy for the Bush campaign to maintain a respectful silence regarding the billionaire moonbat in the Kerry orbit, while it’s surely been equally tough for the Kerry campaign to eschew using the sensational Kitty Kelley allegations that came out this past month. Regardless, a candidate has to leave his opponent’s family alone.

Kerry ignored that unwritten rule by bringing up Mary Cheney, and in so doing re-ignited the debate about his character that his brilliant debate performances (sarcasm intended) had done much to squelch. What kind of man is this, America once again asks. Depending on who you support, your answer to that question will vary.

But it’s terrible news for Kerry that the question is once again being bandied about.

Responses? Thoughts? Please email them to me at

James Frederick Dwight

Friday, October 15, 2004


The Soxblog brother had a great idea last night, and I’m passing it on to you to see if we can get some action on it.

In two of the last three debates, the Kerry/Edwards ticket thought it appropriate to bring up Dick Cheney’s gay daughter. Especially in the last debate, the subject was an enormous non sequitur.

The smart money is the subject was “poll-tested” and Kedwards brought it up because they “knew” it would accrue to their advantage and do harm to the Bush/Cheney ticket. But that’s all speculation; it’s possible that apropos of nothing John Kerry felt he just had to mention Dick Cheney’s gay daughter and that it was a nice thing to do.

I’m proposing that we PROVE the “poll-tested” part. If it was in fact a poll-tested comment, then real people were polled about how they would feel about a politician having a gay relative or Dick Cheney having a gay relative. Pollsters somewhere asked people something along those lines.

So let’s find those people. Let’s put the word across the “internets”, see who comes forward. So I’m suggesting, Soxblog nation, that we mobililize. Let’s contact Reynolds, Geraghty, Simon, Powerline – all the huge traffic blogs and have them put a similar word out. Let’s prove that this was in fact a “poll-tested” subject.

And then let’s let America decide about John Kerry.

Responses? Thoughts? Please email them to me at

James Frederick Dwight

Thursday, October 14, 2004


For the next five days, blogging will continue but the schedule of the posts will be a little off kilter. As I write, Mrs. Soxblog and I are embarking on a journey to the Pacific Northwest to visit the golfing paradise known as Bandon Dunes. Readers who have been to Bandon and have any tips that might help me manage my downward spiraling game for the following fortnight are encouraged to contact me immediately.

While I have no intention of turning this blog into a tedious travelogue, there’s something that I have to get off my chest – my laptop. I’m writing this at 38,000 feet on my way to San Francisco, and my laptop is opened so it’s standing vertically in my lap. The keyboard is about three inches from my stomach, the screen 5 inches from my chest.

Why, you must be wondering, is he working in such an excruciatingly uncomfortable position? It’s being done out of necessity; the woman in front of me has leaned her seat all the way back, apparently unaware of the tight quarters in the coach cabin of a United Airlines 757. (For those of you who have always pictured me flying first class or better still in a private jet, I’m sorry to disappoint.)

While she might originally have been unaware of the discomfort this was causing the passenger who had the misfortune of sitting behind her, she can no longer plausibly maintain such a claim. A few minutes ago, I tapped her on the shoulder and sweetly beseeched her to move her seat-back forward “just a titch.” She wheeled around and said, “That would hurt my neck.” She then helpfully pointed out that the person next to her had his seat in a normal position and perhaps the guy sitting behind him (and next to me) wouldn’t mind switching seats with me. Curiously this gentleman did not relish the idea of spending the next 5 hours with his knees touching his chin, so here I sit. Although I can’t see the front of her, I bet anything the end of the flight will show her wearing a Kerry/Edwards t-shirt.

(My goodness, what’s going on with the world? The lunch entrée is tortellini. Two people within my earshot including the egregious seat leaner have never heard of tortellini. Huh? Is tortellini such an exotic cuisine that people haven’t heard of it? I mean, we’re not talking about sweetbreads or a cocquiáge here. And if tortellini is indeed so exotic that it’s a baffling unknown to the hayseeds on the Boston to San Francisco rout, why is United serving it?

Aaah, my break has come. Risking neck pain, the egregious seat leaner has perched forward to partake in the edible wonder that is tortellini. With my laptop now on the tray table as god intended it to be, I will attempt some sophisticated political commentary.)

I didn’t see the debate last night as you know, but I have been following the coverage pretty closely. The thing that sticks out to me is Kerry mentioning Cheney’s gay daughter and Mary Beth Cahill saying that the daughter is “fair game.” If you want a true glimpse into the real John Kerry, look no further.

If Andrew Sullivan is any indication, the gay community believes John Kerry is with them. Indeed, I think there’s little doubt that he knows many openly gay individuals and accords them respect. And, even as a conservative who has no problem with gay marriage and finds himself out of step with my President on that issue, I still can’t summon much rage at Kerry for not supporting gay marriage even though he probably favors it. Sadly, such “compromises” are part of the deal when it comes to Presidential politics.

But last night Kerry enlisted homophobia as his ally. When Edwards did the same thing, you could plausibly argue that it was an off the cuff thing or that it made sense to bring it up since, after all, he was sharing a table with Cheney. But now it’s clear –“Cheney’s daughter’s a lesbian” is a Kerry campaign talking point. In other words, a naked appeal to homophobia is part of the plan, so to speak.

And there you have it. John Kerry has once again shown himself to be a vessel of pure ambition utterly unencumbered by principles. Yesterday it was the gays who were thrown under bus. One must wonder if anyone or anything is immune from such rough treatment if it becomes Senator Kerry’s most expedient course of action.

Responses? Thoughts? Please email them to me at

James Frederick Dwight

Wednesday, October 13, 2004


(Note: This piece was written over an hour before the debate began because I had to watch the Red Sox. But I'm pretty sure it went something like this.)

Who would have thunk it?

Turns out the least watched debate was the most interesting and exciting debate in campaign history. Most Americans decided to watch the Red Sox’ historic 26-0 drubbing of the Yankees; they missed quite a show. It was an evening full of surprises.

In response to a question of how he thought most Americans were affected by the Bush economy, Senator Kerry apparently thought back to the first debate and the body language he used so successfully that the New York Times praised him by comparing him to a French mime. Kerry prefaced his answer by saying, “Most Americans feel something like this,” and then proceeded to do that mime-feeling-a-wall thing and lowering-ceiling thing for the entire two minutes. While I personally hate mimes, I have to admit it went over well. The crowd went berserk. And the moderator, objective journalist Bob Schieffer prefaced all questions of Kerry that followed by saying, “Senator, before asking you a question, may I say once again you are a remarkable man.” I don’t think the country really wants a mime for President, but the voters will have the final say.

But Kerry’s evening was marred by a major faux pas. Schieffer, in an unusually cheeky mood and ignoring the evening’s focus on domestic concerns, asked Kerry about his comment that he wanted to fight a more “sensitive” war on terror and asked Kerry if he wanted to “sit down and reason with Osama bin Laden?”

Kerry began his answer by saying he would like to do that very much, but quickly realized he was heading into dangerous territory and made an abrupt about face. “I would like to sit down with bin Laden, but only so I could kill him with my bare hands. You know I killed a lot of people in Vietnam and I would love to kill terrorists. The President doesn’t think I’m tough; he should ask ‘Charlie.’” While the display of machismo was preferable to the terrorist détente that preceded it, Kerry caused himself great harm with this answer. Look for highlights of it in Bush/Cheney commercials in the coming week.

But the biggest faux pas was committed by Bush. In response to a Kerry fusillade that essentially blamed Bush for outsourcing and seniors not getting their drugs, Bush paused a moment, scowled, and then said, “My opponent is a jerk. Really, he’s just a fucking…” and his voice trailed off.

While the Bush/Cheney minions in spin alley claimed this as a master stroke and insisted that the rest of the campaign will now focus on whether or not Kerry is in fact a jerk, I’m not so sure. I don’t think the answer was very Presidential. Also, I don’t think the President’s language was appropriate.

All in all, it was a good night for Bush. What, you say? How can I see it as a good night for Bush? I have to see it that way or I’ll feel my will to live fading away.

Responses? Thoughts? Please email them to me at

James Frederick Dwight


Like all Red Sox fans who happen to be political junkies, I find myself confronted by a dilemma - should I watch the Sox/Yankees game tonight or the debate? Here are a few of the things racing through my addled mind:

1) The Red Sox game will be cursed with the know-it-all commentary of Tim McCarver who’s often wrong and always condescending; god, he drives me nuts.

2) But the debate will be cursed with the know-it-all commentary of John Kerry. Do you think tonight he'll mention that he has a plan?

3) The repercussions from one of these events will likely be remembered for ages and could affect all of us in profound ways which we can scarcely imagine. The other is just two politicians saying the same things they’ve been saying for 9 months.

4) John Kerry’s people made it known last night that, huge Red Sox fan and ordinary guy that he purports to be, he insisted that he watch last night’s Game 1. It is hardly a coincidence that the Red Sox lost for the first time in the post-season; they have been winged by the Kerry Magic.

5) No matter what I do, I can’t have any effect on the debate. Bush may scowl, he may light up the room with his rapier wit and assorted bon mots, or he may act out the everyman fantasy of leaving his podium and popping Kerry in the nose. Regardless, my viewership and sympathies will have no impact.

6) The Red Sox, on the other hand, are bizarrely responsive to my slightest movement or comment. Last night, Mrs. Soxblog and I exited Soxblog Manor’s parlor after the 6th inning to watch the rest of the dreary proceedings in bed. From that point on, the Sox caught fire and almost completed the greatest comeback in post-season history. The evidence could hardly be clearer – the Red Sox need me watching, and watching in bed.

7) Watching the Red Sox is fun. Watching John Kerry is like passing a kidney stone. Watching George W. Bush, if your’re rooting for him, is like being unable to pass a kidney stone. A really big one. Like bowling-ball big.

Add it all up, my heart and head are telling me I should watch the Sox. I sense your disappointment – you now know there will be no post debate analysis.

Despair not. I don’t need to watch one of these stinking things to credibly analyze it. Calling on the clairvoyant skills I employ so ably for my wife’s weekly NFL office pool, I will analyze what happened at the debate before it even takes place.

The only issue is whether I’ll post it before the debate or after. Probably before, since I won’t be able to take my eyes off the Sox for a moment once the game begins.

After all, they need me.

Responses? Thoughts? Please email them to me at

James Frederick Dwight


There’s a little known law out there called the Orphan Disease Drug Act. Perhaps it’s little known because it’s one of the few laws pertaining to our health care system that actually is both sensible and salubrious.

In a nutshell, the Orphan Disease Drug Act incentivizes drug companies to develop treatments for diseases that affect a relatively small number of victims by giving the drug companies exclusive rights to those treatments for several years so they can actually turn a profit on the deal. Prior to the Act’s passage, a company would find a new treatment and then have that treatment poached by other companies so the treatment could be passed on as cheaply as possible to the suffering population. For diseases that affected millions like male pattern baldness, that was okay because the first company to develop a Rogaine still made loads of money. But for the smaller (and more serious) diseases the poaching had the predictable result of having pharmaceuticals ignore the “orphan diseases” because even if they found a good treatment, they would not be able to find a profit. Investors therefore were reluctant (to put it mildly) to support such endeavors.

Passed a little over a decade ago, the act worked as designed; new treatments were pioneered because suddenly it made economical sense for the pharmaceuticals to address these less widespread diseases. Oh sure, every now and then a Ted Kennedy would come along and talk about repealing the act because it produced the unseemly side effect of someone making money, but virtually everyone in the community of the relevant diseases agrees the act has been a good thing.

The experience of the Orphan Disease Drug Act calls up a few important things about our health care system. First, we’re better off when free market principles are present; the treatments that have developed because of the act have been, shockingly enough, pioneered because people thought they could make money. People like investors and CEOs may have good hearts, but at the end of the day, share-holders expect a return on investment.

Second, and most importantly, if you’re going to have a free market based health care system, there can be no free rides. Someone has to pay, and someone has to be paid. Even though we might like to, we can’t repeal the iron laws of economics. Privately held companies don’t have the option of pursuing unprofitable treatments; companies with no designs on making money don’t stay in business long and they have great difficulty in attracting investors.

So now comes along this brouhaha about re-importing “cheap” drugs from Canada so Americans can enjoy the same bargain basement pricing as our north of the border friends. Here’s how the current system works: Canada has socialized medicine. That means there’s only one provider, the government. The Canadian government says how much they’ll pay American companies for American drugs. (There are no prominent Canadian pharmaceutical concerns in Canada since such a company couldn’t make money.)

America has something that is much closer to a free market when it comes to health care. America’s pharmaceuticals can sell their wares here at a higher price than they can get from the Canadian government. So they have two price scales; one for what American insurers and consumers will bear and one for what the Canadian government will pay. Now, if everyone paid the Canadian price, the drug companies wouldn’t be financially viable. That would be bad; there would be no more private sector supplied medicine or medical research. Since virtually every major healthcare breakthrough the past 50 years has come because a company was looking to make money, such a development would be disastrous.

To a great extent, Canada and Canadians are free-riders (or almost free-riders) when it comes to American produced drugs. If it weren’t for the American consumer making our pharmaceuticals profitable, there would be no extra drugs for Canada to consume on the cheap.

The whole re-importation thing suggests that Americans want to pay the same low price as the Canadians. Of course we do – who wants to waste a buck? But if everyone paid that price, the drug companies would lose money, become insolvent, and eventually go out of business.

Remember what I said up top about no free rides? The iron laws of economics will assert themselves. The candidates doubtlessly understand all of this. But don’t count on either one of them saying anything that demonstrates such an understanding this evening.

Responses? Thoughts? Please email them to me at

James Frederick Dwight

Tuesday, October 12, 2004


Tonight it begins.

You know, I’ve taken a lot of crap from a lot of people because of my Red Sox related optimism. Like my President, I ain’t backing down. The Sox ARE a buzz-saw, and they will win this series.

The Red Sox have a few things going for them that usually aren’t found together. First, they’re the better team. They’ve scored a lot more runs than the Yankees and allowed far fewer.

But James, you say, it’s wins that matter, not runs. Okay then, how’s this: The Sox have won 42 of their last 54. Yes, the Yankees won more over the course of the season, but this isn’t a match-up of the June Red Sox vs. the June Yankees. It’s the October versions that are playing each other, and the October Sox are superior. Far superior.

And yet in spite of this superiority, the Red Sox are the underdog. And that’s good. It’s better to be the underdog. It’s more fun and easier to play.

And then there’s the third thing working in the Red Sox’ favor. This team was built for one purpose and that was to win a World Series. Make no mistake, if this team beats the Yankees but loses to the good but over-rated Cardinals in the World Series, the season will be a disappointment.

The Red Sox are championship driven in a way that few teams have ever been. That’s also a good thing.

So the prediction? Sox in 5.

And Bush by 6.

Responses? Thoughts? Please email them to me at

James Frederick Dwight


Franklin Roosevelt ran for re-election in 1940 promising to keep us out of the war in Europe. In 1940, the fruitless carnage of WWI was a more recent memory than the Vietnam War is today; for FDR to have run as anything other than an anti-war candidate would have been political suicide.

But for what it’s worth, we know that FDR keenly understood the dangers that Hitler and the other fascists represented. His correspondence with Churchill throughout the1930’s makes that clear, as did his eagerness to help the beleaguered English survive the Nazi onslaught. Roosevelt was ahead of his countrymen in understanding the inevitability of war, although it can’t be denied that when war came on December 7, 1941, America was in no way prepared for the battle that was “suddenly” upon it.

It’s true that if Roosevelt’s actions had been more timely and his leadership stronger, countless tragedies might have been prevented. If America had confronted Germany and Japan before they targeted us, literally millions of lives might have been saved. Of course, Roosevelt calculated that he couldn’t lead his countrymen into such a struggle and bided his time until they were ready. That time came with the attack on Pearl Harbor.

But one thing is for sure: FDR understood the perils of his times. He at least had that going for him, so when the war came he was ready even if few of his country men were.

When it comes right down to it, that’s my big fear about John Kerry – he doesn’t understand the dangers of our times. When he talks about going back to the way things were before 9/11 or returning to the halcyon days when terrorism was just a nuisance, I shudder. Before 9/11 we weren’t safe, merely comfortably ignorant. Many Americans no doubt yearn to be comfortably ignorant once more.

The problem with the Kerry world view is that America can’t afford to suffer a 21st century Pearl Harbor, or at least the kind that our enemies wish to inflict. What do you think the terrorists would like to do to us? A nuclear 9/11? How about a nuclear 9/11 multiplied by ten, a catastrophic event that would see ten of our cities being struck by a nuclear weapon. You’ve thought of it, I’ve thought of it, do you think our enemies haven’t thought of it?

I’m not trying to be a Cassandra here. A few months ago I wrote a long piece that debunked several of the myths circulating about suitcase nukes. The takeaway, for those of you wise enough to not slog through the whole boring thing, is that they’re not of much concern - not now, and not really in the future.

But our essentially undeterrable enemies are developing the abilities to murder millions. Unlike the suitcase nukes, that’s no myth. Going back to sleep as we were before 9/11 would be disastrous.

I know it and I bet you know it. The question is, does John Kerry know it?

Responses? Thoughts? Please email them to me at

James Frederick Dwight

Monday, October 11, 2004


A loyal reader from the other side of the political spectrum sent me this attachment a few hours ago. If you follow the link, you’ll see it’s a story about how Sinclair Broadcast Group is going to have all of its 62 affiliates air a harshly negative movie on John Kerry’s Vietnam era exploits. To heighten the effect, Sinclair will air this opus with no commercial interruptions. My left wing reader sent the attachment to me with the ironic heading, “Damn liberal media.” I was going to prepare a lengthy response to her, but I’ve decided to make a post out of it instead.

Here’s why we conservatives think there’s a liberal media: Most members of the media are in fact liberal. That doesn’t mean all of them are, but the vast majority of them are and many within that vast majority make few attempts to hide their biases or what attempts they do make are quite unsuccessful. In a way, that’s okay. Who cares if Dan Rather’s liberal and shows it when you can switch the channel to FoxNews?

The rise of FoxNews actually gets right to the heart of the matter. Until FoxNews came along, there was no credible escape from the liberal biases that so pervaded the Big 3 and CNN; if you were a conservative and wanted to stay a well informed citizen, there was little choice but to endure the slanted reportage of Rather and Brokaw or the asinine analyses of Lou Dobbs and Bill Schneider. Now, thanks to Fox, we conservatives can get the news with biases that are more to our liking.

Unfortunately, when it comes to newspapers, there’s no such example or at least not a prominent one. All the best newspapers in the country are left of center, and many like the New York Times are way left of center. Yes, the Wall Street Journal editorial page is hyper-right wing, but the WSJ is serious about having a Chinese Wall between opinion and journalism; as a consequence, the Journal has never found itself embarrassed by right wing Nagourneys or Bumillers. And, it must be admitted, conservative papers like the Boston Herald and New York Post just aren’t in the same class as their big-foot liberal brethren.

With the playing field left to themselves, the New York Times et. al remain the papers of record. That’s why the Times Magazine article that ignored right wing bloggers so annoyed my right wing blogging brethren. There’s no newspaper version of FoxNews that balances the Times’ bias and would be capable of delivering to us the fame and respect we so richly deserve and that was so unfairly conferred upon Kos and Wonkette. Only the Times has that kind of heft, and it bugs us.

But here’s the good news for conservatives. In the new medium of internet news services or blogging as it’s more popularly known, conservatives are ahead in the race for legitimacy and popularity. Glenn Reynolds is the Walter Cronkite of the digital era, the most trusted man in the (wired) country. (If that kind of sycophancy doesn’t get a link, I’ll eat my modem. You know, even though we’re close to the same age, I might begin calling him Uncle Glenn.)

The reason the liberal media drive us nuts is mostly historical. In the past, liberals nearly
monopolized the news industry. But now the news can also arrive via different media, with Captain Eds ably substituting for arrogant Dans. Before long, “liberal media” may well be nothing other than an anachronistic imprecation.

Responses? Thoughts? Please email them to me at

James Frederick Dwight


Yesterday the New York Times Sunday Book Review devoted much of its space to laying the wood to some of the season’s rougher political tomes. For the most part it was a bi-partisan affair. The recent hatchet job on Tom Delay, “The Hammer”, received an eviscerating at the hands of the National Review’s John Miller, while surprisingly enough “Unfit for Command” also received some harsh treatment. The reviewer of “Unfit for Command,” seemed especially outraged; she went so far as to compare the book’s author John O’Neill to an “unreliable narrator in a Nabokov novel.” Ouch!!!

But there was one exception to this debunking party. Kitty Kelley’s “The Family,” 705 pages of scurrilous accusations hurled at the Bush family, actually received a good review. You’ve heard about this book, I’m sure. Kelley’s allegations include George W. Bush snorting cocaine at Camp David and Laura Bush being a marijuana dealer in college. All her outlandish charges are made without the benefit of reliable witnesses.

You’ve also probably heard the book sucks from every reputable source that weighs in on these things. But that was before America’s paper of record, the New York Times, chimed in on the matter. Times reviewer Ted Widmer gave it a very positive review.

While Widmer concedes that Kelley “relies on hearsay, rumor and oft-recycled gossip,” he likes the book and the way it’s allegedly gripped the nation. He breathlessly reports that discussions of the book “are now filling water-cooler conversations around America.” But Widmer doesn’t duck from the unreliability of Kelley’s assertions. “All told, the book's value lies less in its tabloid tidbits and more in the sheer aggregate of its 705 pages.” In other words, the charges might be bogus, but she makes up for that by having a lot of them.

The positive review was enough to make me wonder, who is this Ted Widmer guy? Curious, I thumbed to the front of the Book Review seeking Widmer’s biography only to be informed that Widmer “directs the C. V. Starr Center for the Study of the American Experience at Washington College in Chestertown, Md.” While the Upper East Side sophisticates that make up the core Times audience are doubtlessly familiar with the C.V. Starr Center, I’m a Beantown hayseed and thus have never heard of it.

So a little more research was in order. I Googled Ted Widmer and found something else about the guy, and this time it was something I understood. From 1997 – 2000, he was a speech writer for Bill Clinton. So he’s a partisan. You would think that kernel of information might have more relevance to people trying to make sense of his bizarre review of the Kelley book than his directorship of the C.V. Starr Center.

One must ask, why did the Times not share such obviously material information with its readership? The bio the Times offers suggests you’re getting some kind of objective academic; the truth is obviously much different.

I’ve said it several times, and I’ll say it here again: I have no problem with Times being biased. I’m not excruciatingly objective myself. What bugs me is their disingenuousness and their posing as objective journalists.

As shoddy efforts like yesterday’s Widmer review continue to receive scrutiny, that pose will become increasingly difficult to maintain.

Responses? Thoughts? Please email them to me at

James Frederick Dwight