Monday, January 31, 2005


To many Americans, the Patriots have become the sports world’s most prominent symbol of excellence both on and off the field. The respect currently accorded their team shocks longtime Patriot fans. For the first 40 years of their existence, the Patriots were chaos personified, a chronic embarrassment not only for their on field stumbling but for their off-field bumbling as well. Let us now look back on the bad old days so we might better appreciate the Patriots’ current reign of glory.

1960 - The Patriots are founded by local Boston businessman Billy Sullivan. Sullivan along with his sons Patrick and Chuck will over the next generation distinguish themselves as perhaps the most inept ownership team in the history of American sport. Their reign of errors is characterized by instability, meddling, poor business decisions, and chronic mismanagement. The Pats start out playing their home games at Boston University’s tiny Nickerson Field.

1963 – The Patriots move from tiny Nickerson Field to tiny Fenway Park. In their first decade of existence, the Patriots will have no fewer than five “homes.” In spite of a mediocre 7-6 record, the Patriots enjoy a rare moment of glory when they advance to the AFL playoffs and then stun Buffalo in the semi-finals. One hopes the Sullivan family enjoyed that playoff victory – the franchise wouldn’t have another post-season triumph until 1985. Regardless, the glory of the ’63 Patriots post-season win fades quickly as San Diego squeaks by the Patriots in the AFL title game, 55-10.

1969 – The Patriots once again change their home, this time moving to Boston College’s campus in the leafy suburb of Chestnut Hill. Things continue to go poorly for the star-crossed franchise as Coach Clive Rush nearly fatally electrocutes himself at a press conference when he grabs an ungrounded microphone. Press wags joke that if there had only been a few more amps he would have gotten off easy.

1970 – The Patriots move again, this time to Harvard. The success and prestige of the Crimson does not rub off on the woebegone Patriots. They go a league worst 2-12.

1971 – The Patriots finally get a real home in bucolic Foxboro, MA called Schaefer Stadium. It’s almost like something a real franchise would have. It holds 60,000 people and has proper football stadium dimensions. But this new gridiron paradise is not without its problems. The Sullivans were perennially cash strapped so most of the funds to build the Stadium came from the Schaefer Beer Company who got naming rights in exchange. Schaefer builds the stadium on the cheap; it is widely acknowledged as the worst structure of its kind on the continent. The vast majority of the seats don’t have backs and the plumbing is notoriously fickle.

But the problems don’t end there, Foxboro is located about 25 miles from Boston and the stadium is only accessible by Route 1, a narrow 4 lane road that was not designed to accommodate a weekly onslaught of 60,000 visitors. Thus, each Patriots game for the following three decades triggers an epic traffic jam. To alleviate this problem, many fans get in the habit of beating the traffic by arriving at the Stadium’s unpaved pasture-like parking lot several hours before the game to “tailgate.” Because the New England climate is often blustery, Patriot enthusiasts spend the hours in the parking pasture imbibing their alcoholic beverage of choice to ward off the cold. As we’ll see, this tradition of inebriation is to have dire consequences for the franchise.

1973 – After six straight losing seasons with a combined record of 22-51-1, the Patriots hire Oklahoma’s Chuck Fairbanks to lead them to the Promised Land. Fairbanks turns out to be a good coach who will be bedeviled by the Patriots’ notoriously meddlesome ownership as well as the franchise’s penchant for misfortune.

1976 – Monday Night Football visits Schaefer Stadium for the first time. Things don’t go well. Over 60 inebriated fans are arrested as a virtual drunken riot breaks out in the stands. Two fans die due to heart attacks brought on by the chaos.

1976 – The Patriots make the playoffs for the first time in 13 years with an 11-3 record. They journey to Oakland where they outplay the 13-1 Raiders but lose because of a roughing-the-passer call by referee Ben Dreith that is universally acknowledged as atrocious. The Raiders go on to win the Super Bowl. The Patriots are believed by many experts to be the most talented team in the league and for the first time in their history the future looks bright.

1978 – Fed up with the Sullivan family’s constant and inept meddling, Coach Fairbanks arranges a covert deal with Colorado University to be their coach after the 1978 season concludes. The patriarch Billy Sullivan discovers the deal on the eve of the playoff bound Patriots’ final regular season game. A piqued Sullivan piously declares “You cannot serve two masters” and fires Fairbanks in the bowels of Miami’s Orange Bowl as the Patriots ready themselves for the meaningless regular season finale. To make matters even worse, the always obtuse Sullivan appoints not one but two interim head coaches to lead the Patriots that evening. The Patriots famously receive a pre-game pep talk from each head coach. Unsurprisingly, they go on to lose. After the game the players protest Fairbanks’ dismissal. Oddly sensitive to his players’ complaints, Sullivan demotes both interim head coaches and re-instates Fairbanks. Embroiled in turmoil, the Patriots play horribly in Schaefer Stadium’s first playoff game losing 31-14.

1980 – Monday Night Football returns to Schaefer Stadium. The fans are still good and drunk but try as they might they fail to match their previous record of 63 arrests. This time only 56 fans are arrested but because there aren’t adequate paddy-wagons on the scene the authorities chain them to a fence to await appropriate government transportation. This makes a memorable image duly recorded by the always kind Boston media.

1981 – Despite still being a talented team, the Patriots’ players finally succumb to the chaos swirling around them and go a league worst 2-14. And after yet another Monday Night fiasco, the league swears off returning to Schaefer Stadium for any more night games. Foxboro will not host another evening tussle until 1996.

1983 – The Sullivan family takes sole ownership of Schaefer Stadium. The ever modest Billy Sullivan re-christens the creaking edifice “Sullivan Stadium.”

1985 – The Patriots have the greatest year in franchise history up to that point. They make the playoffs and win their first round game against the slightly favored Jets. In the second round, the Patriots stun the heavily favored Raiders. The end of this game is marred by Patriots ownership scion Patrick Sullivan rushing up to Oakland Raiders Matt Millen and Howie Long to taunt them over their defeat. Long and Millen are not amused and proceed to pummel the scrawny executive. It requires the efforts of several oddly reluctant Patriots to rescue their erstwhile general manager.

The Patriots go on to upset the Dolphins in the conference championship and meet the juggernaut Chicago Bears in the Super Bowl. The Patriots lose 46-10 in a game that was not as close as the final score indicates.

But the humiliation was just beginning. A day after the Patriots’ historic thrashing, it is revealed that at least a dozen players have been using drugs during the season and that coach Raymond Berry has vowed to resign unless the situation is addressed. After a brief moment of glory, the Patriots instantly return to being a league-wide joke.

1987 – Finally something good happens. Looking to expand the family fortune, Chuck Sullivan, in a deal brokered by notoriously crafty boxing promoter Don King, wins the honor of promoting Michael Jackson and the Jackson Family’s “Victory Tour.” King doesn’t think much of Chuck’s negotiating ability and labels him Charlie the Tuna for his willingness to bite at anything. The tour is a disaster that bankrupts the Sullivan family. A region rejoices as it becomes clear that the Sullivans will have to sell the franchise. Victor Kiam of Remington Razor fame becomes the new Patriots owner and renames the Patriots’ home “Foxboro Stadium.”

1990 – As the team plods along in sub-mediocre fashion, off-field disaster strikes once again when several naked Patriot players verbally harass Boston Herald reporter Lisa Olson in the locker room. Kiam handles the crisis in a fashion so maladroit it calls to mind the Sullivan era. At a speaking engagement, he asks his audience what Lisa Olson and the Iraqis (then fighting America in Gulf War I) have in common. Answer: They’re both seeing a lot of Patriot missiles. This is perhaps an unwise tack for Kiam to take since his principle business, Remington Razor, sells many of its products to women. The scandal and the resulting boycott eventually do enough damage to Kiam that he has to sell the team to Robert Orthwein who intends to relocate the franchise to his St. Louis home.

1993 – To get the team ready for sale or relocation, Orthwein decides he needs a marquee coach. After being rejected by Mike Ditka and Bill Walsh, he convinces Bill Parcells to come out of retirement. Almost immediately, Parcells scares the Patriots into respectability and they stop being a joke.

1994 – Amidst speculation that the team will move to St. Louis, Boston businessman and longtime Patriot season ticket holder Robert Kraft swoops in and buys the Patriots with the express purpose of keeping them in New England. As if to reward Kraft, the team makes the playoffs for the first time since 1986. Kraft also commences several long overdue initiatives such as paving the parking lot, improving the stadium’s plumbing, and cracking down on rowdy fans. Only a short while into the Kraft reign, it actually becomes safe to take your family to a Patriots game for the first time in franchise history.

1996 – The Patriots have a fine season but tension swirls between Parcells and Kraft. Parcells is furious that Kraft will not give him complete control of the organization. In a surprise, the Patriots advance to the Super Bowl. Parcells spends all of Super Bowl week bitching about Kraft, complaining that he doesn’t give him enough control; Parcells repeatedly volunteers to the assembled media that he doesn’t think he wants to come back to New England once his contract expires after the Super Bowl. In spite of the obvious inappropriateness of Parcells’ airing of dirty laundry during Super Bowl week, the Boston media takes Parcells’ side and begins sarcastically referring to the diminutive and unathletic Kraft as “Amos Alonzo Kraft.” Given the circus atmosphere created by their coach, the Patriots play a surprisingly competitive game against the heavily favored Green Bay Packers losing 35-21. In a typically classy move, Parcells doesn’t fly back to Boston with the team. He announces his plans to leave the franchise days later.

1997 – Pete Carroll is brought in to replace Parcells. During his three year stewardship the team slips back into mediocrity. Under Carroll old time Patriot embarrassments begin to make a comeback. Most notable is an incident where a stage diving behemoth lineman virtually crushes an innocent co-ed at an Everclear concert. More embarrassingly, the stage diving lineman is cheered on by superstar quarterback Drew Bledsoe. Superstar wide receiver Terry Glenn also fills up the police blotter on occasion.

2000 – Bill Belichick is hired and given the kind of complete control of the football operation that Kraft wisely refused to give the juvenile and petulant Parcells. The Patriots go 5-11 in Belichick’s first year and the fans grow restless.

2001 – 2005 - The Patriots begin the 2001 season 0-2 with the second of those losses appearing to be disastrous as Drew Bledsoe is injured and seems lost for the season. He is replaced by unheralded 6th round draft pick Tom Brady. Brady and the Patriots go on to stun the football world by winning 14 of their next 17 games including the Super Bowl.

In the ensuing three years, the Patriots become the envy of the sports world, the very model of professionalism, poise and class. They become a dynasty. Only the far from formidable Philadelphia Eagles stand in the way of the Patriots winning their third title in four years. The local media who for decades had taken a sadistic delight in belittling the franchise now actively compete to outdo one another in an unannounced sycophancy contest. The same writer who called the team’s owner “Amos Alonzo Kraft” now refers to him as a “civic treasure.” The team which for so long had been a source of embarrassment is now an object of regional pride.

For longtime Patriot fans, the past four years hardly seem real. But if it is indeed real, it is fitting recompense for a long suffering and loyal (although often drunk) fandom.

Responses? Thoughts? Please email them to me at

James Frederick Dwight


Since Peggy Noonan has temporarily abandoned the grandiose optimist beat, I’m going to pinch-hit.

What exactly happened yesterday in Iraq? In a moment of jubilation yesterday I wrote, “The Iraqi people now have a government that they can call their own.” This was clearly an erroneous overstatement, the product of a goose bump inducing day . Alert reader JG wrote in with an appropriate correction: “Whoa, Nellie--they were electing representatives to a constitutional convention, not a government they can call their own. The government remains as it has been since the handover in June.”

So what does yesterday mean? It means the Iraqi people announced a desire to have a Democratically elected government and they braved great dangers to make this announcement. Think of it this way: What happened yesterday wasn’t even the real election but sort of a primary. That fact makes yesterday’s turnout all the more remarkable and the Iraqis’ thirst for Democracy all the more apparent.

This is no small thing. Right up until yesterday many people insisted that Democracy wasn’t right for the Middle East and that it was presumptuous of us to force our Jeffersonian notions upon other peoples. As youthful Deep Thinker Jedediah Purdy put it in his essay for the Principles Project , “Is it not reckless to take control of other people’s governments and presume to set them on the road to reason and freedom?” Or, as Peggy Noonan might have put it, perhaps the people of the Middle East prefer living in a garbage can where their leaders serve as lids keeping their passions from spilling out onto the street.

To many of us, Purdy’s and Noonan’s ideas were obvious rubbish. To use a Jeffersonian phrase, we realize it’s self evident that all men yearn to be free and that no man desires enslavement. The trick politically is granting freedom while minorities remain protected and as free as the majority. But it hardly seems debatable that the taste for freedom is universal.

And yet we’ve been having precisely that debate for the past three years. Some on the American far right and far left have gone so far as to suggest that perhaps there are people out there who prefer rape rooms, the death penalty for homosexuals and the cruel yokes provided by the Mullah Omars and Saddam Hussein’s of the world.

Yesterday that notion was put to rest, hopefully forever. It turns out that the people of Iraq are excited about having a Democracy, excited enough that they risked death to get started on it. And now, we can extrapolate: If the people of Iraq are animated by a desire for freedom and fairness, is it not logical that the people of Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Syria and Iran feel the same?

On July 4, 1776, the Constitutional Congress proclaimed Independence for the 13 American colonies. That in itself settled nothing. There were still several years of war to fight and the form of government that would be crafted by those colonies remained a great unknown. But that day remains one of history’s hallowed dates because it reflects a commitment to principles that rippled through more than two centuries and around the world.

Similarly, yesterday didn’t settle anything as far as Iraq or the rest of the Middle East is concerned. We don’t know what kind of shape the Iraqi government will take and what implications the presence of a Middle Eastern democracy will have for the surrounding dictatorships.

But January 30, 2005 may well become a hallowed date in history for the same reasons that July 4, 1776 is. A historically repressed people made a declaration of principles and showed a love of freedom. This, too, may well change the world.

Responses? Thoughts? Please email them to me at

James Frederick Dwight

Sunday, January 30, 2005

JANUARY 30, 2005

Shortly after 9/11, Donald Rumsfeld was on Meet the Press. He described the 9/11 attacks as a battle in a new war, and with stunning bluntness he asserted, “It’s a battle that we lost.” Well, today was another battle in that war and this was a battle that we won.

There has been a small coterie of people that has consistently maintained that either we will transform the Middle East and the radical Islam that its corrupt politics foments, or radical Islam will transform us. Today is a milestone in that struggle, but the struggle is far from over.

Today answers a few questions that had lingered. Until today, we wondered whether the people in that region really wanted democracy. The fact that 8 million people braved the insurgents’ savage threats surely answers that query in the positive.

We also wondered about the size and the potency of the insurgency, whether it posed enough of a menace that a national election would even be possible. In an email exchange with a friend last night, I predicted that there would be 60% turnout and that there would be 20 polling places victimized by violence. I said that would be a great success. But I also conceded the possibility that there would be a 20% turnout and that several hundred or perhaps even thousands of civilians would die trying to vote. If that happened, we would clearly be at square one, perhaps no closer to bringing democracy and freedom to Iraq than we were before the war started.

Thankfully the latter didn’t happen. The Iraqi people now have a government that they can call their own. Can anyone doubt that today is a step in the right direction?

In many respects today calls to mind July 4, 1863. On that day Union troops celebrated a great victory over Robert E. Lee at Gettysburg. After that bloody battle, the Army of Virginia was at last a spent force. And on that same day in another theatre Vicksburg fell to Ulysses S. Grant after a brilliant and patient campaign. These two battles were tremendous Union triumphs by any reckoning.

But the victories didn’t mean the war was over or the end result determined. There were several occasions over the next couple of years where the Union could easily have snatched defeat from the jaws of victory. If the Union had chosen General McClellan instead of Abraham Lincoln in 1864, things would have doubtlessly worked out another way. Or if Grant had not approved Sherman’s audacious march to the sea, the Civil War's ending may have been unrecognizable to modern eyes.

My point is that while today is a great day, it is but one victory in a war that still has no end in sight. But we can hope.

We can hope that Iraq is indeed on its way to being a free and peaceful democracy. And we can hope that when that day arrives the Iraq experience will provide a template that will help transform the kleptocracies and the tyrannies that litter this region.

Responses? Thoughts? Please email them to me at

James Frederick Dwight

Saturday, January 29, 2005


I have a deal I want to offer the MSM, left wing bloggers, and Bush haters of all shapes and sizes. If tomorrow turns out to be a great day where millions of Iraqis brave death and in effect demand that their country become a democracy, please say so. Please recognize the day for the historic event that it is. If you do, I promise there will be no “I told you so’s” from this corner.

And mind you, just because you accurately appraise the day’s events doesn’t mean you have to abandon Bush bashing, not even for a moment. I will eagerly accept something like, “This is a great day, but it would have arrived much sooner were it not for the stubbornness, stupidity and maladroit democracy of the administration.” You can still say given the sacrifices of blood and treasure it hasn’t been worth the price. Hell, so long as you all call the events of the day accurately, I don’t care if the New York Times turns the rest of the paper over to Frank Rich, Paul Krugman and Maureen Dowd in perpetuity.

But, please, please, please – get this one right. If things go well, if progress is made, just acknowledge as much. You can even append to your acknowledgement something hopelessly lame like Jedediah Purdy’s solemn lamentation, “Is it not reckless to take control of other people’s governments and presume to set them on the road to reason and freedom?”

Just be honest when the day is done about what has transpired. If 20 polling places fell under attack, give us a little context. Let us also know how many polling places did not come under attack. If some embittered Sunni sought out a friendly Western camera to vow Jihad to the end, let us also know about the hundreds of thousands of other Sunnis who decided that participating in the nascent democracy was a good idea.

Although it feels odd, I’m actually trying to help the MSM and in so doing help us all. Something big might well happen tomorrow, something wonderful and historic. It will not necessarily validate anything or everything the administration has done but if it comes off it will be huge. If things go well tomorrow, it may well be one of history’s memorable dates, a tipping point after which much that follows is different.

And better. It will truly be a shame if some important people miss it because of the animus they feel for the President and his administration.

UPDATE: The polls just closed, and there was 72% turnout with mimimal sporadic violence. The ball is now in the MSM's court. Or, to use perhaps a more appropriate cliche, the Iraqi people have given the MSM plenty of rope.

Responses? Thoughts? Please email them to me at

James Frederick Dwight

Friday, January 28, 2005


The early ‘90’s wasn’t a good time for my senior Senator. First off, he let himself completely go to seed; his once handsome Kennedy features had become almost unrecognizable beneath what seemed like several meters of flab. And as a footloose and fancy free single set loose on our great nation, he seemed to get himself into trouble on a recurring basis. Whether it was making “waitress sandwiches” in Georgetown with his fellow blubbery Senator, Christopher Dodd, serving as the opposite piece of toast or prowling the grounds of his Palm Beach Compound in the buff while the younger Kennedys engaged in various sexual hijinx, the Senator was unusually adept at turning himself into a national punch line.

But over the past decade the Senator has become strangely rehabilitated. His marriage has seemingly caused him to settle down and act his age, and politically he’s been transformed from a joke into a “liberal lion.” A decade ago the thought of Senator Kennedy giving a “major policy address” on any matter would have been farcical. He would have had as much standing to give a major policy address as Whitney Houston. But now he’s considered a leader of his party. And thus he once again has the means to be heard.

More’s the pity. Senator Kennedy’s personal life has always been characterized by a reckless narcissism that has proven injurious to others. That fact alone, however, should not disqualify the man’s political views. Good ideas should get a hearing regardless of their source and no man is a saint (although frankly most come closer than does the Senator).

The problem is that Senator Kennedy’s political life has similarly been characterized by an over-arching selfishness that seeks to glorify himself regardless of the consequences to others. This trait was on display when Kennedy opposed Jimmy Carter for the Democratic nomination in 1980 even though he famously couldn’t articulate any reason why he sought the Presidency. Such details mattered little. For Kennedy, it’s always been about Kennedy.

But in his speech yesterday, the Senator hit a new low (at least as far as his political life is concerned). First let me say this: I have as healthy a respect for the Senator’s obtuseness as any man alive. And yet I cannot believe that even he is foolish enough to believe that “the U.S. military presence has become part of the problem, not part of the solution” or that “the nations in the Middle East are independent, except for Iraq.” No, in spite of his obvious intellectual limitations, the Senator well knows that even if American troops were to vanish from Iraq tomorrow, Zarqawi would still be disinclined to beat his beheading swords into ploughshares.

But the Senator has always felt he should be prominent. After all, he’s a Kennedy. But because he’s uniquely ineloquent, he knows he won’t be noticeable if he’s saying stuff that others are saying. After all, most of his colleagues cut a more dashing and appealing figure. Actually, all of them do.

So the only way he can stand out is to say stuff no one who valued his reputation, his integrity, or his honor would say. He claims to support the troops and then contrary to all evidence says that they’re part of the problem. If anyone actually gave a shit about what Ted Kennedy thinks, this would be a profoundly harmful sentiment.

See, it’s the same old story. Ted Kennedy wants what he wants and he couldn’t care less about the consequences his actions might have for others. It’s a familiar story for longtime observers of the Senator who yesterday offered yet another embarrassing display, one that was both callow and callous.

Responses? Thoughts? Please email them to me at

James Frederick Dwight


Roger Simon had a characteristically insightful post yesterday about the current dangers in Iraq.

Roger takes on the assumption that Iraq is mired in a “hideous conflagration” as Election Day approaches. While conceding the obvious point that Iraq is a relatively dangerous place right now (at least by American standards), Simon contends the nation as a whole may well be something less than the Texas-sized Jihadi O.K. Corral that the media have been so determined to sell us. This is a valuable insight, and I just want to offer my tiny bit of amplification.

On the one hand, let’s give the media its due. 200,000 cars crossing safely over the Golden Gate Bridge on a given day doesn’t qualify as news. The San Francisco television stations are right not to lead their broadcasts each day with this noteworthy achievement. But if the day ever comes when the Golden Gate Bridge collapses, that will most definitely be news. It would be silly to deride the media’s focus on the negative if they were to lead their evening broadcasts with the bridge’s collapse on that lamentable day after ignoring the bridge’s prior successes.

But that doesn’t mean the MSM always properly calibrates its intensity. Think of it this way: In 2003, over 42,000 Americans lost their lives in traffic fatalities. That works out to an average of roughly 116 people a day. So Brian Williams or another similarly inclined news-reading haircut could begin each broadcast by solemnly intoning, “It was another bloody day on America’s highways.” On the one hand, Williams would not be mistaken in leading his newscast this way each night – facts are facts. But on the other hand, the fatalities on America’s roads each day aren’t any more newsworthy each day than is the Golden Gate Bridges’ daily non-collapse.

But the kind of inappropriate focus and negativity imagined above could never happen, right? Wrong. I know it seems like a lifetime ago, but in the summer of 2001 the MSM collectively stumbled on two new scourges that required our constant attention: Shark attacks and child abductions. It seemed like each day brought word of another mauling at the fins of a murderous shark or the snatching of an innocent American child.

Yet, by historical standards, there were no more shark attacks or child abductions in that purportedly bloody summer of 2001 than there were in any other year. In other words, what was happening wasn’t really “news.” The media just miss-calibrated the intensity of its coverage and in doing so painted a deceptive picture of what was going on. Was the deception deliberate or merely idiotic? Who’s to say? One thing is clear though: The media, both liberal and conservative, always have a bias towards creating a story. This bias is inescapable.

I believe that’s what Roger’s suggesting here. The media’s propensity for creating a story may well be causing them to exaggerate the depth of Iraq’s perils. Few of us have been to Iraq and most of the information we get from there is filtered through the media’s biases. Taking the media representations’ accuracy as a given would be a huge mistake.

I hasten to add, however, that voting in Iraq this weekend will most certainly require considerable courage, a courage that will go down in history. They say people get the kind of government they deserve; after Sunday there will be no doubt that the Iraqi people deserve freedom.

Responses? Thoughts? Please email them to me at

James Frederick Dwight

Thursday, January 27, 2005


One other thing about that Peggy Noonan column.

In it she offers the following metaphor:

“Certain authoritarians and tyrants whose leadership is illegitimate and unjust have functioned in history as--ugly imagery coming--garbage-can lids on their societies. They keep freedom from entering, it is true. But when they are removed, the garbage--the freelance terrorists, the grievance merchants, the ethnic nationalists--pops out all over. Yes, freedom is good and to be strived for. But cleaning up the garbage is not pretty. And it sometimes leaves the neighborhood in an even bigger mess than it had been.”

Leave aside for the moment the appalling nature of her analogy and that her acknowledgement of its unpleasantness doesn’t seem quite adequate. What’s even more grating is how the analogy is at odds with the facts.

As of this writing, the “garbage can lids” remain tightly in place in Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Jordan. Fine good it’s done us. Garbage can-lids that can’t contain the stinks put out by their bin Ladins, their Zawahiris and their Zarquawis aren’t getting the job done. To continue this awful metaphor for just two more sentences, when your garbage can lid is as defective at containing the crap as the Middle Eastern potentates are, it’s time to trek down to Home Depot and get some new ones. Or better yet, it’s time to upgrade to a better system like a disposal or a dumpster.

Cheesy metaphors aside, it’s rather shocking that Noonan appears to be longing for the good old days when tyrannical dictators kept a lid on things. Actually, Noonan’s off-putting longing is similar to left wing lion Ted Kennedy’s latest plea for an exit strategy. Sorry Senator, there are no exit strategies, at least not in the foreseeable future. Either we’re going to transform that part of the world, or it will transform us. I know it’s contrary to your bon vivant ways, but this struggle will require constancy and determination.

Until Mark Gerson wrote a really good speech, Noonan seemed to understand all of this.

UPDATE: Rodger at the Writing Company takes on Ms. Noonan today as well. He doesn’t think much of her latest efforts either.

Responses? Thoughts? Please email them to me at

James Frederick Dwight


Because I’m finally traveling back to Florida today, I won’t have time to say anything of substance until this evening. But in the meantime, I’ll pose a quick question: What the hell has gotten into Peggy Noonan?

In her weekly column for Opinion Journal today, Peggy revisits the subject of the Inaugural Address. You might remember that after offering the speech a mixed review on Fox News last week, she posted a column the next day telling the world that she thought it sucked. Still, she apparently felt it was important to return to the subject once more because she had something very important to add: She still thinks it sucked.

What’s strange about her reaction beyond the contradiction between her televised views and her written ones is that you would have figured this speech would have been right up her alley. Ever since 9/11 she has been perhaps the media’s most eloquent apocalyptic voice, expressing the sentiment that these are the “End Times” and that what we’re currently seeing is an epochal throw-down between Good and Evil. In other words, she hasn’t been one to eschew the big and colorful statements nor has she been inclined to minimize the global stakes at play.

And yet this speech, “The Freedom Speech(!)”, somehow struck her as a rhetorical bridge too far. Additionally, and this is important, her criticism of the speech greatly intensified as the Bill Safires of the world began singling it out as a truly historic address.

I think you can see what I’m getting at here, and I’m aware that I’m entering the realm of mostly unsupported conjecture. But it does seem as if the impulse behind Peggy’s repeated savaging of the Inaugural may well be professional jealousy.

I don’t just base this surmise on her veering sharply to the negative after the speech won raves, although it’s significant. Noonan also seems to have something of a history of professional jealousy and an inability to play well with her colleagues in the speech-writing sandbox.

Although Peggy crafted some of Reagan’s greatest speeches, undoubtedly Reagan’s most memorable phrase (“Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!”), was turned out by her colleague Peter Robinson. Thus, it raised some eyebrows (or mine anyway) when Peggy displayed some bizarre hostility to some of her former colleagues in Reagan’s tiny speech-writing office in her Reagan Funeral column several months ago. In that otherwise memorable piece, she referred to one of her former colleagues as “The Hack” (obviously Dana Rohrbacher) and another as “Haircut Boy” (obviously Robinson). Her hostility at such a solemn time was astonishing and inappropriate.

It must be quite galling for Noonan that Gerson and his team have become the acknowledged masters of the game. But her apparent pettiness on the matter is both unpleasant and off-putting.

UPDATE: An earlier version of this post referred to Noonan praising the speech on Fox News on Inaugural Day. Alert Soxblog reader (and number one fan) MK directed me to the "Hannity and Colmes" transcript from that evening where Noonan's review of the speech was decidedly mixed. I regret the error.

Responses? Thoughts? Please email them to me at

James Frederick Dwight

Wednesday, January 26, 2005


In regards to our conversation on humor in politics, an exchange during today’s Presidential press conference is telling. The President was being good naturedly challenged by a Texas based correspondent on an event during his gubernatorial reign. The reporter in question is obviously a long time sparring partner of the president; Bush had affectionately but acerbically referred to him as “my homeboy.”

The reporter was suggesting that the President’s efforts to lower Texas’ taxes went “down in flames.” As the President cut him off to respond, the press corps began to chuckle.

Bush corrected the reporter’s memory: “I don't think a billion-dollar tax relief that permanently reduced property taxes on senior citizens was ‘flames,’ but since you weren't a senior citizen, perhaps that's your definition of ‘flames’." The press corps again laughed as the reporter rejoined, “I never got my billion.”

The President’s responded good naturedly, “Yes. Because you're not a senior citizen yet. (You’re) acting like one, however…(with that) faulty memory.”

I don’t know how it translates on paper, but it was pretty funny to watch. The press corps certainly felt that way. After this last remark, the entire assemblage cracked up. I’d wager even money that a clip of this exchange will close Brit Humes’ broadcast this evening.

Now I don’t want to give my Boston based Camelot nostalgists apoplexy. I am not comparing the above noted exchange with one of those brilliant Sallinger choreographed Kennedy press conference minuets. But it was undeniably upbeat, good natured and good humored. And it’s not hard to see why a Democratic politician would never make such a joke: He would fear that it would offend his cranky old fart constituents.

But it won’t offend anyone, or it won’t offend anyone amongst the 98% of us who have a sense of humor. Unfortunately the other 2% are firmly in control of the Democratic Party.

Responses? Thoughts? Please email them to me at

James Frederick Dwight


Ted Turner has long been the battiest of billionaires. This week he was at it again.

During a convention of television luminaries Turner was lamenting his progeny CNN’s downfall at the hands of Fox. Ted did make a couple of good points. He said just because you’re popular doesn’t mean you’re right or superior. Who would differ with such wisdom, especially when it comes directly from Jane Fonda’s ex-husband?

But the insights quickly gave way to typical left wing bitterness. Lamenting CNN’s fall and Fox’s rise wasn’t enough for Turner. As is the case with his fellow billionaire crackpot George Soros, a discussion with Turner regarding his political adversaries is incomplete if he doesn’t slander those adversaries by comparing them to the Nazis. Turner pointed out that like Fox, Hitler was popular and lamented how, in a Goebells like fashion, Fox was crafting propaganda for the Bush administration.

But here’s what’s delightful about this little rhubarb: When a left wing organization is offended, it usually releases a statement chock full of hand wringing words like “disappointed”, “coarsening”, and “saddened.” This kind of self righteous scolding has become a predictable trademark of liberal rhetoric the past few decades.

But we all know Fox News is no bunch of liberals. Here is Fox News’ entire statement regarding Turner’s comments: “Ted is understandably bitter having lost his ratings, his network and now his mind – we wish him well.”

Fox’s comment is funny. It’s also effective and laceratingly accurate.

Actually this incident neatly demonstrates one of the Democratic Party’s current problems. John Kennedy was famous for the rapier wit he often displayed at his press conferences. It’s one of the reasons the electorate fell in love with him after an extremely close and hard fought election.

But since that time, with the exception of Bill Clinton, the Democratic Party has become increasingly dour and humorless. You can trace a straight line (again, with the exception of Clinton) going from Carter to Mondale to Dukakis to Gore to Kerry. Collectively these guys have the sense of humor of a stop sign. And notice that the one winner the Democrats have produced in a generation and a half actually knew how to tell a joke and how to laugh at one.

You can also see this humorless phenomenon in the Democrats’ grass roots. Take a look at the blogs. Perhaps the blogosphere’s longest running feud is between the conservative Ace of Spades and the liberal Oliver Willis. The Ace is reliably good humored; Willis seems to make a point of being shrill, self-righteous and obnoxious. Even when he is right (as he was about Armstrong Williams), he is still off-putting and unlikable.

So as national Mentoring Month winds to a close, I have another tip for my reluctant mentee (the DNC): You gotta lighten up, change the tone a bit. Disagree without being disagreeable.

And please note, installing Howard Dean as your chair probably won’t be a positive step in that direction.

Responses? Thoughts? Please email them to me at

James Frederick Dwight

Tuesday, January 25, 2005


I’m a little unclear on why the story about paid Kerry workers slashing the tires of Republican campaign vans isn’t a bigger deal. This was a deliberate attempt to suppress the vote; the acknowledged motive behind the crime was to prevent Republican inclined voters from getting to the polls.

As a little added spice to the story, not only were the miscreants paid staffers for the Kerry campaign, but one is the son of a Democratic congressman and the other is the son of the former acting mayor of Milwaukee. While it’s facile to say, “Can you imagine what a big deal it would be if Tom Delay’s son had slashed the tires of Kerry campaign vans?”, in this case such an inquiry is enlightening. Is there any doubt it would be front page news if Delay’s son had run amuck in a similar fashion? The spectacularly maladroit new head of CNN would probably run a 25 segment “story-telling” series on it.

Among the tastier tidbits of this story is how the ne’er do wells donned “Mission Impossible” type attire for their foray into felonious electoral derring-do. The image of Democratic Congressional progeny prancing about deserted parking lots in black bodysuits and mysterious shades at 3:00 a.m. is on its face just hilarious. What’s less funny is how they returned to Kerry campaign headquarters twenty minutes after the crime and bragged about their exploits and apparently no one tasked with providing adult supervision for the rambunctious Kerry youth cohort was at all concerned or bothered by their mission. I recall “who slashed the tires” was a mystery for several days if not weeks. Did no one at Kerry headquarters realize the gravity of the offense here, or did they realize it and just not care? Why didn’t they come clean? Why did we have to wait for the indictments to find out what really happened?

When you’re sublimely convinced of your moral rectitude as so many enthusiastic Kerry supporters were, one has a tendency to not give one’s conduct an appropriate amount of scrutiny. It’s funny – many Democrats have worked themselves into a lather over the bogus Ohio allegations that they surely know are (to be kind) suspect. And yet I haven’t heard a peep from any ranking Democrat or for that matter any Democrat of prominence bemoaning this very real and very criminal attempt to disenfranchise Republican voters. Some genuine concern would be welcome. Hell, at this point even a show of Clintonesque crocodile tears would be a heartening sign of progress.

Does no one on the other side of the aisle realize that things over there are beginning to get a little out hand?

DAMN THE SOXBLOG BROTHER! He suggested I give the series “24” a try. I didn’t really have any interest but it was on in the background while I was posting on the Patriots-Colts playoffs game. Listening with one ear, I got sucked in. Now I’m officially hooked. The show is diabolically clever and fiendishly addictive. It’s also pretty damn exciting. I love this show, and now I have to build my Monday nights around it lest I miss any of the precious plot-revealing hours.

I do, however, have one very small complaint. Actually, it’s not so much a complaint as it is a reality check. The Islamic terrorist villains in “24” have so far been depicted as awesomely skilled in their murderous arts. This is inaccurate. Our terrorist enemies are extremely dangerous because they are remorseless and vicious. It is our good fortune, however, that the quality of their training and their ultimate skill level is far below (very far below) that of the typical American soldier’s.

A brief anecdote in support of that notion: Shortly after 9/11 I was reading the coverage of that horrible day. I was focusing on a profile of Mohammed Atta. In this story I read that he and I had worked out at the same World Gym in south Florida. After reading this, I knew exactly who he was – Mohammed Atta was that skinny little asshole who worked out like a nut on the machines (never wiping them) and when he was done he went into the self defense class held primarily for the benefit of blue-hairs who were unduly concerned about muggers. You read that right – the killer of thousands was learning the tricks of the trade in a class intended for snow-birding grandmothers.

Again, this is not to minimize the danger posed by people of his ilk. A lack of conscience is worth a lot when it comes to murdering innocents. But in terms of how skilled the terrorists are, “24” has it wrong. Yes, a Mohammed Atta type will do well against a defenseless stewardess. But against an American soldier who learned his craft not from a judo instructor who specializes in training geriatrics but from a Drill Instructor at Fort Bragg, he will be badly outclassed.

Responses? Thoughts? Please email them to me at

James Frederick Dwight

Monday, January 24, 2005


I’ve received a few letters in the past week complaining that I just don’t understand the underlying issues of the Lawrence Summers brouhaha. I’ve responded that my lack of understanding should come as no surprise. This is a complex issue and mine is a notoriously unsubtle mind. I try to grasp complexities, but often I just can’t. If only someone, anyone, could describe the issues here in a way that even I could understand them. Oh, to dream!

It’s just too bad I’m not a professor in Ann Arbor. Lamenting Harvard’s lack of diversity efforts in today’s Boston Globe, Marcella Bombardieri reports, “The furor touched off by university president Lawrence H. Summers' remarks has thrown into stark relief the difference between what Harvard has done to address gender disparities and what a number of other major American universities have done. The University of Michigan, for example, has created skits to show professors examples of how subtle, unconscious bias can affect the hiring process.”

So, in my defense, what hope did I ever have of understanding this thing? Even professors at a great college require a “skit” to grasp what’s going on here.

If I might change the tone for a second, the Globe’s reporter complains that Harvard’s efforts stand in “stark relief” to the enlightened Michiganders’ understanding through dramatization program. I agree. Some consider that a bad thing for Harvard; I and others salute President Summers’ historic refusal to engage in such foolishness and hope he sticks to his principles.

Of course, it might be fun to imagine what one of these skits that illustrate “subtle, unconscious bias” might look like:

Department Chair: Both candidates are wonderfully qualified. There’s really little to distinguish them. Except one has breasts. We should go with the dude.

Assembled Male Professors: Harrumph, harrumph! Three cheers for the Department Chair – Huzzah! Huzzah! Huzzah!

Facilitator: STOP. Although it is subtle and many of you may have missed it, this conduct is very wrong. Can anyone tell me what the department chair has done that is subtly disrespectful of womyn and the contributions they can make to the modern campus?

Okay, the skits probably don’t look like that. But their mere existence is an affront to the senses and an embarrassment to the University of Michigan. Is this the kind of foolishness that a penitent President Summers will have Harvard engage in?

Responses? Thoughts? Please email them to me at

James Frederick Dwight


Several years ago I had a friend who played for the Boston Bruins. One Sunday afternoon the Bruins were playing the Buffalo Sabres in Game 5 of their quarter final match-up. The once favored Bruins were trailing three games to one and had to win Game 5 to extend the series. The Bruins did win that day; their next challenge was to win the sixth game on the road and force a deciding seventh game back at the Fleet Center.

About an hour after Game 5, I was walking out of the Fleet Center with my Bruin friend and one of his teammates. As we exited into the parking lot, the security guard at the door looked at the players and said “Thursday!” referring to the night the potential Game 7 would be played. He then offered the players an enthusiastic thumbs up. The players didn’t return the thumbs up; instead they derisively chuckled and almost said in unison, “Thursday, yeah – right.” As a fan, I was appalled.

As a friend, I sort of understood the sentiment if not the rudeness. These guys couldn’t wait for the season to be over so they could escape their over-bearing coach and the media jackals that made their lives miserable. Also, they were convinced they were being beaten by a superior team.

On Tuesday afternoon a few hours before Game 6 was going to begin in Buffalo, I had occasion to visit my endodontist. In addition to being an unusually cruel sadist, this guy was also a huge Bruins fan and had festooned his dungeon of dental agony with a tacky treasure trove of Bruin tscotchkes. He asked me if I were a fan; I told him yes, a pretty big one. He told me he was sure they were going to win that evening’s Game 6. I told him “Not a chance” and I would bet my root canal fee on it if he were feeling frisky. He declined my offer. Too bad – the Bruins got smoked that night and their season came to a sad close.

The point of this anecdote is that if you want a good idea of how a team is going to play, your best bet is to try to figure out what’s going on “in the room.” If the players, the staff and the franchise are determined to have a good showing, they probably will. If they’re not, they probably won’t.

And that’s what makes the millennium edition of the New England Patriots so remarkable. I don’t know anyone on the team, but I do know that this is a group that shows up with the right attitude week after week, year after year. If they’ve got more talent than the other guys (which they usually do), the other guys have their work cut out for them.

I don’t know how Bill Belichick does it. He doesn’t seem like a particularly inspiring guy. Maybe his secret is that he doesn’t pursue players who are going to need a coach’s motivational alchemy on any kind of regular basis. He gets well motivated and responsible individuals. His players are, in a word, professionals. They’re not perfect, but they always play up to their abilities. And they always give an effort that’s worthy of pros.

Which brings us, sadly, to the Steelers. The signature play of yesterday’s game will be the Rodney Harrison interception that he returned for a touchdown. The play seemed to unfold in slow motion. It unfolded in such a manner because ten of the eleven Steelers on the field gave up on the play. Only Pittsburgh’s commendable quarterback Ben Roethlisburger deigned to pursue Harrison and try to prevent the touchdown that gave the Patriots a truly insurmountable lead. If one other Steeler had joined the chase, Harrison may not have scored.

This kind of pouty non-effort is the type of thing the New England Patriots don’t do. The effort is always there. So is the talent and the stellar coaching staff. The Philadelphia Eagles may win the Super Bowl, but doing so will be a gargantuan task. They will have to play one helluva game to have any chance of beating the truly great New England Patriots.

Responses? Thoughts? Please email them to me at

James Frederick Dwight

Sunday, January 23, 2005


1) AS YOU MAY RECALL, I left the winter Soxblog Manor in Florida last Tuesday to spend a week in Boston. Not since I bought a high flying portfolio of internet stocks in the Fall of 2000 have I shown such an exquisite sense of timing. First there was the Chinese dirty bomb menace, and now there’s the blizzard of the century (yes, the century’s young, but you know what I mean).

This storm calls to mind the Blizzard of ’78, which forever scarred the Boston area. For the better part of a week following the ’78 storm, there was a state of emergency in Massachusetts and the Massachusetts citizenry wasn’t even allowed to drive. If you didn’t have food in your cupboard or your refrigerator/freezer, it was a miserable time. To make matters even worse, then Governor Dukakis was a depressing near constant presence on the local airwaves lecturing his subjects on what was safe conduct and what was not.

Because millions of New Englanders spent the aftermath of the ’78 storm caged, hungry and bored by their pedantic governor, ever since then whenever the forecast called for even a dusting of snow, the supermarkets would be jammed by citizens fearing a ’78 replay. This weekend’s storm, however, is the real deal. Thus, Mrs. Soxblog and I had to journey out to the Cambridge Whole Foods Store to stock up on provisions yesterday afternoon. Our task was doubly urgent since our northern supplies are depleted because of all the time we spend down south.

The scene at the Whole Foods Store was chaos. The line at each individual register was approximately 25 Kerry/Edwards paraphernalia sporting shoppers deep. While Mrs. Soxblog and I idled in line (actually I never truly idle; realizing the ice cream would melt before we made it out of the store, I brought it back to the freezer from whence I would reclaim it when we neared the front of the line. There is no off position on the genius switch!), I wondered aloud, “What would John Kerry do in such a situation?” The question was in reference to the Senator’s legendary habit of elevating himself to the front of the line in such situations. Many Bostonians have been scarred by such incidents. Nonetheless, Mrs. Soxblog shot me an angry glare – such views regarding their vanquished hero aren’t particularly welcome amongst the left leaning Canterbridgians.

Mere moments after this colloquy, as fate would have it, my old friend Governor Mitt Romney entered the market. To those who know Mitt, it will come as no surprise that he waited in line for his rightful turn. For this he doesn’t deserve any plaudits; you’d have to have the political sense of, well, John Kerry, to have done otherwise.

But here’s what did strike me about the Governor’s shopping trip. Mitt’s really wealthy (REALLY wealthy). He’s also the leader of 6 million people. And yet he and his wife do their own shopping during the early phases of a blizzard.

Just seems worth a mention. If I were wealthy enough to afford a flunky or two on the payroll, I sure would have utilized their services yesterday afternoon. I think it says something about Mitt that he’s different.

2) THIS ISN’T ‘L’AFFAIRE du DAN,’ BUT IT’S SOMETHING, PART II: My pals from Observing Casually post this morning about yet another “60 Minutes” scandal. Remember all those endless promos CBS did last week during the football games for the forthcoming “60 Minutes” piece about the great American born star of the English soccer league, the guy who was one of the world’s greatest and most famous athletes. Remember how the promos reproached us ignorant pork-rind munching football fans for not being aware of this native born athletic colossus? Turns out the guy was actually benched two months ago, a fact the “60 Minutes” story (not just the ads) somehow omitted!

Once again, this isn’t the biggest deal in the world but it is illustrative of a phenomenon I’ve written about many times in the past. The MSM has a narrative that it pre-ordains for any and every story. Many times it will stick to that narrative even if the actual facts stubbornly refuse to hew to the narrative’s dictates. Bush being a callow youth, Rumsfeld being uncaring, Ohio being Florida – these are a few of the narratives that the MSM refused to revise regardless of the facts on the ground.

It’s important to know that this is standard operating procedure, even for topics no one cares about like soccer.

Responses? Thoughts? Please email them to me at

James Frederick Dwight

Friday, January 21, 2005


1) ARE YOU READY FOR SOME FOOTBALL? The Patriots journey to Pittsburgh this weekend. I provided my analysis earlier in the week. For those of you who forgot what I said, let me summarize: The Pats are better, the Pats will win.

Although it’s a little hubristic given that there’s still work for the Patriots to do, I’m engaged in a furious debate at the Galley Slaves sight over where the early millennium Patriots rank among history’s greatest teams. I think they’re at the top of the list while one of the Slaves’ less informed readers feels otherwise. If you’re a football fan, check it out – the fur is flying.

2) ADVICE FOR LARRY - Larry Summers is a veteran of the Clinton White House. He was either the Secretary of the Treasury or second in command there when the Lewinsky scandal broke. In other words, the man should have at least a passing familiarity with hardball politics.

That being the case, I earnestly hope that he realizes that what’s going on right now in the musty pages of the New York Times, the schoolmarmish corridors of NOW, and the verdant confines of Harvard Yard is nothing more and nothing less than hardball politics. Therefore, the time for apologies has passed. To date President Summers has offered I believe three statements of contrition for his non-offense. Unsurprisingly, these displays of good faith have only emboldened his ideological foes.

So now is the time to go on the offense. President Summers, you’re in the right on this one. Ivy League Universities should stand as fertile ground for academic inquiry. At the very least, Harvard should not be cowed into silence whenever a particular topic purportedly offends the delicate senses of certain partisans.

You’re also right on the underlying issue of awarding faculty positions based on merit rather than other more politically correct criteria. Let’s have a debate; take it to them. You’ve been right about this issue from the start of your tenure. You still are.

3) WHAT ELSE CAN’T WOMEN DO? After she recovered from her Summers- induced case of the vapors, Professor Hopkins compared the president’s sentiments to those of our ancestors a century ago who posited that women couldn’t learn how to drive.

Of course, that notion was risible nonsense. It is today a scientifically proven fact that after great effort some women are able to learn how to drive, and a few even learn how to drive quite well. Drag racing legend Shirley Muldowney leaps to mind in that regard.

But I would be remiss if I didn’t acknowledge the following: The only woman who chauffeurs me on a semi-regular basis is the lovely Mrs. Soxblog. Based on this admittedly small sample size, I must reluctantly conclude that the century old observation is not entirely unfounded.

(Note: The foregoing is intended to be solely tongue in cheek and was an effort to lampoon Professor Hopkins’ feigned hyper sensitivity. In truth, I have the utmost respect for all who undertake the arduous task of learning how to drive, regardless of sex.)

Responses? Thoughts? Please email them to me at

James Frederick Dwight


SUSAN ESTRICH weighs in this morning on the Larry Summers controversy, doing so in her characteristically understated and subtle way. When we last encountered Estrich, she was having an Election Night meltdown on FoxNews when it was becoming apparent that the voters were stubbornly refusing to follow the dictates of their youthful exit poll overlords. Now she’s back, and the meltdown this time is in print instead of on the tube.

What’s especially remarkable about this diatribe is its pathetic ad hominem nature. Estrich starts by saying that she and Summers used to be friends when he “worked for her” during the ’88 Presidential campaign. That in itself is a revealing rhetorical tick. Whenever I was in the company of an employee and it was necessary to detail the nature of our relationship, I would refer to him as a colleague. To do otherwise, as Estrich does here, would have evidenced a great insecurity.

But then again, Estrich has much to be insecure about. She hardly distinguished herself when she ran the ‘88 Dukakis juggernaut that she refers to. Estrich took over that campaign only when John Sasso fell victim to a media swarm after he stealthily unveiled Joe Biden’s troubled relationship with plagiarism. After seizing the helm, she did such a piss poor job in the general election campaign (turning an 18 point lead over Bush into a double digit deficit) that Dukakis had to bring back the disgraced Sasso in an act of Hail Mary desperation.

Or maybe Estrich is insecure because she knows her screed has numerous factual errors and casual misrepresentations. The most noteworthy of these comes when Estrich says that in the aftermath of Summers’ controversial statement a “a number of the top women scientists in America walked out on him.” According to all the reports I’ve seen, the only one who walked out of the speech was MIT Professor Nancy Hopkins who afterwards proclaimed that had she not walked out she would have been overcome by a case of the vapors. It should be pointed out, however, that Professor Hopkins has something of a history of engaging in similar acts of political theatre. It’s no surprise that Estrich does not point this out.

In case you’re wondering what this whole controversy is all about, Estrich gives the game away: “(The) pressures of work and family… make it more difficult for some women to succeed in math and science. But there (are) fairly easy steps a university can take to accommodate the demands of family.” Singing in perfect harmony, NOW chimes in this morning also demanding President Summers’ resignation. Moreover, NOW menacingly vows that it “will be watching Harvard University. Will Harvard…promote more women in faculty positions, and step up the recruitment of women for teaching positions in math and science departments?”

Since he ascended to the Harvard presidency, Summers has been hell bent on making the Harvard faculty a meritocracy. This is not a popular plan with certain organizations for whom meritocracies are anathema. For such organizations, this “scandal” is a gotcha moment where they sense the proverbial blood in the water and the vulnerability of a long time antagonist. Just in case you might be inclined to believe that all of this professed outrage is anything other than a carefully orchestrated attempt to sack a longtime foe, it is instructive to remember that it’s taken NOW an entire week to conclude that the comments in question represent a hanging offense.

For NOW, Estrich and company, this is nothing but a power play. Then again, it almost always is.

(I’ll be back in a little bit to talk some football and probably discuss 80 hour weeks.)

Responses? Thoughts? Please email them to me at

James Frederick Dwight

Thursday, January 20, 2005


“From the perspective of a single day, including this day of dedication, the issues and questions before our country are many. From the viewpoint of centuries, the questions that come to us are narrowed and few.”

George W. Bush, January 20, 2005

There, in two sentences, is why I so admire this President. He understands that there are few things that really matter, but those that do sure matter a lot. He lives his life that way; family, God, country – everything else to him is just details. He leads his nation that way as well.

Sometimes that leads to frustration. Surely he knew No Child Left Behind was a Ted Kennedy mid-wifed abomination, and I like to believe that in his heart of hearts he realized the steel tariffs weren’t the right thing to do either.

He was willing to make such compromises because he felt they were necessary in order to best pursue the overarching goals of his administration: The defeat of Radical Islam and a global explosion in freedom that will prevent such pernicious philosophies from flourishing again.

One can disagree with the way the President has pursued these things. History may ultimately judge his chosen course was wrong, that we should never have militarily engaged in the Middle East as we have. I doubt that will be the case, but we must acknowledge it’s a possibility.

But what’s not a possibility is that George W. Bush will go down in history as a Neville Chamberlain or a Jimmy Carter, a well-intentioned but ultimately clueless bungler who completely failed to grasp the challenges of his era. George W. Bush understands the storm in which we fly, a fact he brilliantly demonstrated during a memorable Inaugural Address.

Today, even more so than most days, I am proud he is our President.

Responses? Thoughts? Please email them to me at

James Frederick Dwight


Yesterday around 4:00 p.m. I got an email from a friend telling me that Boston had become imperiled by a dirty bomb. My first reaction was to send my friend a one word response: “Shit.” My second response was to channel Lloyd Bridges from “Airplane” and say in a demented way, “It looks like I chose the wrong week to come back to Boston.”

At the Ace of Spades Headquarters yesterday afternoon, there was a brouhaha brewing in the comments section. Ace had reported the Drudge Siren regarding the dirty bomb threat, and several of his commenters proceeded to engage in gallows humor regarding the threat. These facetious comments really pissed off frequent Ace commenter and fellow blogger Son of Nixon. Located in Boston, Nixon found nothing funny about the threat and was irritated that people chose to joke about such a serious topic. So my question is, is it okay to joke about such things?

First, let’s acknowledge that Nixon makes a valid point. Joking while justifiably scared people are pooping their pants (myself included) is pretty insensitive. He or any other person at the epicenter of the threat is entitled to feel that those not similarly placed just don’t have the standing to make such jokes. It’s a similar concept to the way a Jew is entitled to make Jewish jokes but Gentiles have a far more limited license in that regard. It’s just the way it is.

But how about those of us who are in Boston with Nixon – is it okay for us to joke if we’re inclined to do so? That’s a tough one. On the one hand, no one is entitled to dictate to others how they should handle stress. But on the other hand, at such times a little sensitivity is called for.

I remember about two years ago a plane I was flying in was struck by lightning (or something else happened) and it dropped about 8,000 feet in 2 seconds (or at least it felt that way). To put it mildly, this caused some consternation in the cabin. My initial instinct after a wave of terror passed over was to belt out a couple of choruses of “Peggy Sue.” I refrained from doing so – in retrospect I’m fairly confident none of my fellow passengers would have found it amusing. My next thought was to reflect on the irony that this was one of the few flights where I actually was flying first class, and that sadly it wasn’t turning out very well. But at least I was meeting my maker with a hot towel in hand and a footrest under foot. Wisely, I kept all this snarkiness to myself. To do otherwise would have been remarkably disrespectful of those who chose to handle the stress of the situation in a different manner (like the terrified woman across the aisle who began hysterically urging the entire first class cabin to repent).

I think we have to take each situation on its own individual basis. As one who splits his time between Florida and Boston, I’m keenly aware that when I’m in Boston, I’m on the front lines of the war on terror (homeland division), or at least I am compared to the times when I’m in a West Palm Beach exurb. If you live in a major metropolitan area, you have to know that “it” could happen any time, and somewhere in America, inevitably, it probably will.

Regarding the present threat, I’m not particularly alarmed. Some guy in Mexico, an apparent “coyote”, claims four Chinese clients, apparently in a chatty mood, divulged their terror plans in great detail to him even going so far as to relay their need for some good old “nuclear oxide.” Like I said above, if you’re in Boston you’re always at risk; this latest fact doesn’t seem to elevate the baseline risk level.

In some ways, indeed many ways, it’s perhaps a good thing that episodes like this come along to periodically remind us of the stakes in the current struggle. After all, forestalling such attacks is what the War on Terror/Radical Islam is really all about. This is something many in America sometimes forget.

So, that all being said, here comes a bit of Chinese illegal immigrant dirty bomb facetiousness. Jim Geraghty wrote yesterday, “I would be surprised if terrorists decided to target Boston, particularly traveling ‘through New York.’ Why risk traveling the extra distance when you can hit the epicenter of the financial world and media world?”

Jim, that in a nutshell is the kind of crap that has given we Bostonians our inferiority complex. We’ve won the World Series, we’ve won the Super Bowl (and we’re about to win another one), and we have some really good colleges. We’re a modern day Athens, for chrissakes – why wouldn’t we be targeted?

And, on a more serious note, Jim also does a little Inaugural related pants wetting courtesy of Norman Ornstein. Norman frets, “Here is the nightmare scenario: Right at noon, a suitcase nuclear bomb goes off somewhere on the Mall — a bomb small enough to fit in a satchel but powerful enough to devastate six to ten square city blocks, or most of the area between the Capitol and the White House.”

I’ve written about this before – no such device exists (if you really are concerned about such things, follow the link – you’ll feel better). We have enough real threats to worry about without scaring ourselves silly with such rank foolishness. All concerned should know better.

Responses? Thoughts? Please email them to me at

James Frederick Dwight

Wednesday, January 19, 2005


We’ve got several loose ends to tie up before we move on to new business.

1) “NAZIS – I HATE THOSE GUYS.” - Indiana Jones.

Well, I guess Larry Summers really stepped in it. The Boston Globe devotes no less than one editorial, two opinion columns, and two articles to documenting this explosive scandal. Predictably, the least of the President’s concerns was a few conservatives looking for a gotcha moment. The politically correct Apaches are circling Massachusetts Hall as I write looking to add President Summers’ scalp to their collection. While no one has yet made one of those ridiculous calls for his resignation that are such a staple of this kind of brouhaha, certain of the more shrill types on the scandal’s periphery are bandying the “r” word about (not that it will make any difference, mind you – President Summers is going nowhere).

A special nod must be given this morning to America’s worst opinion columnist, the Globe’s Derrick Z. Jackson. Here’s Summers’ controversial statement: “Innate differences between men and women might be one reason fewer women succeed in science and math careers.” To Jackson, the temptation to casually link that comment with Nazism and racism is irresistible. “Summers's timing was also impeccable because it came amid other prominent provocations from privileged white males. Two officials of the Metro newspaper, which the Times Co., owner of the Globe, is trying to purchase a part of, did not think anything of using the N-word at official functions. Prince Harry did not think anything of wearing a Nazi uniform to a party.”

This is Jackson’s (America’s worst opinion columnist, in case you forgot) rhetorical trademark. If you don’t agree with him, you’re by definition goose-stepping with Adolf and uncoiling the hose for Bull Connor.

The uniting theme to Jackson’s column is the alleged irony that Summers made his offending comment on Martin Luther King Day Weekend. The actual irony is this: King battled real evil. There was no need for him to use irresponsible rhetoric to embellish his points. Jackson, on the other hand, is desperate to turn his Morrissey Boulevard office into a metaphorical Birmingham jail every time someone says something that runs afoul of his sensibilities. His efforts in that regard are utterly pathetic, today even more so than usual.

2) WHY DO I CARE? That’s what a lot of you have been asking in regards to the Boston Globe’s burgeoning football picks scandal. It’s a fair question. After all, it’s not exactly L’Affaire du Dan.

See, I had a gambling system that relied on the Globe’s soothsaying sportswriters. If enough of them agreed on a certain pick, I would go the other way. This method has been successful enough over the years to afford me a life of luxuriant splendor. Now I find that the whole thing has been predicated on a lie. I feel used, nay, violated.

Besides, as Bruce Allen of the invaluable Boston Sports Media Watch (who broke this story) speculates, this could be just the tip of the iceberg. Indeed. Several reliable sources have told me that on occasion Globe columnist Thomas Oliphant gets stuck in traffic making his way back from the Kennedy Family Compound on the Cape to the Globe’s downtown Morrissey Boulevard offices. On those occasions, rather than allow Oliphant to miss deadline, a thousand monkeys are chained to a thousand typewriters and within hours an “Oliphant” column emerges.

Careful Globe readers may have detected the pattern. The chimpanzee penned “Oliphant” columns are the ones that are coherent and well argued.

3) HEY JOE! Not to be blunt, but when Joe Biden is ahead of the curve that means you’re talking about one pathetic goddam curve. Quoth Joe from yesterday’s Condi related Senatorial bloviating: “I spent a little bit of time in Europe recently and I have one simple message: Get over it. Get over it. President Bush is our president for the next four years, so get over it and start to act in your interest, Europe.”

See Democrats, Biden gets it. (There, by the way, is a phrase I never thought I’d write.) Showing that politics ends at the water’s edge, losing with grace, moving on – these are the things you do when you lose an election. By saying such things, Joe actually looks mature; he looks like a leader not an ankle biter (although he still has to do something about the “hair”).

Could it be? Might Joe be the man in 2008? Could fate truly be so kind?

Not that she hasn’t already been smiling on me. It appears that Senator Kerry has arrogated unto himself the role of shadow President. What amusement that foretells.

Responses? Thoughts? Please email them to me at

James Frederick Dwight

Tuesday, January 18, 2005


I’m flying back tonight to spend the next six days in Boston. It’s a good thing, too – the town’s just going nuts. Now more than ever, I’m needed there to help make sense over three brewing crises.

1) HARVARD PRESIDENT LAWRENCE SUMMERS, in a deliberately provocative speech last week at an academic conference, suggested that “innate differences between men and women might be one reason fewer women succeed in science and math careers.”

Like a lot of conservative oriented Harvard alumni, I’ve become quite an admirer of President Summers. When he first assumed his post, I feared that being a recovering Clintonista and all (Larry was Secretary of the Treasury under Clinton), the World’s Greatest University might be in for a decade or two of lip biting sensitivity.

Au contraire. President Summers has repeatedly distinguished himself by his commitment to excellence and intellectual honesty. Unlike most elevated members of the Academy, he simply refuses to celebrate mediocrity.

His justly celebrated spitting contest with academic celebrity cum political gadfly Cornel West is instructive in this regard. In that brouhaha, Summers seemed to feel Professors should engage in scholarly sorts of stuff like writing monographs, giving lectures and flirting with bored co-eds. Whatever the case, Summers knows a true scholar when he sees one, and West’s portfolio of cutting rap albums and agitating with statesmen like the “Reverend” Al Sharpton and the even “Reverender” Jesse Jackson clearly didn’t cut the scholarship mustard.

Perhaps there could have been a good faith debate on whether West’s extra-curricular activities were indeed inimical to Ivy level scholarship. But President Summers should have known he was tipping over sacred cows, and when he did he surely got sprayed with the excrement. If there’s one thing the Academy values above all else it’s sensitivity with diversity being a close second. Summers was pilloried by the Academy for his simultaneous dissing of both holy shibboleths.

This latest “scandal” is of a similar sort. Perhaps in a more mature society it would be possible to discuss whether innate differences between men and women play a role in certain areas. Alas, academia is far from a mature society. A plurality of listeners contacted by the Boston Globe was “deeply offended” by Summers even broaching the topic. One said that had she not stormed out of the speech, she would have blacked out or thrown up. Such hysterics!

I think it’s important that we conservatives refrain from using this as a “gotcha” moment on a former Clintonista. This is not Sandy Berger smuggling documents out of the National Archives in his socks. This is a President of Harvard who has been an ideological friend and intellectual kindred spirit since he first assumed the throne at Mass. Hall.

If the easily offended and preternaturally politically correct succeed in silencing President Summers, it will be bad - very bad indeed. Those who value intellectual honesty and excellence, hear me now: Regardless of his former affiliations, we have a friend in academia, and his name is Lawrence Summers.

UPDATE: Although not really in error, apparently President Summers is trying to make amends.

2) WITH A FIERY MLK DAY SPEECH, JOHN KERRY returned to politics yesterday. He was lamenting the alleged election irregularities and the resulting disenfranchisement in Ohio. As the New York Times and I have proven, this is a rank myth. The lines in Democratic strongholds were shorter than those in Republican strongholds, or at least they should have been. The Democratic strongholds had more machines per voter than their Republican counterparts.

You know, today is National Thank Your Mentor Day and even though I have generously mentored the Democratic Party the last couple of weeks, there has been no palpable display of gratitude. Undeterred, I’m going to continue to help.

Stop this sore loser crap. It makes you look pathetic. Dare I say it, it’s un-American. When a real American loses, he stoically vows to “get ‘em next time.” He doesn’t endlessly piss and moan making bogus excuses.

You should also know that all this whining about the Inaugural reeks of sore loserdom, too. Yes, yes, the Oscar Schindler logic applies: In a world filled with horrors how can we spend $50 million so rich people can dance awkwardly and drink too much mediocre wine?

But we also know for a fact that if this week marked a Democratic Restoration rather than a second Bush coronation, you wouldn’t be able to swing a dead donkey in the District without hitting an aging former rock star or a decadent Hollywood political maven. And, we should acknowledge, John Kerry has never been known for his austerity. It’s safe to say a Kerry Inaugural would have been quite an affair.

And there would have been nothing wrong with that.

3) BUT THIS IS THE BEST STORY OF THE DAY. In the Friday editions of the Boston Globe during football season, several Globe sports writers pick the winners for the following weekend’s action. Thus some eyebrows were raised this weekend when the Globe’s lead football correspondent Ron Borges picked the Patriots in Friday’s paper and then on TV Sunday morning he picked the Colts. When challenged by one of his on-air interlocutors over the inconsistency, Borges said he didn’t make the pick that was in his name in Friday’s paper.

According to a Globe staffer’s email to Bruce Allen of Boston Sports Media Watch (from whence this entire piece is virtually plagiarized), for years now Globe correspondents have frequently not made their own picks. A lot of times a writer or two wouldn’t meet the deadline so a copy editor would make the picks that would be printed under the writer’s name. With the Globe’s legendary Will McDonough, the practice was apparently habitual. For years, “his” picks were made by a copy editor. Sometimes one of the of the putative expert’s “picks” would even be made by an intern!

If these allegations are true, we have another example of the moral bankruptcy of the MSM. Will the Globe have any interest in getting to the bottom of these charges? Perhaps they should put a call into Messrs. Thornburgh and Boccardi.

Responses? Thoughts? Please email them to me at

James Frederick Dwight

Monday, January 17, 2005


Confession time: When I picked up Hugh Hewitt’s “Blog” I didn’t have the highest expectations. It was nothing against Hugh; I love his blog and have very much enjoyed his other books. It’s just that I’ve been part of the blogosphere for almost a year now and have done a lot of thinking about its present and its future on my lonesome. I didn’t expect to find much new or provocative in Hugh’s book.

So much for preconceptions. “Blog” is much, much more than a recitation of where we are. Quite the contrary – Hugh has produced a work full of visionary insights that is likely to serve as a tour guide for the blogosphere for years to come.

Of course Hugh also provides the required history of the blogosphere. For those of us immersed in it, it’s hard to believe but the vast majority of Americans have no idea what an Instapundit is let alone a Hindrocket. Since this volume is intended for the blog layman as well as the expert, Hugh has to bring everyone up to speed which he does with his characteristically lean and economic prose.

Unsurprisingly he chooses to focus on three blogosphere triumphs: The downfall of Trent Lott, the exposure of candidate Kerry’s combat inconsistencies, and of course Rathergate. All three of these episodes showed the blogosphere making up for the mainstream media’s deficiencies.

Hugh seems keenly aware that all three of these episodes also show the blogosphere being destructive rather than constructive. They’re still great triumphs because the objects of destruction deserved their fate, but the victories gave prominent bloggers a reputation for being ankle-biters. We bristle at the label and (to quote Frank J.), considering our efficacy, the label groin knee-ers would be both more colorful and more accurate. But there’s no denying the obvious – we’ve spent a lot of time holding prominent pedicured feet to the fire and that’s to date what’s won us our headlines.

It’s here where Hugh goes well beyond the conventional wisdom. He sees a much greater role for bloggers than monitoring media and politician screw-ups. He starts by noting the tremendous quality of the work emanating from the top end of the blogosphere. This is a point that has particular resonance for me. I’ve long argued that the work of the top bloggers is far superior to their op-ed page rivals. And I know from personal experience that of the many blog-unsavvy friends and acquaintances that I’ve steered to Powerline or Tom Maguire or Lileks, I’ve received many follow up thank yous but I’ve yet to hear one person say that they’ve checked out Lileks and that they’re now ready to return to the bracing prose and stunningly original commentary of David Broder and Ellen Goodman.

But Hugh’s freshest insights are reserved for the truly constructive roles that he sees blogs playing. Hugh is the first person of prominence to realize that blogs create a whole new way to communicate. Companies can and should use them. So should churches and university presidents and any kind of celebrity who depends on his public’s favor. Hugh understands that blogs right now are primarily used for political commentary. He also sees that blogs can be used to sell cars, fill congregations, and generate good will. A good blog provides a platform, a platform that can be leveraged in a bewildering variety of ways.

Hugh himself gives a daily demonstration of this at Yes, he’s ostensibly blogging on world affairs. But he’s also selling books, promoting his radio show, and building a personal network. In other words he’s actively engaged in the Hugh Hewitt Business.

And business is justifiably good; “Blog” will make it better. Hugh has looked into the future of blogging with great insight. I sense from Hugh’s marketing of “Blog” that he feels his book has a chance to be a phenomenon. He’s right. The Hugh Hewitt Business may become very good indeed.

Responses? Thoughts? Please email them to me at

James Frederick Dwight

Sunday, January 16, 2005


The constant drumbeat of negative coverage actually gave me a moment of doubt. I had been confident for months, but when self-proclaimed experts keep making the most dire predictions, sometimes faith does waver. But deep down, I knew it all along – the Colts never had a chance.

Over dinner with my Jets fan uncle this week (personal note to Uncle Willie – hahahahaha!), I offered the following breakdown of the Patriots-Colts game: Being the professional outfit that they are, the Patriots would have an outstanding game plan that they would execute well. In order to win, the Colts would have to play a great game, and even that might not be enough.

But here’s where the rubber meets the road: As currently constituted, the Colts have given no indication that they are capable of playing a great game under circumstances like the ones they faced today. Sure, they can beat the overmanned Denver Broncos 98-0 on an annual basis, but playing a dynasty on its home turf is a different barrel of monkeys.

For the Colts, it will be a long off-season. Recriminations might well follow this game, and I know the football fans of Indianapolis had justifiably high hopes as of 4 o’clock this afternoon; their anger will no doubt be palpable.

As for the Patriots, the same analysis that applied to this week’s game applies to next week’s except for the following caveat: Unlike the Colts, the Steelers are not as talented as the Patriots. Even if they play a great game, it’s highly unlikely it will be enough.

In other words if you’re a gambling person, liquidate the 401 k and put it on the Pats. You’ll thank me.

Our regularly scheduled programming will resume tomorrow morning.

Responses? Thoughts? Please email them to me at

James Frederick Dwight

Friday, January 14, 2005


I have a correspondent who is a soldier in Iraq. When he went over there, he started a blog primarily to keep in touch with his friends and family without having to write a hundred emails a day. (Actually many bloggers start blogging for similar reasons.) He wants to keep a low profile and avoids publicity assiduously. Even so, given the highly interesting and unusual content of his blog, several readers have found him in spite of his attempt to keep his blog an intimate affair.

Early in the week, this soldier/blogger offered a meditation on a fellow soldier who went AWOL just before his unit deployed to Iraq. The deserter had four basic complaints that he felt justified his decision: the lack of armored vehicles, poor equipment (specifically weapons), inadequate training, and being treated as a "prisoner." The soldier blogger refuted each one of these complaints from the unique vantage point only available to those with first hand knowledge. He gave special weight to the fact that “the warrior ethos demands that you do the best with what you have.”

Serving in Iraq and taking the risks one incurs with hazardous duty, the soldier blogger obviously has even more call to be furious at the deserter than those of us who are stateside. His post on the subject concludes with him angrily asking the following searing questions: “What kind of a man leaves his unit, and his teammates, just before they deploy? What kind of a man deserts people in that situation?”

The soldier/blogger has a comments section on his blog. The second comment reads as follows (reprinted in full):

“What kind of ARMY half-ass's (sic) the training of their soldiers? What kind of ARMY used 2nd or 3rd hand equipment because of shortages or defective equipment? What kind of ARMY gives inadequate training to those Reserve soldiers who are being thrust to the front to fix up the fuck up of their administration. Take that "You're a soldier do what your told" male ego bullshit and wipe your ass with it. I appauld that man and any other soldier for taking a stand for their own personal beliefs and inadequate training. I'm so tired of this "You go to war with what you have" crap. What kind of ARMY screws up so bad that there is no tangible end in sight? I'll let YOU answer that question. You're a man/woman and a human being before you're a GI Joe. Don't forget that.”

Charming, no? I don’t want to get into an argument regarding the merits of the commenter’s missive. To my way of thinking both the sentiments and the way they’re expressed are so self-evidently wrong-headed that I’m really not interested in spending any keystrokes in debating it.

But I’m also cognizant that there are a bunch of people out there who would find her letter as obviously wise as I find it foolish. And there we come to the divide. For some, there’s a code that says there’s nothing worse or more dishonorable than betraying those who have put their faith in you. For others, well, their value system is just different. Ultimately when people talk about politics being about values, it refers to debates like this one.

Although I’ve never been in the armed forces, how much I valued a person was ultimately determined by an assessment of how much I’d want them to be in a foxhole with me. In my life, I’ve been lucky. My wife, my family, a few friends, a business partner – when it got rough in my foxhole I was fortunate to be surrounded by fine people, people who did not lack for constancy or character.

The soldier blogger is pretty much literally in a foxhole. I’d be proud and, more to the point, lucky to be in a foxhole with him.

His commenter who so blithely urges him to take his honor, pride and loyalty and “wipe his ass with it?” I’d be willing to bet that person has never been in a metaphorical foxhole where she hasn’t sorely disappointed those who were depending on her.

Responses? Thoughts? Please email them to me at

James Frederick Dwight

Thursday, January 13, 2005


When I first got into blogging, Andrew Sullivan was one of my inspirations. Every day he turned out intelligent, lively and literate copy. But now Andrew has become the Roberto Duran of the blogosphere, a once brilliant performer who has become so estranged from his gifts that’s it hard to remember he was once great. Curdled by a combination of Bush hatred and a narcissism so fierce he actually thinks it serves a purpose to tell his audience when he has a spot of flatulence, Andrew’s analysis has become so pathologically obtuse he can no longer tell figurative shit from metaphorical Shinola.

Andrew seems like a decent enough guy, so I say all of this more out of sadness than anger. But his commentary on the torture “scandals” has become so absurd it must be rebutted. In today’s postings, Andrew anoints the following missive as his email of the day (reprinted in full):

"I attended a continuing legal education seminar for Army Reserve and National Guard lawyers last weekend. I was struck by one thing: The biggest response from a ballroom full of JAG lawyers was when one dynamic Colonel spoke and said the Army needed to do a better job in handling detainees. He quoted a dispatch from WWII when the commander of a US prisoner of war camp reported back that his camp was under air attack by the German air force, that he could not protect his German prisoners of war, and he had opened the gates and set them all free. This is the standard for the US Army and we need to live up to it. The room cheered. My impression is that the people who have been trained in this stuff (at least the citizen solders) may not be terribly pleased and indeed may be somewhat embarrassed with how this is unfolding. This is also consistent with the JAG lawyers being kept out of the loop."

Okay, let’s take a deep breath. The Nazis bombed a detention center that held Nazis. And we FREED (!) the held Nazis because we couldn’t ensure their safety? I don’t believe it, I need to see documentation. I simply refuse to accept that such a thing occurred. One wonders if such alleged gentlemanly conduct was reciprocated by our German and Japanese foes.

Regardless of whether this tale is true or not, it’s easy to see how such an obtuse policy would be manipulated by the enemy. Fortunately the Nazis and Japanese were gentlemanly combatants (just ask the Jews and the Chinese) so we didn’t have to worry about them doing anything that wasn’t cricket, but I’m not as sanguine about the Jihadis.

Andrew’s endorsement of such rubbish offers definitive proof that his sensitivities are far too delicate to think coherently about this or any other war. There was a time when I and others were frustrated by Andrew’s fixation on the gay marriage debate. How I wish he would return to that subject.

Face it Andrew, it’s time to say “No más.”

Responses? Thoughts? Please email them to me at

James Frederick Dwight


There’s something going on here. There’s a gravy train rolling and I want to get on board. Others are getting fat; why not me?

I had my first suspicion of the great wealth potential in blogging during the Powerline/Nick Coleman feud. In his now infamous attack on the Powerline trio, Minneapolis Start Tribune columnist/apparent-escaped-mental-patient Nick Coleman suggested that the Powerliners were receiving financial succor from unnamed but sinister “well-heeled backers.” Many consider Coleman a discredited and delusional hack, but I know where there’s smoke there’s fire. After all, you’re not going to tell me that Hind Rocket affords those nice suits he sports during his TV appearances just by being a partner at one of America’s biggest and most respected law firms. So I wondered, who are these “well-heeled backers” and how do I get me a taste?

Alas, all inquiries were fruitless. But evidence of Coleman’s insight continued to pour forth. Last week it came out that apparently unsupervised and unmedicated Department of Education functionaries gave Armstrong Williams a cool $250k to talk up the No Child Left Behind boondoggle. While that scandal gave me encouragement that there are indeed well-heeled backers out there who might someday send some dough my way, I still had no idea how to make the connection.

Then today Glenn Reynolds pointed out that Markos of the Daily Kos was once on the Howard Dean payroll. This wasn’t exactly a new revelation; as Glenn also points out, Kos disclosed roughly 18 months ago that he was in Dean’s corner and being compensated for being in his corner. Glenn doesn’t make a lot of hay out of the fact that Kos’ disclosure failed to mention exactly what the Dean campaign was paying him for.

Some folks, therefore, may have felt betrayed this week to learn that Kos was being paid to give “air-time” to Dean. Not me, though. As I wrote a while ago, Kos is a shrewd operator and a smart guy, hardly the lunatic lefty the conservative imagination typically imagines him being. Moreover, I’m strangely heartened that Kos shows a Republican’s fondness for making a buck.

Kos disclosed what he wanted to and he admitted that there was other stuff he wasn’t going to disclose. If you didn’t like it, you could go read Atrios. I should also mention for what it’s worth, Kos’ vituperation regarding the pitiful Williams affair was reserved exclusively for the Department of Education. Remember, this guy is not an unhinged radical kook, although he occasionally plays one on the internet. Anyway, I see no wrong-doing on his part in this instance.

Kos isn’t the only blogger making money. From what I’ve heard, George Soros helps keep a stable of opiners like David Brock and Oliver Willis one step ahead of the bill collector.

But having had no luck finding a sinister “well-heeled benefactor” of my own, I have to resort to a public plea. Hear me, well-heeled benefactors: I’M FOR SALE. I will carry water for you. I will sell your agenda. I will do so with a surfeit of snark and cleverness. You will be thrilled to have me on board.

I hear you well-heeled benefactors out there wondering why you should hire me when there are so many more prominent bloggers out there. Two words: PERSONAL SERVICE. I will come over on weekends and Simonize your car – do you think an Academy award winner like Roger Simon will do the same? I’ll take your bratty kids to their Little League games – good luck getting a couple of over-scheduled law professors to do that. If you need a witty and urbane conversationalist to round out a dinner party, I’m there. While it’s true the often lonely Andrew Sullivan might do the same, trust me, I’m a lot more fun.

I can’t guarantee how long I’ll be able to leave this offer on the table. So, sinister well-heeled benefactors, tarry not. I’ll be waiting by my modem. Write now!

Responses? Thoughts? Please email them to me at

James Frederick Dwight