Monday, June 26, 2006


In the late 1930’s and early 1940’s, there was a bunch of Americans who disgraced themselves in the run-up to World War II. Call them nativists, isolationists, nitwits – pick your term – but history has treated people like Father Coughlin and Charles Lindberg rather unkindly.

But compared to the modern day left, the America First movement et. al acquitted itself heroically. Within days after Pearl Harbor, America First folded its tents and joined the war effort. Having been proven catastrophically wrong by events, they aided the war effort rather than make a consistent effort to undermine it.

I’m convinced that we’ll look back at the New York Times’ latest choice to reveal a classified program for battling terrorism as the left’s bridge too far. In a way, this is unfair to the left. Being a religious reader of the liberal blogs (and what a week it’s been on that front!), I’ve found nary a word of support for the Times’ chosen course of action this time around. Normally these are people who relish trumpeting the Bush administration’s purported trampling of our civil liberties; this time, they’ve been curiously mum.

Alas, the Times is undoubtedly a creature of the left and is widely considered to be representative of the left. Some call it the house organ of the Democratic Party. It is universally recognized as the most prominent voice of liberalism. Fairly or not, the Times’ black eye is the left’s black eye. Liberalism and the left will inevitably be tainted by the Times’ actions, just as the efforts of Woodward and Bernstein 33 years ago gave them a halo.

Along with other creatures of the left, the Times has given rise to the impression that its support for the America war effort is less than whole-hearted. Its tendency to publish every setback, its curious focus on the Abu Ghraib “atrocities” without any effort to put those “atrocities” in context, its recent coverage of the suicides at Gitmo again acting as if suicide in prison is an unprecedented phenomenon – all of these and countless other examples of the paper’s coverage have led not just wild-eyed conservatives but common Americans to ask, “Whose side is the Times on?”

Today, the Times shows two signs of making a hasty and ill-planned retreat. The first comes in Editor-in-Chief Bill Keller’s lengthy explanation for exposing the classified program. In his letter, Keller acknowledges the program is legal. More tellingly, he erects a straw-man for why people object to the story – Keller’s letter suggests that the principal objection rests on the fear that the Times’ exposure of the program will kill the program.

Alas, I have not heard a single Times’ critic use this as the basis for their critique of the Grey Lady. The issue obviously isn’t the continued existence of the program – it is its continued effectiveness, Tellingly, Keller spends only one paragraph dealing with his critics’ principal objection – that the Times’ expose will “lead terrorists to change tactics.” Amazingly, Keller waves this complaint away, saying without any basis in fact, “That argument was made in a half-hearted way.”

Keller’s main rebuttal to this line of argument is that the terrorists probably/sort of/kinda knew about the program anyway. “It has been widely reported — indeed, trumpeted by the Treasury Department — that the U.S. makes every effort to track international financing of terror. Terror financiers know this, which is why they have already moved as much as they can to cruder methods.” Regrettably for the interests of intellectual coherence, this point is belied by Keller’s earlier defense of his paper’s coverage of the story that insisted, “We cited considerable evidence that the program helps catch and prosecute financers of terror.”

Earlier I mentioned that the Times showed two signs of making a retreat this morning. The second one? Today’s edition has a front page story that begins, “Enrollment in Iraqi schools has risen every year since the American invasion, according to Iraqi government figures, reversing more than a decade of declines and offering evidence of increased prosperity for some Iraqis.”

Regular readers of the Times will note this as an oddity – the Times reporting good news from Iraq. What’s more, this front page piece contradicts the Times’ entire narrative that has been running for three years now – that America’s cowboy-like intervention ruined the sandy paradise that Saddam Hussein had created. If people begin saying things like “Iraq is better for the U.S. invasion,” what will the ever-sympathetic creatures of the left say? After all, do they not obsess over the fortunes of the less fortunate?

Today’s front page story sticks out like a proverbial sore thumb. Perhaps the Times as an institution is beginning to realize it backed the wrong horse on this one. The Times will be okay, insofar as a member of a dieing industry can ever be okay.

The American left will not be so fortunate.

Responses? Thoughts? Please email them to me at

Monday, June 19, 2006


First, I must apologize.

I write two essays that pertain to my health and then disappear for an extended period of time without word or explanation. Meanwhile, it never dawns on me that this might beg the inference that all is not well. This officially makes me an idiot. Anyway, my condition remains excellent, relatively speaking, which by my standards is pretty damn fine. I was even able to golf 63 holes this weekend in a tournament. Let me put it this way – I wish I played as well I felt. So does my patient and long-suffering partner.

An additional word about my absence – sometimes it just seems necessary to recharge the batteries. Some people sometimes observe that things seem stale around here. When they make these observations, they’re usually correct. My blog writings are dependent on outside events. When outside events keep repeating themselves, I tend to keep repeating myself.

Or, as one correspondent put it, “Your blog has become all Muslims and moonbats.” Clever alliterations aside, I think I always make a distinction between Muslims and fundamentalist Islam, two things that have an overlap – determining the extent of that overlap is one of the most pressing issues of our day, one that the mainstream media and both American political parties refuse to even acknowledge.

And, as regards the moonbats, I’m pretty sure I’ve been documenting their coming takeover of the Democratic Party longer than anyone in the media. In my first piece for the Standard almost 18 months ago, I forecast primary problems for Lieberman. At the time, this was far from conventional wisdom, but it’s growing more conventional by the day.

Anyway, I hereby pompously announce my battery is now officially recharged and that I’ll be back to being my relatively prolific self which is either good news or dreadful news depending on how you look at things.

Without further adieu, let’s span the web!

1) PHIL!!! - Long time readers will recall I am no fan of golfer Phil Mickelson. I don’t know what it is – the phony smile, the jiggling pectorals, the almost pathological need to convince America that his is the perfect family – but there’s something about this guy that really rubs me the wrong way. So it chagrined me when he won the Masters in April. I had to reluctantly concede that he was entering the halls of greatness.

So you can only imagine the feeling of nausea that swept over me as Mickelson appeared to be rolling to this third straight victory in a major yesterday. I had to leave my house to commence Father’s Day celebrations at 6:45 p.m. At the time, Mickelson was standing on the 17th tee with a two stroke lead. I feared all was lost.

So you can imagine my delight when I returned home to learn that he had lost the tournament in spectacular fashion, double bogeying the 18th hole. While I am of course riddled with despair that I missed Johnny Miller savaging Phil in real time, I take consolation in the fact that Phil will probably go down as one of those athletes more famous for the titles he lost than the ones he won.

Move over, Wilt Chamberlain. Slide down, Greg Norman. Make room for Phil.

2) WHY NO LINKS? - I’m still working on this Mac waiting for my freshly ordered Gateway to arrive. The Mac software doesn’t interact with the blogger software properly and it’s tough and time consuming to enter links. Because I’m convinced no one follows the links except for those stories that aren’t widely familiar, I figure it’s no big deal. I swear, I don’t know how you Mac users do it. Don’t you feel like you own a Betamax or something?

3) YEARLY KOS – One of the reasons I figured last week was a good week to take off was because I would have spent an inordinate amount of time commenting on the Yearly Kos, a subject that would no doubt have bored the vast majority of you.

Two related points: On the Weekly Standard’s site, Matt Labash has an account of his journey through the blogospheric Inferno that was the Yearly Kos. Yes, he was at Las Vegas attending the conference and wrote a great column on it, one that included a shout out to yours truly. On a related note, I had a piece in the Standard that documented the blogosphere’s latest loss and where the progressive blogosphere goes from here. Markos thinks they should reinvent themselves as libertarians, so it’s safe to say that everything is on the table.

4) “DON’T GET HIGH ON YOUR OWN SUPPLY” – That was the sage advice that Tony Montana’s criminal mentor gave Tony in the 1983 film “Scarface.” These quotes from Markos Moulitsas brought that advice to mind:

“I wouldn't want to be a senator or congressman. I'm able to influence politics much more effectively doing what I do. Now I can shape the national political debate. The only way I could exert more influence would be if I were president. But I’d never want that guy’s job. Never.”

”Joe Trippi contacted us about helping Howard Dean. And we successfully used our tools and methods to make him one of the election's more important candidates…It was a little scary to carry so much responsibility on your shoulders. And it still is. I daydream about turning things over to a younger generation, but people wouldn't allow it. Not yet.”

One thing I wonder about Markos, and I really hope to ask him in person someday – does he really believe his own bullshit? I know a lot of the liberal bloggers do, and that’s why in Wile E. Coyote fashion they continue to be shocked by election returns that stubbornly refuse to bow before the progressive blogosphere’s will. But Markos is kind of bright. Does he really think he’s shaping the national debate? Can he really believe it?

5) SPEAKING OF BELIEVING YOUR OWN B.S. – John Kerry last week “demanded” that the U.S. pull all its troops out of Iraq immediately if not sooner. I don’t want to debate the wisdom of the Senator’s “demand” nor do I care to hazard a guess as to what dark forces animated Kerry’s latest pathetic gambit. All I want to talk about is his choice of the word “demand.”

Where did he get the idea that he’s in a position to demand anything? What does he think, he’s in an upscale eatery and that he can demand his overcooked rack-of-lamb be sent back for one that is suitably red in the middle?

He’s a Senator and a member of the minority party to boot. Kerry has a reputation as being haughty and arrogant. He’s come by this reputation the old fashioned way – he’s earned it.

6) DWYANE WADE – I just have to say this: Last week I was out to dinner and insisting that Dwyane Wade is the best player in the NBA since Michael Jordan. This was when Miami was losing the series 2-0.

Predictably, my audience responded with a chorus of “Lebron! Lebron! Lebron!” I told them that living in Florida, I watch a lot of Heat games, and not just to marvel at the tautness of Pat Riley’s 63 year-old face. Lebron is fantastic and has an unlimited upside, but as of this writing, Wade does everything better than him – shoot, pass, ball-handle, rebound and defend. Literally everything. The only area where Lebron eclipses Wade is in the hype department. If half of Nike tirelessly slaved away to ensure Wade would be as famous as Jordan, we wouldn’t even be having this conversation.

Do I feel vindicated by the NBA Finals? You bet.

Responses? Thoughts? Please email them to me at

Monday, June 12, 2006


I don’t want to turn this into a blog that focuses on my health – I really don’t. Although the topic might interest you now, it would grow tired fast. Trust me. But there are lessons that I’ve learned from my health issues, and those lessons have helped make me the creature of the right that I’ve become.

About a year ago, I wrote about the man I once was. Although never a particularly good athlete (former basketball and softball teammates would consider that a rather generous assessment), I was always in good shape. My trademark athletic accomplishment was completing a race up the 50 Story Prudential Building in Boston in less than 8 minutes.

That race was in 1992. As my health situation eroded over the following decade, such achievements became an increasingly distant memory. At one point, Mrs. Soxblog and I lived in an apartment that was otherwise just about the coolest unit in greater Boston. I hated it. Why? Because getting to it required climbing two flights of stairs.

The process from where I could glide up 50 stories to where I couldn’t wait to move to escape two short flights was gradual. As the process unfolded, I’d often get angry. But at some point, a light bulb went on – I was entering a “new normal,” and I either could accept it and learn how to enjoy life in my new normal or be a miserable ass for the rest of my days.

Believe me, the choice was far from academic. Adapting to my new normal required accepting what I had previously considered unacceptable. And I’ve been around enough sick people to know that a lot of them refuse to accept their situation, and just wallow in misery and self-pity.

Actually, the latter course is the easier one. You get to put yourself on the cross, deny inconvenient realities, and spare yourself the bother of coping with a new normal that frankly sucks compared to the old one. I’m not trying to put myself forth as hero – finding my way required the good fortune of being suddenly struck with insight that it took me years to come by. I didn’t adapt to my new normal either quickly or painlessly.

I WAS THINKING ABOUT this over the weekend in the context of the war on terror. As some of you may remember, I spent a decade teaching at a Saturday program for 4th – 6th graders. On the Saturday after 9/11, two 6th grade girls were having a serious debate: One would have preferred to burn to death, while the other was adamant that she would instead have jumped out a 95th story window.

For days we had been hearing that 9/11 would change everything. Overhearing this exchange was a graphic illustration of that fact.

As a society, coping with our new normal has not been easy. Compared to our old normal, it stinks. On September 10, 2001, most of us were blissfully unaware that there were people who just couldn’t wait to savagely kill as many of us as possible. As the years after 9/11 have rolled by, it has become increasingly clear how rotten this new normal is. The people who want to kill us aren’t some strange fringe movement as we tried to convince ourselves in the days immediately following the attack. There are many millions of them, and there’s no doubt that they intend us harm.

What I’ve seen with people who can’t accept or refuse to accept their new normal are two primary techniques. One is denial, the other is misplaced anger. Denial is a concept you’re probably familiar with – we choose to sweep things aside that are too painful to deal with. The experts agree; denial is not a particularly effective coping mechanism.

But misplaced anger (as opposed to just ordinary anger/frustration over one’s situation) seems to get less attention. Last week, I was speaking with someone I’m very close with whose wife is dealing with some very serious health issues. He asked me, “Do you ever feel like screaming at people who are concerned about stupid stuff? When you here someone talking about how they’re angry about their golf score, do you just want to tell them to shut up and let them know what’s really important?”

The answer was yes. I used to feel that way. But at some point you realize the rest of the world is still spinning and is indifferent to your fate. And allowing yourself a righteous anger at the bozos in the Grille Room or the supermarket check-out line or at the next table over for complaining that their rack of lamb is medium instead of medium-rare just gives you the excuse to not deal with your very real challenges. It’s much more comforting to clamber up the Cross and assume a position of moral superiority. It’s also self-defeating. I’ve never seen anyone become a happy or productive person because they skillfully use misplaced anger.

WHAT I SEE ON THE AMERICAN LEFT is a ton of denial and misplaced anger. It would be swell if the left were correct, and the intrusion into our privacy by NSA wiretaps was the biggest threat to American society. It would be even more comforting if, as people of the left often proclaim, George W. Bush were the world’s worst terrorist. After all, we know he’s not going to set off a dirty-bomb in Midtown Manhattan.

But the sad new normal is that we’re at war, with a large, cruel and determined foe, Can the left acknowledge this reality?

I think it’s becoming increasingly apparent that much of what remains of the left cannot. Allow me to call your attention to this blog post by Jeralyn Merritt of Talk Left. A few words about Jeralyn – she’s not what right wing bloggers typically refer to as a moonbat. A practicing attorney, her left wing blog is thoughtful and devoid of the hysteria and juvenile patois that characterizes most of the left wing blogosphere.

So it’s particularly depressing when someone like Jeralyn pens a brief essay that refers to Zarqawi’s death as a “murder,” a “state sanctioned murder,” and an “assassination.” She is particularly upset over President Bush being thrilled that Zarqawi was “brought to justice.” “Since when,” Jeralyn asks, “is assassination bringing one to justice?”

Ladies and gentlemen, this is seriously obtuse stuff. Such an essay makes you wonder what it will take to bring some portions of our society around to the fact that we’re at war with some really bad people.

The question is rhetorical. But if you’ve got an answer, I’d love to hear it.

Responses? Thoughts? Please email them to me at

Saturday, June 10, 2006


No time for real blogging today, just a quick hit that struck me as pretty revealing. As you may have heard, three “detainees” at Gitmo killed themselves today. In case you’re wondering, we will not be sitting Shiva in Soxblog Manor. No need to plan a visit or to swing by some deli-meats.

At the Daily Kos, they are quite a bit more depressed about the incident. Weighing in from her parents’ house, law student Georgia10 can barely suppress her outrage. “Today's news is sad,” she writes, “but not surprising. When man manufactures hell on earth, it is not surprising that death becomes a tempting avenue of escape.” Death a tempting avenue of escape? Man, that’s so heavy! It’s tempting to dismiss Georgia10 as an arrogant youth who knows nothing about the way the world spins. It’s a temptation I personally cannot resist.

Occasionally I’ll get letters saying that I’m out of touch. But as Michael Corleone would say, now who’s being naïve? What percentage of Americans will register a scintilla of sadness over the demise of these men? If it cracked double digits, I’d be shocked. Come on kids, don’t you know there’s a war on?

Responses? Thoughts? Please email them to me at

Friday, June 09, 2006


I lack the time for real blogging today, what with the demands of keeping up with the goings on at the Yearly Kos. So what to do?

I’ve got it! As Andrew Sullivan would say in such a circumstance, I have the smartest, savviest, most intelligent and best-looking audience in the blogosphere. I will turn it over to them to forward our conversation on Ann Coulter. For what it’s worth, that single little piece produced more reader mail than anything I’ve written in the past month, including the essay where I poured my heart out regarding my physical condition. (Query: Are you people made of stone???)

In the spirit of this being the season of the Yearly Kos, I will assign all correspondents names that sound like they could belong to Kos Diarists.

“Longhorn Scribbler,” truly one of my favorite correspondents even though he has the maddening audacity to occasionally disagree with me, wrote this essay for another blog. He forwarded it to me in an email:

"I’ll say it again: Ann Coulter is a national treasure and I stand by her completely. What she said about those widows are the facts as she sees and believes them to be. Instead of being angry at Ann; why don’t you check out the activists that she is confronting? I have no sympathy for them or Cindy Sheehan. You all act like these people are the only people to have ever lost a loved one in a violent act. Those situations give NONE OF US the right to say whatever we want and not be challenged on it with the same vitriol. Wake the Hell up. And no… I don’t care if Ace or Allahpundit or Michelle or any other blogger is mad at Ann. Why in God’s name would THAT change my mind about her?

"Do you guys actually think that Ann’s supporters are that stupid? Do you think that we cannot think for ourselves? Sorry guys but I didn’t drink the “blog-aid”. Half of you are only angry because you don’t have the guts to actually speak the truth like Ann Coulter. The other half of you hated her anyway so why would I care what you think? Pathetic.

"Again, take a look at her targets and then come back and tell me how horrible Ann Coulter is. If you can do that then you are an idiot; but at least you would be a principled idiot."

I should note, it was other bloggers who got LS’s Irish up, not me. He’s normally a pretty temperate guy; his preface to the blog post evidenced the collegiality that always characterizes our correspondence.

“The Normster” amplifies Longhorn Scribbler’s point, and also puts some more meat on the bones of Ann’s argument:

"I do disagree with you about Ms. Coulter. I applaud both the tone and the substance of her harangues. She is a meticulous researcher and a talented writer. And yes, she is a quipster.

"With respect to (what is to you) her current "offensive" remarks about the "wider women" of New Jersey, consider this:

"Why are we seriously contemplating spending a billion dollars and devoting several acres of Manhattan real estate to memorialize the poor SOB's who happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time? Since when did we build memorials to VICTIMS? (since Oklahoma City, btw).

"We build monuments to HEROS, not VICTIMS. I make it a point when I pass a memorial to try to stop and visit it -- to read the dedications and to try to imagine the feelings of the folks who felt obliged to spend the time and resources to commemorate their dead. I live in Greenwich and the the surrounding towns are filled with small memorial parks. And it's fascinating to visit them, to look at the architecture and the dedications.

"So, why are we about to build this monstrosity in downtown Manhattan? Why should we build a memorial to some of the victims of 9/11 that is bigger than all of the memorials to all of the heroes who fell in all of the wars this nation has fought -- put together? Why not a simple monument to the brave policemen and firemen who gave their lives to try to save others? Because of our current culture of victimhood -- the way our media exalts those with the most heartrending tales of woe -- the way the left wing pundits use these victims to advance their agendas.

"This was Ann's point -- that the left chooses messengers with whom it's impolite to argue.

"As it happens, I worked in the WTC and I was high up in tower 1 in '93, when they first tried to kill all of us. And I knew a great many people who were murdered in '01. And I think the proper way to honor our dead is:

1) By putting headstones on their graves -- commemorating their LIVES.

and 2) By killing the m********s who did this to our brethren.

"I heartily resent the Jersey widows and the Cindy Sheehans who claim the moral authority to run our country. I applaud Ms. Coulter who calls a spade a spade."

I actually like Normster’s argument about our culture’s unseemly tendency to exalt one’s victim status. I think it’s half Oprah’s and half Barbara Walters’ fault; they made public teariness not just acceptable but chic.

But the real issue with Ann, as I said yesterday, is her style. The Normster distills her rhetoric down to its substance; the only reason such an exercise is necessary is because her rhetoric is unnecessarily laden with ad hominem insults, personal invective and gratuitous bomb throwing. If Coulter wants her ideas to be taken seriously, she should cease burying them under the personal attacks that her work so prominently features.

That’s pretty much the point Steel Weaver makes in our final letter:

"Something that most adults learn is this: you don't say everything that comes into your head.

"Even if we have some agreement with Ann Coulter's take on the Jersey Girls, intelligent people know that there are strategic and tactical reasons why we should exercise a little discretion and keep our pie holes shut. Alternatively, we could address the issue tactfully as you suggested.

"Apparently, Coulter doesn't feel bound by the rules of good judgment to which most of us adhere. And I agree with you: the reason is because her method sells books.

"There was a time when Coulter was one of my favorite conservatives. Now, she's occupying some of the territory in which Pat Buchanan resides. (She's in the Buchanan territory not because she shares his anti-Semitism, because she doesn't. She's in his territory because she is an individual of great potential who has fallen out of favor with mainstream conservatives.) And if her latest book sells, I'm sure she will be quite happy to reside there.

"I'm disappointed. But our disappointment will not make Ann Coulter change her ways. I think we are just going to have to ignore her. She will always have a core of fans, just as Buchanan does. But among mainstream conservatives, I see her being marginalized."

Allow me to expand on one point for you youngsters out there: If your wife/girlfriend/date asks, “Does this outfit make me look fat?” I don’t care if the outfit in question makes her look like the Goodyear Blimp. The only possible answer is, “No, dear. You look beautiful.”

Does this make you intellectually dishonest? Does it make you a liar? Does it mean your relationship is built on a foundation of untruth?

In short, who cares? There are certain social niceties that must be observed in life. For those of you who think there is ever an appropriate time to offer a sober and unsparing assessment of your mate’s appearance, I wish you luck in your virginity.

Among the social niceties that we must observe is to not pick on widows, regardless of their opinions, appearance, whatever. You can question their substantive views; as I mentioned yesterday, Dorothy Rabinowitz wrote a much-discussed piece in the Wall Street Journal about the Jersey Girls whose substance was far more scathing and intellectually thorough than anything Ann Coulter ever came up with.

And guess what? There were no conniption fits on either side of the political spectrum. Such matters can be discussed, but when discussing them one must do so sensitively.

Responses? Thoughts? Please email them to me at

Thursday, June 08, 2006


1) SORRY FOR BEING AWAY the last couple of days. Believe me, it wasn’t by choice. My hard drive crashed and burned on Tuesday night. It now sleeps with the fishes. In retrospect, when I heard a sound coming from my laptop like there was a loose paper clip inside of it Tuesday afternoon, it probably would have been a good idea to begin backing up some important files. Oh well, live and learn.

As we speak, I’m working away on a Mac. Mac users keep insisting that I’ll fall in love with it. If I do, it will be like one of those implausible movies where the boy and the girl hate each other in the first reel but are wedded in the third. As of this writing, I can’t stand the frickin’ thing.

Then again, I had grown so attached to my old laptop, given that I had probably typed out close to a million words on it the past two and a half years, any new computer would come up wanting. Anyway, enough about me. There are wonderful developments to discuss.

2) STUCK CLOCK WATCH – Al Qaeda in Iraq has made the following pronouncement: "We announce the joyous news of the martyrdom of our warrior Sheikh Abu Musab al-Zarqawi in Iraq." It isn’t often when I feel groups like Al Qaeda get it right what with their urge to kill all the infidels and the rest of that crap. But this time they’ve hit the nail on the head. The death of Zarqawi is indeed joyous news. May the United States Special Forces continue to bring such joyous news with vigor and frequency.

3) BUT NOT EVERYONE SEEMS THRILLED – Daily Kos front pagers “Bill inn Portland Maine” and “Georgia 10” do a poor job of hiding what may be chagrin. Bill observes, “ For those of you keeping score at home, this is Iraqi Turning Point #697.” Meanwhile, the site’s resident shopaholic (who lives at home with her parents while attending law school in order to best satisfy her shopping jones) links to the news of Zarqawi’s death with only one word of commentary – “Finally.” Naturally, if you wished to wade through the site’s diaries, you would find far more, ahem, spirited opinions, but these front pagers are at the top of the Kossack heap. Is it just me, or does it seem like they were a lot more excited about Haditha than they are about Zarqawi being blown to smithereens?

4) SUPPORTING THE TROOPS – The president of The Hairclub for Moonbats, Hollywood Liberal, shows how his blood is not just red, but actually red, white and blue. To display his patriotic bona-fides, he offers the following uplifting appraisal of the American troops (who among other things defend the citizenry’s right to wear ill-fitting toupees): “The U.S. military needs to recruit very dumb, totally uneducated, and mostly southern cracker soldiers who are already racist bastards who have never left their hometowns and believe all the garbage they are taught in school about how we are the good guys, and everything we do is just and right. The Army can then brainwash them to treat other human beings in such a grotesque and inhuman manner.”

5) WHAT CAN YOU SAY? – Michael Berg, the father of beheaded hostage Mitch Berg, must deal with unspeakable grief on a daily basis. I’ve seen parents lose children before – there’s no pain like it.

But the sad fact is that in his current incarnation when he speaks publicly, Michael Berg is an embarrassment. Yesterday Berg addressed the death of Abu Mussab al-Zarqawi, the man who had personally killed his son:

"Well, my reaction is I'm sorry whenever any human being dies. Zarqawi is a human being. He has a family who are reacting just as my family reacted when Nick was killed, and I feel bad for that…You shouldn't be surprised, because I have never indicated anything but forgiveness and peace in any interview on the air…

"Well, you know, I'm not saying Saddam Hussein was a good man, but he's no worse than George Bush. Saddam Hussein didn't pull the trigger, didn't commit the rapes. Neither did George Bush. But both men are responsible for them under their reigns of terror.

"I don't buy that. Iraq did not have al Qaeda in it. Al Qaeda supposedly killed my son.

"Under Saddam Hussein, no al Qaeda. Under George Bush, al Qaeda.

"Under Saddam Hussein, relative stability. Under George Bush, instability.

"Under Saddam Hussein, about 30,000 deaths a year. Under George Bush, about 60,000 deaths a year. I don't get it. Why is it better to have George Bush the king of Iraq rather than Saddam Hussein?"

A couple of thoughts spring to mind: 1) Given his loss, one wants to be charitable to Berg; and 2) What sort of sick game is the media playing, sticking a microphone in front of this obviously troubled man?

The eagerness with which the media enables Berg is perhaps more disturbing than the rantings of this very tragic figure.

6) THE INDOMITABLE SPIRIT…that characterizes the modern moonbat is almost inspiring. Inspiring in a pathetic sort of way, but inspiring nonetheless. After losing the race in California’s 50th District which brought the nutroots’ record to a truly Washington Generals-like 0-20, the leftwing blogs are all atwitter because Ned Lamont, Joe Lieberman’s primary opponent, has pulled to within striking distance. In the latest Quinnipiac Poll, Lieberman now leads 55-40 amongst likely Democratic voters. If liberal blogs were capable of being disturbed, they would find the fact that amongst all voters (running as an independent), Lieberman leads Lamont 56-18. So if Lieberman were to lose the primary and run as an independent, he would almost surely win and vote with the Republican caucus.

Does this mean the nutroots have yet another moral victory coming up? If political winners were determined by moral victories, the nutroots would now control the White House, the Congress, the Supreme Court and probably the Academy of Arts and Sciences.

7) THE AFTERNOON BRINGS MORE CANDOR – The Daily Kos’ resident shopaholic weighs in from her parents’ baement, “Understandably, there is a lot of media coverage on Zarqawi today. In all the hours and hours of coverage, has anyone mentioned that the President could have killed Zarqawi before the Iraq War but chose not to? Or that he was caught and then released to kill again by an incompetent Iraqi government?”

She should be careful. Comments like that almost lead one to conclude that the Kossacks are so addled with Bush hatred that they’re actually angry when good news comes out of Iraq.

8) ANSWERING SOME READER MAIL…I sometimes get letters asking me what I think of Ann Coulter. I always respond to those who write in with that question with a little personal anecdote about a tiny piece of personal history that Ann and I share and then get to my conclusion – I don’t like her.

My lack of fondness for her isn’t because I think she lacks talent. Oft-times she makes me laugh. And it isn’t because I get the sense that she’s a bad person. On that score, I’m agnostic.

I don’t like Ann Coulter because she’s a deliberate bomb-thrower who often brings embarrassment to my side of the political debate. I don’t like her for the same reason I wouldn’t like Al Franken or Markos Moulitsas if I were a liberal. She’s one of the most recognizable faces of conservative America, and she makes us look awful. Furthermore, I believe she does this because her bomb-throwing sells book. So in other words, she sells out her movement for personal gain.

As proof of this theory, look no further than her odious commentary regarding the 9/11 widows known as the Jersey Girls. The Jersey Girls and their agenda have been addressed politely but firmly by journalistic luminaries like Dorothy Rabinowitz and Holman Jenkins; I bring their work up only to show that a responsible conversation regarding the matter is possible.

Here’s what Coulter said: “These self-obsessed women seem genuinely unaware that 9-11 was an attack on our nation and acted like as if the terrorist attack only happened to them. They believe the entire country was required to marinate in their exquisite personal agony. Apparently, denouncing bush was part of the closure process…These broads are millionaires, lionized on TV and in articles about them, reveling in their status as celebrities and stalked by griefparrazies. I have never seen people enjoying their husband’s death so much.”

What can one add. If you remain a Coulter fan, we’ll have to agree to disagree.

Responses? Thoughts? Please email them to me at

Tuesday, June 06, 2006


1) THE REVOLUTION STARTS NOW? – It’s June 6, 2006, and that means a young blogger’s fancy turns to California’s 50th District where two aspirants are running-off to inherit Duke Cunningham’s congressional seat. You might recall that Cunningham, a Vietnam war hero, has been sent to prison by an ungrateful nation for using his office to enrich himself by several millions of dollars. If Cunningham had been smart, he would have invoked the cloak of inviolability that ensconces Jack Murtha, and instead of wearing an orange jump suit today he would be happily sobbing on Oprah’s couch.

Anyway, many political seers have declared the race in California’s 50th to be portentous with national implications. If Democrat Francine Busby wins, the conventional wisdom holds, it heralds an oncoming Democrat tsunami in November. If Republican Brian Bilbray wins, it means nothing.

While conservative pundits like Opinion Journal’s Brendan Miniter appear anxious for out of touch Beltway Republicans to finally hear the voice of an enraged electorate, Democrats seem scarcely more hopeful. Daily Kos diarist “sculi2000” (a handle that probably sounded really futuristic in 1995) is “pissed off” over what he/she/it considers the impending Democratic defeat that will run the nutroots’ record to a still unblemished 0-23:

Hell yea, we all want to win. And hell yea, we're all bummed out about what happened last week. But Jesus Christ...Francine is taking one for the team in this race, you know? Who among us would like to endure the Republican machine head on?

We're busy trying to get our fucking country back.

For those of you who haven’t been paying close attention to the race, “the Republican machine” ingeniously found a way to have Busby say in a speech last week, “You don't need papers for voting.” In a southern California district where illegal immigration is a major issue, this apparent plea for votes from illegals was something of a boo-boo. Even Busby’s compelling excuse that she misspoke has failed to arrest the damage. As the above-quoted Kos diarist suggests, the race (which seemed to be breaking to Bilbray anyway) was probably lost by Busby’s spectacular miscue.

So noteworthy was Busby’s boo-boo, no less an authority than that nice Alan Colmes suggested that we should all just accept her contention that she misspoke and let the race be decided on other factors. Alas, politics does not work in such a way. For Democrats who eagerly pounced on every Dan Quayle miss-pronouncement, this cry for mercy at the 11th hour of a combative campaign seems somewhat womanish. And not in the good sexy way.

If Busby does go down to defeat, (which given the support she has received from the nutroots seems all but inevitable), and her ridiculous “misstatement” is a leading cause for said defeat, then the entire episode should prove instructive for those of us in the pundit class. It is true that the Republican Party has become frustrating on a good day, pathetic on a bad one. But in order to win all the individual races out there, the Democrats will have to provide a superior alternative. Given the state of the Democratic Party, this promises to be no easy feat.

You’d have to say the California 50th race was a winnable one for the Democrats, even if it weren’t the year of a putative Democratic tidal wave. After all, the former Republican incumbent now sports an orange jump suit. And yet, it appears like it won’t work out because the Democratic candidate just wasn’t up to snuff.

Will it be different elsewhere, or will Republicans have the great good fortune to be opposed by weak opponents across this great nation of ours?

2) SPEAKING OF PATHETIC DEMOCRATS – Some of you might remember that the best person the Democrat party could belch forth to pursue the presidency in 2004 was an obscure Massachusetts Senator named John Kerry. Kerry has been back in the news in the blogosphere because of an off-the-record conversation he had with a slew of California bloggers; one of the bloggers in attendance dutifully blogged the off-the-record session for posterity’s sake.

This isn’t the first time such a thing happened. Back when Dick Durbin was in the soup over making the comparison between American G.I.’s and the Khmer Rouge, he sought succor in an off-the-record conference call with a bunch of nationally prominent left wing bloggers. Bloggress Annatopia of the MyDD site went to the bother of “live-blogging” the conference call. I brought her memorable blog post (since removed) to greater attention in a Weekly Standard article, whose thrust was the query, “How can politicians be so silly to trust these kids to act like full grown adults.”

History has repeated itself, although this time it was even more farcical than the first time around. A blogger named Hollywood Liberal documented many of Senator Kerry’s comments during the off-the record session. Among the more memorable lines in Hollywood Liberal’s post was that, “Kerry agreed completely with someone’s assessment that everything that Bush does is solely for the purpose of looting the country. He basically said that Bush and his cohorts are criminals and that history will judge them so.”

What makes this episode so embarrassing for Kerry is he doubtlessly does not believe that Bush’s principal goal in office is to “loot the country.” He might perhaps argue that Bush has recklessly and unconstitutionally pursued an expansion of presidential powers and an erosion of civil rights, but the looting comment is something that could only spring from someone in the full throes of Bush Derangement Syndrome. It’s a ridiculous non-sequitur.

And yet Kerry is so needy and so desperately craves the approbation of tin-foil hat wearing bloggers, he’s willing to yes them to death. Have I used the word pathetic yet today?

(By the way, while it is beneath this blog’s dignity to ridicule another person’s physical appearance, I do feel the need to note the following: In the photo accompanying this entry, the man standing next to John Kerry is Hollywood Liberal himself. I would be remiss if I did not point out that Hollywood Liberal’s “hair” has a striking resemblance to the toupee Joe Pesci wore in “JFK.”)

3) A TRUE PARTNER FOR PEACE? – Mahmoud Abbas is doubtlessly winning international plaudits for proposing a pan-Palestinian referendum that will IMPLICITLY recognize Israel. I am inferring that because the recognition of Israel will be implicit, it will not be explicit.

Such is the state of things in the Middle East that many people consider Abbas’ proposal a sign of progress. Almost 60 years into this thing, and only two Arab nations have been able to bring themselves to explicitly recognize Israel.

In considering Abbas’ latest maneuver, Western policy makers will want to recall that delusion is never a wise policy.

4) ON A RELATED TOPIC…Andy McCarthy of National Review has had the audacity to take notice of the elephant in the Canadian holding cell – that all the young men in said cell are Muslims. Also noteworthy is that none of the men have a connection to Al Qaeda. From reading the New York Times’ reports on the matter, I’m not sure if this news is supposed to make us feel better or worse.

5) THEODORE DALRYMPLE WOULD PROBABLY SAY WORSE – Writing in City Journal, Dalrymple reviews “Islamic Imperialism: A History” by Efraim Karsh. I really can’t summarize it without just reprinting it. So just go read the whole thing – it takes today’s prize.

Responses? Thoughts? Please email them to me at

Monday, June 05, 2006


1) AT LONG LAST, HAS SHE NO SHAME? The New York Times editorialized yesterday on the Haditha investigation. Actually, it editorialized on the results of the Haditha investigation, which was passing odd since the investigation has yet to conclude. Nevertheless, the Times knows what happened there was “an apparent cold blooded killing.” Given the speculation I’ve heard, that a handful of Marines went on a rampage after one of their buddies was cut down, just the opposite would seem to be the case. But facts will not deter the Grey Lady from its tedious purpose – to pin this one on its political adversaries.

Taking its best we-told-you-so stance, the Times wags its bony finger, lecturing, “Critics of the war predicted that American troops would become an occupying force, unable to distinguish between innocent civilians and murderous insurgents, propelled down the same path that led the British to disaster in Northern Ireland and American troops to grief in Vietnam.” (Wait! Now they’re saying the soldiers were confused, “unable to distinguish between innocent civilians and murderous insurgents”? I thought it was cold blooded murder!)

Furthermore, the Times doesn’t want the “cold blooded kill(ers)” to be held accountable for their cold blooded killing. Not when the real blame lies in higher places: “This affair cannot simply be dismissed as the spontaneous cruelty of a few bad men.” (Wait! I thought they were confused and couldn’t distinguish friend from foe as the Times had so presciently forecast. My head is spinning!)

Even though the Times doesn’t seem to be thinking or expressing itself clearly, Haditha has given the paper a moment of apparent perfect-storm delight. It senses that it can trot out its ancient Vietnam analogies, and adopt a tone of moral outrage while opportunistically advancing its own political agenda. But, once again, the Times miscalculates.

One of the themes of the left’s anti-war stance has been that we shouldn’t care about Iraqis. You might recall a long ago Democratic nominee for president decrying the fact that we were building firehouses in Baghdad and under-funding firehouses in America. The underlying message was that Iraqis weren’t worth bothering with. First, they weren’t worth delivering from the depredations of Saddam Hussein. Next, their future wasn’t worth fighting Baathist dead-enders and Syrian no-goodniks over.

Sad to say, the Times has won this aspect of the debate. Even on the right, there is a sense of “why are we bothering with these people.” When the Iraqi premier chastises the American troops who make his regime viable, he does little to dispel this sentiment.

But if you spent the last three years trying to convince America that the Iraqis’ well-being should not be an American concern, it becomes a tough sell to convince Americans to get outraged over alleged war time atrocities when the victims are the very people you’ve been so determinedly marginalizing. Americans will support their troops and give them every benefit of the doubt. Even if it turns out to have been cold blooded murder, the vast majority of Americans will view the situation through a prism most favorable to the troops.

And they certainly won’t rush to label something “cold-blooded murder” before all the facts are in.

2) WHAT ABOUT JACK? In the previous few paragraphs, I questioned the New York Times’ motives. I bet even the most hardened lefty wouldn’t begrudge me the right to do so. But Jack Murtha? Man, he’s off limits.

The reasoning goes something like this: Murtha served in Vietnam. Because he served in the shit 40 years ago while others in our current political class jerked around their ROTC commandants, had better things to do, or joined the state-side national guard, Murtha is deemed on a higher moral plane. Questioning his motives is strictly forbidden.

I have to be honest here – the logic escapes me. Every politician’s motives are inherently suspect, regardless of his background.

Let’s do a little thought exercise. Let’s say there was a young man who had performed heroically for his country in a previous war. Let’s say less than 15 years later that man sought his nation’s highest office. Would his moral purity be beyond question? If you said yes, then you just gave a pass to an Austrian Corporal who went on to lead Germany in a decidedly immoral fashion. At the very least, you said you could disagree with the man’s positions but you mustn’t question his character.

But if I write a negative word about Jack Murtha, my inbox fills with critiques that I’m “swift-boating” him. Since I’ve never done anything that event faintly smells of questioning his Vietnam service, I truly don’t follow. Besides, I have no interest in the Jack Murtha of 1966. I guess the argument is Jack Murtha is beyond reproach.

What’s next? A “Free Duke Cunningham” movement?

3) THE NYT HEADLINE READS... “In Paris Suburbs, Worrying Attack by Youths.” As you read on in the New York Times report, you’ll eventually discover about 12 paragraphs into the thing that a lot of the youths are Sub-Saharan and North African immigrants. No word yet on whether the youths might have anything else in common. Stay tuned.

4) THE NYT HEADLINE READS… “17 Held in Plot to Bomb Sites in Ontario.” Reading on, you learn that the “17 men were mainly of South Asian descent.” You also learn from a helpful Canadian official, clearly taking valuable time away from monitoring the Stanley Cup Finals, “They represent the broad strata of our society. Some are students, some are employed, some are unemployed."

Indeed. The names of ages of these representatives of the “broad strata” of Canadian society are Fahim Ahmad, 21; Zakaria Amara, 20; Asad Ansari, 21; Shareef Abdelhaleen, 30; Qayyum Abdul Jamal, 43; Mohammed Dirie, 22; Yasim Abdi Mohamed, 24; Jahmaal James, 23; Amin Mohamed Durrani, 19; Steven Vikash Chand, alias Abdul Shakur, 25; Ahmad Mustafa Ghany, 21; and Saad Khalid, 19. It does sound like these men ably represent all the swaths of the great Canadian mosaic.

The Times’ story is mute on what, if anything, could have brought these 19 spectacularly diverse individuals together to form such a nefarious plot. My theory is that the grinding poverty and hopelessness of Canadian life, what with that nationalized health care system and everything, drove them into a nihilistic and murderous world view. But only time will tell.

5) THIS WOULD BE THE BOTTOM STORY OF THE DAY…The Boston Globe headline reads, “Vt. state senator calls for troop withdrawal.” Alas, the state senator in question, one Peter Welch, is now a candidate for congress and actually gave the Democrats’ nationally broadcast radio address on Saturday.

Welch wants to leave Iraq, so we can focus on fighting terror. Specifically, Welch wants to fight terror by focusing on securing our own ports and borders.

With comments like this, Democrats reveal their soft political under-belly. As the left eagerly reminds the country at every chance, Iraq is now a haven for Al Qaeda fighters. If you want to fight terror, Iraq is where you have to be.

Sometimes I question whether or not people of the left really want to fight the so called war on terror. After all, if you can’t even bring yourself to identify the enemy...

6) FROM THE GET OVER YOURSELF DEPT. – Markos Moulitsas explains the poor functioning of the Daily Kos website by asserting that it’s tough to maintain “a site growing as rapidly as this one.” That line struck me as odd, since I had thought the Daily Kos’ growth had flatlined along with rest of the blogosphere’s several months ago.

Being the intellectually curious type, I clicked over to the DK’s sitemeter. Last October, the site had roughly 23 million visits. In May, the figure was around 16 million. What’s more, the “progress” between last October and May was pretty uniform. In other words, the graph of the site’s visits over the past eight months resembles a ski slope.

But Markos knows what he’s doing. Just like Hilary Clinton, he has to create an air of inevitability around his site’s ascendancy. This is do-able because most politicians have as much of a conceptual understanding of the blogosphere as they do about the ovulation cycle of a three-toed sloth. They see the blogosphere as a growing and soon-to-be-formidable force.

Actually, the opposite is true. The blogs are a mature force, just as the newspapers are. They are not growing more powerful by the minute. They are what they are.

But shush! Don’t tell the pols. If they ever get wind of this, there’s a good chance those fun conference calls will be a thing of the past!

Responses? Thoughts? Please email them to me at

Sunday, June 04, 2006


I REALLY AM SORRY for the light posting the last couple of weeks. It’s now officially a rite of Spring – I return to Boston, become surprisingly busy for a spell, and the blogging rate declines to an unacceptably low level. The worst part of this syndrome is that my friends and family, in particular the long suffering Mrs. Soxblog, become the sole recipients of my non-stop and yet annoyingly repetitive analysis of world events. This is an intolerable situation for all concerned – you, me, and especially those who fall into my lair and become a captive audience.

But before returning to current events, I wanted to write a personal essay that hopefully will answer a lot of the questions readers send me and that will also be helpful to a few of you out there.

In 13 months, I’ll be turning 40. I don’t make that statement casually, like most almost-40 year olds do; four years ago, it didn’t look like I would make the milestone, and that if I did make the make the milestone I would do so with someone else’s lungs inside me.

To bring those of you not in the know up to speed, I have Cystic Fibrosis. I was always very healthy for someone with CF until 2002, when my condition suddenly and dramatically changed for the worst. Such turns of fate aren’t uncommon with the disease. By the end of that year, I was on the lung transplant list.

Lung transplants are what medical practitioners refer to as a treatment of last resort. The reason they get such a title is because lung treatments aren’t nearly effective as other organ transplants. The reasons for that fact aren’t really known, but the numbers are sobering. The odds of surviving one year after a lung transplant are 70%. If you make it the one year, you’ve got a 50% of making it five. Statistically, you have only a tiny shot of making it ten.

Thus, lung transplants have won the title of “treatment of last resort” the old fashioned way – they’ve earned it. For obvious reasons, you would have to be a pretty sick puppy to get in line for such a thing.

I don’t mean to pick on lung transplants. If you’re sick enough to warrant one, a potential lung transplant offers the one thing that you probably need the most – hope. Thus, I was excited not only to get on the list, but also to move up it. At one point late last summer, I made it all the way up to number one which meant I had to be accessible at all times to come into the hospital and collect my new organs if and when they became ready.

As I moved up the list, I became excited about having one last finite go at life. I looked at the transplant as a final chance that would give me a few years to get it right. One of the burdens of life is having to plan for a potentially limitless future; most of you are probably wisely socking enough money away in case you live until 100. Me, I didn’t have any such concerns.

I became excited about the prospects of a post-transplant life. According to the people I spoke with, there’s a limited window where after the transplant you feel great, literally better than you have in years. Before your body begins attacking the new organs, life is good indeed.

Because this time period is usually short, I decided that there was no time to lose. Before the transplant, I resolved to do everything possible to get the non-lung portions of my body in as good a shape as possible; I planned to practically spring from the operating room to the basketball courts once I had my new lungs.

I began hitting the gym with more seriousness than I’d had in a decade. I started to rehab my knees, which had been battered by the combination of a lot of running and virtually no maintenance. I even manned up and made frequent trips to the dentist who visited all sorts of depredations on me as a fitting retribution for what he considered a casual approach to flossing.

I considered the working out and the therapy and even the trips to my dentist’s dungeon as training for my transplant. Just like an athlete trains for the Olympics, I would train for the biggest challenge of my life.

A LITTLE OVER A YEAR AGO, I wrote that having a terminal illness is like being at the center of an ever-contracting circle. The circle represents all the things in your life; as you get sicker, the circle contracts and things that were in your life suddenly fall outside the circle. The smaller the circle gets, the smaller the contents of your life get.

While that may initially sound like a grim analogy, trust me, it’s an apt one. Besides, there’s a decided upside to it. At the innermost portions of the circle lays the things that are most important – your heart, your soul, your loved ones. As the circle gets smaller and more and more aspects of your previous life fall outside the circle, what’s really important makes up an ever increasing proportion of what remains. Suddenly, the things that should have always mattered most DO matter most because they’re all that’s left.

That doesn’t mean that having the circle contract is a ton of fun. In retrospect, the enlightenment that came with the circle’s contraction was terrific, but the day I realized I could no longer walk a hilly golf course was a rotten one. There were many such days of similarly painful realizations – none of them were enjoyable.

But something else was happening, too. Although I didn’t realize I was doing so at the time, I began expanding my circle in new ways as my physical abilities eroded. Without being able to spend all my spare hours playing sports (in a decidedly mediocre fashion, mind you) I began focusing on other things. I’d always been an avid reader, but I began reading a lot more. Just today, looking at my Amazon account, I saw I’ve read 119 books in the past year from Amazon alone. I’d be willing to wager I read twice as many as that in 2003.

But most of all, there was the writing. I started blogging in March 2004. I began writing for the Weekly Standard roughly 11 months later. I have found these activities far more rewarding than I anticipated. (Actually, I knew writing for the Standard would be a blast, but the blogging I was less certain of.) They have given me more satisfaction than dropping fly-balls on the softball field ever did. That previous sentence is a flippant way of acknowledging I really can’t express the difference writing has made in my life.

ANYWAY, FINALLY GETTING TO THE POINT, I’ve gotten a lot healthier. The precise reasons for my improvement can’t be scientifically determined – if they could, everyone with end-stage lung disease would have a new Rx.

But I can speculate. I think the promise of the new lungs combined with day-to-day activities that I found meaningful gave me what I’ll tritely refer to as a hope transplant. The introduction of fresh hope to my life in itself made me feel better. The hope plus the working out and doing all the other right things for my condition made me get better in a physically measurable way.

The improvement the past year has been dramatic. My lung function is as good as it’s been in five years. While of course the primary goal, as is always the case where lifting weights is concerned, is to look buff, I tailor my work-outs so they’ll help me function in a day-to-day more effectively manner. While I’ll never run five miles in 33 minutes again (not with these lungs anyway), I can walk across a long parking lot or up a flight of stairs without spending the next three minutes catching my breath. While these might seem like small triumphs, they’re not. Having such abilities makes every day life easier and more pleasant.

So things are good. As you’ve probably figured out, I’m now too healthy to be on the lung transplant list. That’s a good thing. Just between us, I’ve grown attached to these wheezing old lungs and I found the thought of parting with them disquieting. Although still chronically ill, I function a lot better than I have in years. That’s nice.

Four years ago, I didn’t think I’d live to see the Red Sox win the World Series. Against all odds, that worked out for all of us. Actually, a lot of things of even more importance have worked out these past four years.

AND I’VE LEARNED A LOT, TOO. For those of you who are ill or who have loved ones who are ill, here are some of the personal lessons that I’ve taken from my journey:

1) WANTING TO LIVE may be the biggest “x factor” in determining how long you’ll live. For those of you with a serious illness, this is the single most important observation I could share with you. Focus on the reasons that you want to live. Focus on the things that satisfy you – minimize the things that drive you nuts. If you feel your life is endless misery, it will end soon. Fill your days with the activities that make you happy to get out of bed. Eliminate from your days the things you dread. You’ll want to live longer, and you will.

And for those of you with loved ones who you would like to see live for a longer time rather than a shorter time, help them in this. From what I’ve seen in being around other sick people, loved ones can most readily accomplish this by focusing on not being burdensome. I can’t tell you how many seriously ill people I’ve heard say how their family is driving them crazy. Go to a support group meeting, and there’s a 30% chance that part of it will devolve into all the patients pissing and moaning how the people closest to them are driving them nuts. How sad is that?

If you’ve got a gravely ill loved one and you’re driving them nuts, you’ve simply got to find a way to stop doing what’s bugging them. What follows is harsh, but you’ve got to hear it – you’re literally killing them faster.

2) EACH DAY IS A GIFT, although sometimes it is as Tony Soprano says the equivalent of a pair of socks. What I’m really trying to say is tomorrow is guaranteed to no man. No person has gotten off this planet alive. None of us will be the first. Death is part of the deal. Living is pretty great – being seriously ill gives you a visceral appreciation of that fact. And that knowledge tends to make every day, and the little miracles that accompany every day like a glazed chocolate donut or a perfect cup of coffee, all the sweeter.

3) ON A RELATED NOTE, DEATH ISN’T THAT BAD. You look death close in the eye over an extended period of time, and you realize it’s just going to happen. Death will get you, sooner or later. It’s just a fact, and the price of living. One of the things that I’ve been struck by being around gravely ill people is, generally speaking, their lack of fear.

4) DOCTORS ARE GREAT, BUT…First of all, I’ve been blessed with incredible doctors. My CF doctor, in particular, is one of my heroes. He uses his considerable talents to tirelessly serve gravely ill children and young adults. I honestly don’t know how he does it. My only complaint regarding him is that his own life is so admirable, I can’t help but feel like an utter turd in comparison.

But…If your prognosis is imminent death, then by definition your doctors do not have all the answers. If they don’t know how to cure your disease, they don’t understand everything about how it functions. And, for what it’s worth, few doctors are in a rush to confess what they don’t know.

You’ve got to take control. Become an expert on your condition. While your physician will probably always know more about how your disease effects the general population, you know best how your disease is working inside of you. This is your fight – take control of it.

OKAY, ENOUGH ABOUT ME. I’ll be back early tomorrow with an excellent Spanning the Web (if I do say so myself) that’s mostly already written. I think the words “Haditha” and “Murtha”will be prominently featured. As if that weren’t enough, Carl has written an essay on his favorite TV show (no, not “Saved by the Bell – The College Years” as I figured it would be) that I’ll be posting.

Thanks for your patience.

Responses? Thoughts? Please email them to me at