Tuesday, January 31, 2006

SPANNING THE WEB - 1/31/2006

What about me????

1) Last night I was extremely flattered when Hugh Hewitt wrote in his blog that the Boston Globe should hire me and observed that farsighted dailies are scarfing up the best bloggers in their backyard. It was a nice sentiment, and I’m grateful to Hugh as always for the kind words. Meanwhile, I couldn’t help but to begin fantasizing about being a Globe columnist – hanging around their plush Morrissey Boulevard offices, having in-depth political gabfests with Derrick Z. Jackson, sharing the occasional cup of java with James Carroll, talking about how the world has gone to hell-in-a-hand-basket since 1957 with Dan Shaughnessy. It would have been quite a life.

And then along came a bunch of mean-spirited lefties to ruin my buzz. This morning, I was cc’d on several letters written to Globe head honcho Marty Baron imploring him to not give into this nascent right wing movement to hire me and urging him to refuse to clutch a troglodyte like me into the Globe’s bosom.

The dream dies hard.

2) Speaking of not feeling the love, my review of Andrew Bostom’s “The Legacy of Jihad” caught the attention of Robert Spencer at Jihad Watch. Mr. Spencer and several of his commenters were pretty hard on me which struck me as odd since I loved the book and so did they. Anyway, one plucky commenter did come to my defense, observing, “Barnett supports Bostom's book, provides good PR, and exposes it to an audience that might not have heard of it otherwise. Thanks, Dean.” I found Spencer’s criticism really disappointing, primarily because I have so much respect for him and his work. I’ll do better next time, Robert – promise.

3) Oh, how I’ll miss the Alito hearings and the ensuing filibuster non-drama. At first, as you might remember, I was a little cool to the topic, but eventually I succumbed to the irresistible comedy of Kerry, Kennedy and Biden outdoing themselves time and again. On NRO’s Corner, John Podhoretz offered a fond reminiscence: “I will always have those indelible moments--Biden's 14-minute-long question, Teddy Kennedy reading a parodic article from the conservative magazine at Princeton as though it had been written in all seriousness, Barack Obama saying the filibuster was a stupid idea and then voting for it, and, of course, John Kerry vowing to block the nomination from the Davos ski slopes. These are my Kodak moments, ones I will cherish.”

4) But not everyone was laughing. Some Democrats took it pretty hard when the Alito filibuster bit the dust. Although this Kos diarist tried to hide her pain in elegant prose, the anger showed through anyway: “What I want is a complete list of every scumsucking f--kstick Democratic a--hole senator who voted for cloture. That's what I want. I don't know what to DO with that list, not yet -- but I know for G--DAMNED sure I won't be VOTING for any of them, let alone sending them any g--damned MONEY. Frankly, right now I'd like nothing better than to torpedo the entire lot of them. Just dump them like so much worthless, leaden, VICHY MOTHERF--KING BALLAST. I got nothin', folks. Don't look over here if you want comfort or a nice, uplifting LIVE TO FIGHT ANOTHER DAY speech. I'M DONE WITH THEM. They are DEAD to me. Yeah. CANTWELL and BYRD and LANDRIEU and BINGAMAN and every last motherf--king one of them, I'm DONE with them. I'm registering Independent tomorrow. You're welcome to join me.”

5) Here’s some good news. One of Israel’s grand old men of intelligence is convinced that Iran already has a nuclear device or two. I personally don’t agree with him, but even if he’s right the options for dealing with Iran worsen by the day. Faster please, Mr. President.

6) The Oscar Nominations are out, and in the most anti-climactic event since yesterday’s filibuster went down in flames, “Brokeback Mountain” was the critics’ darling, getting nods in 5 of the 6 premier categories. (If it had a woman with enough screen time, she, too, would doubtlessly have been nominated for best actress.) Actually, “Brokeback” is a fine film and I haven’t forgotten that I owe you a review of it. I’ll get it done by Oscar night.

Amazingly, I’ve seen four of the five films nominated for best picture. Only “Crash” has eluded my knowing glare. The best of the four I’ve seen is far and away “Capote.” While “Brokeback” will unquestionably win the best picture award, Philip Seymour Hoffman may very well get the statue for his uncanny embodiment of Truman Capote. If you see only one art-house movie this year, make it “Capote.”

7) James Lileks calls our attention to a Minneapolis Star Tribune article on the opening of a “vegan boutique.” Longtime readers of Soxblog know that the mere mention of veganism in any context is likely to trigger a paroxysm of juvenile putdowns on my part. Anyway, in the finest traditions of sloppy journalism, the Strib writer interviews the boutique’s owner and paraphrases, “He said that others exist in New York City, but that his is the only 100 percent cruelty-free vegan boutique in Minnesota.” That’s why vegans elicit such mirth from me. In their world, you’re either a vegan or cruel. Talk about Manichean!

8) Dan McLaughlin, a.k.a. The Baseball Crank, has an article in Hardball Times where he analyzes the Hall of Fame merits of Jim Rice, Andre Dawson and Albert Belle. Dan’s a brilliant guy, and when he concludes that Jim Rice doesn’t belong in the Hall of Fame, you can only hope that lesser intellects like Dan Shaughnessy are paying attention. Dan also notices something that I’ve commented on many times: The favorite player of my youth, Dwight Evans, has been utterly screwed by baseball historians. (My pseudonym was in Evans’ honor.)

9) Sick of politicians who temporize and equivocate? Tired of the type of guy who says, “I voted for the $87 billion before I voted against it?” Then Hamas honcho Khalid Mish’al may be what you’re looking for. In an op-ed piece that appeared in Britain’s al-Guardian, Mish’al left no doubt where he stands on the Zionist entity: “We shall never recognise the legitimacy of a Zionist state created on our soil in order to atone for somebody else's sins or solve somebody else's problem.” But then in the very next sentence, Mish’al seems to lose his nerve, stating, “But if you are willing to accept the principle of a long-term truce, we are prepared to negotiate the terms. Hamas is extending a hand of peace to those who are truly interested in a peace based on justice.” Perhaps Palestine has found its John Kerry after all.

I would be remiss in reporting on this article if I didn’t mention Mish’al’s opening sentence: “It is widely recognised that the Palestinians are among the most politicised and educated peoples in the world.” Who, pray tell, is doing this “wide recognizing” that Palestinians are among the most educated peoples in the world?

10) The Washington Post has a terrific column up on what an unmitigated disaster Howard Dean has been as DNC Chair. Not only has he been out raised by the Republicans ($81.5 million to $42 million), Dean has so depleted the DNC cupboard that only $6.8 million remain. This means if the DNC sprang for two bionic legs, one bionic arm and a bionic eye (all at 1976 prices) it would have but $800k left!

Responses? Thoughts? Please email them to me at soxblog@aol.com



That’s what the radical left is asking itself this morning. After failing to convince the American public of the clear and present danger of a confirmed Samuel Alito, the left is introspective today. How, they wonder, could they have failed to make such an obvious case?

As Soxblog readers know, I’m nothing if not helpful. For instance, if a reader sends me an email saying he needs help cleaning his gutter over the weekend, I’m there.

Even though they don’t realize it, in a very real albeit metaphorical way, the community of liberals has asked me to come over and clean their gutter this morning. So, like a good neighbor, I’m there.

YOU MADE SO MANY BIG MISTAKES, it’s tough to know where to start, but how about here: You had a dreadful strategy. You’ve allowed all your political campaigns, be they for a congressional seat or over a Supreme Court seat, to devolve into name-calling and insults. You don’t like a columnist? Call him a chicken-hawk. You think Bush is a bad president? Call him a chimp or Hitler. You don’t like a potential Supreme Court nominee? Baselessly call him a bigot.

This strategy was particularly ill-suited to the Alito fight. Alito practically exudes decency. In spite of months of the filthiest kind of opposition research done by the bitter partisans at People for the American Way, Alito’s opponents seemingly couldn’t find one person who actually knew Alito who was willing to besmirch his reputation. While Ted Kennedy was willing to call him a bigot, there was no one acquainted with Alito ready to be so rhetorically reckless.

Speaking of Ted Kennedy, that brings us to the second area where you made a real dog’s breakfast of this thing – your choice of spokesmen. First, by way of introducing the issue, let me offer a little quote from the Boston Globe’s Joan Vennochi: “The moment Kennedy was exposed for belonging to a discriminatory college fraternal organization, it was over. He lost the moral high ground.”

And you people fancy yourselves the “reality based community!” Good heavens, there are few opponents against whom Ted Kennedy would occupy the “moral high ground” and that fact has little to do with what “college fraternal organizations” he belongs to. How could you not know this? Ted Kennedy’s morality, what little there is of it, has long been a settled matter as far as most of the country is concerned. Are you truly numb to the reality of how Ted Kennedy plays outside your fevered swamps?

Apparently you are. What else could possibly explain for Ted Kennedy being your principal spokesman again yesterday? You guys really have to make an effort to get out a little more. But if actually leaving Berkeley or Cambridge is too much, try this – every now and then watch or read someone that doesn’t share your worldview. That’s how you know what’s going on outside your own little echo chamber. I know it sounds tough, but you can do it. If I can read the New York Times and the Daily Kos, you can watch Brit Hume.

Truth be told, there was a certain poignancy to Kennedy’s blustery would-be filibuster yesterday. He was saying that the public hadn’t had time to look at the issues surrounding Judge Alito’s jurisprudence. And to some degree he was right. But was it Judge Alito’s fault that his Democratic interrogators opted to demonize him rather than have a serious conversation about serious issues?

And this brings us to your biggest problem brought to the surface by L’Affaire Alito. You could almost hear the small portion of the nation that was paying attention titter as Ted Kennedy was pleading for a second chance at discussing the matter after having already had three days to grill the man. This time, the Senator seemed to promise, we’ll be civil and serious and stay focused on the issues.

Honestly now, does anyone think the Democratic Party is even capable of such a display at this point in time? You’ve got Howard Dean as DNC chair, who, like Kennedy is a national laughing-stock. You have John Kerry trying to transform himself into a blogger. You have Cindy Sheehan going kissy-face with Hugo Chavez

But there is a piece of good news for you. The Republican party is in disarray. You may well benefit from a “throw the bums out” mentality come this November.

That being the case, will you consider doing your countrymen a favor between now and then? Please, for the love of God and country, grow up.

Responses? Thoughts? Please email them to me at soxblog@aol.com

Monday, January 30, 2006

SPANNING THE WEB - 1/30/2006

Sorry for the late posting today – I was making my way back down to Florida. The good news is that this time I wasn’t bedeviled by a row-mate whose massive Robert Fisk tome kept nudging into my airspace. The bad news is that I missed a really busy news day.

1) Hugh Hewitt calls to our attention an essay by someone named “Spengler” at the Asia Times. I don’t know who “Spengler” is nor do I know why he goes by one name like he’s someone really important like Madonna or Cher. But I do know he’s written one of the most insightful essays of the year. He shows that contrary to conventional wisdom, democracies do go to war with each other and new democracies (like, say, “Palestine”) go to war with a disturbing frequency. And get this – he backs up his arguments with actual facts. Not pleasant reading, but must-reading.

2) You know how impressed I was by Spengler’s article? It actually drove me to put naked self-promotion down into second place for the day. I have a review up on the Standard’s website of “The Legacy of Jihad” by Dr. Andrew Bostom. (The only reason I do Bostom the honor of calling him “Doctor” is because he’s a real doctor, the kind who actually uses a tongue depressor as opposed to a pompous Ph.D. recipient who likes calling himself “Doctor.”) Bostom’s book documents the aggressive wars waged in the name of Islam in some detail as well as the philosophy of an “offensive” Islam. Check out my review, but especially check out his book. His book is an important work of scholarship.

3) John Kerry flaunts his new-found dexterity with the blogosphere by taking his act to the Huffington Post today. Once again, my junior senator is whining about the Alito nomination. “I am convinced that Judge Alito is the wrong choice for America,” he writes. “In fact, I am convinced that he is a dangerous choice for America. This is a rare moment in Washington. We are facing the vote of a lifetime - a vote that will shape the law for generations to come.” This little passage neatly underlines one of the problems of the modern liberal. Every issue is Armageddon; every vote is the “vote of a lifetime.” They have amped up the drama so frequently, the result has been the American public has chosen to tune them out. I’ll pose this little query to Senator Kerry: Since the Alito confirmation vote is the vote of your lifetime, what’s the vote for the next Supreme Court nominee going to be? The vote of a thousand lifetimes?

4) A long time ago, I observed the natural phomenon that I labeled “The Kerry Magic.” Specifically, the Kerry Magic referred to the Senator’s penchant for straddling an issue hoping to please both sides but instead pissing both sides off.

Lincoln Chafee, a Republican (in name only from Rhode Island) trotted out his own version of the Kerry Magic today, announcing that he would vote against Alito’s confirmation but that he would not support the filibuster against him. So how did this work? Did Chafee win the adulation of both the left and the right with this characteristically shrewd gambit. You be the judge: Here’s conservatice James Taranto on Chafee: “Although Chafee may be more ‘electable’ than (primary opponent) Laffey in Rhode Island, it's hard to think of much reason why a conservative would support the incumbent.” And here’s my favorite Kos Diarist, Georgia 10, on Rhode Island solon: “Chafee to NARAL: Screw You.”

5) One thing I like is an artist who respects his audience. Not in the phony way of an Andrew Sullivan who self-aggrandizingly observes at least twice a week that his audience has to be the smartest people in the universe. No, I’m talking about artists who really admire their audience’s intelligence. Like George Clooney. Here’s what Clooney said about the film-going public in a Newsweek roundtable with other auteurs: “I'll wager that every one of our films, when you first tested it with an audience, tested much lower than after it was reviewed. Sometimes people need reviews to explain what a film is, to put it into some sort of perspective.” I know what he means. Take “Ocean’s 12.” That movie went right over my head until Roger Ebert explained it to me.

6) Here’s something amazing: George W. Bush has actually nudged above 50% in the Rasmussen approval polls. I say we think of some way to keep the Massachusetts’ Senate delegation in the news for the next month or so. If we can do that, I bet we can kick the number up to 60%.

7) Why do I read the Boston Globe’s James Carroll? Because he is a reliable barometer of the ignorance and hatred that coarse through the veins of a certain political sect in our country. Here’s a jewel from today’s Carroll column: “Al Qaeda is a free floating nihilism, not a nation, or even a network. Al Qaeda is a rejectionist idea to which deracinated miscreants are drawn, like filings to a magnet, but that drawing power is generated in Washington. Bin Laden was a self-mythologized figure of no historic standing until George W. Bush designated him America's equal by defining 9/11 as an act of war to be met with war, instead of a crime to be met with criminal justice.” What James Carroll doesn’t know about Radical Islam could fill a book. One the size of Andrew Bostom’s “The Legacy of Jihad.

8) Cathy Young in the Boston Globe has a piece on the sad Haleigh Poutre story in which Young repeatedly declares, “Haleigh Poutre is no Terri Schiavo.” True enough – nobody has said she is. But Young does not engage the similarities in their cases. In both instances, certain parties refused to err on the side of life. In the Schiavo case, we don’t know exactly what kind of life was terminated but for some us the fact that the state deemed any life worth terminating was disturbing; we feared it would likely be a step down a slippery slope. Massachusetts’ headlong rush to prematurely end Haleigh’s life can be viewed as a slide down that slippery slope. And the fact is, it’s only for a fluke of timing regarding Haleigh’s improvement and the interference of three benevolent attorneys that Haleigh remains alive. If the DSS had its way, Haleigh’s life would have ended back in October.

9) If you have a long memory, you might remember something more about Howard Dean’s presidential candidacy than the Iowa scream. For instance, Dean raised a ton of money, more I believe than all his opponents combined, and had nothing to show for the cash. Right now, Dean is doing for the Democratic Party what he did for his own campaign. In spite of raising $51 million in 2005, the DNC only has $5 million in the bank compared to the RNC’s $34 million. According to Roll Call, this circumstance has caused party leaders to have a series of “come to Jesus” meetings with Dean to impress upon him the need to stop going through money like Ted Kennedy at a wedding with a cash bar.

The fact that other Democrats have the audacity to criticize Dean doesn’t sit well with ardent Dean supporter Markos Moulitsas, who in his customary fashion personalizes the dispute, labeling the anonymous sources who spoke to Roll Call as “cowards.” Besides, Markos has a perfect explanation of where the $46 million went:

- To date, the DNC has hired talented, experienced, diverse political professionals in 43 states. Thirty of those states have sent their staffers to Washington, DC for several days of training from top Democratic operatives about how to effectively organize Democrats in their communities.

- Governor Dean and the DNC invested more than $7 million to elect new Democratic governors Jon Corzine in New Jersey and Tim Kaine in Virginia. Democrats also reaped important ballot box victories at the local level in places like Mobile, Alabama, St. Paul, Minnesota and King County, Washington.

- Governor Dean has traveled to 34 states and territories during his first year as chairman to talk about Democratic values and raise money for the local parties...

Are Republicans fortunate to have these guys as their opponents or what?

Responses? Thoughts? Please email them to me at soxblog@aol.com

Saturday, January 28, 2006

SPANNING THE WEB - 1/28/2006

1) If you feel like sipping from a nice cup of steaming Bush-hating venom, be sure to check out Bob Kuttner’s Boston Globe column today. Kuttner writes today’s column with the hope that his wisdom will enable his countrymen to decipher the slick-talking president’s state of the union address. Example: “Kinder, Gentler, More Deceptive. Expect purely symbolic election-year feints reverting to the rhetoric of the uniter-Bush of 2000, coupled with coded boasting to the Republican base, say, on abortion and the Supreme Court.” Since the Globe pays Kuttner to vomit out 700 words per essay, why doesn’t he just cut to the chase and write, “I hate Bush” 233 times?

2) Speaking of a once major daily’s noteworthy fallibility, blogger Patterico is once again driving the Los Angeles Times bananas. A couple of days ago, Patterico pointed out an infuriating passage from an L.A. Times editorial: “Although the United States, Israel and the European Union brand Hamas a terrorist organization, Palestinians admire it for the schools and hospitals it runs. And the organization that once routinely dispatched suicide bombers into Israel has mostly refrained from such attacks for about the last year.” Regarding the above quotation, what can one say? Speaks eloquently for itself, no? Nevertheless, the L.A. Times in-house blogger Michael Hitzlik offered a typically lame defense, complaining that Patterico was “picking at minor issues of syntax and diction.” Now that’s a persuasive argument!

3) In the Weekly Standard, the great Robert Kagan takes the time to refute the slander that he’s a Straussian: “I JUST WANT TO MAKE clear that I am not a Straussian. Not that there's anything wrong with that. Some of my closest friends are Straussians, and I have long admired the work of Allan Bloom, Harry Jaffa, Harvey Mansfield, and Thomas Pangle--though not, I must say, Leo Strauss himself, since I have never understood a word the political philosopher wrote. I mean not a single word. Nor have I been very good at understanding his disciples, really, and Pangle, from whom I once took two courses, can back me up on this.” In case you care, I think I used to be a Straussian, but I let my membership lapse.

4) Jimmy Carter monitored the Palestinian election and was impressed by their fairness. I don’t really have anything to say about this; I just wanted an excuse to run the following cartoon from fabulous blogger Wuzzadem:

5) The Washington Post runs a lengthy column today documenting the internecine slap-fight breaking out between professional Democratic consultants and fire breathing left wing bloggers. “The bloggers and online donors represent an important resource for the party, but they are not representative of the majority you need to win elections,” says Steve Elmendorf, Democratic K Street pro. “The trick will be to harness their energy and their money without looking like you are a captive of the activist left.”

6) Well, if Elmendorf thought he was going to kick up a storm in the bloggers’ sandbox without any response, he had another thing coming. Markos Moulitsas, for one, sure wasn’t going to acquiesce to the notion that the bloggers are a bunch of childish amateurs who have to be co-opted by the pros while being relegated to the kids’ table. So Kos, as his wont, made the issue personal. “Here's notice,” he cautioned. “Any Democrat associated with Elmendorf will be outed. The netroots can then decide for itself whether it wants to provide some of that energy and money to that candidate.” Will this put a crimp in Mr. Elmendorf’s lifestyle? Is he quaking in his Guccis? Time will tell.

7) James Taranto and Paul Gigot of the Wall Street Journal got to sit down with Vice President Cheney for an extended chat. It wasn’t dull. My favorite moment was when Cheney concluded the session by taking a swipe at the administration’s critics who might question why the three members of the orginal “axis of evil” are being handled in markedly different ways. "There are ways to approach different problems, and I think we've got to be sophisticated enough to figure out which one is most likely to work." After all, "you wouldn't want to accuse us of being simplistic."

8) Also from the Journal’s website, the WSJ’s editorial board released a rare Friday evening editorial for the express purpose of poking fun at John Kerry. How delightful! “Senator John Kerry announced yesterday that he will attempt to rally his fellow Democrats to stage a filibuster to stop the confirmation of Samuel Alito to the Supreme Court. Apparently, this is not a parody. Mr. Kerry made this dramatic political intervention from the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, where he was communing with his political base.… Back on planet Earth, at least three red-state Democrats have now said they'll vote for Judge Alito. Two of them--Robert Byrd of West Virginia and Ben Nelson of Nebraska--happen to be up for re-election this year. Mr. Kerry may not care much about the Senate because his real goal is winning the Democratic nomination for President again in 2008. Republicans should be so lucky.”

9) The New York Times was on the ground in “Palestine,” deconstructing the election results that gave Hamas the keys to the creaky Edsel of a government that runs the state-let. While I’m not entirely comfortable being in league with the Times, its reporter found exactly what I predicted. While the Palestinians did vote for Hamas, they didn’t vote for a war that they will lose and lose badly. Says one insightful citizen, “Now they are not only a resistance group. They are the government. They should talk and be more realistic. This is a very heavy responsibility they have taken. But I think they will be able to do it.” Any chance she would be willing to serve as Palestine’s prime minister?

Responses? Thoughts? Please email them to me at soxblog@aol.com


LET’S TALK JACK. No, unfortunately not Jack Bauer. Maybe we’ll talk about him later this weekend. But for now, let’s discuss Jack Abramoff.

First of all, let’s get some irrefutable facts out: Abramoff is a scumbag. The politicians that took his loot are worse because they violated the public’s trust.

I think as a public service, I should outline in bare-bone form the nature of the scandal. Abramoff was a lobbyist who represented Indian tribes who sought gaming licenses from Congress; because of issues that have their roots in the days when Sitting Bull and Custer were scampering about, Indian tribes can get such largesse only from the federal government.

Before becoming a lobbyist for multiple Indian tribes, Abramoff was a high ranking lackey of Tom Delay’s. In other words, he had big-time access – he knew everyone worth knowing on Capitol Hill. If he wanted to bend someone’s ear during, say, a comped golf trip to Scotland, he knew how to get the guy on the phone and extend the invite. On the other end of the line, he found several of our noble public servants were more than willing to travel with him to play the world’s best golf courses and hear how the opening of a casino by a particular Indian tribe was a matter of pressing national interest.

A few things about this scandal merit mention. First, this is a story that has outraged people like me long before the left even knew Jack Abramoff was an orthodox Jew. Don’t believe me? Take this for evidence: In December, 2004, the Weekly Standard ran a trenchant cover story on Abramoff written by the brilliant Andy Ferguson.

Ferguson’s article began, “In honor of the tenth anniversary of the fabled Republican Revolution--for precisely a decade has flown by since Republicans took control of the House of Representatives, following forty years of Democratic darkness--let us pause from our noise-making and silly-hat-wearing to ponder the story of Jack Abramoff and Michael Scanlon. They have lately been much in the news.” The story concluded by citing a typically blustering 1995 Grover Norquist quote and responding, “It was a bold statement, typical for the time, but even then it raised a question we now know the answer to: Would the Republicans change Washington, or would it be the other way around?”

In other words, no one who cares about conservative principles denies the rot that the Abramoff scandal reveals at the core of the Republican power structure. Indeed, we’ve been beating this drum long before people on the left seemed to even know that it existed.

But there may be a reason for the left’s ignoring the situation: Their hands aren’t exactly lily-white clean either. Purporting to triumphantly show that the Abramoff scandal is exclusively a Republican deal, the liberal American Prospect ran an analysis of the Abramoff effect on Indian tribe donations. In the interest of fairness, here’s the chart reprinted in its entirety:

1) Tribe: Saginaw Chippewa (Michigan)

Pre-Abramoff contributions to Dems (1991 - 9/2000): $371,250

Pre-Abramoff contributions to GOP (1991 - 9/2000): $285,000

Post-Abramoff contributions to Dems (9/2000 - 2003): $191,960

Post-Abramoff contributions to GOP (9/2000 - 2003): $401,500

2) Tribe: Chitimacha Tribe of Louisiana

Pre-Abramoff contributions to Dems (1991 - 9/2000): $61,320

Pre-Abramoff contributions to GOP (1991 - 9/2000): $48,560

Post-Abramoff contributions to Dems (9/2000 - 2003): $64,000

Post-Abramoff contributions to GOP(9/2000 - 2003): $162,590

3) Tribe: Coushatta Tribe of Louisiana

Pre-Abramoff contributions to Dems (1991 - 4/2001): $1,000

Pre-Abramoff contributions to GOP (1991 - 4/2001): $750

Post-Abramoff contributions to Dems (4/2001 - 6/2004): $40,500

Post-Abramoff contributions to GOP (4/2001 - 6/2004): $168,750

4) Tribe: Pueblo of Sandia (New Mexico)

Pre-Abramoff contributions to Dems (1991 - 3/2002): $24,000

Pre-Abramoff contributions to GOP (1991 - 3/2002): $15,000

Post-Abramoff contributions to Dems (3/2002 - 6/2003): $18,500

Post-Abramoff contributions to GOP (3/2002 - 6/2003): $11,500

5) Tribe: Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians (California)

Pre-Abramoff contributions to Dems (1991 - 7/2002): $371,250

Pre-Abramoff contributions to GOP (1991 - 7/2002): $400,200

Post-Abramoff contributions to Dems (7/2002 - 6/2004): $70,000

Post-Abramoff contributions to GOP (7/2002 - 6/2004): $216,708

6) Tribe: Cherokee Nation (Oklahoma)

Pre-Abramoff contributions to Dems (1991 - 1/2003): $35,470

Pre-Abramoff contributions to GOP (1991 - 1/2003): $6,050

Post-Abramoff contributions to Dems (1/2003 - 12/2003): $250

Post-Abramoff contributions to GOP (1/2003 - 12/2003): $0

7) Tribe: Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians

Pre-Abramoff contributions to Dems (1991 - 1995): $4,600

Pre-Abramoff contributions to GOP (1991 - 1995): $31,000

Post-Abramoff contributions to Dems (1995 - 2004): $409,273

Post-Abramoff contributions to GOP (1995 - 2004): $884,927

Let’s just focus on Tribe #7, the very generous and civic minded Mississippi Choctaws. The kids at the American Prospect apparently feel that it will be a great p.r. coup for the Democrats that Republicans received $850,000 of dirty money compared to the Democrats’ $400,000. Sorry to puncture their cocoon of denial, but it won’t play that way. For anyone who’s for some reason paying attention to this scandal, these figures will lead to a “pox on both your houses” conclusion.

Which brings us to my final point. No one’s paying attention to this scandal, and no one will. Talk show host Phil Donahue used to have guests on who would describe big societal problems that were being oddly neglected. Donahue would yell at them, “Where’s your baby in a well? You need a baby stuck in a well!” Donahue’s suggestion was right – to get the American public’s attention to focus on something that would otherwise be arcane, there needs to be a graphic image or moment.

This scandal lacks such a signature. To put it in perhaps needlessly crass terms, America doesn’t give a shit about the machinations that go on behind the scenes that allow Indian tribes to open casinos.

So if Democratic activists think they’re going to ride the “culture of corruption” to electoral success, they’re miscalculating badly. First of all, the corruption that they’re baying about doesn’t quicken America’s pulse. Second of all, they’re a junior partner in the “culture of corruption” that they so vigorously decry.

ALL OF THE FOREGOING ADDS UP TO THE FOLLOWING: The promise of 1994 has been broken. While the political damage may be insignificant, the fact of 12 lost years is not. This is our scandal and our shame. It is high time we clean it up.

Responses? Thoughts? Please email them to me at soxblog@aol.com

Friday, January 27, 2006

SPANNING THE WEB - 1/27/2006

1) Just when you fret the Democratic Party may have run out of sharks to jump, you remember that the Dems have in their ranks John Kerry so the foolish antics are in no danger of ending anytime soon. In a transparently politically play designed to please the donkey’s highly motivated (read: chemically imbalanced) base, Kerry nominated himself to lead a hopeless filibuster of Sam Alito. As Texas Senator John Cornyn’s spokesman Don Stewart put it, "God bless John Kerry. He just cinched this whole nomination. With Senator Kerry, it is Christmas every day."

The Republicans also had a little fun with the fact that Kerry launched this political Pickett’s Charge while junketeering in Europe. Scott McClellan probably got off his only memorable line during his lengthy tenure as Bush’s spokesman when he quipped, “I think it was a historic day yesterday. It was the first ever call for a filibuster from the slopes of Davos, Switzerland.”

2) The problem with Kerry is he doesn’t realize that his antics are downright un-American. When an American loses, he salutes the victor and resolves to get ‘em next time. He doesn’t begin a multi-year pouting jag. By way of example, the New England Patriots could complain that neither the Pittsburgh Steelers nor the Seattle Seahawks are worthy successors to the championship Patriots. They could further observe that since the neither the Steelers nor the Seahawks will have beaten the Patriots during their potential title run, their ultimate victory should hardly count; it should come with an asterisk or something. But you won’t hear such sour grapes from the Patriots. Instead, they will go 19-0 next year and leave as an answer to a trivia question the team that won the championship in the middle of the Patriots streak of five titles in six years. That’s the American way, and the Patriots’ way

3) As a public service, I think I should explain the precise derivation of the phrase “jump the shark” since every time I use it I get a few letters asking what it means. Simply put, “jumping the shark” refers to a TV show of once high quality doing something so jarringly awful that the show becomes from that point forward irredeemable. The phrase actually refers to a specific episode of “Happy Days” where the Fonz, once the very epitome of cool, jumped over some sharks Evel Knevel-style while on water-skis. The phrase has since migrated into the general culture so anyone or anything, not just TV shows, can “jump the shark.” For instance, a certain Senator known for his windbag ways could theoretically “jump the shark” if he were to go so far as to not get off a single question during his allotted question-and- answer period during a confirmation hearing.

4)I have me a little plan. First I’m going to write me a book. Then I’m going to get it selected to be part of Oprah’s Book Club. Then I’m going to sell about 2 million copies of my book. My book will be good and true – it will not bring dishonor unto Oprah’s Book Club. I will be an honored guest on her couch. And everyone will be happy. (I should note that Oprah’s Book Club is not a good thing, but a great thing. More people should read books. Period. If getting the imprimatur of the daytime talk-host diva actually gets a couple of million people to read Ellie Wiesel, that’s fantastic. But the fact that she’s getting people to read who might otherwise not be so inclined is pretty damn good even if the books sometimes aren’t.)

5)Bill Simmons has an outstanding email interview with Red Sox ace Curt Schilling who is highly opinionated and intelligent. In the exchange Simmons is funny, Schilling insightful It’s a wonderful read. Especially delightful to my sensibilities was the part where Schilling called out the Boston Globe’s Dan Shaughnessy for the disingenuous fraud that he is: “The thing that I find funny is that some of the better writers suck at their jobs from my standpoint: Shaughnessy comes to mind. Dan wrote a column basically calling Pedro a piece of trash after he left the ball park on Opening Day 2004, talking about what a bad guy and horrible person he was for doing so. This is the same guy who waxed poetic years earlier when Roger Clemens did the exact same thing, calling Roger a gamer, someone that despised losing.” I will take issue with Big Curt on one item, though; take it from a pro – Shaughnessy stinks as a writer also.

6) Charles Krauthammer penned an extremely moving elegy to his recently deceased brother this morning. Check it out – it will make you remember how much your own family means to you.

7) Must reading on the Wall Street Journal’s site regarding the left’s continuing fondness for Julius and Ethel Rosenberg. The Rosenbergs led a spy ring for the Soviet Union that was enormously successful in penetrating the Los Alamos nuclear plant. Both won a richly deserved apppointment with “Old Sparky” at Sing Sing for their efforts. Anyone who wants to spend even a minimal amount of time acquainting themselves with the facts surrounding the Rosenberg “controversy” will learn that the Rosenbergs were undoubtedly guilty. And yet they and their “innocence” remain a sacred cow to some members of the left like Tony Kushner, author of “Angels in America” and the screenplay for Stephen Spileberg’s “Munich.” One must wonder, is rational debate possible with such people?

8) As some of you have probably discovered by now, I have an article up on the Standard’s website describing the sad story of Haleigh Poutre, the abused Massachusetts girls whose life the state pined to end but, before the legal maneuverings concluded, showed signs of improvement that her doctors and the DSS had said was impossible. Today brings more good news regarding Haleigh. The Boston Globe reports, “Haleigh Poutre, the brain-damaged girl at the center of a passionate end-of-life debate, was transferred yesterday from a pediatric intensive-care unit to a Brighton rehabilitation center, two days after the state's top child-protection official (Harry Spence) saw her pick up a Curious George stuffed animal and a yellow duck on command… Spence, who has been criticized for seeking to remove her life support as soon as eight days after her hospitalization, said he visited Haleigh for the first time ‘out of some sense of responsibility.’” It’s too bad Spence didn’t feel this “sense of responsibility” before his agency attempted to terminate Haleigh’s life.

9) Lastly, make sure you read Victor Davis Hanson today. He takes to task Senators Clinton and Kerry as only he can. Great, great stuff.

Responses? Thoughts? Please email them to me at soxblog@aol.com

Thursday, January 26, 2006

SPANNING THE WEB - 1/26/2006

1) I don’t even want to think of a world without John Kerry. The unintentional comedy that man provides – he truly is a gift to humanity. Today, the newly minted Kos Diarist has decided that he must, just must, lead a filibuster against the confirmation of Samuel Alito. He has even pleaded with the netroots to charge up the hill with him imploring, “I can’t do this alone.” He announced his crusade after it became clear that the Democrats do not have enough votes for a filibuster, even if the Gang of 14 decides this is a filibusterable situation. But here’s the punch line: CNN has done a day long poll asking if Kerry was mounting this campaign out of conviction or if he’s merely playing politics. So far, “politics” is getting 60% of the vote.

2) There is only one way to defend Joel Stein’s asinine column in which he proudly declared his lack of support for the troops – set up a straw man. This comment from Live Journal presages a line of thought I think we’ll see a lot of in the next few days: “I think he's entitled to his opinion. I mean, until five years ago this was a free country.” Of course, no one is arguing that he doesn’t have the right to express his opinion. People are arguing that his opinion is offensive, ignorant and idiotic.

3) Peggy Noonan says something today that I’ve long argued. The State of the Union is hopelessly dull because of the laundry list of policy prescriptions that inevitably lard the speech. Peggy suggests putting out the laundry list as a separate contemporaneous press release, and leave the State of the Union to soaring inspiring rhetoric. Who knows? She has such a good idea maybe someone will even ask her advice on how to write it.

4) The Wall Street Journal runs an excellent editorial today saluting the ineptitude that characterized Samuel Alito’s opponents. The Journal singles out for special praise Ralph Neas and Ted Kennedy who both seem to be unaware that it is no longer 1987 and that if they want any success they’ll have to consider revising their Borking playbook. Lauds the Journal, “The liberal interest groups that devised the filibuster strategy and wrote the anti-Alito talking points for Senators Ted Kennedy and Patrick Leahy contributed as much as anyone to Judge Alito's confirmation. Congratulations, Ralph Neas. It's your finest hour.”

5) Someone break it gently to Professor Dines, the woman who was in a snit over the movie “Munich” because of its poor treatment of women and who erroneously blasted Jerry Seinfeld for never dating a “self-identified Jewish woman” during his sitcom’s eight year run. Professor Dines now has competition for the dumbest op-ed of the year. Mark Levine, a professor (what else could he possibly be?) of Middle Eastern studies suggests that “Americans would be wrong to dismiss the idea of a truce with...radical Islam.” But Professor Levine is chagrined. He laments, “Sadly, the Bush administration, with its Manichaean world view, unwillingness to admit mistakes or compromise, and commitment to ‘full-spectrum dominance’ of the region, (has no) interest in calling a truce in a war that is the foundation of (its) power.” Bush has a Manichaean world view? Who knew?

6) In case you haven’t noticed, France is butching up. Jacques Chirac made a statement last week that he was prepared to launch a nuclear strike against any country that sponsors a terrorist attack against French interests. He elaborated, “All of our nuclear forces have been configured in this spirit.” Take that you kooky Mullahs – France will not be your puching bag!

7) This article sums up my views of the Palestinian elections nicely. One thing you have to understand – Palestinian popular opinion polls have shown that the Pals have simply had enough of getting their asses kicked by Israel. The IDF has significantly cooled their Jihadi fervor. So why did the militant Hamas group win? Because the ruling Fatah party was inept and the people voted for change. It’s a story as old as democracy itself.

8) “Gore is Bigger than Ever!” That’s the title of a lengthy New York Observer article which goes into some detail on how the Sundance Film Festival set is just going gaga over the inflated former Veep. Happily, the article explores Gore’s bovine new look in some depth: “In 1992, Fitness Magazine named Mr. Gore its ‘fantasy man.’ In the summer of 2000, USA Today gave his dimensions as 6-foot-1, 195 pounds. But after the 2000 election, he put on weight fast. By the fall of 2002, Salon reported that he’d removed his wedding ring because it no longer fit on his finger. The ring is back, but Mr. Gore remains a soft, jowly presence. Mark Lisanti, who writes the Los Angeles gossip site Defamer, saw Mr. Gore at a Sundance party and described him to The Observer as ‘somewhere between husky and puffy,’ and also guessed his weight at 230.” Admittedly this isn’t a very important story, but I’ve promised a much cherished Soxblog reader to run a photo of the new Fat Albert at my earliest convenience. GS, this one’s for you.

9) Mahmoud Ahmadenijad, this one’s for you: 59% of the American public supports using “whatever force necessary” to prevent Iran from getting nukes. Only 33% are opposed to that notion. Here’s the really bad news for Iran’s angry young president: The support for taking out the Iranian nukes is bipartisan. Thank heavens - America is apparently willing to listen to the wisdom of Frankie Five Angels on this and take on the mullahs now while we've got the muscle.

Responses? Thoughts? Please email them to me at soxblog@aol.com


EVERYONE’S ASKING, IS THE WORLD READY FOR HAMAS? They should be asking, is Hamas ready for the world?

Yesterday for the first time but no doubt not the last, a Middle Eastern democratic process puked out a result that will be unattractive to Western sensibilities. Alas, such is the way with democracies. Sometimes they elect the wrong guy. If that weren’t the case, then Jimmy Carter would be living in blissful obscurity on a peanut farm rather than monitoring third world elections.

Hamas’ victory will bother a lot of people. After all, haven’t we been told a million times in the past few years that democracies don’t go to war with each other? And yet the Palestinian people gave Hamas, a party that vows to eliminate the state of Israel, the keys to the government.

Here’s the telling news from yesterday that so far hasn’t gotten much play: Hamas wants Fatah and Mahmoud Abbas to stay on in some significant capacity in their new government. While the details weren’t entirely fleshed out in any of the reports that I read, the key responsibility they wanted Abbas to retain was negotiating with Israel. Abbas said no. He and his Fatah party are going home, resolving to be a loyal opposition while they rebuild their party.

SO ITS HAMAS’ SHOW NOW. It’s their government, every bit as much as the United States is George Bush’s government. Any more Hamas suicide bombers sneak over the border and blow themselves up in a crowded Tel Aviv market, it’s now not the action of some radical Palestinian fringe group. It is instead the action of Palestine.

It’s understandable why Hamas wanted Abbas and some of his Fatah apparatchiks to stay on. If Fatah remained the public face of Palestine, then Hamas could continue to play the role of arsonist. It remains unclear just how much responsibility Hamas wanted Fatah to retain; still it is rather odd that such an offer was even made. One doesn’t imagine Hillary Clinton winning the election in 2008 but urging Rumsfeld to stay on at Defense and Rice to remain at State.

Hamas now finds itself where Arafat found himself a dozen years ago. After a lifetime of dedicating his life to murder and mayhem, Arafat became responsible for actually building something. It came as little surprise to anyone outside a small circle of weak-willed American and Israeli idealists that Arafat was utterly incapable of actually doing anything constructive. It was a fitting denouement to his life that he spent his final years delightedly caged in like a rat by Israeli Defense Forces at his ramshackle compound. He was a self-styled revolutionary, not a leader.

Hamas now enters a similar position. For a decade, Hamas has railed about the corruption of Fatah and the evil of Israel. They have promised to eliminate both. As the old saying goes, careful what you wish for.

And Israel and the world will get a welcome dose of clarity. If Palestine is to be a terrorist state, then Israel’s and America’s course of action will be clear. If Palestine opts to serve as a proxy for Iran and Syria in the upcoming struggle with those countries, then its fate will be disastrous.

Hamas surely has some smart people on its roles. If not, perhaps they can borrow the temporarily free Sami Al-Arian. But someone there should be smart enough to know which horse to bet on in the coming days. And someone there should also be smart enough to know that Israel is going to have a new Prime Minister itching to show he’s every bit the warrior that Ariel Sharon was.

Hamas has won itself a state. It has won itself an election. And it has won itself accountability. A sclerotic economy and Israeli missiles will now be its fault. Hamas is now accountable to the world, and accountable to its own people.

This will be a good thing much quicker than most people realize.

Responses? Thoughts? Please email them to me at soxblog@aol.com

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

SPANNING THE WEB - 1/25/2006

1) Fans of irony, this one’s for you. Representative Louise Slaughter is one of the most extreme members of the Democratic congressional caucus – that’s a polite way of saying she’s a few battleships short of a fleet. Anyway, yesterday she wrote a diary in the Daily Kos wringing her hands over irresponsible rhetoric, especially that which had emanated from Chris Matthews when he suggested that Osama bin Laden’s latest tape made him out to be a turbaned Michael Moore. Writing in boldface to let the Kossack readers know she really felt it, Slaughter insisted, “Comparisons between Americans and Osama bin Laden have no place in our national discourse.”

But wait a minute. Hadn’t I recently read somewhere, someplace, some guy saying Republicans are a lot like bin Laden? Oh yeah – now I’ve got it. It was none other than Markos Moulitsas, Kos himself: “That's Osama Bin Laden. And wow, he sounds just like Republicans! The reason we hate Islamic fundamentalists is pretty much the same reason we're fighting to take back this country from the Republicans. They are two peas from the same pod, and diametrically opposed to everything we liberals stand for.” For those of you interested in the timing of these two comments, I’ll spare you the bother of following the links. The Congress-person’s came 8 hours after Markos’. I eagerly await Congresswoman Slaughter’s reminder to the Kos community regarding what does and what does not have a proper place in our national discourse.

2) What to do about Iran? Max Boot weighs in with a characteristically insightful rundown of the options. There are a lot of people who learned everything they know about life from the Godfather movies (although Max probably isn’t one of them). Regarding Iran, the least unappealing option is to take them on now while we have the muscle. I’m sure Frankie Five Angels would agree with me.

3) The Los Angeles Time’s Joel Stein set off a blogosphere firestorm yesterday with his obtuse column in which he proudly declared that he did not support the troops. Amazingly, Stein agreed to show up to an interview on the Hugh Hewitt show. The transcript is here, and it's ugly. Stein came across as a smug guy who knows nothing about either the war or the military. If you were inclined to dislike Stein based on his column, his interview with Hugh will cement those feelings. Regarding Hugh’s efforts, Hugh delivered a witheringly impressive cross examination; regarding Stein’s efforts, you can’t help but sense the poor guy showed up to a gunfight with a knife.

4) I also want to call your attention to my friend John Hinderaker’s analysis of the situation, just because he and I have a profoundly different read on it. John says about Stein, “This guy is below the intellectual level of the average American 8th-grader.” Let’s give John a little license for hyperbole – obviously no one believes a 1993 graduate of Stanford is at the intellectual level of the typical 8th grader. I would even go so far as to posit that Stein is a pretty smart guy. That fact is what makes his foolish column and his embarrassing appearance on Hugh’s show all the more poignant. Stein has illustrated something I’ve long argued – intelligence and ignorance are not mutually exclusive. The left’s problem isn’t generally intelligence. All those professors for Kerry weren’t morons. But they are ignorant of the way the world really works. A lack of intellect should not be confused with ignorance. Not even casually.

5) This pint-size but spot on post from Publius Pundit shows a how a Jihadist state is on the horizon in “Palestine.” There’s a lot of hand-wringing over this fact, most of it uncalled for. Sharon knew Palestine would be a militant enemy of Israel. The trade of land wasn’t so much an olive branch but a retreat to a perimeter that would remain sustainable as the war raged on. What Hamas or Fatah will discover as heads of a “nation” is now they’ve got some skin in the game in a way your common terrorist organization does not. They will soon realize that a hot war with Israel is not in their interest, just as Syria, Iraq, Jordan, Egypt and Iran did in the past.

6) Oh, how I anxiously await the first left wing blogger to be inspired by Joel Stein’s candor and confess that he (or she) doesn’t support the troops either. The first reader to bring such a post to my attention will win a free corned beef sandwich at the Palm Beach Gardens Toojay’s, newly relocated to the fashionable Downtown shopping area. (Beverage, tax, gratuity and airfare not included.)

7) The always outstanding James Lileks takes a few swipes at Joel Stein today. Part of Lileks’ offense stems from the fact that both he and Stein wear the same unusual professional label – humorist. “Picking on an average Joel Stein column is like arranging your old Powerball tickets in chronological order; it’s something to do, but the effort seems misplaced. As far as I can tell he seems a nice enough fellow, certainly not full of boiling bile - rather, he has the certainty you often find in 17 year olds whose Social Studies teacher just assigned a Howard Zinn book for the class. He put his foot in it this week, however, and Mr. Hewitt’s flensing revealed a rather silly, callow fellow… A tip for Mr. Stein from someone who also does the self-deprecation-via-self-aggrandizement schtick: The goal is to make yourself appear endearingly clueless.”

8) Speaking of writers like Howard Zinn, yesterday I flew back to Boston seated next to an extremely overweight gentleman who was reading Robert Fisk’s “The Great War for Civilization.” If you know of Fisk, it’s probably because Little Green Footballs’ Idiotarian of the Year Award is named the Fiskie in his honor. Fisk is the very model of the West-hating journalist that so many of us absolutely deplore. Anyway, the fat guy’s jiggly arm and his enormous Fisk volume kept making their way into my personal space which caused me great discomfort and offense. I had no choice but to continually swat him away with my copy of H.W. Brands’ “Andrew Jackson.” Andrew Jackson vs. Robert Fisk – had to like my chances, no?

9) Okay, maybe I’m being a little ambitious seeking a left wing blogger declaring solidarity with Stein. But how about this – a left wing blogger throwing him under the bus saying that of course we lefties are Max Cleland-type patriots and whole-heartedly support the troops no matter what Chimpy McBushitler does. Disappointingly, a search of the Kos database shows that the entire community of 600,000 Kossacks has gone mum regarding Joel Stein. Not even a commenter has dared mention his name. Now that’s just strange.

10) The Washington Post ombudsman (or “ombooooodsman” as Bill O’Reilly pronounces it), Deborah Howell, has a piece detailing her run in with the nasty commenters who began personally attacking her when she characterized the Abramoff scandal in a way they didn’t like. I found particularly interesting the part where Howell muses, “So is it the relative anonymity of the Internet that emboldens e-mailers to conduct a public stoning?” Hard though it may be for you to believe, I get some rather nasty email. But when I respond to the letter and the emailer sees that he’s not just shouting in vein but actually dealing with someone who (at least electronically) pushes when shoved, their tone tends to completely change. That’s another reason why I refrain from allowing comment boards – they allow the commenters to have their say without any accountability. And that’s just an invitation to verbal mayhem.

Responses? Thoughts? Please email them to me at soxblog@aol.com

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

SPANNING THE WEB - 1/24/2006

1) UNHINGED LEFTIST CANDOR, PART I: In the Los Angeles Times today, Joel Stein proudly and unequivocally states that he does not support the troops. Although he tries to mellow the astringency of this sentiment with some attempts at satire, his true meaning is unmistakable. “Blaming the president is a little too easy,” Stein writes. “The truth is that people who pull triggers are ultimately responsible, whether they're following orders or not. An army of people making individual moral choices may be inefficient, but an army of people ignoring their morality is horrifying.” Don’t look for Stein’s column to make it into any Democratic commercials. But do look for him to become a darling of some left wing blogs, as he has at long last given voice to the inner-infant that they have labored so long to suppress.

2) UNHINGED LEFTIST CANDOR, PART II: This nugget comes courtesy of Markos Moulitsas, blogger extraordinaire and high level adviser to high level Democrats (if there are indeed any high level Democrats still around): “Osama Bin Laden… sounds just like Republicans! The reason we hate Islamic fundamentalists is pretty much the same reason we're fighting to take back this country from the Republicans. They are two peas from the same pod, and diametrically opposed to everything we liberals stand for.”

3) Here’s the thing about Kos: He’s so isolated in his own little universe, he has no idea how the rest of the world thinks or lives. Think I exaggerate? Take this Kos observation: “I just saw an ad for a watch on TV. Does anyone still wear watches? I use my cellphone to tell the time.” It’s a little ironic how this comment is sort of a mirror image of Bush 41 being stunned by a supermarket scanner. Yes, fewer young people wear watches than older people. But has that ever not been the case? Anyway, I would be comfortable if all watch-wearing voters went Republican and all those who don’t wear watches vote for the Democrats.

4) It’s Tuesday, so it must be time for another oddly timed leak to the house organ of the Democratic Part, the New York Times. This time, someone funnels the Grey Lady a confidential report that says the “re-building” (which actually should be called the “building”) of Iraq has to date stunk. “The first official history of the $25 billion American reconstruction effort in Iraq depicts a program hobbled from the outset by gross understaffing, a lack of technical expertise, bureaucratic infighting, secrecy and constantly increasing security costs, according to a preliminary draft.” The Times’ then finds an expert to call the report “gutsy” and “honest.” The Times’ blockbuster has to date been largely ignored by just about everyone.

5) STUCK CLOCK WATCH: E.J. Dionne actually gets something right. He starts by quoting Karl Rove’s speech on Friday: “Republicans have a post-9/11 worldview, and many Democrats have a pre-9/11 worldview. That doesn't make them unpatriotic -- not at all. But it does make them wrong -- deeply and profoundly and consistently wrong.” Then E.J. summarizes, “Oh, no, those Dems aren't unpatriotic, just security idiots.” Exactly! He finally gets to the true feelings of Republicans. If Democrats perceived how grave the threats surrounding us are, they wouldn’t work themselves into a lather about wireless warrant-taps. But because they don’t, they feel comfortable practicing their usual maladroit version of politics as usual.

6) Of course, there are some liberals who are rather unpatriotic. I refer you to Noam Chomsky, Michael Moore, and Joel Stein for more reading on the matter.

7) Speaking of great patriots, did anyone else catch John Kerry on “This Week with George Stephanopoulos?” My goodness, Kerry’s stuck in a time warp where it is forever Campaign ’04. Stephanopoulos’ first question was about the wireless warrant-taps, and Kerry responded with an irrelevant stem-winder about how Bush let Osama bin Laden get away in Bora Bora. Seriously. Stephanopoulos looked benumbed by Kerry’s confusing response and tried to gently steer him back to the topic at hand. Later, Kerry excoriated Dick Cheney for getting five deferments from Vietnam. If I were a Democrat, every time John Kerry appears on television a little piece of me would die from embarrassment over the fact this guy was my party’s standard-bearer when the stakes were highest.

8) The always outstanding Bill Simmons has a wonderful commentary on Kobe Bryant’s 81 point game over at ESPN’s site. The whole column is Simmons at his best which means it’s must reading, but this snippet had particular resonance for me and I’m sure other Celtics fans who can hardly hear the name “Rick Pitino” without cursing aloud: “At halftime of a Celtics game in the late-'90s, they had a Special Olympics exhibition game and there was one kid involved who seemed a little too, um, competent to be playing in the game. Not only did he score like 20 points in four minutes, I'm convinced to this day that he was the impetus for the recent Johnny Knoxville movie. In fact, this kid was good enough that everyone in my section feared Rick Pitino would sign him to a $30 million contract after the game.”

9) This would figure to be a non-story, and yet as blogger Patterico points out, the L.A. Times strangely devotes an entire column to the fact that President Bush has not seen “Brokeback Mountain.” I presume stories like this actually make it into the papers because they buttress the mainstream media narrative that Bush is an anti-intellectual buffoon who, when he treks out to the local multiplex, is far more likely to see “Cheaper by the Dozen 2” than a challenging intellectual film like “Brokeback.” Way to stay on message, guys. (By the way, ulike the president I saw “Brokeback” over the weekend. I’ll offer my thoughts in an off-topic post some time in the coming days.)

10) The Weekly Standard’s Reul Marc Gerecht argues something similar to what I’ve been saying: Iran’s loony new leader will at least give us the moral clarity and sense of urgency that we should have had all along. “The new president of the Islamic Republic of Iran, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, is a godsend. The Americans, the Europeans, and even the Russians are now treating clerical Iran's 20-year quest to develop nuclear weapons more seriously. Ahmadinejad's inflamed rhetoric against America, Israel, and the Jews, which is in keeping with the style and substance of the president's former comrades in the praetorian Revolutionary Guard Corps, combined with the clerical regime's decision to restart uranium enrichment, has returned some sense of urgency to efforts to thwart Tehran.” Gerecht also thinks Ahmadenijad’s hard line religious fervor will foment rebellion amongst Iran’s sane class. Faster please.

Responses? Thoughts? Please email them to me at soxblog@aol.com


ON SEPTEMBER 29, 1938, NEVILLE CHAMBERLAIN famously journeyed to Munich to meet with Adolf Hitler. Chamberlain was responding to a crisis; the belligerent Hitler was threatening to invade Czechoslovakia to settle grievances still simmering from World War I. Chamberlain emerged from his meeting convinced that he had achieved “peace in our time.” Hitler emerged from the meeting with a hard-headed opinion of his French and British interlocutors. The Fuhrer concluded, “The men of Munich will not fight.”

But what was happening in the days before Chamberlain trekked to Munich? Showing his unworthiness as a leader, Chamberlain made himself busy tipping his hand, showing his enemies just how weak Great Britain was.

In a September 27 speech to the House of Commons, Chamberlain expounded on England’s desire for peace, or more accurately its aversion to war. Displaying the dismaying characteristics of a ruler being led by the public rather than the other way around, Chamberlain’s speech sounds eerily familiar to our modern ears.

“First of all I must say something to those who have written to my wife or
myself in these last weeks to tell us of their gratitude for my efforts and to
assure us of their prayers for my success. Most of these letters have come from
women -- mothers or sisters of our own countrymen. But there are countless
others besides -- from France, from Belgium, from Italy, even from Germany, and
it has been heartbreaking to read of the growing anxiety they reveal and their
intense relief when they thought, too soon, that the danger of war was past...
More than 200,000 letters and telegrams have come to No. 10, Downing Street. Of course, I have been able to look at a tiny fraction of them, but I have seen
enough to know that the people who wrote did not feel that they had such a cause
for which to fight, if they were asked to go to war in order that the Sudeten
Germans might not join the Reich. That is how they are feeling.”

Given that speech, it was hardly necessary for Hitler to take Chamberlain’s measure for Chamberlain had given him something far more important – the measure of the British people. Doubtlessly Hitler had concluded before he ever shook hands with Chamberlain at Munich that the people of Britain would not fight.

While Hitler had perhaps accurately gauged other portions of Europe and their willingness to resist, ultimately he had the British all wrong. But then again, so did Chamberlain.

THE SAME THINGS go on today. Our enemies with every news cycle are doubtlessly taking our measure. So naturally they take comfort in politicians who fecklessly declare our weakness as Chamberlain did in his House of Commons address. And they no doubt derive great pleasure from the endless anti-American agitprop that emerges from our artistic community and the media. When they see the New York Times relentlessly characterizing the Iraq war as a debacle, they doubtlessly conclude something about our national character.

We know some history of how our enemy thinks. Osama bin Laden was convinced the 9/11 attacks would cause the American people to demand that its government sue for peace. His conviction betrayed a fatal ignorance of the America’s true nature. America didn’t demand peace after 9/11 – it demanded revenge first, justice second.

But our enemies are continuing to take our measure. The question they are no doubt asking themselves is whether the post-9/11 national reaction was an exception rather than the rule. Or perhaps they’re asking themselves something even more profound. There is little doubt that the current American leadership has the stomach for fighting. Even their adversaries do not question the martial spirit of Cheney, Rumsfeld and Bush.

“But what about the American people?” our enemies are unquestionably asking themselves. Are the media and the opposition party correct? Is Bush leading his people into a fight that they lack the stomach for? And if the American people are unwilling to fight, how long can its current government make them do so?

If they read the papers and watch the newscasts, our Jihadist foes will doubtlessly get the wrong opinion of the American people. They will wrongly conclude that the American people are obsessed with the niceties of wire-tapping and torture, completely unaware that the overwhelming majority of Americans is entirely indifferent to the rights of suspected and/or actual terrorists.

There should be no mistake about the following - if there is another attack on American soil, especially one involving WMD, the demand from the American public will be for blood and lots of it. But do our enemies know this? Are they deceiving themselves into thinking that America will react like the Daily Kos, John Kerry and the New York Times almost unquestionably will – blame Bush first, respond later?

That is the real disservice such entities are doing America. It’s not that they are traitorously providing aid and comfort to the enemy. It’s that they are giving the enemy false hope.

And the results of that may be tragic.

Responses? Thoughts? Please email them to me at soxblog@aol.com

Monday, January 23, 2006

SPANNING THE WEB - 1/23/2006

1) FILE UNDER “BUT I’LL DO IT ANYWAY:” James Carroll writing in today’s Boston Globe: “If it were not for the disastrous policies of George W. Bush, Jill Carroll would be fine today, but it would be wrong to turn her kidnapping into yet another cudgel with which to bang against the war.”

2) FILE UNDER “HUH?:” More from today’s James Carroll column: “JILL CARROLL is no relation to me, yet it seems wrong to say that. I have followed the news of her plight as if she were my daughter.” I’ve always said James Carroll’s sole redeeming characteristic as a columnist was that he was an undeniably skilled wordsmith. Alas, this talent seems to have abandoned him as well, stolen away in the night by Bush hatred.

3) In a brilliant piece in the Wall Street Journal, Shelby Steele takes Hilary Clinton to task for her tin-eared “plantation” remark. The entire column is must reading, but I found the following excerpt especially trenchant: “Many Republicans (including Laura Bush) now salivate at the thought of a Rice presidential bid. No other potential Republican candidate could--to borrow an old Marxist phrase--better ‘heighten the contradictions’ of modern liberalism and Democratic power than Ms. Rice. The more ugly her persecution by the civil rights establishment and the left, the more she would give liberalism the look of communism in its last days--an ideology long since hollowed of its idealism and left with nothing save its meanness and repressiveness.”

4) Over at National Review, they’re paying homage to Jack Bauer and “24.” I’m telling you, if you’re not watching this show, you should be. “24” is so good, each cliff-hanging episode leaves you so desperately thirsting for more that you’ll be praying for your weekends to pass quickly so “24” will again be on. A show that makes you look forward to Mondays? Tell me that’s not worth watching.

5) I’m shocked! Really, I’m floored. The house organ of the Democratic Party, a.k.a. the New York Times, has come out against Samuel Alito’s confirmation. Reading the Times’ editorial, I couldn’t help but sense their editorial board’s heart just wasn’t in it this time. It was as if they shrugged knowing that they had to oppose it and did so in as minimalist a fashion as possible. It wouldn’t surprise me to learn that an intern wrote the editorial, so powerful was the redolence of the half-assed just-going-through-the-motions prose. Ms. Collins’ crew did, however, manage an irrelevant but mean spirited cheap-shot at Mrs. Alito, deriding her “bizarrely over-covered crying jag.” So maybe a few embers of the once roaring fire remain.

6) Oh my goodness – Kobe Bryant had 81 points in a game against the Toronto Raptors yesterday, 55 in the second half. The 81 points is the most since Wilt Chamberlain scored 100. The L.A. Times Mark Heisler has an outstanding albeit non-judgmental hagiography of Kobe. Judged as just an athlete, Kobe is currently without peer. As a man…

7) Time Magazine’s Joe Klein caught up with the sweetheart of the leftists, Paul Hackett, and didn’t like what he saw. “Hackett said gun control was his big difference with Brown, but it was hard to tell: Hackett had only a vague familiarity with most of the other issues. He was stumped by illegal immigration and came up with a crude prescription: ‘Send 'em back if we can afford it.’ In the end, Hackett seemed something new under the sun: a blogger candidate—all attitude, all opinions, very little information.” A brief prediction – Klein’s analysis will be none-too-popular in the left wing blogosphere. (Hmmm, Klein’s formulation seems eerily familiar of a certain Weekly Standard column I recall reading (and writing)).

8) Far more intellectually edifying than Joe Klein catching up with Paul Hackett is Michael Barone catching up with Judge Richard Posner who himself is catching up with Joseph Schumpeter. Posner (standing on the shoulders of Schumpeter) explains why American style democracy actually works. Barone also reminds us of Winston Churchill’s quip, “Democracy is the worst system of government, except all the others.”

9) At Right Wing News they ran a poll of prominent right wing bloggers (apparently having previously misplaced my email address) asking who the bloggers most wanted to see seeking the Republican nomination in 2008 and who they least wanted to see seeking the nomination. John McCain was the runaway winner of the “most disliked” portion of the competition. McCain obviously has trouble with real conservatives because of his congenital need to stick his thumb in our eye, but could we swallow his ego if it meant defeating Hilary or Gore 62-38 (which his nomination probably would)? More pointedly, could we risk defeat to either of those two candidates by shunning McCain? (You know, he is really hawkish and that “maverick” streak can be sort of admirable and when the light hits him just right he looks a little like Ronald Reagan and…)

10) My pal Jonathan Last has a trenchant op-ed piece about the existential threat that pro-life Democrat Bob Casey poses to the pro-abortion absolutists like NARAL. JVL writes, “(If Casey wins) and if abortion-rights activists have given Bob Casey a pass, they will have mortgaged their credibility to partisan politics. In the long run, they'll be unhappy with the trade.” I suspect the more enlightened amongst their ranks, few that they may be, already are.

11) A mere fifty years after joining the Owls, a Harvard social club that to this day excludes women, Ted Kennedy has resigned. Kennedy vowed last week to quit the club as fast as he could, and he has made good on his word. Kennedy’s swift action regarding the Owls should effectively refute the scurrilous attacks that he is a hypocrite regarding women’s issues. Because other than that, he's pretty clean.

12) Supremely scummy British Member of Parliament, George Galloway, the darling of Islamic fundamentalists everywhere, has disappointed his shahid-wannabe fan-base by starring in a reality based television show. “Recently, Allah has disgraced George Galloway by causing him to appear on a reality TV show ‘Celebrity Big Brother’. Shows such as this contain all the corruption Allah (SWT) has forbidden, such as free-mixing, fornication, drinking, nudity, swearing and many other abominable acts. These kinds of programmes attract only the lowest of the low who desperately seek recognition and fame by any means possible.” Well, even a stuck clock is right twice a day, right?

Responses? Thoughts? Please email them to me at soxblog@aol.com

Sunday, January 22, 2006


THERE HAVE BEEN A LOT of recent literary efforts to summarize the Democratic Party, what it is and where it’s going. But the labors of even America’s leading literary lights like E.J. Dionne have failed to grasp the true nature of the 21st century Democratic Party as well as the book I’m calling to your attention today. It’s a children’s book that endeavors to explain “progressive values” and does a far better job of it than I’m sure its author intended. The title of this opus? “Why Mommy is a Democrat.”

One might wonder why anyone would feel the need to club infants and toddlers over the head with such an overt political message. After all, Dr. Seuss’ “The Lorax” made environmentalism look swell without having to resort to overt partisanship.

But in the eyes of Jeremy Zilber, author of “Why Mommy is Democrat,” a child is never too young to begin hating Republicans and become a partisan tool. Zilber boasts that his book contains numerous “subtle and not so subtle satirical swipes at the Bush administration and the Republican Party.” He's clear that his book should primarily serve as an introduction to the “Democratic Party’s principles.” Given that those principles have indeed devolved into relentless bitterness and partisanship, one can argue that Zilber accomplished his mission.

Let’s take a look at a few of the pages from “Why Mommy is a Democrat” that the book’s website is kind enough to provide (click on pictures to enlarge):

Notice the glee with which the Democratic ferrets are enjoying their blocks as the mother ferret looks on in delight. But the real action is going on in the background: The stogie-smoking plutocrat and his wife are walking past a homeless man extending his hat in beggarly fashion. The Republicans are non-responsive to his pleas (perhaps because he looks something like a pervert in that long raincoat). Left unexplained is why the rich woman is lugging an enormous oversized toy that she refuses to share with the homeless guy who seems to be, oddly, looking for toys to play with. The rich guy seems to be saying something to the homeless man. Perhaps “Get a job,” or some other typically offensive Republican attack.

I like the next panel even better:

The Democratic ferrets are happily playing about while a mean old Republican elephant threatens to turn them into road kill. And look to the top left. There’s that homeless guy/pervert again! If I were the Democrat mommy, I would begin worrying about this strange looking fellow who seems to consistently turn up wherever my kids are.

But the last panel that the website offers is the best:

Oddly the Democratic ferrets seem to be home-schooled, perhaps understandably enough trying to avoid the dysfunctional public school system. But there’s no home-schooling for the Republicans. Their progeny is graduating from a school where the admission is $160,000.

But wait – look at the school house door. Look who’s lurking there – that homeless/pervert guy. Right by a school where children gather! You know, that Democratic mommy ferret boasts that she keeps everyone safe. She should stop worrying about the random elephants wandering through city parks and begin devoting a little more attention to the guy in the raincoat who seems to be wherever her kids are.

SO WHAT MESSAGE can we take from “Why Mommy is a Democrat?” That there’s no level to which “progressives” won’t sink? That 21st century Democrats have completely lost their marbles? That aside from banalities, the only message the party can convey is antipathy towards its domestic political enemies?

Really now, author Zilber should have aimed higher. In other words, tell us something we didn’t know.

Responses? Thoughts? Please email them to me at soxblog@aol.com