sam's notes

notes on government, sports and popular culture

Friday, June 30, 2006

.....This N.Y. Times piece got me thinking about who this 'we' is......

I recently had an interesting discussion with my neighbor, who was discussing her 3-year-old son’s behavioral problems.

“And all this killing that’s going on, how they’re always talking on NPR about killing Zarqawi when you’re riding in the car. It’s not good for kids.”

“How about the kids who are not only hearing it on the radio but hearing their father in the front seat cheering that we finally got that bastard?” I asked.

She got the joke. But as I thought later about my reply, I realized that “we” didn’t do anything. “They,” being our soldiers in Iraq, took care of Zarqawi. “I” didn’t do anything.

Still later I was still bothered by one comment thread where a couple of bloggers were going at it over the war. On a couple of different occasions, the war opponent questioned the supporter on whether or not he had ever worn our country’s uniform. The supporter indeed said he had.

But that’s not the point. What bothered me is the implication that dissent can be unqualified but support can only legitimately come from veterans. But all citizens can choose to oppose or support our leader’s policies, right?

But the collective “we” extends to other matters of goody-goody public policy and social change. The biggest example, of course, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission report. They’ve done their jobs and produced a fine product that will hopefully be studied by many interested scholars. But many insist that “we” will learn much from the report, that “we” will deal with the Klan-Nazi killings. But just as “I” didn’t help take care of Zarqawi, “I” don’t need to deal with something that happened 25 years ago.

Thursday, June 29, 2006

....Reason's Jacob Sullum disputes the surgeon general's report on secondhand smoke here and here:

"Because the doses absorbed by non-smokers exposed to secondhand smoke are much smaller than those absorbed by smokers, any health risks would be so small that it is difficult to confirm them in studies comparing, say, the spouses of smokers with the spouses of non-smokers. The weak, statistically insignificant associations typically found in such studies are consistent with a low-level risk.....

"Whether secondhand smoke is a health hazard or merely a nuisance, people who want to avoid it can do so by avoiding businesses that allow smoking. A free society that respects diversity should make room for people with different preferences."

I'm not a cigarette smoker, but I'm never bothered by people smoking in my presence. I've never figured out how secondhand smoke is so dangerous when "firsthand" smoke doesn't even kill everyone. Look around and you see a lot of geriatrics still puffing away.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

..It was Jeff Torborg....

I've noticed these days that just about every major-league catcher (with the exception of Mike Piazza) leave their masks on when taking a throw from the field. When I was a kid, catchers tossed the mask to ready up for a plate at the plate.

I'd always wondered how the trend got started. I also noticed while watching the CWS that it didn't extend to college catchers. So why were they less worried about getting their faces smashed than major league catchers, who have the money for plastic surgery?

So I'm watching the Yankees- Braves game and there's a play at the plate. The Yankees' Jorge Posada is one of those guys who leaves his mask on. The throw got away from him, and Marcus Giles scored.

During the replay, Torborg noted that Posada had left his mask on.

"I taught that," Torborg said. You're supposed to see pitches with the mask on, anyway, why not throws from the field, he reasoned.

But when I played catcher, I was easier to keep an eye on the runner barreling down the third base line with the mask off.

Not that I'm saying I know more about catching than Jeff Torborg. I knows a thing or two. He only caught one of the best-pitched games in baseball history.

I guess catching Koufax would make a backstop aware that the mask isn't necessarily a tool of ignorance.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

....The Today Show interviewed a psychologist to find out what makes men grumpy.

The three major factors:

Too much work..

Getting old...

Not enough sex.


......Surprise....Rocker says MLB's sensitivity training is just a bunch of Jay Mariotti.......

Monday, June 26, 2006

......Timothy Leary's Dead.....

Two reviews of the new biography on LSD guru, one from Reason's Nick Gillespie and the other from Luc Sante in the NYT.

Sante concludes his review with a less-than-glamorous perspective on The Sixties:

"....the book provides a crash course in several aspects of 60's culture: its often gaseous rhetoric, its reliance on mahatmas and soothsayers, its endless bail-fund benefits and sometimes dubious appeals to conscience, its thriving population of informers, its contribution to the well-being of lawyers, its candyland expectations and obstinate denials of reality, its fatal avoidance of critical thinking, its squalid death by its own hand. That still leaves many meritorious elements largely outside Leary's sphere: civil rights, the antiwar movement, music and art, the impulse toward communitarianism, to name a few. In part because of Leary, however, ideals and delusions were encouraged to interbreed, their living progeny being avid consumerism and toothless dissent."

......Which is the real Friar's Club?

"Two once-related branches of the century-old fraternal organization of entertainers, a group that has counted as members the most famous jokesters ever, from Milton Berle to Whoopi Goldberg, from Will Rogers to Robin Williams, are locked in a bitter legal and financial battle rivaling the infamous bicoastal rap war of a decade ago, except this one is being fought with roast-quality insults and expensive lawyers instead of rap songs and bullets."

The West Coast posse says that when a club roasts a guy like Jerry Lewis, as the N.Y. Friar's Club recently did, then it's definitely passed its prime.

Still, a good rim shot from Jeffrey Ross:

"Why are so so bloated? You look like you drowned four days ago."

Yeah, I know Lewis recently had a heart attack. And that's the point, says Jack Carter, veteran comedian and L.A. Friar:

"You're in trouble when you have to roast a guy who's going to have a heart attack on the way home."

Saturday, June 24, 2006

....RIP Aaron Spelling, a true American success story:

"Mr. Spelling himself, though a self-effacing and extremely shy man in private, put his own vast wealth on display in the late 1980's when he and his wife, Candy, supervised the construction of their home in the Holmby Hills section of Los Angeles. The structure, which like his shows drew mostly scathing reviews, eventually contained 123 rooms over about 56,000 square feet. It was said to include a bowling alley, an ice rink and an entire wing devoted to his wife's wardrobe.

"He defended the ostentation by saying he had worked hard for his success and had risen from truly dire conditions....."

My favorite Spelling episode? Without a doubt, the two-hour season-opener of Charlie's Angels when the angels go to Hawaii to rescue Charlie. No explanation necessary.

Then there's the episode of The Love Boat when Doc befriends a geriatric couple. The old lady falls down stairs and Doc has to perform emergency surgery right there on the boat. I won't ruin the ending....

....Guarino on the Miami seven:

"This episode....illustrates that our enemies do not care about the amount of time that has elapsed since 9/11.  Patience and persistence on their part will inevitably lead to some major disruptive terrorist attacks on our soil, unless we possess enough political fortitude to prevent it."

Friday, June 23, 2006

.....Bush is a Communist......

I don't know why I even bother listening NPR. Hannity wasn't on, not that I think he's that great, anyway. So I switched over to NPR just to prove tomyself that I'm an open-minded individual.

My open-mindedness was rewarded with a 10-minute story bashing President Bush. It led with a discussion on Bush's speech in Hungary, which made mention of the 1956 uprising:

"The desire for liberty is universal. In 1956, the Hungarian people suffered under a Communist dictatorship and domination by a foreign power. They called for an end to dictatorship, to censorship, and to the secret police."

But Bush's speech didn't impress Charles Gati, professor of European studies at Johns Hopkins. Something was missing from the president's speech: an apology. For what? The United States' inaction 50 years ago as Soviet tanks rolled through Budapest. Seems like I've heard this before.

Then there was commentary from Peter Klein, who compared insurgents in Hungary to insurgents in — you guessed it — Iraq. So logic dictates that if insurgents in Iraq are like insurgents in Hungary, then the U.S. is like the Soviet Union.

This is the Dixie Chicks in reverse. Natalie Maines criticized Bush while she was on foreign soil. This time the president was on foreign soil and Gati was criticizing him from home.

Is it too much to ask that we support our leader while he's abroad? Is it not remotely possible he was in Hungary to help make the world a better place?

....MLB sentences Ozzie Guillen to sensitivity training.

Somehow I doubt this is the first time a manager or ballplayer has called a sportswriter a fag. Surely Jay Mariotti knew this, considering the fact that he freely chose to immerse himself in a hyper-masculine culture. What did he expect when he decided to spend his life hanging out with rich, half-naked jocks?

Still, the sports media are enraged.

Mariotti colleague Greg Couch writes "What matters is the man who most stands for this organization is throwing around such nasty and hurtful homophobic terms. The issue here is not Mariotti," while ESPN's Mark Kriedler writes "Go get him, Chicago. Drag him out of the dugout if you have to. Call it an intervention if it makes you feel better. But get it done."

But ESPN's Gene Wojciechowski adds some insight into the attitudes many sportswriters carry into the clubhouse:

"Two seasons ago I saw Guillen take a seat on the dugout bench, only to discover he was sitting on a local newspaper, with the page opened to the mug shot of a female columnist. Guillen cracked wise about the location of his rear end and her mug shot. I remember wincing. There were a few forced chuckles, but nobody wrote about it."

OK, while that might not be "funny ha-ha," it wouldn't make me wince, either, and I consider myself a relatively normal, sensitive guy. So the way I see it, when politically-correct sportswriters not only interact with ballplayers but criticize them, inevitiably the ballplayers will fight back with some not-so-fancy words. We are talking ballplayers here, not President Bush, who has also used choice words when describing members of the media.

Adding fuel to the fire is the fact that Mariotti criticizes the White Sox but doesn't interact with them. A major spark was Mariotti's column blaming A.J. Pierzynski for the crosstown brawl, when anyone watching on TV could clearly see Pierzynski made a clean play and Michael Barrett was the instigator. (Every link I've tried on Mariotti's column kick me to yesterday's.) Pierzynski addressed the issue on Pardon the Interruption, noting that he's never seen Mariotti in the clubhouse.

For what it's worth, the Chicago Sports Review's Chris Sprow uses some Shelby Steele to put the issue into perspective:

"In his illuminating book 'White Guilt', Shelby Steele discussed the nature of evolving social morality. He uses two examples. In the first, he wonders why Bill Clinton had no trouble in the approval ratings when he had his unzipped run-in with Monica Lewinsky. As a contrast, when Steele was growing up in Chicago, he recalls a common assumption that President Eisenhower had used the word 'nigger' in an unflattering manner with friends or aides. Ike of course served out two terms successfully, just like Clinton.

"How did these seemingly horrific decisions not cripple either politician?

"Steele comess to the conclusion that Eisenhower could never possibly survive admitted sexual infidelity in the White House during the 1950's, but a common slip of the tongue with racist overtones was widely accepted during that time. It was an age of racism. Further, Bill Clinton could survive the sexual infidelity in the 90's -- a time of growing sexual proliferation and acceptance -- but if the man had ever uttered the 'n' word, he wouldn't have survived the fallout.

"As Steele writes, 'So it was the good luck of each president to sin into the moral relativism of his era … Race simply replaced sex as the primary focus of America's moral seriousness.'

"And as much as the use of the term 'fag' to address somebody has long-since fallen under the headings of derogatory and not politically correct, Ozzie Guillen is sinning into the moral relativism of his era. In fact, he's sinning into the moral relativism of any era."

Thursday, June 22, 2006

.....Strange bedfellows.....

I finaly got around to reading up the Supreme Court's recent decision regarding the Army Corps of Engineers' enforcement of the Clean Water Act.

I believe that the ruling, which neither upheld nor rolled back the Corps' authority in issuing development permits, will lead to a more common-sense, case-by-case approach in defining exactly what a wetland is. A left-leaning friend of mine who develops property has expressed frustration at having to obtain permits from the Corps for "wetlands" that haven't held a drop of water in years.

But here are two very interesting paragraphs:

"The landmark 1972 environmental legislation gave federal regulators the power to control the discharge of pollutants into "navigable waters." On the theory that what gets dumped upstream eventually winds up downstream, the government has interpreted that term to include not only large lakes and rivers but also their smaller tributaries, including some ditches or stream beds that are dry for all or most of the year and wetlands near those tributaries.

"The Bush administration, backed by environmental organizations and more than 30 state governments, told the court that any narrower interpretation would cripple the Clean Water Act."

I repeat: "The Bush adminstration, backed by environmental groups........"

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

....More coverage than you can handle of the Canes' Stanley Cup victory...

What impressed me was the way the fans remained standing throughout the game. Now that's getting involved. I've never understood paying good money for a sporting event or a concert only to sit on your ass for two hours. I can do that at home...

....Meanwhile, SI's Michael Farber breaks down the game most controversial play, the non-goal, non-penalty shot late in the first period:

"Oilers defenseman Steve Staios appeared to cover the puck with his body after it was in the net; an NBC replay during the intermission, blown up better than an Antonioni film, showed the puck clearly over the line. But league officials backed the official version of events, promulgated by director of officiating Stephen Walkom, that the play was dead when Staios deliberately batted the puck into the crease because a delayed penalty had been called down the ice on the Oilers' Ethan Moreau.

"Now maybe the situation would have seemed less muddled if referee Brad Watson didn't appear to signal for a penalty shot on the play, a Gordian knot -- or is that a Gordie Howe knot? -- that the league's replay gang unraveled to the satisfaction of basically no one except the Edmonton Oilers. If viewers flick the remote when NFL refs are under the hood for 90 seconds watching a peep-show style replay, the lengthy delay could have been a knee to the groin for a league that didn't need all that dead air. If viewers want to see someone talking on the phone interminably, they will check on their teenage daughter."

But if I understood NBC's John Davidson correctly, Staios covered the puck illegally in the net — which would normally result in a penalty shot. So the Canes got screwed on that call. No matter, though.

Monday, June 19, 2006

.....Very interesting N.Y. Times article on air pollution in China resulting from its continued reliance on coal-fired power plants.

Most interesting is what the article says about air quality standards in the United States:

"...China is generating such enormous quantities of pollution that the effects are felt farther downwind than usual. Sulfur and ash that make breathing a hazard are being carried by the wind to South Korea, Japan and beyond.

"Not enough of the Chinese emissions reach the United States to have an appreciable effect on acid rain yet. But, they are already having an effect in the mountains in West Coast states. These particles are dense enough that, at maximum levels during the spring, they account at higher altitudes for a fifth or more of the maximum levels of particles allowed by the latest federal air quality standards. Over the course of a year, Chinese pollution averages 10 to 15 percent of allowable levels of particles. The amounts are smaller for lower-lying cities, like Seattle, San Francisco and Los Angeles.

"Unless Chinese regulators become much more aggressive over the next few years, considerably more emissions could reach the United States. Chinese pollution is already starting to make it harder and more expensive for West Coast cities to meet stringent air quality standards, said Professor (Steven) Cliff of the University of California, slowing four decades of progress toward cleaner air."

That said, a little Chinese coal dust is still better than a North Korean missle.

Sunday, June 18, 2006

.....As you know, I use humor (often unsuccessfully, many might argue) to mock the issues of the week. Just today, I was talking about how lucky it was that Ben Roethlisberger's face took the brunt of his motorcycle accident, as opposed to his knees or his throwing arm. He's not the most handsome gentleman in the NFL, anyway.

OK, that's not funny. But I heard something today onthe radio that had hundreds of audience members howling. But I couldn't see the humor.

It was the closing portion of NPR's of Wait Wait....Don't Tell Me!. To tell the truth, I like the show, because it lets me know if I'm monitoring the news as closely as I think I am. It even clues me on a thing or two I missed.

As the program closes, host Peter Segal picks a topic and asks members of the panel to comment quickly on what they think will happen. The topic was "Al Qaeda's" recent change in management." What policies would the new Al Qaeda management put forth?

I heard answers like (paraphrasing) 'a bring your daughter to work in a birka' would be created' and the 'position of spiritual adviser would be eliminated.' Again, the audience howled.

OK, I cheered Dr.Sanity on when she rounded up the buzzkills. But that was in reaction to the left's skeptical reaction to Zarqawi's death.

But if you remember, President Bush reacted with caution to Zarqawi's death. And I realize that the panel members on Wait...Wait probably felt like they were trying use humor to add some levity to what has been a difficult time for our country. But the way I see it, to joke about the demise of a gut like Zarqawi is far less a sin than casting Al Qaeda's "management style" in a humorous light. To do so shows a lack of sensibilty to the fact that they're our mortal enemy.

Friday, June 16, 2006

.....So the past two nights, I'm hanging out on my sidewalk and I see a 1977 International Scout pulling down my street. The driver looks like this guy, only 30 years younger. Nice-looking girls riding along, too.

.....Mushroom clouds....

Floyd Stuart highlights a theme I'm seeing among liberals these days. It makes wonder if they really think about what they're saying as they desperately search for a candidate that can win in 2008.

Graydon Carter, longing for an Al Gore run, in this month's Vanity Fair:

"For the aspiring presidential candidate, I offer the following big idea gratis. Announce a 21st-century Manhattan Project-like program, a sweeping initiative government, business, and academia, with a single goal: to invent a replacement for the internal-combustion engine."

So what did the Manhattan Project invent? The bomb.

Then, as Floyd points out, there's Peter Beinhart, who holds up Harry Truman as the model Democrats should follow, according to Joe Klein's N.Y. Times review of The Good Fight:

"The need for American restraint and humility was at the heart of Truman's liberalism. It was the most significant difference between cold war liberalism and conservatism — and it is the most difficult part of Beinart's agenda to sell to the American public today. "

But what did Truman do? He dropped the fucking bomb. He also committed U.S. troops to a foreign war that lasted as long as the war Iraq, but with a significantly higher casualty rate.

Maybe it's just me, but these are very odd analogies borne from a sense of confusion.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

...North Dakota will sue the NCAA over the use of the Fighting Sioux nickname and Indian head logo:

"Following a 90-minute, closed meeting with Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem, the board voted 8-0 Thursday to authorize the lawsuit. Its motion specifies that the lawsuit be financed by privately raised funds rather than taxpayer money.

The NCAA has concluded that the Fighting Sioux nickname and Indian head logo are hostile and abusive to American Indians. UND may not use them during NCAA postseason tournaments, and it may not host a tournament if it continues using them, the NCAA has said.

Stenehjem described the decision as an edict delivered by an NCAA committee that used constantly changing standards in deciding which colleges could continue using nicknames of American Indian origin, and which could not.

The NCAA's constitution requires that major decisions be approved by two-thirds of its college membership, and no vote was ever taken, Stenehjem said."

The NCAA wouldn't think much of the state's highway markers, either.

Hugh Hewitt blogger Mary Katherine Ham discusses her conversion from print work to blogging:

"After college, I covered news for a couple of years. There were things I loved and hated about it. I loved hard deadlines, watching sports for a living, writing every day, learning all about a new town, meeting its people and learning its quirks.

"I hated that the first-ever AP seminar I went to included a long discussion on when to change quotes, accounting for the political position, race and economic status of your subject. I was just waiting for someone to pull out some sort of slide-rule of political correctitude to help us make such decisions.

"I hated that one of the young reporters at the seminar lamented working in rural North Carolina and asked, unabashedly, 'What do you do when the people you cover are just, like, stupid?'

"It was this contempt the press has for its subjects and its readers that really turned me off. That contempt, in my experience, is amplified when reporters are dealing with political conservatives, but it tends to extend to everyone who’s not a trained journalist."

When I encountered liberal bias while working at a business newspaper, of all things, I knew it was real.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

.....N.Y. Times review of 'A/K/A Tommy Chong,' the documentary chronicling Tommy Chong's litigious battle of the bong.

The film "tells the depressing, often ridiculous and generally enraging story of how and why Mr. Chong, an extremely laid-back and genial camera presence, ended up doing time in the minimum-security Taft Correctional Institution in Taft, Calif. Written and directed by Josh Gilbert, a friend of the comedian, the 78-minute film taps a number of experts and supporters to fill out the larger story, including Eric Schlosser, the author of 'Reefer Madness: Sex, Drugs, and Cheap Labor in the American Black Market.' Mr. Schlosser provides the film a much-needed dollop of historical and political context, while friends and colleagues like Lou Adler, the music impresario who directed Cheech and Chong's 1978 film 'Up in Smoke,' along with Bill Maher and Jay Leno, lend more emotional and outraged support."

I loved the scene in 'That 70s Show' when Hyde goes to work for Leo in the video store. If things went well enough, Hyde predicted, then Leo would soon be working for him.

"Hey man, can I have Saturday night off?" Leo asked.

.....I watched with interest President Bush's news conference.

I initially thought the dumbest question regarded the message the president was sending to the Iraqi government by taking such extreme security measures before and during the trip to Baghdad.

But then a reporter stood and actually asked this question:

"Do you see any parallels between and Iraq and Viet Nam?"

What an angle.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

.....You don't know how bad I wanted last night's game, not so much for the Canes but to give myself some shred of credibility following my sweep prediction.

While watching the second period, I was worried the Canes were themselves being caned — coming up against a goalie who refused to anything through. The rushes, the stickwork and the passing were awesome, but Oilers goalie Jussi Markkanen kept making awesome saves. The fear, of course, was that the Oilers would get another bullshit goal like they did in Game 3.

But the stickwork finally prevailed.....ESPN Lindsay Berra breaks down the winning goal.

Monday, June 12, 2006

.....OK, no sweep.


"It is impossible to underestimate the difference between going down 3-0 and winning to keep it 2-1. The Oilers arrived at the rink Sunday feeling light and loose, the Hurricanes still steaming over the way they played, and a bunch of guys with Stanley Cup rings smiling from the rafters and hanging around the arena...."

Sunday, June 11, 2006

.....Perfect example..... The N&R's Ed Hardin psychoanalyzes soccer.

I don't need anybody to tell me why I hate soccer, especially the World Cup. It's a physical response for me. While watching the finals of the '94 Cup, I got drunker than I've ever been in my life. The mere sight of guys kicking a ball up and down the field recalls the next morning's hangover. It was late July, too, so you can imagine how I felt.

But I think I'm over it. I plan on watching the games with an open mind and a full stomach.

Friday, June 09, 2006

....No doubt the King archives are priceless:

"....7,000 items in Dr. King's own hand, including a draft of his Nobel Prize acceptance speech, an annotated copy of "Letter From Birmingham Jail" and a program from the Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta on which Dr. King scribbled notes for a speech about John F. Kennedy's assassination.

A blue spiral notebook contains a statement read to an Atlanta judge about why Dr. King chose to stay in jail after his arrest during a sit-in, and a note to the women arrested with him praising them for their faith in nonviolent methods, according to a news release from Sotheby's. "

Not to mention....

"....the papers considered the most interesting by scholars, including a trove of handwritten sermons, were found in Mrs. King's basement and have not been widely studied."

But everything has a price, and the $15-$30 million range is a bit steep.

ARL's Brian Schottlaender:

"I would be stunned if they could command that sort of price, and I would be even more stunned if they command that from a library."


"How do you value the Martin Luther King papers? Good Lord, he was such a significant figure."

......This month's sports biography: Jane Leavy's Sandy Koufax.

At the height of his career, Koufax encountered a new phenomenon: the liberal-touchy-feely sports media.

"In time, the excess of one era was replaced by another. Purple prose, underwritten by free food and free booze, gave way to sports page psychoanalysis. Sportswriters became interested as much in how players felt as in what they did.

"For athletes of Koufax's generation, the rules changed mid-game. Everything became fair game: adoption, divorce, marriage; remarriage, wife-swapping, wife-beating. Suddenly, ballgames were just not events but media events; and thanks to the Game of the Week and postseason play, ballplayers were TV stars, especially telegenic ones like Koufax."

.....Dr. Sanity rounds up the buzzkills.

Add the N&R's Rosemary Roberts, who writes

"Except for the slaying of the Iraqi terrorist leader, it's been another lousy week for President Bush. American casualties in Iraq mounted, gas prices soared, the stock market slumped and his poll ratings plummeted."

Then there was the absolutely funereal music following NPR's coverage. I was expecting 'Stars and Stripes Forever.'

Thursday, June 08, 2006

.....Very busy Thursday....

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

....Along with my excitement over the Canes' Stanley Cup hopes comes the Reds' six-game winning streak against their toughest division opponents, the Astros and the Cardinals.

Last night, the Reds got a great performance from Eric Milton. Note Milton's 2005 stats: 8-15, whopping 6.47 ERA, even-more-whopping 40 home runs allowed.

Milton's 2006 numbers (4-2, 4.14 ERA) are, needless to say, a vast improvement. But there's this perspective from Cardinals Jadier Molina, who knows a thing or two about pitchers:

"I think every time we were looking for a fastball he threw a changeup, and every time we were looking for a changeup, he threw a fastball. He's a great pitcher, one of the best in the National League."

This is very encouraging.

....Via RantingProfs......Hitchens on Hadditha.....No, it's not My Lai........

Interesting perspective in this paragraph:

"Even before the fall of Baghdad in 2003, Saddam's foreign minister, Naji Sabry, wrote a memo about how to combat the increasing fraternization between advancing Americans and Iraqi civilians. Send some suicide bombers to the scene, he recommended, and force a wedge between the two. The Americans would then learn to distrust anyone who approached. As with the foul policy above, the awful thing about this charming policy is that it works. Which leads us to one very important conclusion: Any coalition soldier who relieves his rage by discharging a clip is by definition doing Zarqawi's work for him, and even in a way obeying his orders. If anything justifies a court-martial, then surely that does."

Hitchens concludes:

"There is no respectable way of having this both ways. Those who say that the rioters in Baghdad in the early days should have been put down more forcefully are accepting the chance that a mob might have had to be fired on to protect the National Museum. Those who now wish there had been more troops are also demanding that there should have been more targets and thus more body bags. The lawyers at Centcom who refused to give permission to strike Mullah Omar's fleeing convoy in Afghanistan—lest it by any chance be the wrong convoy of SUVs speeding from Kabul to Kandahar under cover of night—are partly responsible for the deaths of dozens of Afghan teachers and international aid workers who have since been murdered by those who were allowed to get away. If Iraq had been stuffed with WMD warehouses and stiff with al-Qaida training camps, there would still have been an Abu Ghraib. Only pacifists—not those who compare the Iraqi killers to the Minutemen—have the right to object to every casualty of war. And if the pacifists had been heeded, then Slobodan Milosevic, the Taliban, and Saddam Hussein would all still be in power—hardly a humanitarian outcome."

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

....Claire Holmes' letter to the editor in this morning's N&R emphasizes my point regarding the GTA Task Force and SCAT.

Holmes writes:

"The task force wants regular bus riders to absorb a 10-cent increase per ride and SCAT riders to absorb $1.62 per ride? This is a rate-hike tsunami. The monthly cost of someone riding 60 times per month would increase from $35 to $132."

Exactly. The rate hike should be the other way around. Then GTA might make some money.

....So why was Ty Conklin behind the net last night?

Hardin called it inexplicable, but OLN's John Davidson, a former NHL goaltender, said Conklin was right to clear the puck behind the net. He just blew the pass. And Rod Brind'Amour just has a knack for being in the right place at the right time.

I'm calling Canes sweep. I posted last week that the Oilers would be a worthy opponent, and obviously they are.

But I've watched a lot of seven-game series in my life, and trends indicate that when a team totally dominates Game 1 but lets it slip away, it sets a demoralizing tone for the rest of the series.

Dwayne Roloson's injury doesn't help the Oilers' cause, either. Then again, hot goalies come out of nowhere. Nobody's proved that more than the Canes.

Monday, June 05, 2006

Mary Karr disses Updike and the Sinclairs:

".... I'm always astonished by the devotion to Updike. I think it's just from seeing his name in the New Yorker so relentlessly. I mean, no writer I know really values those books except the first one, "Rabbit Run," which I think is terrific. After that it became dilution. He certainly does make immaculate sentences, but so did Upton Sinclair and Sinclair Lewis, two mediocre novelists who are not a patch on Hemingway or Fitzgerald or Ralph Ellison."

The N&O's J. Peder Zane defends Lewis:

"Lewis may not inspire many contemporary writers or provide lecture material for college professors, but people still read 'Babbitt,' 'Elmer Gantry,' 'Main Street,' 'It Can't Happen Here' and so many other of Lewis' gems because they tell great stories about historic periods."

But how many novels since "Babbitt" have presented a main character disillusioned with modern life? The times change and the professions change, but the theme is the same: No matter what we've got, we're never happy.

.......Carolina Hurricanes vs. Houston Oilers for the Stanley Cup.....

NYT profile on the Edmonton Oilers.

The Oilers, unlike the former Harford Whalers, resisted the Southern hockey migration, in the process weathering tough times north of the border before Cal Nichols stepped in:

"Fans in Edmonton knew what was happening. In 1995, the Quebec Nordiques became the Colorado Avalanche. In 1996, the Winnipeg Jets became the Phoenix Coyotes. Edmonton appeared to be next, and the season-ticket base fell to a low of 6,200.

"The league tried to prop up the remaining Canadian teams by offering millions of dollars of assistance if franchises could increase season-ticket sales to 13,000, among other requirements. That is when Nichols, a plain-talking, self-made millionaire from Saskatchewan, who had founded a chain of gas stations called Gasland, threw his business acumen, and part of his fortune, behind the franchise. He steered the successful ticket drive......

"Still, the Oilers were a tough sell, at least until a Houston businessman made an offer to buy the team and move it to Texas. That provided the necessary urgency....."

Friday, June 02, 2006

.....Final thoughts on the TRC......

The commission did its job. It created a permanent historical record, in as objective a manner as possible, for the public to consume and apply as it wishes. It very plainly and clearly stated their suggestions for what now needs to happen. They're placing those suggestions in the hands of the government bureaucracy, which means they have at least a 50-50 chance of happening. I'd say the GCS contract for the curriculum provider to teach the shootings to elementary school students stands about a 75 percent chance, knowing our school board.

I find the reaction of the elected officials very interesting. I think Keith Holliday deserves due respect for saying straight up there's not going to be an apology. Would we rather have someone leading our city who's going to knuckle under to the requests of a special interest group?

Of course, Tom Phillips' comment that he had better things to do with his time was mentioned in this morning's N&R article by commission member Muktha Jost, who replied:

"In a democratic process, everyone has to read it for themselves to understand the conclusions and the findings we reached. The executive summary just kind of lists (them); the report itself is how we got there."

You get the feeling, the stated recommendations aside, the commission expects something else to happen. But what? Exactly how is the Greensboro community going to "become a leader in the Southeast, if not the nation, in dealing with what has been a major human relations issue"?

Getting both government and community to embrace a collective mentality might be asking a bit much, considering the fact that the community, especially individuals within the community, is what keeps government in check.

......After the Canes game, something caught my eye on the TV above the bar at Fisher's.....Of all things, women's softball, specifically the Alabama-Northwestern game.

Here's what did it: Northwestern had a left-handed catcher behind the plate.

Go Jamie Dotson. In your honor, I'll dust off my catcher's mitt, a mere 25 years after my illustrious career came to a close.


"For the hockey diehards lucky enough to witness the electric madness of Game 7 in person, there were scores of jolting little deaths and sudden revivals.

"With every mad rush up the ice by the Canes or Sabres, hopes and fears would rise with the hammering pace of a fan's heartbeat.

"With every furious scramble in front of a wide-mouthed goal, anticipation or dread would flood the brain, frozen by slow-moving seconds of blurred ice action and a long-held breath.

"Every body-slamming hit brought a roar of delight or indignation.

"Every red light and horn blast signaled Armageddon or salvation, doom or rapture.

"And when that final horn sounded, only Caniacs felt the renewal of victory, the flush of the Eastern Conference championship and the fresh, bright chance of winning Lord Stanley's battered cup."

The go-ahead goal was indeed a thing of beauty. From my bar stool vantage point, I could see the puck lingering outside the crease. You knew someone in a red jersey was going to streak in and put the puck in the net. How fitting that it was Brind'Amour.

Hardin says the Canes will be favored over Edmonton. No argument there. But a word of caution. The Oilers are an eight seed on a mission.

Thursday, June 01, 2006

......Thomas Sowell has some facts and figures to support his argument that liberals didn't save the world.

But first, he gets in a little dig:

"For those liberals who lived through the 1960s, that was often also the springtime of their youth, increasingly treasured as a memory, as the grim realities of old age settle down upon them today. It is expecting an awful lot to expect them to consider any alternative vision of the world, especially one that shatters the beautiful picture of themselves as wise and compassionate saviors of society."


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