Thursday, November 11, 2004

Gene Collier: Steelers' Big News? Myron's Mending

Thursday, November 11, 2004
By Gene Collier, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Our top story on Action Snooze: Cope on the rebound. That's right, the top story, two nights running.

The Siege of Fallujah? Sorry. Yasser Arafat? Nossir Arafat. Don't you get it? Myron doinked his cranium.

"I got home from the hospital and 10 minutes later Channel 4 was at the door," Myron squawked happily at his South Hills townhouse yesterday. "Before they got their camera set up, Channel 2 is here, then Channel 11. I'm the lead story on the sports page when the Steelers are going great guns.

"It's amazing. I'm a broadcaster, and I'm in the toy department, sports."

Yeah it's amazing. But it's right. And this is really what he wants you to know.

"It's very nice; I appreciate it."

As much as the national sports media have done their damnedest to turn this into Steelers Appreciation Week, the last few days have played out locally more as a pleasing self-examination in the ways we appreciate Cope, a living icon and the singular nexus of the Steelers and their inalterably lathered fandom.

It is little less than compelling that the Steelers are enjoying their best year in a long, long time while Myron is merely rallying from his worst.

"I'm glad it's happening the way it is with the ballclub," he said. "If they were going the way I expected them to go -- and this fully shows what a judge I am -- I figured them for six wins. I thought the offensive line would be a disaster. I was dead wrong. If they were having the kind of year I thought they'd have, on top of the problems I'd had with myself, I'd be going to the games that would have made it twice as bad.

"I'm 100 percent better today; I actually have some energy. A concussion, which they diagnosed, takes a lot out of you. It makes you tired. But I got some good rest, got a good hot shower, scrubbed my hair ..."

OK, that'll do.

The fact is the delayed effects of this Saturday concussion, which forced him from the broadcast booth at halftime of the Steelers-Eagles fray, were the least daunting of Cope's physical and emotional challenges in 2004. As recently as the spring, Cope had started to collect literature from skilled nursing facilities. Sitting on his sofa day after day in his jammies and his bathrobe with his afghan pulled up to his neck and his thermostat pushed toward 80, the still undiagnosed polymyalgia rheumatica ravaged him with despair.

"I thought I'd never broadcast again," he remembered yesterday. "It wasn't fatal, but it was the same as not living. I figured, 'Hell, I'm 75, maybe this is the way I go.' "

Happily, what was thought to be the fallout of severe back trouble and the surgeries that followed was finally determined to be a kind of super arthritis, if you will, and Cope battled through the rehab just in time for doctors to find one lump on his epiglottis this summer, then a second. Surgery removed the entire epiglottis, meaning Cope had to learn to swallow again. But by the time the Steelers were ready to tee it up in earnest, he was ready.

How big was that? Let's put it this way. Who else -- eight weeks into a riotously successful Steelers autumn -- would turn up in Bill Cowher's weekly news conference as naturally as if he were himself a Steeler?

"OK, Duce is questionable with a hamstring, Kreider is questionable with a hip, Jerome is probable with a calf," Cowher could have said, "And Myron is out, with a head."

Of course, Cowher didn't say exactly that, but he said essentially everything else that illuminated the way this town still feels about Cope 35 years after he brought his screeching just-gargled-with-old-razor blades "voice" to the football matter at hand.

I teased him yesterday that his broadcast partners didn't know anything was wrong Sunday until he began using fluent English in perfectly modulated sentences.
He laughed, and then recounted some of the episode, his voice not entirely free of fear.

"I remember taking the wrong way to the stadium; I went out Allegheny River Boulevard," he said. "I remember getting to the game about a quarter to one and flying into the booth totally unprepared. I usually get to the stadium about 9:30. I sat down in the booth and didn't have my rosters pasted up like I normally do. I was trying to think of something to add to the broadcast while plays were going on. I called a Steelers touchdown when they were only at the 5-yard line."

Tunch Ilkin, who stands behind Myron in the booth, noticed the cut on Cope's head and sounded the alarm. Now, Myron will sit out the Cleveland game, which is too bad, because I can tell you from experience that three of the greatest things in life are driving to Cleveland with Myron, arriving at the Steelers hotel with Myron and being in a Browns-Steelers press box with him.

Though it's a while since I've had the pleasure, I remember a black and rainy Saturday night for one of those drives, this one in a ponderous Crown Victoria. Was it just bright fright, or was Myron actually short enough that he was looking at the road through the steering wheel?
As for the hotel, you couldn't walk into a lobby with Muhammad Ali, Malcolm X and Madonna and cause more of an uproar than the arrival of Myron at a hotel stuffed with Steelers fans.

The next day, if the line to the press box's only bathroom was long enough to screw up his halftime routine (bathroom, hot dog, back to the booth), he might go up on the roof of old Cleveland Stadium and urinate over the edge. Which, OK, happened only once.
Don't tell me there's anyone like him.

He'll be in Cincinnati for next week's game. You'll hear him, and you'll feel good. Big Ben will hit Plaxico down the middle for 30 yards and a first down, and Myron will sound like he's having a stroke. That's how you'll know he's fine.

(Gene Collier can be reached at gcollier@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1283.)

Daniel Pipes: New Diplomacy Push Bad News For Israel

[Be sure to check out Mr. Pipes' site at http://www.danielpipes.org ]

November 11, 2004
BY DANIEL PIPES
The Chicago Sun-Times


The combination of President Bush's stunning new mandate and Yasser Arafat's death will lead, I predict, to (1) a quick revival of Palestinian-Israeli diplomacy after months of relative doldrums and to (2) massive dangers to Israel.

The doldrums will cease because the Bush administration viewed Arafat as the main impediment to achieving its vision -- articulated above by the president -- of achieving a "Palestine" living in harmony side-by-side with Israel. As Arafat exited the political stage, taking with him his stench of terrorism, corruption, extremism, and tyranny, Washington will jump to make its vision a reality, perhaps as soon as today, when Tony ("I have long argued that the need to revitalize the Middle East peace process is the single most pressing political challenge in our world today") Blair comes to town.

This observer expects that the president's efforts will not just fail but -- like so much prior Arab-Israeli diplomacy -- have a counterproductive effect. I say this for two reasons, one having to do with his own understanding of the Arab-Israeli conflict, the other having to do with the situation on the ground in the Palestinian territories.

Bush's understanding: The president's major statement of June 2002 remains the guideline to his goals vis-a-vis this conflict. In it, he outlined his vision for a "provisional" Palestinian state and called on Israel to end what he called its "settlement activity in the occupied territories." As these two steps make up the heart of the Palestinian program, the president was effectively inviting the Palestinians to behave themselves for an interval, long enough to collect these rewards, and then go back on the warpath.

Instead, the president should have told the Palestinians that they need unequivocally and permanently to accept that Israel is now and will always remain a Jewish state, plus they need to renounce violence against it. Furthermore, this change of heart must be visible in the schools, media, mosques, and political rhetoric before any discussion of benefits can begin.
But Bush did not make these demands, so, as Eli Lake has reported in the New York Sun, his approach translates into likely pressure on Israel.

Situation on the ground: There will be no successor to Yasser Arafat -- he made sure of that through his endless manipulations, tricks, and schemes. Instead, this is the moment of the gunmen. Whether they fight for criminal gangs, warlords, security services, or ideological groups (like Hamas), militiamen grasping for land and treasure will dominate the Palestinian scene for months or years ahead. The sort of persons familiar from past diplomacy or from television commentaries (Mahmoud Abbas, Ahmed Qureia, et al) lack gunmen, and so will have limited relevance going forward.

The Palestinian territories have already descended into a hellish anarchy, and circumstances will probably worsen as the strongmen struggle for power. Eventually, two of them will emerge with the ability to negotiate with the Israelis and Americans.

Note, two of them. The geographic division of the West Bank and Gaza, of only minor import until now, looms large upon Arafat's passing. As Jonathan Schanzer has suggested, whoever rules in the one unit is unlikely to gain traction in the other, making the notion of a "Palestine" that much more difficult to promote.

Two Palestines, anyone?

Israel has been spared from unremitting U.S. pressure during the last three years only because Arafat continued to deploy the terrorism weapon, thereby alienating the American president and aborting his diplomacy. Thanks to growing anarchy in the Palestinian territories, Israel will probably remain "lucky" for some time to come.

But this grace period will come to an end once clever and powerful Palestinian leaders realize that by holding off the violence for a decent interval, they can rely on Israel's only major ally pressuring the Jewish state into making unprecedented concessions. I doubt this will happen on Bush's watch, but if it does, I foresee potentially the most severe crisis ever in U.S.-Israel relations.

Daniel Pipes is director of the Middle East Forum and author of Miniatures (Transaction Publishers).

Peggy Noonan: Semper Fi

[This is part of an essay that appears in today's Wall Street Journal]

On Monday, National Review's editor, Rich Lowry, wrote this on The Corner, his magazine's blog: "I've been talking to Bush folks about how they pulled off this victory over the last couple of days, and the grass roots activism is something to behold. It was driven largely by volunteers who gave of their time and effort because they believed in something--in the president and in conservative ideas. This was a marvelous exercise in democratic citizenship and if it had happened on behalf of Howard Dean or some other liberal, we would never hear the end in the media of how members of this grassroots army vindicated their ideals on election day. But that's exactly what these Bush volunteers did."

Mr. Lowry had it exactly right. I witnessed it from the bottom up, going door to door with volunteers in Florida, meeting with the troops collating and delivering pro-Bush literature in Ohio, meeting with the phone callers who were getting out the vote in Pennsylvania, and hearing everyone's stories on the national battle of the Bush lawn signs. They were always being removed in the dark of night. (One Ohio man got so fed up he wired his Bush sign with some kind of cattle prodder thing; in the morning, proof through the night that his sign was still there.) I saw mothers leave their kids to work at various headquarters for a few hours whenever they could, and husbands stay out late to put up banners. I saw the young man in an Ohio headquarters who kept a baseball bat in his office because they had been menaced, and he meant to menace back if he had to.

Which gets me to last week's column, in which I wrote about Agincourt. I got a lot of mail about my reference to the fact that the bloggers and Internetters of 2004 were like the yeomen of England who pierced the old armor of the French aristocracy at that great battle. Some people wrote to me parts of the famous speech Harry the king gave minutes before the battle in Shakespeare's "King Henry V." Young Harry's troops are outnumbered, and for all he knows outgeneraled. But they had their guts and their weapons and an unkillable desire to win.

One reader wrote and mentioned St Crispin's Day, the day of the battle, which inspired me to open my Shakespeare. You know the speech well, but let's enjoy it again, in tribute to Bush's yeomen and -women.

The King speaks to his men in Act IV, Scene III, in the English camp:

This day is call'd the feast of Crispian:
He that outlives this day, and comes safe home,
Will stand a tip-toe when this day is named,
And rouse him at the name of Crispian.
He that shall live this day, and see old age,
Will yearly on the vigil feast his neighbors.
And say, "These wounds I had on Crispin's day."
Old men forget; yet all shall be forget,
But he'll remember with advantages
What feats he did that day: then shall our names,
Familiar in his mouth as household words,
Harry the King, Bedford and Exeter
Warwick and Talbot, Salisbury and Gloucester,
Be in their flowing cups freshly remember'd.
This story shall the good man teach his son;
And Crispin Crispian shall ne'er go by,
From this day to the ending of the world,
But we in it shall be remembered;
We few, we happy few, we band of brothers;
For he to-day that sheds his blood with me
Shall be my brother; be he ne'er so vile,
This day shall gentle his condition:
And gentlemen in England now a-bed
Shall think themselves accursed they were not here,
And hold their manhoods cheap while any speaks
That fought with us upon Saint Crispin's day.

St. Crispin Crispian--or St. Crispin and St. Crispian, there might have been two; quick research indicates no one knows--were apparently shoemakers and evangelists who tried to convert Britain in the third century. Their feast day--the day of Agincourt--was Oct. 25. This year, Oct. 25 was exactly eight days before the election, when all Mr. Bush's yeomen had gathered in their separate fields, and were shooting their best arrows, and working their hearts out, and ensuring what would become their great victory. Here's to them.

But of course none of this is anything to what is being done today, and tomorrow, in another battle, called Fallujah. It was launched on what might be called the Feast Day of the United States Marines, their 200th birthday as an American fighting force. As Shakespeare might have said, Semper fi.

Ms. Noonan is a contributing editor of The Wall Street Journal and author of "A Heart, a Cross, and a Flag" (Wall Street Journal Books/Simon & Schuster), a collection of post-Sept. 11 columns, which you can buy from the OpinionJournal bookstore. Her column appears Thursdays.

Wednesday, November 10, 2004

Jonah Goldberg: Don't Call Me a Republican!

November 10, 2004, 8:34 a.m.
http://www.nationalreview.com

No Party Man...I’m not the Republican Paul Begala.

The other day I wrote a column offering some suggestions to the Democrats about how they could improve their plight.

In response I received a boatload of e-mail. (How many e-mails would fit in a boat anyway?) Many Democrats and liberals told me I should keep my advice to myself because, in the words of one, "Why would Democrats ever take advice from a right-winger like you?!"
Meanwhile, many Republicans offered a different point of view. "Why do you want to help the Democrats?" many asked. "Let them fail!" asserted the chorus to my right.
Well, here's the thing: I don't take any giant amount of pride in being a Republican. I'm a conservative.

This is a distinction lost on the mainstream media. Most cable-news networks consider conservatives, Republicans, and — even more egregiously — libertarians utterly interchangeable. I get booked to debate liberals on TV all the time. In about half the circumstances, my opponent is a Democratic-party operative, or "consultant." The same happens to liberal journalists who are booked with various GOP activists. The problem with this arrangement is that, by their very nature, party apparatchiks care about their party more than ideas.

Consider CNN's Crossfire. This landmark show deserves much of the credit or blame, depending on your perspective, for the shout-show format of cable news dominating all of the networks today. In its current iteration, it pits Tucker Carlson and Bob Novak on the right versus James Carville and Paul Begala on the left. The problem is that Carlson and Novak — whatever their faults — are conservatives and/or journalists first and Republicans second. Carlson now thinks the war in Iraq was a mistake, and Novak always did. That hardly qualifies them as White House spokesmen. Begala and Carville, meanwhile, are Democrats before anything else and spin for their party more than their principles. Or, to be more fair than I am normally accustomed, they see their party and their principles as one and the same thing.

Let me put it this way: I want the Democratic party to move to the center on cultural and economic issues. Yes, it would mean that the Democrats would win more elections. That's pretty much beyond dispute. Bill Clinton was the only Democratic president to be reelected since Roosevelt, and it was because he moved his party to the political center.

If the Democrats won more elections by moving to the middle, it would be bad news for the Republican party, to be sure. But it would be good news for America — if you believe, as I do, that America would be better off moving in a more conservative direction. Keep in mind that when the Democrats move to the left, the Republicans move leftward to the middle — that is, to the left. So Republicans who cheer the leftward tilt of the Democrats shouldn't be surprised when the entire political center of gravity moves to the left as well.

Remember when that court declared the "under God" portion of the pledge of allegiance unconstitutional? Dick Gephardt and Tom Daschle immediately denounced the decision. I'm sure they were sincere. But even if they weren't, it was smart politics because no politician wants to run against the pledge of allegiance. Now, someone who puts the interests of the Republican party ahead of everything else would have been disappointed by the Democrats' maneuver. But no conservative in his right mind would have been upset about it, because the whole point of conservatism is to conserve those customs, institutions and values we consider essential for a healthy society.

Of course, during an election year the differences between conservatives and Republicans — as well as those between liberals and Democrats — become especially blurred. That's because elections force everyone to choose sides, to make the achievable good preferable to the unattainable perfect. Antiwar liberals held their noses and voted for Kerry even though he promised to fight harder than Bush. Small government conservatives contained their disgust for Bush's overspending.

But now the election is over, and I think you can expect to see a lot more daylight between conservatives and Bush. By all accounts, Bush and Karl Rove want to seal the Republican party as the majority for a generation. I'm all for it, but that doesn't mean I'll like everything the White House does to achieve this. The No Child Left Behind Act was a deliberate attempt to steal education from Democrats as an issue. It was somewhat successful, but that doesn't mean conservatives should suddenly cheer federal meddling in local education. The expansion of Medicare to cover prescription drugs was a fiscal train wreck.

The White House has many excellent ideas — tax reform, overhauling Social Security, etc. — that conservatives should get behind. But if the goal is to make the Republican party the majority party by making it the more "reasonable" big-government party, I suspect you won't find it so easy to confuse conservatives and Republicans in the near future.

— (c) 2004 Tribune Media Services

Matt Continetti: An Uncivil War

[There is also a link in this article to an excellent essay by David Brooks from this past Saturday's New York Times.]

An Uncivil War- The left has decided that in the wake of Bush's victory, America is on the brink of civil war. Are they nuts?

by Matthew Continetti, 11/10/2004 12:00:00 AM
http://www.weeklystandard.com

STUNG BY DEFEAT, puzzled and adrift, Democrats spent much of the past week turning to history, looking back at the great many-colored tapestry of the American past, in order to find where we--the people--find ourselves, now that George W. Bush has been reelected. And after consulting textbooks, and opening biographical dictionaries, and talking to some of the most renowned figures in the American academy, they have settled on an answer: America is on the brink of civil war.

"Not since the Civil War," Columbia University professor and noted art critic Simon Schama wrote in the Manchester Guardian on Sunday, "has the fault line between [America's] two halves been so glaringly clear, nor the chasm between its two cultures so starkly unbridgeable."
Princeton University history professor Sean Wilentz agrees. He told Dean Murphy in Sunday's New York Times that there are only "two instances in history" when the American electorate has been so divided. "They are kind of scary examples," Wilentz said. "One is 1860, and we know what happened after that one . . ." (Wilentz's second example was the 1896 election, which did not, in case you were wondering, result in secession.)

It's not just noted liberal academics who believe we're about to reenact the Civil War. It's newspaper writers and television pundits. It's Hollywood actors, like Mandy Patinkin: "We were driving around early this morning and saying to each other in the car, I always wondered what it was like, the mentality during the Civil War in America," Patinkin told CTV this week. "Now I know. It's just completely divided."

It's members of the Democratic base, whose warning cries, ringing like firebells in the night, have flooded local newspapers' letters pages. "This is like the Civil War without the guns," said one letter to the editor of the Baltimore Sun. "America is deeply divided. Perhaps another civil war is in order. I do not know," wrote one Ohioan to the editor of the Times of London. "The consequences of having this manipulative conservative monarchy in office for four more years will be nothing short of civil war," said a letter to the editor in the Sacramento Bee.

It's even some Republicans, like former House Speaker Newt Gingrich: "It's like the 1840s and 1850s," Gingrich told the Dallas Morning News. "This is going to go on and on. This is genuine disagreement over the future of the country. This isn't a divided government--it's a divided country."

And it's novelists, like Jane Smiley, writing in Slate:

When the forces of red and blue encountered one another head-on for the first time in Kansas Territory in 1856, the red forces from Missouri, who had been coveting Indian land across the Missouri River since 1820, entered Kansas and stole the territorial election. The red news media of the day made a practice of inflammatory lying--declaring that the blue folks had shot and killed red folks whom everyone knew were walking around. The worst civilian massacre in American history took place in Lawrence, Kan., in 1862--Quantrill's raid. The red forces, known then as the slave-power, pulled 265 unarmed men from their beds on a Sunday morning and slaughtered them in front of their wives and children.

Now it should be said that, well, quantitatively speaking, America is less divided than it was just four years ago. In 2000 President Bush lost the popular vote by 500,000, and won a victory in the Electoral College by only 5 electoral votes. In 2004 Bush won with a margin of about 4 million popular votes and 34 electoral ones. And there wasn't a civil war after the 2000 election, in case you were wondering. There wasn't even much talk of today's divided America resembling that in the Civil War.

Oh, wait. Actually, there was. If you look at a map of the 2000 election results, RNC operative Tom Cole told the Orlando Sentinel on November 12, 2000, you see "the most regionally divided America since the Civil War." Two days later, the Reverend James Merritt, a Baptist preacher from Georgia, told the AP: "I believe this nation is more divided than it's . . . been since the Civil War." Then president-elect Bush spoke often of America being "a house divided"--echoes of his predecessor, Abraham Lincoln.

Of course, if you live in a two-party democracy, then you live in a divided society. That's the way it works. One party wins, the other loses. And just because one party is out of power doesn't inevitably mean that the states who voted for the losing candidate need to start thinking about secession--especially since the losing candidate won his states by a smaller larger than the loser before him, Al Gore. So what is going on here?

Jane Smiley's noxious essay suggests an answer. As David Brooks pointed out in Saturday's New York Times, after every election, political types come up with a storyline to explain the results, and every storyline has two components: "First, it has to be completely wrong. Second, it has to reassure liberals that they are morally superior to the people who just defeated them." It should be plain that any storyline which says the Red America / Blue America divide resembles the antebellum Slave State / Free Soil divide fulfills the first criterion. If you think the United States is headed toward Civil War, then I have a bridge in Brooklyn that you might be interested in buying.

And this new storyline also fulfills Brooks's second criterion. By suggesting that the closest historical parallel to our current situation is the Civil War, by comparing Red America to "the slave power," by suggesting that Republicans win because they've concocted some magical witches' brew of ignorance and bigotry that the American public laps up like ice cream, writers like Schama and Wilentz and Smiley cast themselves as spokesmen of progress and reason and industry. This results in an historical irony: In the liberal's fantasy of a new Civil War, the Union armies would do the seceeding. In other words, they're the Union, and Republicans are the Confederacy. They're General Grant, and George Bush is General Lee. They're the winners, and Republicans will be the losers . . . eventually.

Matthew Continetti is a reporter at The Weekly Standard.
© Copyright 2004, News Corporation, Weekly Standard, All Rights Reserved.

Christopher Hitchens: Bush's Secularist Triumph

[I am not in agreement with Mr. Hitchens' religious philosophy but I do love reading his columns...he is a brilliant writer. I recommend reading all of his books...in particular "No One Left to Lie to" ...it's a keenly vicious skewering of Bill and Hillary Clinton. His book "The Missionary Position" concerns Mother Theresa and it is also extremely thought-provoking but some will find his assessment of her disturbing and possibly offensive reading. - jtf]

fighting words
A wartime lexicon.
http://slate.com

Bush's Secularist Triumph- The left apologizes for religious fanatics. The president fights them.

By Christopher Hitchens, Posted Tuesday, Nov. 9, 2004, at 7:34 AM PT

Many are the cheap and easy laughs in which one could indulge at the extraordinary, pitiful hysteria of the defeated Democrats. "Kerry won," according to one e-mail I received from Greg Palast, to whom the Florida vote in 2000 is, and always will be, a combination of Gettysburg and Waterloo. According to Nikki Finke of the LA Weekly, the Fox News channel "called" Ohio for Bush for reasons too sinister to enumerate. Gregory Maniatis, whose last communication to me had predicted an annihilating Democratic landslide, kept quiet for only a day or so before forwarding the details on how to emigrate to Canada. Thus do the liberals build their bridge to the 20th century.

Who can care about this pathos? Not I. But I do take strong exception to one strain in the general moaning. It seems that anyone fool enough to favor the re-election of the president is by definition a God-bothering, pulpit-pounding Armageddon-artist, enslaved by ancient texts and prophecies and committed to theocratic rule. I was instructed in last week's New York Times that this was the case, and that the Enlightenment had come to an end, by no less an expert than Garry Wills, who makes at least one of his many livings by being an Augustinian Roman Catholic.

I step lightly over the ancient history of Wills' church (which was the originator of the counter-Enlightenment and then the patron of fascism in Europe) as well as over its more recent and local history (as the patron, protector, and financier of child-rape in the United States, and the sponsor of the cruel "annulment" of Joe Kennedy's and John Kerry's first marriages). As far as I know, all religions and all churches are equally demented in their belief in divine intervention, divine intercession, or even the existence of the divine in the first place.

But all faiths are not always equally demented in the same way, or at the same time. Islam, which was once a civilizing and creative force in many societies, is now undergoing a civil war. One faction in this civil war is explicitly totalitarian and wedded to a cult of death. We have seen it at work on the streets of our own cities, and most recently on the streets of Amsterdam. We know that the obscene butchery of filmmaker Theo van Gogh was only a warning of what is coming in Madrid, London, Rome, and Paris, let alone Baghdad and Basra.

So here is what I want to say on the absolutely crucial matter of secularism. Only one faction in American politics has found itself able to make excuses for the kind of religious fanaticism that immediately menaces us in the here and now. And that faction, I am sorry and furious to say, is the left. From the first day of the immolation of the World Trade Center, right down to the present moment, a gallery of pseudointellectuals has been willing to represent the worst face of Islam as the voice of the oppressed. How can these people bear to reread their own propaganda?

Suicide murderers in Palestine—disowned and denounced by the new leader of the PLO—described as the victims of "despair." The forces of al-Qaida and the Taliban represented as misguided spokespeople for antiglobalization. The blood-maddened thugs in Iraq, who would rather bring down the roof on a suffering people than allow them to vote, pictured prettily as "insurgents" or even, by Michael Moore, as the moral equivalent of our Founding Fathers. If this is liberal secularism, I'll take a modest, God-fearing, deer-hunting Baptist from Kentucky every time, as long as he didn't want to impose his principles on me (which our Constitution forbids him to do).

One probably should not rest too much on the similarity between Bin Laden's last video and the newly available DVD of Fahrenheit 9/11. I would only say that, if Bin Laden had issued a tape that with equal fealty followed the playbook of Karl Rove (and do please by all means cross yourself at the mention of this unholy name), it might have garnered some more attention. The Bearded One moved pedantically through Moore's bill of indictment, checking off the Florida vote-count in 2000, the "Pet Goat" episode on the day of hell, the violent intrusion into hitherto peaceful and Muslim Iraq, and the division between Bush and the much nicer Europeans. (For some reason, unknown to me at any rate, he did not attack the President for allowing the Bin Laden family to fly out of American airspace.)

George Bush may subjectively be a Christian, but he—and the U.S. armed forces—have objectively done more for secularism than the whole of the American agnostic community combined and doubled. The demolition of the Taliban, the huge damage inflicted on the al-Qaida network, and the confrontation with theocratic saboteurs in Iraq represent huge advances for the non-fundamentalist forces in many countries. The "antiwar" faction even recognizes this achievement, if only indirectly, by complaining about the way in which it has infuriated the Islamic religious extremists around the world. But does it accept the apparent corollary—that we should have been pursuing a policy to which the fanatics had no objection?

Secularism is not just a smug attitude. It is a possible way of democratic and pluralistic life that only became thinkable after several wars and revolutions had ruthlessly smashed the hold of the clergy on the state. We are now in the middle of another such war and revolution, and the liberals have gone AWOL. I dare say that there will be a few domestic confrontations down the road, over everything from the Pledge of Allegiance to the display of Mosaic tablets in courtrooms and schools. I have spent all my life on the atheist side of this argument, and will brace for more of the same, but I somehow can't hear Robert Ingersoll* or Clarence Darrow being soft and cowardly and evasive if it came to a vicious theocratic challenge that daily threatens us from within and without.

[Correction, Nov. 9, 2004: The original version of this article incorrectly referred to Robert Ingersoll as "Ralph" Ingersoll.]

Christopher Hitchens is a columnist for Vanity Fair. His latest collection of essays, Love, Poverty and War, is published this month.

Tuesday, November 09, 2004

Houston Chronicle: Clemens Takes 7th Cy Young Award


By BRIAN MCTAGGART
Copyright 2004 Houston Chronicle

Roger Clemens' trophy case got a little more crowded today.
Clemens, who put off retirement to pitch for the Astros this year, became the first player in baseball history to win seven Cy Young Awards when he was named the winner of the award for 2004.

Clemens, 42, is only the fourth player in history to win a Cy Young in both leagues and is the oldest winner of the award given annually to the league's best pitcher. He won the American League Cy Young with the Boston Red Sox in 1986, 1987 and 1991, with the Toronto Blue Jays in 1997 and 1998 and with the New York Yankees in 2001.

Clemens received 23 out of a possible 32 first-place votes, with eight second-place votes and one third-place vote. Astros righthander Roy Oswalt finished third in the balloting behind Clemens and Arizona’s Randy Johnson and received one vote for first place, three for second and five for third.

Oswalt led the NL with 20 wins, finishing 20-10 with a 3.49 ERA. Teammate Brad Lidge received one third-place vote. The award is voted upon by members of the Baseball Writers Association of America.

Clemens and Oswalt are the first Astros pitchers to finish in the top three of the NL Cy Young voting since Mike Hampton finished second in 1999. Teammates have finished in the top three of the Cy Young voting on numerous occasions, most recently in both 2001 and 2002, when Johnson and Curt Schilling earned the top two slots, respectively, in both years.

Clemens joins Mike Scott (1986) as the only Astros to win the award. Clemens, who's in Japan on a tour with major league All-Stars, went 18-4 this season to lead the NL in winning percentage and ranked sixth in the NL with a 2.98 ERA. He won his first nine decisions of the season and his final six to help the Astros reach the playoffs.

“Roger’s performance and presence had a tremendous impact on the success of the Astros in 2004,” Astros general manager Tim Purpura said. “He is one of the true legends in sports history, and his performance this season was certainly worthy of his seventh Cy Young Award.”
Clemens was named to the All-Star team for the 10th time in his career and started the Midsummer Classic in July at Minute Maid Park. Clemens is the active leader in career wins with 328 and ranks 10th on the MLB career list, one shy of Steve Carlton.

According to the BBWAA, Clemens is the first player in history to capture eight BBWAA awards. He won the AL Most Valuable Player in 1986 to go along with his seven Cy Youngs.
Clemens joins Pedro Martinez (1997 Montreal, 1999 and 2000 Boston), Johnson (1999-2002 Arizona, 1995 Seattle), and Gaylord Perry (1972 Cleveland, 1978 San Diego) as the only four pitchers to win the Cy Young in both leagues. Clemens is the only pitcher to win the Cy Young with as many as four different teams.

Clemens struck out 218 hitters in 2004, marking his 12th career 200-strikeout season and tying him with Johnson for second on the MLB career list (trailing only Nolan Ryan). He threw 214 1/3 innings, the 14th time he has passed the 200-inning barrier in one season. He moved past Carlton and into second on the career strikeout list on May 5, and his 4,317 strikeouts trails only Ryan.

brian.mctaggart@chron.com


Richard Justice: Houston Chronicle Online
CY YOUNG WIN UNLIKELY TO INFLUENCE CLEMENS' DECISION ON '05

QUESTION: Congrats to Roger Clemens and, by extension, the Astros ... Clemens had a fantastic year, perhaps as good a year as any 40-plus pitcher has ever had. Not to mention that he probably should've been at least 22-or-23 and 4, rather than just 18-4. It's not a World Series win, but it does set him up to "go out on top" personally. Will his seventh Cy Young bring Roger closer to retirement or will it simply spur him on to the bigger prize for Houston?

- Jonathan in Baton Rouge

ANSWER: I don't believe it'll have an impact. My colleague, John Lopez, wrote a wonderful column on the topic in today's Chronicle.

I also think it'll be a matter of how the Rocket feels around Christmas. He was spent at the end of the season. His conditioning work takes up so much of his time that I think he'd like some time to do something else.
Still, this game gets a hold of people and won't let go. He may be the best ever, and he still enjoys those days when he goes to the mound. If I were betting, I'd bet that he returns for a 22nd season.

Posted: Nov 9 2004 4:40PM

CLEMENS MAY BE YOUNG, BUT HE'S READY TO WALK AWAY
By Gordon Edes, Boston Globe November 9, 2004

So how does a pitcher who wins an unprecedented seventh Cy Young Award, as Roger Clemens did this afternoon, walk away from the game?
"Easy," Clemens said without hesitation, just hours before receiving a call here informing him he'd won. "Like I said, I was happy last season, but it wasn't fun. I worked real hard."
Hard enough, at age 42, to become the oldest pitcher ever to be honored as the best pitcher in his league.

Clemens, who is here with a team of touring major-league all-stars playing their Japanese counterparts, was called just after 2 a.m. Japan time, according to one of his agents, Jim Murray, by Jack O'Connell, secretary-treasurer of the Baseball Writers Assn. of America, informing him that he has another trophy waiting for him upon his return to his hometown of Houston.
Clemens received 24 first-place votes in easily outdistancing Randy Johnson of the Arizona Diamondbacks. After calling his wife, Debbie, with the news, he begged off an interview, claiming he needed to get some rest before his scheduled start Wednesday night (4:30 a.m. Boston time) here in the Osaka Dome.

Before taking the bullet train here from Fukuoka ahead of his teammates, who were beating the Japan stars, 7-2, Clemens spoke of the award's significance to him.
"It would mean something to me, to have won (a Cy Young award) for every team that I've ever pitched for," said Clemens, who won three Cy Young Awards with the Red Sox, two for the Toronto Blue Jays, one for the New York Yankees, and is in line to win one for the Astros, the team that coaxed him out of retirement last winter.

Clemens went 18-4 with a 2.98 ERA, his first sub-3 ERA in six seasons. "I could have had one of my biggest winning seasons ever," he said last night, noting that with a little more run support he could have had 24 or 25 wins. "There were a few times I probably should have told them to take me out of a game and I didn't," he said.

Clemens allowed one or no runs over seven innings five times last season without getting a decision. He won his first nine decisions for the Astros and pitched Houston into the postseason by winning his last six decisions. Balloting for the Cy Young award ended before the postseason, but Clemens won twice more for the Astros before taking the loss in Game 7 of the NLCS against the Cardinals.

Johnson, 41, led the league in strikeouts with 290, 72 more than the Rocket, and his 2.60 ERA was second-best in the league. In games in which the Diamondbacks scored more than two runs, the Big Unit was 13-2. But pitching for a team that lost 111 games, Johnson's won-loss record was 16-14; no pitcher ever has won the Cy Young with as few as 16 wins over a full season.
Clemens, who will turn 43 next August 4, said here last week that spending more time with his family will enter heavily into his decision whether he retires.

"My mother (Bess) has emphysema," he said. "My father died when I was 9. When I go into the Hall of Fame, I don't want to speak to two empty chairs. I'll already be speaking to one. I'm keeping my fingers crossed that she'll still be healthy enough to see that day."
If Clemens returns next season, that would mean another year he'd have to wait before the five-year waiting period for his Hall eligibility expired.

It's possible that he will pitch in a game for the last time tonight here in Osaka, where he is scheduled to take the mound for the major-league all-stars against a team of Japanese stars. Clemens, who pitched last Friday in Tokyo, plans to return to the US after pitching in a game scheduled to begin at 4:30 a.m. Wednesday, Boston time.

"You know what I want to do that I've never done before?" Clemens said. "I want to sit in the stands and watch a game in Fenway Park and Yankee Stadium. That's on my list of things to do, like playing at Augusta."

© Copyright 2004 Globe Newspaper Company.

Monday, November 08, 2004

Dinesh D'Souza: It Was Reagan Who Tore Down That Wall


It Was Reagan Who Tore Down That Wall- He was the prime mover behind the Soviet collapse.

By Dinesh D'Souza

Dinesh D'Souza, a Hoover Institution fellow, is author of "Ronald Reagan: How an Ordinary Man Became an Extraordinary Leader" (the Free Press, 1997).

November 8, 2004

As we celebrate the 15th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall on Tuesday, it's worth asking how and why did the wall come tumbling down? I argue that it was Ronald Reagan's statesmanship that brought it down and hastened the collapse of the Soviet empire. Reagan didn't do it alone, but without him it probably wouldn't have happened.

As early as 1981, when virtually everyone considered the Soviet empire a permanent fixture of the international landscape, Reagan spoke at the University of Notre Dame where he predicted that “the West won’t contain communism; it will transcend communism. It will dismiss it as a bizarre chapter in human history whose last pages are even now being written.” The next year Reagan told the British Parliament that freedom and democracy would “leave Marxism-Leninism on the ash heap of history.”

When Reagan made these forecasts the wise men in the media and academia scoffed. Today these same pundits maintain that the Soviet Union collapsed by itself due to economic failure, or that Mikhail Gorbachev was responsible. Reagan, they insist, merely presided over an event that his policies did little to influence. This analysis makes no sense at all. Sure, the Soviet Union had economic problems on account of its socialist system. But the Soviet economy had been ailing for most of the century. Never in history has a great empire imploded due to poor economic performance alone. The Roman and Ottoman empires survived internal corrosion and domestic strains for generations before each was destroyed by military force.

Like many empires suffering from domestic strains, the Soviets during the 1970s compensated for these by pursuing an aggressive foreign policy. Between 1974 and 1980, while the U.S. wallowed in post-Vietnam angst, 10 countries fell into the Soviet orbit: South Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, South Yemen, Angola, Mozambique, Ethiopia, Nicaragua, Grenada and Afghanistan. The Soviet nuclear arsenal surpassed that of the United States, and the Soviets deployed a new generation of intermediate-range missiles targeted at Western Europe. Far from being on the verge of collapse, the Soviet Union in 1980 seemed to be in the vanguard of history.

It is no less problematic to attribute the Soviet collapse to Gorbachev. He was undoubtedly a reformer and a new type of Soviet general secretary, but why did the Politburo in 1985 feel the need to turn over leadership to this man? Certainly the communist bosses did not wish him to lead the party, and the regime, over the precipice.

Nor did Gorbachev see this as his role. On the contrary, he insisted throughout the second half of the 1980s that he sought to strengthen the Soviet economy in order to strengthen the Soviet military. The Politburo supported Gorbachev’s reforms because he promised “regained confidence in the Party.” In his 1987 book Perestroika Gorbachev presented himself as the preserver, not the destroyer, of socialism. No one was more surprised than Gorbachev when the Soviet regime disintegrated, and when he was swept out of power.

The only man who foresaw the Soviet collapse and implemented policies to bring it about was Ronald Reagan. During his first term Reagan pursued tough anti-Soviet policies aimed at curtailing the Soviet nuclear threat and stopping Soviet advances around the world. Calling the Soviets an “evil empire,” Reagan initiated a massive defense buildup. He deployed Pershing and Cruise missiles in Europe. He sent weapons and other assistance to anticommunist guerrillas fighting for self-determination in Soviet satellites like Afghanistan, Angola and Nicaragua. He announced a new program of missile defenses that would eventually “make nuclear weapons obsolete.

These measures were fiercely resisted by liberal Democrats, who decried Reagan’s policies as confrontational and likely to make nuclear war more likely. Historian Barbara Tuchman spoke for many liberals when she urged that the West ingratiate itself with the Soviet Union by pursuing “the stuffed-goose option—that is, providing them with all the grain and consumer goods they need.” If Reagan had taken this advice when it was offered in 1982, the Soviet empire would probably be around today.

Reagan’s military buildup and his missile defense program threatened the Soviets with an arms race they could ill afford. The Reagan doctrine of aid to anticommunist guerrillas halted Soviet advances in the Third World: between 1980 and 1985 not an inch of real estate fell into Moscow’s hands and one small country, Grenada, reverted into the democratic camp. Thanks to Stinger missiles supplied by the United States, Afghanistan rapidly became what the Soviets themselves would later call a “bleeding wound.”

Clearly the Politburo saw that the momentum in the cold war had dramatically shifted. After 1985, the Soviets seem to have decided on a new course. It was Reagan, in other words, who was responsible for thwarting Soviet gains and introducing a loss of nerve that contributed to the elevation of Gorbachev to power. Gorbachev’s policies were responses to circumstances created not by him but by Reagan. No wonder that Ilya Zaslavsky, who served in the Congress of People’s Deputies, said later that the true originator of glasnost and perestroika was not Gorbachev but Reagan.

Reagan immediately recognized Gorbachev as a new breed of Soviet leader. He supported Gorbachev’s reforms and arms control initiatives during his second term, when many conservatives criticized him for being na├»ve and credulous. William F. Buckley, Jr. warned that Reagan’s new stance was “on the order of changing our entire position toward Adolf Hitler.” Columnist George Will mourned that Reagan had “accelerated the moral disarmament of the West by elevating wishful thinking to the status of political philosophy.” These criticisms missed the larger current of events that Reagan alone appears to have understood. In attempting to reform communism, Gorbachev was destroying the system. Reagan encouraged him every step of the way; as Gorbachev himself joked, Reagan induce him to take the Soviet Union to the edge of the abyss and then take “one step forward.”

The tears of joy with which millions greeted the collapse of the Soviet empire proved that Reagan was entirely justified in calling it an “evil empire.” Even some of who were previously skeptical of Reagan were compelled to admit that they had been wrong and Reagan’s approach had been thoroughly vindicated. Reflecting on Reagan’s complex strategy of initial toughness toward the Soviet Union—in the face of denunciation from liberals—and later support for Gorbachev—in the face of criticism from conservatives—Henry Kissinger called it “the most stunning diplomatic achievement of the modern era."

Margaret Thatcher composed Reagan’s epitaph when she said that “he won the cold war without firing a shot.” That’s how history will remember him. On the anniversary’s of the Berlin Wall’s collapse, we should do Reagan the honor of recognizing his prescient leadership that helped to produce that marvelous event.

Dinesh D’Souza, the Rishwain Scholar at the Hoover Institution, is author of several bestselling books including Ronald Reagan: How an Ordinary Man Became an Extraordinary Leader.

Website: dineshdsouza.com Email: thedsouzas@aol.com

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Mark Steyn: Condescending Dems Still Don't Get it

[Be sure to check out Mark Steyn's blog "SteynOnline" at http://www.marksteyn.com ]

November 7, 2004
BY MARK STEYN
Chicago Sun-Times

Mustn't gloat, mustn't gloat. Instead, we must try and look sober and reflective and then step smartly to the side and let the Democrats tear themselves apart.
I'm reluctant to intrude on family grief, especially as the Dems are doing such a sterling job all by themselves. But, when big shot Democrats look at Tuesday's results and instantly announce the reason they flopped out was because . . .

Whoa, hang on a minute, my apologies. There's been a clerical error here: That was my post-election column from 2002. My post-election column from 2004 goes like . . . well, actually, it goes pretty much the same. It'd be easier just to take the second week in November off every two years and let my editors run the timeless classic whither-the-Democrats? column. All that changes is the local color. In 2002, I was very taken by the band at Missouri Democratic headquarters attempting to rouse the despondent faithful with Steve Allen's peppy anthem, "This Could Be the Start of Something Big,'' and noted that the party faced the opposite problem: This could be the end of something small.

As they've done for a decade now, the Democrat bigwigs worried about it for a couple of weeks and then rationalized it away: In 2000 they lost because Bush stole the "election"; in 2002 they lost because of that "vicious" attack ad on Max Cleland. The official consolation for this year's biennial bust hasn't yet been decided on, but Tom Daschle's election-eve lawsuit alone offers several attractive runners, including the complaint that Democrats were intimidated by Republicans ''rolling their eyes.'' Could be a lot more of that if this keeps up.

So it seems likely -- just to get my 2006 post-election column out of the way here -- that in a couple years' time the Democrats will have run on the same thin gruel as usual and be mourning the loss of another two or three Senate seats. You want names and states? Well, how about West Virginia? Will the 88-year old Robert C. Byrd be on the ballot in 2006? And, if he's not, what are the Dems' chances of stopping West Virginia's transformation to permanent "red state" status?

It also seems likely -- just to get my 2012 post-election column out of the way here -- that in eight years' time the Dems will have run on the same thin gruel as usual and, thanks to the 2010 census and the ongoing shift of population to the South and West, lost another five House seats and discovered that the "blue states" are worth even less in the Electoral College -- though in fairness their only available presidential candidate, the young dynamic Southerner 94-year-old Robert C. Byrd, managed to hold all but three of Kerry's states.

I had a bet with myself this week: How soon after election night would it be before the Bush-the-chimp-faced-moron stuff started up again? 48 hours? A week? I was wrong. Bush Derangement Syndrome is moving to a whole new level. On the morning of Nov. 2, the condescending left were convinced that Bush was an idiot. By the evening of Nov. 2, they were convinced that the electorate was. Or as London's Daily Mirror put it in its front page: "How Can 59,054,087 People Be So DUMB?"

Well, they're British lefties: They can do without Americans. Whether an American political party can do without Americans is more doubtful. Nonetheless, MSNBC.com's Eric Alterman was mirroring the Mirror's sentiments: "Slightly more than half of the citizens of this country simply do not care about what those of us in the 'reality-based community' say or believe about anything." Over at Slate, Jane Smiley's analysis was headlined, "The Unteachable Ignorance Of The Red States.'' If you don't want to bother plowing your way through Alterman and Smiley, a placard prominently displayed by a fetching young lad at the post-election anti-Bush rally in San Francisco cut to the chase: "F--- MIDDLE AMERICA."

Almost right, man. It would be more accurate to say that "MIDDLE AMERICA" has "F---ed" you, and it will continue to do so every two years as long as Democrats insist that anyone who disagrees with them is, ipso facto, a simpleton -- or "Neanderthal," as Teresa Heinz Kerry described those unimpressed by her husband's foreign policy. In my time, I've known dukes, marquesses, earls, viscounts and other members of Britain's House of Lords and none of them had the contempt for the masses one routinely hears from America's coastal elites. And, in fairness to those ermined aristocrats, they could afford Dem-style contempt: A seat in the House of Lords is for life; a Senate seat in South Dakota isn't.

More to the point, nobody who campaigns with Ben Affleck at his side has the right to call anybody an idiot. H. L. Mencken said that no one ever lost money underestimating the intelligence of the American people. Well, George Soros, Barbra Streisand and a lot of their friends just did: The Kerry campaign and its supporters -- MoveOn.org, Rock The Vote, etc. -- were awash in bazillions of dollars, and what have they got to show for it? In this election, the plebs were more mature than the elites: They understood that war is never cost-free and that you don't run away because of a couple of setbacks; they did not accept that one jailhouse scandal should determine America's national security interest; they rejected the childish caricature of their president and paranoid ravings about Halliburton; they declined to have their vote rocked by Bruce Springsteen or any other pop culture poser.

All the above is unworthy of a serious political party. As for this exit-poll data that everyone's all excited about, what does it mean when 22 percent of the electorate say their main concern was "moral issues"? Gay marriage? Abortion? Or is it something broader? For many of us, the war is also a moral issue, and the Democrats are on the wrong side of it, standing not with the women voting proudly in Afghanistan's first election but with the amoral and corrupt U.N., the amoral and cynical Jacques Chirac, the amoral and revolting head-hackers whom Democratic Convention guest of honor Michael Moore described as Iraq's ''minutemen.''

At some point in both the 2000 and 2004 campaigns, your typical media liberal would feign evenhandedness and bemoan the way the choice has come down to "two weak candidates.''
But, in that case, how come the right's weak candidates are the ones that win? Because a weak candidate pushing strong ideas is better than a weak candidate who's had no ideas since Roe vs. Wade.