Friday, October 13, 2006

Charles Krauthammer: What Will Stop North Korea

October 13, 2006
The Washington Post
Charles Krauthammer

It shall be the policy of this Nation to regard any nuclear missile launched from Cuba against any nation in the Western Hemisphere as an attack by the Soviet Union on the United States, requiring a full retaliatory response upon the Soviet Union.

-- President John F. Kennedy, Oct. 22, 1962


WASHINGTON -- Now that's deterrence.

Kennedy was pledging that if any nuke was launched from Cuba, the United States would not even bother with Cuba but go directly to the source and bring the apocalypse to Russia with a massive nuclear attack.

The remarkable thing about this kind of threat is that in 1962 it was very credible. Indeed, its credibility kept the peace throughout a half-century of Cold War.

Deterrence is what you do when there is no way to disarm your enemy. You cannot deprive him of his weapons, but you can keep him from using them. We long ago reached that stage with North Korea.

Everyone has tried to figure out how to disarm North Korea. It will not happen. Kim Jong Il is not going to give up his nukes. The only way to disarm the regime is to destroy it. China could do that with sanctions, but will not. The United States could do that with a second Korean War, but will not, either.

So we are back to deterrence. Hence the familiar echoes of the Cuban Missile Crisis with North Korea's rude entry into the nuclear club this week. The U.S. had to immediately put down markers for deterrence. President Bush put down two.

One marker, preventing a direct attack on our allies in the region, was straightforward, if bland: "I reaffirmed to our allies in the region, including South Korea and Japan,'' the president said in a nationally televised statement, "that the United States will meet the full range of our deterrent and security commitments.'' It is understood by all that the decades-old American nuclear umbrella in the Pacific Rim commits us to attacking North Korea -- presumably with in-kind nuclear retaliation -- were it to attack our allies first.

Gruesome stuff, but run-of-the-mill in the nuclear age. The hard part is the second marker Bush tried to put down: proliferation deterrence.

We are in a new era far more complicated than Kennedy's because his great crisis occurred before the age of terrorism. The world of 1962 was still technologically and ideologically primitive: Miniaturized nuclear weaponry had not yet been invented, nor had modern international terrorism. Yasser Arafat and the PLO gave the world that gift half a decade later with their perfection of the political airline hijacking.

Terrorism has since grown in popularity, ambition and menace. Its practitioners are in the market for nuclear weapons. North Korea has little else to sell.

Hence Bush's attempt to codify a second form of deterrence: "The transfer of nuclear weapons or material by North Korea to states or nonstate entities would be considered a grave threat to the United States, and we would hold North Korea fully accountable for the consequences of such action.''

A good first draft, but it could use some Kennedyesque clarity. The phrase "fully accountable'' does not exactly instill fear, as it has been used promiscuously by several administrations in warnings to both terrorists and rogue states -- after which we did absolutely nothing. A better formulation would be the following:

Given the fact that there is no other nuclear power so recklessly in violation of its nuclear obligations, it shall be the policy of this Nation to regard any detonation of a nuclear explosive on the United States or its allies as an attack by North Korea on the United States requiring a full retaliatory response upon North Korea.

This is how you keep Kim Jong Il from proliferating. Make him understand that his survival would be hostage to the actions of whatever terror group he sold his weapons to. Any terrorist detonation would be assumed to have his address on it. The United States would then return postage. Automaticity of this kind concentrates the mind.

This policy has a hitch, however. It only works in a world where there is but a single rogue nuclear state. Once that club expands to two, the policy evaporates because a nuclear terror attack would no longer have a single automatic return address.

Which is another reason why keeping Iran from going nuclear is so important. With North Korea there is no going back. But Iran is not there yet. One rogue country is tolerable because it can be held accountable. Two rogue countries guarantees undeterrable and therefore inevitable nuclear terrorism.

letters@charleskrauthammer.com

Peggy Noonan: The Sounds of Silencing

Why do Americans on the left think only they have the right to dissent?
The Wall Street Journal
Friday, October 13, 2006 12:01 a.m. EDT

Four moments in the recent annals of free speech in America. Actually annals is too fancy a word. This all happened in the past 10 days:

At Columbia University, members of the Minutemen, the group that patrols the U.S. border with Mexico and reports illegal crossings, were asked to address a forum on immigration policy. As Jim Gilchrist, the founder, spoke, angry students stormed the stage, shouting and knocking over chairs and tables. "Having wreaked havoc," said the New York Sun, they unfurled a banner in Arabic and English that said, "No one is ever illegal." The auditorium was cleared, the Minutemen silenced. Afterward a student protester told the Columbia Spectator, "I don't feel we need to apologize or anything. It was fundamentally a part of free speech. . . . The Minutemen are not a legitimate part of the debate on immigration."

On Oct. 2, on Katie Couric's "CBS Evening News," in the segment called "Free Speech," the father of a boy killed at Columbine shared his views on the deeper causes of the recent shootings in Amish country. Brian Rohrbough said violence entered our schools when we threw God out of them. "This country is in a moral freefall. For over two generations the public school system has taught in a moral vacuum. . . . We teach there are no moral absolutes, no right or wrong, and I assure you the murder of innocent children is always wrong, including abortion. Abortion has diminished the value of children." This was not exactly the usual mush.

Mr. Rohrbough was quickly informed he was not part of the legitimate debate, either. Howard Kurtz in the Washington Post: "The decision . . . to air his views prompted a storm of criticism, some of it within the ranks of CBS News." A blog critic: Grief makes people say "stupid" things, but "what made them put this man on television?" Good question. How did they neglect to silence him?

Soon after, at Madison Square Garden, Barbra Streisand, began her latest farewell tour with what friends who were there tell me was a moving, beautiful concert. She was in great form and brought the audience together in appreciation of her great ballads, which are part of the aural tapestry of our lives. And then . . . the moment. Suddenly she decided to bang away on politics. Fine, she's a Democrat, Bush is bad. But midway through the bangaway a man in the audience called out. Most could not hear him, but everyone seems to agree he at least said, "What is this, a fund-raiser?"

At this, Ms. Streisand became enraged, stormed the stage and pummeled herself. Wait, that was Columbia. Actually she became enraged and cursed the man. A friend who was there, a liberal Democrat, said what was most interesting was Ms. Streisand made a physical movement with her arms and hands--"those talon hands"--as if to say, See what I have to put up with when I attempt to educate the masses? She soon apologized, to her credit. Though apparently in the manner of a teacher who'd just kind of lost it with an unruly and ignorant student.

On "The View" a few days earlier it was Rosie O'Donnell. She was banging away on gun control. Guns are bad and should be banned. Elizabeth Hasselbeck, who plays the role of the young, attractive mom, tentatively responded. "I want to be fair," she said. Obviously there should be "restrictions," but women have a right to defend themselves, and there's "the right to bear arms" in the Constitution. Rosie accused Elizabeth of yelling. The panel, surprised, agreed that Elizabeth was not yelling. Rosie then went blank-faced with what someone must have told her along the way is legitimately felt rage. Elizabeth was not bowing to Rosie's views. Elizabeth needed to be educated. The education commenced, Rosie gesturing broadly and Elizabeth constricting herself as if she knew physical assault were a possibility. When Rosie gets going on the Second Amendment I always think, Oh I hope she's not armed! Actually I wonder what Freud would have made of an enraged woman obsessed with gun control. Ach, classic projection. Eef she had a gun she would kill. Therefore no one must haf guns.

**********

There's a pattern here, isn't there?

It is not only about rage and resentment, and how some have come to see them as virtues, as an emblem of rightness. I feel so much, therefore my views are correct and must prevail. It is about something so obvious it is almost embarrassing to state. Free speech means hearing things you like and agree with, and it means allowing others to speak whose views you do not like or agree with. This--listening to the other person with respect and forbearance, and with an acceptance of human diversity--is the price we pay for living in a great democracy. And it is a really low price for such a great thing.

We all know this, at least in the abstract. Why are so many forgetting it in the particular?

Let us be more pointed. Students, stars, media movers, academics: They are always saying they want debate, but they don't. They want their vision imposed. They want to win. And if the win doesn't come quickly, they'll rush the stage, curse you out, attempt to intimidate.

And they don't always recognize themselves to be bullying. So full of their righteousness are they that they have lost the ability to judge themselves and their manner.

And all this continues to come more from the left than the right in America.

Which is, at least in terms of timing, strange. The left in America--Democrats, liberals, Bush haters, skeptics of many sorts--seems to be poised for a significant electoral victory. Do they understand that if it comes it will be not because of Columbia, Streisand, O'Donnell, et al., but in spite of them?

What is most missing from the left in America is an element of grace--of civic grace, democratic grace, the kind that assumes disagreements are part of the fabric, but we can make the fabric hold together. The Democratic Party hasn't had enough of this kind of thing since Bobby Kennedy died. What also seems missing is the courage to ask a question. Conservatives these days are asking themselves very many questions, but I wonder if the left could tolerate asking itself even a few. Such as: Why are we producing so many adherents who defy the old liberal virtues of free and open inquiry, free and open speech? Why are we producing so many bullies? And dim dullard ones, at that.

Ms. Noonan is a contributing editor of The Wall Street Journal and author of "John Paul the Great: Remembering a Spiritual Father" (Penguin, 2005), which you can order from the OpinionJournal bookstore. Her column appears Fridays on OpinionJournal.com.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Mike Lupica: Not only famous Yanks die young

The New York Daily News
October 12, 2006

Lidle's death brings back memories of Thurman

This is the way Cory Lidle walked into the Yankee clubhouse every day, the way most of them walk in, down the blue line painted on the cement floor, past the back door to Joe Torre's office, around a corner and past photographs of all the Yankees who have had their numbers retired. Those pictures are on the right-hand wall and you can't miss them before you walk through the clubhouse door and put on the most famous uniform in sports.

Halfway down the wall is the picture of Thurman Munson.

Munson was No. 15 and captain of the Yankees and loved flying planes almost as much as Yankee fans loved him. He was flying his own Cessna Citation on Aug. 2, 1979, practicing takeoffs and landings, touch-and-go's as they are called, at the Akron-Canton Airport near his home in Ohio, when he didn't get his flaps down in time and the Cessna clipped a tree and crashed and burned and Munson died.

He was 32. Now it had happened to another Yankee, to a journeyman pitcher named Cory Lidle, one not nearly as much a Yankee as Munson. It had happened to Lidle out of the sky above Manhattan on the fourth afternoon after the Yankee season ended, Lidle's single-engine plane crashing into the Belaire, 524 E. 72nd St.

Lidle was 34. It is not only the famous Yankees who die young.

They began to find out about it at Yankee Stadium in the late afternoon the way everyone did yesterday. Debbie Tymon, the Yankees' senior vice president for marketing, had driven to Manhattan at lunchtime, gotten off the FDR Drive at 71st St., a block from where Lidle's Cirrus SR20 would hit the Belaire in an hour.

Tymon picked up some bread for her mother at Orwasher's Bakery, on E. 78th St., and drove back to the Stadium with a friend. It wasn't so long after that that somebody came into her office and told her to turn on a television set. Debbie Tymon did that and said, "Oh my God, I was just there."

Now, much later at the Stadium, everybody knowing by then about the Yankee pitcher who loved to fly the way Thurman Munson loved to fly, Debbie Tymon said, "It wasn't too long before we started to hear it might have been one of ours."

"Obviously I think everyone saw it earlier in the day," Yankee general manager Brian Cashman would say at the Stadium. "No one knows if it touched your life, your family or friends."

It was the Yankee family this time. It was a journeyman Yankee who had come over from the Phillies and started nine games for the Yankees in the regular season and won four of them.

He was Cory Lidle, and in all he won 82 games in the big leagues for a lot of teams, including the Mets, and Cashman always said he wouldn't have made his big trade for Bobby Abreu this summer if Lidle hadn't been included. Stories were written in the newspapers about his flying, how he had gotten his pilot's license during the last off-season when he was still with the Phillies, how he loved to go up in a plane and fly over the ballparks in which he pitched.

He told reporters the other day that he was planning to fly himself home to California in his Cirrus, taking his time, making some stops along the way. It is not clear whether he was doing that yesterday, or just taking a ride with an instructor over the Statue of Liberty and up along the East River, when something went tragically wrong and this became the day in New York City when it was a Yankee pitcher in a small plane that went into a high-rise near the river.

Lidle died there and his instructor died with him. By the grace of God, nobody died at the Belaire and nobody on the street died for the crime of being in the wrong place at the wrong time when a plane, a small one this time, came out of the sky and hit one of our buildings.

Now it was 6 p.m. at Yankee Stadium. Jason Zillo, from the Yankees public relations staff, was standing at the door to the Yankee clubhouse, at the end of that row of famous Yankees, all of them with their numbers retired in the outfield. The picture of Lou Gehrig, No. 4, was the last one before the door that read "The Pete Sheehy Clubhouse," named after the old clubhouse man who went all the way back to Gehrig and Babe Ruth.

Inside the room is the empty locker they still keep for Munson.

Such famous names have been in that room. Munson and Mantle and Ruth and Gehrig and Berra and all the rest. The most famous baseball names in this world. The most famous Yankees. Cory Lidle, about to become more famous in death than he was as a baseball pitcher, had only been a Yankee for a couple of months. But he had been a Yankee.

When the season was ending for them on Saturday in Detroit, the kind of loss that is always treated as a tragedy, he came out of the bullpen, the second pitcher in the game after starter Jaret Wright. Lidle did no better than Wright had done, pitched an inning and a third, gave up four hits and three runs and struck out just one.

When the season was over, he talked in the quiet of the Yankee clubhouse about flying his plane home to California.

It was quiet at Yankee Stadium in the early evening yesterday. The only real sound was the rain, at the other end of the runway from the clubhouse door, the runway that takes you to the field. There were boxes out here, filled with the last remnants of the season, marked "Fragile." Because everything was at Yankee Stadium yesterday.

The door to the clubhouse was locked.

"[Lidle's] locker was on the right side of the room, in there between A-Rod and Randy Johnson," Zillo said.

"Across the room from Thurman's."

The Saudi-Osama Connection

By Kenneth R. Timmerman
http://www.FrontPageMag.com
October 12, 2006

It was supposed to be one of those international “ho-hum” conferences, dedicated to endangered species.

But in a surprise move, the government of Saudi Arabia turned it into an international confrontation, using its veto power to prevent an American conservationist group from presenting what it called “actionable information” that tied top Saudi and United Arab Emirates leaders to al Qaeda.

UN officials called the Saudi move to ban the U.S group, which had official United Nations observer status, “unprecedented.” The UN actually tried to facilitate the appearance of the U.S. group at last Friday’s meeting in Geneva of the 54th Standing Committee of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES). That may have been a first in UN history.

The conservationist group, the Union for the Conservation of Raptors (UCR), said it was prepared to present “new evidence” of ongoing smuggling operations that tied top Saudi and United Arab Emirates leaders to al Qaeda.

In a letter outlying their proposed testimony, the UCR said that it would present evidence of bribes paid to UN officials by UAE and Saudi officials in order to allow the smuggling of hunting falcons.

In exchange for the bribes – which I am told totaled over a half-million dollars - the UN official authorized the shipment of smuggled falcons by the UAE and the Saudi government to royal hunting camps in Central Asia, where the Arab rulers “met with top al Qaeda officials and international arms dealers,” said UCR spokesman Alan Parrot.

The UCR also accused a top Saudi official, Prince Bandar bin Sultan bin Abuldaul Aziz, of having used his diplomatic immunity to “smuggle… falcons to his father and uncle” in Saudi Arabia.

At the time, Prince Bandar was the Saudi ambassador to Washington, and his father was the Defense Minister. The UCR said that the Saudi Embassy paid a $150,000 fine in the U.S. Department of Justice in relation to the falcon shipments.

The threat of exposing Prince Bandar’s alleged involvement in the falcon trade is probably what triggered the unusual Saudi intervention last week in Geneva, since Prince Bandar continues to be a prominent member of the royal family and a key power broker.

The UCR testimony at the 54th Standing Committee of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) was scheduled for last Friday, but Parrot says he received an email on Thursday, Oct. 5, while attending a conference in Mexico, that the UN had acceded to the Saudi demand and was “canceling our request to testify.”

Parrot and two renowned biologists who work with UCR – Dr. David H. Ellis and Dr. Peter Lindberg - had already booked tickets to Geneva and were about to board their flight when the email arrived.

The month long falconry camps are “al Qaeda’s boardroom,” Parrot said in his letter to the CITES secretariat.

“Those same royal falconry camps for which the U.S. CITES Secretariat makes administrative allowances that permit import/export licenses to be issued, provide ongoing material support to al-Qaeda’s leaders,” he wrote.

“Cars, cash, weapons, and medicine are transferred to al-Qaeda in these camps,” which “continue as the venue of first-choice for clandestine meetings between al-Qaeda and U.S. “allies” from Saudi Arabia and the UAE,” Parrot added.

The luxury hunting camps provided an extraordinary opportunity for top al Qaeda leaders, including Osama Bin Laden, to meet with top Arab princes and solicit money from them, while engaging in their favorite sport: hunting the Houbara bustard with peregrine and Gyrofalcons.

Former White House counter-terrorism official Richard A. Clarke told the 9/11 Commission that the United States was planning to bomb a royal falconry camp in Pakistan where Osama Bin Laden was present in the late1990s, but called off the raid because a senior government minister from the United Arab Emirates was also present.

Bin Laden and his top aid, Ayman al-Zawahiri, no longer come to the month-long hunts, but continue to send personal representatives who are “treated with extraordinary deference,” Parrot told me.

The UCR has sought for years to get the United Nations to enforce the CITES agreement and crack down on falcon smuggling, and has provided information to the United States government on the ongoing al Qaeda fund-raising efforts at the camps.

“We have direct eye-witnesses in the camps who are telling us that representatives of bin Laden continue to come into these camps, and walk away with luxury cars and cash even today,” Parrot said.

Because the camps must be licensed by the United Nations CITES secretariat, Parrot and his group have focused on exposing the illegal smuggling of falcons. “If the licenses stop, the camps stop,” he said.

Falconry is an ancient, noble sport. Like fox-hunting in Britain, it has attracted royal patrons for generations.

But today’s royal falcon hunts bear no resemblance to the tribal affairs of just fifty years ago.

For example, one of the largest royal falconry camps was leased for ten years from the government of Kazakhstan for $50 million, the UCR says, and includes much of the open rolling steppes of Western Kazakhstan.

From there, “caravans consisting of several hundred Toyota Land Cruisers and Nissan Patrols ravel south to Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan to hunt the Houbara with falcons,” Parrot said. “That’s where they met weapons merchants and UBL-representatives.”

Parrot says that that Saudi and UAE royals have imported Hummers from a company in Massachussetts, in order to hunt big game in Africa using machine-guns mounted on specially-built racks.

A prominent machine-gun manufactuer took out a booth at an international hunting exposition in Abu Dhabi last fall, and was overwhelmed with requests from Arab royals, Parrot said.

“The Arabs are mad about using machine-guns to hunt big game,” the company salesman told a UCR representative at the show.

The United States has asked the United Arab Emirates for several years to cease funding the royal falcon hunting camps in Central Asia, because they are a known fund-raising venue for al Qaeda.

Until today, the UAE has refused those U.S. requests. And now, in an unusual manner, the Saudi government has shown that it, too, has something to hide in these falcon camps.

The UCR says it has extensive documentation, including video-taped eye-witness testimony, that shows beyond any reasonable doublt the direct involvement of top Saudi and UAE officials with al Qaeda.

Isn’t it time the United States government listened to them?

Isn’t it time the United Nations enforced its own covenants?

Parrot says his group is now seeking to present its evidence to the U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, John Bolton, because of his outspoken condemnation of UN corruption.

Let’s hope they succeed before Bolton’s recess appointment expires this coming January.

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Kenneth R. Timmerman is the author of Countdown to Crisis: the Coming Nuclear Showdown with Iran (Crown Forum, New York), and Executive Director of the
Foundation for Democracy in Iran.

Ann Coulter: Clinton's New Glow Job

Ann Coulter
http://www.frontpagemag.com/
October 12, 2006

With the Democrats' full-throated moralizing of late, I'm almost tempted to vote for them – although perhaps "full-throated" is the wrong phrase to use with regard to Democrats and sex scandals. The sudden emergence of the Swift Butt Veterans for Truth demonstrates that the Democrats would prefer to talk about anything other than national security.

Unfortunately for them, the psychotic Kim Jong-Il seems to be setting off nukes, raising the embarrassing issue of the Clinton administration's 1994 "peace" deal with North Korea.

At least with former Rep. Mark Foley, you could say the Democrats' hypocritical grandstanding was just politics. But in the case of North Korea, Democrats are resorting to bald-faced lies.

Current New Mexico governor and former Clinton administration official Bill Richardson has been on tour, bragging about the groundbreaking Clinton administration negotiations with North Korea – keeping his fingers crossed that no one has access to news from 1994.

In 1994, the Clinton administration got a call from Jimmy Carter – probably collect – who was with the then-leader of North Korea, saying: "Hey, Kim Il Sung is a total stud, and I've worked out a terrific deal. I'll give you the details later."

Clinton promptly signed the deal, so he could forget about North Korea and get back to cheating on Hillary. Mission accomplished.

Under the terms of the "agreed framework," we gave North Korea all sorts of bribes – more than $5 billion worth of oil, two nuclear reactors and lots of high technology. In return, they took the bribes and kept building nukes. This wasn't difficult, inasmuch as the 1994 deal permitted the North Koreans to evade weapons inspectors for the next five years.

Yes, you read that right: North Korea promised not to develop nukes, and we showed how much we trusted them by agreeing to no weapons inspections for five years.

The famed "allies," whom leftists claim they are so interested in pleasing, went ballistic at this cave-in to North Korea. Japan and South Korea – actual allies, unlike France and Germany – were furious. Even Hans Blix thought we were being patsies.

If you need any more evidence that it was a rotten deal, the New York Times hailed it as "a resounding triumph."

At the time, people like William Safire were screaming from the rooftops that allowing North Korea to escape weapons inspections for five years would "preclude a pre-emptive strike by us if North Korea, in the next U.S. president's administration, breaks its agreement to freeze additional bomb-making."

And then on Oct. 17, 2002 – under a new administration, you'll note – the New York Times reported on the front page, so you couldn't have missed it: "Confronted by new American intelligence, North Korea has admitted that it has been conducting a major clandestine nuclear weapons development program for the past several years."

So when it comes to North Korea, I believe the Democrats might want to maintain a discreet silence, lest anyone ask, "Hey, did you guys do anything with North Korea?"

But by Richardson's lights, the only reason Kim Jong-Il is testing nukes is because Bush called him evil. He said, "When you call him axis of evil or a tyrant, you know, he just goes crazy." This is the sort of idiocy you expect to hear from an illiterate like Keith Olbermann, not someone who might know people who read newspapers.

Richardson also blames the war in Iraq, bleating that the poor North Koreans feel "that there's too much attention on the Middle East, on Iraq. So it's a cry for attention." If Kim just wanted our attention, he could have started dating Lindsay Lohan. But Richardson says Kim "psychologically feels he's been dissed, that he's not treated with respect."

Damn that Bush! If only he had ignored the crazy Muslims and dedicated himself to sending flowers (and more nuclear reactors!) to North Korea, we could be actively helping Kim develop his nukes like the Clinton administration did.

As Richardson said, Kim "wants us to negotiate with him directly, as we did in the Clinton administration."

To go on TV and propose negotiating with North Korea like Clinton did without ever mentioning that North Korea cheated on that agreement before the ink was dry would be like denouncing American aggression against Japan in 1942 and neglecting to mention Pearl Harbor. Anyone who is either that stupid or that disingenuous should not be allowed on TV.

When pressed by CNN's Anderson Cooper about the failed deal, Richardson lied, claiming the 1994 deal prevented the North Koreans from building nukes "for eight years" – i.e., right up until the day the New York Times reported the North Koreans had been developing nukes "for the past several years."

Kim is crazier than any leader even South America has been able to produce. In fact, he's so crazy, we might be able to get the Democrats to take action. Someone tell Nancy Pelosi that the "Dear Leader" is an actual pederast. Then we'll at least be able to read his instant messages.

Click Here to support Frontpagemag.com.

Ann Coulter is a bestselling author and syndicated columnist. Her most recent book is
Godless: The Church of Liberalism.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Bob Klapisch: Joe won't go, but what about A-Rod?


Wednesday, October 11, 2006
BERGEN COUNTY RECORD

NEW YORK -- Hand on his heart, Joe Torre swears he never asked George Steinbrenner how close he came to being fired, or just how real The Boss' anger was on Saturday night after the Yankees were obliterated by the Tigers. True or not, Torre owes his reprieve to one man, general manager Brian Cashman, whose intense telephone lobbying brought the Bombers back from the edge of a '70s and '80s-era regime change.

So the wobbly Yankees are on course again, which is to say, no one's getting canned this week. Torre is safe -- at least until the first losing streak in 2007. But other, stronger winds of change will soon sweep through the Bronx, as the Bombers realize they cannot put the same product on the field next opening day.

Despite their public declaration of loyalty to Alex Rodriguez, the Yankee hierarchy believes there's no choice but to explore a trade for the troubled third baseman. Two factors go into that decision. The first is the irrefutable need for starting pitching. By the end of the AL Division Series, Torre had only one pitcher he could trust, Chien-Ming Wang, whom he wouldn't start on three days' rest in Game 4 because of concerns about Wang's surgically repaired shoulder.

The rest of the rotation was damaged goods. Randy Johnson has turned into a five-inning, five-run starter. Mike Mussina has regressed into a No. 4 entity. No one else is worth mentioning.
The Angels would be the most likely candidate to take on A-Rod's baggage, if not the $16 million he's owed next year. One American League executive said, "[Anaheim] is the one team out there with enough talent to help the Yankees [in a trade]." Still, GM Bill Stoneman is notorious for caution that borders on inertia. It won't be easy convincing him to make a controversial swap.

But do the Yankees have any choice except to push Stoneman? Torre's decision to bat A-Rod in the No. 8 spot in Game 4 spoke volumes about how he feels about his third baseman's mental state. Torre says he consulted with Rodriguez before the game and was assured that, "He didn't have a problem with it." But friends of the slugger say otherwise.

It's now up to Rodriguez to decide whether he wants to be remembered as the player who failed in New York and finally moved to another team in surrender. Or, A-Rod can tough it out in pinstripes for another season, despite the near-certainty he'll be booed thickly by fans who've grown tired of the ongoing drama.

Rodriguez can control his fate because he has full no-trade powers in his contract. The last time friends checked on Rodriguez's commitment to the Yankees, they were convinced he wants to stay. But that was before the Sports Illustrated article that depicted A-Rod as both oblivious and isolated in the Yankee clubhouse.

Torre, too, came off as less than sympathetic. Dropping Rodriguez so low in the order during the division series all but confirmed that suspicion.

The Yankees have, for now, chosen Torre over A-Rod, Mussina, Gary Sheffield and Bernie Williams, none of whom figures to return in '07. Torre's survival means Steinbrenner has, for now, forgiven him for the team's lack of fire down the stretch, and charges levied by Sheffield and Cory Lidle that the Yankees were mentally unprepared for the Tigers.

Curiously, Torre defended the Yankees' collapse, as well as the six-year world championship drought, by saying there's an element of "luck" in the postseason. If he could change anything, Torre said, it would be to "play 162 games instead of a best-of-five [series]."

That's the first time Torre has ever invoked the [Oakland GM] Billy Beane philosophy, which essentially says: The postseason is an open-air crapshoot. Certainly, the Yankees weren't talking about luck when they were winning four world championships between 1996-2000. But now they say -- with some justification -- that a best-of-five series is an unfair measuring stick of greatness.

Beane backed Torre on this explanation, saying the adoption of the shorter division series was the worst thing that could've happened to the Yankee dynasty.

"I got crushed for saying in the book ["Moneyball"] that the postseason is about luck, but now everyone is agreeing with me," Beane said. "It just happens to be true. And a small-market team like the A's needs luck against a big-market team like the Yankees. More often than not, the Yankees are going to have the better team. That's why I'd be much more worried about the Yankees if they were in my division than facing them in a short series."

That line of thinking may or may not placate Yankee fans who've been conditioned into thinking the team was going to the World Series every year. To those still in shock at the string of 20 scoreless innings during the division series, the first question is: How could this happen to the most dangerous lineup in baseball? Luck -- bad luck -- is only supposed to sabotage mortals such as the A's and Braves and, yes, the Mets. Not the Yankees.

But Torre is still breathing because he and Cashman were able to convince Steinbrenner that October offers no guarantees, not even with a $200 million payroll. The fact that The Boss relented means he's either getting soft or getting old. Probably both. But don't think Cashman doesn't feel the sting of defeat.

"We feel obligated to deliver more than we have," said the general manager. Of course, Cashman wouldn't offer any hints about the new blueprint for 2007, only that, "We'll look at everything" in changing the dynamic.

That means it's Torre and Jeter over A-Rod. Cashman already has received his first e-mail from another GM proposing a deal for Rodriguez. The proposed swap was so one-sided Cashman jokingly dismissed the executive as "a buzzard."

Still, you can hear the drumbeat of change. Someone has to pay for this collapse. And it won't be Torre.

Daniel Pipes: Don't Bring That Booze into my Taxi

Daniel Pipes
http://www.FrontPageMag.com
October 11, 2006

A minor issue at the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport (MSP) has potentially major implications for the future of Islam in the United States.

Starting about a decade ago, some Muslim taxi drivers serving the airport declared, that they would not transport passengers visibly carrying alcohol, in transparent duty-free shopping bags, for example. This stance stemmed from their understanding of the Koran's ban on alcohol. A driver named Fuad Omar explained: "This is our religion. We could be punished in the afterlife if we agree to [transport alcohol]. This is a Koran issue. This came from heaven." Another driver, Muhamed Mursal, echoed his words: "It is forbidden in Islam to carry alcohol."

The issue emerged publicly in 2000. On one occasion, 16 drivers in a row refused a passenger with bottles of alcohol. This left the passenger - who had done nothing legally wrong - feeling like a criminal. For their part, the 16 cabbies lost income. As Josh L. Dickey of the Associated Press put it, when drivers at MSP refuse a fare for any reason, "they go to the back of the line. Waaaay back. Past the terminal, down a long service road, and into a sprawling parking lot jammed with cabs in Bloomington, where drivers sit idle for hours, waiting to be called again."

To avoid this predicament, Muslim taxi drivers asked the Metropolitan Airports Commission for permission to refuse passengers carrying liquor - or even suspected of carrying liquor - without being banished to the end of the line. MAC rejected this appeal, worried that drivers might offer religion as an excuse to refuse short-distance passengers.

The number of Muslim drivers has by now increased, to the point that they reportedly make up three-quarters of MSP's 900 cabdrivers. By September 2006, Muslims turned down an estimated three fares a day based on their religious objection to alcohol, an airport spokesman, Patrick Hogan, told the Associated Press, adding that this issue has "slowly grown over the years to the point that it's become a significant customer service issue."
"Travelers often feel surprised and insulted," Mr. Hogan told USA Today.

With this in mind, MAC proposed a pragmatic solution: drivers unwilling to carry alcohol could get a special color light on their car roofs, signaling their views on alcohol to taxi starters and customers alike. From the airport's point of view, this scheme offers a sensible and efficient mechanism to resolve a minor irritant, leaving no passenger insulted and no driver losing business. "Airport authorities are not in the business of interpreting sacred texts or dictating anyone's religious choices," Hogan points out. "Our goal is simply to ensure travelers at [the airport] are well served." Awaiting approval only from the airport's taxi advisory committee, the two-light proposal will likely be in operation by the end of 2006.

But on a societal level, the proposed solution has massive and worrisome implications. Namely, the two-light plan intrudes the Shari‘a, or Islamic law, with state sanction, into a mundane commercial transaction in Minnesota. A government authority thus sanctions a signal as to who does or does not follow Islamic law.

What of taxi drivers beyond those at MSP? Other Muslims in Minneapolis-St. Paul and across the country could well demand the same privilege. Bus conductors might follow suit. The whole transport system could be divided between those Islamically observant and those not so.

Why stop with alcohol? Muslim taxi drivers in several countries already balk at allowing seeing-eye dogs in their cars. Future demands could include not transporting women with exposed arms or hair, homosexuals, and unmarried couples. For that matter, they could ban men wearing kippas, as well as Hindus, atheists, bartenders, croupiers, astrologers, bankers, and quarterbacks.

MAC has consulted on the taxi issue with the Minnesota chapter of the Muslim American Society, an organization the Chicago Tribune has established is devoted to turning the United States into a country run be Islamic law. The wife of a former head of the organization, for example, has explained that its goal is "to educate everyone about Islam and to follow the teachings of Islam with the hope of establishing an Islamic state."

It is precisely the innocuous nature of the two-light taxi solution that makes it so insidious - and why the Metropolitan Airports Commission should reconsider its wrong-headed decision. Readers who wish to make their views known to the MAC can write it at publicaffairs@mspmac.org.

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Mr. Pipes (
www.DanielPipes.org) is director of the Middle East Forum and author of Miniatures (Transaction Publishers).

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Murray Chass: Yankees Rotation Needs an Overhaul

On Baseball
Yankees’ Rotation, Old and Ineffective, Needs an Overhaul

By MURRAY CHASS
The New York Times
Published: October 10, 2006

Nothing against Mike Mussina, but he is the symbol of the Yankees’ failure to win the World Series the last six years. If George Steinbrenner is seeking a scapegoat, make it Mussina.

Mussina joined the Yankees as a free agent six years ago. The only other players who have been with the team that long have a bunch of World Series rings: Derek Jeter, Mariano Rivera, Bernie Williams, Jorge Posada.

Mussina is the ringleader of the anti-World Series champions: Jason Giambi, Hideki Matsui, Gary Sheffield, Alex Rodriguez, Jaret Wright, Carl Pavano, Randy Johnson, Johnny Damon, Kyle Farnsworth.

Mussina, like some players on that list, is a pitcher, and the lack of strong pitching has undermined the Yankees’ chances of winning the World Series.

•As good as Jeter, Williams, Posada and others were when the Yankees won three successive World Series and four in five years, pitching was their foundation. Andy Pettitte started games in each of the four World Series the Yankees won. David Cone and Orlando Hern├índez started in three, and Roger Clemens in the last two. Of the eight pitchers who started games in those World Series, Denny Neagle was probably the weakest.

The pitchers who started against the Detroit Tigers in their American League division series carried the burden of Pettitte, Cone, Clemens and Hernández, but their performances did not live up to those names.

Johnson has become an aging and aching pitcher, not to mention an inconsistent one. As a postseason pitcher, he reached his zenith in 2001 with Arizona. That was a lot of innings ago. In Game 3 last week, he allowed five runs in five and two-thirds innings.

Mussina pitched his division series game against the Tigers just well enough to lose. A genuinely top-notch pitcher finds a way to win. Mussina finds a way to lose. The outcome of the game last week left him with a 7-8 postseason record, indicating he is not the pitcher to come up big when something big is needed.

Chien-Ming Wang, playing his first full season in the major leagues, was the Yankees’ only reliable starter this season, and he came through again in the playoff opener.

Some people thought that when the Yankees faced elimination in Game 4, they should have moved up Wang to pitch. But they had left him home to rest for a possible Game 5. Manager Joe Torre wasn’t going to risk injury to Wang, who spent nearly two months on the disabled list last year with a shoulder problem.

That left Wright as the pitcher to put his finger in the dike. Instead, he punched a hole in it. He didn’t get out of the third inning.

Wright’s poor performance should have come as no surprise to the Yankees. If they were honest with themselves, they expected it and hoped their hitters could outhit the Tigers.

Wright epitomizes the Yankees’ most recent questionable pitching decisions. When they signed him two years ago, the Yankees acted like many other teams, throwing money at a pitcher because he was a free agent.

An argument could also be made that it is Pavano, not Wright, who epitomizes the Yankees’ pitching problems. The Yankees signed Pavano a week before Wright, and he hasn’t pitched for a season and a half. Pavano is the Red Sox’ joke on the Yankees. They pursued him, too, as a free agent, but the Yankees got him.

It was that kind of signing that prompted Larry Lucchino, the Red Sox chief executive, to call the Yankees the Evil Empire. But as it turned out, this was one signing he was happy to let the Yankees have.

The Yankees are now caught up in the status of Torre. The time they spend on that subject can only be a distraction. Better that General Manager Brian Cashman focus on the pitchers on the free-agent list, and those who could be available in trades, than on his attempts to dissuade Steinbrenner, the principal owner, from firing Torre.

In case Steinbrenner can’t see the forest for the trees, the pitchers the Yankees add for next season will have a greater impact on how far they go than will Lou Piniella or any other new manager.

•Among the pitchers who can be free agents in less than three weeks are Barry Zito, Mark Buehrle, Kerry Wood, Vicente Padilla, Ted Lilly, Tony Armas, Randy Wolf, and, if the Giants don’t exercise his option, Jason Schmidt.

Clemens and Pettitte, who became buddies with the Yankees and joined the Astros in 2004, are also on the list. The Yankees’ pitching fortunes changed when they procrastinated about signing Pettitte three years ago, or simply chose not to. Clemens keeps retiring, then keeps coming back — and keeps pitching well.

This is not to say the Yankees should sign Clemens or Pettitte. They can make their own decisions. They, like many other teams, will probably pursue Zito. They may even ask the Florida Marlins if Dontrelle Willis is available. The Yankees can be sure that the Mets will also look at Zito and ask about Willis, as they did during the summer.

Given the Mets’ success with significant acquisitions the last two off-seasons, the Yankees will have to work hard to make sure they aren’t bumped from contention while the Mets are still in it.

Yankees Manager Torre to Return Next Season

By TYLER KEPNER and MARIA NEWMAN
The New York Times
Published: October 10, 2006

A chagrined Joe Torre said today he will return for his 12th season as manager of the New York Yankees, saying that in spite of losing to the Tigers this year, it remains “the best job of my life.”

Torre said the Yankees’ principal owner, George Steinbrenner, called him this morning to tell him he wanted him to come back for the final year of his contract, after keeping the manager and fans in suspense for several days while he mulled over whether to replace Torre in the wake of the Yankees’ failure to make it to the World Series this season.

“He gave me his support,” Torre said at a news conference at Yankee Stadium. “I’m just pleased I’m able to stay on and do this.”

He also said that he expected third baseman Alex Rodriguez to return next season. “Alex is one of the important pieces of this puzzle here,” Torre said.

General manager Brian Cashman said: “I am excited Joe is coming back. We have dreams here and we don’t stop dreaming the dreams and making them a reality.” He added, “This team played hard for Joe Torre.”

The Yankees’ first-round elimination on Saturday by the Detroit Tigers in the American League division series was a disappointment to fans, and especially to the team and its owners, Torre said. He added that he did not assume Steinbrenner would keep him on, although no one had told him he would go.

“I can’t say it doesn’t hurt,” he said about losing to the Tigers. “At the same time, nobody makes you any promises.”

Both he and Steinbrenner, in a statement issued by the spokesman Howard Rubenstein, talked about the high expectations, and therefore the pressure, that comes with being a Yankee.

“When you put the Yankee uniform on you understand that there are requirements and there are no excuses, and we’re just required to perform and to be the best out there, and we didn’t perform like that,” Torre said.

In a statement, Steinbrenner said he told Torre: “You’re back for the year. I expect a great deal from you and the entire team. I have high expectations, and I want to see enthusiasm, a fighting spirit and a team that works together. Responsibility is yours, Joe, and all of the Yankees.”

He added: “Yes, I am deeply disappointed about our loss this year. We have to do better, and I deeply want a championship. It’s about time.”

Torre, 66, has managed the Yankees to four World Series, and never missed the playoffs in 11 years with the Yankees. But the team has not won a championship since 2000.

Now with the longest uninterrupted term for a Yankees manager since Casey Stengel held the job for 12 years from 1949-60, Torre said it is just understood that the Yankees will play for nothing less than the championship. It was as if he was trying to psyche himself up for next season.

“When we go to spring training every year we talk about getting to the World Series,” he said. “We don’t talk about having a good year, let’s have a good record and all that stuff.

“We know what the requirements are. With the danger of failing is the elation of winning. You can’t get elated unless there’s a danger.”

Late in the season and during the playoffs, Torre made several controversial decisions, especially when he dropped Rodriguez to eighth in the batting order for the fourth and final game of the series against Detroit. Rodriguez, who finished the series 1 for 14, had not batted that far down in a lineup in more than 10 years.

Others in the organization, still reeling from the team’s loss to the Tigers, had doubts about whether Torre should stay.

Steinbrenner has long been enamored with Lou Piniella, a former player, general manager and manager for the Yankees. But on Monday, Steinbrenner was still seeking answers from his executives about what went wrong in the playoffs.

That has been a pastime for Steinbrenner the last six seasons after a postseason loss. But Torre’s position had never been more vulnerable, and rarely had such obvious possible successors been available.

Various players and coaches have supported Torre.

“To deal with a lot of superstars is hard,” said the reserve infielder Miguel Cairo, who packed his belongings at Yankee Stadium on Monday. “For him, it’s easy. It’s a plus when you have a manager like that, who knows how to do it.”

Starter Jaret Wright said he would have been sad to see Torre leave, and reliever Ron Villone called Torre a class act and a great manager. When Steinbrenner considers changes to the team, Villone said, he should not start with Torre.

“You can look at the bullpen, you can look at the lineup, you can look at the bench,” Villone said. “I’d rather look there first than look at who’s sitting on the bench.”

The Yankees have won nine consecutive A.L. East division titles under Torre, but he is 3-10 in his past 13 playoff games.

Michael S. Schmidt contributed reporting.

Bob Klapisch: Joe should leave the Yankees on his terms


Tuesday, October 10, 2006
BERGEN COUNTY RECORD

NEW YORK -- So the Joe Torre deathwatch continued for another day, with everyone trying to interpret the meaning of the stay of execution granted by George Steinbrenner. Deciphering The Boss' moves is not unlike monitoring the CIA, where decisions are made covertly and factions wrestle each other for power.

Only, this time it's Steinbrenner alone who's mulling Torre's future. After a day of teleconferencing with his general manager, vice presidents and other high-level advisers, the Yankee owner flew back to Tampa, Fla., where, according to one insider, "he'll be making this decision all by himself." That means no one -- not even general manager Brian Cashman, Torre's greatest advocate -- can protect the manager now.

The injustice here is that Torre is being forced to wait, like some misbehaving school kid sitting outside the principal's office. He deserves better. He deserves more. If Steinbrenner intends to fire Torre, he should've had enough respect to do it quickly and cleanly on Monday and moved forward on a much-needed overhauling of the organization.

Instead, Torre was a prisoner in his Westchester County home, forced to stay indoors to avoid the army of reporters on his front lawn. Imagine the indignity, after 11 successful seasons in the Bronx, to have to feel like Martha Stewart. All that was missing was the electronic bracelet around his ankle.

Of course, Torre didn't manage a particularly crisp AL Division Series, marked by his decision to start Bernie Williams over Gary Sheffield in Game 3. And who can understand why Chien-Ming Wang wasn't brought back on short rest? The Yankees themselves will forever be remembered for the way they were outplayed by the younger, hungrier Tigers. But nothing justifies the silent treatment from The Boss, even for one day.

That's why Torre should tell The Boss goodbye. He should negotiate a fair buyout of the final year of his $7 million contract, and let Lou Piniella inherit the coming storms. Torre certainly has to know Steinbrenner has no real love for him, never has. The Boss has been waiting for years for the upper hand, and now he's got it.

Put it this way: If Steinbrenner doesn't fire Torre today or Wednesday, he will surely do it after the first losing streak in April.

Torre would then walk out of Yankee Stadium as humiliated as Yogi Berra was in 1985, canned after 14 games. That started a two-decade cold war with the kindest man in baseball. Torre and Steinbrenner are risking the same ugly end. Torre is on his way to the Hall of Fame, but his legacy will be soiled by the drumbeat of dark whispers that preceded Yogi's firing, too.

But Torre can beat George to the punch by saying it's time to move on, that he wants to spend more time with his family. Joe Cool should say exactly that, even though what he really means is that he no longer wants to be sabotaged by the Yankee hierarchy, or his own listless players. Talk about injustice: If the Yankees really loved Torre as much as they claim, why didn't even one of the club's stars show up at the Stadium on Monday to support him?

If ever there was a forum to save Torre, it was during the five-hour locker-cleaning session in the clubhouse. Reporters waited all day, and all they got were a handful of quotes from Ron Villone, Jaret Wright and Miguel Cairo. That's it.

There was no Jason Giambi, no Randy Johnson, no Mariano Rivera or Bernie Williams, Torre's strongest ally in the clubhouse. Derek Jeter issued a statement through his agent that Torre wasn't at fault for the collapse to the Tigers, but didn't make the 25-minute journey from his East Side apartment to the Stadium, where he knew his words would have a more powerful impact.

The captain could've made Steinbrenner aware that the manager still has the support of his clubhouse, and don't think The Boss would've ignored that sentiment. This is all about public relations; Steinbrenner has spared Torre until now because he didn't think he could get away with a dismissal. But the players' silence confirms The Boss' hunch that Torre is vulnerable.

And he is. Eleven years is too long for a coach or manager in professional sports. It's a near-certainty that Torre's reign would've ended after 2007, anyway, no matter how successful the Yankees are. It's simply time for a change in chemistry. The Mets recognized that in hiring the charismatic Willie Randolph to replace the soulless Art Howe, and look at the result.

Thing is, Torre has been the right man for the Yankees all along: calm, mature, able to shield his players from New York's excesses, not to mention The Boss'. Torre turned the Yankees into a respectable organization after years of anarchy. In return, Steinbrenner gave Torre enough talent to win four world championships and six American League pennants. Both men have profited from this marriage.

But Steinbrenner's genetically coded anger is back, and this time there's nothing (and no one) to save Torre. For once, The Boss feels he has the public on his side. After the Yankees went 20 scoreless innings against the Tigers, Steinbrenner is betting that fans won't really mind if Torre is replaced by Piniella.

Torre is no dummy. He knows which way the wind is blowing in the Bronx. He doesn't need to wait another minute for the principal to summon him. Walking away will preserve Torre's legacy forever. It's the ultimate power play against baseball's greatest power broker.

Bob Klapisch: Torre lost touch with his players

October 9, 2006
BERGEN COUNTY RECORD

Forum: Should Joe Torre be fired?

It was late August when Johnny Damon took a long, hard look around the clubhouse and was appalled at what he saw.

"Let's go [bleep-bleepers], wake up," Damon shouted. The center fielder had had enough of the Yankees' listlessness; it was so disturbingly different from the crazy energy he once shared with the Red Sox at Fenway. But instead of rallying the Yankees, Damon was met with silence.
That, and a cold stare across the room from Randy Johnson. Damon was so unnerved by the apathy, he later asked a team official, "Did I do something wrong?"

Sadly, that incident serves as a microcosm of the 2006 Yankees, and is why George Steinbrenner will soon fire Joe Torre. Despite the billion dollars he's spent since the last world championship in 2000, The Boss has only a series of October failures to show for it. The Yankees are rich, but soft. They can hit, but not when it counts. They talk about pinstripe tradition, but the roster is plagued by petty rivalries and jealousies that act as a cancer in the postseason.

Derek Jeter can't stand Alex Rodriguez and refuses to come to his defense. Mike Mussina doesn't like A-Rod, either, although, come to think of it, the Stanford grad hasn't much use for any of his teammates. No one talks to Johnson. Everyone thinks Carl Pavano is a joke. The Yankees' best pitcher, Chien-Ming Wang, is isolated by his limited knowledge of English.

On and on, the list of dysfunctions keeps going. Instead of a dynasty, the Yankees have become a newer version of the Braves -- consistently outplayed by younger, hungrier teams such as the Diamondbacks (2001), the Angels (2002 and 2005), the Marlins (2003) and now the Tigers.

Steinbrenner has only two choices now: He can fire Torre or trade A-Rod. They're the ones who must answer to the Yankees' consistent underachievement.

By all accounts, The Boss already has decided it's Torre who'll go, ready to replace him with Lou Piniella. Brian Cashman will lobby to keep Torre, whom he considers a personal friend, but in this case, the general manager will be outvoted and the end of the Torre regime will come "in the next 24 to 48 hours" according to one person familiar with Steinbrenner's thinking.

Torre spent most of 11 seasons turning the Yankees into a class, mature organization that was once the envy of the industry. But little by little, his magic has dissolved. The Yankees have become addicted to the All-Star-at-every-position philosophy, and the bloating that's followed is found in more than just the payroll. The Yankees' egos are such that they no longer hustle their way to victories. Instead, they've been relying on nuclear superiority.

Most of the time, it worked. That lineup was indeed the best the American League has seen in decades, maybe ever. But there's still no substitute for hard work and old school enthusiasm.
When the Yankees ran into a young team that refused to be intimidated, such as the Tigers, "They just curled up and died" said one major league executive. The Yankees somehow became convinced they could win by simply being the Yankees. They had no Plan B, and that's because Torre was so withdrawn from his troops.

Say this much for Joe Cool. He refused to fake his way through temper tantrums. He's not that kind of manager or person. But the Yankees need new fire now, which is why Piniella is warming up in the bullpen.

There are risks here, of course. Sweet Lou isn't nearly as media savvy as Torre and is certain to let his famous temper betray him sooner or later. The old newspaper wars with The Boss already are peeking over the horizon. But in the short term, he is exactly what the Yankees need.

Piniella also may be Rodriguez's last hope in New York. Finally, there'll be someone to act as A-Rod's advocate since it was never going to be Jeter, and it was obvious that Torre had no use for the third baseman, either. The decision to bat A-Rod in the Nos. 6 and 8 spots in the ALDS was an open declaration by Torre that he'd given up coddling A-Rod. It was Torre's way of telling Steinbrenner: It's him or me.

And that was the ultimatum that likely will cost Torre his job.

Maybe the Yankees will morph into a different team now. Maybe Piniella can get in peoples' faces the way he used to in the '80s. Maybe he can get A-Rod to stop feeling sorry for himself. Maybe Piniella can get Yankee fans off Rodriguez's back, too.

But if Sweet Lou replaces Torre, the first order of business will be to instill the old code of Yankee toughness that was the signature of the Billy Martin era. One scout who's watched the Yankees this year said, "It used to be that teams were afraid of the Yankees, but not anymore."

The Yankees never looked as tight as they did in Game 4 against the Tigers, which is exactly how they played Game 7 of the 2004 League Championship Series against the Red Sox, which was a clone of Game 4 against the Angels in last year's ALDS. Coincidence? Not anymore. It's become a pattern of failure.

Each time, Torre took the high road, refusing to blame anyone in the clubhouse. He's a good man who deserved greater effort from his millionaires. But it's also true that a team assumes the personality of its manager; the Yankees took Torre's calm and used it as an excuse to become docile.

The result? Everyone on the block knows the Yankees will crumble if you stand up to them.

And you know what they say about a bully: He's just a coward turned inside out.

E-mail: klapisch@northjersey.com

Kim Jong-Il's Coming-Out Party

By Frank J Gaffney Jr.
http://www.FrontPageMag.com
October 10, 2006

For several years, North Korea has said it had nuclear weapons and the world has generally assumed that it did. With Pyongyang's apparent underground detonation of such a device on Monday, whatever lingering uncertainty there may have been has dissipated. Call it Kim Jong-Il's coming-out party. Now the question of what to do about one of the most dangerous regimes on the planet - a state-sponsor of terror who has expressed a willingness to sell its nuclear technology to those with the cash to buy it - recurs with fresh urgency.

Let's get one thing straight at the outset: The threat North Korea poses today is actually not appreciably different from that the Stalinist regime constituted last week. The difference is that we no longer have the luxury of ignoring it, or dealing with it through feckless "six-party talks," which amounts to the same thing.

Instead, we need to approach the danger posed by a nuclear-armed North Korea as though it constitutes a mortal peril to American strategic interests in Asia and, perhaps, to this country directly, as well. For, indeed, it does. The idea that a regime that has permitted some two million of its own people to starve to death will better treat others - including ours - is untenable and risky in the extreme.

Consequently, we need now to hold accountable those responsible for the North Korean nuclear program. Communist China has been playing a double-game for years. Without Beijing's military technology, to say nothing of its financial support, strategic protection and food and energy life-lines, Kim Jong-Il's regime would have been toast long ago and its people likely reunited with prosperous South Korea. To a lesser degree, the same can be said of the role played by Vladimir Putin's Russia.

Pakistan was the cut-out for much of the nuclear weapons know-how and equipment that flowed from China to Pyongyang. Nukes-r-Us impresario A.Q. Khan appears to have been used in transfers for which the Pakistani regime sought plausible deniability.

More recently, Iran has been an enabler of North Korea's nuclear and missile programs. Call it the oil-for-weapons program. Pyongyang has been trading mass destruction wherewithal and delivery systems to Tehran in exchange for energy supplies and, presumably, cash. The deal has helped lubricate Kim's steady progress towards ever-longer-range missiles and his acquisition of weapons to go on them. It has also greatly shortened the length of time it is taking Iran, the other charter member of the "Axis of Evil," to get up the learning curve in both areas.

Unfortunately, even our nominal ally, South Korea has become increasingly vital to propping up Kim's regime. It is investing substantial sums in the North, creating industrial zones there for which it has been seeking special treatment in trade arrangements with the United States and otherwise demanding that Pyongyang be appeased by the West.

These sorts of activities can no longer be either ignored or tolerated. While the United States is going to have to pick its shots, it must now adopt the sort of strategy Ronald Reagan employed to destroy the Soviet Union: A concerted campaign aimed at cutting off the funding to, neutralizing the threat from and de-legitimating a hostile regime. Elements of such a campaign would include the following:

Joining with Japan, Australia and others who share our view of the danger posed by North Korea to deny Pyongyang the financial life-support it must have to survive. International corporations operating in the North should be given a choice: Do business with Kim or with the Free World. Those who opt for the former should be denied government contracts, subjected to financial sanctions and import controls and made the focus of divestment initiatives like that which ultimately brought down the South African regime twenty years ago.

Greatly ramping up the U.S. effort to deploy the sort of effective anti-missile defenses first sought by Mr. Reagan in 1983. Thanks to President Bush's leadership, the United States now has the latitude to protect its people against ballistic missile attack. To date, unfortunately, the effort to do so has mostly been confined to a limited, land-based missile defense system. In light especially of the North Korean threat, we need to augment that deployment immediately by modifying the Navy's Aegis fleet air-defense ships with the capability to shoot down ballistic missiles of various ranges - whether launched from places like North Korea or from tramp steamers off our coasts.

In addition, now that the North Koreans have joined the Indians and Pakistanis in demonstrating that our restraint in nuclear testing is not preventing others from doing such experimentation, we need to resume the sort of periodic underground tests essential to ensuring that our deterrent remains as safe, reliable and credible as we can make it. President Reagan strenuously argued that such testing is a non-negotiable requirement. We can no longer responsibly persist in the moratorium on nuclear testing we have observed since 1992.

Finally, the United States must stop pretending that Kim Jong-Il's regime is one with which we can live. Rather than legitimating the regime by negotiating with it - even in multilateral settings, to say nothing of bilateral ones, every effort should now be bent towards discrediting this odious dictatorship, making pariahs of those who perpetuate it and encouraging freedom throughout the Korean peninsula.


President Reagan demonstrated that the peoples enslaved by the Soviet superpower need not be consigned to such a state in perpetuity. So in our time we must bend every effort to ending the tyrannical misrule of the nuclear club's newest, and arguably most dangerous, member: Kim Jong-Il.

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Frank J. Gaffney, Jr. is the founder, president, and CEO of The Center for Security Policy. During the Reagan administration, Gaffney was the Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security, the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Nuclear Forces and Arms Control Policy, and a Professional Staff Member on the Senate Armed Services Committee, chaired by Senator John Tower (R-Texas). He is a columnist for The Washington Times, Jewish World Review, and Townhall.com and has also contributed to The Wall Street Journal, USA Today, The New Republic, The Washington Post, The New York Times, The Christian Science Monitor, The Los Angeles Times, and Newsday.

Monday, October 09, 2006

Che Guevara: 39 Years of Idolatry


By Humberto Fontova
http://www.FrontPageMag.com
October 9, 2006

Thirty nine years ago last week, Ernesto "Che" Guevara got a major dose of his own medicine. Without trial he was declared a murderer, stood against a wall and shot. Historically speaking, justice has rarely been better served. If the saying, "what goes around comes around" ever fit, it's here. The number of men Che's "revolutionary tribunals" condemned to death in the identical manner range from 400 to 1,892. The number of defenseless men (and boys) Che personally murdered with his own pistol runs to the dozens. Imagine Charles Manson, Ted Bundy, and Son of Sam t-shirts on such as Johnny Depp and Prince Harry. Granted, these last three didn't match Che's murder tally. "Executions?" Che Guevara exclaimed while addressing the hallowed halls of the UN General Assembly December 9, 1964. "Certainly, we execute! " he declared to the claps and cheers of that August body. "And we will continue executing (emphasis his) as long as it is necessary! This is a war to the DEATH against the Revolution's enemies!"

According to the Black Book of Communism those firing squad executions had reached around 10,000 by that time. Sloboban Milosevic, by the way, went on trial for allegedly ordering 8,000 executions. The charge against him by the same UN that deliriously applauded Che Guevara's proud proclamation was "genocide."

The "revolutions' enemies" being bound, gagged and murdered by Che and his henchmen were among the most enterprising and valiant fighters of the 20th century. These Cuban freedom-fighters ranked alongside the Polish Home Army and the Hungarian Freedom-Fighters. They fought just as valiantly, as desperately-- and ultimately--just as hopelessly. They fought to the last bullet and usually to the death.

Most heartbreaking of all, they fought alone and abandoned. They specialized in ripping off their gags and blindfolds to yell "VIVA CRISTO REY! or " VIVA CUBA LIBRE!" or "ABAJO COMUNISMO!"before the bullets shattered their bodies and the coup de grace from Che's henchman shattered their skulls.

The few survivors live in places like Miami and New Jersey today and qualify as the longest-suffering political prisoners in modern history. But you'll look for their stories on the History Channel, PBS, the New York Times, etc., in vain. They fought the Left's premier pin-up boys, you see. So their heroism doesn't qualify as Politically-Correct drama.

To be ignored would be bad enough. Instead, whenever acknowledged the media parrots the Castroite slander against them of "terrorists" and "mafiosi." It's a tribute to the MSM and academia's incurable obtuseness and imbecility that they still depict Castro/Che as the "plucky underdogs" against an aggressive colossus--when that collosus was in fact protecting Castro's regime, as pledged to Nikita Khrushchev by JFK in October 1962. "I don't need proof to execute a man" snapped Che to a judicial underling in 1959. "I only need proof that it's necessary to execute him!"

Not that you'd surmise any of the above from the mainstream media or academia-- much less Hollywood. From the high priests of the Fourth Estate Che Guevara gets only accolades. Time magazine, for instance, honors Che Guevara among "The 100 Most Important People of the Century."

The man who declared, "a revolutionary must become a cold killing machine motivated by pure hate," (and set a spirited example,) who boasted that he executed from "revolutionary conviction" rather than from any "archaic bourgeois details" like judicial evidence, and who urged "atomic extermination" as the final solution for those American "hyenas," (and came hearth-thumpingly close with Nuclear missiles in October 1962) is hailed by Time--not just among the "most important" people of the Century--but in the "Heroes and Icons" section, alongside Anne Frank, Andrei Sakharov, and Rosa Parks.

"If the nuclear missiles had remained we would have used them against the very heart of America, including New York City," Che Guevara confided to the London Daily Worker in November of 1962. "We will march the path of victory even if it costs millions of atomic victims...We must keep our hatred alive and fan it to paroxysm." This was Che's prescription for America almost half a century before Osama Bin Laden, Mullah Omar, and Al-Zarqawi appeared on our radar screens.

But for the prudence of Nikita Khrushchev, Che Guevara's fondest wish would have made New York's 9/11 explosions appear like an errant cherry bomb. Yet listed alongside Che Guevara in Time's "Heroes and Icons of the Century," is Mother Theresa. From here the ironies only get richer.

The most popular version of Che t-shirt, for instance, sports the slogan "Fight Oppression" under his famous face. This is the face of a man who co-founded a regime that jailed more of it's subjects than Hitler or Stalin's and declared that "individualism must disappear!" In 1959, with the help of Soviet GRU agents, the man celebrated on that t-shirt helped found, train and indoctrinate Cuba's secret police. "Always interrogate your prisoners at night," Che ordered his goons. "A man's resistance is always lower at night." Today the world's largest Che mural adorns Cuba's Ministry of the Interior, the headquarters for Cuba's KGB and STASI trained secret police. Nothing could be more fitting.

Yet somehow, this same image is considered the height of hipness on everything from shirts, watches and snowboards, to thong underwear and an undisclosed location on Angelina Jolie's epidermis. Ms Jolie, by the way, recently won the UN's "Global Humanitarian Award" for her work with refugees.

Will someone please inform Angelina Jolie that her tattoo idol, with his firing squads and prison-camps, provoked one of the biggest refugee crises in the history of this hemisphere. On top of the 2 million who made it with only the clothes on their back, the Cuban Archives project, meticulously compiled and documented by scholars Maria Werlau and Dr Armando Lago, estimate that close to 80,000 Cubans have died of thirst and exposure, have drowned, or have been ripped apart by sharks attempting to flee the handiwork of the man "Ms Global Humanitarian" honors by having him permanently emblazoned on her skin.

Yet prior to Fidel and Che's glorious reign, Cuba took in more immigrants (primarily from Europe) as a percentage of population than the U.S, and this includes the Ellis Island years. Prior to the glorious Cuban revolution people were as desperate to enter Cuba (especially from neighboring Haiti and Jamaica) as they are now to exit Cuba (at extreme risk to life and limb.) Perhaps Castro acolyte Charlie Rangel can explain this? Perhaps Jesse "Viva Fidel! Viva Che!" Jackson can explain it?

Not that ignorance, willful or otherwise, is exactly rare on the topic of Cuba or Che Guevara. When Carlos Santana and Eric Burdon, (among many other rockers) smugly sport their elegant Che t-shirts they plug a regime that in the mid to late 60's rounded up "roqueros" (Cuban rock & roll fans) and long hairs en masse, and herded them into prison camps for forced labor under a scorching sun. These young prisoners' "counter-revolutionary crimes" often involved nothing more than listening to music by The Animals and Santana.

When Madonna camped it up in her Che outfit for the cover of her American Life CD, she plugged a regime that criminalized homosexuals and anything smacking of gay mannerisms. In the mid 60's the crime of effeminate behavior got thousands of youths yanked off Cuba's streets and parks by secret police and dumped in prison camps with "Work Will Make Men Out of You" in bold letters above the gate (the one at Auschwitz' gate read: "Work Will Set You Free) and with machine gunners posted on the watchtowers. The initials for these camps were UMAP, not GULAG, but the conditions were identical.

"Iron" Mike Tyson used to end fights with his arms upraised in triumph. In 2002, he got a huge Che tattoo on his torso, visited Cuba, and has been consistently and horribly stomped in fight after fight ever since, a process perfectly mimicking the combat record of his tattoo idol. Che was indeed proficient at smiting his enemies, Mike, thousands of them--but only after they were bound, gagged, and blindfolded. Chances are nobody disclosed this to you in Cuba, much less in the mainstream media. But I'm afraid the World Boxing Association won't allow it anyway. When the crowd of A-list hipsters and Beautiful People at the Sundance Film Festival (which included everyone from Tipper and Al Gore to Sharon Stone, Meryl Streep, and Paris Hilton) exploded in a rapturous standing ovation for Robert Redford's The Motorcycle Diaries, they were cheering a film glorifying a man who jailed or exiled most of Cuba's best writers, poets and independent film-makers while converting Cuba's press and cinema--at Czech machine-gun point-- into propaganda agencies for a Stalinist regime.

Executive producer of the movie, Robert Redford (who always kicks off the film festival with a long dirge about the importance of artistic freedom) was forced to screen the film for Che's widow (who heads Cuba's Che Guevara Studies Center) and Fidel Castro for their approval before release. We can only imagine the shrieks of outrage from the Sundance crowd--about "censorship!" and "selling out!"-- had, say, Robert Ackerman required (and acquiesced in) Nancy Reagan's approval to release HBO's The Reagans that same year.

Che groupies are many and varied. Christopher Hitchens, for instance marvels at Che's "untamable defiance" and assures us in the same New York Times article that "Che was no hypocrite."

The noted historian Benicio Del Toro, who will star as his hero in a Hollywood Biopic due next year, says: "Che was just one of those guys who walked the walk and talked the talk. There's just something cool about people like that. The more I get to know Che, the more I respect him."

More than his cruelty, megalomania or even his epic stupidity, what most distinguished Ernesto "Che" Guevara from his peers was his sniveling cowardice. His groupies can run off in a huff, slam their bedroom door, and dive headfirst into their beds sobbing and kicking and punching the pillows all they want-- but Che surrendered to the Bolivan Rangers voluntarily, from a safe distance, and was captured physically sound and with a fully loaded pistol.

One day before his death in Bolivia, Che Guevara--for the first time in his life--finally faced something properly describable as combat. So he ordered his guerrilla charges to give no quarter, to fight to their last breaths, and to their last bullet. A few hours later his "untamable defiance," lack of hypocrisy and "walking of the walk " all manifested themselves. With his men doing just what he ordered ( fighting and dying to the last bullet) a slightly wounded Che snuck away from the firefight and surrendered with a full clip in his pistol while whimpering to his captors: "Don't Shoot! I'm Che I'm worth more to you alive than dead!"

His Bolivian captors begged to differ.

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Film Review: "The Departed"


Hoodfellas: Scorsese returns to mean streets with a hit in 'The Departed'

By Ty Burr
Boston Globe
Published: 10/06/2006

Martin Scorsese won't be winning any Oscars for "The Departed." The movie's too hard, too pulpy -- too good. A relentlessly violent, breathtakingly assured piece of mean-streets filmmaking, the film shows the legendary director dropping the bids for industry respectability that have preoccupied him over the past decade and doing what he does best: burrow to the agonized heart of criminality and let the blood and guilt splatter where they may.

Adapted from the 2002 Hong Kong action film "Infernal Affairs" by the Dorchester-born screenwriter William Monahan , "The Departed" is also the closest we've come yet to The Great Boston Movie, a beast that requires more honesty than filmmakers (and audiences) have been willing to grant. The film's only serious flaw is that it establishes a venal and local moral wasteland, crisscrossed by scummy realities of class and race, that it never follows up. What begins as a blood-soaked tragicomedy about our fair town's tribal warfare turns into merely a brilliant B movie. Don't let that keep you away.

"I don't want to be a product of my environment -- I want my environment to be a product of me." So says Frank Costello (Jack Nicholson), the satanic South Boston mobster who could be Whitey Bulger's even more evil twin. Narrating the film's opening passages against a backdrop of news footage of the 1974 anti-busing violence, Costello lays out his version of ethnic realpolitik: "That's what the black chappies never realized. No one gives it to you. You have to take it."

Frank does, however, give a leg up to a starstruck neighborhood kid named Colin Sullivan, whom he grooms for a long-term project: grow up straight, join the police, be my in-house mole. By the time Colin is played by Matt Damon, he's a canny customer on track to department success -- a rising star with the State Police's special investigative unit headed by the glib, hard-driving Ellerby (Alec Baldwin). Their mission: Bring down the Irish mafia in general and Costello in particular. Colin's mission: keep "dad" apprised of any incoming busts.

A separate undercover unit run by Oliver Queenan (Martin Sheen) and his hotheaded deputy Dignam (Mark Wahlberg) recruit their own L Street Brownie: Billy Costigan (Leonardo DiCaprio), a police academy misfit with a crooked family he wants to live down. In short order, Billy is jailed on a cooked-up assault, sent back on the streets, and works his way into Costello's mob as an informer.

That's the snappy mirror gimmick that drove "Infernal Affairs" -- two rats reporting on their compatriots and, increasingly, each other -- and "The Departed" takes the chess match to insanely complex levels. Both groups begin frantically seeking the traitor in their midsts, and when Colin is put in charge of the department search, he grimly realizes that he has to find himself.

At one point Billy stalks his opposite number to a meeting with Costello, and the sequence becomes a sadistic game of now-I-see-me/no-you-don't. Good and bad bleed into each other as these two sons of Southie come to understand they're brothers in battered spirit, and that only the other man can understand what each is going through.

Eventually the plot spins into free fall and the bodies start piling up. You don't mind because Scorsese is so in command of his medium, because the performances are juicy and committed, and because the violence feels viscerally real. When people throw punches in "The Departed," they break their hands; when one character falls several stories to the pavement, the blowback is defiantly unpretty. Costello toys absent - mindedly with an anonymous severed hand before asking an underling to "get rid of this." "The Departed" follows the consequences of bloodshed and betrayal all the way to the ugly end, and you won't feel like celebrating afterward .

Monahan's dialogue is filthy and funny, bristling with tabloid poetry: "Your family's dug into the Southie projects like ticks"; "You're a black guy in Boston -- you don't need my help to be completely [expletive]." The central performances are tremendous, too, and for once the local accents are spot-on (mostly; Sheen's still doing the Kennedys). This is DiCaprio's best work in a long while, and he makes you feel the suicidal craziness of "having to be a different guy every day." Damon's playing a more multi-leveled game, though, and under that mashed pretty-boy face we glimpse a whole spectrum of rat emotion: greed, ambition, cowardice, and a pathetic sort of loyalty.

Wahlberg almost steals the film as a pit bull of a Statie -- every time he shows up you start grinning -- and Nicholson does steal everything that's not nailed down. Frank Costello could be Jack Torrance from "The Shining" given a new lease on life and scraped clean of all human scruple. He's a joyfully vulgar psycho, a creature of pure id. You don't try to understand this guy -- as someone says, quoting Sigmund Freud, the Irish "are the only people impervious to psychoanalysis" -- you just run like hell.

For all the excellence of the performances (which includes Vera Farmiga as a police shrink drawn to both Damon and DiCaprio; her accent's wobbly but the acting's right), this is a director's return to form. When Scorsese misfires here, cueing the Rolling Stones' "Gimme Shelter" on the soundtrack yet again or giving Colin a high-rise apartment with a patently fake view of the State House dome, you're inclined to forgive him. When "The Departed" roars to life, as it does in so many of its scenes, you feel like nobody understands movies -- the delirious highs, the unforgiving moral depths -- as well as this man does. Welcome back, Marty.

Ty Burr can be reached at tburr@globe.com.

Bill Madden: Clearing house has a nice ring

The New York Daily News
October 9, 2006

Ain't this rich: A-Rod must go

Are Gary Sheffield, Alex Rodriguez and Jason Giambi part of the problem or the solution for Yankees?

Embarrassed as Joe Torre must be over the ugly events in Detroit, I'm not sure if any manager, be it Lou Piniella, Casey Stengel or John McGraw, could have evoked the necessary passion and grit from this Yankee team as currently constituted.

Since 2001, they have added superstars every year - Mike Mussina, Jason Giambi, Hideki Matsui, Gary Sheffield, Alex Rodriguez, Randy Johnson, Johnny Damon - all of them coming here for huge money, looking to ride the coattails of Derek Jeter, Mariano Rivera, Jorge Posada and Bernie Williams, the holdovers of the championship years, to an easy ring. It hasn't happened and they're the primary reasons it hasn't happened.

This division-series disaster was merely the culmination of this failed hire-a-mercenary policy, which was a product of necessity due to the 12 straight barren drafts by the Yankee player development department. Combined, Mussina ($19M), Giambi ($20.4M), Sheffield ($10.8M), Rodriguez ($21.7M) and Johnson ($15.7M) accounted for $87.6 million of the Yankees' roughly $200 million payroll.

In the aftermath of his 1-for-14 against the Tigers - which was the follow-up to his 2-for-15 against the Angels last year - A-Rod said he had "no one to blame but myself" for his abysmal postseason performance, but then added he believed he was "part of the solution."

No, A-Rod, you're the major part of the problem. And even if A-Rod's guy, Piniella, should be the new manager, the Yankees should not delude themselves into thinking that would be the solution. As much as Piniella may have liked A-Rod in Seattle, he won 116 games the year after A-Rod left.

No, what the Yankees need to do with A-Rod is to get him out of here for his and their own good, use him as their chip to rebuild their pitching staff. They should dial up Angels owner Arte Moreno and see if he's interested in making a variation of the deal he tried to make for Miguel Tejada at this summer's trading deadline, the one that was to include 24-year-old power righthander Ervin Santana.

Or if not the Angels, then the Chicago White Sox, who have a glaring need for a shortstop and all sorts of excess power pitchers plus a prize third-base prospect in Josh Fields.

For the Yankees to have any chance of getting back to the World Series, they must address their starting pitching, which sabotaged Torre as much as his hitters against the Tigers. In that regard, their own Philip Hughes has the stuff to be a dominant starter but has been held back by Yankees minor league pitching coordinator Nardi Contreras, who had him on gradually receding pitch counts all summer, then shut him down at 146innings.

Scouts who saw Hughes at Trenton this summer agreed he's ready for the big leagues now and even Yankee officials on the major league level, Gene Michael for one, were dismayed that Hughes wasn't allowed to finish the season at Triple-A. Now, as one scout told me: "This kid is a stud, but what good is he going to do them if he's been programmed to pitch five innings? They're turning him into Jaret Wright."

Durable front-line starters are what the Yankees need to even get to next year's postseason.
Mussina, 37, and Johnson, 43, each a loser in his start against the Tigers, have run their course here. It was essentially the same for them a year ago when they came up small against the Angels, who bounced the Yankees out of the first round.

These are supposed to be your aces, folks. That's why George Steinbrenner is paying them the big bucks. And that's why whoever is the Yankee manager next year shouldn't have to be burdened with them.

Mussina, a free agent, won't be re-signed, and Johnson, who vowed a couple of months ago he wouldn't pitch the final year of his contract if he wasn't physically capable of meeting his high standards, ought to be taken up on that. The Yankees should encourage him to get that back surgery this winter, collect the insurance and wish him well.

Giambi, despite his 37 homers and 113RBI in the regular season, was a no-show - literally - when Torre needed him most against the Tigers. After going 1-for-8 over the first three games, he asked to get a cortisone shot for his shoulder, rendering him unavailable for the deciding Game 4.

That's why his comment, "I came ready to play and Joe wanted a different look in there," was so unbelievable. The fact is, Giambi is a defensive liability at first base and, as a DH, he is blocking Melky Cabrera from playing since that's where Matsui would be best suited. But good luck trying to move Giambi anywhere.

As for Sheffield, 1-for-12 with one RBI as a failed first baseman against the Tigers after a failed division series against the Angels, he has a $13 million option for '07, which he says he hopes the Yankees will not pick up. One would have to believe they won't be tempted.

In his three years in Tampa Bay, Piniella lamented the ownership's payroll constraints, but as Torre could tell him, big salaries don't necessarily translate into big-time postseason players.

Originally published on October 9, 2006