Saturday, January 15, 2005

Dave Hackenberg: Roethlisberger's Refuse To Change Despite Ben's Stardom

Roethlisbergers refuse to change their ways in spite of Big Ben's stardom
Saturday, January 15, 2005
By Dave Hackenberg, Toledo Blade Sports Writer

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Steelers Nation / Fan photos from around the world

FINDLAY, Ohio -- It was a tough assignment for a photographer. Go to the Roethlisberger house on the south side of Findlay and take a family photo flavored with plenty of Pittsburgh Steelers' memorabilia.

The problem? There isn't any.

Ben Roethlisberger may be the star quarterback of the Steelers, he may be the NFL's offensive rookie of the year, he may be headed for the Super Bowl. But you wouldn't know it to walk through the doors of this pleasant but modest ranch home.

Ken and Brenda Roethlisberger have lived here since Ben was in the fifth grade. The house has about 1,400 square feet and three bedrooms. One belonged to Ben. Another belongs to Carlee, a sophomore athlete at Findlay High School. Neither bedroom has had a TV or telephone.

"It's small, but it has kept our family close," says Brenda, who is Ben's step-mother. "Everything has always happened in the family room and kitchen, or in the front and back yards."
"Lots of games out in the yard," Ken said. "But we've always spent a lot of time together as a family. You only have your kids for a short time."

One of them is gone now. Ben has won 13 consecutive games as the Steelers' starting quarterback heading into their AFC playoff game today against the New York Jets in Pittsburgh.
A lot has changed in his life, and all indications are he has handled it in stride. He is confident without being cocky. He is modest and polite. He may be the toast of the town, but that town isn't Findlay. At least not this particular house on this particular street in Findlay, where the real stars are a golden retriever named Max and a chocolate lab named Casey.

Here, Ben Roethlisberger, 22, is the same son and brother that he always has been, which may be why he is the same person he always has been.

It is a warm and comfortable place, and yes, there is a framed picture of Ben posing in his Steelers' uniform. It's on top of the desk, tucked behind Carlee's photo in her Findlay basketball uniform. But that's it.

The Roethlisbergers, for sure, have not gotten caught up in their son's fame and fortune.
"You can get lost in that stuff," Ken said. "And we have a daughter who is her own person and is following her own path who doesn't need to hear or see that stuff all the time."
Carlee, who stands 6-feet, goes to school and plays volleyball and basketball.

"It's sort of funny at school with a lot of kids walking around with Ben's jersey on," Carlee said. "And away games are different. People are always yelling 'Where's Ben?' or 'Go Steelers.'

"In a way, I'm not surprised what he's done because he has always loved to prove himself. But I really never thought he'd be playing in the NFL. It's kind of weird watching a game on TV and realizing, 'Hey, that's Ben.' "

Ben Roethlisberger never was, in Brenda's words, a Golden Child.
"He struggled through things like everybody else," she said.

Those struggles began when his mother decided she wasn't cut out to be a parent and left Ken and their 2-year-old son. Dad raised Ben by himself until meeting Brenda at the YMCA in Van Wert.

She had played, and later coached, small college basketball in Kansas and Missouri. He had been a two-sport athlete at Georgia Tech, a quarterback on the football team before suffering a knee injury, and a pitcher in baseball.

They met during a lunch-time, pick-up basketball game at the YMCA. She cut across the lane, knocked Ken on his rear end. It was love at first sight. They were married six months later.
Four years later, Ben's birth mother was on her way to pick him up for a weekend visitation. She was driving near Lima when her car was broadsided. She died from her injuries. Brenda has been "mom" ever since.

Ben played on a middle school football team that never won a game. When he reported to Findlay High for ninth grade, the mayor's son was at quarterback, and Ben was a little-used wide receiver on the freshman team. He finally got a shot at the position, threw four touchdown passes in his debut. The team didn't lose again that season.

It is well-documented that he was returned to wide receiver for his junior season before shattering records at quarterback as a senior, the only year he started at that position on the varsity.
"Ben has been through a lot," Brenda said.

"I think that's one of the reasons he has become so popular. He's shown courage and made something of himself."

Ken Roethlisberger thinks back to draft day last April. He rubs his hand over his face and says, "Geez, it seems like three years ago. So much has happened; it's truly amazing.
"But I remember looking across at Ben [as teams passed over him], and he was very calm. I think he already knew that wherever he went he would make it work.

"And when the Steelers, who really hadn't indicated a need at quarterback, took him, I know his attitude was, 'I'll show them what I can do and make those other teams sorry they didn't take me.' "

They can pinch themselves today at Heinz Field, watching Ben start his first NFL playoff game.
But first they met the family's newest member. Ken and Brenda spent last night at Ben's place in Pittsburgh, baby-sitting.

"Ben's nickname with his teammates growing up was Rotty," Ken said. "He even had a stuffed Rottweiler. So he just bought his first dog, and that's what he got. He had him flown in from Germany and named him Zeus."

"I'm so excited, I get to see my grand-puppy for the first time," Brenda said Thursday night.
And is she excited about the game?
"Well sure," Brenda said. "That, too."

(Dave Hackenberg writes for the Block News Alliance and The Blade of Toledo, Ohio

Richard Sandomir: Steelers' Voice is Weathered but Polished

January 15, 2005
The New York Times

PITTSBURGH, Jan. 14 - Here was Myron Cope, beloved Steelers sportscaster, father of the Terrible Towel, driving down Route 19 on Friday near his suburban town house to buy cigarettes. At a stoplight, Tim DaPray, of Fort Smith, Ark., pulled up in another car and rolled down his window, gesturing wildly.

"Mr. Cope, I've got a bobblehead of you in my trunk!" DaPray said. "Would you mind signing it?"
Just lead the way, Cope said. He turned to his passenger. "He's got my bobblehead in the trunk," Cope said. "Kind of like he might get rid of me. I'd feel more comfortable if I were in the glove compartment."

They pulled into the parking lot of a shopping center, where DaPray embraced Cope, reminded him that he once waited on him at a local country club, then opened the trunk. He removed the doll from its box, but without a proper marker, Cope could not sign it. He autographed a beer poster instead. After returning to his car, Cope said, "I did not stage that."

Cope, 75, will be at the microphone at Heinz Field for Saturday's Jets-Steelers game. He has called all but a few Steelers games since 1970. He is a regional icon, a former newspaperman and magazine writer who is as thoroughly a Steeler as Vin Scully is a Dodger. He has been there through all four of Pittsburgh's Super Bowl championships over a span that has included two longtime coaches and seven United States presidents.

"He's someone people associate with the end of, really, 40 years of losing," said Gene Collier, a columnist for The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. "There's nothing like walking down the street with Myron; you could walk down the street with Abe Lincoln and cause less of a commotion."
Tom Keller, a 63-year-old cabdriver who wears a Steelers overcoat and a Steelers cap, has his own view of Cope. "He's a stick of dynamite, is what he is," he said.

Cope intends to detonate one Saturday when, in pregame remarks, he said he would excoriate Ben Roethlisberger, the Steelers' rookie quarterback, for announcing that he would give his game's salary to tsunami relief, then challenging his teammates to do the same.

"I love the kid, but this stinks," Cope said during an interview at his condominium. "You shouldn't make contributions to charity public. And for all he knew, someone else in the locker room was donating twice as much."

Any discussion of Cope starts with the voice, a yawping, squawking instrument that can clear arenas but has bonded him to fans who have mostly adored him since he began in radio in 1968. His thick Pittsburgh accent long ago merged with a raspy tone that sounds as if his larynx had been dragged through chopped-up blocks of cement. One former Dallas Cowboy, Billy Davis, described it years ago as anal.

"He meant nasal," Cope said. "But it sounds better as anal."

Bill Hillgrove, the play-by-play man who shares the booth with Cope and Tunch Ilkin, said: "Most people, for the first time, say, 'Good God, what is this?' But the more they hear what he has to say, they get past it, and it becomes part of the shtick. And, he sees the world funny. That's his gift."

Cope calls his vocal instrument unnerving, yet it is memorable, like another sandpapery vocal legend, Johnny Most, the former announcer for the Boston Celtics. "It's so terrible, it's distinctive," Cope said.

He praised Bob Prince, the longtime Pirates announcer, for having a voice that cut concrete. Cope's could probably disintegrate it.

On this day, his voice was hoarse. He is still recovering from throat cancer surgery last year that wound up shrinking his vocal cords, and he said he wanted to preserve his voice for the game. He is also taking a steroid, prednisone, to treat polymyalgia rheumatica, a type of arthritis that has so debilitated him that he has nearly checked into a nursing home.

Still, the more he speaks, the less hoarse he seems. And he still smokes. Ilkin said: "I told him on the air, 'You had polyps taken out of your throat; shouldn't you stop smoking?' And he calls me a health Nazi."
Cope says he buys cigarettes one pack at a time to help him quit.

So, on a Friday when he should have been resting and sipping tea, the 5-foot-5 Cope drove to a radio station to tape two commercials with the president of a local auto dealership.
There, he played a caricature of his usual self (think of Crazy Eddie morphing with Tom Waits). The auto dealer, Richard J. Bazzy, said that Cope's popularity had helped make Bazzy's Ford dealerships the biggest in the city. "His voice helps us cut through the clutter," Bazzy said.

Cope cannot be defined by traditional sportscaster standards. His color analysis offers no mellifluous tones and little technical talk. He never played football, but that hole in his résumé has never bothered him, and besides, straight analysis is what Ilkin, a former offensive tackle, is paid to provide.

Cope said he knew how players should run with the ball and how they should block, tackle and pass. "I may not have the latest jargon, but I know the game," he said.

During the Steelers' final regular-season contest, against Buffalo, Cope's observations ranged from, "To him, I say mazel tov. Farrior, you worked hard for that," to "How'd he break that tackle? I've got to tell my sister," to "That kid was carrying caskets when he was 10 years old, he was so big. But anyhow, he ain't carrying caskets now."

Like other sportscasters whose verbal peccadilloes endeared them to listeners or viewers, like Phil Rizzuto or Dizzy Dean, Cope has his catchphrases. "Yoi!" or "Double yoi!" describe what startles him. "Okel dokel!" describes something agreeable. The opposite is "Pheh!"

"I have various nonsensical things that come out of my mouth," Cope said. He calls Cincinnati's football team "the Bungles" and caused a stir when he renamed the Washington Redskins, calling them the Red Faces, and kept repeating it despite objections by Washington's management. He laid off the term with the return of Joe Gibbs as the coach.

Cope is ornery: he urinated off the roof of Cleveland Stadium to protest the lack of a men's room in the upper reaches, where the radio booth was. And he is tough: he resisted a security officer's demands that he not smoke at Sun Devil Stadium, saying the booth gave him diplomatic immunity, like a foreign embassy on American soil.

But is he a homer? Although he is completely identified with the Steelers, Cope said no. Ecstatic when the Steelers win, he is more than willing to rip them when they play badly.

Still, with his 76th birthday approaching a week from Sunday, the day of the American Football Conference championship game, he is looking beyond Saturday's game to a Pittsburgh victory.

"I've got to get that damned birthday gift from the Steelers," he said.

Friday, January 14, 2005

Marvin Olasky- Two Tidal Waves: Tsunami and Abortion

Marvin Olasky (archive)
January 13, 2005

Two tidal waves of death: the tsunami late in December and 32 years of massive abortion since the Roe vs. Wade decision on Jan. 22, 1973.

Television images and Internet blogs have brought home to Americans the reality of one disaster. Ultrasound images have shown many young women and their boyfriends the reality of lives that can be saved. We have fewer excuses than we once had for not loving our neighbors as ourselves, no matter how far away or how small they are.

But what happens when we still lack vision? We have a license to kill unborn children (and young born ones) because they lack "higher mental capacities," according to Princeton bioethicist Peter Singer. Hmmm. Maybe T-ball players are useless because they lack higher baseball capacities. Maybe acorns are worthless because we can't make oak furniture from them.

Let's widen our vision of how abortions occur. In Havana last year, I met with two pro-life physicians who fight for life against huge opposition. Cuban officials do not force anyone to abort, they say, but the government applies "great psychological and economic pressure so the woman will choose abortion of her own 'free will.'" The physicians used the words "free will" ironically.

For a lonely view of abortion in America, read the blog of leftist comedienne Margaret Cho. She writes: "I had an abortion, and you know what? It (expletive) hurts like hell." She describes how she hated being in that situation "because the rubber broke, and I didn't even (expletive) like that guy in the first place."

She sounds as miserable as the six-month-pregnant Cuban woman who wanted to have an abortion two years ago because "I don't have anyone to help me" -- but when one of the pro-life doctors within two hours found a nun who pledged to stick by the woman, the woman stuck by her unborn child.

Margaret Cho did not stick by hers. She writes, "Pregnancy feels like there is somebody in there," and she's right: Somebody is there. But Ms. Cho continues: "For whatever reason, and every reason is the right reason, you can't have a tenant. So you gotta evict. Nothing personal."

Does that sound like a pro-choice statement? "Can't" and "gotta" suggest the absence of free will. Funny, but another of the pro-life doctors in Havana counsels 100 women a year with far fewer resources than Cho has, and they don't go with "can't" or "gotta."

Cho sounds very bitter about the results of her abortion: "And then you see that the tenant has checked out, leaving you hollowed out and alone." She takes out her frustration on others, saying to pro-life protesters, "(Expletive) you. Seriously. (Expletive expletive) you."

With better communication, people where the tsunami first hit could have warned others where it arrived later. It's similar with abortion: Millions of women who have had abortions could warn those planning to have them this year of the sadness they will find. Our major communication channels, though, do not transmit those stories.

Here's what I've learned from 20 years in the pro-life movement: Almost no women choose abortion. Almost all women naturally want to produce life, and they only "choose" abortion when they feel they have no choice. Since the Cuban government takes away choice, to be pro-choice in Cuba is to be pro-life. The pressures are not official in the United States, but with vision we can see that the bottom line is the same.

What to do? Another intense Asian tsunami may be a century away, but the abortion tsunami occurs every year. An overall constitutional amendment would be great, but in this meantime many lives can be saved through a compassionate conservative approach that features ultrasound machines, waiting periods, involvement of boyfriend or husband and both sets of parents, information about post-abortion syndrome and pro-adoption counseling.
All of those means can counteract the pressures that make real choice unlikely.

Marvin Olasky writes daily commentary on Worldmagblog, a member group.
©2005 Creators Syndicate, Inc.
Contact Marvin Olasky Read Olasky's biography

John R. Lott, Jr.: Terrorism as an Excuse

January 14, 2005, 9:24 a.m.
Terrorism as an Excuse
Another CBS campaign.
By John R. Lott Jr.

Who could oppose laws preventing terrorists from getting guns? Obviously no one. But it would be nice if laws accomplished something more than simply making it more difficult for Americans to own guns.

Ironically the day before CBS finally released its report on the 60 Minutes Memogate scandal, 60 Minutes was again stirring up fears about how terrorists would use 50-caliber rifles to attack Americans.

Last year it was the semi-automatic assault-weapons ban before it expired. Sen. Charles E. Schumer (D., N.Y.) claimed the ban was "the most effective measures against terrorism that we have." Of course, nothing happened when the law expired last year. There was nothing unique about the guns that are banned under the law. Though the phrase "assault weapon" conjures up images of the rapid-fire machine guns used by the military, in fact the weapons covered by the ban function the same as any semiautomatic hunting rifle; they fire the exact same bullets with the exact same rapidity and produce the exact same damage as hunting rifles.

Back in the mid-1980s it was the hysteria over "plastic guns" when the Austrian company Glock began exporting pistols to the United States. Labeled as "terrorist specials" by the press, fear spread that their plastic frame and grip would make them invisible to metal detectors. Glocks are now common and there are good reasons they are one of the favorite pistols of American police officers. The "plastic gun" ban did not ban anything since it is not possible to actually build a working plastic gun.

Now it is the 50-caliber rifles' turn, especially with California outlawing the sale of these guns since the beginning of the year. For years gun-control groups have tried to ban 50-caliber rifles because of fears that criminals could use them. Such bans have not been passed because these guns were simply not suited for crime. Fifty-caliber rifles are big, heavy guns, weighing at least 30 pounds and using a 29-inch barrel. They are also relatively expensive. Models that hold one bullet at a time run nearly $3,000. Semi-automatic versions cost around $7,000. Wealthy target shooters and big-game hunters, not criminals, purchase them. The bottom line is that only one person in the U.S. has been killed with such a gun, and even that one alleged case is debated.

The link to terrorism supposedly provides a new possible reason to ban 50-caliber rifles. But the decision to demonize these particular guns and not say .475-caliber hunting rifles is completely arbitrary. The difference in width of these bullets is a trivial .025 inches. What's next? Banning .45-caliber pistols? Indeed the whole strategy is to gradually reduce the type of guns that people can own.

Sniper Central, a site for both military snipers and law-enforcement sharpshooters, claims that "For military extreme long-range anti-personnel purposes, the .338 Lapua is king. Even the .50BMG falls short. (Due to accuracy problems with current ammo)." The .338 Lapua round simply has what is called a better bullet coefficient, it produces less drag as it travels through the air.

With a 50-caliber rifle it is possible for an extremely skilled and lucky marksman to hit a target at 1,800 meters (versus 1,500 meters plus for the .338 Lapua), though most marksmen say that the effective range for any of these guns is around 1,000 meters.

The worst abuse that 60 Minutes focused on was the Branch Davidians in Waco in 1993 having a 50-caliber gun. Yet, no one was harmed with the gun, and the Davidians surely had many other weapons. 60 Minutes also tried to scare people about incendiary and explosive ammunition, but the ammunition discussed is already illegal.

Fighting terrorism is a noble cause, but the laws we pass must have some real link to solving the problem. Absent that, many will think that 60 Minutes and gun-control groups are simply using terrorism as an excuse to promote rules that they previously pushed. Making it difficult for law-abiding Americans to own guns should not be the only accomplishment of new laws.

John Lott, a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, is the author of The Bias Against Guns and More Guns, Less Crime.

Book Review: A Patriot's History of the United States

[Alright, it's really a commercial instead of a review since the "reviewer" is one of the authors of the book...but it's a good commercial. I may not agree with every position they take but I maintain that the book is excellent...I haven't finished it yet but so far so good. How's that for a review?]

History, the Way It's Meant to Be
By Larry Schweikart
January 14, 2005
Purchase A Patriot's History Of The United States: for a special offer of $29.95 in our bookstore.

Navigators will tell you that a slight error in dead reckoning over a long journey will put you in Alaska when you wanted to go to Arizona. NASA knows that an error of a fraction of a percent will cause the latest Mars probe to go to the Dog Star. So it has been with American history texts.

For a half a century, the interpretation of America's story has drifted steadily leftward. Some of this was due to slight shifts in emphasis over time---resulting in massively unbalanced works ultimately. Some was the result of deliberate distortions of the New Left, seeking to "redress" the crimes in the American past by excessive criticism and clever slant. Still more came from the leftist influences that shape many academics who write American history and its building blocks of scholarly articles, with their obsession with race, class, "gender," and other "oppressed/oppressor" constructs. And, unfortunately, some of the shift came from apparently deliberate factual errors based on political partisanship. The time has come to right these wrongs.

In A Patriot's History of the United States (Penguin/Sentinel), Michael Allen and I take on more than 50 years of, well, bad scholarship. In the first comprehensive "conservative" history survey written by Americans, Patriot's History portrays the European founding of the New World as beneficial; the Founders as sagacious and virtuous; the Jacksonians as more concerned with "big government" than Arthur Schlesinger and others have claimed; Abraham Lincoln as heroic; the notion of the "robber barons" as a myth; the New Deal as a disaster, both short-term and long; American foreign policy in the 20th Century as essentially altruistic; and Ronald Reagan as a titan. Are there warts in the story of the United States? Without a doubt, and we cover them. Three times, American leaders "punted" on the issue of slavery until it could be ignored no longer. There were excesses during the "Gilded Age," but those were mostly due to the government intervention in the economy, and the excesses only reflected a deeper unprecedented rise in wealth and prosperity that swept over a majority of Americans.

"Do-gooders" did try, unsuccessfully, to dictate social mores such as alcohol consumption, and, unfortunately, some of our greatest presidents (like Theodore Roosevelt) supported many "big-government" power grabs. Yes, white hunters nearly exterminated the bison---only because they had more effective weapons than Indians, who had already placed the buffalo on the road to extinction. But it was entrepreneurs who saved the bison herds, and even sold the start-up herds to Yellowstone Park. Joe McCarthy was an alcoholic and his methods were extreme, but his message that communists had infiltrated the innermost parts of the U.S. government was on target. Watergate was a paranoid power-grab, but it was made worse by the reaction to abandon South Vietnam, abandon American responsibilities in the world, and drift into "malaise."

Where Patriot's History differs from almost all other so-called "texts" out there, however, is that American mistakes are presented as exceptions, almost always corrected . . . and quickly . . . not as the essential fabric of a corrupt, oppressive system. Individuals looking for stark contrasts between our books and virtually all of the other 20 or so "texts" that we analyzed during the writing of Patriot's History can almost literally go to any page. However, some of the "hot button" topics we deal with include:

*The "Columbian Exchange." In a long sidebar ("Did Columbus Kill Most of the Indians?"), we review extensive recent scholarship that shows that a) no good guesses even exist as to how many "Native Americans" were here when Columbus and other Europeans arrived; b) some diseases thought to be "transmitted" from Europe likely were here when the Europeans arrived; and c) some Indian tribes fought each other to extinction---they didn't need Europeans' help.

*The "Age of Jackson." It has become chic for Libertarians, as well as old-school leftists, to portray Andrew Jackson and Martin Van Buren as friends of the "common man" and "small- government" advocates. Clay, according to David Kennedy's The American Pageant, was a "big- money Kentuckian," while Jackson was the "idol of the masses." (Davy Crockett, who hated Jackson, and Abe Lincoln, who supported Clay, must not have qualified for membership in the "masses.") John Murrin claims Jackson represented "a society of virtuous, industrious producers," as opposed to "parasites who grew rich by manipulating credit, prices, paper money and government-bestowed privileges." That must have been before Jackson stashed all the money from the Bank of the United States in the "pet" banks of his friends. In fact, government grew steadily during the Age of Jackson---even under Van Buren---and Jackson proportionately expanded the power of the presidency far more than Abraham Lincoln ever did.

*The "Robber Barons." Most "texts" obsess with trusts, the wealth of John D. Rockefeller, the semi-peon status of the industrial worker, and the plight of the farmers, seemingly without noticing that the captains of industry gave away unprecedented amounts of money; created jobs at astounding rates; raised wages and lowered prices on almost all consumer goods. Travel became affordable because of Cornelius Vanderbilt; kerosene became cheap---and literally saved the whales---providing low-cost indoor illumination, thanks to Rockefeller; and Andrew Carnegie made possible not only all other industries that depended on high-quality, inexpensive steel, but laid the groundwork for multi-story skyscrapers.

*The "Roaring Twenties." Perhaps no decade is more (often deliberately) misunderstood by writers than the Roaring Twenties, which was a perfect confluence of dozens of new technologies coming on-line at the same time that Andrew Mellon's tax cuts encouraged consumption. The Great Crash had little to do with "speculation" (as several new economic studies reveal, though none ever cited by recent texts) and probably a lot to do with the Smoot- Hawley Tariff (again, as several other recent, largely un-cited, studies show). FDR's "New Deal" was a disaster of the highest order, although we do not doubt his good intentions. The New Deal not only ensured that recovery from the economic collapse would be almost impossible---due to the restrictions on industry, the minimum wage law, government's cozy relationship with labor through the Wagner Act, and the heavy tax burden, to mention but a few---but that in the longer run, most of these programs (such as Aid to Families with Dependent Children and Social Scurity) would wreak havoc with the economy and America's social fabric.

*World War II. One is struck by not only the phenomenal output of American capitalism during the war, literally burying the Axis powers in a wave of war materiel, but by the commitment of heroic soldiers, sailors, airmen, and Marines. Patriot's History contains a section on Hollywood and the war, which is an astounding indictment of our modern "stars" during a time of testing. In 1941-42, virtually every leading man and many leading women went to war, most of them as volunteers. Many not only saw combat, but were genuine heroes: Lee Marvin assaulted beaches in the Pacific and in one engagement was one of only five men out of more than 200 to survive; Walter Matthau won an impressive six silver stars; Telly Savalas was critically wounded and told he would never walk again; and even civilians like Carole Lombard died while on a tour selling war bonds. The contrast between the "stars" of yesteryear and the "celebrities" of today is striking.

*"Happy Days." Ridiculed by texts as a decade of cookie-cutter, robotic sameness, we find the 1950s to in fact have been a decade of tremendous upheaval---in many ways far more than the 1960s. Racial issues started to unravel American society, while the threat of atomic annihilation deeply affected the public. The ease of transportation meant that people traveled and moved with unprecedented frequency and ease, and for that reason they craved moorings they could latch onto---pillars of stability and reliability. They found those comfortable reassurances in fast food chains (McDonalds), motels (Holiday Inns), and even in the explosion of AM radio, where the famous "play lists" ensured that a person in Colorado listened pretty much to the same songs as someone in New Jersey. The decade, and others, was captured by America's premier artist (whom texts constantly ignore), Norman Rockwell, the essential illustrator of American values.

*The "Gipper." Nowhere is textbook bias more apparent than in their treatment of Reagan. It seems that authors cast their veil of "objectivity" to the wind when they reach the 1980s. Reagan "was no intellectual," intones American Pageant, while Daniel Goldfield's American Journey dutifully notes that "critics questioned [Reagan's] grasp of complex issues." Reagan's decisive victories are explained away by citing low voter turnout (which, conveniently was not mentioned in the passages on the 1996 election, where the percentage was similar). The distortions involve snide captions to photos and a fundamental misunderstanding of Supply Side economics. Indeed, American Pageant goes out of its way to present what can only be seen as a deliberate distortion of federal debt and deficits in the 1980s. (The charts, which were still in use in the last edition we consulted, fail to adjust dollar amounts in "real" terms---an error a graduate student would not make---and the authors do so, not once, but twice, both, apparently, with the intent of showing that Reagan's tax cuts "caused" horrible debt and deficits. This of course, is not true when the dollar values are adjusted in real terms as a % of GNP). The texts' criticisms of "Star Wars" were so egregious that we outlined them in a note (p. 891). Nowhere in any major text was Reagan given credit for defeating communism---that was usually reserved for the "great" Russian "leader," Michael Gorbachev.

These are but a handful of the interpretations and areas of emphasis that distinguish Patriot's History from its left-leaning competitors. Overall, we stuck to politics, economics, and religion, and where social history seemed important, it got "ink" as well. We did not, however, include minorities out of PC tokenism, nor did we assume that every social critic "had a point."
As we note in the introduction, we utterly reject "My country right or wrong," but we likewise reject the destructive approach that has characterized virtually all the U.S. history texts for the last 30 years, "My country, always wrong." The truth, we think, paints a wonderful portrait of the United States as she is.

Purchase A Patriot's History Of The United States: for a special offer of $29.95 in our bookstore.

Rick Morrissey: Baseball's Approach to Steroids Still Toothless

The Chicago Tribune
Search archives
January 14, 2005

They always talk about a drug policy's teeth. The more effective the policy, the sharper the teeth. Major League Baseball's new steroids policy has the incisors of a teacup poodle, OK? There's your dental reference for the day.

Once everyone in baseball was done toweling off from the self-congratulatory slobbering Thursday, what remained was a drug policy that should have been so much more. Here was a golden opportunity wasted. Instead of chasing down the problem, baseball took the baby-steps approach. Or, if you insist on the dentistry angle, when it comes to drug enforcement, baseball still is teething.

The new policy, coming on the heels of Jason Giambi's steroid admission and Barry Bonds' flaxseed-oil confession, imposes a maximum 10-day suspension on any player who tests positive for steroids for the first time. It sounds substantial, and it is when compared to what baseball had before, which pretty much was a syringe-exchange program and an Arnold Schwarzenegger calendar giveaway promotion. But if management and players were truly serious about draining their game of juice, they would have come up with something that does more to scare cheaters straight.

The World Anti-Doping Agency, which oversees most Olympic sports, hands out a two-year suspension to any athlete who tests positive for banned substances the first time. A second positive test brings a lifetime ban. That's the kind of statement that would give pause to any man with chemically enhanced pecs. And yet, every year, WADA imposes suspensions and bans on more than a few athletes who try to beat the system. It tells us that, despite the deterrents, some athletes are willing to take risks.

And it tells us that baseball players, looking down the barrel of a comparatively mild drug policy, will continue to take steroids and other performance-enhancing drugs. What's the risk? Ten days for a first positive test, a one-year ban for a fourth offense. Not nearly tough enough.If your livelihood is connected to how many needles you stick in your butt, you might be willing to take a chance on a 10-day suspension, which, you can bet your bottom dollar, will be appealed by the players' union. If your livelihood brings you $10 million a year, you have plenty of bottom dollars.Baseball is counting on embarrassment being a huge deterrent. Embarrassment doesn't work with athletes. If it did, players who resembled parade-float balloons would have been embarrassed at how artificially bulked-up they looked. They weren't.

A good number of players will continue to roll the dice on steroids. Under the new policy, they will get tested unannounced once a year and then hope they're not one of the players who get randomly tested. The testing program is fine. The discipline isn't."I've been saying for some time that my goal for this industry is zero tolerance regarding steroids," Commissioner Bud Selig said. "The agreement … is an important step toward achieving that goal."Why one step? Why not get right to the end game? If steroids are a problem—and I think most of us agree they are—the game has to eradicate them. When fans aren't sure whether what they're seeing is real or pharmaceutically created, then baseball has a problem. WADA standards in the national pastime would have had the desired chilling effect. What's the point of dipping a toe into the pool? Why not a two-year ban for a first offense and a lifetime ban for a second?In no time, you would start to see normally proportioned athletes."

The object is to stop it," union chief Donald Fehr said. "The object is not to penalize for the sake of penalizing. … I will be very surprised if over time this doesn't take care of the problem virtually completely." Much was made of the fact the union negotiated this agreement when it didn't have to, that Fehr got involved without any prodding. The BALCO investigation was sufficient prodding.

Some of you are more bothered by players who use cocaine than those who use steroids. But they're two different animals. Cocaine doesn't help a player hit the ball harder. Steroids do. Cocaine isn't cheating. Steroids give a player an unfair competitive advantage.Recreational drug abusers need help. Steroids users need to be stopped.

Copyright © 2005, The Chicago Tribune

Thursday, January 13, 2005

Michelle Malkin: Bush's Armstrong Blunder Bad For Minority Conservatives

Michelle Malkin Archive
January 11, 2005

Bush’s Armstrong Blunder Bad For Minority Conservatives

By Michelle Malkin

No. Never. Not one penny.

In the wake of reports last week that the Bush Education Department paid Republican pundit Armstrong Williams $241,000 to flack for its "diversity"-friendly policies while Williams posed as an independent commentator, readers have begun sending e-mails asking whether I am also on the GOP take. There seems to be an orchestrated campaign now because I’ve received several letters with the exact same wording:

"Have you, at any time, taken money from the Bush administration in exchange for promotion of the administration's policies?"

Hostile readers assert that if I ignore their e-mails, they’ll assume that I am getting paid off by the Bush administration. So, here I am, answering this question instead of reporting on the Michael Chertoff nomination (smart move) or Kid Rock’s invitation to the inaugural celebration (dumb move) or the CBS/Memogate scandal (they’re still in dinosaur media denial).

Speaking of being in denial, some conservatives argue that the Pay to Pander program is no big deal compared to the CBS scandal. The Clinton administration did it, too, they point out. Other liberal journalists have failed to disclose ethically suspicious payments, they steam.

Excuses, excuses. I thought we on the Right stood against such expedient moral equivalence.

There are no shades of gray about this, friends: the Bush Education Department subsidized a prominent minority conservative "journalist" with federal taxpayer dollars to sell black parents on the Teddy Kennedy-inspired No Child Left Behind boondoggle—a program that represents the largest single expansion in federal education spending since Jimmy Carter created the Education Department.

This fiscally irresponsible, ethically challenged, and possibly illegal arrangement deserves only one thing from conservatives: unqualified contempt.

Ever since I began penning conservative opinions and investigative journalism nearly 15 years ago, liberals have accused me of getting paid to think my own thoughts. The attacks I face every day—in e-mail, on the airwaves, and in person—are far more vicious in nature than most conservative journalists receive because I also happen to be a woman and a minority.

Rabid liberal elitists expect and demand that "women of color" in public and political life adopt their left-wing political orthodoxy. When we don’t accept such tripe, their racist and sexist diatribes against us are unmatched.

"Progressive" cartoonists Ted Rall and Jeff Danziger mocked President Bush’s national security advisor Condoleezza Rice, who is black, with caricatures of her as a "House Nigga" (Rall) and a thick-lipped, bare-footed Prissy character from "Gone With the Wind" (Danziger). A writer for the militant open-borders publication, La Voz de Aztlan, assailed conservative author Linda Chavez and me as sellouts and complained: "Both are married to Jews, both are Republicans and both are being utilized to attack Mexicans and Mexican-Americans."

"Being utilized" is a constant theme of liberal critics who refuse to tolerate minority conservative dissenters. You want to know how much uglier it will get? Here’s a sample of the hate mail that arrives in my e-mailbox every day—and these predated the Williams/Department of Education fiasco:

"Say, how does it feel to be a paid prostitute for the republicans? Go get some more collagen injected in your lips, it makes you look more the part."
"michelle how does it feel to whore yourself for the republican party .it must be tough to look yourself in the mirror."

"You are a vile, disgusting tramp that has sold her sole to the white dogs (not all whites are dogs though) and cast your lot with the House Niggers."

"How much does the GOP pay you to be their propaganda whore?"

As a result of the Williams/Department of Education payoff, the rhetoric against the rest of us will get even nastier.

In the name of "minority outreach," the Republican education bureaucrats who cooked up their pathetic scheme with Williams have done more damage to our credibility than all the unhinged liberal cartoonists and race-baiters and grievance-mongers could ever hope to do.

Thanks for nothing.

Michelle Malkin [email her] is author of Invasion: How America Still Welcomes Terrorists, Criminals, and Other Foreign Menaces to Our Shores. Click here for Peter Brimelow’s review. Click here for Michelle Malkin's website.


Ann Coulter: Liar, Liar, Now You're Fired

[Anyone who continues to raise the issue of Bill Clinton's rape of Juanita Broaddrick will get plenty of pats on the back from me - jtf]

By Ann Coulter
January 13, 2005

If CNN doesn't hire them, Dan Rather and his producers can always get a job teaching at the Columbia School of Journalism. The Columbia Journalism Review recently defended the CBS report on George Bush using forged National Guard documents with the Tawana Brawley excuse: The documents might be "fake but accurate."

Dan Rather and his crack investigative producer Mary Mapes are still not admitting the documents were fakes. Of course, Dan Rather is still not admitting Kerry lost the election or that a woman named Juanita Broaddrick credibly accused Bill Clinton of rape.

Responding to Bill O'Reilly's question in a May 15, 2001, interview on "The O'Reilly Factor" about why CBS News had mentioned crackpot rumors of George Bush's drug use on air seven times, but the name "Juanita Broaddrick" had never crossed Dan Rather's lips (and was only mentioned twice on all of CBS News), Rather replied: "Juanita Broaddrick, to be perfectly honest, I don't remember all the details of Juanita Broaddrick. But I will say that – and you can castigate me if you like. When the charge has something to do with somebody's private sex life, I would prefer not to run any of it."

If only the press had extended that same courtesy to Mike Tyson! Rape has as much to do with "somebody's private sex life" as Bush's National Guard service does.

Admittedly, Juanita Broaddrick's charge against Clinton – that Bill Clinton raped her so brutally that her clothing was torn and her lip was swollen and bleeding, hence his parting words of "you'd better put some ice on that" – was not a story on the order of Augusta National Golf Course's exclusion of women members. But, unlike the Bush drug-use charge, which remains unsupported to this day, Broaddrick's allegations had been fully corroborated by NBC News – which then refused to air Lisa Myers' report until after Clinton's acquittal in the Senate.

Fortunately for Ms. Mapes, Rather also described Bill Clinton as "honest," explaining to O'Reilly, "I think you can be an honest person and lie about any number of things." This must have come as great comfort to Mapes, as she based an entire story about Bush's outrageous behavior in the National Guard on one Lt. Col. Bill Burkett.

Among the issues that might have raised questions about relying on Burkett as your source before accusing a sitting president of having disobeyed direct military orders are:

* Burkett had a long-standing grudge against the National Guard for failing to pay for his medical treatment for a rare tropical disease he claims he contracted during Guard service in Panama.

* He blamed Bush, who was governor at the time, for the Guard's denial of medical benefits because, as everyone knows, the Texas governor's main job is processing medical claims from former National Guard members.

* After leaving the Guard, Burkett suffered a nervous breakdown and was hospitalized for depression.

* At the meeting where he was supposed to give Mapes the National Guard documents, Burkett brought "two binders full of depositions and other documents that were apparently from his litigation with the National Guard over health benefits" – apparently he forgot the two shoeboxes full of UFO photos he'd collected over the years.

* He had compared Bush to Hitler – which admittedly could have been just his way of establishing his bona fides to Democrats.

* He had told a number of stories over the years about Bush's National Guard service, all of which had collapsed under conflicting evidence and even his own contradictory accounts – which is to say the stories were both made up and inaccurate.

* In exchange for the National Guard documents, Burkett demanded money, "relocation assistance" if the story put him or his family in danger (perhaps oceanfront property for a quick getaway) and direct contact with the Kerry campaign.

Even before the story aired, Burkett's description of his own source for the documents kept changing. He said he received the documents anonymously in the mail. He said he was given the documents by someone who would "know what to do with [the documents] better than" he would. He said his source was Chief Warrant Officer George Conn – amid copious warnings that CBS "should not call Chief Warrant Officer Conn because he would deny it" and further that "Conn was on active duty and could not be reached at his Dallas home."

Burkett needn't have worried about crack investigator Mary Mapes getting in touch with his alleged source. Even though a three-second search on Google would have revealed that (1) Burkett was crazy, and (2) he had tried to use Conn as a source before and Conn had vehemently denied Burkett's claims, Mapes told the investigating committee "she did not consider Chief Warrant Officer Conn's denial to be reliable."

It seems Burkett had told Mapes that "Conn was still in the military and that his wife threatened to leave him if he spoke out against President Bush." That was good enough for Mapes. She concluded that Conn – the only person who could have corroborated Burkett's story – was not to be trusted. Instead, Mapes placed all her faith in the disgruntled, paranoid nut with a vendetta against Bush, an extensive psychiatric history and an ever-growing enemies list. I'm referring to Bill Burkett here, not Dan Rather.

Finally, Burkett claimed a woman named Lucy Ramirez had passed the documents to him at a livestock show in Houston. It is believed that this account marks the exact day that Burkett's lithium prescription ran out. Despite the fact that no one at CBS was able to locate Ramirez, CBS ran with the story.

This isn't a lack of "rigor" in fact-checking, as the CBS report suggests. It's a total absence of fact-checking. CBS found somebody who told the story they wanted told – and they ran with it, wholly disregarding the facts.

Curiously, though Mapes trusted Burkett implicitly, she was very careful not to reveal his name to anyone at CBS, probably because she would have been laughed out of the room.

Instead, Mapes described Burkett in the abstract as: "solid," "without bias," "credible," "a Texas Republican of a different chromosome," a "John McCain supporter," "reliable" and "a maverick" – leaving out only "Burkett is convinced he can communicate with caterpillars" and "his best friend is a coffee table." His name was not important. It's not as if he was the sole source for a highly damaging story about the president eight weeks before the election or anything. Oh wait ...

At a meeting with CBS lawyers the day the story would air, Mapes "did not reveal the source's name or anything negative about the source," but "expressed 'enormous confidence' in her source's reliability and said that he was solid with no bias or credibility issues." She described Burkett as a "moralistic stickler." The subject of UFOs simply never came up.

Mapes trusted Burkett on the basis of the following:

"Mapes told the panel that she spoke to a mainstream media reporter, who had known Lt. Col. Burkett since 2001, and she stated that he viewed Lt. Col. Burkett as reliable." At least it wasn't one of those unreliable bloggers throwing anything up on the Net and ruining reputations!

"Mapes told the panel that she informed the Burketts that she was worried the documents might be a 'political dirty trick.' Mapes said that the Burketts appeared 'genuinely shocked' at the suggestion and this reaction gave her comfort." (You could tell they were really shocked because they had the same look on their faces that Condi Rice had when Richard Clarke first told her about al-Qaida.)

Mapes really hated George Bush and would do anything to make him lose the election.
Actually, Mapes did not put her last reason in writing, which created a real mystery for the CBS investigating committee. Proving once again how useless "moderate Republicans" are, "The CBS Report" – co-authored by moderate Republican Dick Thornburgh – found no evidence of political bias at CBS.

If Fox News had come out with a defamatory story about Kerry based on forged documents, liberals would be demanding we cut power to the place. (Fortunately, the real documents on Kerry were enough to do the trick.) But the outside investigators hired by CBS could find no political agenda at CBS.

By contrast, the report did not hesitate to accuse the bloggers who exposed the truth about the documents of having "a conservative agenda." As with liberal attacks on Fox's "fair and balanced" motto, it is now simply taken for granted that "conservative bias" means "the truth."

Ann Coulter is a bestselling author and syndicated columnist. Her most recent book is How to Talk to a Liberal (If You Must).

Jere Longman- Pittsburgh: A Big Happy Company Town

January 12, 2005
Pittsburgh: A Big Happy Company Town
The New York Times

PITTSBURGH, Jan. 10 - The playoffs for Pittsburgh begin here Saturday against the Jets, as the red and green of Christmas gives way to the black and gold of the Steelers. Even mannequins at the Satin and Lace lingerie shop are decked out in Terrible Towels.

"A couple of women thought they were aprons and men think they're nighties," Patty Pearce, the shop's owner, said of the towels that fans have long waved at Steelers games. "That shows you where the mind is at. Of course, my business is based on where men's minds are."

Roethlisburgers are going for $7 at Peppi's, a pricey homage to the rookie quarterback Ben Roethlisberger and his jersey number. And there appear to be more songs dedicated to the Steelers than to trains and rivers.

"There must be 20 of them, one worse than the other," said Gene Collier, co-author of a play about Art Rooney, the Steelers' founder. "What is it about the Steelers' success that makes people say, 'Where's my kazoo?' "

A magnificent 15-1 season, latticed with 14 consecutive victories, has tightened the resilient bond between the Steelers and this appealing but frayed city of immigrants. It is an attachment of civic identity, loyalty, perseverance and nostalgia for the glory days of the 1970's, when the Steelers won four Super Bowls as the steel industry crumbled.

"Pittsburgh is a throwback town," said Wallace Miller, a Steelers fan and the coroner of Somerset County, Pa., which is east of Pittsburgh. "You see people walking around in Jack Lambert and Jack Ham jerseys. And that was 30 years ago."

But wistfulness does not fully explain the relationship between Pittsburgh and the Steelers. The team is of the city, not merely in the city. It emerged from the sandlots of the north side and was purchased for $2,500 in 1933 by Rooney. The Rooney family still owns the Steelers and has fashioned them in the family's unpretentious image.

Dan Rooney, the team chairman, walks from home to each game. The Steelerettes were retired in 1970 as the Rooneys wearied of the ostentation of cheerleaders. The team's jut-jawed coach, Bill Cowher, and his reliance on running the ball and punishing defense, evoke qualities the fans see in themselves as hardworking, blunt, durable.

"In Pittsburgh, you're either a tough guy or you're not," Marc Mrvos, a distributor of medical supplies, said. "With the Steelers, things remain the same. I'm 35. In all my life, they've had two coaches."

The Rooneys have provided fidelity, committing to Pittsburgh while Westinghouse, Rockwell International, Gulf Oil, Mesta Machine, J&L Steel and U.S. Steel reduced or ceased operations, said Rob Ruck, a history lecturer at the University of Pittsburgh who is co-writing a biography of Art Rooney.

A city once defined by steel is now defined by sports, he said. Expectations demand victory. From 1960 through 1992, the Steelers, the Pirates and the Penguins won all nine championship games or series in which they participated, while Pitt also won a national collegiate football title.
"It's a divided city, not just by race and class and ethnicity, but by geography and topography, by hilltops and river valleys," Ruck said. "What unifies Pittsburgh more than anything are sports. Of any sport, it is the Steelers."

Even though Pittsburgh has diversified, and the Steelers reflect this resourcefulness, in many ways the city represents America in a rear-view mirror. The region lost 158,000 manufacturing jobs and 289,000 residents between 1970 and 1990, according to Carnegie Mellon University.
Currently, the city faces a deep financial crisis, the N.H.L. players are locked out and the Pirates struggle to maintain relevance against teams in bigger markets, with deeper pockets.

In these impecunious times, the Steelers provide a black-ink balance to a city that has suffered too much red in the ledger, said Andy Kelly, 68, a retired account executive for CSX railroad.
"We were the industrial center of the universe," he said. "Now we're in the dumps. The Steelers show we're alive, a major city, still a force."

He spoke over a beer at Chiodo's Tavern, a local institution once situated near the front gates of the immense Homestead Works of U.S. Steel.

The mills along the Monongahela River are long closed, replaced by university research buildings and the shops, the restaurants and the movie theaters of brand-name commerce. Chiodo's is as much a museum as a bar, with photographs of the Steelers dating to 1933, when they were founded as the Pirates.

"They are the city of Pittsburgh," Bob Clark, 53, a hospital purchasing manager, said of the team.
Tony Novosel, 52, a bartender at Chiodo's and an academic adviser and history teacher at Pitt, said that passion for the Steelers reminded him of passion for European soccer, where the local team is considered "immediate family."

Mrvos, the medical supplies distributor, has the Steelers' logo on his cellular phone and a likeness of goal posts inlaid in the wall of his entertainment room. On game days, he decorates the goal posts with yellow ribbon. He knows of a guy with a black-and-gold car, and of another guy with the names of Steelers greats tattooed on his back.

Dr. Rodney Landreneau, a thoracic surgeon, understands football obsession. He grew up in south Louisiana, and his father showed Louisiana State game films at Cub Scout meetings.
"Here it's crazier," Landreneau said. "At L.S.U., it's still sport. Here, it's live or die."

Several weeks ago, a patient arrived for an appointment wearing a Steelers jacket, a Steelers necklace, a Steelers pinkie ring and a Steelers watch.
"I had to tell him he had lung cancer, but all he worried about was whether the Steelers would win the next week," Landreneau said.

Fondness for the team springs from great affection for Art Rooney, its patriarch, who died in 1988. He stuck by his Steelers although they needed 40 years to win a division title.
A charming rogue, Rooney was a semipro football player, an Olympic-caliber boxer, a horse player who counted among his friends priests and racketeers, and a man who valued honesty, loyalty and patient respect for others, Ruck said.

Rooney also loved to attend wakes, said Collier, a columnist for The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette who co-wrote the one-man play about the Steelers' founder called "The Chief."

Upon the death of his wife, Kathleen, Rooney attended the viewing of another man at the same funeral home. The man had died leaving virtually no family, Collier said, so Rooney took flowers intended for his wife and placed them near the man's coffin.

Rooney also signed the man's guest book, as did some of the Steelers, Collier said. "A night or so later, another relative of the man showed up and said, 'Dad knew Lynn Swann and Franco Harris?' " Collier said.

The play, co-written with Rob Zellers, ended its second run last month and became the most popular production in the 30-year history of Pittsburgh's Public Theater, said Ted Pappas, the theater's executive director.

"The team and play triggered what's best in this city - a sense of community, pulling through when the going gets tough, the old values of family, friendship, loyalty," Pappas said.
Not everyone has warm and fuzzy feelings. Some Steelers fans complain about vulgar behavior by ticket holders. Others grew upset about seating when the team moved from Three Rivers Stadium to Heinz Field in 2001.

"I feel betrayed," said Joe Chiodo, 86, owner of Chiodo's Tavern and a longtime season-ticket holder who said he stopped attending games because his seats were moved from the 38-yard line to "peanut heaven" in the end zone.

"I hope they lose every game," Chiodo said.

In November, nine season-ticket holders sued the Steelers over expected discounts in their upper-deck seats. A similar suit, filed in 2001 by fans who felt misled by a season-ticket brochure, was dismissed by the Pennsylvania State Supreme Court last July.

William Helzlsouer, a lawyer who filed both ticket lawsuits, and an antitrust lawsuit regarding public financing of stadiums, said some ticket holders were paying $1,000 a season more than expected, an amount that could be worth $20 million to $30 million to the Rooneys over the life of Heinz Field.

"It's a bait and switch," Helzlsouer said.

The team has said it treats fans equitably and that it believes the lawsuits have no merit.
Legal issues aside, the Steelers have no trouble drawing fans at home or on the road. An estimated 20,000 Steelers supporters attended a game this season in Jacksonville, Fla., which will play host to next month's Super Bowl.

For displaced Pittsburghers, who left in pursuit of work no longer available here, the Steelers hold a particular resonance, Vic Ketchman, 53, said. He left at 44 and is senior editor of the Jacksonville Jaguars' team Web site.

"Iron City beer had a slogan, 'It tastes like coming home,' " Ketchman said. "That's what the Steelers are, like coming home."

This helps explain the popularity of running back Jerome Bettis, who accepted a pay cut to remain in Pittsburgh this season and rejuvenated his career.

"He did what most Pittsburghers wish they could do - stay here," said Novosel, the former mill worker who tends bar at Chiodo's and teaches at Pitt.

The Steelers also represent another sentimental longing, Ketchman said, apologizing if he sounded like a "hopeless romantic."

"They are the team for all the ones who like the old things," he said. "For all of us who don't want fast food, who don't want to live in a new bedroom community and pay association fees, who don't want progress forced upon us. Pittsburgh is an old place. It feels just right."

Wednesday, January 12, 2005

Dawn Eden: Everybody's Doing It

[Planned Parenthood is a most ridiculous name for an organization that feels its sole purpose is to promote the most apostate activities dreamt up by man or beast. This view of children and sexuality springs directly from the diseased mind of Alfred Kinsey and his "work". Far from being a dispassionate collector of data, Mr. Kinsey was a sexually obsessed pervert who spent most of his waking hours searching for ways to conform society to his personal "norm". His reports on male and female sexuality are the worst sort of junk peudo-science...their methods are laughable and their findings are wholly without basis in fact. However, those looking for a way to suggest that mankind will find perfect peace and happiness by frollicking about and engaging in all sorts of sexual variations will find a hero and mentor in the likes of Kinsey. Mr. Kinsey and his co-workers should have been thrown in prison after the authorities found out what was going on...instead he is hailed as a pioneer and the University of Indiana established the Kinsey Sex Institute. God help us. - jtf]

Planned Parenthood's Teenwire and its encouragement of adolescent sexual behavior
by Dawn Eden

Of all the contradictions of this age of moral relativism, surely one of the strangest is that those who don't believe in objective truth hold that it is impossible for good people to disagree.

The Planned Parenthood philosophy, as expressed on both its own website and its sex-ed website Teenwire, is that one's personal morality as expressed in sexual behavior is neither good nor bad—so long as no one gets physically hurt (save for the occasional unborn child). So one person's abstinence is as good as another person's promiscuity—so long as the promiscuous party uses a condom. The only wrong way to think about sex, in Planned Parenthood's view, is to believe that sexual behavior is not just the result of a decision one makes based on individual morality, but that it contains within itself an intrinsic and inseparable moral dimension.

Teenwire does observe one single and incontrovertible moral rule: "Thou shalt use a latex barrier." Every sexual act is seen through this prism. Not, "Is this behavior appropriate for 13-year-old girls and boys?"—that being the lower end of Teenwire's target age range (13-19). Not, "Will this behavior put children at risk of physical and emotional harm?" Only, "Are the children 'protecting' themselves?" So long as the kids are using a latex condom or dental dam, then, in Teenwire's view, to bar them from having their fun would be, well, a sin.

This is why Teenwire instructs children who are "queer or questioning" to find "lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender" (LGBT) sex partners online.

Police departments have been well aware for years that children seeking friends on the internet are easy prey for sexual predators. But in Teenwire's "The ABCDs of LGBT Dating," writer Ray Dudley gushes, "Some LGBT teens find each other online, which can be the fastest way to connect with others in your area."

"'In my school, in Illinois, there aren't many gay teens,' says Jeff, 16. 'I went online last year and met a guy who lived two hours away. We mostly chatted online or over the phone, but we ended up dating like that for three months and it was really great.'"

But Teenwire doesn't leave heterosexual kids out of the fun. They, too, can enjoy the benefits of male homosexual sex—even if they're 13-year-old girls. In "All About the Anus," Christy Brownlee writes, "Anal sex play is often associated with gay men. However, many men and women, regardless of whether they're gay, lesbian, straight, or bisexual, enjoy anal stimulation. And many, including gay men, don't. Some straight couples use anal sex as a way to preserve the woman's virginity."

In one fell swoop, thousands of years of moral teachings about the beauty and sanctity of virginity are reduced to this: little girl, if you can take your eyes off that Olsen Twins DVD long enough to let a man penetrate you anally, not only will you feel good, but you'll "preserve" your "virginity."

At this point, one could be forgiven for thinking that Planned Parenthood's goal is not to prevent teen pregnancy, but rather to sexualize children. The organization's online brochure "Human Sexuality: What Children Need to Know and When They Need to Know It" reinforces that assumption with instructions on how to teach children about touching their genitalia. The masturbation-ed should start before age 5, Planned Parenthood states, when children should learn that "touching their sex organs for pleasure is normal."

Note the deliberate choice of language. Planned Parenthood is not merely interested in making sure that children are not ashamed of their bodies. Rather, they are to be instructed, again and again, that it is normal to touch themselves "for pleasure."

That pleasure, for teenagers, can come in the form of pornography, Teenwire states, so long as the teens realize that they don't have to measure up to the porn actors' bodies.

But there is indeed something wrong with pornography, and a kid has to only click on Teenwire's "In Focus" section to learn what it is. The article "Porn Vs. Reality," also by Christy Brownlee, assures teens that "most people who have real sex don't look anything like people who have sex in porn, especially the women."

To back up her point, Brownlee quotes the owner of a sex-toy store chain, Toys in Babeland, and provides a link to another site, Scarleteen: Sex Education for the Real World, for more information. Scarleteen turns out to include a shopping portal where children may purchase sadomasochistic sex toys and pornography without being asked their age. Retailers in the shopping portal include none other than Toys in Babeland. Chalk one up to Teenwire for cross-promotion.

Last July, when South Dakota Governor Mike Rounds, at the urging of Sioux Falls Bishop Robert Carlson, took the bold and principled stance of removing a Teenwire link from the state library's website, Planned Parenthood attacked him as a censor. Yet the organization seems to have no concept of self-censorship when offering advice to children at a most vulnerable age, on issues that affect their physical and emotional health on the deepest level.

Clearly, it's impossible to disagree with Teenwire's "just do it" philosophy and remain a moral person in Planned Parenthood's eyes. Thankfully, parents can take the site's advice and use strong prophylactics—in the form of the best Teenwire-blocking web filters money can buy.

For more, visit Dawn Eden's blog.

Richard John Neuhaus: The Public Square

[This blurb originally appeared in Neuhaus' column 'The Public Square' in the November 2004 issue of First Things magazine..."More than one authentically Catholic position on abortion"?!?...ridiculous. Such silliness should not be tolerated...unfortunately, such silliness manifests itself everywhere I turn. - jtf]

When the Catholic Church says something is a “scandal,” the reference is not to bad publicity but to endangering the souls of others. Here’s the official definition: “Scandal is an attitude or behavior which leads another to do evil. The person who gives scandal becomes his neighbor’s tempter. He damages virtue and integrity; he may even draw his brother into spiritual death. Scandal is a grave offense if by deed or omission another is deliberately led into a grave offense” (Catechism A4 2284). Hence the concern about politicians who publicly and persistently support the abortion license.

But what about nuns? Twenty years ago, on Respect Life Sunday, twenty-six nuns signed a full-page ad in the New York Times declaring that there is more than one authentically Catholic position on abortion. The Vatican got on the case and notified their superiors that the nuns must retract or face expulsion from their orders. Dominican Sister Donna Quinn was one of the signers. Twenty years later she says, “We held firm. The Vatican backed off actually, but they’ll never admit it.” Quinn, along with four other nuns, marched in last April’s raucous “March for Women’s Lives” in Washington. Ann Carey of Our Sunday Visitor notes also that the National Coalition of American Nuns gave its “national medal of honor” to Francis Kissling, founder of Catholics for Free Choice. Ms. Carey is puzzled that these nuns seem to have an untroubled relationship with their orders and with the Church at a time when bishops are trying to clarify the meaning of communio and Communion. Ms. Carey is not alone.

USA Today: Rookie Roethlisberger Wins Over Everybody

By Tom Spousta, USA TODAY
12 January 2005

PITTSBURGH — Most nights Ben Roethlisberger can be found at home cooking pasta or ordering takeout. Tuesdays, the Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback heads to Best Buy and stocks up on DVDs, adding to a collection numbering in the hundreds. He'd rather be a homebody than hit the clubs.

Dinner, SportsCenter and a movie.

It can be lonely at the top.

(Related item: Few rookie QBs start in playoffs)

Last week he decided to mark time in a typical bachelor way. He got a 3-month-old Rottweiler bred in Germany. He's determined to train Zeus with the same focus that helped him become the first quarterback to be named AP offensive rookie of the year since the award's inception in 1957.

"I wanted to get a dog my rookie year so he's as old as I am in the league," Roethlisberger says with a grin. "Hopefully we'll be ending our careers about the same time. Fifteen years would be pretty good. That would be a nice life for me and the dog."

Not bad for a cameo he figured would last two snaps when he trotted onto the field and replaced injured Tommy Maddox on Sept. 19.

A cameo that has turned into a starring role in which Roethlisberger seems comfortable. Roethlisberger, who lost his mother in a car wreck at 8, is donating his $18,000 game check from the AFC semifinal to a tsunami relief fund. And he recently thanked his linemen for their efforts by buying them tailored suits. His storybook career also includes being romantically linked with a top LPGA golfer.

With an NFL rookie record 13 consecutive wins behind him, Roethlisberger, 22, enters another zone Saturday. He'll be the eighth rookie quarterback to start a playoff game since the merger with the AFL in 1970.

No rookie quarterback has started a Super Bowl, but first the 15-1 Steelers must get past the New York Jets (11-6), who Roethlisberger struggled against in his worst performance of the season.

"To me there are no rookies anymore. My gosh, we have played almost two college seasons already," Steelers coach Bill Cowher says. "This is our football team, and this is how we got here. We have an identity right now. We have players who have roles on this team, and we need everybody to play up to the level that they have been to put us in this position. No one excluded."

If Cowher has any qualms about how Roethlisberger will perform under playoff pressure and intensity, he's not showing it.

The coach has kept his rookie sensation on a leash of sorts, making sure Roethlisberger is put in positions to succeed rather than fail.

"The regular season felt like a rookie season, but yet the farther we got going, the less I felt like a rookie," he says. "People kept saying, 'Oh, he's just a rookie, he's going to screw up.' "
Roethlisberger pauses to add emphasis to his next thought. "That was good for me. I love it when people put such high expectations on you.

"Now we're in the playoffs. No matter what, whether I'm a rookie or not, I can't afford to feel like a rookie because this team can't afford to have me feel like that or play like that."


Saturday's game will be a rematch of Dec. 12 when the Steelers won 17-6 at Heinz Field, but the Jets rendered Roethlisberger ineffective in the categories he deems most significant: turnovers and completion percentage.

Roethlisberger was 9-for-19 and was intercepted twice en route to a 33.6 quarterback rating, his lowest. His 47.4 completion percentage was his second worst.


Four Lombardi trophies are encased in glass on one side of a hallway.
Five portraits of the Steelers' Super Bowl teams hang on the opposite wall.
Bradshaw.Harris.Stallworth. Swann.The Steel Curtain.

Ben Roethlisberger still feels a sense of awe every time he walks into the team offices. He believes the new Steelers should embrace the past.

"That's a prize to shoot for," Roethlisberger says. "I see those trophies, and I think, 'I want one of those.' It's more motivation, fuel for the fire to see that, rather than a pressure thing."
Roethlisberger grew up in Findlay, Ohio, as a San Francisco 49ers fan.

"Whenever you think of Joe Montana and Jerry Rice, you think of peanut butter and jelly," he says. "They just always go together. I would love for it to be like that with me and Hines (Ward), or me and Plax (Plaxico Burress), or maybe all three of us and Antwaan (Randle El). I would love to have a legacy put in place with a receiver for my whole career."

He has thrown two interceptions on two other occasions, against the New York Giants and Baltimore Ravens.

Running back Jerome Bettis threw a touchdown pass early in the fourth quarter to break a 3-3 tie and scored on a 12-yard run to rescue the Steelers. The Jets are a reminder to Roethlisberger not to get too far ahead of himself.

"They kind of got us out of our game plan a little bit," Roethlisberger says. "They had us doing some things we weren't thinking about doing. That's a credit to them. But like we've done all year, we'll make adjustments. We'll probably have to do that again during the game."

After the Dec. 12 game, Jets defensive end Shaun Ellis told reporters he wanted a second chance at the Steelers: "If we come back here, we'll beat them. I honestly believe that with my heart."

He told the Associated Press on Tuesday he stands by his statement. However, he doesn't believe it's because of Roethlisberger's inexperience.

"He's won what (13) straight? He's no rookie anymore," Ellis says.

Roethlisberger's knack for clutch plays quickly won over his teammates. He appears best while playing against the odds on third down (quarterback rating: 101) and fourth down (107).

"It's been great to watch him grow from a rookie into ... well, he's still a rookie," wide receiver Hines Ward says with a laugh. "He's really helped us get to 15-1. It's been a pleasure to watch how he's handled everything."

Roethlisberger recalls the moment when Maddox suffered a torn tendon in his right elbow against the Ravens in the Steelers' second game. Two plays, Roethlisberger thought, and he'd be back carrying a clipboard. "When they told me he was going for X-rays, he's done, it was like, 'Wow, guess I'm out here for the rest of the game.' "


Now Maddox is the person Roethlisberger wants to talk to after an offensive series. "He'll meet me halfway out on the field to answer a question for me," he says. "I owe so much of my success to his help."

Trust evolved more slowly with receivers Ward, Plaxico Burress and Antwaan Randle El.
Roethlisberger quickly was intercepted after replacing Maddox against the Ravens and tossed another one in his first start against the Miami Dolphins.

"I really didn't know what was going to happen," Burress says. "We didn't know if we were headed downhill or what, but then he just took off from that point and we haven't been the same football team since."

Says Ward: "Coming in and having three established wide receivers, he was trying to put the perfect ball on us every time. So we tried to show him he didn't need to always do that, that we could go out there and make plays and take the pressure off of him."


Off the field, Roethlisberger's popularity has reached folk hero status.

• In November, he appeared on Late Show with David Letterman.
• Last week, Big Ben's Beef Jerky — original and teriyaki flavors — hit grocery store shelves with Roethlisberger on the front of the package. Early this season, "The Roethlisburger," a sub sandwich with sausage, chopped meat, eggs, cheese and fried onions, was introduced to the Steel City's cuisine (the $7 cost matched his jersey number).
• Last month, an appearance at a suburban Monroeville car dealership turned into a traffic jam as Roethlisberger signed more than 800 autographs while police turned away about 500 vehicles.
• "Ben at Work" bumper stickers, a knockoff of a construction road sign, are hot items.
• If kids didn't receive a No. 7 Steelers jersey for Christmas, their parents might be die-hard Philadelphia Eagles fans.

A sign of true celebrity: His rumored romance with LPGA player and calendar girl Natalie Gulbis has hit the gossip mill. Roethlisberger simply smiles and says he and Gulbis, 22, are friends. "I don't discuss my personal life," he politely adds.

But Roethlisberger speaks glowingly of his relationship with his father, Ken, and stepmother, Brenda. Ben was 8 when his mother, Ida Roethlisberger, died in an automobile accident.
"There's a lot of memories. All kinds of things help me. My mom being with my dad. ... You keep a lot of things in the mind that really help fuel the fire," he says.

"You go through a lot of things, especially at that young of age. That's why I think my dad and I are so close. It was always him and I. That's the thing I was truly blessed with, to have someone like my dad there for me and with me through it all. The support that he's given me in sports, in school, in life in general, I can't say enough about what it means to me."

Ken and Brenda attend all Steelers games and help their son keep his fame in perspective.
"A lot of people look up to us (NFL players) on Sundays, and that's great," Roethlisberger says.
"We have no problem with that because that's part of our job. Outside of football, we're pretty human people, pretty normal guys. You have to have that alone time to keep your sanity. It never stops. I don't know how you can survive or live."

Or raise a puppy.

Tuesday, January 11, 2005

Mike S. Adams: PETA-files

January 11, 2005

Hi Robert! Someone forwarded me a copy of the email you recently sent to a number of animal rights nuts, I mean, activists. In your letter, you called for my investigation by the ATF for “stockpiling weapons.” You really should watch what you say on these liberal mailing lists. Just for fun, conservatives sometimes join the lists using pseudonyms. And, sometimes, they even forward the emails to me.

But, Robert, I have no intention of berating you for what you said. In fact, I have more concern for your feelings than for those of a whitetail deer or a wild boar. I value human life more than animal life, even if the human is a liberal who wants to take my guns.

I also want to thank you for reminding me why I am a gun owner. It doesn’t bother me that liberal animal rights activists like yourself prefer not to own guns. But it does bother me that you want to have my guns taken away by government agents wielding guns. When the assumption that rights apply exclusively to governments and not to citizens goes unchallenged, tyranny is the inevitable consequence.

So, today, I plan to fight your strategy to disarm me by making a few additional gun purchases. The guns I plan to purchase have been selected for two reasons. First, I do not actually need any of them. Second, the guns are all pretty. Here are my top selections:

The Remington 597 chambered in .17 HRM. Last summer on the way back from a speaking engagement in Washington, DC, I found a gun store called Gander Mountain in Fredericksburg, Virginia. While there, I picked up a Remington 597 stainless .22, with a brown laminated stock. Nice gun. The .17 version with a blue barrel and a gray laminated stock is even nicer. It is a great gun for small varmints. It is deadly accurate beyond 100 yards, even with a low-powered scope.

The 9mm Browning. This gun fits me like a glove. With a 4 ¾” barrel it is a very accurate sidearm. It is good for the woods or for personal protection. The stainless tactical version of this gun is both good-looking and weather resistant.

The Kimber .45 ACP. My last article offering gun recommendations lacked any mention of the 45 ACP. Many owners of 1911-style 45s were upset with the omission. I have decided to remedy the problem with a custom Kimber. This gun is so nice I will be tempted to keep it in my gun safe without ever firing a shot. On second thought, I don’t see that happening.

The Colt Python .357 Magnum. Dirty Harry first gave me the inspiration to own one of these beauties. After seeing one up close at Gander Mountain, complete with stainless frame and walnut grips, I was immediately sold.

The .44 Magnum Smith and Wesson. I am told that deer hunting with a .44 magnum revolver can be quite a challenge. I intend to find out with this new Smith and Wesson revolver. Years ago, I boycotted Smith and Wesson for its capitulation to the gun control lobby. I am told that the appropriate changes have been made in the company’s leadership.

The Marlin 45-70 “Guide Gun.” My recent decision to start boar hunting in the brush necessitates another lever action rifle by Marlin. I actually decided to get this after they removed the porting from the 18.5” barrel. It was an unnecessary feature creating a lot of extra noise. This gun will be good for elk in the brush, too.

The Browning White Medallion .300 Winchester Magnum. I was very pleased with my 30.06 Medallion, so I decided to buy the stainless version. My big-game hunting readers have been screaming for me to move up to a .300 Win Mag. This gem is the obvious choice.

Well, Robert, seven new additions to the gun safe should be enough for now. I have also decided to mount the head of my latest kill in my office at the university. Below the deer, which sports 29-inch main beams, I intend to put a plaque thanking “my deer friends at PETA.”

I hope the psychologists in my building will not object to the dead deer in my office. After all, they have live rats in their offices. In fact, some of those rats have taught the psychologists to give them pellets whenever they press a lever. Since the rats are smarter than the professors, I promise not to hunt them. Finally, it appears we agree on something, Robert.

Mike S. Adams will speak at Wabash College on January 27th. He will buy a new gun on January 28th.

©2005 Mike S. Adams

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Dick Morris: Another Hillary Scandal


January 11, 2005 -- The indictment of Hillary Clinton's 2000 campaign-finance director, David Rosen, may pose a threat to the senator's presidential bid. For now, the federal indictment is focused only on Rosen, but it is not hard to see the process creeping up the campaign food chain to the senator herself.

At issue are the expenses the campaign incurred in an August 2000 fund-raiser for Hollywood glitterati. Rosen was indicted for claiming that the event cost $400,000 when, federal prosecutors allege, he knew the actual cost to be $1.1 million. Under federal campaign-finance rules, the Clinton campaign was obliged to pay for 40 percent of the cost of the fund-raiser. So, if the gala cost $400,000, the campaign had to pay only $160,000, but if the price tag was actually $1.1 million, the campaign would have been on the hook for $440,000.

By understating the cost of the party, Rosen was, in effect, giving Hillary's campaign an extra $280,000.

While there is no indication that the Senate candidate knew of the understating of the cost of the event, is it credible that she would not be aware of a decision that gave her campaign more than a quarter of a million dollars as it entered the final three months before the election?

Remember what was happening in August and September of 2000 in the New York Senate race. Republican Rick Lazio was gaining traction despite his late start (after Rudy withdrew) and had raised massive amounts of hard money through direct mail. Most of Hillary's money was in soft-money contributions.

Exploiting Hillary's long-time stand against soft money, Lazio challenged the first lady to eschew soft money and restrict her campaign to hard-money donations, raised under a limit of $1,000 per contributor.

This challenge threw Hillary's campaign into a panic. It could not hope to compete in hard money. It was at this time that Rosen chose to underestimate the cost of the Hollywood fund-raiser.

The sum involved was enough to pay for almost an entire week of television advertising in New York City and exceeds the total media budget of many smaller campaigns.

To raise this sum, Hillary would have had to get 280 donors to give the maximum $1,000 individual donation permitted under federal law at the time. A decision of this magnitude — how much to say the event cost — would have been a huge issue within the campaign.

This is no clerical error, nor is it likely to be one young man's decision to commit fraud to help the campaign. It is just not credible to believe that Hillary didn't know about and approve of the understatement of the event's cost.

Hillary has always been a detail person who kept a hawk-like focus on the cost of even her husband's campaigns. How much more involved and fixated she must have been on a major financial decision that affected her own election effort.

The federal indictment of the key financial officer in Hillary's campaign — an event The New York Times did not see fit to put on the front page — shows that Sen. Clinton has not escaped from the culture of scandal that dogged her husband's presidency.

The question of who understated the cost of the Hollywood event now joins the pantheon of questions that have haunted the senator's past — Who hid the billing records? Who ordered the travel office firings? Who helped Hillary to make a killing in the commodities market? Did the first lady know her brother was paid to secure a pardon for a major drug trafficker? Did Hillary represent the Madison Bank in a fraudulent real-estate deal? Who ordered the removal of the FBI files?

Hillary's ethical obtuseness is truly Nixonian. Usually campaign-finance filing errors are so mundane that they draw light fines from the Federal Elections Commission. That her campaign committed so important a breach of the finance laws that govern elections that her finance chairman is under a federal indictment is truly extraordinary.

If young David Rosen wants to take the fall for Hillary and join the likes of Web Hubbell and Susan McDougal, who chose to languish in prison rather than tell the truth, that is his decision. But don't ask us to believe something the average 8-year-old knows can't be true — that a gain to the campaign of $280,000 was beneath Hillary's notice.

Christopher Hitchens: Two Elections

Fighting Words
A wartime lexicon.

Why Iraq's vote is not like Palestine's.

By Christopher Hitchens
Posted Monday, Jan. 10, 2005, at 9:09 AM PT

Might there be any point in comparing and contrasting yesterday's Palestinian election with the upcoming Iraqi one? Yes, indeed there might.

The first thing I would want to notice is this. The Palestinian people have a much more justifiable grievance against Israel than even the most alienated Sunni slum-dweller has against the Coalition in Iraq. The Arab citizens of former mandate Palestine live, at best, as second-class citizens in Israel. At worst, they live in vile refugee camps in other states. In the middle, in Jerusalem and Gaza and the West Bank, they experience occupation and colonization and annexation. More than that, they have been told that their very presence is an inconvenience, since the land was awarded by God to the Jews. President Bush in his most devout moments has not claimed Mesopotamia as holy to Americans. It's often said rather glibly that the Palestinians have missed numerous chances for peace (and I couldn't agree more—see my obituary for Arafat), but it should not be forgotten that for years the leading politicians of Israel refused to deal at all with the PLO, and that some of them refused even to recognize the existence of a Palestinian people in the first place.

Faced with different forms of occupation and dispossession, Palestinians opted for different tactics. Some of them, in Israel "proper," elected serious MPs to the Knesset, usually men of leftist and secular backgrounds. Others, in the territories, pursued various strategies of civil resistance, very often non-violent as in the case of the highly mobilized first intifadah of the early and mid-1980s. Still others, exiled permanently, resorted to kamikaze-type attacks on Israel but also to attacks on civilians and, most opprobriously of all, to indiscriminate attacks on the citizens of other nations. Many of the criminals in the latter category were paid agents or clients of Arab dictatorships, as was Arafat himself. Sheer disaster began to loom when, under the influence of militant Islam, the kamikaze style was imported especially to Gaza and took the form of suicide-murder, often in Israel itself as well as the occupied areas. But that did not begin to happen until the occupation had persisted for more than a quarter of a century.

Contrast this with Iraq, where the contras of the old regime, and their imported jihadist allies, went straight for violence as a first resort and behaved as cruelly and indiscriminately as they knew how. The offices of the United Nations, of the Red Cross, of senior clergymen, of civilian dissidents and educators, and of newspapers were blown up using city diagrams and secret police information as well as the arsenal of a collapsed regime that had been found guilty under every version of international law. No attempt was made to claim that violence was an inescapable option after a long denial of legitimate protest: The killing had been planned before the first interim government had even found a voice, and it targeted Iraqi and Kurdish democrats from the very beginning. The tactics, and the personnel, were and are taken directly from the program and the cadres of a former despotism and from the enthusiasts for the Taliban and al-Qaida.

Reports seem to suggest that almost 70 percent of the Palestinians turned out to vote. Given the gruesome local exigencies, and the grudging way in which the Israelis allowed freedom of movement, this cannot possibly translate into a 30 percent endorsement of the call for a boycott by Hamas and by Islamic Jihad. One might award them 20 percent at best: roughly the proportion of Sunni Muslims in Iraq who don't want to have their future (or anyone else's) determined by ballot. Should one have postponed a Palestinian vote until these violent rejectionist forces were all "on board"?

What about the Palestinians in diaspora who don't have a say? Good question. But then, what about the 4 million Iraqis and Kurds who have been forced to live outside their country? The current election process allows them to register and to vote overseas: I haven't heard any of them saying that their first-ever chance to vote should be postponed in order to please the bombers and beheaders, who don't seem that easy to gratify, anyway.

Then you might notice another thing. Dr. Mustapha Barghouti, whose candidacy has barely been mentioned in our press, seems to have achieved a rather creditable 20 per cent of the Palestinian vote. In spite of the grim pressure for "unity" behind Fatah, and in spite of numerous Israeli restrictions on his campaign, Barghouti carried the flag for a secular civil society. His family (of which the better-reported Marwan Barghouti is a distant member) has long been associated with the Palestinian Left. Who would have guessed, given the routine and cliched culture of our media, that there was even such a force still present under the rubble? (See my obit for Edward Said.)

Two years ago, there was about one suicide-murder every week either in Israel or the territories. So great was the emotional impact of this that some people entirely gave up their reason. You could hear it said on all sides, by various well-meaning know-nothings and celebrities, that the phenomenon was a product of "despair." What rubbish this was: Anyone who troubled to read the propaganda or view the videos could see that it was the consequence of a sinister religious exaltation, consecrated to "martyrdom" and to an ultimate, fanatical concept of "victory." Now these bombings have diminished, even dwindled. Why is that? No more despair?

Some Israeli hawks would say that "The Wall," and some ruthless assassinations, and some better intelligence, have done the job. But few are willing to claim all the credit for these tactics. It is obvious that a strategic number of Palestinians have made the decision to "turn off" the supply of young immolators, at the very least for now. In some sense, evidently, it just wasn't worth it. Many Palestinians, also, made eloquent statements against the sheer horror of the campaign. It turns out that numerous people do not really mean it when they say they prefer death to life. (We no longer know the name of the senior Hamas leader in Gaza, who these days seems to prefer a reticent anonymity.)

Now apply this to Iraq. I turn on my laptop in the morning and briefly clench my eyes shut because I am afraid of reading about the slaughter of a friend. Not just of an American or British serviceman friend, but of an Iraqi or Kurdish friend. Some mornings, the news has been awful. Last Tuesday it brought the tidings of the murder of Hadi Salih, the international officer of the Iraqi Federation of Trade Unions, who was bound and gagged, tortured, and strangled with an electric cord. His politics were, I would guess from mutual friends, about the same as those of Mustapha Barghouti. In an election, he might well have cast his vote for a party that was against the Coalition. A somewhat "old-fashioned" kind of leftist comrade, in other words, but a huge moral and political superior of the fascists and theocrats who did him in. Now he will never vote. What will it take the affectless "anti-war," soft-on-"insurgency" Left to see that this is all the difference in the world?

The so-called "insurgency" in Iraq does not have a tithe of the historic justification for the resistance in Palestine. Nor can it ever hope to speak, even by proxy, for an Iraqi majority. (To take just one overlooked example, the majority of Kurds are formally Sunni.) Its conduct is a continuation of a reign of terror that lasted three decades. Its victory would mean misery and death on a colossal scale. It and its murderers must and will be worn down, by sheer, adamant intransigence. The newly elected leader of the Palestinians has said to the suicide-mongers, in effect, Do not be the last ones to die for a mistake. This message will be driven home in Iraq, as well.

An assortment of gay spokesmen have taken exception to those of us who wrote about the late Susan Sontag and who laid insufficient stress upon her sex life. I affirm my own guilt, here, and for the following reasons. I saw her in all kinds of mixed company but was never admitted into any confidence. Nor was I ever able to make, even had I wanted to do so, an informed speculation. Susan's attitude, expressed with great dignity and bearing, was that she did not mind what conclusion was drawn, but she did not feel that it was anybody's business but her own. Her selection of friends was highly various and eclectic, and she was early and brave in helping those who suffered from AIDS, but this was also a logical and moral extension of her earlier commitment to cancer victims. If it's of any interest, my most vivid memory of her discoursing on physical beauty and sexual charisma was in respect of a man. There might be a case for some kind of "disclosure" in the instance of a public figure who was "in denial," but it would be absurd and contemptible to place Susan Sontag in that category. She didn't ask. She didn't tell, and some of those who wanted to make a noise when she had only just died might profit from studying her good taste and reserve.

Christopher Hitchens is a columnist for Vanity Fair and a regular contributor to Slate. His most recent book is Love, Poverty and War. He is also the author of A Long Short War: The Postponed Liberation of Iraq and of Blood, Class and Empire.

More Fighting Words:

Two Elections - Why Iraq's vote is not like Palestine's.
posted Jan. 10, 2005
Christopher Hitchens
Let the Afghan Poppies Bloom - How the drug war is undermining the war on terrorism.
posted Dec. 13, 2004
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What Made Alexander So Great? - The real mystery of his life isn't his bisexuality.
posted Nov. 29, 2004
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Arafat's Squalid End - How he wasted his last 30 years.
posted Nov. 17, 2004
Christopher Hitchens
Bush's Secularist Triumph - The left apologizes for religious fanatics. The president fights them.
posted Nov. 9, 2004
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