Friday, October 14, 2005

Che Guevara: "Fidel's Executioner"

An excellent but lengthy (admittedly, there is plenty of material to allow for such length) piece from our Neocon friends at Front Page Magazine.

Ann Coulter: Does This Law Degree Make My Resume Look Fat?

October 13, 2005

A Supreme Court nomination may not have been the ideal time for Laura Bush to start acting like "Buy One, Get One Free" Hillary Clinton. At least President Clinton only allowed his wife to choose the attorney general. (Remember the good old days when first ladies only got to pick the poet laureate and the White House china pattern?)

Between cooking segments on the "Today" show this week, Laura rolled out the straw man – sorry, "straw person" – argument that the criticism of Miers was rooted in "sexism" (which is such a chick thing to say).

I'm a gyno-American, and I strenuously object.

The only sexism involved in the Miers nomination is the administration's claim that once they decided they wanted a woman, Miers was the best they could do. Let me just say, if the top male lawyer in the country is John Roberts and the top female lawyer is Harriet Miers, we may as well stop allowing girls to go to law school.

Ah, but perhaps you were unaware of Miers' many other accomplishments. Apparently she was THE FIRST WOMAN in Dallas to have a swimming pool in her back yard! And she was THE FIRST WOMAN with a safety deposit box at the Dallas National Bank! And she was THE FIRST WOMAN to wear pants at her law firm! It's simply amazing! And did you know she did all this while being a woman?

I don't know when Republicans became the party that condescends to women, but I am not at all happy about this development. This isn't the year 1880. And by the way, even in 1880, Miers would not have been the "most qualified" of all women lawyers in the U.S., of which there were 75.

By 1950, there were more than 6,000 women lawyers, three female partners at major law firms and three female federal judges. She may be a nut who belonged to a subversive organization, but Ruth Bader Ginsburg graduated first in her class from Columbia Law School – and that was before Harriet Miers was applying to law school.

Women have been graduating at the top of their classes at the best law schools for 50 years. Today, women make up about 45 percent of the students at the nation's top law schools (and more than 50 percent at all law schools).

Which brings us to the other enraging argument being made by the Bush administration and its few remaining defenders – the claim of "elitism." I also don't know when the Republican Party stopped being the party of merit and excellence and became the party of quotas and lying about test scores, but I don't like that development, either.

The average LSAT score at SMU Law School is 155. The average LSAT at Harvard is 170. That's a difference of approximately 1 1/2 standard deviations, a differential IQ experts routinely refer to as "big-ass" or "humongous." Whatever else you think of them, the average Harvard Law School student is very smart. I gather I have just committed a hate crime by saying so.

Contrary to the Bush administration's disingenuous arguments, it's not simply that Miers did not attend a top law school that makes her unqualified for the Supreme Court. (But that's a good start!) It's that she did not go on to rack up any major accomplishments since then, either.

Despite the astonishing fact that Miers was THE FIRST WOMAN to head the Texas Bar Association – a dumping ground for losers, by the way – Miers has not had the sort of legal career that shouts out "Supreme Court material"! That is, unless you think any female who manages to pass the bar exam has achieved a feat of unparalleled brilliance for her gender.

There are more important things in life than being Supreme Court material, but – oddly enough – not when we're talking about an appointment to the Supreme Court. According to the Associated Press, Sen. Arlen Specter defended Miers on the grounds that "Miers' professional qualifications are excellent, but she lacks experience in constitutional law" – and Specter ought to know. This is like recommending a plumber by saying, "He's a very professional guy, but he lacks experience in plumbing."

The other straw-man argument constantly being hawked by the Bush administration is that Miers' critics object that she's never been a judge. To quote another Bush – Read my lips: No one has said that. So please stop comparing Miers to Justice Byron White (first in his class at Yale Law School) or Justice William Rehnquist (first in his class at Stanford Law School).

It's also not what the New York Times claims, which is that conservatives oppose Miers because they don't know how she will vote. We didn't know how Roberts would vote! As I recall, I was the only conservative complaining about that.

The problem with Miers is something entirely different – and entirely within the meaning of "advice and consent": Miers is no more qualified to sit on the Supreme Court than I am to be a sumo wrestler. The hearings aren't going to change that; they will just make it more obvious.

I genuinely feel sorry for Miers. I'm sure she's a lovely woman, brighter than average, and well-qualified for many important jobs. Just not the job Bush has nominated her for. The terrible thing Bush has done to Miers is to force people who care about the court to say that.

Copyright 2005 Ann Coulter

Thursday, October 13, 2005

Touchstone Magazine: "Vanishing Sea of Faith"

Link to an excellent article on the impact of European Islam on what is less and less a Christian Europe.

Zawahiri: Iraq is the Center of the War on Terror

By Dr. Walid Phares
October 13, 2005

The letter between al-Qaeda's second leader, Zawahiri, and its leader in Iraq, al-Zarqawi, has forced the media to come to a conclusion it should have reached long ago: jihadists really do want to make a stand in Iraq. Moreover, those of us who have followed them know, despite the media's breathless coverage that these are new disclosures, this is not a new strategy.

In fact, the letter appears to be more than a person-to-person letter, but a communication from the commander to the whole of al-Qaeda. I base this assumption on my personal experience.
When U.S. media showed significant interest in the Zawahiri letter addressed to Abu Mus’aab al-Zarqawi, I attempted to monitor the jihadist chat rooms regarding the so-called letter. To my surprise, the next day a letter was being read in a couple chat rooms. It was a lengthy text of about 30 minutes. All of the points summarized in the daily media were included, but the oral paragraphs were much longer. The “moderator” said he was reading the letter from the “doctor”; hence I assumed it to be the same letter. The moderator also mentioned that this document was around in August, but I had no way to confirm that.

My first conclusion though was that the so-called letter - or a copy - was indeed released internally within the Tanzeem (organization) for dissemination and “discussion.” That day, I had no evidence about the first date of the internal release, nor who released it to the network all the way to the “rooms.” Was it released back in July or after, since segments of the letter surfaced during this time period in the Western press? It seemed to me that, although Zawahiri’s letter was on the face of it “personal” and directed to Abu Mas’aab, this letter (or pieces of it) was nevertheless circulated among the jihadists before it was publicized gradually in the U.S. and the broader West. Was there a reason? Until the government posted the entire translation of the text on the web yesterday, the situation was somewhat peculiar: was it meant to be sent only for the eyes of Abu Mus’aab? I am not sure anymore. For a Zawahiri letter to be read by the room(s) moderators and “descended” on to the cadres, shows the initial intent of he writer(s) and the sender(s). Ironically, while some paragraphs of the letter were surfacing through the media, the (alleged) entire text of the letter – or at least a much longer version – was circulated within the jihadist community online. While pieces were appearing in the U.S. press, the entire letter was read in the chat rooms.

In any event, the moderator a week ago didn’t seem to be reading some extremely secret letter, but a “strategic document” from al doctor, a reading repeated in a newly formed ghurfa (room). The reading was followed by an interesting Q-and-A session about the “rules of engagement.”

As reported in the Western press, the issues of beheading, attacks against the Shi’ites, and the issue of focus on American forces were the heart of the “debate.” This is a telling feature of the original importance of the letter: it had the shape of a confidential and personal letter but its content is written as policy guidelines for terrorist cadres. Hence, regardless of the internal “enigma” the document raises important points:

One, the document seems to be a “policy” directive sent by al-Qaeda’s high command to the most critical battlefield of the Jihadists: Iraq. Two, and more importantly, the main points made within the Western media were about the strategic plan ordered by al-Qaeda in the Middle East and the centrality of Iraq in al-Qaeda’s planning. The Washington Post article, based on fragments of the letter wrote:

The letter of instructions and requests outlines a four-stage plan, according to officials: First, expel American forces from Iraq. Second, establish a caliphate over as much of Iraq as possible. Third, extend the jihad to neighboring countries, with specific reference to Egypt and the Levant – a term that describes Syria and Lebanon. And finally, war against Israel.

What strikes seasoned observers of terrorism is that none of this is revolutionary news. I wasn’t at all surprised to read that letter, but I was surprised to see the press treating the substance as a brand new or explosive material. The so-called four-stage plan has been common knowledge amongst jihadists and even “digested” on al-Jazeera: defeating the U.S. in Iraq, declaring the caliphate in the most extended Sunni areas in Iraq, then moving beyond that realm has been a classic plan for some time. A reader of Islamist geopolitics would understand that “extending the jihad” towards Egypt and the Mashreq (translated by Levant) - meaning Syria, Lebanon and Jordan - is the equivalent of spreading within the Sunni realm of the region. The latter move, according to earlier Salafist analysis, should culminate with a clash with the Jewish state. We’re talking about the Muslim Brotherhood old song: nothing really innovative, but certainly new to our public, once translated and published.

The article adds as a basis for the revolutionary character of Zawahiri’s letter: “I want to be the first to congratulate you for what God has blessed you with in terms of fighting in the heart of the Islamic world, which was formerly the field for major battles in Islam’s history, and what is now the place for the greatest battle of Islam in this era.” What seems to be a scoop in the eyes of many in the media is the daily bread of jihadists. Every single day of every week, some emir, imam, terrorist cell, or talking head on al-Jazeera or in a chat room reconfirm what Zawahiri wrote in his letter.

The Washington Post article said: “U.S. officials say they were struck by the letter’s emphasis on the centrality of Iraq to al-Qaeda’s long-term mission.” Why would the officials be “struck?” What is stunning about the centrality of Iraq to al-Qaeda? Is Iraq central to the jihadi global offensive worldwide? Of course it is.

Baghdad has been the direct objective of Osama bin Laden at least since February 2003, when he asked his jihadists to be ready for the big moment. He openly announced that Saddam will fall, and that they should move on the “second capital of the Caliphate.” A good reading of the jihadi thinking and literature, even when Saddam was in power, would leave you with one conclusion: with or without the removal of Saddam, al-Qaeda and the Salafists targeted Baghdad. The place has a value of its own, deeply rooted in Muslim history and in the Islamist vision of the renewal. The real question in our so-called American debate should be about the strategy to stop the terrorists from achieving this goal, not about “re-discovering” their intentions.

This letter should not raise eyebrows that the jihadists have designs on Iraq and Baghdad: that is old news.

If the Zawahiri letter is important, it is because of its clarification of what was always the grand design of the jihadis, not because it is revealing some deep secret. The letter is important because it was written by the number two of the organization and states clearly what are the strategic intentions, even though they were announced, discussed and applied long ago. In short, the public has them now in English and signed by Doktor Ayman personally. It cuts down tons of poor interpretations of the jihadist wars in the region, including the false explanation that jihad terror was born “because” of the removal of Saddam Hussein.

If anything, the conversation provoked by this letter should have been about the steps we can take to enable the Iraqis to resist al-Qaeda’s strategy. That is the dialogue the world desperately needs for us to engage.

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Dr. Walid Phares is a Professor of Middle East Studies and Senior Fellow with the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies.

Concert Review: Springsteen in Minneapolis

The Boss takes his fans to the promised land in a solo Northrop show
Jon Bream, Star Tribune
Last update: October 13, 2005 at 1:18 AM

Bruce Springsteen may have grown up Catholic, but he chose the Jewish Day of Atonement to redeem himself in Minneapolis.

Performing a soldout solo concert Wednesday at Northrop Auditorium, he redeemed himself for his solo show in May at St. Paul's Xcel Energy Center. Set up as a "theater" for 7,996 people in half the arena, Xcel was too big for Springsteen's one-man show. It was powerful, thought-provoking art, but not arena-worthy entertainment. What was missing was the human touch, which was in abundance at Northrop.

Springsteen, 56, seemed more relaxed, warmer and more talkative this time. And the intimacy of Northrop made a huge difference. With the walls close enough that all 4,700 concert-goers could actually read the red "exit" signs, you could feel the Boss' presence, notice the nuances of his grimaces and hear the one-liners he dropped (something he didn't even attempt in the impersonal Xcel).

Although he wasn't as whimsical as he was during his 1996 Northrop solo show, Springsteen made his 26-song, 140-minute performance very personal and very special. Before and after songs, he commented on lyrics and life. "It's time to bring the ukulele back; size does not always count," he said after playing a uke on "I Wanna Marry You" (during which he changed the lyric from "ring" to "I'd be proud if you'd wear my name hyphenated.")

The New Jersey hero told a long-winded story about growing up in a big Catholic family surrounded by various relatives (the Irish ones on one block, the Italian ones on another street). He and his sister would pick up the rice after weddings (Mom liked to see the bridal gowns), and they had so much rice that they threw it at funerals, too, he joked.

All this introduced "Jesus Was an Only Son," a spiritually tinged tune about the relationship between parent and child from Springsteen's current "Devils & Dust." Twice during the song on grand piano, the singer went off on talking tangents, relating funny, fictional tales about what Jesus did.

These kind of mirthful moments helped balance a set that was more down-tempo than demonstrative, more stripped-down than full of superstar turns, and more pensive than populist. To be sure, he threw in a handful of hits completely recast, including "Darkness on the Edge of Town" and "Thunder Road," which he heretofore hadn't done on this solo tour, which started in April.

He repeated only eight songs -- mostly from "Devils & Dust" -- that he had done at Xcel. This time, he added a new instrument, an autoharp (for "The New Timer" from 1995's "Ghost of Tom Joad") to an arsenal that included electric and acoustic guitars, harmonica, pump organ and electric piano.

Emotionally, the music covered a full spectrum -- birth, dreams, marriage, parenthood, yearning, struggles, redemption, death. You could see the yearning in his eyes and hear it in his voice on "Two Hearts." And you could feel the hope in the meditative "Promised Land," as he ended with a falsetto croon, dancing in the dark, taking 4,700 believers with him to that sacred place.

Jon Bream • 612 673-1719

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Michelle Malkin: Nothing to See Here. Move Along

Oct 12, 2005
by Michelle Malkin ( bio archive contact )

Oct. 12 marks the fifth anniversary of the bombing of the USS Cole. Seventeen American sailors were murdered in the attack. They were casualties of a war with radical Islamic terror that America hadn't yet declared and which the mainstream media still refuses to acknowledge today.

Too many of us were blind in 2000 -- unable or unwilling or simply too uninterested to connect such blood-stained dots as al Qaeda's 1993 World Trade Center bombing attack, the 1996 Khobar Tower bombings, the 1998 African embassy bombings, and the attack on the Cole. After Sept. 11, 2001, all of our eyes should have been pried wide open to the evils of Muslim extremism that exist among us in both organized and freelance form.

The watchdogs in the national press, however, insist on clouding our vision.

Since 9/11, I've reported on the media's reluctance to highlight the convicted Washington, D.C.-area snipers' Islamist proclivities and journalists' refusal to call Egyptian gunman Hesham Hadayet's acts of murder at the Israeli airline counter at Los Angeles International Airport on July 4, 2002, "terrorism."

Middle East scholar Daniel Pipes noted how quickly the media sought to whitewash the bloody bus-hijacking by Croatian illegal alien Damir Igric a month after 9/11. Although the incident "echoed similar attacks by Palestinians on Israeli buses," Pipes observed, the "media attributed the violence to post-traumatic stress syndrome."

National Guardsman Ryan Anderson (a.k.a. Amir Talhah), a Muslim convert who allegedly attempted to pass sensitive military information to al Qaeda over the Internet, rated barely a blip on the media radar screen.

Similarly, press accounts have downplayed the disruption of terrorist cells on American soil: The Lackawanna Six were just nice Muslim boys led astray. The Virginia Jihad Network was just a group of weekend paintball enthusiasts. Those indicted imams in Lodi, Calif., are just misunderstood "moderates." Terror suspects deported on immigration charges are just victims of discrimination.

Now, many of my readers wonder why the MSM won't touch the strange and troubling story of the University of Oklahoma bomber, Joel Henry Hinrichs III. On Oct. 1, Hinrichs died on a park bench outside the school's packed football stadium when a homemade bomb in his possession exploded. The Justice Department has sealed a search warrant in the case. The university's president, David Boren, is pooh-poohing local media and Internet blog reports of possible jihadist influences on Hinrichs. The dead bomber was, we are being told, simply a depressed and troubled young man with "no known ties" to terrorism.

Never mind that, according to local news reporters, the bomb-making material found in Hinrichs' apartment was triacetone triperoxide -- the explosive chemical of choice of shoe bomber Richard Reid and the London 7/7 subway bombers.

Never mind the local police department's confirmation that Hinrichs had attempted to buy ammonium nitrate a few days before his death.

Never mind the concerns of Oklahoma University student journalist Rachael Kahne, who told me this week in a call for the media's help:

"I've been working on this story since the night it happened, and have been stonewalled at every turn. . . . Minutes after the explosion, police busted into a student's apartment and arrested four Muslim students who were there for a small gathering (the president of the Muslim Student Association assures me this was in no way a "party"). Among those arrested [and later released] was Fazal Cheema, Joel Henry Hinrichs' Pakistani roommate. I was baffled when I heard this. I didn't know how police would be able to identify who Hinrichs was, where he lived, who his roommate was, and then find where his roommate was in a matter of minutes.

Something isn't adding up, and I've been wracking my brain for the past week trying to figure out what happened here. OU isn't saying anything more than the typical PR spin, and the FBI won't talk."

Nothing to see here. Move along. Islam is a peaceful religion. Stop asking so many damned questions.

Such is the attitude of the national media, which seems to believe that 'tis better to live in ignorance and indulge in hindsight later than to offend the gods of political correctness.

Michelle Malkin is a syndicated columnist and maintains her weblog at

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Tyler Kepner: Yankees Are facing Yet Another Winter of Discontent

October 11, 2005
The New York Times

ANAHEIM, Calif., Oct. 10 - Some day the Yankees will win the World Series again, and when they do, they will surely be lauded for their grit and character. Actually, the failed 2005 version showed plenty of those attributes, clawing back from an 11-19 start to win the American League East on the final Saturday of the regular season in Boston.

But their flaws destroyed them in the postseason, the only time of year that really matters to George Steinbrenner, their principal owner. After being eliminated by the Angels on Monday night, it will be another uncomfortable winter for the Yankees, who lately have known no other kind.

They have contractual control of seven starting pitchers, closer Mariano Rivera and six starting position players, which is a good place to start for a team that won 95 games in the regular season. But it is anybody's guess who will engineer the off-season blueprint.

The contract of General Manager Brian Cashman expires on Oct. 31, and he has surely dreamed of that day many times. It is his get-out-of-jail-free card, his chance to escape the pervasive negativity and culture of blame that Steinbrenner creates around the team.

It is also a chance for Cashman to remove himself from a dysfunctional hierarchy in which some moves originate in New York but many come from Tampa, Fla., where Steinbrenner lives. Neither side trusts the other, but Cashman - not Steinbrenner's Tampa advisers - is the public front man for all moves, a position that is often humiliating.

Steinbrenner is said to want Cashman back, but he could always decide not to offer him a contract. If Steinbrenner lets Cashman make the call, leaving the Yankees would be a calculated risk.

One intriguing general manager's job became available Monday, when the Philadelphia Phillies fired Ed Wade. The Phillies have the payroll to fund a winner, geographic appeal to Cashman's family and ownership not known for interfering with its general manager.

Manager Joe Torre has two years remaining on his three-year, $19.2 million contract. Torre has said he will not resign, putting the onus on Steinbrenner to fire him if he wants to make a move.
Torre has promised to address his feelings on Steinbrenner after the season, and those comments could conceivably elicit a reaction from his boss.

Club officials have long believed that Steinbrenner would never fire Torre, for fear of the public backlash. But after a first-round exit, and with the Steinbrenner favorite Lou Piniella available for work, Torre's status is at least somewhat tenuous.

Whether or not Cashman and Torre return, the Yankees will face off-season challenges. The bullpen will certainly be one area club officials will try to make over, and if recent history is a guide, they will be prepared to overpay.

With the exception of Rivera, the Yankees struggled to find reliable relievers this season, as in 2001. After that season, they overwhelmed Steve Karsay with a four-year, $22.25 million offer, believing they had signed a closer-quality reliever to be a setup man. Karsay never quite earned Torre's trust and spent only one healthy season with the Yankees.

Tom Gordon has done a fine job for two seasons with the Yankees, but he struggled in two postseasons and, at nearly 38 years old, he is unlikely to get any better.

The Yankees may choose to let Gordon leave as a free agent and pursue a closer to set up for them. The left-hander B. J. Ryan of the Orioles, who turns 30 in December, may be prepared to cash in. Ryan had 36 saves and a 2.43 earned run average for Baltimore last season, and he has expressed interest in coming to New York.

Ryan is also left-handed, which would fill a gaping hole for the Yankees. They have not had a left-handed reliever whom Torre really trusted since they let go of Mike Stanton after the 2002 season. The Philadelphia Phillies' Billy Wagner, who is an older, more established closer than Ryan, is also a free agent who could fortify the Yankees' late-inning relief.

Left-handed middle relievers who are free agents include Ricardo Rincon of Oakland and two pitchers who interested the Yankees before the trading deadline - Scott Eyre of San Francisco and Scott Sauerbeck of Cleveland.

With those pitchers and several solid right-handers available in free agency, the Yankees should be able to fortify their bullpen. Right-handed relievers coming off strong seasons include Bob Howry of Cleveland, Jim Mecir of Florida and Rudy Seanez of San Diego. Closers Mike Timlin of Boston and Bob Wickman of Cleveland are also free agents.

The outfield will be another area of concern for the Yankees. Bernie Williams is a free agent, and after 15 years with the Yankees, both sides may be ready to move on. Williams, 37, does not intend to retire, but the Yankees have yearned for a better defensive center fielder for at least two years.

If Williams stays, the Yankees could ask him to take on the role Ruben Sierra occupied, as an occasional designated hitter and outfielder. But it is unknown if Williams would accept such a role. (Sierra, 40, is a free agent.)

Johnny Damon of the Red Sox is a free agent - represented by Scott Boras, who also represents Williams - and likely to command a very high price. Another free agent is Jacque Jones, who played left field for the Minnesota Twins but has slipped offensively the past two seasons. Torii Hunter, the Gold Glove center fielder for the Twins, could be traded and would have obvious appeal to the Yankees.

Gordon and Williams are 2 of 14 free agents on the Yankees' roster. Most - Kevin Brown, Felix Rodriguez, Rey Sanchez and others - will not be retained. The one the Yankees will certainly try to keep is Hideki Matsui, the steady left fielder who has expressed a preference to stay in New York.

Steinbrenner loathes Matsui's agent, Arn Tellem, but Matsui has been so productive and has generated so much good will that it would be surprising if the Yankees let him go.

The Yankees received solid defense, and one important month of hot hitting, from first baseman Tino Martinez, another free agent they could try to keep.

Soon enough, the Yankees will have to address their long-term future at catcher, having traded Dioner Navarro in the Randy Johnson deal last winter. The free agents Bengie Molina and Ramon Hernandez are available, but Jorge Posada is signed for one more year.

As for the rotation, the market for free-agent starters is slim. A. J. Burnett, Kevin Millwood, Matt Morris and two pitchers who failed in New York, Kenny Rogers and Jeff Weaver, are the leading names. The Yankees could stand pat.

If Japan's Seibu Lions make their ace pitcher, Daisuke Matsuzaka, available to bidding by major league teams, the Yankees could be tempted. But they already have Johnson, Mike Mussina, Carl Pavano and Jaret Wright under contract. Shawn Chacon, Chien-Ming Wang and Aaron Small are not under contract, but they are not free agents and are nearly certain to stay with the Yankees.

Recalibrating DC Heroes For a Grittier Century

October 12, 2005
The New York Times

If there was ever a job for Superman, this is it.

DC Comics is in the midst of a major effort to revitalize the company's fabled superheroes for the 21st century and better connect with today's readers. The undertaking, which began in 2002, has involved a critical look at DC's characters - from Aquaman and Batman to Zatanna - and developing story lines that sometimes have heroes engage in decidedly unheroic deeds.

One of the goals, DC executives say, is to hold on to a more sophisticated readership.

"Our characters were created in the 1940's and 50's and 60's," Dan DiDio, the DC Comics vice president for editorial, said. "There's a lot of elements where we've had a disconnect with the reader base of today."

Readers now, Mr. DiDio said, "are more savvy, and they're looking for more complexity and more depth for them to be following the stories on a monthly basis." A crucial phase of the campaign starts today with the release of "Infinite Crisis," the first of a seven-part monthly series that will bring together all the story threads - and the superheroes - that have been evolving in separate series over the past three years.

Toward the end of "Infinite Crisis," the characters will be catapulted a year into the future, some emerging with significantly new outlooks. To explain their transformation, next May DC will begin publishing "52," a yearlong weekly series set in "real" time chronicling the gap in the heroes' lives. By the end of the process, DC hopes to have recreated a universe of superheroes more in keeping with the times.

"Our audience is much smarter, much more sophisticated, and not necessarily because it's older," said Greg Rucka, a writer working on DC's plan. "A 12-year-old 20 years ago and a 12-year-old today are reading at very different levels. That's just the way it is."
He added: "Everything has to evolve."

Several writers are working to further that evolution. They include Geoff Johns, a fan-favorite creator who helped revitalize "Teen Titans" and "Green Lantern"; Grant Morrison, who pushed the Justice League to new heights of popularity; Mr. Rucka, a novelist whose comics work includes runs on Batman, Superman and Wonder Woman; and Mark Waid, a former editor at DC and an expert on the accumulated histories of DC's heroes. Others involved in the project include Keith Giffen, who will provide page layouts for "52," and George Pérez, an artist held in high regard whose style guides will give DC's heroes a consistent look.

The approach was more like the team model for writing a television series than the traditional solitary one for comics, said Paul Levitz, the president and publisher of DC, a unit of Time Warner.

Revitalizing old characters is not without risk. In 1996, Marvel Entertainment, DC's archrival, made over some of its oldest heroes. The "Heroes Reborn" project included new origin stories that took place in a parallel universe. But the project was not popular with readers; eventually the characters were returned to their original stories. In 2000, Marvel tried again with a much more successful "Ultimate" line of comics.

DC's move to remake its superheroes has led to bold decisions:

¶Last year, the "Identity Crisis" mini-series, written by Brad Meltzer, a novelist, had the Justice League retaliating for the rape of a hero's wife by brainwashing the villain - a turn of events that drove some fans to the Internet to vent their concern over DC's direction. The series was one of the year's best-selling titles.

¶This past year, tension among Batman, Superman and Wonder Woman, the pillars of the DC universe, has been running high and erupted in July when Wonder Woman resorted to killing a man to save the Man of Steel.

¶The one-year gap that results from the "Infinite Crisis" will allow a hard look at every DC title with the question "What works about this character for the 21st century?" Mr. Waid said. Some titles may end up being canceled. Others will get a change of editors or writers.

¶"52," the weekly series that begins in May, will be a story-telling and production challenge. A weekly series leaves little room for delays in writing, illustrating or printing, and the "real time" concept means no inventory story can be dropped in to fill a gap in the narrative.

The commitment of resources "scared a lot of departments," Mr. DiDio said, adding, "This is not just an editorial risk; it's a company risk."

If fans embrace the new DC superhero universe, the gamble will be worth it. Last year, the comic book industry generated nearly $500 million in sales. Milton Griepp, the publisher and founder of ICv2, an online trade publication that covers popular culture for retailers, estimated that monthly comics accounted for about $290 million of that sum. (The rest came from trade paperbacks.) Industry estimates for August's market share, in dollars, placed DC at 38 percent and Marvel at 41 percent.

What about fans who feel that DC is becoming too dark a place to visit?

Mr. DiDio and Mr. Levitz agreed that there would be opportunities for course correction. If one of the writers feels "we're off track, we'll regroup," Mr. DiDio said.

While some readers have posted complaints on the Internet that superheroes have become entangled in grimmer stories of late, DC creators note that even its most illustrious heroes' tales have dark roots. It was the murder of Bruce Wayne's parents that spawned Batman; the story of Superman began with the destruction of his home planet, Krypton.

"I think people feel it's dark because it's so compelling," Mr. DiDio said. "They don't know how our heroes are going to get out of the danger."

Mr. Rucka agreed: "When they're saying 'it's too dark,' they're saying, 'I'm scared.' "
He added, "It's not a crisis if they know they're going to win."

UK Prof States That Islam is Incompatible With Assimilation Into U.S. Society

A black convert to Islam, Ihsan Bagby is an associate professor of Islamic Studies at the University of Kentucky. Born in Cleveland, Ohio, he attended Oberlin College for his undergraduate degree and then earned his Masters and PhD (the latter in 1986, in the field of Near Eastern Studies) from the University of Michigan.

In a WorldNetDaily report detailing how certain Muslim group leaders are hoping that "the U.S. Constitution will one day be replaced by Koranic law," Bagby is quoted as saying, "Ultimately we [Muslims] can never be full citizens of this country [the U.S.], because there is no way we can be fully committed to the institutions and ideologies of this country."

Notwithstanding his belief that genuine Islam is incompatible with the desire to assimilate into American society, Bagby's custom is to depict Muslim Americans as a politically moderate group that harbors no desire to extensively alter U.S. customs or institutions. In 2001 Bagby published the results of his comprehensive study, The Mosque in America: A National Portrait.

In April 2004 he wrote A Portrait of Detroit Mosques: Muslim Views on Policy, Politics and Religion, which interpreted the findings of a survey conducted by a Detroit-area Islamic organization, the Institute for Social Policy and Understanding. According to Bagby's reading of the data, "The vast majority of Muslim Americans hold 'moderate' views on issues of policy, politics and religion." In a newspaper interview, Bagby elaborated, stating that the results showed that "the mosque community is not a place of radicalism." But as scholar of Islam Daniel Pipes writes, Bagby's interpretation amounts to "a case of survey research being distorted by its sponsors to hide the actual results. This is intellectual fraud and political deception." In actuality, the survey found that among the Muslim respondents: fully two-thirds believed that "America is immoral"; approximately 90 percent favored universal health care; some 79 percent supported affirmative action for minorities; 81 percent advocated the application of Shari'a (Islamic law) in Muslim-majority nations; and 85 percent disapproved of President Bush's job performance, while only 4 percent approved.

In addition to his professorial duties and research ventures, Bagby is the imam of Jamaa'ah al-Taqwa, a mosque in Raleigh, North Carolina. He is also the General Secretary of the Muslim Alliance of North America (MANA), a predominantly African-American organization which: a) represents Muslims indigenous to the United States; b) is part of the American Muslim Task Force on Civil Rights and Elections, an umbrella group of Islamist organizations created to push issues important to the Muslim community into the November 2004 elections; c) is headed by Siraj Wahhaj, a suspected co-conspirator to the 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center; d) had its Director of Governmental Affairs, Johari Abdul Malik, compassionately describe Sheik Ahmed Yassin, then-leader of the terrorist group Hamas, as "a poor parapalegic in a wheelchair" at an April 2004 anti-Israel rally; and e) chose not to endorse or participate in the May 14, 2005 Free Muslims March Against Terror, an event whose stated purpose was to "send a message to the terrorists and extremists that their days are numbered . . . [and to send] a message to the people of the Middle East, the Muslim world and all people who seek freedom, democracy and peaceful coexistence that we support them."

Bagby is also a board member of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), a Hamas spinoff; several CAIR leaders have been indicted for, and convicted of, terrorist activities. In 1996 CAIR co-founder Nihad Awad candidly declared, "I am in support of the Hamas movement." In 1998 CAIR co-sponsored a rally at Brooklyn College, where militant speakers advocated jihad and characterized Jews as "pigs and monkeys." In November 1999, CAIR board chairman Omar Ahmad supported Palestinian suicide bombers when he told a Chicago audience, "Fighting for freedom, fighting for Islam, that is not suicide. They kill themselves for Islam."
CAIR endorsed an October 22, 2002 National Day of Protest opposing the Patriot Act's "new set of repressive laws and restrictions on people," while supporting terrorists Lynne Stewart and Jose Padilla, and murderers Mumia Abu-Jamal, and Leonard Peltier - portraying them as American "political prisoners." In April 2005, Ghassan Elashi, who founded the Texas chapter of CAIR, was convicted of supporting terrorism by funneling money to a high-ranking Hamas official. Like MANA, CAIR chose not to endorse or participate in the May 14, 2005 Free Muslims March Against Terror. According to Middle East expert Stephen Schwartz, CAIR "is best described as a branch of the Saudi religious militia operating to impose Wahhabi conformity on American Islam. It is the most active and consistent promoter of extremism in the name of Islam now found the U.S. and Canada, an arm of the Saudi-Wahhabi establishment, partially funded by the Saudi government and rich Saudi subjects."

Moreover, Bagby sits on the advisory board of the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA), which is responsible for enforcing Wahhabi theological writ in American mosques. ISNA views the Patriot Act as an affront to Muslim Americans and advocates that it be overturned; it also chose not to endorse or participate in the May 14, 2005 Free Muslims March Against Terror; and was a signatory to Refuse & Resist's February 20, 2002 document condemning military tribunals and the detention of immigrants apprehended in connection with post-9/11 terrorism investigations.

Daniel Pipes: Bush Declares War on Radical Islam

By Daniel Pipes
October 11, 2005

A courageous speech by George W. Bush last week began a new era in what he calls the “war on terror.”

To comprehend its full significance requires some background. Islamists (supporters of radical Islam) began their war on the United States in 1979, when Ayatollah Khomeini took power in Iran and later that year his supporters seized the U.S. embassy in Tehran.

For the next twenty-two years, however, Americans thought they faced merely a criminal problem and failed to see that war had been declared on them. For example, in 1998, when Islamists attacked two U.S. embassies in East Africa, Washington responded by unleashing detectives, arresting the perpetrators, taking them to New York, assigning them defense lawyers, then convicting and jailing them.

The second era began on September 11, 2001. That evening, President Bush declared a “war against terrorism” and the U.S. government promptly went into war mode, for example, by passing the USA Patriot Act. Though welcoming this shift, I during four years criticized the notion of making war on a military tactic, finding this euphemistic, inaccurate, and obstructive. Instead, I repeatedly called on the president to start a third era by acknowledging that the war is against radical Islam.

Bush did occasionally mention radical Islam – in fact, as early as nine days after 9/11 – but not with enough frequency or detail to change perceptions. British prime minister Tony Blair also advanced the discussion in July, when, after the London transport bombings, he focused on “a religious ideology, a strain within the world-wide religion of Islam.”

But the third era truly began on Oct. 6 with Bush’s speech to the National Endowment for Democracy. He not only gave several names to the force behind terrorism (“Some call this evil Islamic radicalism; others, militant Jihadism; still others, Islamo-fascism”), but he provided ample details. In particular, he:

· Presented this “murderous ideology” of Islamic radicals “the great challenge of our new century.”

· Distinguished it from the religion of Islam.

· Drew parallels between radical Islam and communism (both are elitist, cold-blooded, totalitarian, disdainful of free peoples, and fatefully contradictory), then noted in how many ways the U.S. war on radical Islam, “resembles the struggle against communism in the last century.”

· Pointed out the three-step Islamist drive to power: ending Western influence in the Muslim world, gaining control of Muslim governments, and establishing “a radical Islamic empire that spans from Spain to Indonesia.”

· Explained the “violent, political vision” of radical Islam as comprising an agenda “to develop weapons of mass destruction, to destroy Israel, to intimidate Europe, to assault the American people, and to blackmail our government into isolation.”

· Defined its ultimate goal: “to enslave whole nations and intimidate the world.”

· Observed that Muslims themselves have the burden of doing the “most vital work” to fight Islamism.

· Called on “all responsible Islamic leaders to join in denouncing” this ideology and taking steps against it.

The detailed texture of Bush’s speech transforms the official American understanding of who the enemy is, moving it from the superficial and inadequate notion of “terrorism” to the far deeper concept of “Islamic radicalism.” This change has potentially enduring importance if finally, 26 years later, it convinces polite society to name the enemy.

Doing so means, for example, that immigration authorities and law enforcement can take Islam into account when deciding whom to let enter the country or whom to investigate for terrorism offences. Focusing on Muslims as the exclusive source of Islamists permits them finally to do their job adequately.

Despite these many advances, Bush’s speech is far from perfect. His quoting the Koran harks back to 2001, when he instructed Muslims about the true nature of their faith; his comment about extremists distorting “the idea of jihad” unfortunately implies that jihad is a good thing.

Most serious, though, is his limiting the “radical Islamic empire” (or caliphate) to just the Spain-to-Indonesia region, for Islamists have a global vision that requires control over non-Muslim countries too – and specifically the United States. Their universal ambitions certainly can be stopped, but first they must be understood and resisted. Only when Americans realize that the Islamists intend to replace the U.S. Constitution with Shari’a will they enter the fourth and final era of this war.

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

Ed Koch: A New Proposal For Iraq

October 11, 2005

On October 6th, President Bush delivered a superb speech on international terrorism. It is because our President has been willing to stand up to international terrorism and so many leaders in the Democratic Party have not been willing to do so, that caused me and millions of others to cross party lines and support him in the last presidential election and cheer his victory; notwithstanding that I did not then, nor do I now, agree with him on a single domestic issue, ranging from his proposals to reform Social Security and to changing our tax structure. For me, the single most important issue the world faced in 2001 and now, trumping all other issues, is international terrorism. President Bush’s willingness in the face of all the attacks, so many unfair and ad hominen, to continue to stand up and exhort the world to continue the ongoing battle against international terrorism is why I admire and respect him so much. Would that my party produced such a leader that I could similarly follow. I know that will happen someday.

The President’s recent speech on international terrorism was magnificent. The text of the President’s entire speech, delivered at the National Endowment for Democracy on October 6th, can be obtained from the White House.

The New York Times in two foolish editorials published on the next day, October 7, 2005, sought to denigrate the President instead of trying to add to our security by strengthening him in his leadership when he has taken on the ferocious, often insane, Islamic terrorists who believe they have the right to kill every infidel -- Christians, Jews, Hindus, The terrorists want to reestablish the Caliphate from Spain to Indonesia and impose militant aggressive Islam on the world. Osama bin Laden’s top deputy, Ayman al-Zawahiri, wrote a 6,000 word letter, not intended for public consumption, to Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, al-Queda’s leader in Iraq, the latter having earlier called for the killing of civilian Shiittes in Iraq and the killing of Christians and Jews worldwide.

Shouldn’t the Times editorials have referred to those terrorist dangers and, in particular, the grand plan of bin Laden which the letter describes. The Times news article quoting the official who provided the briefing to the Times, reports the letter was a “comprehensive and chilling strategic vision for Qaeda.”

The editorials, instead of highlighting the terrorist’s letter, chose to criticize the President. The lead editorial hectored, “The president’s inability to grow beyond his big moment in 2001 is unnerving. But the fact that his handlers continue to encourage him to milk 9/11 is infuriating.” The second editorial denounced him for “talk[ing] so menacingly about Syria and Iran. It was also maddening to listen to him describe the perils that Iraq poses while denying that his policies set them in motion.”

In his letter, according to the Times news story, Zawahiri wrote that “Iraq had become ‘the place for the greatest battle of Islam in this era,’” but that it was “only a stepping stone toward a broader victory for militant Islam across the Middle East.” The letter “includes a four-state battle plan, beginning with the American military’s expulsion, followed by the establishment of a militant Islamic caliphate across Iraq before moving to Syria, Lebanon and Egypt. The final step would be a battle against Israel.”

Both the President’s speech and the letter from Zawahiri telling the world what is in store for it if the terrorists win were available on the same day, October 6th. The Times’ two editorials chose to attack President Bush, remaining silent on bin Laden, Zawahiri and Zarqawi. The President’s speech should have been praised by the Times, not denigrated. I believe that if Tony Blair had made it, the Times would have at the very least praised its eloquence.

The President honestly and directly described what is at stake in the war on terrorism, stating:

“Over the years these extremists have used a litany of excuses for violence -- the Israeli presence on the West Bank, or the U.S. military presence in Saudi Arabia, or the defeat of the Taliban, or the Crusades of a thousand years ago. In fact, we're not facing a set of grievances that can be soothed and addressed. We're facing a radical ideology with inalterable objectives: to enslave whole nations and intimidate the world. No act of ours invited the rage of the killers -- and no concession, bribe, or act of appeasement would change or limit their plans for murder.”

“ we're determined to deny radical groups the support and sanctuary of outlaw regimes. State sponsors like Syria and Iran have a long history of collaboration with terrorists, and they deserve no patience from the victims of terror. The United States makes no distinction between those who commit acts of terror and those who support and harbor them, because they're equally as guilty of murder. Any government that chooses to be an ally of terror has also chosen to be an enemy of civilization. And the civilized world must hold those regimes to account.”

I disagree with the President’s decision to remain in Iraq and Afghanistan while our allies overwhelmingly decline to provide combat troops and pay their fair share of the costs of a war which threatens them even more than it threatens us in the immediate future. But my disagreement relates to tactics, not the strategic outcome.

In Afghanistan, we, with other countries, are present under a UN mandate, yet we are the only country performing military operations against the Taliban and enemies of the Afghan government chosen in an election monitored by the UN. Other countries provide military assistance to the Afghan government, but do not participate in combat. This is unfair and unacceptable. In Iraq, the situation is even worse. These countries participating, albeit in a limited fashion in Afghanistan, e.g., France and Germany, do not participate at all in Iraq, leaving the dying and suffering primarily to us and the British. This too is manifestly unfair.
The Wall Street Journal reported on October 7th that terrorist attacks against Jordan, Kuwait, and Saudi Arabia are on the rise, placing those countries in jeopardy.

I propose that we put the UN Security Council on notice that we will leave Iraq by the end of this year. My belief is that the UN, particularly France, Germany and Russia, knowing we will leave, will have a greater interest in maintaining peace in Iraq than we have, either a regional interest, e.g., Russia, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Jordan; or a commercial interest -- oil and vendor contracts with Iraq -- e.g., Germany and France. They will then understand that it is in their interest to have us remain with them proportionately providing troops and sharing the costs of war. We should provide them with these choices. Indeed, whether they come in or not as a result of our threat of withdrawal, we will be strengthened on another front. As a result of our being in Iraq to the extent that the largest number of our worldwide forces -- 149,000 American soldiers -- are tied down, we are unable to be a vital threat to North Korea, Iran and Syria. Those countries believe that, because we are in Iraq and bereft of allies, we are a paper tiger whose demands and threats can be ignored with impunity.

The president in his speech stated, “today, there are more than 80 Iraqi Army battalions fighting the insurgency alongside our forces.” That may be true. But according to The New York Times of September 30th, “In Washington on Thursday, the senior American military commander in Iraq told Congress that only one Iraqi Army battalion was capable of fighting without help from Untied States armed forces. But the commander, Gen. George W. Casey Jr., was joined by the Pentagon’s senior civilian and military leaders in stressing that growing numbers of Iraqi police and Army forces are increasingly able to provide security in their country.”

Clearly, it will be a long time before the Iraqi Army can stand up on its own, so as to permit the U.S. Army, in the words of the President in an earlier speech, to “stand down.” It is simply unacceptable that the Iraqi Army under the direction of the Iraqi government two years after the end of hostilities is still not able to fight the insurgents on their own. Indeed, the insurgents appear to be growing in capability. They are suspected by the British, as stated by Tony Blair, of receiving improved explosives from Iran which permit them to kill larger numbers of British troops.

The same arguments apply to our being required to assume a heavier burden in Afghanistan than is fair. If the American public believes we are not being helped by our allies in our efforts to prevent a victory for the Islamist terrorists threatening the whole world, the numbers of those tiring of the war will increase. I urge the President to consider my proposal. But he should also know that I stand with him and extol his courage and willingness to stand up for the U.S. and all peaceful nations.

Ed Koch is the former Mayor of New York City.

Monday, October 10, 2005

Alvaro Vargas Llosa: Ten Shots At Che Guevara

October 8, 2005

Che Guevara fans are preparing to commemorate one more anniversary of the revolutionary’s death, which took place thirty-eight years ago at the Yuro ravine in Bolivia. It’s an appropriate time to address ten myths that keep Guevara’s cult alive.

The last time I visited the Museum of Modern Art in New York, an American student wearing a Che Guevara T-Shirt and a beret caught my eye (the fact that Nicole Kidman happened to walk in at that very moment may have had something to do with my noticing him). I asked him politely what exactly he admired so much about that man. Here are the ten reasons he mentioned— and my response.

1. HE WAS AGAINST CAPITALISM. In fact, Guevara was for state capitalism. He opposed the wage labor system of “appropriating surplus value” (in Marxist jargon) only when it came to private corporations. But he turned the “appropriation of the workers’ surplus value” into a state system. One example of this is the forced labor camps he supported, starting with Guanahacabibes in 1961.

2. HE MADE CUBA INDEPENDENT. In fact, he engineered the colonization of Cuba by a foreign power. He was instrumental in turning Cuba into a temporary beachhead of Soviet nuclear power (he sealed the deal in Yalta). As the person responsible for the “industrialization” of Cuba he failed to end the country’s dependency on sugar.

3. HE STOOD FOR SOCIAL JUSTICE. In fact, he helped ruin the economy by diverting resources to industries that ended up in failure and reduced the sugar harvest, Cuba’s mainstay, by half in two years. Rationing started under his stewardship of the island’s economy.

4. HE STOOD UP TO MOSCOW. In fact, he obeyed Moscow until Moscow decided to ask for something in return for its massive transfers of money to Havana. In 1965 he criticized the Kremlin because it had adopted what he termed the “law of value”. He then turned to China on the eve of the Cultural Revolution, one of the horror stories of the twentieth century. He simply switched allegiances within the totalitarian camp.

5. HE CONNECTED WITH THE PEASANTS. In fact, he died precisely because he never connected with them. “The peasant masses don’t help us at all,” he wrote in his Bolivian diary before he was captured—an apt way to describe his journey through the Bolivian countryside trying to stir up a revolution that could not even enlist the help of Bolivian Communists (who were realistic enough to note that peasants did not want revolution in 1967; they had already had one in 1952).

6. HE WAS A GUERRILLA GENIUS. With the exception of Cuba, every guerrilla effort he helped set up failed pitifully. After the triumph of the Cuban revolution, Guevara set up revolutionary armies in Nicaragua, the Dominican Republic, Panama, and Haiti, all of which were crushed. He later persuaded Jorge Ricardo Masetti to lead a fatal incursion into that country from Bolivia. Guevara’s role in the Congo in 1965 was both tragic and comical. He allied himself with Pierre Mulele and Laurent Kabila, two butchers, but got entangled in so many disagreements with the latter—and relations between Cuban and Congolese fighters were so strained—that he had to flee. Finally, his incursion in Bolivia ended up in his death, which his followers are commemorating this Sunday.

7. HE RESPECTED HUMAN DIGNITY. In fact, he had a habit of taking other people’s property. He told his followers to rob banks (“the struggling masses agree to rob banks because none of them has a penny in them”) and as soon as the Batista regime collapsed he occupied a mansion and made it his own—a case of expeditious revolutionary eminent domain.

8. HIS ADVENTURES WERE A CELEBRATION OF LIFE. Instead, they were an orgy of death. He executed many innocent people in Santa Clara, in central Cuba, where his column was based in the last stage of the armed struggle. After the triumph of the revolution, he was in charge of “La Cabaña” prison for half a year. He ordered the execution of hundreds of prisoners—former Batista men, journalists, businessmen, and others. A few witnesses, including Javier Arzuaga, who was the chaplain of “La Cabaña”, and José Vilasuso, who was a member of the body in charge of the summary judicial process, recently gave me their painful testimonies.

9. HE WAS A VISIONARY. His vision of Latin America was actually quite blurred. Take, for instance, his view that the guerrillas had to take to the countryside because that is where the struggling masses lived. In fact, since the 1960s, most peasants have peacefully deserted the countryside in part because of the failure of land reform, which has hindered the development of a property-based agriculture and economies of scale with absurd regulations forbidding all sorts of private arrangements.

10. HE WAS RIGHT ABOUT THE UNITED STATES. He predicted Cuba would surpass the GDP per capita of the U.S. by 1980. Today, Cuba’s economy can barely survive thanks to Venezuela’s oil subsidy (about 100,000 barrels a day), a form of international alms that does not speak too well of the regime’s dignity.

Alvaro Vargas Llosa is a Senior Fellow and director of The Center on Global Prosperity at the Independent Institute. He is the author of Liberty for Latin America.

Thomas Boswell: Let the Drama Begin

The Washington Post
Monday, October 10, 2005; E06

Every baseball postseason creates its own energy and reveals its themes as it unfolds. In these short-series shootouts, you never know what's coming. But in less than a week, spread across eight cities, we now see the emerging shape of things.

When Roger Clemens started warming up in the Astros' bullpen in Houston on Sunday, preparing to pitch the 16th inning against the Braves, this baseball postseason woke up and stood at attention. This year, October started nine days late. Maybe it took the longest postseason game in history -- 18 innings in all -- to get the joint jumping, but the party has started.

Until the Rocket, working on just two days' rest, said, "Gimme the ball" and took the mound with nary a Houston relief pitcher available behind him, this year's playoffs had been sleepy, almost dispiriting. Now, Clemens has changed the whole tone of the proceedings. It's all right to get excited again.

By hurling three scoreless innings of pure power baseball, overwhelming the Braves with his 93 mph fastball, his glare and his presence, the 43-year-old bought his Astros enough time to win, 7-6, on a homer in the 18th inning. Thus Clemens closed out Atlanta in Game 4, sending the Braves home without a World Series crown for the 13th time in their 14 straight dazzling but frustrating postseason appearances.

"We had nothing to do here but watch" that game, chuckled New York Manager Joe Torre of the 5-hour 50-minute marathon in Houston. Then, fresh from watching the heroics of their old teammate Clemens, the Yankees went out and added to the growing tension by forcing a Game 5 against the Angels with a tense 3-2 win in Yankee Stadium.

"I was happy for Roger. To be able to do that when you know he's not 100 percent [with an injured hamstring]. But he does it on courage."

Clemens was knocked out on Thursday night and has been boiling to get redemption. Who needs rest? As soon as Chris Burke's game-winning blast left the Astros' ballpark, the same voltage that has electrified the last four Octobers suddenly began to flow through this autumn as well. You could even feel it in the Bronx, where the Yankees fell behind 2-0, but rallied to keep their season alive, just as they have resuscitated themselves countless times this season when others had them safely buried.

"I guess Roger was going to pitch until his tongue hung out. Andy [Pettitte] was in Atlanta. So he was in for it," added Torre, knowing Houston's only remaining pitcher was Roy Oswalt, who had gone seven innings the night before and couldn't be used by any sane manager. In another few innings, Houston and Atlanta might have been reduced to coaches pitching.

When Clemens, with seven Cy Young Awards, was dragged before the TV cameras to get even more postgame acclaim, he endured just one question before deflecting the attention to Burke. "How 'bout the kid?" beamed Clemens, pushing the interview away from himself even though this was one of the best postseason moments of a career that hasn't had quite enough of them.
Thanks, Roger, we needed that. "I've never seen anybody like him," said Astros Manager Phil Garner.

While Clemens was the day's main meal, the Yankees and Angels provided a nighttime dessert. Facing elimination, some germs came to the Yankees' aid. The Angels found out late Saturday that proposed Game 4 starter Jarrod Washburn had a throat infection with high temperature.
A man can pitch in the playoffs with staples in his bloody ankle to hold a tendon in place; the issue is tolerance of pain. However, a high fever is an even more debilitating proposition.

In a hurry, the Angels made tough decisions. Their ace, 21-game winner Bartolo Colon, loves extra rest to help his back problems. The big right-hander was on the verge of flying back to California a day ahead of the team. The Angels claim they had time to recall Colon. Instead, they decided to give the ball to John Lackey on three days' rest. He was excellent, allowing one run in 5 2/3 innings, but the Yanks' Shawn Chacon kept the game close, allowing two runs in his 6 1/3 innings.

Finally, in the seventh inning, the Yankees broke through for two runs against the Angels' excellent bullpen. Scot Shields was charged with both runs as an RBI single by Ruben Sierra tied the game and Derek Jeter drove home the go-ahead run when Angels third baseman Chone Figgins fielded his ground ball cleanly, but threw wide to home plate, allowing Jorge Posada to slide home with the lead run.

Despite the New York win, the game that invaded the nation's consciousness on an NFL Sunday was the classic between the Braves and Astros. Each team had a grand slam, something that had never before happened in postseason. The Braves blew a 6-1 lead. Houston was down to its last out in the ninth inning with nobody on base when Brad Ausmus hit a ball that cleared the yellow home run line in left field in Minute Maid Park by six inches at most.

After that almost-miraculous Houston escape, the Braves seemed paralyzed whenever they had a chance to win, going a dismal 1 for 18 with runners in scoring position. Atlanta Manager Bobby Cox, who will probably be criticized again this offseason, did an excellent job of keeping his original lineup virtually intact for the whole 18 innings, merely substituting one first baseman for another. Garner made a hash of his attack with double switches and the removal of slugger Lance Berkman for a pinch runner. In all, Houston lost 16 plate appearances by the players in its original lineup.

So why did Houston win? Because Burke, the most suspect of all the substitutions -- in for Berkman, who had hit a grand slam in the eighth -- delivered that final home run. So much for the rewards of proper strategy.

A long game "is always a risk when you take out your big guns," said Garner. However, he said he couldn't have slept if the Astros had failed to score a run in extra innings because Berkman couldn't get home from second on a single.

"In 1986, I played in the 16-inning [NLCS Game 6] between the Mets and the Astros" that gave the Mets the pennant, said Garner. "There was a book written about that game called 'The Greatest Game Ever Played.' I think this is going to be the sequel. I can't imagine a better game with this much on the line."

Garner is entitled to be so enthusiastic. Houston's victory and Clemens's performance were splendid. But they merely won a Division Series, not a pennant or a World Series. In the last four postseasons we have seen so many amazing games for even higher stakes that we may have become spoiled.

The rest of this postseason has its work cut out. It's tough to beat the sight of an old, hobbled, 341-game winner as he blanks the Braves through the 16th, 17th and 18th innings. But, if recent Octobers are the measure, somebody will top it soon.

© 2005 The Washington Post Company

Jack Curry: 'Ber-nie' Can't Deliver, But Fans Keep Chanting

The New York Times
Published: October 10, 2005

Bernie Williams was a passenger in an armored vehicle barreling along a highway in Colombia in his role as a cultural ambassador for the United States Embassy last February. Military policemen dotted the sides of the two-lane road, and Williams had been warned about possible kidnappings, but he was relaxed and reflective.

The start of spring training with the Yankees was less than a week away, and Williams was eager to talk baseball. He told stories about Joe DiMaggio and Mickey Mantle. He described how exciting it was to win four championships. He even smiled about the tense environment created by George Steinbrenner, the Yankees' principal owner.

Because 2005 was the final guaranteed year of Williams's contract, he was asked if this would be the end. Williams had earned more than $100 million in his career, had won four World Series rings and had captured a batting title. What was left?
Apparently, a lot.

"There's too much out there for you to just leave," Williams said. "If you keep working hard, you can get it."

With those words, spoken long before Williams had a disappointing season - he lost his full-time job in center field - he made it evident that he wanted to continue playing after 2005. Williams has not changed his mind. More stubborn and proud than his gentlemanly demeanor would suggest, he says he can keep going for at least one more year.
The Yankees are not as certain.

So as they played a do-or-die game against the Angels last night at Yankee Stadium, there was also a chance they were saying goodbye to Williams. The fans understood, and they cloaked Williams in cheers while waiting for the Yankees to do something, anything, against John Lackey.

Eventually, the Yankees rebounded from a 2-0 deficit to squeeze out a 3-2 victory over the Angels in Game 4 of their division series. Williams received four standing ovations, one video tribute and countless "Ber-nie, Ber-nie" chants. He started the game as the designated hitter and went 0 for 4, but fittingly, he was in center field when the game ended. It had been his home for so long.

"I appreciate all the support they gave me today," Williams said. "To me, it was one of those, 'Just in case you don't come back, we want to show you how much we love you.' "
As Williams batted in the eighth inning, cameras flashed and the fans chanted his name. At one point, Williams asked for a timeout. He smashed a shot to center that, for a millisecond, delighted the fans. But Steve Finley hustled back to corral it.

The fans were not done. After Williams returned to the dugout, they continued to chant his name. They wanted to honor him one more time. With the decibel level rising, Jorge Posada stepped out of the batter's box and peered into the first-base dugout. Williams emerged and waved. It might have been the first curtain call for a player who was hitless in four at-bats.
"I was forced to go out there and acknowledge the crowd, which was pretty cool at that point," Williams said.

The Yankees will probably not try to sign him for 2006. Williams, who has been a Yankee since signing as a 17-year-old in 1986, may have to continue his career with another team.
How weird would Williams look in a Rangers or a Blue Jays uniform?

Four hours before yesterday's first pitch, the end was not a subject Williams wanted to discuss for long. He was marching toward the player entrance, and he eyed an escape. But in his haste, he tripped over a sidewalk curb. He recovered and trotted into the Stadium. Even after the game, Williams tried to avoid reporters.

Before the game, Manager Joe Torre said he did not think about the possibility of a goodbye for Williams because "we don't want it to be."

Torre said the Yankees had teased Williams about it to avoid the lingering emotions. "When the time comes that he's not in this uniform, I think it's going to hit you more so than anticipating when it's going to happen," Torre said.

As much as Williams was focused on a team victory yesterday, part of him had to ponder the personal ramifications. He would have had to have been a robot not to wonder if the 2,064th game of his career, including the postseason, would be his finale as a Yankee.
Now he gets a 2,065th.

When Paul O'Neill, who had announced his plans to retire, played in Game 5 of the 2001 World Series, the fans recognized his contribution to the Yankees by serenading him with numerous chants. As he stood in right field, O'Neill covered his face with his glove because his eyes were turning moist.

Williams was batting behind O'Neill in the lineup and was alongside him in the outfield in that game, experiencing the fans' outpouring of affection from up close. Williams has played 15 years in New York, six more than O'Neill, and the only Yankees with more hits are Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig and Mantle.

There was no doubt Williams would receive the same kind of adulation. Williams lowered his head and said, "I know it's coming," when he was reminded of O'Neill's farewell. "I think I know how O'Neill must have felt when they did that to him," he said afterward. "To me, it felt great, but it was bittersweet because I was hoping to get a couple of hits and be a contributor to the game."

Williams was enthusiastic during batting practice as he fielded grounders. He shook hands with reporters and even posed for one picture by the dugout. He seemed to be soaking up as much of the Stadium as he could. If the Yankees win tonight, he will get back here after all.