Friday, December 29, 2006

Paul Hollander: Tawana Brawley and the "Exotic Dancer" at Duke

Paul Hollander
December 29, 2006

The recent case of the lacrosse players at Duke University accused of raping a young black woman brings to mind the case of Tawana Brawley, the black teenager who in 1988 made similar charges against a group of white men in Wappinger Falls , NY.

In both cases, what turned out to be unfounded charges were widely given credit and generated immense publicity; celebrities and politicians rallied to the cause of the alleged victims, lengthy and costly legal investigations followed, and at last it emerged that the accusations were groundless. In both incidents, the charges were seized upon as self-evident, incontrovertible proof of the incorrigible and ineradicable racism that continues to permeate and infect every pore of American society.

On the Duke campus, the incident was seen, at least initially, as proof not only of the ingrained racism of American society but of other evils as well, such as sexism and “classism.” Rallies, demonstrations, protest marches and candlelight vigils were held and demands were made on the administration of the university to combat racism with greater determination. “On a single day in March 550 news outlets featured some version of the story.” [1] The incident was said to be a “wake up call against sexual assault,” and “enraged students raised questions about their safety on campus.” [2] Members of the faculty were in the forefront of those denouncing American society and its endemic racism. 88 members of the faculty "issued a statement in April saying 'thank you' to the protesters who had branded the players rapists." [3]

Protestations of the presumed innocence of the accused were often brushed aside; they were white, upper middle class males accused by a poor black female. The black female in question worked for an escort service (a widely used euphemism for prostitution) and attended the lacrosse players’ social gathering as an “exotic dancer.” It is doubtful that similar attention would have been generated if the alleged rape victim had been white since being black and female has, for some time, been the quintessential defining attribute of authentic victimhood.
The long and indisputable legacy of mistreatment and discrimination black people suffered explains the continued, ready acceptance of claims of victimization also enshrined in compensatory legislation, known as affirmative action. White guilt has been an understandable, but increasingly questionable response to this historical record.

According to the President of Duke, “the lacrosse episode... put into high relief deep structures of inequality in our society - inequalities of wealth, privilege and opportunity...and the attitudes of superiority these inequalities breed.” The Vice Provost said that “whatever we have been doing to address these problems [race, class, sex and privilege] has been insufficient and needs to be redoubled and tripled.” A law professor who was also the chair of the Academic Council asked:
“Have we tolerated behavior that would cause people to believe that they can treat other people without respect?” [4] The Raleigh News and Observer concluded that the situation has exposed serious issues of race, gender and class division.” [5]
An article in The New Yorker reported that

“Much of the bitterest vitriol came from members of the Duke faculty who were willing to assume not only the players’ guilt but theuniversity’s. At a session of the Academic Council Brodhead, [thepresident] was roundly assailed for not taking decisive action againstthe team and one professor... urged him to confess publicly that Dukewas a racist and misogynist institution. Houston Baker, an Englishprofessor...asserted in a letter (he subsequently made public)to...the Provost, that at Duke, white male athletes were “veritablygiven license to rape, maraud, deploy hate speech” and excoriated theuniversity for its complicity in the “sexual assault, verbal racialviolence and drunken white male privilege loosed amongst us.” [6]

It should be noted that the Duke faculty was not unanimous in harboring such sentiments. There were those willing to remind the public of presumptions of innocence, and James Coleman, in particular, another law professor, was highly critical of the handling of the case by the district attorney who characterized the accused as “a bunch of hooligans.” [7]

While the Duke case is not yet officially closed, the charges of rape have been dropped (but not those of sexual assault and kidnapping). The accuser ha expressed a new uncertainty about the nature of the incident and, moreover, DNA tests have indicated that the lacrosse players had no sexual contact (that could be defined as rape) with the accuser but that she had such contact with others prior to the time of the alleged rape. [8]

Unlike in the Tawana Brawley case, in North Carolina the district attorney gave every indication of a politically motivated urge to indict the accused and he pursued his case with an ethically dubious zeal (which included withholding information from the defense and using questionable methods for identifying the alleged wrongdoers). He was running in an election and appeared to seize the opportunity to display his anti-racist credentials for the benefit of black and liberal voters. It worked and he won re-election.

After several decades of compensatory legislation, the revamping of curricula in all educational institutions, virtually universal reverse discrimination (known as “affirmative action”) and a wide range of indicators that both official and unofficial racism has greatly diminished, demagogues like Al Sharpton continue to make lifelong careers out of mining white guilt and this guilt shows little decline, as the Duke incident also suggests. Why should this be the case?

It is reasonable to suspect that when the dust settles and it becomes widely known and fully acknowledged that the accusations against the lacrosse players were questionable and probably altogether groundless, those who had been convinced of the truthfulness of the charges will fall back on the reasoning that was offered by professor Stanley Diamond in 1988 in the aftermath of the Tawana Brawley case:

“The case cannot be measured by legal canons, official justice orreceived morality... The grand jury has responded to the technicalquestions of the case, weighing the evidence but necessarily blind toits deeper meanings. In cultural perspective, if not in fact, itdoesn’t matter whether the crime occurred or not...What is mostremarkable about this faked crime is that traditional victims havere-created themselves as victims in a dreadfully plausible situation.” [9]

The point of view quoted is likely to originate in deep reservoirs of sympathy and guilt for the past sufferings of the “traditional victims” which resist being drained by the evidence of substantial social and cultural change. This resistance may be linked to sentiments of enlightened moral superiority which manifests itself in the eager and profuse admissions of guilt. To feel guilty for the sins of one’s ancestors (or fellow citizens) and to dwell on this guilt in public is a lofty and attractive moral position not easily abandoned.

Many academic intellectuals’ sense of identity rests the role of the virtuous social critic, on “conspicuous compassion,” and the associated readiness to renounce society for a variety of sins.
But wallowing in guilt is not necessarily the best guide to action or policy or even to self-esteem.
Overwhelming feelings of guilt resulted in the policies of reverse discrimination, in new injustices, when in a variety of competitive situations a middle or upper class black person is given automatic preference over a similarly (or better) qualified poor or lower class white one on account of the color of his skin and the sufferings of his ancestors.

White guilt is complemented and validated by the self appointed spokesmen of the black population who thrive on and make abundant use of what Shelby Steele called “the victim-focused identity.” The position of the innocent victim is even more compelling morally and psychologically than that of the righteous critic of society confessing his guilt - it provides a self-evident, unchallengeable moral high ground. At the same time, considerable material and social status benefits follow from the legally certified and institutionalized victim identity.

When white guilt converges with attachment to the victim identity there will be an enlarged, reflexive receptivity to the claims of the likes of Tawana Brawley and “the exotic dancer” at Duke University. It may be time for an emotionally satisfying white guilt to give way to more careful considerations of right and wrong which are not automatically determined by the skin color of either the wrongdoer or his victim.

Paul Hollander has written several books dealing with the political attitudes and political morality of American and other intellectuals, most recently The End of Commitment. Revolutionaries, Intellectuals and Political Morality. (2006)


1. Duke Magazine, May/June, 2006.

2. Duke Chronicle online, March 29, 2006.

3. "At Law," Wall Street Journal, December 27, 2006.

4. Duke Magazine, May/June 2006.

5. Quoted in New Yorker, September 4, 2006.

6. Peter S. Boyer: "Letter from Durham," New Yorker, September 4, 2006.

7. Raleigh News Observer, March 29, 2006.

8. New York Times, December 23, 24, 2006.

9. Stanley Diamond: "Reversing Brawley," The Nation, October 31, 1988.

Don Feder: Learning About Islam With Imam Ellison

Don Feder
December 29, 2006

The Anti-Defamation League says it’s time for Rep. Virgil Goode (R, Va.) to “rethink” his “ill-considered remarks” which demonstrate “a serious lack of understanding of the fundamental religious guarantees enshrined in the U.S. Constitution.” That bad, huh?

The Council on American Islamic Relations (Jihad R US) says of Goode’s comments, “There can never be a reasonable defense for such bigotry.”

Even the American Humanist Association is agitated. Its president, Mel Lipman, fumes, “If Virgil Goode is to continue serving in Congress, he needs a refresher course in basic American civics” -- from the ACLU, no doubt.

The occasion for these fevered condemnations was a letter Congressman Goode sent to a number of his constituents, in response to the announcement of Rep-elect Keith Ellison (D, Minn.) – a convert to the Religion of Peace – that he would bring a Koran with him to his swearing-in ceremony.

“I do not subscribe to using the Koran in any way,” Goode wrote. While The Ten Commandments and “In God We Trust” are prominently displayed in his congressional office, “The Koran is not going to be on the wall of my office.”

If that weren’t enough of an offense against multiculturalism, Goode went on to observe that unless we “stop illegal immigration totally” and end “the diversity visas policy, pushed hard by President Clinton” allowing more immigration from the Middle East, “I fear that in the next century we will have many more Muslims in the United States.” And that’s not a good thing?

Meanwhile, Ellison wowed the Sons of the Prophet ( Dearborn , MI chapter) at a conference on Sunday. “You can’t back down, you can’t chicken out, you can’t be afraid, you got to have faith in Allah, and you got to stand up and be a real Muslim,” Ellison told those gathered for the annual convention of the Muslim American Society and the Islamic Circle of North America.

According to Jihad Watch, the Muslim American Society has ties to the terrorist Muslim Brotherhood. Terrorism expert Steven Emerson says the Islamic Circle of North America “is on record as calling for jihad in the United States .” They sound like real Muslims to me.

Abu Ellison rhetorically inquired of the Dearborn Brethren: “How do you know that Allah … did not bring you here so that you could understand how to teach people what tolerance was, what justice was?”

Right you are, Keith. After all, there are so many shining examples of justice and tolerance in the Muslim world, where minorities are treated with such admirable fairness, justice is impartially administered and respect for human rights is a standard we could all emulate. (Please note the sarcasm here.)

“We all support the Constitution, one Constitution that upholds our right to equal protection,” Ellison told CNN’s Wolfe Blitzer.

Yes, but wouldn’t you say Goode is a vile bigot? Blitzer inquired. Ellison nobly declined to engage in “name-calling.” “I don’t know the fellow and I’d rather just say he has a lot to learn about Islam,” Ellison condescendingly replied.

Poor, ignorant Virginia backwoodsman that he is, Goode just doesn’t know enough about Islam to appreciate its exquisite beauty and lofty principles – like the thing about Jews being the descendants of apes and pigs.

We all have much to learn about Islam, and perhaps the Minnesotan can help to enlighten us.
But first, consider this: The book which Ellison will proudly schlep to his swearing-in has been used to justify the following:

· The Madrid bombings of 2004, the London bombings of 2005 and the plot to blow up as many as 11 trans-Atlantic flights that unraveled in 2006

· The Beslan massacre – where 186 Russian school children and 158 adults died in a hostage crisis in 2003

· Rioting in Pakistan , Afghanistan , Nigeria and Libya (over Danish cartoons dissing Mohammed) in which 139 were killed

· A series of blasts in Mumbai , India , in July, which left 209 dead and more than 700 injured.

· Attacks during this year’s celebration of Ramadan (280 in 17 countries) in which more than 1,600 were killed. I didn’t kill anyone for Hanukah. Guess I’m just not serious about my religion.

· The murder of a priest and a nun, the firebombing of churches in the West Bank and multiple death threats following the Pope’s comments on Islam and the balance between faith and reason

· The ethnic cleansing of 90% of Kosovo’s pre-1999 Serb population, not to mention the destruction of hundreds of churches, monasteries, convents and shrines in the province
· The ritual slaughter of Dutch filmmaker Theo Van Gogh

Think anyone in the mainstream media is curious about how America ’s first Muslim congressman feels about the foregoing? Think again.

There’s a teenaged girl in Indonesia on whom an indelible impression was made. Noviana Malewa has a scar from a machete cut running from her cheekbone across her face and down her neck.

Noviana was lucky. On October 29, 2005 she was walking home from school with four teenaged companions, when the group was set upon by machete-wielding attackers dressed in black. Her friends were decapitated.

The inspiration for this atrocity came from which literary work: 1) “The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin” 2) “Sense and Sensibility” 3) “Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm” 4) “It Takes a Village” or 5) “The Koran”?

It is the very book Ellison will proudly carry to his swearing-in that was the motivation for these murders.

The heads of the four teens were found in bags on the steps of a church with the following message, “We will murder 100 more Christian teenagers and their heads will be presented as presents.” When apprehended, one of the murderers said the killings were planned as a “gift” to mark the end of Ramadan.

To help us ignoramuses learn about his faith, perhaps Imam Ellison could explain the following verses in the Koran, with special reference to their relationship to justice and tolerance:

· “Believers, take neither Jews nor Christians for your friends. They are friends with one another. Whoever of you seeks their friendship shall become one of their number.”

· “Fight those who do not believe in God…Nor acknowledge the religion of truth (Islam) even if they are people of the Book (Christians and Jews) until they pay the Jizya (poll tax) with willing submission, and feel themselves subdued.”

· “Ye Muslims are the best of peoples, evolved for mankind.”

· “As to the thief, male and female, cut off his or her hand: A punishment by way of example, from Allah for their crime.”

· “The woman and the man guilty of adultery or fornication, flog each of them with a hundred stripes.”

· “The punishment of those who wage war against Allah and His Apostle, and strive with might and main for mischief through the land is crucifixion, or the cutting off of the hands and feet from opposite sides or exile from the land.”

· “The last hour will not come before the Muslims fight the Jews and the Muslims kill them, so Jews will hide behind stones and trees and the stone and the tree will say ‘O Muslim. ‘O servant of God! There is a Jew hiding behind me: come and kill him.’”

And please -- I beg you -- don’t cite the Bible verses about dealing with civilians in conquered cities, or the penalty for blaspheming or cursing one’s parents.

It’s been 3,000 years since a Canaanite city was put to the sword. ( Israel doesn’t even have capital punishment for Muslims who murder Jews in the name of Allah.) Christianity’s last crusade was half-a-millennium ago. I know of no Western nation that applies the death penalty to those who sass mom and pop.

On the other hand (the one that hasn’t been cut off), execution for adultery, fatwah/death warrants for “insulting the Prophet,” the rape of female captives, honor killings of women suspected of extra-marital sex, suicide bombings and other excursions into holy war are regular occurrences in the Muslim world.

Such crimes are condoned by the highest religious authorities in Islam, including the scholars of Al-Azhar University and Adb al-Rahman al-Sudais, sheikh of Mecca’s Grand Mosque. (Ain’t Islam grand?)

On January 3, Ellison will take an oath to defend the Constitution of the United States with his hand on the Koran. But are the two in any way compatible?

Our form of government is based on the Bible. At the dedication of the Bunker Hill Monument (1843), Daniel Webster declared that the Bible “is also a book which teaches man his own individual responsibility, and his equality with his fellow-man.”

As Franklin Delano Roosevelt put it in 1935 (speaking on the 400th anniversary of the printing of the English Bible), “We can not read the history of our rise and development as a nation without reckoning the place the Bible has occupied in shaping the advances of the Republic.”

Christianity and Judaism are embraced voluntarily. Throughout its history, unto today, conversion to Islam is often under duress. (Ask the 1.9 million who died in the Sudan’s second civil war – 1983 to 2005) The Bible appeals to reason. Islam is based on blind, unthinking adherence to the Koran. Benedict XVI alluded to this in his famous remarks at the University of Regensburg.

The Bible contains the seeds of our current conception of equality under the law and human rights. (The American Revolution was preached from colonial pulpits. The anti-slavery movement started in the churches of New England.) That’s why the Western world pioneered the abolition of slavery. That’s why the Islamic world still has it.

If there’s anything in the Koran compatible with civil liberties, it has yet to be discovered. The Koran is the basis for the system of dhimmitude – the subjugation of non-Muslims. That’s why democracy has never developed organically in the Islamic world. If the Islamic advance into the heart of Europe hadn’t been stopped at the Battle of Tours (732 AD), our government might resemble Iran’s or Saudi Arabia’s – where freedom of conscience is not exactly enshrined in law.
The concept of tolerance that permits the election of a Muslim in an overwhelmingly Christian country is not based on the Koran, but the book Muslims believe it supersedes.

While Ellison is teaching us benighted Islamaphobes about justice and tolerance, perhaps he could save a few lessons for his co-religionists in the Muslim world (like the headhunters of Indonesia ) – where such concepts are non-existent.

Click Here to support

Don Feder is a former Boston Herald writer who is now a political/communications consultant. He also maintains his own website,

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Meditations on "The History Boys"

This piece more thoroughly outlines the reasons for the fullness of my revulsion for "The History Boys" whereas the article below just hints at them. - jtf

[Carol Iannone 11/29 12:53 PM]

I won't say I wasn't warned. Extremely discerning people whom I greatly respect told me The History Boys was not really about history, and only about boys in the homosexual connection. But it seemed at least like it might touch on ideas about school and teaching, and at one time I liked the work of Alan Bennett, or thought I did. And I waited until it was made into a film so it would cost only ten dollars instead of thirty or forty.

Still, it was a shock just how perverse it was after all. Under the guise of a friendly play about boys from modest backgrounds aspiring to Oxford, the audience was coaxed into smiling and chuckling about such things as a teacher groping his students (and with the Mark Foley frenzy barely over), and a student commanding a repressed teacher to blank blank blank, that is, administer oral sex on him, expressed in the vernacular.

And the teaching? The play is supposed to be contrasting two styles of teaching, but both styles are inane. The old teacher can't be bothered to prepare a real class, but has the boys sing, act out scenes from movies, pretend they're in a French bordello to practice the language, and identify wisps of poetry here and there. This is supposed to contrast with (and perhaps it is marginally less noxious than) the over-focused-for-success method of the new teacher who advises empty revisionist views of history just to get attention on the Oxford entrance exams, and manages to suggest that the great venerable institution of Lewis and Tolkien is really just a burnt out pile of pretty stones and clever fakery.

The true method in his madness, though, is the modern English desire to destroy any faith in their country at any time in its history. (That's the purpose of Foyle's War, a dark British TV series set during World War II, designed to inform us that even during England's finest hour, the island was full of ratty people who deserved to lose.) No wonder the Muslims think they are entitled to remake Britain.

And the play went on tour throughout Britain. So that audiences in all the provinces are going to hear the surly student tell his teacher that by next week the teacher will be blanking blank blank, that is, administering oral sex on him, expressed in the vernacular. Audiences are expected to smile at it, and many do. The only thing you can say is, Plato was right: Art does corrupt.

This is similar to the reverence accorded to Madonna when she decides to play the proper married lady after her years of turning a couple of mini-generations of American 'tweens into little tramps. One moment the mature English matron writing children's books, the next moment an unhinged celebrity tongue-kissing women on television awards ceremonies. It's the actual mixture of the two modes that is more offensive than one or the other. Something that draws you in with its seeming normalcy and then shoves perversity in your face.

Film Review: "The History Boys"

I unwittingly stumbled into this ridiculous movie today and I'm still struggling to overcome the experience. Of course, if one takes the position that virtual foreplay between teacher and student is something to be laughed off, then one may enjoy this cloying bit of work. If you know why the fat man is smiling in this picture at right and you are bothered by it, then I would strongly urge that you avoid this insipid little film. - jtf

Subplot distracts from 'History Boys'
Mary F. Pols
Contra Costa Times
Published: Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Having conquered first the London stage and then Broadway, playwright Alan Bennett has adapted his play "The History Boys" for the screen, enabling those of us who never get to Broadway productions to finally see exactly what all that Tony Award-winning fuss was about. Nicholas Hytner directs the very fine original cast from his National Theatre production, so truly, this is as close to the theatrical experience as a moviegoer could hope for.

The story, set in Northern England in the 1980s, follows eight schoolboys (they're 17 or 18) through an intense post-term cram session intended to win them the Holy Grail of English academia, acceptance to Oxford or Cambridge. Their teachers include an old favorite, Hector (Richard Griffiths), a rotund fount of poetry and literary references, who encourages them to practice their French by acting out scenes set in a brothel; and Mrs. Lintott (the magnificently dry Frances de la Tour), who teaches history in a more traditional manner.

As the story begins, the fussy headmaster (Clive Merrison) has just hired a buttoned-up Oxford graduate named Irwin (Stephen Campbell Moore) to give the boys "edge," or rather, to teach them to manipulate the essay and admissions system. He's very clever and young, "about five minutes older than we are," says Scripps (Jamie Parker), the skeptic of the bunch.

Actually, all the boys are skeptical, and their ensuing brattiness comes at us at top speed, so it takes a while to attach individual personality traits to them.

There's the gay student, Posner (Samuel Barnett), who adores the coolest, cutest boy in school, Dakin (Dominic Cooper, memorably seductive). Timms (James Corden) is plump and confused by poetry. Rudge (Russell Tovey, in a performance that manages to marry humility and bluntness) is what we on this side of the Atlantic like to call a dumb jock. Crowther (Samuel Anderson) wants to be an actor and Akhtar (Sacha Dhawan) craves success. The eighth is Lockwood (Andrew Knott), who, sadly, does not make much of an impression.

Their witty banter with Hector and Irwin is arch, precocious, and feels, not surprisingly, like dialogue from the stage. It's a bit exhausting.

Bennett has "opened" up his play, and director Hytner takes us outside from time to time, but we're definitely in a piece of entertainment that has the rhythm and urgency of a busy stage performance. No one hems or haws, and no trip through the hallways of the school is silent; they're all opportunities to drop a quick joke or update us on some crucial bit of information.
At first blush, "The History Boys" seems a straightforward tale of a clash between the ambitiously modern (Irwin) and the old school, albeit eccentric, Hector, who cares more about the boys' happiness than their ambition. Thanks to Hector, his boys can spout Auden, quote Bette Davis speeches and sing their way through many a lovely old ditty. The boys enjoy their old teacher, but they also find him somewhat foolish, and Irwin seems a more appealing role model to many of them. It's as if Robin Williams had a real rival in "The Dead Poet's Society."

Then Bennett adds another layer to the story, a pair of subplots about attraction between student and mentor. The one involving Irwin is handled with grace and sensitivity, but the second puts the plot on perilous ground; we're not sure what to make of it. Hector is a groper. He offers his students rides on his motorbike and reaches back whenever he can to give their genitals a good squeeze. This habit is treated by the boys with a sort of old-fashioned tolerance; they good-naturedly trade off the gropee duty. The headmaster is annoyed when he finds out about it, but even he characterizes it as "more appreciative than investigatory."

Americans are notoriously prudish, but if it is prudish to say it is hard to swallow Bennett's seeming implication that enduring a groping is well worth the trade-off for the Auden expertise, I'll take the label. When Hector insists "nothing happened," the image of him grinning gleefully (Griffiths, by the way, is a man who does not take kindly to the cinematic close-up) while groping offers a clear contradiction.

Having created this moral confusion for the audience, Bennett sweeps it all away with a mushy, sentimental ending that would seem tidy if we weren't all too aware of the pile of dirt the playwright left under the bed.

Reach Times movie critic Mary F. Pols at or 925-945-4741.
'The History Boys': C+

Starring: Richard Griffiths, Frances De La Tour, Stephen Campbell Moore, Samuel Barnett, Dominic Cooper, James Corden, Jamie Parker, Russell Tovey, Samuel Anderson, Sacha Dhawan
Rated: R (language and sexual content)

Victor Davis Hanson: Ahmadinejad Weaker Than He Lets On

December 28, 2006

Iran's Ahmadinejad Far Weaker Than He Lets On
By Victor Davis Hanson

The Iraq Study Group, prominent U.S. Senators and realist diplomats all want America to hold formal talks with the government of Iran. They think Tehran might help the United States disengage from Iraq and the general Middle East mess with dignity. That would be a grave error for a variety of reasons - the most important being that Iran is far shakier than we are.

The world of publicity-hungry Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is not expanding, but shrinking. Despite his supposedly populist credentials, his support at home and abroad will only further weaken as long as the United States continues its steady, calm and quiet pressure on him.

In Iran's city council elections last week, moderate conservative and reformist candidates defeated Ahmadinejad's vehemently anti-American slate of allies. At a recent public meeting, angry Iranian students - tired of theocratic lunacy and repression - shouted down their president.

By supporting terrorists in Iraq and Lebanon, enriching uranium and insanely threatening to destroy a nuclear Israel, Ahmadinejad is only alienating Iranians, who wonder where their once vast oil revenues went and how they can possibly pay for all these wild adventures.

Meanwhile, Ahmadinejad has invested little in the source of his wealth - the oil infrastructure of Iran. Soon, even the country's once-sure oil revenues will start to decline. And that could be sooner than he thinks if the United Nations were to expand its recent economic sanctions in response to Ahmadinejad's flagrant violation of nuclear non-proliferation accords.

So, as Iranians worry that their nation is becoming an international pariah and perhaps heading down the path of bankruptcy in the process, now is not the time for America to give in by offering direct talks with Ahmadinejad. That propaganda victory would only help him reclaim the legitimacy and stature that he is losing with his own people at home.

Better models to follow instead are our past long-term policies toward Muammar el-Qaddafi's Libya and the Soviet Union of the 1980s. As long as Libya sponsored terrorism and attacked Westerners, we kept clear, and boycotted the regime. Only in 2003, when the Libyans unilaterally gave up a substantial program of weapons of mass destruction, agreed not to violate nuclear proliferation accords and renounced terrorism did we agree to normalize relations.

In other words, "talking with" or "engaging" Libya did not bring about this remarkable change in attitude within the Libyan government. In contrast, tough American principles, economic coercion, ostracism and patience finally did.

The United States always maintained open channels with the Soviet Union. After all - unlike with Iran or Libya - we had little choice when thousands of nukes were pointed at us and Red Army troops were massed on the West German border.

But Ronald Reagan nevertheless embraced a radical shift in U.S. policy by actively appealing to Russian dissidents. He used the bully pulpit to expose the barbarity of the "evil empire" in the world court of ideas. All the while, Reagan further enhanced America's military advantage over the Soviets to speed the regime's collapse.

After the fall, courageous Russian dissidents from Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn to Natan Sharansky did not applaud Jimmy Carter, who had smugly pronounced the end of his own "inordinate fear" of such a murderous ideology. Instead, they preferred Reagan, who had challenged Soviet Premier Michael Gorbachev "to tear down" the Berlin Wall. America came out ahead when we were on the side of people yearning for change rather than coddling the regime trying to stop it.

The larger Middle East that surrounds Iran is in the throes of a messy, violent three-stage transition: from dictatorship to radicalism and chaos to constitutional government. Thugs and terrorists like Ahmadinejad ("We did not have a revolution in order to have democracy") want it to stop and return to the old world before Sept. 11.

In similar fashion, there are also terrible aftershocks in Afghanistan and Iraq, but the old authoritarian rules of Saddam and the Taliban are over. So perhaps is the Syrian colonization of Lebanon. Yasser Arafat is gone in the Middle East, and his successors are fighting each other more than they are Israel.

In all this chaos - which will take years to settle - the United States needs to stick to its principles. Neither immediate military intervention nor dialogue with Iran is the answer. Instead, we must just keep up the pressure on the trash-talking Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who is far weaker than he lets on.

Victor Davis Hanson is a classicist and historian at the Hoover Institution, Stanford University, and author, most recently, of "A War Like No Other: How the Athenians and Spartans Fought the Peloponnesian War." You can reach him by e-mailing

Ann Coulter- Kwanzaa: Holiday From the FBI
December 27, 2006

President Bush's Kwanzaa message this year skipped the patently absurd claim of years past that: "African-Americans and people around the world reflect on African heritage during Kwanzaa." Instead, he simply said: "I send greetings to those observing Kwanzaa."

More African-Americans spent this season reflecting on the birth of Christ than some phony non-Christian holiday invented a few decades ago by an FBI stooge. Kwanzaa is a holiday for white liberals, not blacks.

It is a fact that Kwanzaa was invented in 1966 by a black radical FBI pawn, Ron Karenga, aka Dr. Maulana Karenga. Karenga was a founder of United Slaves, a violent nationalist rival to the Black Panthers and a dupe of the FBI.

In what was probably a foolish gamble, during the madness of the '60s the FBI encouraged the most extreme black nationalist organizations in order to discredit and split the left. The more preposterous the organization, the better. Karenga's United Slaves was perfect. In the annals of the American '60s, Karenga was the Father Gapon, stooge of the czarist police.

Despite modern perceptions that blend all the black activists of the '60s, the Black Panthers did not hate whites. They did not seek armed revolution. Those were the precepts of Karenga's United Slaves. United Slaves were proto-fascists, walking around in dashikis, gunning down Black Panthers and adopting invented "African" names. (That was a big help to the black community: How many boys named "Jamal" currently sit on death row?)

Whether Karenga was a willing dupe, or just a dupe, remains unclear. Curiously, in a 1995 interview with Ethnic NewsWatch, Karenga matter-of-factly explained that the forces out to get O.J. Simpson for the "framed" murder of two whites included "the FBI, the CIA, the State Department, Interpol, the Chicago Police Department" and so on. Karenga should know about FBI infiltration. (He further noted that the evidence against O.J. "was not strong enough to prohibit or eliminate unreasonable doubt" – an interesting standard of proof.)

In the category of the-gentleman-doth-protest-too-much, back in the '70s, Karenga was quick to criticize rumors that black radicals were government-supported. When Nigerian newspapers claimed that some American black radicals were CIA operatives, Karenga publicly denounced the idea, saying, "Africans must stop generalizing about the loyalties and motives of Afro-Americans, including the widespread suspicion of black Americans being CIA agents."

Now we know that the FBI fueled the bloody rivalry between the Panthers and United Slaves. In one barbarous outburst, Karenga's United Slaves shot to death Black Panthers Al "Bunchy" Carter and Deputy Minister John Huggins on the UCLA campus. Karenga himself served time, a useful stepping-stone for his current position as a black studies professor at California State University at Long Beach.

Kwanzaa itself is a lunatic blend of schmaltzy '60s rhetoric, black racism and Marxism. Indeed, the seven "principles" of Kwanzaa praise collectivism in every possible arena of life – economics, work, personality, even litter removal. ("Kuumba: Everyone should strive to improve the community and make it more beautiful.") It takes a village to raise a police snitch.

When Karenga was asked to distinguish Kawaida, the philosophy underlying Kwanzaa, from "classical Marxism," he essentially explained that under Kawaida, we also hate whites. While taking the "best of early Chinese and Cuban socialism" – which one assumes would exclude the forced abortions, imprisonment for homosexuals and forced labor – Kawaida practitioners believe one's racial identity "determines life conditions, life chances and self-understanding."
There's an inclusive philosophy for you.

(Sing to "Jingle Bells")

Kwanzaa bells, dashikis sell
Whitey has to pay;
Burning, shooting, oh what fun
On this made-up holiday!

Coincidentally, the seven principles of Kwanzaa are the very same seven principles of the Symbionese Liberation Army, another charming invention of the Least-Great Generation. In 1974, Patricia Hearst, kidnap victim-cum-SLA revolutionary, posed next to the banner of her alleged captors, a seven-headed cobra. Each snake head stood for one of the SLA's revolutionary principles: Umoja, Kujichagulia, Ujima, Ujamaa, Nia, Kuumba and Imani – the same seven "principles" of Kwanzaa.

With his Kwanzaa greetings, President Bush is saluting the intellectual sibling of the Symbionese Liberation Army, killer of housewives and police. He is saluting the founder of United Slaves, who were such lunatics that they shot Panthers for not being sufficiently insane – all with the FBI as their covert ally.

It's as if David Duke invented a holiday called "Anglika," and the president of the United States issued a presidential proclamation honoring the synthetic holiday. People might well take notice if that happened.

Kwanzaa was the result of a '60s psychosis grafted onto the black community. Liberals have become so mesmerized by multicultural nonsense that they have forgotten the real history of Kwanzaa and Karenga's United Slaves – the violence, the Marxism, the insanity. Most absurdly, for leftists anyway, is that they have forgotten the FBI's tacit encouragement of this murderous black nationalist cult founded by the father of Kwanzaa.

Now the "holiday" concocted by an FBI dupe is honored in a presidential proclamation and public schools across the nation. The only principle Kwanzaa promotes is liberals' unbounded capacity to respect any faith but Christianity.

A movement that started approximately 2,000 years before Kwanzaa leaps well beyond collectivism and litter removal to proclaim that we are all equal before God. "There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus" (Galatians 3:28). It was practitioners of that faith who were at the forefront of the abolitionist and civil rights movements. But that's all been washed down the memory hole, along with the true origins of Kwanzaa.

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

Closing in on History, Knight Remains Unchanged

The New York Times
Published: December 28, 2006

It is not surprising that Bob Knight says his favorite song is “My Way,” or that when his time on earth is over he hopes for this epitaph: “He was honest.” Until then, however, he must be satisfied with assessing his impact on the game of basketball.

With one more victory — his 880th — Knight will pass the former North Carolina Coach Dean Smith for the most career wins in N.C.A.A. Division I men’s basketball. It can come today, when his Texas Tech Red Raiders play host to Nevada-Las Vegas in Lubbock, Tex., and will be the crowning achievement on a 41-year career filled with them: five Final Four appearances, three national titles, an Olympic gold medal as the coach of the 1984 United States team and a spot in the Basketball Hall of Fame in 1991.

Knight, 66, says he has thought about his coaching legacy. In fact, he said, he first gave it serious thought more than 20 years ago when he was considering jumping to the N.B.A. He asked his friend, the Hall of Fame Coach Pete Newell, for advice. Newell asked Knight what he wanted from coaching.

“I told him that I wanted to be thought of by other coaches the same way that you are thought of,” Knight said in a recent telephone interview.

He still does.

“I want them to know that I am a guy who watches more film than anyone, who cared if I could find a way to take advantage of a weakness in an opponent so I could beat them,” he said. “I want them to know I’m a teacher.”

In coaching circles, Knight’s legacy appears to be intact.

His former players make up a who’s who list in coaching, including Duke’s Mike Krzyzewski, Iowa’s Steve Alford and the KnicksIsiah Thomas. Even longtime rivals concede Knight’s name is synonymous with the “part-whole” method of teaching, man-to-man defense and the motion offense. All ascribe a virtue to Knight that is perhaps at odds with his public image: patience.

Still, some worry that Knight’s coaching accomplishments have been eclipsed by his often profane and highly publicized tantrums, which include throwing a chair onto the court during a game against Purdue and a run in with a police officer in Puerto Rico, and especially his dismissal from Indiana in 2000 after 29 seasons in the wake of a confrontation with a student.

“Here is one of the great minds in basketball,” said Quinn Buckner, the point guard for Knight’s 1976 Indiana team that won the national championship and posted a perfect record. “He has graduated all of his players, and never had trouble with the N.C.A.A. And unfortunately, because of the way things have transpired, I don’t think this record, and the impact that he had on so many young people’s lives, will ever be fully appreciated.”

Knight, however, is not one of the worried. He has conceded the battle for public opinion and insists that he has no regrets about how he has conducted himself on or off the basketball court.

“You don’t find any kid who’s ever played for me, or any coach who’s coached with me saying these things,” said Knight who began his head coaching career at Army. “They are who I’m answerable to. I’ve done what I thought I’ve had to do, and haven’t worried about what other people think.”

Instead, Knight gets a measure of his impact on basketball in his frequent conversations with Alford or Lawrence Frank, his former student-manager at Indiana who now coaches the Nets.

Both employ the “part-whole” method of instruction that they learned from Knight, who had absorbed it from Newell. It is a simple technique grounded in fundamentals.

“You break it down in pieces,” Frank said. “You make sure each player knows what he must do in a one-on-one, two-on-two, three-on-three. By the time you get to five-on-five, everyone has a high level of understanding and confidence. I have never seen a coach so committed to turning over every stone to find an answer.”

Before practices at Iowa, Alford finds himself laying the tape down the center of the lane just as Knight does to remind his players where to help their teammates on defense. He starts practices with the same four-corner passing drill that he did as a player at Indiana. He frequently utters to his Hawkeyes one of Knight’s famous rules: They must make four passes before someone shoots.

“Look at how much has changed,” said Alford, who intended to be in Lubbock to see Knight perhaps break the record. “Coach won games when there was no shot clock, when there was a 45-second shot clock and now a 35-second clock. But really, he has never changed in his coaching style or personality. He always has known who he was and has never wavered.”

Newell, 91, says every basketball coach at any level is indebted to Knight for refining what is by far the most popular offense in the game: the motion offense, which is based on ball movement, screens and spacing.

“Bob is a great clinician,” Newell said. “and over the years, he has spent countless hours with other coaches teaching his philosophy. It doesn’t matter if you’re a youth league or high school coach, Bob will take his time telling you exactly what he does and why he does it. He’s one of the few coaches that doesn’t believe in keeping secrets, and he has a gift for imparting them clearly.”

While virtually every team runs some form of a motion offense, not many of them do it as proficiently as a team coached by Knight.

“The six years I was in the Big 12 with him, I thought Texas Tech was the toughest team to prepare for because of how they ran their motion,” said Kelvin Sampson, who coached at Oklahoma before taking over Indiana this season. “They made hard cuts and were a good passing team. They knew when to attack off the dribble, got you in angles and attacked you in different areas. He does such a great job of discipline and shot selection. They may get a shot within five or six seconds or get a shot in 30 seconds. They take what you give them. I think his motion offense and the discipline of his teams have always set him apart.”

It is Knight’s insistence on discipline, and the manner in which he enforces it, that has brought him the most unflattering scrutiny. He can be bellicose and was caught on videotape grabbing the neck of one of his former players at practice, which precipitated his dismissal at Indiana.
Buckner, now a broadcaster for the Indiana Pacers, concedes Knight was a demanding coach.

“We were not a democracy, but he was fair,” Buckner said. “Coach was exceptional at pushing our buttons. I can’t say that every day I liked it. But we trusted him and knew that he was not there to put us in peril. Looking back on it, I can say that he helped make me a man and prepared me for life far beyond basketball.”

Knight remains a private man, especially when it comes to what his friends and former players say are his many acts of kindness.

For Frank, he made dozens of phone calls behind the scenes to jump start his coaching career.
“I found out about them months, sometimes years later,” Frank said.

But for Landon Turner, one of the stars of Indiana’s 1981 team, Knight’s devotion to his players became public. Four months after the Hoosiers captured the national title, Turner was paralyzed in a car accident. Knight tirelessly raised money for Turner’s hospital bills and pushed him to resume his life.

“I will always be in debt to him,” said Turner, now a motivational speaker in Indianapolis. “The money meant a whole lot, but really the most important thing he did was not treat me any differently. He still challenged me and cussed me out. I love him for that.”

Ultimately, Knight believes he is accountable only to the players he has coached at Army, Indiana and Texas Tech and the friends he has made over the years in coaching and beyond. He is proud of the record he is about to set and honored to be in the company of revered coaches like Smith, Adolph Rupp and John Wooden. Still, he is not sure of how accurate the record is at measuring how successful he has been in pursuing his passion.

“Maybe I’d be more impressed if I won that many high school games,” he said. “That’s where the real coaching is done. You take the talent that lives in the area and mold them into a team.”

Thayer Evans contributed reporting.

Knight, Smith reach top taking different routes

By Robyn Norwood,
Los Angeles Times Staff Writer
December 25, 2006

Bob Knight and Dean Smith share little in image or personal style, but their ideas on basketball often converged.

Knight, poised to break Smith's record of 879 victories as a Division I men's coach as soon as Thursday, once said Michael Jordan — who played for Smith at North Carolina and for Knight in the 1984 Olympics — described the differences most memorably.

"One time he said Dean Smith was the master of the four-corner offense and I was the master of the four-letter word," Knight wrote in his 2002 autobiography, "Knight: My Story."

"But he would always say that we had the same end in what we were trying to do."As Knight closed in on the record, tying it Saturday when Texas Tech beat Bucknell, The Times spoke to three contemporaries of the two men, quizzing them on a series of superlatives that ranged from serious to jesting.

Jim Calhoun has coached two NCAA championship teams at Connecticut and is a member of the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame.

Gene Keady was Knight's adversary for many years when Knight was at Indiana and Keady was at Purdue.

And broadcaster Dick Vitale has known both for decades, referring to them admiringly as "Robert Montgomery Knight" and "Michelangelo."

Best coach with a five-point lead and two minutes left:

• Calhoun: Bob Knight. When he had his best players, it was almost like they were in some kind of trance. I've heard other coaches say that. They played with such discipline.

• Keady: That's an even one. I played them both, and I want to say there wasn't much difference. Both were very well-organized, great strategists, with great players.

• Vitale: I want to be a politician here, but when you're coming down the stretch, a guy like Knight, he holds a lead.

Best down five with 20 seconds left:

• Calhoun: The greatest coach ever, down any number, put Dean Smith. I have never seen a guy able to manipulate the clock like that, at a minute and a half, two minutes, 30 seconds. Nobody else could make some of the comebacks I saw his teams make over the years.

• Keady: Probably Knight. I remember one time, we were up one, and he got it inside to Dean Garrett and he stuck it in. (Purdue was ranked No. 2 in 1988 when Garrett's go-ahead basket with five seconds left helped Indiana to an 82-79 upset.)

• Vitale: Dean Smith, Michelangelo, for years was really, really great when he was behind. It was unbelievable, so many miracle wins.

Best judge of talent:

• Vitale: They were both recruiting blue-chippers throughout their careers. That was synonymous with Carolina and Indiana. But Dean could take a super player and get him to blend in and play as a team. People don't realize how difficult it is to have McDonald's All-Americans all the time.

• Calhoun: Dean could judge talent probably better than anybody. Michael was a name out of high school, but he wasn't like you have today. Dean took players and made them into much better players. And he also made great players into semi-role players. It was rare for a player to take over a game.

• Keady: Smith.

Best with less talent:

• Keady: Knight.

• Vitale: Knight could take even mediocre talent and get them to play their hearts out, to play to the best of their ability.

• Calhoun: Anybody who played for Knight instantly became better. He determined their role. I would say both could judge talent, and both could mold it. Steve Alford was a better college player because of Knight.

Best in a coaches' clinic:

• Vitale: I remember being a high school coach listening to Knight early in his career. I was absolutely in awe. So many concepts. He relishes those settings. Dean didn't like the public eye.

• Keady: They're probably equal clinicians.

• Calhoun: Dean is not as great a clinician, because he's a little secretive. He's probably most interested in social issues. I'd probably rather hear from Dean on social issues now.

Best at a booster club meeting:

• Vitale: I would give that edge without a doubt to Knight. Dean would rather not be part of a scene like that. Bob Knight can be hilarious when he's on a roll. He can rock the place.

• Keady: Probably Knight was the funniest at booster club meetings. I never heard Dean at one.

• Calhoun: No question, Bob is one of the most captivating speakers I've ever heard. I've heard Colin Powell, Mario Cuomo, Bill Clinton. Incredible. I put Bob Knight in the top five or six I ever heard speak.

Best NCAA tournament coach:

• Keady: I'm not touching that one.

• Calhoun: I don't really think you can pick. Bob Knight won three and Dean won two.

• Vitale: Two guys, five national titles. They're in the Hall of Fame. I'm in the hall of shame!

Best Olympic coach:

• Keady: There was the boycott when Bobby was coaching in '84 in L.A., but I would say equal.

• Calhoun: You're talking now about two great racehorses.

• Vitale: I mean, they both won the gold. How can you pick one over the other?

Best if he were coach of the Lakers:

• Vitale: Knight's not a guy who's crazy about the NBA, but if he were coaching the Lakers, he'd get the utmost respect from Kobe [Bryant].

• Calhoun: Knight. Put him and Kobe together.

• Keady: Smith. I don't think Knight could put up with their baloney.

Best if he were coach of the Sparks:

• Vitale: Dean Smith is such a teacher from within. I think personally he'd do a great job with the Sparks.

• Calhoun: You couldn't put Bob with the Sparks. You just couldn't do that. I think Dean could coach anybody.

• Keady: The Sparks?

Best behind closed doors with his team:

• Keady: Bobby.

• Vitale: I think that's where both excelled. They were masters on a 94-by-50 court. There's no way I'd give an edge. That's their greatest asset.

• Calhoun: Bob Knight. I heard one of his meetings once, at the Great Alaska Shootout. We were sitting in the lounge and could hear it. It was an hour long. I wanted to go out and play. It was so captivating, we didn't move.

I think Dean was so much tougher behind closed doors than people know, and he was much tougher at practice than you would guess.

Best behind closed doors with his university president:

• Keady: Smith with the president.

• Calhoun: They're both good in their own way. There's no facet of history Bob Knight can't talk about, and Dean is very good on social issues. They did share one thing: Both men, when they were coaching their own institution, Dean at Carolina and Knight at Indiana, there was no other institution in the world. Duke has that now with Mike [Krzyzewski]. Mike thinks there's one place in the world that has basketball and that's Duke. It was the same way with them. There are very few guys who are part of the fiber of the institution like that.

• Vitale: That's easy. That's got to be Michelangelo!

Best companion on a hunting trip:

• Keady: Knight on a hunting trip, as long as he doesn't shoot you.

• Vitale: That would have to be Dean. I don't trust Bob with a loaded gun.

• Calhoun: Bob. I don't hunt, but I'd like to be with him.

Best companion on a golf course:

• Keady: That's not even close, Smith. All those Carolina guys are excellent golfers. Smith, Bill Guthridge, Larry Brown.

• Calhoun: Dean is a very good companion on a golf course, but he complains a lot about his game.

• Vitale: I've never played golf with either guy, but with Bob's reputation for having a temper, I'd give an edge to Dean.

Best player each ever coached:

• Keady: That's easy. Michael Jordan and Isiah Thomas.

• Calhoun: It seems obvious, but was Michael Jordan as good when he was at Carolina as some other guys? You could make cases for others — [Sam] Perkins, [James] Worthy, Al Wood. I'll give you an example at UConn. Clifford Robinson was a good player at UConn, but he's gone on to be a 20-year pro. Khalid El-Amin was a great player here and part of six Big East championships, a national championship and two final eights, and he played one year in the NBA.

For Knight, Isiah.

• Vitale: Knight probably, I know, would not agree, but Isiah. Knight loved Quinn Buckner.For Dean, Michael.

Best remembered for:

• Keady: I think for Dean, his multiple defensive schemes. He was hard to play against. And Knight, probably for simplicity. He would keep it simple, but his simplicity beat you.

• Vitale: Both will be remembered for doing it the right way, with integrity and no NCAA violations. They had certain principles that never changed. Their philosophy of stressing the importance of the classroom to me will be remembered for generation after generation. And they learned more in their 94-by-50 classroom than basketball. They learned life skills in pressure situations, work ethic, pride.

• Calhoun: I think with Dean, the word "program." He turned a team into a program. I think he was the first in my life I ever heard express it that way. But from the moment he recruited somebody until they die, they're a Carolina guy. They all come back every year, Billy Cunningham, all of them, are there every single year. And I learned more about the fastbreak from Dean than anybody.

I think Bob Knight gets his kids able to focus. I heard him say once, "Never take a shot unless it's in earnest." But Bob, I think, is known much more for his volatility than sometimes he is known for his gifts, and, quite frankly, for being as clean a coach as ever went down the line. All the various things, grad rates, NCAA rules, he is truly exemplary.

*Times staff writer Mike Hiserman contributed to this report.

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Fred Barnes: The Underappreciated President

Gerald R. Ford, 1913-2006.
12/27/2006 2:00:00 PM

Gerald Ford was an underappreciated president. His greatest feat, leading America out of the traumas of Watergate and Vietnam, has routinely been viewed as an important but hardly towering achievement. But it was no small accomplishment. It was not something that any politician who stepped into the presidency, unelected, in August 1974 could have pulled off. It took a strong personality and guts.

Ford was a genial, likeable man, not entirely guileless but still an antidote to Richard Nixon, whom he replaced as president. Ford saw the best in people and assumed that even his political adversaries--he insisted he had no enemies--usually had good intentions. Nixon saw his opponents as sinister. Nixon was paranoid. Ford wasn't.

His appealing personality--his openness, his unperturbed reaction to critics, his cheerfulness and warmth--was a necessary factor in suturing the wounds left by the bitter political battles over Watergate and Vietnam. But imposing his personality on the nation wasn't sufficient for the task. That's where Ford's guts came in.

The fallout from the pardon, which Ford issued a month into his presidency, was predictable. His approval rating was instantly cut in half--from the 70s to the 30s. His election to a full term in 1976 became problematic at best, impossible at worst. And, as expected, he lost to Jimmy Carter narrowly in the 1976 race.

Ford knew the political downside of the pardon. But he went ahead anyway, and it had an extraordinarily benign effect in two ways. The pardon spared the nation the trauma of bringing a former president to trial, a polarizing drama that would have lasted for years. And it allowed Ford to govern without the distraction of a Nixon prosecution. Absent the pardon, Ford would have been a crippled caretaker in the White House.

By the time he became president, Ford was fast becoming a politician of the past. He was representative of an earlier era--the post-World War II years--and a fading brand of non-ideological Republicanism. He was a moderate who got along famously with Democrats, especially the crusty conservatives from the South and West. He felt strongly, as others did in that era, that politics should stop at the water's edge. In other words, he believed the foreign policy pursued by presidents, whether Republican or Democrat, should have bipartisan support.

But bipartisanship in foreign affairs had died in Vietnam. And Ford had to preside in 1975 over the fall of South Vietnam to the army of communist North Vietnam. This occurred after Congress, with its lopsided Democratic majorities, cut off funds to the South Vietnamese over Ford's fervent objections. As best he could, he sought to put the defeat in Vietnam behind him and prevent it from being a national obsession.

Ford was more or less a small government conservative. His favorite saying in speeches was: "A government big enough to give you everything you want is a government big enough to take from you everything you have." In his 29 months as president, Ford vetoed 66 bills, mostly on the grounds they cost too much.

Though he defeated Ronald Reagan for the 1976 Republican presidential nomination, Ford did not embody the party's future. Reagan did. Ford, with Henry Kissinger as his Secretary of State, championed détente with the Soviet Union and its bulging empire. Reagan rejected co-existence and pursued victory in the Cold War as his goal, and he achieved it.

It was two decades before Ford's success as president began to be appreciated. When presidential scholar Fred Greenstein of Princeton developed a half-dozen non-partisan, non-ideological measures for judging modern presidents, he found that Ford scored surprisingly well. Greenstein labeled Ford "underappreciated."

Ford's greatest strength, Greenstein wrote in his book The Presidential Difference, was his "emotional intelligence." This is the quality of emotional soundness that allows a president to avoid distractions, not be intimidated by his high office and its obligations, and to take criticism and even policy defeats with equanimity.

Greenstein wrote: "Ford's own remark about himself upon assuming the vice presidency in December 1973 was that he was 'a Ford, not a Lincoln.' In the second half of the 1970s, it was more to the point for the nation that he was not an emotionally roiled Lyndon Johnson or Richard Nixon."

As a young reporter, I covered Ford as vice president and then as president. And, like a handful of other reporters, I got to know him quite well. Ford was the last president who actually liked reporters. His fondness grew out of his experience with the press in the friendly atmosphere of Capitol Hill, and he refused to let the harsher media environment at the White House alter his dealings with the press. Best of all, he didn't let what reporters wrote or broadcast faze him in the least.

Every year since he left the White House in 1977, Ford held a dinner in Washington in which he gathered with officials from his administration. Not only were reporters who covered him invited, they showed up as well. My wife and I always did.

The last time I talked to Ford was several years ago. He called me after reading a piece I'd written for the Wall Street Journal, a piece that mentioned Hillary Clinton. Into his 90s, Ford kept up with politics and he had an insight about her that he wanted to pass on. I was flattered he called.

Ford had spent time with Hillary Clinton in the mid-1990s when she and President Clinton visited him at his vacation home in Vail, Colorado. He found her a bit scary but also very formidable. He was more impressed with her than with her husband, or at least I got that impression. She was someone to watch, he said, a woman with a political future. And of course he was quite right.

Fred Barnes is executive editor of THE WEEKLY STANDARD.

Paul Kengor: A Pair for History

Presidents Ford and Reagan.

December 27, 2006

On the day after Christmas 2006, 30 years after he lost his only presidential bid, Gerald R. Ford, the nation’s 38th president, was called home. At age 93 and five months, he was the longest-living president, outlasting Ronald Reagan, who died at 93 and four months.

The Ford-Reagan link in death is both appropriate and ironic, given the deep and intertwined history the two Republican presidents share.

It was the Gerald Ford/Ronald Reagan relationship of 1975-76 that provided the ultimate contrast between the two one-time rivals, and that defined Ford’s presidency, both in policy and in style.

Disgruntled with Ford’s pursuit of détente with the Soviets, Ronald Reagan in 1975 decided to seek the seemingly impossible: to challenge the incumbent president from his own party, thereby breaking Reagan’s own “Eleventh Commandment:” “Thou Shall Not Speak Ill of Another Republican.”Reagan fired unceasingly at Ford’s support of détente. “We are blind to reality if we refuse to recognize that détente’s usefulness to the Soviets is only as a cover for their traditional and basic strategy for aggression,” he said in October 1975. “Détente is for the Soviet Union a no-can-lose proposition.”

Reagan opposed Ford’s signing of the Helsinki Accords in August 1975, a product of détente which Reagan perceived as a human-rights farce. He said it was nothing more than a “propaganda plus” for the Kremlin. By signing the accord, the United States had, in effect, “agreed to legitimize the boundaries of Eastern Europe, legally acquiescing in the loss of freedom of millions of Eastern Europeans.” Worse, said Reagan, Helsinki did nothing to constrain the Soviets outside of Eastern Europe. “After Helsinki,” wrote Reagan correctly, “the Soviet Union quickly made it clear that the so-called ‘wars of national liberation’ of which they are so fond, would not be affected by the document.”

Reagan hit détente so hard throughout the campaign that there was a consensus that President Ford stopped using the term because Reagan had made it a dirty word. So successful was Reagan that the New York Times, in a May 14, 1976, editorial titled “Mr. Reagan’s Veto,” claimed that the former California governor had “won something approaching veto power over the Ford Administration’s foreign policy.” As Reagan did, Ford dropped in the polls. In another editorial, titled, “President Under Seige,” The Times opined: “Governor Reagan has become a credible candidate while President Ford has slipped from almost certain victor to underdog.”

Reagan was making a dent, and Ford knew he was now vulnerable in the primaries. After New Hampshire, Ford had surged to five consecutive decisive victories, at times by big margins. These wins came mostly in the liberal northeast. As Reagan aide Martin Anderson remembered, the unasked question to Reagan by his campaign staff was, “When are you going to quit?” Reagan, however, was adamant. “I’m taking this all the way to the convention in Kansas City,” he declared defiantly, “and I’m going even if I lose every damn primary between now and then.”

Immediately after that decision, Reagan won North Carolina, claimed a huge triumph in Texas, and followed with victories in Indiana, Georgia, and Alabama. The Ford team began shaking in its boots. In a stunning turnabout, a new question was posed: Could Reagan go to the Republican convention in August and win enough delegates on the first ballot? Reagan estimated a “very great possibility, if not probability,” that he could do just that.

Suddenly, Ford not only dropped the word détente but replaced it with the preferred phrase of Reagan: “peace through strength.” In a pronouncement that signaled a startling concession before the convention, a waffling President Ford declared: “Our policy for American security can best be summarized in three simple words of the English language: peace through strength.” Reagan chuckled, noting it was “a slogan with a nice ring to it.”

All of this came to a head on August 19, 1976, when Republicans held their convention at the Kemper Arena in Kansas City, where Reagan, in the end, did not get the nomination, crushing his supporters. And it was then, at that precise moment, that Gerald Ford’s immeasurable graciousness was again put on display before the entire nation:

President Ford had just finished speaking. As a gesture of reconciliation and supreme good will, he waved from the podium to the Reagans, seated in a skybox. He beckoned Reagan to come down to speak. The Republican faithful exhorted, “Ron! Ron! Ron!” They chanted “Speech! Speech! Speech!”

A blushing Reagan refused, gesturing his hands downward, pushing delegates to sit down and shut up. “It’s his night,” he muttered to friends, deferring to Ford. “I’m not going down there.” Ford pressed on: “Ron, will you come down and bring Nancy?” National television audiences watched in anticipation, as ABC, CBS, and NBC news anchors peered through binoculars with moment-by-moment commentary.

Reagan eventually obliged. As he trotted down the corridors on his way to the podium, he said to Nancy, “I haven’t the foggiest idea what I’m going to say.”

Reagan soon resolved the problem, giving one of the most memorable convention speeches in American history. Official biographer Edmund Morris later wrote of the extemporaneous talk: “The power of the speech was extraordinary. And you could just feel throughout the auditorium the palpable sense among the delegates that [they had] nominated the wrong guy.”

The race for the GOP presidential nomination had come down to the wire, and Ronald Reagan fell frustratingly short. He missed by only 117 votes, grabbing 47.4% of delegates in an 1187 to 1070 contest. The winner needed 1130.Three months later, Gerald Ford lost the presidency to Jimmy Carter.

From 1974-79, during those Ford-Carter years, the Soviets picked up eleven proxy or satellite states around the world. America was losing the Cold War. The third and most disastrous year of Carter’s presidency — 1979 — ended with Americans taken hostage in Iran in November and the Soviets invading Afghanistan in December. Now, much of America agreed with Reagan that détente was a joke. His time would come a year later.

The Ford-Reagan relationship in the 1970s was a metaphor for Ford’s presidency: His policy toward the Soviets was flawed, and he was neither a notably effective nor inspiring president, but his kindness as a person was hard to surpass.

Gerald Ford’s contribution to history came in his service as a transitional figure, one who no doubt helped heal a divided nation during a critical post-Watergate period, which he achieved through that gentle demeanor. Quite unintentionally, he made another contribution: like Jimmy Carter, he offered an example of what not to do in Cold War policy. By giving détente a chance, and thus an opportunity to show its true colors, he unwittingly revealed it to be a failed route, paving the way for Ronald Reagan to be successful not in 1976 but in 1980, and thereby allowing Reagan to later make a much deeper impact on history.

It is always difficult to look back and say that a certain president was a failure in the strict sense of being a step backward. Ford was probably the right man for the right place in time. The contours of American history have a wonderful almost magical way of somehow weaving together, coming into focus and making sense only in retrospect. Gerald Ford’s brief, unelected tenure has its own place in the mosaic.

— Paul Kengor is author of The Crusader: Ronald Reagan and the Fall of Communism and associate professor of political science at Grove City College in Grove City, Pa. He is also director of the Center for Vision & Values at Grove City College.

Bob Klapisch: Go west, old man

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

It was late last week when Randy Johnson sent word to the Yankees that he was open to any exit strategy that would free him from New York, its loud, rude fans and, mostly, the American League's power-hitting culture.

Of course, Johnson wasn't quite so blunt; the left-hander merely said he wants to be closer to his family in Arizona. But the Bombers nevertheless seized the opening. They're moving closer to ending this failed marriage, which is good news for Joe Torre's clubhouse, if not his rotation.

Clearly, the Yankees realize Johnson can't help them -- at least not in the way they'd once hoped. A person familiar with the Yankees' off-season plans say Barry Zito would become a prime target to replace the Unit, although it's unclear whether general manager Brian Cashman wants to engage in a bidding war with the Mets and Rangers. The Mets seem braced for that possibility. One insider said, "If one [team] wants to blow everyone else out of the water, there's not much we're going to be able to do about it."

Whether or not Zito is lured to the Yankees, and apart from Johnson being traded, the Yankees still are targeting Roger Clemens, willing to make room for him in the rotation if and when he wants to wear pinstripes again. While no one expects Clemens to make up his mind about 2007 for several more months, one Yankee insider said, "All he has to do is say so" and a deal would be struck.

The Yankees' eagerness to sign The Rocket is borne, in part, by their disappointment in Johnson. From the first day he became a Yankee, it was obvious the Unit didn't like being questioned about his diminished fastball. He didn't like questions, period. Johnson was distant and aloof -- and that was on a good day. More often, the Unit was just angry, giving off a dark vibe that made teammates uncomfortable. One Yankee official said one day last summer:
"Randy was the kind of guy who, if you asked him, 'How's it going?' he'd stare you down and say, 'What do you mean by that?' He was the most socially awkward person I ever met around here."

Maybe it was nerves, maybe it was the constant pain from a herniated disk in his back. Maybe it was Johnson's idea of acting tough in a big-market environment. Whatever the cause, Johnson never lived up to the promise of being a Clemens-like savior, despite his 34 wins in two seasons. Torre spent a full summer in 2005 covering for Johnson, explaining that the former National League Cy Young Award winner needed time to adjust to a new league. But by 2006, everyone stopped waiting for the old Unit to resurrect.

He degraded into a seven-inning, four-run pitcher -- which, these days, is enough for journeymen such as Ted Lilly and Gil Meche to earn $10 million a year. But the game's greatest left-hander wasn't supposed to be this mortal. The Yankees were shocked to see how many middle-of-the-plate, 93 mph fastballs Johnson threw, coupled with a slider that was a pale imitation of the pitch that swallowed up right-handed hitters in the NL.

The more Johnson tried to reignite the engines of his past, the more frustrated and withdrawn he became. He talked to no one, it seemed, spending his time at his locker with his back to the room. When Johnny Damon tried to pump up the slumping Yankees one day in August, standing in the clubhouse shouting, "Come on you [bleepers], let's go," he was met with a cold stare from Johnson. Damon was so unnerved by the reaction, he later asked a team executive, "Did I do something wrong?"

Apparently, none of this is deterring the Diamondbacks, Padres, Angels and Mariners, all of whom are interested in prying Johnson away from the Yankees. Cashman has been given the latitude to make the best possible deal, and if it requires swallowing some of the $16 million Johnson is owed in 2007, the Yankees will do so.

Of course, Cashman will have to spin Johnson's creaky peripheral stats; the left-hander's 5.00 ERA last year was the highest of his career, and the 179 strikeouts were the lowest full-season total in 19 years. But the Yankees already are telling suitors that was all attributable to a bad back, which has since been surgically repaired.

At least one baseball executive seemed willing to believe the Yankees. He said, "I happen to believe if you put Johnson back in the National League, closer to home, he can still be a factor."

Maybe not as a No. 1, but Johnson still throws hard enough to tame most NL hitters, even at age 44. With the D-Backs, the Unit instantly would become a No. 2 starter behind Brandon Webb.
Maybe everyone will walk away happy, or at least wiser. Johnson came to New York thinking he could shut out the noise and the frenzy, bullying reporters, distancing himself from teammates.
The Unit assumed he could make it to the World Series (and career victory No. 300) without any emotional investment in the Yankees or New York.

Turns out Johnson had neither the stuff nor the personality to become a star in the Bronx. But that's not Cashman's fault; Johnson's acquisition represents the final gasp of the George Steinbrenner era -- the last of a long line of marquee players who, despite their on-paper talent, somehow shrank in New York.

At least Johnson recognizes how wide the gap became between expectation and reality. This is one divorce that won't be contested.


Jim Litke: Knight's long road to record

Dec 27, 2:39 PM EST
By JIM LITKE AP Sports Columnist

Nobody should begrudge Bob Knight his next win, the one that nudges him past Dean Smith and into first place on college basketball's all-time Division I men's list. If it helps, think how much earlier Knight might have reached this milestone if he hadn't wasted so much time bullying the hired help and throwing tantrums.

But enough about that for a moment.

Turn on TV to catch a game and much of what you see on the floor Knight drew up some four decades ago. Just about every team runs some version of his motion offense, or man-to-man defense, but only he still runs both religiously. It's Knight's notion of what the game should look like at any moment, a snapshot that's proved remarkably resilient in this digital age, when kids want to leap straight into prime-time highlights, then dunk and never come down.

Before he ever coached a game, Knight was the sixth man on an Ohio State team that was as talented as they come and a lot more mature than they get nowadays.

Using his time on the bench wisely, Knight cooked up a perpetual-motion scheme that made it possible for any kid - and not just stars like John Havlicek or Jerry Lucas - to wind up with the best shot, provided both he and the basketball were moving often enough. Belief in that system is the reason anybody who drives across Indiana sees backboards hanging above every patch of gravel or concrete across the countryside or braced against a telephone poll.

For all that, more than nostalgia props up the legend. Knight hasn't won a really big game in a long time - the last of his three national titles came in 1987, his last conference title in 1993, and his team's haven't advanced past the second round of the NCAA tournament in the past dozen years. He was losing recruiting battles regularly even before then, refusing to cater to a generation that valued exposure as much as excellence and daring anybody to make him change.

The talent deficit, though, eventually caught up with Knight. You could have stacked all the videotapes of a red-sweatered menace crossing the line with players, assistants, referees, reporters and even administrators outside his office door in Bloomington, but it wasn't until Knight started losing too many big games that Indiana pulled the rug out from under him. When he resurfaced a year later at Texas Tech, he knew the talent gap would only widen.

Knight put down roots in Lubbock anyway, a move that at the time seemed less about reclaiming past glory than methodically overtaking Smith and the D-I record. Little has happened since to change the perception. Knight has upgraded slightly the caliber of players who might consider playing there, and he's had to relax some dearly held rules about haircuts and tattoos to accomplish even that.

But he's brought respectability and 20-win seasons to another town, and the same system that once drew the best players in the country to him like a magnet worked well enough with middling talent to put Knight even with Smith heading into Thursday night's game against UNLV. If Knight doesn't get that one, he's almost certain to take sole possession of the top spot in either of the two home games that follow.

Some milestones carry a significance beyond their numbers, and when Smith went past Adolph Rupp back in 1997, more than a few members of the fraternity saw it as the fitting conclusion to an era of exclusivity.

The cold-hearted Kentucky baron stood astride the game for more than 40 years, but only one black played basketball there during that stretch. Smith made integration a cornerstone of his program at North Carolina, not simply benefiting from the cause but actively championing it.
That's why in the days leading to his supplanting Rupp at the top, Nolan Richardson - who is black and won a national title at Arkansas - said he would "sleep much better at night knowing Dean is the man."

There have been dozens of tributes to Knight already, and more to follow in the coming days. All of them will be about how he graduated kids and never, ever cut corners, but mostly about how much he bequeathed all the coaches who followed him. That will be Knight's legacy, plain and simple.

Some of those disciples, most notably Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski, who played point guard for Knight at Army and served his coaching apprenticeship there, too, soaked up the lessons and moved on. Knight is too competitive to wish Coach K or anybody else luck trying to go past him. But when - if - that time comes, Knight won't have any problems waving him by and even fewer regrets.
Jim Litke is a national sports columnist for The Associated Press. Write to him at

Michael Ledeen: Good Knight

December 27, 2006 11:00 AM
An alternative view of Bob Knight.

Thursday evening the Texas Tech men’s basketball team plays at home — Lubbock —against the University of Nevada at Las Vegas, UNLV, once a superpower now fallen from grace. If Texas Tech wins, their coach, Robert Montgomery Knight, will become the winningest coach in the history of the sport. And since most of the hunting pack that has pursued Knight throughout his career will recount his many sins, it’s only fair you hear the bright shining side of this knight errant.

Yes, he’s got a temper. I have never known a winning coach in any sport who did not have a terrible temper. A few years ago I went to the Final Four in Indianapolis and watched Wisconsin lose to Florida. The Wisconsin coach was named Bennett, and everybody loved him. At a certain point one of his players committed a stupid foul and he called timeout, walked onto the court, and let fly at this poor kid with a torrent of abuse that would have made Knight blush (which is saying something). We were sitting two rows down from the Arctic Circle, and we heard every epithet. But there was no mention of it in the press coverage, because the hunting pack had decided the guy was lovable. Knight loses his temper and throws a chair across the court — aimed badly, I suppose, he didn’t hit anyone — and it’s good for an encyclopedia of evil. And that chair’s civil rights have been better protected than mine.

Red Auerbach used to say that Knight is one of a handful of coaches who have created modern basketball, along with the likes of John Wooden and Pete Newell. Other coaches look for role players, they need centers and point guards and forwards and shooting guards. Not Knight. He runs a motion offense in which everyone is supposed to be able to do everything; it all depends on how the other team reacts. When it works as it’s designed, it’s one of the most fascinating and entertaining of all sports spectacles.

In the world of big-time college athletics, overpopulated with fakes and cheats, Knight is the real deal. He recruits according to the rules, and he insists that his players take real courses and pass them, and then graduate. This is not what the boy wonders of hoops want from life, and they rarely go to play for Knight. They want to be coddled and enriched and tutored and given a free ride and then cash in.

Not Knight’s players.

I once interviewed a member of his first team at Indiana, an all-American who met with Knight shortly after the coach’s arrival in Bloomington. Knight glared at him and said, “I’ve just looked at your transcript. You’re not going to class, you’re not doing your work. If you miss class, you won’t practice. And if you don’t practice, you won’t play. If that’s too tough for you, I’ll help you transfer to some place where they don’t give a damn.”
The all-American called his father in a panic, only to find that his dad was thrilled. “Thank God,” he said, “now you’ve got a chance in life.”

No one has gotten more success out of less talent than Bob Knight. And those guys more often than not go on to success in life.

He’s got some interesting friends: George Will, David Halberstam, Clarence Thomas. They know that Knight’s a very smart man, and a real scholar of military history. I heard him introduce Halberstam to a high-level seminar at Indiana early one morning. Knight spoke for about ten minutes, no notes, no ands or uhs, an elegant overview of Halberstam’s work, a brief expression of gratitude for coming out to Bloomington, and a thoughtful wish for the success of our work. No full professor could have done it better.

Keep these things in mind when he sets the record, whether it’s Thursday or later on. He’s a stormy petrel, to be sure. But he’s a real American, a feisty, outspoken, cantankerous, brilliant guy who has done wonders on and off the court for generations of young men. And when you hear all those stories about his temper and his bluntness, remind yourself that the kids who chose to play for him knew exactly what they were getting into. But they thought it would be worth it, both because they’d learn a lot and because they’d have tested themselves at the highest level of character.

Which is a hell of a lot more than you can say about the hunting pack.

Thomas Sowell: A Dangerous Obsession, Part II

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

The media and academic obsessions with economic "disparities" have gone international. Recent news stories proclaim that most of "the world's wealth" belongs to a small fraction of the world's people.

Let's go back to square one. Just what is "the world's wealth"?

You can check in your local phone book, surf the Internet or do genealogical research: There is no one named "The World." How can a non-existent being own wealth?

Human beings own wealth. Once we put aside lofty poetic nonsense about "the world's wealth," we at least have a fighting chance of talking sense about realities.

Who are these minority of the world's population who own a majority of the world's wealth?
They are the population of the United States, Western Europe, Japan and a few other affluent countries. How did these particular people come to possess so much more wealth than other people?

They did it the old-fashioned way. They produced the wealth that they own. You might as well ask why bees have so much more honey than other creatures.

The rhetoric of clever people can verbally collectivize all the wealth that was produced individually, and then they become aghast at the "disparities" that are magically turned into "inequities" in the distribution of "the world's wealth."

Have all the people in the world had an equal chance to produce wealth? No, nowhere close to an equal chance -- either in the world or within a given society.

Geography alone makes the chances grossly unequal. How were Eskimos supposed to grow pineapples or the bedouins of the desert learn to fish?

How were people in the Balkans supposed to have an industrial revolution like that of Western Europe, when the Balkans had neither the raw materials required by an industrial revolution nor any economically viable way of transporting raw materials from other places?

The geographic handicaps of Africa would fill a book. French historian Fernand Braudel said: "In understanding Black Africa, geography is more important than history."

What are we supposed to do about these disparities? File a class-action lawsuit against God?

The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals might accept such a lawsuit but they are unlikely to be able to do much about the situation.

Geographic disparities are just the tip of the iceberg. Innumerable cultures have evolved differently in different places and among different peoples in the same places. No given individual controlled this process and each generation began with the particular culture that generations before them had created.

Some cultures proved to be more economically productive at given places and times, and other cultures proved to be more economically productive at other places and times.

In our own time, the economic effects of these cultural differences often dwarf the effects of differences in material things like natural resources.

Natural resources in Uruguay and Venezuela are worth several times as much per capita as natural resources in Japan and Switzerland. But income per capita in Japan and Switzerland is about double that of Uruguay and several times that of Venezuela.

Nobody likes to see poverty in a world where technology and economic know-how already exist that could give everyone everywhere a decent standard of living.

All you have to do is change people. But have you ever tried to do that?

The quick fix is to transfer wealth. But more than half a century of trying to do that with "foreign aid" has left a dismal record of failure and even retrogression in Third World countries.

Some countries have themselves made changes that lifted them from poverty to prosperity.
Indeed, the affluent countries of today were once living in poverty.

But they didn't do it with quick fixes or by turning a dangerous power over to politicians.

Thomas Sowell is a senior fellow at the Hoover Institute and author of Basic Economics: A Citizen's Guide to the Economy.