Friday, December 21, 2007

Jonah Goldberg: The Hillary Who Stole Christmas

Holiday Hogwash

December 21, 2007 9:10 AM

Hillary Clinton Portrait
Photo 2006 © William Phillips, White House Historical Association

Well, the most disgusting, craven, shameless political ad of the election season has just come out in time for Christmas — and, no, it’s not from Mike Huckabee. It’s from Hillary Clinton.

Huckabee’s ad has gotten all of the attention because of its alleged “floating cross” masquerading as a bookshelf (or vice versa) and its overall 700 Club Christmas Special feel. But you know what? There’s no public policy involved in his ad. Sure, there’s a dose of Christian identity politics — more than a dose according to some — but no one following the race is particularly stunned to find out that Mike Huckabee is a committed Christian. His ads say he’s a “Christian leader” and that his faith “defines” him.

I’m not thrilled by the explosion of Christian piety in Republican politics, particularly with Huckabee’s version of it, but nobody’s fooled by it either.

Now look at Clinton’s ad. Gussied up a bit like Martha Stewart, a chipper Hillary sits on her couch, arranging all of her Christmas presents to put under the tree. “Carol of the Bells” is playing on a harpsichord in the background. She’s trying to find the right cards to put on the right packages. One is labeled “Universal Health Care,” another is “Alternative Energy,” another is “Middle Class Tax Breaks.”

And then the supposedly hilarious kicker. Wringing her hands and furrowing her brow with maternal angst, she exclaims, “Where did I put universal pre-K?”

And then, scanning the giant pile of presents — all for you, the voter, of course — a warm smile comes over her face and she says, “Ah, there it is!” She tucks the card under the ribbon, the music fades away, and the screen turns oddly black with a ghostly and gothic “Happy Holidays” message. (In fact, there’s something about the harpsichord music that gives the whole thing a Vincent Price spookiness.)

Of course, pandering is nothing new in American politics. “If there had been any formidable body of cannibals in the country,” H.L. Mencken complained of Harry Truman’s 1948 presidential campaign, “he would have promised to provide them with free missionaries fattened at the taxpayers’ expense.”

But if you take Hillary’s ad remotely as seriously as many are taking Huckabee’s, you’re left with a disturbing glimpse of not just Hillary’s politics but her vision of government. Her programs, which would cost billions and billions of dollars by even the most generous accounting, are simply “gifts” for the American people. No sacrifice, no cost, no strings attached at all — save the price of your vote.

The implication is that the only thing standing between you and Hillary’s trinkets is a president who doesn’t want you to have ’em.

This is monarchical thinking; good ruler throws loaves of bread to the peons and asks for nothing but love in return.The truth, as Clinton knows very well, is that it’s not so easy. To govern is to choose. “Give” the people X and it will come at the expense of Y. Indeed, until recently, Clinton’s whole schtick has been to emphasize that change is hard work, requiring sacrifice and compromise. She’d lecture Iowa audiences that real change comes from fighting for it. Now that she’s on the ropes, it’s all yours for the asking.

It’s a profound commentary on the state of our political culture that Huckabee’s ad is the controversial one. Huckabee promises nothing, Hillary everything.

The contrast between the Candidate of God and the Candidate of Goodies should remind everyone of P. J. O’Rourke’s timeless book Parliament of Whores.

“I have only one firm belief about the American political system, and that is this: God is a Republican and Santa Claus is a Democrat,” wrote the indispensable O’Rourke. “God” he explained, is “a stern fellow, patriarchal rather than paternal and a great believer in rules and regulations. He holds men strictly accountable for their actions. He has little apparent concern for the material well being of the disadvantaged. ... God is unsentimental. It is very hard to get into God’s heavenly country club.”

P. J. continues: “Santa Claus is another matter. ... He’s nonthreatening. He’s always cheerful. And he loves animals. He may know who’s been naughty and who’s been nice, but he never does anything about it. He gives everyone everything they want without the thought of a quid pro quo.”

“Santa Claus is preferable to God in every way but one,” O’Rourke concluded. “There is no such thing as Santa Claus.”

P.J.’s right. But you won’t be hearing that from Hillary this holiday season.

© 2007 Tribune Media Services, Inc.

Mike Huckabee & Little Rock Ethics

By Kimberley Strassel
The Wall Street Journal
December 21, 2007

As pigs in pokes go, the Democratic Party bought itself a big one in 1988. Michael Dukakis was relatively unknown, but he was also the last man standing. Only too late did his party, along with the rest of the country, realize Mr. Dukakis was a typecast liberal--a furlougher of felons, and a guy who looked mighty awkward in a tank.

This is what happens when a party takes a flyer, and it could be Republicans' turn with Mike Huckabee. The former Baptist minister and governor of Arkansas is surging in Iowa, and is tied with Rudy Giuliani in national polls. He's selling his party on a simple message: He's not those other guys, with their flip-flops and different faiths, and dicey social positions. As to what Mr. Huckabee is--that's as unknown to most voters as the Almighty himself.

Mr. Huckabee is starting to get a look-see by the press, though whether the nation will have time to absorb the findings before the primaries is just as unknown. The small amount that has been unearthed so far ought to have primary voters nervous. It isn't just that Mr. Huckabee is far from a traditional conservative; he's a potential ethical time bomb.

On policy, Mr. Huckabee's tenure in Arkansas has shown him to be ambivalent about tax increases, variously supporting sales tax hikes, cigarette and gasoline taxes and Internet taxes. Spending increased 65% from 1996 to 2004, three times the rate of inflation.

He's so lackluster on education reform that he recently received an endorsement from the New Hampshire affiliate of the National Education Association--the first ever of a GOP candidate. The union cited Mr. Huckabee's opposition to school vouchers. Mr. Huckabee is a fan of greater subsidies for farmers and "clean energy." He's proven himself a political neophyte on foreign policy, joining Democrats to skewer President Bush and glorify the "diplomacy, diplomacy, diplomacy" line.

Most of this is out there, thoroughly documented, and even now slowly filtering its way to voters. Of more concern is what has not yet been discovered about Mr. Huckabee's time as Arkansas lieutenant governor and governor, in particular on ethical issues. There are signs that Mr. Huckabee's background--borne of the same Arkansas establishment that produced Bill Clinton--is ripe to provide the sort of pop-up political scandal that could derail a general election campaign.

In Arkansas, Mr. Huckabee was investigated by the state ethics committee at least 14 times. Most of the complaints centered on what appears to be a serial disregard for government rules about gifts and outside financial compensation. He reported $112,000 worth of gifts in one year alone, nearly double his $67,000 salary.

Five of the 14 investigations resulted in admonishments: Two for failing to report gifts (one was later overturned), the other three for some $80,000 that Mr. Huckabee and his wife received but failed to initially report. One of these admonishments involved a $23,500 payment to Mr. Huckabee from an opaque organization called Action America that he helped found in 1994 while lieutenant governor, and that was designed to coordinate his speeches and supplement his income.

Mr. Huckabee caused an uproar when he used a $60,000 account intended to maintain the governor's mansion for personal expenses, including restaurant meals, dry cleaning and boat supplies. He also faced a lawsuit over his assertion that $70,000 worth of furniture donated to the mansion was his to keep. Sprinkled among all this are complaints about the misuse of state planes and campaign funds, mistakes on financial disclosure forms, and fights over documents related to ethics investigations.

Any one of these episodes individually may appear penny ante, but they add up to a disturbing pattern. People I've spoken with who worked with Mr. Huckabee in Arkansas dispute the idea that he is "corrupt." They instead ascribe his ethical mishaps to a "blind spot" rooted in his beginnings as a Baptist minister and a Southern culture of gift-giving; they suggest he never made the mental transition to public office.

Some will also argue Mr. Huckabee is no more ethically challenged than Mr. Giuliani, who is getting pounded with questions about Judith Nathan's security detail and Giuliani Partner clients. The difference is that Hizzoner is a celebrity whose past bones were long ago picked clean by the media crows. Even the Nathan flap is an extension of news that made the rounds five years ago.

The obscure governor from Arkansas is, in contrast, a deep sea for media diving. Most recent have been stories about his pardons and commutations, as well as the news that R.J. Reynolds contributed to Action America. Mr. Huckabee--who now wants a national smoking ban in public places--responded that he never knew he accepted tobacco money, which has inspired a former adviser to claim Mr. Huckabee is being "less than truthful." What's next?

The GOP is still reeling from its financial scandals, which helped Democrats tag the party with a "culture of corruption" in last year's congressional races. A Huckabee nomination would also neutralize one of the biggest weapons against nominee Hillary Clinton--her own ethically tortured past. If the subject came up at all, it would be a race to the Arkansas bottom. A matchup with Barack Obama could be worse, since the "politics of hope" senator has so far avoided scandal and could bludgeon Mr. Huckabee on his past.

Democrats know it. Here's an interesting statistic: Since the beginning of 2007, the Democratic National Committee has released 102 direct attacks on Mitt Romney. Rudy Giuliani has warranted 78; John McCain 68; Fred Thompson 21. Mike Huckabee? Four. The most recent of these landed back in March. GOP voters may not have examined Mr. Huckabee's record, but the left has--and they love what they see.

So far, GOP voters do, too. Most appear attracted to Mr. Huckabee's image as a "sincere" and "genuine" guy. The former governor may be both of those, but he's also got a past. Voters are going to want to look before they leap.

Ms. Strassel is a member of The Wall Street Journal's editorial board.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Master of ‘Rings’ to Tackle ‘Hobbit’

The New York Times
Published: December 19, 2007

LOS ANGELES — Goblins, trolls and dragons were a breeze compared with the caustic clash of egos that kept “The Hobbit” in Hollywood limbo for years. But a settlement announced on Tuesday between Peter Jackson and New Line Cinema holds the promise that peace will break out in Middle Earth and that fans could see the first of two resulting movies by December 2010.

Kevin Winter/Getty Images
Peter Jackson in Los Angeles.

Filmography: Peter Jackson

The pact, which two people involved said was worth nearly $40 million to Mr. Jackson, ends years of litigation and acrimonious auditing over his share of the profits from the “Lord of the Rings” trilogy. Those movies grossed $2.9 billion worldwide, made Mr. Jackson’s reputation and vastly enhanced New Line’s stature among the major movie studios.

Though Sam Raimi has stated his interest, it is unclear who will direct the two Hobbit movies, but Mr. Jackson will not. Mr. Jackson and his producing and writing partners, Fran Walsh and Philippa Boyens, are committed to making “The Lovely Bones” through 2008 and then he is directing “Tintin,” based on the Belgian comic strip, for Steven Spielberg.

But Mr. Jackson and his wife, Ms. Walsh, will be executive producers of the Hobbit films, and they will share with New Line the right to approve all creative elements: director, screenwriter, script, cast, filming location, even the visual-effects company used (as if there were any doubt that his Weta Digital would be chosen). “They can assure that the films will be made with the same level of quality as if they were writing and directing,” Mr. Jackson’s manager, Ken Kamins, said.

Settlement of the litigation freed New Line, which held the rights to make a “Hobbit” movie, and Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, which has distribution rights, to cut a 50-50 financing deal: New Line will make the two films and distribute them domestically, and MGM will distribute them overseas. The untitled sequel is described as bridging the 60-year gap between the end of J. R. R. Tolkien’s “Hobbit” and the beginning of the “Rings” trilogy.

Despite the treasure involved — or perhaps because of it — the Jackson-New Line marriage grew testy by 2003, when Mr. Jackson began complaining about his share of the profits. New Line paid added bonuses, but Mr. Jackson nonetheless began an audit, which was said to particularly antagonize Bob Shaye, the studio’s co-chairman with Michael Lynne.

Warfare broke into the open in February 2005, when Mr. Jackson sued New Line over his audit, saying the studio was stonewalling his accountants. After Mr. Jackson told fans in a Web posting late last year that New Line had formally dropped him from “The Hobbit,” Mr. Shaye exploded on the Web, “He thinks that we owe him something after we’ve paid him over a quarter of a billion dollars.”

A thaw began some weeks later, Mr. Kamins said, when Mr. Jackson dined at the home of Harry Sloan, the chairman of MGM. It held distribution rights to “The Hobbit” and Mr. Sloan was desperate to get the franchise moving. By May, during the Cannes Film Festival, Mr. Jackson and Mr. Shaye joined a multiparty conference call; it was the first time they had spoken in about two years, Mr. Kamins said. “That call created a tone that really lasted into the fall,” he said.

If Mr. Sloan was motivated to spur a deal — he said the “halo effect” alone from “The Hobbit” could help attract talent and financing to MGM — Messrs. Shaye and Lynne of New Line were said to be facing a deadline of their own: their contracts as studio bosses expire in 2008, and the public combat with Mr. Jackson was a cause for frequent criticism. (Mr. Jackson at one point offered his “Lovely Bones” project to every major studio except New Line.)

The studio, meanwhile, has had a run of two years with only two hits, “Rush Hour 3” and “Hairspray.” Its costly “Golden Compass” opened to a disappointing $25.8 million gross in its first weekend.

In an interview on Tuesday, Mr. Shaye admitted that he had taken some aspects of the dispute with Mr. Jackson quite personally, but he and Mr. Lynne insisted they had faced no pressure from above to cut a deal.

Mr. Lynne said, “No one told us we had to resolve it one way or another.”

‘Juiced’ Ghostwriter: I Told You So

Letter to the Editor
The New York Times
Published: December 19, 2007

Whatever else its eventual impact, the Mitchell report last week immediately recasts the importance of the small library of books documenting — and in some cases, shaping — baseball’s steroid era.

In fact, given its timing and high profile, the report could well go down as almost the Rosetta stone of steroid literature, giving the general reader a key to unlocking a world of secrets previously off limits to most and to seeing in full Technicolor what had for many been restricted to black and white.

To take but one example, Roger Clemens has been added to the ranks of those linked to steroid use — despite his most recent denial Tuesday. This is hardly a surprise to those of us who have worked the steroid beat over the years.

In fact, as the ghostwriter for Jose Canseco’s tell-all memoir “Juiced,” I can now reveal that serious thought was given to including Canseco’s recollections of golf course conversations with Clemens about steroids. At the time, we decided to focus on players Canseco injected — since those revelations would carry the maximum impact.

But as with the Mitchell report, “Juiced” was always clear that it was naming only a small subset of the huge group of ballplayers who had turned into juicers. Even now, with so much evidence in, it seems incredible that so many could still be in denial about Clemens and many others.

Careful study of the books on steroids in baseball can disabuse anyone of the impulse to hew to conventional wisdom. The consensus seems to be that up until now the three most visible — and influential — books on the steroid era have been “Game of Shadows,” Mark Fainaru-Wada and Lance Williams’s distillation of their Balco reporting for The San Francisco Chronicle; “Juicing the Game,” Howard Bryant’s exhaustively reported walk-through of the era; and “Juiced.”

Each had its limitations read alone. The Balco book, for all its authoritative evidence, was only partly about baseball and, relying on leaked grand jury testimony, never presented the athletes’ juicing decisions in the wider context of their sports or their lives. The Bryant book, probably the smartest of the lot, was faultlessly careful in its conclusions and would benefit from an updated edition, given all that continues to unfold.

Otto Greule Jr./Getty Images, 1990
Jose Canseco, right, accuses Mark McGwire of using steroids while they were members of the A's.

As for “Juiced,” it is true, as some critics charged upon its publication in early 2005, that it displays remarkably little interest in the game. Since Canseco confirmed in 2005 that I was the ghostwriter, I don’t mind revealing that Canseco had precious little patience in discussing baseball. Even the details of towering homers he had hit flat-out bored him.

Above all, the Mitchell report targets denial and ought to leave more than a few people embarrassed at having dismissed the evidence of widespread juicing.

The report even gives us a new exemplar for unbridled hypocrisy: the former Yankee strength and conditioning coach Brian McNamee, whose 2000 piece for The New York Times denied steroid use in baseball even as he was injecting Clemens with steroids that same season, according to the Mitchell report.

As a young beat reporter for The San Francisco Chronicle starting in 1994, I had been on friendly terms with Mark McGwire of the Oakland Athletics. I remember being startled the first time I talked to him at any length. He wheeled around from his locker with a smile and encouraged me to try MET-Rx, which he said would help me put on muscle, adding, “I don’t know if you work out, but ...”

A couple of years later, I was covering the team when Jason Giambi became buddies with McGwire and almost swelled before our eyes. But like most baseball writers, I never found a way to get a word into print alerting the general fan to what was taking place behind the scenes.

It felt like too little too late in 2000 when I submitted a piece to The Times, which it published in Aug. 20, 2000, headlined, “Baseball Must Come Clean on Its Darkest Secret.”

“It won’t be easy, but baseball has to find a way to crack down on steroids, which more and more big leaguers appear to be using every year and which could threaten to turn the game into a freak show,” the article began, continuing with the assertion that, “Mark McGwire has used steroids. This is now clear to any person who looks at the facts about androstenedione, the testosterone-booster McGwire was taking two seasons ago when he broke Roger Maris’s single-season home run record. It’s a steroid. That’s what most scientists say — and what the government will most likely say sometime soon.”

The most fascinating reply was the article-length response published in The Times six weeks later, by McNamee, headlined, “Don’t Be So Quick to Prejudge All That Power.”

“Kettmann alleges steroid use,” McNamee wrote. “He marks today’s players as cheaters, and not the role models we want them to be. I beg to differ. Players today are so much smarter when it comes to their bodies: how they work them, and what they put in them.

“Kettmann’s article insults the players, the teams’ medical staffs and the teams’ organizations.”

It was jarring, then, to read in the Mitchell report that: “According to McNamee, during the middle of the 2000 season Clemens made it clear that he was ready to use steroids again. During the latter part of the regular season, McNamee injected Clemens in the buttocks four to six times.”

John Hoberman, a University of Texas expert on steroids who was cited at length in “Juicing the Game,” mentioned that 2000 Times article in his book, “Testosterone Dreams,” and now describes the McNamee rejoinder as “rank hypocrisy.”

“It is one more sign of the pervasive dishonesty that pervades doping subcultures,” Hoberman said this week in an e-mail message.

The Mitchell report adds to the case that Canseco was a unique figure in introducing other players to steroids — and that his assertions in “Juiced” were on target.

Looking back on how this story has unfolded over the last 10 years, it becomes clear how easy it is for those with a vested interest in obfuscation to cast doubt on the credibility of just about anyone.

Steve Kettmann


Michelle Malkin: The Incredible Disappearing Border Fence

December 19, 2007
New York Post

Do you know the story of the Incredible Disappearing Border Fence? It's an object lesson in gesture politics and homeland insecurity. It's a tale of hollow rhetoric, meaningless legislation and bipartisan betrayal. And in the run-up to the Iowa caucuses, it's a helpful learning tool as you assess the promises of immigration enforcement converts now running for president.

Last fall, Democrats and Republicans in Washington responded to continued public outrage over border chaos by passing the "Secure Fence Act." Did you question the timing? You should have. It's no coincidence they finally got off their duffs to respond just before the 2006 midterm elections. Lawmakers vowed grandiosely to keep America safe. The law specifically called for "at least 2 layers of reinforced fencing, the installation of additional physical barriers, roads, lighting, cameras and sensors" at five specific stretches of border totaling approximately 700 miles.

GOP leaders patted themselves on the back for their toughness. President Bush made a huge to-do in signing the bill into law. Never mind the lack of funding for the fence and the failure to address many other immediate reforms that could have been adopted immediately to strengthen immigration enforcement, close deportation loopholes and provide systemic relief at the border without the need for a single brick or bulldozer.

On the very day the bill was signed, open-borders politicians were already moving to water it down. Texas Republican Sens. Kay Bailey Hutchison and John Cornyn pushed for "flexibility to choose other options instead of fencing, if needed." Six months after passage of the Secure Fence Act -- now interpreted by Washington as the Flexible Non-Fence Act or, as I call it, the FINO (Fence in Name Only) Act -- 700 miles shrunk to "somewhere in the ballpark" of 370 miles. A 14-mile fence-building project in San Diego was stalled for years by environmental legal challenges and budget shortfalls. The first deadline -- a May 30, 2007 requirement for installation of an "interlocking surveillance camera system" along the border in California and Arizona -- passed unmet. GOP Rep. Duncan Hunter, one of the few Republican presidential candidates to walk the talk on border security, blasted the Bush administration for suffering from "a case of 'the slows' on border enforcement."

More than a year after the law's passage, the citizen watchdog group Grassfire reports that just five miles of double-layer fencing has been built in the first 12 months of implementation of the act. Five lousy miles. The Government Accountability Office claims 70 miles were erected -- but most of that fencing failed to meet the specifications of the law.

Is Congress up in arms? Will there be accountability? Don't make me snort. Instead of demanding that the law be enforced, the pols are sabotaging the law. As part of the omnibus spending package passed this week, House Democrats incorporated Senate Republicans' provisions to remove the two-layer fencing requirements and the specific target list of fencing locations.

GOP Rep. Peter T. King, who sponsored the Secure Fence Act, told the Washington Times: "This is either a blatant oversight or a deliberate attempt to disregard the border security of our country. As it's currently written, the omnibus language guts the Secure Fence Act almost entirely. Quite simply, it is unacceptable."

But so totally, totally predictable.

GOP Majority Leader John Boehner tried to blame the House Democrat majority: "The fact that this was buried in a bloated, 3,500-page omnibus speaks volumes about the Democrats' unserious approach on border security and illegal immigration," he said. "Gutting the Secure Fence Act will make our borders less secure, but it's consistent with the pattern of behavior we've seen all year from this majority." But it's border state Republicans who've been gunning to undermine the law while the ink was still fresh.

To add insult to injury and homeland insecurity upon homeland insecurity, Congress failed to adopt a ban on federal aid to sanctuary cities that prevent government employees and law enforcement officers from asking about immigration status; voted to stall implementation of stricter ID standards at border crossings; and miraculously found enough money to provide $10 million in "emergency" funding for attorneys of illegal aliens.

Next time you hear a leading presidential candidate try to woo you with his nine-point immigration enforcement plan or his secure ID plan or his Secure Borders platform, point to the Incredible Disappearing Border Fence. Poof! That is what happens to election-season homeland security promises. Why would theirs be any different?

Copyright 2007, Creators Syndicate Inc.

Jeff Jacoby: Life and Death in New Jersey

Boston Globe
December 19, 2007


WHEN Governor Jon Corzine signed legislation repealing New Jersey's death penalty on Monday, there were many people for whom he had good words.

In what The New York Times called "an extended and often passionate speech," Corzine praised the members of the Death Penalty Study Commission who had recommended repeal. He saluted the "courageous leadership" of the state legislators who had voted for it, mentioning eight of them by name. He thanked New Jerseyans for Alternatives to the Death Penalty, an activist group, for having "put pressure on those of us in public service to stand up and do the right thing." He proclaimed himself "eternally grateful" to other anti-death-penalty organizations, especially the New Jersey Catholic Conference and the ACLU. He acknowledged "the millions of people across our nation and around the globe who reject the death penalty." He noted politely that there are "good people" who support capital punishment and opposed the bill. He even quoted Martin Luther King Jr.

But there were some people Corzine forgot to mention.

The governor forgot Kristin Huggins. She was the 22-year-old graphic artist kidnapped in 1992 by Ambrose Harris, who stuffed her into the trunk of her car, then let her out in order to rape her and shoot her twice - once in the back of her head, once point-blank in the face.

The governor forgot Irene Schnaps, a 37-year-old widow butchered by Nathaniel Harvey in 1985. After breaking into her apartment and robbing her, he killed her with 15 blows to the head, using a "hammer-like" weapon with such violence that he fractured her skull, broke her jaw, and knocked out her teeth.

The governor forgot Megan Kanka, who was just 7 years old when she was murdered by a neighbor, Jesse Timmendequas. A convicted sex offender, Timmendequas lured Megan into his house by offering to show her a puppy. Then he raped her, smashed her into a dresser, wrapped plastic bags around her head, and strangled her with a belt.

In fact, the governor forgot to mention any of the victims murdered by the men on New Jersey's death row. He signed an order reducing the killers' sentences to life in prison, and assured his audience "that these individuals will never again walk free in our society." But he spoke not a word about any of the men, women, and children who will never again walk at all - or smile, or dream, or breathe - because their lives were brutally taken from them by the murderers the new law spares.

That's the way it so often is with death-penalty opponents like Corzine: In their zeal to keep the guilty alive, they forget the innocents who have died. Their conscience is outraged by the death penalty, but only when it is lawfully applied to convicted murderers after due process of law. The far more frequent "death penalty" - the one imposed unlawfully on so many murder victims, often with wanton cruelty - doesn't disturb their conscience nearly so much.

Nor do their consciences seem overly troubled by the additional lives lost when capital punishment is eliminated.

A widening sheaf of studies (some by scholars who personally oppose the death penalty) have found that each time a murderer is executed, between 3 and 18 additional homicides are deterred. To mention just one example, University of Houston professors Dale Cloninger and Roberto Marchesini studied the effect of the death-penalty moratorium declared by Illinois Governor George Ryan in 2000, and Ryan's subsequent commutation of every death-row inmate's sentence. Result: an estimated 150 additional murders in Illinois over the subsequent 48 months.

New Jersey hasn't executed anyone since 1963, so the new law may be largely symbolic. But there is nothing symbolic about all the blood shed since the death penalty was abandoned 44 years ago. In 1963, there were 181 homicides in the Garden State. By 1970 there were more than 400, and by 1980, more than 500. In 2002, state officials calculated that on average, a murder was committed in New Jersey every 25 hours and 41 minutes.

While the murder rate since 2000 has declined modestly across the country, it has "jumped 44 percent in Jersey, up from 3.4 murders per 100,000 people to 4.9," writes Steven Malanga of the Manhattan Institute. "Jersey's increase in murders has been the sixth-highest in the country."

That may explain why 53 percent of the state's residents opposed the death-penalty repeal, according to a new Quinnipiac poll, while 78 percent favored retaining it for "the most violent cases." Perhaps they grasp the truth that eludes the politicians in Trenton: When the death penalty is unavailable, more innocent victims die.

Jeff Jacoby's e-mail address is

Jonah Goldberg: Clintonian Triangulation Comes Full Circle

[If you haven't read Christopher Hitchens' book "No One Left To Lie To" and you wouldn't spit on the Clintons if they were on fire, you owe it to yourself to do so. That book is a brutally scathing review of this hideous "couple". - jtf]

December 19, 2007
Jonah Goldberg
Los Angeles Times

The most enjoyable aspect of watching the HMS Hillary take on water is the prospect that Bill -- and his cult of personality -- will go down with the ship, too.

Bill Clinton has been stumping for his wife on the Iowa hustings, framing the election as a referendum on his tenure as president. Last month in Muscatine (during the same speech in which he falsely claimed to have opposed the Iraq war from the beginning), he told the assembled Democrats that HMS Hillary could transport America "back to the future."

Last summer, when he first started hawking Hillary like a door-to-door salesman, he told a crowd: "I know some people say, 'Look at them. They're old. They're sort of yesterday's news.'...
"Well," Slick Willie said, grinning, "yesterday's news was pretty good."

Indeed, Hillary's entire campaign has been grounded in her experience in the Clinton administration of the 1990s, even though that experience mostly involves designing a failed health-care plan and unsuccessfully hectoring her husband to move to the left. Still, as New York Times editorial writer Adam Cohen noted in a column last week, it was her decision to make the choice between her and Barack Obama a "referendum on a decade."

So if Hillary Clinton loses the race for the nomination -- heck, even if she just loses the Iowa caucuses -- I hope to see this headline somewhere, perhaps in the New York Post: "America to Clinton(s): We're Just Not That Into You."

The rush of schadenfreude would be so overwhelming, the entire Vast Right-Wing Conspiracy would have to hie itself to its fainting couch. For years now, the Clintons' defenders have claimed that the '90s were halcyon days, thanks to the deft statesmanship of the Clintons. Much of the liberal establishment has become wedded to protecting the memory of the Clintons' stewardship. David Brock's progressive outfit, Media Matters for America, is a prime example. It should be renamed "Hillary Matters for America," given that it is less a media watchdog and more an attack dog for Hillary Clinton.

But schadenfreude doesn't really do justice to Hillary's potential downfall. Her career is indisputably a product of her marriage. But for most of her life, Hillary had an independent ideological identity that now seems to have gone down the memory hole. In her own words, she championed a whole new "politics of meaning" and sought to redefine "who we are as human beings in this postmodern age."

But, bit by bit, she sliced off chunks of her soul. Hillary used to be the personification of hope for the left. On the welfare debate, she was supposed to be Bill's conscience. She was the Eleanor to his Franklin.

But now Hillary is the Democrats' establishment candidate, pitted against the true believer, John Edwards, and the idealist, Obama. Even committed liberals tell focus groups she's too cold, too calculating.

And how did she get that way? She studied at the feet of the master. Bill Clinton cast himself as a champion of the "Third Way," a grandiose political phrase with disturbing intellectual roots.
For Bill, it mostly meant that he could split the difference between any two positions. Any hard choice was a "false choice." When asked how he'd have voted on the first Persian Gulf War, he said he agreed with the minority but would have voted with the majority. He smoked pot but didn't inhale. Monica Lewinsky had sex with him, but he could swear under oath he didn't have sex with her.

Bill can make those sorts of things work because he really believes them -- or at least he does as the words are coming out of his mouth. Hillary has nowhere near that sort of skill. She's learned the dance moves and she's memorized the lyrics, but she can't hear the music. That was evident in the now-infamous Oct. 30 debate performance during which she said she was both for and against driver's licenses for illegal immigrants and for and against pulling troops out of Iraq.

In this race, she's tried to be hawk and dove, idealist and pragmatist, martyr and hero. But unlike her husband -- a jazz impresario of people-pleasing prevarication -- she's a terrible liar. She comes across as calculated because that's all that's left to her: calculation. Jesse Jackson once famously said that Bill Clinton had no core beliefs, he was simply "appetite" all the way down. That appetite seems to have become community property in the Clinton household, such as it is.

Obama is surging because Democrats want idealism and hope. Hillary has jettisoned her idealism, and she's filed down her hope to mere yearning.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007


December 18th, 2007 by xoanon Discuss

"Gandalf Comes to Hobbiton" by John Howe




Los Angeles, CA (Tuesday, December 18, 2007) Academy Award-winning filmmaker Peter Jackson; Harry Sloan, Chairman and CEO, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios Inc. (MGM); Bob Shaye and Michael Lynne, Co-Chairmen and Co-CEOs of New Line Cinema have jointly announced today that they have entered into the following series of agreements:

* MGM and New Line will co-finance and co-distribute two films, “The Hobbit” and a sequel to “The Hobbit.” New Line will distribute in North America and MGM will distribute internationally.

* Peter Jackson and Fran Walsh will serve as Executive Producers of two films based on “The Hobbit.” New Line will manage the production of the films, which will be shot simultaneously.

* Peter Jackson and New Line have settled all litigation relating to the “Lord of the Rings” (LOTR) Trilogy.

Said Peter Jackson, “I’m very pleased that we’ve been able to put our differences behind us, so that we may begin a new chapter with our old friends at New Line. ‘The Lord of the Rings’ is a legacy we proudly share with Bob and Michael, and together, we share that legacy with millions of loyal fans all over the world. We are delighted to continue our journey through Middle Earth. I also want to thank Harry Sloan and our new friends at MGM for helping us find the common ground necessary to continue that journey.”

“Peter Jackson has proven himself as the filmmaker who can bring the extraordinary imagination of Tolkien to life and we full heartedly agree with the fans worldwide who know he should be making ‘The Hobbit,’” said Sloan, MGM’s Chairman and CEO. “Now that we are all in agreement on ‘The Hobbit,’ we can focus on assembling the production team that will capture this phenomenal tale on film.”

Bob Shaye, New Line Co-Chairman and Co-CEO comments, “We are very pleased we have been able to resolve our differences, and that Peter and Fran will be actively and creatively involved with ‘The Hobbit’ movies. We know they will bring the same passion, care and talent to these films that they so ably accomplished with ‘The Lord of the Rings’ Trilogy.”

“Peter is a visionary filmmaker, and he broke new ground with ‘The Lord of the Rings,’” notes Michael Lynne, New Line Co-Chairman and Co-CEO. “We’re delighted he’s back for ‘The Hobbit’ films and that the Tolkien saga will continue with his imprint. We greatly appreciate the efforts of Harry Sloan, who has been instrumental in helping us reach our new accord.”

The two “Hobbit” films – “The Hobbit” and its sequel – are scheduled to be shot simultaneously, with pre-production beginning as soon as possible. Principal photography is tentatively set for a 2009 start, with the intention of “The Hobbit” release slated for 2010 and its sequel the following year, in 2011.

The Oscar-winning, critically-acclaimed LOTR Trilogy grossed nearly $3 billion worldwide at the box-office. In 2003, “Return of the King” swept the Academy Awards, winning all of the eleven categories in which it was nominated, including Best Picture – the first ever Best Picture win for a fantasy film. The Trilogy’s production was also unprecedented at the time.

For more information about “The Hobbit” films, please visit

Ed Koch: Does Gore Know What He's Talking About?

December 18, 2007

I may be old fashioned, but I think it's wrong to publicly attack and criticize your own country overseas. It is doubly wrong to do so in the presence of those who hate the United States.

Al Gore, a former Senator from Tennessee, a former Vice President of the United States and the 2000 Democratic candidate for president, apparently believes that since, as he said, he is "not an official of the United States," he is free to attack his native country anywhere.

This month in Bali, Indonesia, the United Nations held a conference on global warming for the purpose of extending the Kyoto Protocols, which will formally end in 2012. The United States -- concerned about Kyoto's effect on economic growth -- has refused to ratify the Protocols. On July 25, 1997, the U.S. Senate rejected then Vice President Gore's advice and voted 95-0 to reject the Kyoto Protocols.

Last week Al Gore appeared at the Bali conference and said, "I am not an official of the United States and I am not bound by the diplomatic niceties. So I am going to speak an inconvenient truth. My own country, the United States, is principally responsible for obstructing progress here in Bali. We all know that."

Oh, really? And just how do we all know that? Is it true that the U.S. is "principally responsible for obstructing progress" in Bali? The New York Times, which applauds the former Vice President, reported on December 14 that "[t]he emerging economic powers, most notably China and India, also refuse to accept limits on their emissions, despite projections that they will soon become the dominant sources of the gases." The same Times article stated while the U.S. opposes an agreement that would include numerical targets, so do "a few other countries, including Russia."

On November 7, 2006, The Times reported, "China will surpass the United States in 2009, nearly a decade ahead of previous predictions, as the biggest emitter of the main gas linked to global warming, the International Energy Agency has concluded in a report to be released Tuesday." The article continued, "China's rise, fueled heavily by coal, is particularly troubling to climate scientists because as a developing country, China is exempt from the Kyoto Protocol's requirements for reductions in emissions of global warming gases.

Unregulated emissions from China, India and other developing countries are likely to account for most of the global increase in carbon dioxide emissions over the next quarter-century. The agency's prediction highlights the unexpected speed with which China is emerging as the biggest contributor to global warming. Still, China has resisted limits on its own emissions and those of other developing countries."

The argument offered by China, India and other developing countries is clear and direct. Said Lu Xuedu, the deputy director general of the Chinese Office of Global Environmental Affairs, "You cannot tell people who are struggling to earn enough to eat that they need to reduce their emissions." China's intent is to put the United States and Europe in a difficult economic position where standards of living will be reduced until developing countries rise to the standard of the U.S. At that point the developing countries will be required to reduce their emissions.

President Bush has been attacked by Al Gore and his supporters for resisting a treaty that could inflict economic harm on the American people. Does Al Gore seriously think that we should reduce the U.S. standard of living until developing countries -- formerly called Third World countries until that term was discarded as demeaning -- catch up with us economically?

China is growing at a tremendous rate. So far this year, China's gross domestic product has grown 11 percent, while U.S. growth is two percent. According to The Times, India has a middle class of 250 million, while the entire U.S. population is 300 million. What's going on here? These facts alone make clear it is not necessary to effectively mandate a reduction in the U.S. standard of living in order for other nations to grow.

I wonder if Al Gore knows what he's doing. Reducing and sacrificing the U.S. standard of living as a way to bring others up the ladder, rather than allowing the U.S. to maintain its living standard while encouraging and helping others to reach our level, is a foolish and dangerous plan. It is simply unacceptable. Al Gore and his friends live in a Democratic society and have the absolute right to say what they want. But those of us who do not want to see the U.S. punished because of its success have rights, too. I believe it is our duty to denounce Al Gore's unwise attacks on America and hold him accountable for what he says.

Today, China has a hugely favorable balance of trade with the U.S. In 2006, for example, China's net favorable balance was more than $232 billion. The New York Times on December 14, 2007 reported that "China's trade deficit with the United States is expected to soar to nearly $300 billion this year, representing nearly half the overall American trade deficit." Thanks to these enormous trade advantages, China has now accumulated more than $1.4 trillion dollars which they can use to buy up our industries cheaply, especially now when so many American business leaders are prophesizing an American recession. The Chinese have actually set aside $200 billion for the purpose of making such purchases worldwide, as a start.

Should Al Gore be out there creating the impression that the U.S. primarily is the cause of global problems? I say "no." It is particularly galling when a recent Wall Street Journal article reported: "Under the vaunted Kyoto, from 2000 to 2004, Europe managed to increase its emissions by 2.3 percentage points over 1995 to 2000. Only two countries are on track to meet targets...[M]eanwhile in the U.S., under the president's oh-so-unserious plan, U.S. emissions from 2000 to 2004 were eight percentage points lower than in the prior period."

In other words, when it comes to the emissions problem, the U.S. is leading the way toward solving the problem without throwing millions of people out of work.

Ed Koch is the former Mayor of New York City.

The Wahhabi Woman Problem

Why no campaigns against Saudi Arabia's institutionalized sexism?

By Anne Applebaum

Posted Monday, Dec. 17, 2007, at 7:59 PM ET

A Saudi woman walks past a boutique at a shopping mall in Riyadh September 27, 2004.

"A court in Country X sentenced a black man who had been severely beaten by white men to six months in jail and 200 lashes."

How would you react if you read that in a newspaper? With shock, horror, and anger at the regime in Country X, no doubt. And once you learned that punishing blacks for associating with whites is routine in Country X, you might get even angrier. You might call for sanctions, you might insist that Country X not participate in the Olympics. You might insist that Country X be treated like apartheid-era South Africa.

In fact, the sentence is real—almost. When originally published on the CBS News Web site last month, it concerned a woman, not a black man, and Country X was Saudi Arabia. Here is the real quote:

A Saudi court sentenced a woman who had been gang raped to six months in jail and 200 lashes.

True, this extraordinary case, in which a rape victim was condemned for associating with a man who was not a relative, did create a small international echo. Hillary Clinton led a chorus of Democrats condemning the ruling, and a few editorials criticized it. It wasn't much, but it mattered: Thanks to international pressure, the Saudi king has now "pardoned" the woman. And now? In Saudi Arabia, women still can't vote, can't drive, can't leave the house without a male relative. No campaign of the kind once directed at South Africa has ever been mounted in their defense.

This comparison of Saudi and South African apartheid, and the different Western attitudes to both, has been made before. Recently, journalist Mona Eltahawy argued that while oil is a factor, the real reason Saudi teams aren't kicked out of the Olympics is that "Saudis have succeeded in pulling a fast one on the world by claiming their religion is the reason they treat women so badly." Islam, she points out, does take other forms—in Turkey, Morocco, Indonesia, and elsewhere. But Saudi propaganda, plus our own timidity about foreign customs, has blinded us to the fact that the systematic, wholesale Saudi oppression of women isn't dictated by religion at all, but rather by the culture of the Saudi ruling class.

I think there is another explanation, too. As a nation, we are partial to issues that seem familiar, and the story of apartheid South Africa had echoes in American history, in our own civil-rights movement. It wasn't that big a leap for Jesse Jackson to support the anti-apartheid movement when it was at its peak in the 1980s, and it wasn't that hard for college students at that time, either: We had been taught about institutionalized racism in school.

By contrast, the women of contemporary Saudi Arabia need a much more fundamental revolution than the one that took place among American women in the 1960s, and it's one we have trouble understanding. Unlike American blacks, it has been a long time since American women grappled with issues as basic as the right to study or vote. Instead, we have (fortunately) fought for less fundamental rights in recent decades, and our women's groups have of late (unfortunately) had the luxury of focusing on the marginal. The National Council of Women's Organizations' most famous recent campaign was against the Augusta National Golf Club. The Web site of the National Organization for Women (I hate to keep picking on them, but it's so easy) has space for issues of "non-sexist car insurance" and "network neutrality" but not for the Saudi rape victim or the girl murdered last week in Canada for refusing to wear the hijab.
The reigning feminist ideology doesn't help: Philosopher Christina Hoff Sommers has written, among other things, that some American feminists, self-focused and reluctant to criticize non-Western cultures, have convinced themselves that "sexual terror" in America (a phrase from a real women's studies textbook) is more dangerous than actual terrorism. But the deeper problem is the gradual marginalization of "women's issues" in domestic politics, which has made them subordinate to security issues or racial issues in foreign policy. American delegates to international and U.N. women's organizations are mostly identified with arguments about reproductive rights (whether for or against, depending on the administration), not arguments about the fundamental rights of women in Saudi Arabia or the Muslim world.

Until this changes, it will be hard to mount a campaign, in the manner of the anti-apartheid movement, to enforce sanctions or codes of conduct for people doing business there. What we need as a model, in other words, is not the 1960s feminism we all remember, but a globalized version of 19th-century feminism we've nearly forgotten.

Candidates for the role of Elizabeth Cady Stanton, anyone?

Thomas Sowell: Academic Intimidation

December 18, 2007

Harvard University, Cambridge, Mass.

There is an article in the current issue of The Chronicle of Higher Education -- the trade publication of the academic world -- about professors being physically intimidated by their students.

"Most of us dread physical confrontation," the author says. "And so these aggressive, and even dangerous, students get passed along, learning that intimidation and implied threats will get them what they want in life."

This professor has been advised, at more than one college, not to let students know where he lives, not to give out his home phone number and to keep his home phone number from being listed.

This is a very different academic world from the one in which I began teaching back in 1962. Over the years, I saw it change before my eyes.

During my first year of teaching, at Douglass College in New Jersey, I was one of the few faculty members who did not invite students to his home. In fact, I was asked by a colleague why I didn't.

"My home is a bachelor apartment" I said, "and that is not the place to invite the young women I am teaching."

His response was: "How did you get to be such an old fogy at such a young age?"

How did we get from there to where professors are being advised to not even have their phone numbers listed?

The answer to that question has implications not only for the academic world but for the society at large and for international relations.

It happened because people who ran colleges and universities were too squeamish to use the power they had, and relied instead on clever evasions to avoid confrontations. They were, as the British say, too clever by half.

"Negotiations" and "flexibility" were considered to be the more sophisticated alternative to confrontation.

Most campuses across the country bought that approach -- and it failed repeatedly on campus after campus, when caving in on one set of student demands led only to new and bigger demands.

The academic world has never fully recovered. Many congratulated themselves on the restoration of "peace" on campus in the 1970s. Almost always, it was the peace of surrender.

In order to appease campus radicals, all sorts of new ideologically oriented courses, programs and departments were created, with an emphasis on teaching victimhood and resentments, often hiring people whose scholarly credentials were meager or even non-existent.

Such courses, programs, and departments are still with us in the 21st century -- not because no one recognizes their intellectual deficiencies but because no one dares to try to get rid of them.

One of the rare exceptions to academic cave-ins around the country during the 1960s was the University of Chicago. When students there seized an administration building, dozens of them were suspended or expelled. That put an end to that.

There is not the slightest reason why academic institutions with far more applicants than they can accept have to put up with disruptions, violence or intimidation. Every student they expel can be replaced immediately by someone on the waiting list.

In case of more serious trouble, they can call in the police. President Nathan Pusey of Harvard did that in 1969, when students there seized an administration building and began releasing confidential information from faculty personnel files to the media.

The Harvard faculty were outraged -- at Pusey. To call the cops onto the sacred soil of Harvard Yard was too much.

It just wasn't politically correct. And, as a later president of Harvard, Lawrence Summers, could tell you, being politically correct can be the difference between remaining president of Harvard and having to give up the office.

Authority in general, and physical force in particular, are anathema to many among the intelligentsia, academic or otherwise. They can always think of some "third way" to avoid hard choices, whether on campus, in society, or among nations.

Moreover, they have little or no interest in the actual track record of those third ways. Having to learn to live with intimidation by their own students is one of the consequences.

Copyright 2007, Creators Syndicate Inc.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Did You Hear About the CO Mass Murder That Was Stopped By a Woman Gun-Owner?

By Chuck Baldwin
December 14, 2007

Jeanne Assam

"He that hath no sword, let him sell his garment, and buy one." (Luke 22:36 KJV)

Most of us are aware that the heroic actions of a brave woman at the New Life Church in Colorado Springs, Colorado a few days ago saved the lives of perhaps scores, or even hundreds, of people.

However, her bravery would not have counted for much had she not been armed.

On that fateful December Sunday, a man by the name of Matthew Murray entered the church armed to the teeth. According to press reports, he was armed with a semi-automatic rifle, two handguns, some smoke grenades, and more than 1,000 rounds of ammunition.

By the time Murray arrived in the Colorado Springs church, he had already killed four people: two at a missionary training center miles away, and two in the church parking lot. He had wounded several others. No one realized it at the time, but the man was a serial killer in the midst of a rampage. He doubtless planned to kill as many people as he could, as there were thousands of people inside the church. Had there not been an armed citizen in the church house, the death toll would have been massive.

According to church spokesmen, the congregation has over a dozen members who volunteered to serve as security personnel for the church. Jeanne Assam was one of those volunteers.

A former police officer, Assam said, "I saw him [Murray] coming through the doors, and I took cover, and I waited for him to get closer. I came out of cover, I identified myself and engaged him and took him down."[Gunman Planned to Kill More, Officials Say, By Karl Vick and William Branigin, Washington Post, December 11, 2007]

Murray died in the exchange. Although Assam shot him several times with her 9mm pistol, the coroner's office said that Murray actually succumbed to a self-inflicted gunshot wound. After being incapacitated by Assam's gunfire, Murray apparently turned one of his weapons on himself.

Chalk one up for the good guys, or in this case, good gals.

Have you noticed how the media dropped the Colorado story as soon as it was discovered that a lawfully armed citizen ended the potential massacre by using her own handgun? Had the killer been successful in murdering scores of people, however, it would have been at the top of the news for weeks. As it is, the story is already buried in the dungeon section of the news, if it is in the news at all.

One thing the national news media will always ignore is the practice of lawful self-defense. For example, most people are probably not aware of the fact that American citizens use a firearm to defend themselves more than 2.4 million times EVERY YEAR. That is more than 6,500 times EVERY DAY. This means that, each year, firearms are used 60 times more often to protect the lives of honest citizens than to take lives. Furthermore, of the 2.4 million self-defense cases, more than 192,000 are by women defending themselves against sexual assault. And in less than eight percent of those occasions is a shot actually fired. The vast majority of the time (92%), the mere presence of a firearm helps to avert a major crime from occurring. That is what Congressman Roscoe Bartlett (R-MD) concluded after extensive research. According to Rep. Bartlett, the number of defensive uses is four times the number of crimes reported committed with guns.

John Lott, senior research scientist at the University of Maryland, agrees with Bartlett. His book More Guns, Less Crime documents the fact that—instead of being a cause of crime—firearms in the hands of private citizens are actually a major deterrent to crime.

Another fact conveniently ignored by the major media is the connection between wanton killings and so-called "gun-free" zones. For an example of this, look no further than the Virginia Tech massacre. In spite of Virginia state laws that allow citizens to carry concealed weapons for self-defense, Virginia Tech forbade its students and faculty from carrying weapons for self-defense on campus.

Had a student or faculty member been armed—as was Ms. Assam in the Colorado Springs attack—no doubt many, if not most, of the Virginia Tech victims would not have died.
Obviously, bad guys do not pay any attention to "gun-free" zones, except to note that such zones create a free-killing environment.

Is it any wonder that those states and cities with the most restrictive gun control laws tend to also be home to the highest crime rates? The old saying is still true. "When guns are outlawed, only outlaws will have guns." There is another saying I like even better. "When guns are outlawed, I will be an outlaw."

Even our Lord understood and validated the right of every person to arm themselves for personal self-defense. He said, "He that hath no sword, let him sell his garment, and buy one." (Luke 22:36 KJV) The old Roman sword was the First Century equivalent of a modern handgun. It was the most practical and convenient form of self-defense available at that time.

Also, please note that at least two of Jesus' disciples (one of whom was Simon Peter) were in the habit of carrying their own personal swords, and Jesus never rebuked them. (See Luke 22:38.)
Jesus also acknowledged, "When a strong man ARMED [emphasis added] keepeth his palace, his goods are in peace." (Luke 11:21)

Furthermore, the Apostle Paul said, emphatically, "But if any provide not for his own, and specially for those of his own house, he hath denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel." (I Tim. 5:8) Does "not providing for his own" include not providing protection? Of course it does.
The right and, yes, obligation of personal self-defense is entrenched in both Christian and American tradition. People who would deny citizens the right to arm themselves are either naïvely ignorant or deliberately duplicitous. As Robert Heinlein said, "An armed society is a polite society."

America's Founding Fathers agreed with Heinlein. Thomas Jefferson said, "No free man shall ever be debarred the use of arms." He also said, "Laws that forbid the carrying of arms . . . disarm only those who are neither inclined nor determined to commit crimes . . . Such laws make things worse for the assaulted and better for the assailants; they serve rather to encourage than to prevent homicides, for an unarmed man may be attacked with greater confidence than an armed man."

Samuel Adams said, "[T]he said Constitution [shall] be never construed to authorize Congress to infringe the just liberty of the press, or the rights of conscience; or to prevent the people of the United States, who are peaceable citizens, from keeping their own arms."

James Madison said, "To preserve liberty, it is essential that the whole body of people always possess arms."

Thomas Paine said, "[A]rms discourage and keep the invader and plunderer in awe, and preserve order in the world as well as property . . . Horrid mischief would ensue were the law-abiding deprived of the use of them."

George Washington called the private collections of arms "the people's liberty's teeth."
America must always preserve the right to keep and bear arms. To do any less is to invite oppression and tyranny, not to mention acts of violence.

Some years back, Alan Rice of the Jews for the Preservation of Firearms Ownership (JPFO) wrote, "Since 1900 at least seven major genocides have occurred resulting in the murder of 50-60 million people:

*Ottoman Turkey, 1915-17; 1-1.5 million Armenians murdered; *Soviet Union, 1929-53; 20 million anti-Communists and anti-Stalinists murdered; *Nazi Germany & Occupied Europe, 1933-45; 13 million Jews, Gypsies, and Anti-Nazis murdered; *China, 1949-52, 1957-60 & 1966-1976; 20 million anti-Communists murdered; *Guatemala, 1960-1981; 100,000 Mayan Indians murdered; *Uganda, 1971-1979; 300,000 Christians and Political Rivals of Idi Amin murdered; *Cambodia, 1975-1979; 1 million murdered."

Rice continued to say,

"In all seven of the genocides summarized above, gun control laws were in force before the genocide occurred, in some cases decades before. In five of the seven genocides, the lethal law, the gun control law was in force before the genocide regime took power."

Rice also said, "Gun control laws are usually enacted during a crisis or a perceived crisis." He then said,

"Government officials, not hate groups or common criminals, were responsible for these seven genocides. In most of these cases the murder victims outnumbered their murderers; yet they were powerless to defend themselves because they were disarmed."

Do the math yourself. Absent an armed citizen, 32 innocent people lost their lives at Virginia Tech, while the presence of one armed citizen resulted in two innocent deaths in Colorado Springs. Furthermore, the presence of over 200 million firearms in the possession of the American people has done more to keep America free than any other human element—bar none!

Therefore, to help keep your family safe and your country free, go buy a gun.

Dr. Chuck Baldwin is the pastor of Crossroad Baptist Church in Pensacola, Florida. He hosts a weekly radio show. His website is here.

Courage and Cowardice in Colorado

by Gary Bauer
Posted: 12/14/2007

Jeanne Assam

For Christians, Sundays are a time of worship and reflection, a day for families to come together and contemplate the selfless love of He who shed His blood so that we may have life. For two religious communities in Colorado, however, last Sunday was also a day of selfish hatred and senseless bloodshed.

In the early hours of that cold, snowy day, twenty-four-year-old Matthew Murray drove to a Youth With a Mission training center for Christian missionaries near Denver. Murray, who was dismissed from Youth With a Mission a few years earlier and had been sending it hate mail, asked to spend the night at the school. When school employees explained to Murray that the center did not have any beds and offered to take him to a shelter, he opened fire with a handgun, killing two young staff members and injuring two others.

But Murray was not done. Twelve hours later, he drove to the New Life Church in Colorado Springs and opened fire on people entering the church for its morning service, killing two teenage sisters and critically injuring their father. Murray then walked into the church carrying two handguns, an assault rifle and over 1,000 rounds of ammunition and began firing indiscriminately at the large crowd that had already congregated.

As shocking as Murray’s repugnant acts were, even more shocking was the deep-seated hatred of Christians that seems to have motivated his actions. Between shooting sprees, Murray, who had been home-schooled in a highly religious family, made an online post explaining what drove him to commit his unspeakable crimes.

“…God, I can’t wait till I can kill you people. Feel no remorse, no sense of shame, I don’t care if I live or die in the shoot-out. All I want to do is kill and injure as many of you…as I can especially Christians who are to blame for most of the problems in the world.”

If Murray’s anti-Christian animus seems familiar, it’s because it closely resembles that of a number of other recent mass murderers, including the Columbine High School shooters, the Virginia Tech shooter and even the monster who massacred five young Amish girls at the West Nickel Mines School in Pennsylvania. The common denominator of anti-Christian bigotry is difficult to miss. But what’s more difficult to overlook is that the intense hatred of Christianity that often fuels these violent acts is the same hatred of Christianity so often cultivated and promoted in the media by America’s cultural Left.

Whether it is Rosie O’Donnell declaring that "Radical Christianity is just as threatening as radical Islam in a country like America,” Elton John insisting that all organized religion be banned or polemicist Christopher Hitchens claiming that “religion poisons everything,” when a common message in the media is that religion, and in particular Christianity, is the bane of enlightened existence, it is not hard to recognize why so many young people feel such animosity towards it.

On a more encouraging note, in the midst of the wickedness of last Sunday’s shootings -- as often happens when Evil and Good collide -- a small glimmer of hope shined brightly. After killing the two teenage girls outside New Life Church, walking into the church and beginning to fire, Murray was met almost immediately with two bullets from Jeanne Assam’s gun. Assam, a church member and former police officer who volunteered as a security officer at the church, shot Murray before he was able to hit any of his targets. Immobilized, Murray then shot himself in the head.

Describing the split-second decision she had to make, Assam told reporters: “It seemed like it was me, the gunman and God. …God guided me and protected me.” When asked if she felt like a hero, Assam said, “I wasn’t just going to wait for him to do further damage. I give credit to God.”

New Life Pastor Brad Boyd also described what happened: “When the shots were fired she rushed toward the scene and encountered the gunman in the hallway,” he explained. “He never got more than 50 feet into the church. She probably saved over 100 lives. He had enough ammunition on him to do a lot of damage.” Lives were saved at New Life Church last Sunday because a courageous, law-abiding citizen was armed and ready to act in the public’s defense.

As happened during the Virginia Tech massacre earlier this year -- when Holocaust survivor and professor Liviu Librescu gave his life holding off the gunman at the entrance to his classroom while students escaped through windows -- Assam’s actions reaffirmed a fundamental truth: that while human beings are capable of selfish acts of hatred, they are also capable of exhibiting heroic courage and selfless love, the kind that allows others to have life.

Mr. Bauer, a 2000 candidate for president, is chairman of Campaign for Working Families and president of American Values.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Nittany Lions lay it all on the line in NCAA title win

By Mark Kreidler
Special to

Updated: December 16, 2007, 2:26 AM ET

Penn State's Megan Hodge hugs head coach Russ Rose after defeating Stanford 3-2 to win the National Championship in the finals of the Women's Division I NCAA volleyball tournament in Sacramento, Calif., Saturday, Dec. 15, 2007.
(AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli)

SACRAMENTO, Calif. -- Loose is one thing. Loose is calm, relaxed, easily focused. What the Penn State volleyball players do, when they really get going, is something closer to frantic than loose. It's like a jailbreak, with the screaming and the fist pumping. Lots of yelling -- almost all of it at each other, and almost all of it to the good.

Or, as sophomore setter Alisha Glass explained it with a smile, "The other night, we were screaming and yelling while we were still warming up on the sport-court outside the gym. The other team is probably going, 'We haven't even stepped on the court.'"

Bad news for the other team: Penn State eventually steps on the court.

And in the crucible of the NCAA Division I Volleyball Championship against top-seeded Stanford on Saturday night, it was the Nittany Lions' rock-and-roll attitude toward the game that essentially carried them through. Hey, for this team, frantically loose works.

After losing two straight games, the second by 11 points -- letting Stanford tie the match at 2-2, Penn State simply regrouped, slapped on a happy face and took the championship. With Glass setting for Christa Harmotto and Nicole Fawcett, the Lions reeled off seven straight points in the deciding game to win 30-25, 30-26, 23-30, 19-30, 15-8.

"We demanded it of each other," said Fawcett, who finished with 19 kills and delivered a couple of blazing putaways in the fifth game. "We weren't going to let them pull away from us.

"If we were going to go down, we were going to go down with a fight. We knew that just because they beat us by 11 points in the fourth game, we weren't going to roll over and let them take it -- and we weren't going to be hesitant whatsoever. We were just going to just go out and have fun, and play volleyball as we know how to."

That was good enough to push back Stanford, which reached the title match for the second year in a row but ran out of gas in the deciding game. After hitting a gaudy .535 in its Game 4 rout and grabbing a quick 4-3 lead in Game 5, the Cardinal wilted, finishing with a negative percentage in the finale.

And Game 4 seems as good a place as any to go looking for how the championship was won. After putting together two very nice games to take a 2-0 lead, Penn State simply fell out of sync in its Game 3 loss, and in Game 4, Stanford looked like the best team in the country. A contest that was 20-16 at one point dissolved into a series of beautiful sets by Bryn Kehoe and dagger kills by Cynthia Barboza and superstar freshman Alix Klineman, and it was over before Penn State knew what had happened.

Sacramento Bee Staff Photo
Cynthia Barboza, #1, and her Stanford Cardinal teammates sit in defeat 3-2 against the Penn State Nittany Lions during the 2007 NCAA Division I women's volleyball championship game Saturday, Dec. 15, 2007, at Arco Arena in Sacramento, Calif.

But the Lions are proof that you can smile and win at the same time. The between-games huddle was brief, barely informative, and heavy on the jokes and the motivational speeches.

"I think it goes back a little to the coaching staff," said Fawcett, a junior outside hitter. "We like to have fun, we like to laugh, and it's like our coach told us a few days ago: Life's too short for us not to enjoy and laugh about it. And we do that. We like to joke around, and it keeps us loose and focused on the game, not overthinking it."

That coach, Russ Rose, helped earn the program's second national championship by putting together a team capable of vicious hitting and quality serving. In the title match, Rose had three players hit .400 or better: Harmotto, Glass and Arielle Wilson.

More to the point of this team, though, Rose allowed the loose attitude to flourish. As long as his players were getting their work done, Rose didn't mind the jokes, the dancing, the goofing around. Quite the contrary.

Rose said that he and Stanford coach John Dunning were nearly opposite characters in that respect, with Dunning's team more closely reflecting his calm, controlled manner in its general refusal to ruffle.

"They [the Stanford players] don't seem to have a lot of emotional highs," Rose said on the eve of the championship. "I think our team gets a little crazier, and I think it serves us well.

"They should be a little crazy. What a great time. What a great place to be. There's no pressure on them. They're 18- to 20-year-old female athletes who have an opportunity to compete for a national championship. It'd be foolish for somebody to tell them to calm down."

Dunning, after seeing the way the championship ended, had to concur.

"They just put their heart out on the floor," Dunning said. "They were ready to start Game 5."

Ready to finish it, as well. Frantically loosely.

Mark Kreidler's book "Four Days to Glory: Wrestling With the Soul of the American Heartland" has been optioned for film/TV development by ESPN Original Entertainment. His book "Six Good Innings," about one town's consistent ability to produce Little League champions, will be released in July 2008. A regular contributor to, he can be reached at

Penn State Beats Top-Seeded Stanford

By JANIE McCAULEY – 11 hours ago
Associated Press

AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli
Penn State's Blair Brown, center, leaps in the air between teammates Megan Hodge, left, and Alisha Glass (6) after the winning point was scored to clinch the Nittany Lions' NCAA championship

SACRAMENTO, Calif. -- Russ Rose calmly reminded his team that just because Stanford suddenly had all the momentum, in no way did it mean Penn State still couldn't pull off a national championship by winning Game 5.

The scrappy Nittany Lions did just that against the favored Cardinal. And they played near-perfect volleyball in an amazing NCAA run, capturing their second national title while dropping only two games in six tournament matches.

Third-seeded Penn State even found a way to stun top-seeded Stanford on Saturday night, getting 26 kills from Megan Hodge and 19 from Nicole Fawcett against the very same school they beat for their first title in 1999.

"It hasn't really sunk in yet that we won," Hodge said. "It's surreal. I'm on a high."

A day before her 21st birthday, Fawcett served on match point and Penn State capped its 26th straight victory on another powerful kill by MVP Hodge, winning 30-25, 30-26, 23-30, 19-30, 15-8 exactly three months to the day after losing a five-game thriller to the Cardinal — the last defeat for the Nittany Lions.

"We just talked coming in about how we were going to win," Fawcett said. "So, we just had to go back to how we were playing in the first two games. There was no way we were going to lose it."

Penn State's Christa Harmotto, left, goes to block the shot of Stanford's Bryn Kehoe during the finals of the Women's Division I NCAA volleyball championship in Sacramento, Calif., Saturday, Dec. 15, 2007. (AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli)

"We didn't really want to look at the momentum," said Glass, Penn State's sophomore setter who recorded 65 assists, seven kills, 11 digs and contributed on two blocks. "We just wanted to start from the beginning of Game 5. We wanted to win a national championship. We said, 'We're here. This is the goal.' "

It was a classic for volleyball fans considering each side had three first-team All-Americans. Trailing 4-3 in the decisive game, Penn State (34-2) scored six straight points and got two kills each from Christa Harmotto and Alisha Glass for a 10-4 lead and Stanford called timeout.

National and Pac-10 player of the year Foluke Akinradewo and Pac-10 freshman of the year Alix Klineman each had 18 kills for the Cardinal (32-3), who tried to become the first team since UCLA in 1991 to rally from a two-game deficit to win.

"This is why we take the court every day and work hard in practice, so we can win a national championship," Akinradewo said. "It's worth taking the risk."

Stanford fell short for the second straight season, missing a chance to give senior starters Bryn Kehoe and Franci Gerard another title after winning when they were freshmen in 2004.

Penn State coach Russ Rose had no intention of shutting down Stanford's stars. What his team did was keep points alive by chasing down tough loose balls and hitting the floor for athletic digs to end Stanford's 12-game winning streak and deny the Pac-10 its sixth title in seven years.

"Anything can happen in a short game, but I was confident if we got to Game 5 and had enough offense we could do some things," Rose said.

Sacramento Bee Staff Photo
Bryn Kehoe, #4, of the Stanford Cardinals goes up for the ball against Penn State Nittany Lions Nicole Fawcett, #1, during the 2007 NCAA Division I women's volleyball championship game Saturday, Dec. 15, 2007, at Arco Arena in Sacramento, California.

Stanford, which barely advanced out of the semifinals after a 3-2 win over Southern California on Thursday night, was seeking its seventh title in 16 seasons. Now, after five straight championships by the Pac-10, 2006 winner Nebraska and Penn State are bringing more parity to the college game.

The Cornhuskers were the only other team to beat Penn State this season. The Nittany Lions are 31-0 when they win the first game of a match and this was only the fifth time they had to go the distance to win — and fresh legs could have been a factor in this one. Penn State breezed past California 3-0 on Thursday.

Fawcett had served into the net on game point in Game 3, but made up for it later.

This marked the third time these teams met in the championship, with Stanford winning in 1997 and Penn State two years later. These are the only two teams to make all 27 NCAA tournament fields since its inception in 1981.

Stanford freshman libero Gabi Ailes extended her own single-season digs record to 533 with 10 digs Saturday.

Sacramento Bee Staff Photo
Stanford Cardinals Alix Klineman, #10, attempts to get the ball as she is backed up by teammate Gabi Ailes, #9.

In the opening game, the teams combined for five service errors among the first 14 points. Fawcett's kill made it 26-23, then she had a key block for her team's 29th point and the game-winning kill.

Kate Price, Penn State's senior outside hitter, chased down several tough saves along the right sideline.

"They had some rallies we thought were over," Stanford coach John Dunning said. "People were celebrating in the stands but they were still going on."

Rose, in his 29th season at the school, was national coach of the year and Saturday's triumph was his 925th career victory.

The championship drew 13,631 for a total of 26,679, the second-highest attendance mark in NCAA volleyball history behind Omaha, Neb., last year (34,060).


Sunday, Dec. 16, 2007

Gordon Brunskill
Centre Daily Times

AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli
Penn State's Megan Hodge found the holes in Stanford's defense.

As Megan Hodge cocked back her powerful right arm, you knew it was time to begin the celebration.

Taking a perfect set along the net from Alisha Glass, Hodge unleashed that arm and ripped the ball past the Stanford blockers, off the fingertips of a diving Alix Klineman and onto the floor of ARCO Arena in Sacramento, Calif.

It was the last of 26 kills for the Penn State sophomore and it was the most important one.

It gave the Nittany Lion women's volleyball team the national championship as they finally put away a resilient Stanford Saturday night in Sacramento, Calif.

The Nittany Lions (34-2) picked up their second title to go with the one earned in 1999 with a 30-25, 30-26, 23-30, 19-30, 15-8 victory.

"It hasn't really sunk in yet that we won," said Hodge, who was voted the tournament's Most Outstanding Player after the match. "It's surreal. I'm on a high."

Nicole Fawcett added 19 kills and the team's only two aces, Christa Harmotto had 13 kills while hitting .435 and freshman Arielle Wilson had 12 kills and hit .500 with five blocks. Alisha Glass posted 65 assists and 11 digs.

Roberta Holehouse led the team with 17 digs and five Nittany Lions finished in double figures in digs as the team finished with a season-high 76.

Stanford won the blocking battle 11 to 8.5 but Penn State hit .318 to the Cardinal's .293. Another solid hitting night let the Nittany Lions finish the six-match tournament hitting .424 to obliterate the NCAA record. The old mark of .369 was set by Long Beach State in 1995.

"It's so unbelievable," Fawcett said. "I feel numb."

The hard part for the Nittany Lions was getting themselves ready for the decisive fifth game after seeing a 2-0 lead disappear.

Sacramento Bee Staff Photo
Stanford Cardinals Alix Klineman, #10, serves the ball against the Penn State Nittany Lions.

Stanford then opened with a 4-3 advantage, but the Nittany Lions took off on a 7-0 run. After Hodge tied it with a big swing, Harmotto put Penn State in the lead for good by blasting a kill off a blocker running a slide to the outside.

Fawcett then lasered the ball cross-court, Harmotto buried another ball into the floor off an overpass, and after a Stanford hitting error, Glass burned the Cardinal on consecutive points by dumping the ball over the net on the second touch. The win was in sight at 10-4.

"It was huge because of how short the game is," Harmotto said. "To be up in that game and to have such a big lead was huge for our confidence. They scored again, but then we got the ball right back."

From there the team just had to be patient and not let Stanford take back the momentum -- the Cardinal managed just one kill in the entire game.

Fawcett knew the pressure was on when she stepped in for what turned out to be the match's final serve.

"The biggest thing was for me to go back and making sure I got my serve in," Fawcett said. "I missed game point in the third game and that was not going to happen again."

The key to that final frame was forgetting what had just slipped away in the third and fourth games.

"Yeah, they had the momentum because they won the fourth game," Harmotto said. "I just turned to my teammates and said, 'Look guys, this is all out. Everybody gives everything. It doesn't matter if you¹re tired -- nothing. This is for the national championship.' We just did a great job of coming out and jumping on them."

Penn State's Blair Brown, right, spikes the ball against Stanford's Foluke Akinradewo during the finals of the Women's Division I NCAA volleyball Championships in Sacramento, Calif., Saturday, Dec. 15, 2007. (AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli)

Stanford got back into the match by switching around its rotation and having All-American setter Bryn Kehoe go on a big serving roll. She finished with five aces and four came in the third game, including three in a row as part of a 6-0 run.

It helped contribute to some Penn State passing problems, which were an off-and-on problem for the team all season.

"It was a miscommunication problem, that was the biggest thing," Fawcett said of the first game the team had lost in the entire tournament. "We struggled with that all year and it came to be a factor there but we rebounded from that and pulled out of it."

With the Cardinal now feeling confident, they began to take some huge swings, hitting .535 as a team without a single error in the fourth game.

The offense was keyed by American Volleyball Coaches Association Player of the Year Foluke Akinradewo and fellow All-American Cynthia Barboza.

"On a good pass we needed to commit on her," Harmotto said of trying to stop Akinradewo. "She's going to get her kills. She can hit over people, she hits a fast ball, but I thought we did a pretty good job of slowing her down in that fifth game. After four games you kind of know what they're going to run."

Akinradewo finished with 18 kills and hit .425 along with six blocks. Klineman, a freshman, also had 18 kills and 15 digs, Barboza had 16 kills and 12 digs, Kehoe gave out 62 assists to go with seven blocks and Franci Girard contributed 10 kills.

The match was a virtual all-star game. Each team featured four All-Americans, including three first-teamers apiece. Stanford had Akinradewo, Kehoe, Barboza and second-teamer Klineman while the Nittany Lions had Hodge, Fawcett, Harmotto and Glass on the second team.

Penn State Nittany Lions Arielle Wilson, #7, goes for a kill against the Stanford Cardinals Cynthia Barboza, #1.

The Cardinal, which has won an NCAA-best six championships, also lost to Nebraska in last year's title match.

"This is why we take the court every day and work hard in practice, so we can win a national championship," Akinradewo said. "It's worth taking the risk."

Penn State shook off the jitters of the opening few points and took control of the first game with a short 4-1 run to go up 26-23, topped by a Fawcett kill off a blocker. Fawcett then finished off the game with another crosscourt kill.

The Nittany Lions kept up the offensive pressure in the second game, hitting .525 with huge kills from all along the net. The team also got some big blocking, finished off by a triple block from Fawcett, Glass and Harmotto on Klineman to finish the set.

Especially in those first two games, Penn State had probably its best defensive showing of the year keeping balls alive and covering the court behind its blockers.

"They had some rallies we thought were over," Stanford coach John Dunning said. "People were celebrating in the stands but they were still going on."

Sacramento Bee Staff Photo
Nicole Fawcett, #1, of the Penn State Nittany Lions raises the championship trophy after her team's 3-2 vitory over the Stanford Cardinals during the 2007 NCAA Division I women's volleyball championship game Saturday, Dec. 15, 2007, at Arco Arena in Sacramento, Calif.

Penn State finished the season winning its last 26 matches, dating back exactly three months when Stanford beat the Nittany Lions in five games at a tournament at Yale. This was the third meeting between the schools in the national final, with Penn State winning its title in 1999 and Stanford taking the crown in 1997.

"It's crazy, it's like you're not there," Glass said of the feeling of being a national champion. "You look back and it and, what can be better than that? What can be better than jumping and having your whole team on the floor and thinking all the same thing and sharing in the excitement.

"It's something that you play for. It's your goal to win a national championship."