Saturday, March 08, 2008

Jeter continues to set the bar for consistency

By Tim Brown, Yahoo! Sports
Mar 7, 8:28 pm EST

Alex Rodriguez, left, Derek Jeter, center, and special adviser Reggie Jackson share a laugh while standing in the outfield during batting practice before the Yankees spring training baseball game against the Houston Astros at Legends Field in Tampa, Friday, March 7, 2008.
(AP Photo/Kathy Willens)

TAMPA – He’s coming up on 34 years old, the shoulders still taut, the fade still working, the eyes still burning jade.

Thirteen years into this, Derek Jeter looks up from his chair in his familiar spring-time place. Time and rigor have let his face be. Ignore the few inches of range toward second base he’s supposed to have lost, but probably never really had, and the game has let him be too.

“I don’t feel old, man,” he says.

He laughs. He knows he’s claimed otherwise many times, often with a wry smile, usually when the season was well along and he was insisting on a few more innings from his legs. In 12 full seasons, including postseasons, he’s played an average of 162 games, all at a position that hardly rests, and never once quit on a two-hopper to second base.

“I know I joke about it,” he says. “But I feel as good now as I did in my first year.”

Of course, everybody coasts into March. The beauty of Jeter, what makes him Jeter, is who he is in September. Who he is in October. Who he is in Year 13. Same guy as today, same as yesterday.

The city sways, baseball sags, the Yankees give away most of a decade, and New York would buy tickets to watch Derek Jeter walk – slightly pigeon-toed, head down, bat tucked under his arm – from the on-deck circle to the plate.

That’s because he shows up for every at-bat. That’s because he hasn’t just survived being a Yankee (and in the media age), he’s perfected it. The folks in the bleachers, they could always trust his body, trust his work, trust his intentions. The folks in the clubhouse, they could always trust his leadership. The folks in the front office, they could always trust his decisions.

The city turns, baseball darkens, the Yankees swat at the daily swirling crises, and New York would cling to Derek Jeter, willing the bat head ferociously to the inner half of the ball.

Derek Jeter swings a weighted bat before taking batting practice in a pregame warmup before the Yankees spring training baseball game against the Tampa Bay Rays at Legends Field in Tampa, Fla., Saturday, March 8, 2008.
(AP Photo/Kathy Willens)

“He’s never changed,” Andy Pettitte says. “It’s easy for me to keep him in line, because we go back so far.”

Pettitte, who, these days, could use a light moment, laughs.

“For the fame and fortune that’s come his way, he’s done a great job of being the same person,” he says. “He’s a good man.”

If Jeter is weary of the effort after these years, it is not reflected in his demeanor, nor in his game. He toiled all winter on expanding his range at shortstop and had barely wiped the sweat from his forehead when a handful of techies at Penn announced he was the worst defensive shortstop in baseball.

Maybe it’s true, but I doubt it. I do know that if there was a roller to the left of the mound, I’d want Jeter coming in from shortstop. If there was a flare dying fast in left field, I’d want Jeter going out from shortstop. And if there was a four-hopper straight at the shortstop to end a game I had to win, I’d want Jeter and his alleged cement-shoed range standing right there.

Granted, I’d also want a left fielder and a center fielder with pretty good arms, because they’re going to see some balls.

The Penn study had a decent run in New York but no play in the organization.

Gene Michael, who blasted the report at the time, hasn’t yet fully flushed his disdain for it.

“It’s not a fair test, because you can’t put another shortstop in those same spots, under those same conditions,” Michael says. “I know what they’re trying to do. They made a name for themselves doing it. I’ll say this: A ball is hit to shortstop. Who do you want to catch it? Who’s going to catch the ball at him and then make the throw?”

But, these things happen, and then don’t spend much time in Jeter’s psyche. He puts in his work, then takes his position, maintains his poise, does his Yankees thing. He claims it’s fairly simple.

“It would be harder if it wasn’t sincere,” he says, “if it was all contrived. How I am is how I am. It’s how I’ve always been. I’ve tried to stay the same person. I like playing baseball a lot. But, I’ll be a person for a lot longer than I will be a baseball player.”

Derek Jeter and Yogi Berra clown around by the batting cage before the Yankees spring training baseball game against the Houston Astros at Legends Field in Tampa, Friday, March 7, 2008.
(AP Photo/Kathy Willens)

In so many ways, he is the young man he was in 1995, when he first walked in, and 1996, when he began to grow into the Yankees logo. And now he’s a solid four seasons, maybe less, from 3,000 hits. He’s also 7½ years since his last championship, and that weighs on all of them. It should too, particularly now that there are four, maybe five, teams in the American League with at least as much end-to-end talent – the Boston Red Sox, Detroit Tigers, Cleveland Indians, Los Angeles Angels and, perhaps, the Seattle Mariners. And the Yankees’ big acquisition of the offseason apparently will be LaTroy Hawkins.

They did not trade for Johan Santana. They did not effectively pursue an outfielder. They are waiting now on Phil Hughes, Joba Chamberlain and Ian Kennedy. They are wishing good things for Mike Mussina. They are hoping for healthy, productive seasons from Johnny Damon and Jason Giambi. They pray their outfield defense will be good enough.

And then they lean a little on Jeter.

“I feel good about it,” he says. “We didn’t win a championship, and I’m not forgetting that, but we did some good things. It’s not like they’re keeping a team together that fell flat on its faces. I think we’d like to have another shot. I think that’s a good thing.”

Every spring the 2000 World Series title gets a bit more distant. It’s probably not dawned on Jeter that he’s seven years into that 10-year, $189 million contract, and the Yankees haven’t won in that time. But, he knows the date, knows the significance.

“I think the older you get, the faster time goes,” he says. “And that’s flown by.”

Tim Brown is a national baseball writer for Yahoo! Sports. Send Tim a question or comment for potential use in a future column or webcast.

One vote for North Carolina's Hansbrough for player of the year

While Beasley electrifies, it shouldn’t be a shocker if UNC’s Hansbrough is national player of the year

By Kate Hairopoulos
Dallas Morning News

09:49 PM CST on Thursday, March 6, 2008

CHAPEL HILL, NC - MARCH 04: Tyler Hansbrough #50 of North Carolina Tar Heels controls the ball in front of Julian Vaughn #21 of Florida State Seminoles during the first half at the Dean E. Smith Center on March 4, 2008 in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. North Carolina defeated Florida State 90-77. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

Kansas State freshman Michael Beasley is an unbelievable college basketball player, and he could be the No. 1 pick in this year's NBA draft.

"I love watching him play," ESPN analyst Fran Fraschilla said. "He's a basketball savant."

Beasley's statistics – he averages 26.9 points and an NCAA Division I-leading 12.6 rebounds per game – are mind-blowing.

But the 6-10 power forward is not getting my vote for national college basketball player of the year.

Like it or not, that honor should go to North Carolina's Tyler Hansbrough. The 6-9, 250-pound junior forward from Poplar Bluff, Mo., has earned the nickname "Psycho-T" for his intensity.

When the comparisons are close, it is OK to vote not just for the best player, but to vote for the best player who makes his team one of the best. Hansbrough has willed UNC (28-2) back to the nation's top ranking. He elevated his play when floor-leader Ty Lawson missed a stretch of games with an ankle injury.

Kansas State is 19-10 and unranked.

This has nothing to do with any bias against Beasley for being a freshman or for playing in Manhattan, Kan., instead of Tobacco Road. It's a philosophy you agree with, or you don't. Fraschilla has the same mind-set.

Last year, Texas' Kevin Durant became the first freshman to sweep the player of the year awards, but his biggest rival was Ohio State freshman Greg Oden. Beasley has more competition. Sure, Beasley will probably be a better NBA player than Hansbrough. That doesn't matter now.

"If Michael Beasley is not the national player of the year," Fraschilla said, "he'll be crying all the way to the bank."

CHAPEL HILL, NC - MARCH 04: Tyler Hansbrough #50 of the North Carolina Tar Heels prepares to dunk against the Florida State Seminoles during the second half at the Dean E. Smith Center on March 4, 2008 in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. North Carolina defeated Florida State 90-77. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

Hansbrough averages 23.3 points and 10.4 rebounds. With Lawson out, he averaged 28 points and 12.1 rebounds. North Carolina – which has a rematch Saturday night at No. 6 Duke – has won seven straight.

"He's the most valuable player on one of the best teams in the country," Fraschilla said. "But his value to his team transcends his scoring and his rebounding stats."

Hansbrough is best known for his passion and focus, which is easy to love or hate depending on how you view Carolina blue.

When Hansbrough is on the court, you can practically see his all-out adrenaline rush. There's something in his eyes that makes it apparent that nothing in the world is more important than finding a way for the Heels to win.

It's impossible to think of him without remembering when a Duke player broke Hansbrough's nose last season, and blood gushed everywhere.

"It's hard to improve on being a two-time All-America, but he's better than a year ago on both ends of the floor," UNC coach Roy Williams said in a statement e-mailed to AP voters for national player of the year. "Every team we play zeroes in on trying to shut him down, yet he's still dominating games. He has been even more sensational down the stretch. He's going to be mentioned some day with the greatest players to ever play for the Tar Heels, and that is saying a lot."

CHAPEL HILL, NC - MARCH 04: Tyler Hansbrough #50 of North Carolina Tar Heels draws a foul from Julian Vaughn #21 of Florida State Seminoles during the first half at the Dean E. Smith Center on March 4, 2008 in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

Fraschilla appreciates Hansbrough for what he terms an often invisible skill: the ability to play hard on every possession.

"He embodies that," Fraschilla said. "He gets everything out of his ability. That, to me, separates him."

Even from Beasley.

Thomas Sowell: Rescuing the Rust Belt
Tuesday, March 4, 2008

It is fascinating watching politicians say how they are going to rescue the "rust belt" regions where jobs are disappearing and companies are either shutting down or moving elsewhere.

The North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) is being blamed for the jobs going elsewhere. Barack Obama blames the Clinton administration for NAFTA, and that includes Hillary Clinton.

Senator Obama says that he is for free trade, provided it is "fair trade." That is election year rhetoric at its cleverest.

Since "fair" is one of those words that can mean virtually anything to anybody, what this amounts to is that politicians can pile on whatever restrictions they want, in the name of fairness, and still claim to be for "free trade." Clever.

We will all have to pay a cost for political restrictions and political cleverness, since there is no free lunch. In fact, free lunches are a big part of the reason for once-prosperous regions declining into rust belts.

When the American automobile industry was the world's leader in its field, many people seemed to think that labor unions could transfer a bigger chunk of that prosperity to its members without causing economic repercussions.

Toyota, Honda, and others who took away more and more of the Big Three automakers' market share, leading to huge job losses in Detroit, proved once again the old trite saying that there is no free lunch.

Like the United Automobile Workers union in its heyday, unions in the steel industry and other industries piled on costs, not only in wage rates having little relationship to supply and demand, but in all sorts of red tape work rules that added costs.

State and local governments in what later became the rust belt also thought that they too could treat the industries under their jurisdiction as prey rather than assets, and siphon off more of the wealth created by those industries into state and local treasuries with ever higher taxes -- again, without considering repercussions.

In the short run, you can get away with all sorts of things. But, in the long run, the chickens come home to roost. The rust belt is where those rising costs have come home to roost.

While American auto makers are laying off workers by the thousands, Japanese auto makers like Toyota and Honda are hiring thousands of American workers. But they are not hiring them in the rust belts.

They are avoiding the rust belts, just as domestic businesses are avoiding the high costs that have been piled on over the years by both unions and governments in the rust belt regions.

In short, the rust belts have been killing the goose that lays the golden eggs. That is a viable political strategy, so long as the goose doesn't die before the next election and politicians can avoid leaving their fingerprints on the weapon.

But the people who lose their jobs, and who live in communities that decline, need to look beyond the political rhetoric to the grim reality that there is no free lunch.

Many workers in the new plants being built by Toyota and others apparently already understand that. They have repeatedly voted against being represented by labor unions. They want to keep their jobs.

Where does NAFTA come into the picture?

International trade is just one of the many ways in which the competition of lower cost producers can cause higher cost producers to lose customers and jobs. Technological improvements or better management practices by domestic competitors can have the same result.

Jobs are always disappearing. The big question is why they are not being replaced by new jobs. Rust belt policies that drove out old jobs also keep out new jobs.

NAFTA makes it easier for politicians to blame the problem on foreigners. In fact, foreigners make ideal scapegoats for politicians. After all, people in Japan or India can't vote in American elections.

Americans who can vote would do well to start spending more time thinking about economic realities, instead of being swept away by political rhetoric.

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

Today's Tune: Thin Lizzy-Whiskey in the Jar

Thin Lizzy, Chateau Neuf, Oslo, Norway, 08.08.1977

(Click on title to play video)


As I was going over the Cork and Kerry mountains
I saw Captain Farrell and his money he was counting
I first produced my pistol and then produced my rapier
I said "stand and deliver or the devil he may take you"

I took all of his money and it was a pretty penny
I took all of his money, yeah, and I brought it home to Molly
She swore that she loved me, no, never would she leave me
But the devil take that woman, yeah, for you know she tricked me easy

Musha rain dum-a-do-dum-a-da
Whack for my daddy-o
Whack for my daddy-o
There's whiskey in the jar-o

Being drunk and weary I went to Molly's chamber
Taking Molly with me, but I never knew the danger
For about six or maybe seven, yeah, in walked Captain Farrell
I jumped up, fired my pistols, and I shot him with both barrels, yeah

Musha rain dum-a-do-dum-a-da, yeah-yeah
Whack for my daddy-o
Whack for my daddy-o
There's whiskey in the jar-o

Now some men like the fishing and some men like the fowling
And some men like to hear, to hear the cannonball a-roaring
Me I like sleeping, especially in my Molly's chamber
But here I am in prison, here I am with a ball and chain, yeah

Musha rain dum-a-do-dum-a-da, yeah-yeah
Whack for my daddy-o
Whack for my daddy-o
There's whiskey in the jar-o, yeah

Whiskey in the jar-o, yeah

Musha rain dum-a-do-dum-a-da
Musha rain dum-a-do-dum-a-da, hey
Musha rain dum-a-do-dum-a-da
Musha rain dum-a-do-dum-a-da, yeah

Springsteen in charge in 'Magic' Buffalo show

By Jeff Miers
Updated: 03/08/08 7:49 AM

Bill Wippert/Buffalo News
Bruce Springsteen and sax man Clarence Clemons of the E Street Band rock the house Friday night.

The best Bruce Springsteen & the E Street Band shows are about balance.

Part bacchanal, part thoughtful reflection; part rock ’n’ roll party, part gospel-style yearning; part joyful optimism, part unflinching realism — Springsteen rolls all of this up into a critical mass and presides over it all as the interaction between artists and listener, band and audience.

It’s so hard to get a grasp on one of these shows until after it’s over and you’re looking back on it. While in the thick of it, you’re required to surrender to the moment. Just like the people up on stage.

On Friday, Springsteen and the band wrapped up a trio of shows in our area, which commenced with Monday’s show in Hamilton, Ont., reached a fevered crescendo on Thursday night in Rochester, and plateaued with grace and grit inside HSBC Arena Friday.

Rochester’s show was, by Friday morning, already being cited as the strongest of this leg of the “Magic” tour, now five dates old, but the Buffalo show was equally visceral from the beginning. Springsteen’s long-standing reputation for delivering some of his finest shows to Buffalo audiences was met — and then some.

Since reorganizing the E Street Band nearly a decade back, Springsteen has constructed his shows conceptually, with core material — the stuff that is responsible for carrying the message of the moment, the dialogue Springsteen wants to engage in with his listeners — finding augmentation via a rotating cast of tunes from throughout his history, some surprising, some not.

This tour revolves around material from “Magic,” Springsteen’s darkly intricate examination of the American psyche during the Bush years. It’s one of his strongest albums, both in terms of the writing and the ensemble E Street Band performances, and its material frames the set. The surprises on Friday included “Because the Night,” “Be True,” the new “I’ll Work For Your Love,” and a rockabilly teardown during the “Born in the USA” track, “Working On the Highway.”

“Is there anybody alive out there?” Springsteen screamed, as the band launched into the indelible hooks careening throughout “Radio Nowhere.”

At one point in his career, this query was simply an exhortation to submit to the spirit of rock ’n’ roll in full abandon mode. Today, it’s a more pointed question, referring not just to what Springsteen sees as a soullessness and lack of true communal potential in modern music, but to the waking nightmare that has been much of American life over the past seven years. Perhaps most importantly, the tune rocks like a house on fire, and achieves its in-concert aim as statement of intent rather handily.

The show kicked into gear immediately with the opening burner from “The River,” “The Ties That Bind,” but hit the first of many elevated points during the swamp-blues, John Lee Hooker-informed take on “Reason To Believe,” Springsteen’s examination of against-the- odds faith from the “Nebraska” album. Singing through his distorted harmonica microphone in the manner of Howlin’ Wolf, Springsteen sounded like a man with a pack of hellhounds on his trail, and the band swung mightily behind him.

The skeleton of the “Magic” tour set is the four-song suite comprising “Devil’s Arcade,” “The Rising,” “Last To Die” and “Long Walk Home,” which together form the crux of Springsteen’s concerns regarding hard-won faith in the face of war, loss and what he sees as the betrayal of the country’s promise.

This is not light material, but Springsteen never preached, instead letting his songs speak on many levels simultaneously, leaving listeners to discern meaning for themselves. This is the core of his genius, and it was evident in abundance on Friday.

All of this heaviness did not preclude a helluva lotta fun, of course.

We were granted a houselights- on-full version of “Dancing in the Dark,“ which appeared to be at least as much fun for the musicians as it was for the audience.

Naturally, we got a killer “Born To Run,” because what Bruce show would be complete without it? That take on “Thunder Road” was a bonus, though, as was the “Detroit Medley” Springsteen and company tore through for the first time in eons.

Clearly, this was a nod to the many times the band appeared here in the ’70s. It was a nice touch to cap off a perfect evening.

The Ties That Bind
Radio Nowhere
Lonesome Day
Be True
Gypsy Biker
Reason to Believe
Because the Night
She's the One
Livin' in the Future
The Promised Land
I'll Work for Your Love
Working on the Highway
Devil's Arcade
The Rising
Last to Die
Long Walk Home
* * *
Buffalo Gals
Girls in Their Summer Clothes
Thunder Road
Detroit Medley
Born to Run
Dancing in the Dark
American Land

Mark Steyn: Torn between 2 white liberal guilts

Saturday, March 8, 2008
Orange County Register

Well, we will have Hillary Clinton to kick around some more, at least for another few weeks. The Mummy (as my radio pal Hugh Hewitt calls her) kicked open the sarcophagus door and, despite the rotting bandages dating back to Iowa, began staggering around, terrorizing folks all over again.

"She is a monster," Barack Obama adviser Samantha Power told a reporter from The Scotsman – and not a monster in a cute Loch Ness blurry, long-distance kind of way. "You just look at her and think, 'Ergh,'" continued Ms. Power, who subsequently resigned from the campaign.

The New York Times took a different line. The monster is you – yes, you, the American people. Surveying the Hillary-Barack death match, Maureen Dowd wrote: "People will have to choose which of America's sins are greater, and which stain will have to be removed first. Is misogyny worse than racism, or is racism worse than misogyny?"

Do even Democrats really talk like this? Apparently so. As Ali Gallagher, a white female (sorry, this identity-politics labeling is contagious) from Texas, told the Washington Post: "A friend of mine, a black man, said to me, 'My ancestors came to this country in chains; I'm voting for Barack.' I told him, 'Well, my sisters came here in chains and on their periods; I'm voting for Hillary.'"

When everybody's a victim, nobody's a victim. Poor Ms. Gallagher can't appreciate the distinction between purely metaphorical chains and real ones, or even how offensive it might be to assume blithely that there's no difference whatsoever.

On the other hand, Barack's ancestors didn't come here in chains, either: His mother was a white Kansan, so was presumably undergoing menstrual hell with the Gallagher gals, and his dad was a black man a long way away in colonial Kenya. Indeed, Obama would be the first son of a British subject to serve as president since those slaveholding types elected in the early days of the republic. As some aggrieved black activist sniffed snootily on TV, Barack isn't really an "African American" – unless by "African American," you mean somebody whose parentage is half-American and half-African, and let's face it, no one would come up with so cockamamie a definition as that.

As for victims, you have to feel sorry for John Edwards. He was born in a mill. He weighed 1.6 pounds and what did his dad get? Another day older and deeper in debt. John spent most of the 19th century as a spindly 7-year-old sweep with rickets, cleaning chimneys in Dickensian London until Fagin spotted him and trained him up as a trial lawyer. And it worked swell in the 2004 primary but it counted for nothing this time round because, even with all that soot on his face, he's still a white boy.

Bill Richardson was the first Hispanic candidate but nobody needs a Hispanic called "Bill Richardson." Hillary assumed she'd be the last identity-politician standing in a field of bouffant poseurs like Joe Biden, only to discover that by the time she got to the final round the Democratic primary process had descended to near-parody – or, as The New York Times headline put it, a "Duel Of Historical Guilts."

That's one "historical guilt" too many. If it's Historical Guilt vs. Joe Biden and John Edwards, bet on Historical Guilt, and the Democratic base uniting around Hillary and baying "I Am Woman, Hear Me Roar." Instead, it's "I Am Woman, Hear Me Whine About The Unfairness Of It All," as the Clintonites go nuclear and accuse Obama, the ultimate cool black dude, of "imitating Ken Starr," the ultimate uptight squaresville honky.

Which may be a marginally less ineffective line of attack than Gloria Steinem complaining to the New York Observer that way too many Americans want "redemption for racism" but not enough want "redemption for the gynocide." Which may, in turn, be a marginally less fatal shot in the foot than former Carter administration honcho Andrew Young's perplexing boast that Bill Clinton has slept with more black women than Obama.

The Democratic primary season seems to have dwindled down into a psycho remake of "Driving Miss Daisy." The fading matriarch Mizz Hill'ry (Jessica Tandy) doesn't want to give up the keys to the Democratic Party vehicle but the dignified black chauffeur Hokey (Morgan Freeman) insists it'll be a much smoother ride with him in the driver's seat. Yet, just as he thinks the old biddy's resigned to a nomination as Best Supporting Actress, the backseat driver plunges her hat pin into his spine, wrests the wheel away and lurches across the median.

Is the Democratic presidential process a Karl Rove plot? Right now, neither Mizz Hill'ry nor Hokey can win without the votes of the superdelegates, whose disposition is apparently in flux. The gay superdelegates are apparently sticking to Hillary like the "Hello, Dolly!" waiters to Carol Channing. But others are said to be moving Barackwards.

Are they jumping to a stalled bandwagon? One Historical Guilt gives upscale white liberals a chance to demonstrate their progressive bona fides in unison. Two Historical Guilts shrivels from transformative feel-good fluffiness into sour tribalism. Like Hillary's "I Am Woman" routine, Obama's cult of narcissism – "We are the change we have been waiting for" – would have been a shoo-in against Biden, Dodd and Edwards. But the gaseous platitudes wafting up to Cloud Nine are suddenly very earthbound. "Yes, we can!" is an effective pitch if you're the new messiah, not so much when you're pulling in a very humdrum fortysomething percent against a divisive and strikingly inept campaigner.

Go back to that Maureen Dowd line: "People will have to choose which of America's sins are greater."

"People won't, Democrats will," the blogger Orrin Judd responded. "People will elect John McCain in November, demonstrating that we don't share their guilt."

Maybe. But a Democrat nominating process that's a self-torturing satire of upscale liberal guilt confusions will at least give us a laugh along the way.


Friday, March 07, 2008

Today's Tune: Ryan Adams- New York, New York

(Click on title to play video)


Well, I shuffled through the city on the Fourth of July, had a firecracker waiting to blow,
Breakin like a rocket who was making his way to the cities of Mexico.
Lived in an apartment, out on Avenue A, I had a tar-hut on the corner of Tenth,
Had myself a lover who was finer than gold, but I've broken up and busted up since.

And love don't play any games with me anymore, like she did before,
World won't wait, so I better shake that thing right out there through the door.
Hell, I still love you New York.

Found myself a picture that would fit in the folds of my wallet,
And it stayed pretty good.
Still amazed I didn't lose it on the roof of the place,
When I was drunk and I was thinking of you.
Every day, the children, they were singing their tunes,
Out on the streets and you could hear from the inside.
Used to take the subway up to Houston and Third,
I would wait for you and I'd try to hide.

And love won't play any games with me anymore if you don't want it to,
The world won't wait, and I watched you shake.
But, honey, I don't blame you, hell, I still love you, New York.

I remember Christmas in the blistering cold,
In a church on the Upper West Side.
Babe, I stood there singing, I was holding your arm,
You were holding my trust like a child.
Found a lot of trouble out on Avenue B,
But I tried to keep the overhead low.
Farewell to the city and the love of my life,
At least we left before we had to go.

And love won't play any games with me anymore, if you don't want em to,
So we better shake this old thing out the door.
I'll always be thinking of you, I'll always love you though, New York.

‘Male’ Honor Murders

By Stephen Brown | Friday, March 07, 2008

[More inspiring examples of random acts of kindness practiced by adherents to the teachings of the Religion of Peace - jtf]

It was as swift and brutal an honor murder as any among the dozens committed in Germany over the years but with two noticeable differences.

First hit with baseball bats over the head by two Muslim men, the victim fell to the ground and was then viciously kicked to death. However, instead of the usual, crumpled form of a Muslim female lying lifeless before her attackers, who were out to restore their twisted notion of “honor”, the unfortunate victim this time round was male – and German.

While more western societies are waking up to the harsh and brutal reality of honor killings perpetrated against Muslim girls and women living in their midst, less attention has been paid to the fact that males are also subjected to this horrific and savage custom. This is probably because the numbers of men killed for reasons of “honor” are not nearly as high as those for Muslim women, about 48 of whom have perished in Germany alone between 1996 and 2006.

As well, some of the murdered males are also not Muslim and not from the Middle East or any Muslim country for that matter. These victims are sometimes killed for racial and/or religious reasons, which the liberal media do not like to report, let alone admit. In their eyes, only native European cultures can be racist and never the ethnic minorities.

But what the male victims of honor killings all seem to have in common, besides their gender, is that they were involved in a relationship or friendship, often secret or forbidden, with a Muslim woman. Such was the case with Yvan Schneider, who was only nineteen when he met a horrific death at the hands of his two, baseball bat-wielding assailants.

One of the killers, a Turkish-German named Deniz Eroglu, 20, is currently on trial for this male “honor” murder, which, German police say, is unprecedented in its savagery.

Schneider was a soccer-loving teenager, living in the town of Rommelshausen, when he got to know a teenaged Muslim girl named Sessen, whose parents had immigrated to Germany from Eritrea. So when Sessen telephoned him one day, asking him to meet her to help with school work, the German teen readily agreed. But it was this call, made at Eroglu’s demand, which set up the ambush that resulted in the innocent youth’s death.

What Schneider did not know was that Sessen had taken up with Eroglu, the murder plot’s ringleader, who now regarded the Eritrean female as his personal property. According to court testimony, the very jealous and controlling Turkish-German had forced the teenage girl to cut off contact with everyone but him and to reveal through threats of violence the names of any boys, with whom she had earlier been friendly.

Armed with this information, Eroglu then drew up a hit list of seven males with Schneider’s at the top, since the girl had told him the young German student had taken her virginity. This losing of her hymen to Schneider, the court was told, threw Eroglu into a frenzied, murderous rage. Since Muslim culture places such a high, obsessive value on female chastity, the price to be paid for the Eritrean girl’s missing, flimsy membrane, which is somehow supposed to define her “honor”, was Schneider’s life.

But extinguishing Schneider’s young life in such brutal fashion was still not enough for the depraved Eroglu. In his unrelenting savagery and ferocity of intolerance, he took the German’s battered corpse to his apartment where it was sawn into pieces and disposed of with the help of his father, who is also now facing charges. The limbs and head were cemented into flower pots before being dumped into a river, while the torso was disposed of in a wooded area.

In court, Eroglu’s lawyers are attempting to obtain a milder sentence for their client by saying the murder was the result of a deprived family background and a psychotic disturbance, for which psychiatric help is needed.

However, the Turkish-German feminist and author, Necla Kelek, strongly disagrees, calling the killing of Yvan Schneider “a cold-blooded, planned honor murder”, saying a mild sentence would be a “scandal of justice.” Eroglu, she went on to say, was brought up in “the spirit of Sharia law”, according to which the men are responsible for the purity of their women, mothers and sisters.

“Deniz regarded Sessen as his property, who was dishonoured and ‘dirtied’ by the German youth,” Kelek told a German newspaper. “The Islamic ‘law of revenge’ knows as atonement only pain or death in order to wash away the foulness.”

The testimony of one of Eroglu’s fellow jail inmates confirms Kelek’s analysis. In his courtroom testimony, he said Eroglu had told him he had only wanted to knock Schneider unconscious with the baseball bats and then take him to a warehouse his father was renting and torture him to death there. The prisoner also added Eroglu had related he is only pretending to be psychotic at his interrogations in order to get a reduced sentence.

While the Schneider case may be the most sensational male honor murder in Germany, there have been others. In another, current murder trial in Berlin, the prosecution is accusing two men of Turkish background, aged 21 and 24, of having shot and killed a Greek man, 21, because he was involved in a relationship with a cousin of one of the defendants.

According to the prosecution, the cousin’s family, who never approved of the relationship, believed the Greek youth had not only “dirtied” their daughter’s honor but stood in the way of an arranged marriage to another Turk. The two accused are claiming self-defence, saying the murder victim had attacked them with a knife.

Besides those resulting in death, there were also several attempted male honor murders in both Germany and France last year.

In Munich, A Turkish father tried to kill both his 18-year-old daughter and her German boyfriend on a busy downtown street in broad daylight because he did not like his daughter having a relationship with a German. Police intervention saved the girl’s life only at the last moment.

Also in Munich, a father, mother and son kidnapped a nineteen-year-old German youth who was living with their twenty-year-old daughter. She had moved out against their will and was living with her chosen partner. The young woman’s family wanted the boyfriend to divulge her whereabouts or the father said he would kill him. The youth managed to escape at a gas station.

A similar kidnapping occurred last year in France where, French police believe, they averted a male honor murder.

Four brothers, originally from Morocco, kidnapped another young Moroccan from the parking lot of his work place for conducting a relationship with their sister, which, they believed, harmed their family’s reputation. A police helicopter followed their car to the Spanish border where officials found an axe and chopping block in the car’s trunk. The brothers were taking the boyfriend, whom they had beaten, back to Morocco by ferry for “an explanation.” Two other sisters received jail sentences in this case for threatening their “dishonoured” sister with death and other forms of violence.

Until sectors of the Muslim community realizes there is much more involved to “honor” than a woman guarding her genitals, then the barbaric practice of both male and female honor murders will continue. Only when some Muslim men understand that honor involves respecting a woman’s dignity, her individuality, and her free will, that it denies the exploitation of women and girls by such practices as forced marriages, only then will these savage killings of both men and women finally stop.

But since words like human rights and freedom of choice have no meaning, and are even despised, among these men of “honor”, and some women too, the horror and tragedy of honor murders are, unfortunately, here in the West to stay.

Stephen Brown is a columnist for Email him at

Springsteen, E Street Band rock with 11,500 at Blue Cross

Jeff Spevak
Rochester Democrat & Chronicle
Staff music critic
March 7, 2008

Remember when Mick and Keith and the rest of the Stones were creeping up on 60, and everyone was grousing about how they were too old to rock? Why is it no one ever says that about Bruce Springsteen?

Because they can't.

Thursday's sold-out show at the Blue Cross Arena was only the fourth stop on Springsteen and the E Street Band's 28-city tour, but already these guys are playing like they've been together for 35 years. And most of them have been.

The 58-year-old Springsteen is aging well, and by that I don't mean he's acting like Donovan, a flowered relic from a gone, daddy, gone age. As he's matured, Springsteen has carried his audience — 11,500 on this night — with him.

Yet he still inspires rock euphoria. Who was it that decided that last year's album, Magic, should produce a euphoric, arena-blaster like "Radio Nowhere?" Certainly not radio. Yet two songs into the show, after the opening "Night," the crowd was roaring to lines like "I want a thousand guitars, I want pounding drums."

But the best of Magic is "Girls in Their Summer Clothes," a sublime '60s-style harmony-and-guitar pop song like a forgotten gem from the Left Banke. If this spring we're not hearing that one on the radio. ... Well, nevermind.

Keyboardist Danny Federici, being treated for melanoma, is missing this tour, with Charles Giordano from Springsteen's Seeger Sessions recording and filling in on tour. And Mrs. Springsteen, back-up singer Patti Sciafla, is at home with the three kids. But everything else was in place with the E Street Band: Springsteen, Little Steven Van Zandt and Nils Lofgren on the triple-guitar attack, drummer Max Weinberg, bassist Garry Tallent, pianist Roy Bittan and saxophonist Clarence Clemons.

Springsteen paid tribute to those old days when he reached a few rows deep into the crowd to retrieve a sign that a woman had been waving all night: ROSALITA PLEASE. And play "Rosalita" he did, with the sign propped against his microphone stand before segueing into "Born to Run."

Springsteen could have loaded the set list with such knockout nostalgia. But he didn't. His biggest album, Born in the USA, wasn't even represented. Instead, only nine of the 28 songs during the two-hour, 15-minute set were pre-USA, if you count "Because the Night," which Springsteen wrote but Patti Smith first released. This evening was about what the musician has been up to for the last decade or so, work far more vibrant than the old fans might realize.

There were some cynical songs, like the anti-Iraq war "Last to Die" and "Magic," which Springsteen dedicated to an end to seven years of illusion by the Bush administration. But a shining, upbeat quality prevailed with "The Promised Land," "Waitin' on a Sunny Day" and Springsteen introducing "Livin' in the Future" with a nod to Barack Obama: "I feel a new wind out there."

Indeed, by closing the show with the Irish celebration "American Land," it seems the rocker is now feeling, to borrow from Obama, the audacity of hope.

Radio Nowhere
Lonesome Day
Jackson Cage
Gypsy Biker
Reason to Believe
Because the Night
Loose Ends
She's the One
Livin' in the Future
The Promised Land
Waitin' on a Sunny Day
Racing in the Street
Devil's Arcade
The Rising
Last to Die
Long Walk Home
* * *
Girls in Their Summer Clothes
Born to Run
American Land

Patrick J. Buchanan: The Second Battle of NAFTA

March 03, 2008
Patrick J. Buchanan

If Canada and Mexico do not renegotiate NAFTA, said Hillary Clinton in the Cleveland debate, she would "opt out" of the trade treaty that was the legislative altarpiece of Bill Clinton's presidency. Barack agreed. NAFTA is renegotiated, or NAFTA is gone.

Barack went further. He has denounced "open trucking," the feature of NAFTA whereby Mexican trucks are to be free to roam the United States and compete with the Teamsters of Jim Hoffa's union, which just endorsed him.

The trade issue is back, big-time. For to blue-collar workers in industrial states like Ohio, NAFTA is a code word for betrayal—a sellout of them and their families to CEOs panting to move production out of the United States to cheap-labor countries like Mexico and China.

Our workers' instincts are backed up by stats. In 2007, the U.S. trade deficit with Mexico soared 16 percent to $73 billion, a record. Mexico now ships more cars to us now than we ship to the world. And where did Mexico get an auto industry?

The U.S. trade deficit with China shot up 10 percent to $256 billion, the largest trade deficit ever between any two countries.

Charles McMillion of MBG Services has run the numbers.

In manufactures, the United States had a trade deficit of $499 billion in 2007, a slight improvement over the $526 billion record in 2006. Yet that trade deficit in manufactured goods with the world is more than twice as large as our $224 billion bill for OPEC's oil.

Under Bush, the U.S. trade deficit has doubled. Three million manufacturing jobs have vanished. And America has begun to run a trade deficit in advanced technology goods of more than $50 billion.

Our trade deficit in advanced technology goods with China is $67 billion, eight times what it is with Japan.

"Free trade is essential to the creation of high-paying quality jobs," said Bush on Thursday. But if exports create jobs (and they do), imports displace them. And if we import half a trillion dollars more in manufactures than we export, is not Bush trade policy literally slaughtering industrial jobs?

Is there not a correlation between $4.3 trillion in trade deficits under Bush, the 3 million manufacturing jobs lost under Bush, the fall of the dollar by 50 percent against the euro under Bush and the resurgence of inflation, signaled by a quadrupling of the price of gold, under Bush?
Neither Hillary nor Obama has laid out a new trade-and-tax policy to deal with the de-industrialization of America and our deepening dependency on foreign technology, manufactures and the loans to pay for them. But at least they are listening to the country.

John McCain seems blind and deaf to the crisis. In Michigan, he informed autoworkers their "jobs are not coming back" and explained his philosophy: "I'm a student of history. Every time the United States has become protectionist ... we've paid a very heavy price."

This is ahistorical nonsense. From 1860 to 1913, the United States was the most protectionist nation on earth and produced the most awesome growth of any nation in history. In 1860, the U.S. economy was half of Britain's; in 1913, more than twice Britain's.

In 1920, Warren Harding and Calvin Coolidge won a landslide, cut income taxes from Wilson's 69 percent to 25 percent and doubled tariffs. America went on a tear. When Coolidge went home in 1929, the United States was producing 42 percent of the world's manufactured goods.
Who were America's protectionists?

Alexander Hamilton and James Madison moved the Tariff Act of 1789 through Congress. Aided by Henry Clay, John Calhoun, Thomas Jefferson and John Adams, President Madison enacted the Tariff of 1816 to protect U.S. infant industries from British dumping.

Abraham Lincoln used Morrill Tariff revenue to fight the Civil War. The 11 GOP presidents who followed, from 1865 to 1929, all protectionists, made America the greatest industrial power in history, with a standard of living never before seen. Mocking protectionism, McCain is repudiating Republican history and all its achievements up to the era of Dwight Eisenhower and Richard Nixon.

America rose to power behind a Republican tariff wall. What has free trade wrought? Lost sovereignty. A sinking dollar. A hollowing out of U.S. manufacturing. Stagnant wages. Wives forced into the labor market to maintain the family income. Mass indebtedness to foreign nations, and a deepening dependency on foreign goods and borrowings to pay for them. We have sacrificed our country on the altar of this Moloch, the mythical Global Economy.

It took Rip Van Republican 20 years to wake up to the disaster of open borders and five years to realize the folly of igniting wars in which no vital interest was at risk.

How long before the GOP wakes up to the reality that globalism is not conservatism, never was, but is a pillar of Wilsonian liberalism, in whose vineyards our faux conservatives now daily labor.

Patrick J. Buchanan needs no introduction to VDARE.COM readers; his book State of Emergency: The Third World Invasion and Conquest of America, can be ordered from His new book is Day of Reckoning: How Hubris, Ideology, and Greed Are Tearing America Apart.

Favre was a throwback to old-time quarterbacks

By Joe Posnanski
Kansas City Star
Posted on Thu, Mar. 06, 2008 10:15 PM

There’s a great Brett Favre story, one that came to mind often on Thursday as Favre held his retirement news conference. It was his second year in the NFL, maybe his third, and he was sitting in the meeting room, bored silly as usual.

Then he heard a word, one he had heard quite a few times since he had been drafted by the Atlanta Falcons, traded to the Green Bay Packers and tormented by his new coach Mike Holmgren. He heard that word again, and perhaps for the first time in his pro career, Favre was curious.

“Hey,” Favre whispered to the player sitting next to him. “What is that?”

“What’s what?”

“What do they mean when they talk about the nickel defense? I keep hearing everybody talk about nickels, what are they talking about?”

Favre tells this story on himself often. He says the look on his teammate’s face was absolutely priceless. The guy was absolutely certain that Favre was putting him on. But Favre insists he was not. He was a starting quarterback in the NFL, and he did not know what any 8-year-old who plays Madden NFL video games knows.

And when the teammate explained that nickel meant that the defense had five defensive backs, Favre had a look of relief on his face.

“Oh,” he said. “Oh, OK, I know how to deal with that.”

He was a by-gosh quarterback, and that was the difference. He didn’t study football. He played it. He didn’t go through progressions. He threw to the open guy. And to Brett Favre, they were always open.

There was a time in pro football when pretty much every quarterback played like that, when they called their own plays, threw the ball downfield, tossed as many interceptions as touchdowns, controlled the game. In those days, as Roman Gabriel once said, there was no such thing as a “quarterback rating.” You won or lost the game. That was your rating. Style points were for divers.

Times changed for any number of reasons — more sophisticated defenses, constant substitutions, the success of Bill Walsh’s short passing game and lots of other stuff. This whole new term came into vogue — “the system quarterback.” In a way, every quarterback in the NFL is a system quarterback. There’s no telling for sure how Tom Brady would do playing for Arizona or how Peyton Manning would be in Philadelphia. Could Dan Marino have played for a pound-the-ball coach like his CBS studio partner Bill Cowher? How would a talented bust like Tim Couch or David Carr have played for a better team? We can guess. We don’t know. Quarterbacks, like politicians, are hazy.

Not Brett Favre. Coaches tried to tame him. Defenses tried to intimidate him. But the guy never stopped being the most brilliant, aggravating, competitive son of a gun in the game. He never once led the league in passer rating — not once. But he threw more touchdown passes than anyone, ever, and he threw more interceptions, too. He got sacked more than 400 times, and he did not miss a start for 15 years.

There was a system. Brett Favre just played most of the time as if he didn’t understand it — as if he didn’t want to understand it. Drop back, stand up to the intense pressure, throw the ball to somebody who can make a big play. If quarterbacks were forced to draw up plays in the dirt, you get the sense the Packers would have won every Super Bowl in the 1990s.

The Favre game everyone will remember was the Monday night game against the Raiders in 2003. It was one day after his father died. Irvin Favre had been his son’s high school coach, and he famously had his team run the conservative wishbone offense because, by gosh, he was a Favre and what mattered was winning ballgames.

“We had some good running backs,” Irvin Favre said unapologetically one day in 1997, in Kiln, Miss., when surrounded by Suepr Bowl reporters who had bused up from New Orleans. “Brett had a good arm. But we had some real good running backs.”

Brett felt, in his gut, that his father would want him to play that Monday night. He played. He threw for 399 yards and four touchdowns, one of the most emotional viewing experiences in sports television history. When the game ended, Brett said through tears: “I love him so much. And I love this game.”

The game I remember most right now, though, is the last one, and especially Favre’s last play, the interception he threw on that impossibly cold day on at Lambeau Field. He threw it across the field, a mistake from the second it left his frozen hand. The interception set up the Giants for the field goal that sent them the Super Bowl.

Afterward, Favre felt pain but no regret. That’s how he played. He did amazing things for 15 years. He completed more passes into double and triple coverage than anyone ever. Interceptions were part of the deal.

“I hope that every penny they’ve spent on me, they know it was money well-spent,” Favre said Thursday as he said goodbye. By “they” he meant the Green Bay Packers. But he could have meant any of us.

Favre eventually learned what a nickel defense meant. They even say that in his later years he could break down film as well as coaches. But he never stopped playing the game to his own tune. Just about every year, when the season began, you would hear rumors about a “smarter” Brett Favre — meaning he was trying to be a quarterback who wouldn’t take as many chances, who wouldn’t defiantly whip the ball into the teeth of the defense. The change never lasted very long.

“I never claimed to be smart,” Favre said once. “I’m just a quarterback.”

To reach Joe Posnanski, call 816-234-4361 or send e-mail to For previous columns, go to

Where's the punishment?

No punishment; it's a crime

Friday, March 07, 2008
By Gene Collier, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Bud Selig and Donald Fehr

Seven weeks have elapsed since Bud Selig squirmed before Congress in the wake of the Mitchell Report and promised a thorough investigation of the game's management practices, particularly those of the San Francisco Giants, and the continuous silence from the commissioner's office is deafening.

Three weeks remain until the effective end of spring training, which is when Bud said he'd hoped to have a lot of the Mitchell Report's recommendations in place to help baseball reclaim its integrity, and still, no news is bad news.

People have begun to wonder aloud, as maybe we all should, when anyone in baseball's senior management will be held accountable for what is now the well-documented steroids era. In what is its post-steroids era mostly by hope, in which players appear to be paying the full price of ruined reputations, isn't it past time that the game identify and discipline the people, as Bill Rhoden said in the New York Times this week, "who turned the blind eye."

Again, don't hold your breath.

The day after Selig and Players Association Zen master Don Fehr entered soft guilty pleas to Congress in the worst "if we'd but only known then what we know now" tradition, baseball's 30 team owners presented Selig with a new contract that runs through 2012, worth I'm guessing $75 million.

All in all a pretty good outcome for someone who should have been fired.

In his 15 years, Selig's watch included the pernicious proliferation of steroids, human growth hormone and who knows what else in the sport, the trashing of its most sacred records by drug cheats, and all manner of corrosive impacts to the game's standing as a hallmark of American culture.

Of course, I might have mentioned that a time or two.

What we're waiting for now is a head to roll from atop somebody's white collar, if for nothing else but to offset the wailing of pathetic players caught in the web of their own deceit.

Were the Lords of the Game actually upset by all this, would Giants general manager Brian Sabean still have a job?

Sabean watched Barry Bonds turn into Godzilla before his very eyes, and, even when prodded to do something by the club's athletic trainer, even when asked specifically if there was "a problem" by his owner, effectively shrugged and snoozed until Bonds owned the game's home run records.

Within the Mitchell Report, and in "Game of Shadows," Stan Conte, the Giants' head athletic trainer, emerges as highly suspicious of Greg Anderson, Bonds' personal trainer, who turned out to be a drug mule. When Conte asked Anderson for a resume, Anderson produced a piece of paper indicating that he was a high school graduate and that everything else was "pending." There was no evidence, according to Mitchell, that Anderson had "any education or experience that would qualify him to train a professional athlete."

Yet between March 2002 and Feb. 12, 2004, when Anderson was indicted, he visited the Giants' clubhouse 94 times and traveled with the club. When Conte approached Sabean to complain about Anderson, Sabean suggested that Conte confront Anderson and Bonds. Conte refused, feeling it wasn't his responsibility. When another player Conte wouldn't identify to Mitchell asked him if he should buy steroids from Anderson, Conte lectured against it and reported the player to Sabean, who again did nothing.

But I guess Sabean was only doing what baseball was doing, which was nothing.

In spring training of 2001, according to the Mitchell Report, the director of security for the commissioner's office, Kevin Hallinan, was lecturing team physicians and athletic trainers when Barney Nugent, an assistant to Conte, complained about the out-of-control situation with the Giants. Hallinan reportedly said, "We're going to do something about this; it's an issue we know what you're talking about."

What was done? Nothing.

It wasn't just Bonds. Bobby Estalella, Marvin Benard and Benito Santiago availed themselves of drug conduits to and from and within the Giants' clubhouse without any impediment.

If the commissioner elects not to discipline the Giants, what chance is there he'll have something painful to say to the New York Yankees, where general manager Brian Cashman might well have overseen the clubhouse that set the American League record for most cheats per cubicle: Roger Clemens, Andy Pettitte, Jason Giambi, Gary Sheffield and Chuck Knoblauch?

The front offices of the Giants, the Yankees and the Baltimore Orioles, where Larry Bigbie, Brian Roberts and Miguel Tejada flourished, are just three franchises virtually aching for discipline as a result of the Mitchell Report. Whether or not they get any, or to what degree, might be the most telling outcome of the whole sordid mess.

First published on March 7, 2008 at 12:00 am

Thursday, March 06, 2008


By Ann Coulter
March 5, 2008

The mainstream media said she was finished, but our brave Hillary soldiered on to wallop B. Hussein Obama in Ohio, Texas and Rhode Island Tuesday night. I don't know what the MSM is so upset about-- we let them pick the Republican nominee. Did they want to pick the Democratic nominee, too?

Not only that, but after some toothsome appearances on various madcap comedy shows this past week -- "Saturday Night Live," "Late Night With David Letterman," "Hardball With Chris Matthews" -- Hillary's "likability" quotient is soaring! According to the latest CNN/CBS News poll, she's just been upgraded from "Utterly Loathsome" to "Execrable."

The percentage of registered voters who would rather disembowel themselves with a wooden spoon than vote for Hillary has just slipped below the magical 50 percent mark. We're surging, Hillary! If you want to be even more likable, you should go on "The View." Next to those four harpies, you seem almost agreeable.

Now that Hillary has won three primaries in a row, it's time for Obama to do the classy thing and withdraw from the race. (Obama won Vermont, but that was earlier in the day. Exit polls indicate he took the black vote. Literally. There was just the one.)

Imagine how proud Michelle Obama would be of her country if that happened! But Obama probably won't do the classy thing, despite claiming to be a "new" kind of politician and rejecting the politics of division.

If Hillary is serious about becoming president, she's got to make some changes. I say this as a Hillary supporter and strong opponent of divorce. Hillary: You've got to divorce Bill. You've already fired one campaign manager. Now it's time to get rid of your No. 1 buzz-killer.

Not only is the media's group-lie about Bill Clinton being a "rock star" over, but -- one can hope -- the use of the excruciatingly stupid phrase "rock star" to refer to wonky politicians is over. It's become such a cliche that music critics have begun referring to actual rock stars as "leading Democratic contenders."

Liberals believe, often accurately, that if they say the same thing over and over again 1 billion times, people will believe it: "Bush lied, kids died," "We've lost in Iraq," "Reagan is stupid," "Bush is stupid," "Republicans are stupid," "Global warming is destroying the planet," "Gloria Steinem is good-looking" and -- their most provably false assertion -- "Bill Clinton is the most talented politician of his generation."

In a period of just a few short months last year, "news" articles in The New York Times cooed -- I mean "said" -- the following about Bill Clinton:

-- "Elvis is here, Clinton version. Having Bill Clinton campaign for you, as Mr. Ford learns, is a mixed blessing. You are bolstered standing next to this outsized Democrat, but still seem puny by comparison."

-- "Mr. Clinton is one Oscar-worthy supporting actor who can sometimes upstage his leading lady simply by breathing."

-- "Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton has been trying to capture Bill Clinton's old political magic and lay claim to his legacy and popularity."

-- Tony Blair's charisma "ranks second only to Bill Clinton's."

Not to be a stickler, but Bill Clinton is the guy who could never get as much as 50 percent of the country to vote for him. And that was in two presidential elections that the Republicans basically sat out (as they are doing this year).

It was also in elections held before the country realized "Elvis" Clinton was molesting the help. If Bill Clinton is the Democrats' idea of Elvis, somebody should tell them he's playing to half-empty houses.

Besides the joy liberals take in lying generally, they have massive Reagan envy. Despite having informed us the requisite 1 billion times that Reagan was a dunce, Americans adored him, and still do.

Democrats wanted one of their presidents to be adored, too -- and not just for being assassinated. But they only seemed able to produce laughable incompetents like Jimmy Carter.

So no matter how preposterous it was, liberals just kept telling us that the chubby kid with the big red nose whose greatest moment on the football field involved a wind instrument was "Elvis." According to Nexis, that appellation has been applied to Clinton approximately 1,000 times. In print, that is. There's no telling how many drunken cocktail waitresses have whispered it in Clinton's ear during late-night elevator assignations.

You can stop lying for the voters now, Hillary. This is me, Ann Coulter, your supporter.

This charade of a marriage has gone on long enough. Even if you were stupid enough to marry him back in the '70s, Bill is just so over, girlfriend. He can't even get Holiday Inn cocktail waitresses anymore. Last I heard, he was hitting on the Motel 6 housekeeping staff.

You're too good for him, Hillary. Obama has now denounced and rejected Louis Farrakhan. It's time for you to denounce and reject Bill Clinton.

Obama excites voters by offering to be the first black president. You've got a chance to make history by becoming the first divorcee to win the White House.


Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Today's Tune: Toots & The Maytals - Take Me Home Country Roads

(Click on title to play video)

The Saudis: Which Side Are They On?

by Robert Spencer

Posted: 03/05/2008

Saudi Arabia's Foreign Minister Prince Saud al-Faisal (R) and GCC Secretary-General Abdul-Rahman al-Attiyah (L) arrive at the opening ceremony of the Cooperation Council for the Arab States of the Gulf foreign ministers meeting in Riyadh March 1, 2008.REUTERS/Ali Jarekji (SAUDI ARABIA)

Saudi officials announced Monday that they had arrested 56 members of Al-Qaeda, who were at an “advanced stage” of planning jihad terror attacks within the Kingdom.

This would seem to support President Bush’s statement from last October, when in order to free up aid from the Saudis he declared: “I hereby certify that Saudi Arabia is cooperating with efforts to combat international terrorism and that the proposed assistance will help facilitate that effort.” As jarring as it may be to contemplate the notion that the United States is providing aid to the oil-rich House of Saud, these arrests indicate that at least it seems to be paying off.

Yet nagging questions remain. Last September, Stuart Levey, the Undersecretary of the Treasury for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence, noted that the Saudis had not prosecuted even a single individual who has been identified by the U.S. or the U.N. as a bankroller of jihad terror. “If I could somehow snap my fingers and cut off the funding from one country,” Levey said, “it would be Saudi Arabia.”

What’s more, an undercover reconnaissance survey of mosques and Islamic schools all over the United States has found that as many as seventy-five percent of mosques and Islamic schools in this country preach jihad warfare and Islamic supremacism. Frank Gaffney of the Center for Security Policy, according to a World Net Daily report, “confirmed that ‘the vast majority’ are inciting insurrection and jihad through sermons by Saudi-trained imams and anti-Western literature, videos and textbooks.”

The Saudis fund a significant number of the mosques in this country. Warith Deen Muhammad, a prominent American Muslim leader and the son of Nation of Islam founder Elijah Muhammad, explained what’s wrong with the Saudi influence in American mosques: “In Saudi Arabia it’s the Wahhabi school of thought...and they say, ‘We’re gonna give you our money, then we want you to...prefer our school of thought.” That’s in there whether they say it or not. So there is a problem receiving gifts that seem to have no attachment, no strings attached.”

But why would the Saudis be encouraging jihadist sensibilities among Muslims in the United States while arresting Al-Qaeda operatives inside the Kingdom? Abu Zubaydah, a captured Al-Qaeda operative, claimed that the House of Saud had made a deal with Al-Qaeda: financing for the jihad around the world, in exchange for immunity from jihadi attacks within Saudi Arabia itself.

The Saudis have denied this, and in any case the deal seems to be off. There have been several jihad attacks inside Saudi Arabia in recent years, but Stuart Levey is not out in left field in thinking that the Saudis continue to support terror in an enthusiastic -- and effective -- manner.

Secret files revealed in Britain several weeks ago show Saudi officials threatening British investigators with another jihad attack on the scale of the July 7, 2005 bombings in London if they didn’t drop inquiries into corruption in their arms deals. Who is supposed to have made these threats? Prince Bandar, head of Saudi Arabia’s national security council and son of its crown prince. In light of all this, it is likely that the 56 freshly-arrested members of Al-Qaeda are guilty in the eyes of the House of Saud not of waging jihad warfare as such, but simply of waging jihad warfare in the wrong place: inside the Kingdom. And given the Kingdom’s notoriously spotty human rights record, it is also likely that these suspects will not be offered the amenities of the Guantanamo camp about which Saudi authorities have issued complaints. And their arrests should not prevent American officials from asking tough questions about where the Saudis really stand, and what we can realistically expect from their alliance with the United States. When the Saudis refused to cut America a break on oil prices during President Bush’s trip to Riyadh in January, it should have been a wake-up call for anyone who still considered the Saudis a reliable ally in the war on terror. And this latest arrest of Al-Qaeda operatives shouldn’t lead anyone to go back to sleep, either.

Mr. Spencer is director of Jihad Watch and author of "The Politically Incorrect Guide to Islam (and the Crusades)" , "The Truth About Muhammad" and "Religion of Peace?" (all from Regnery -- a HUMAN EVENTS sister company).

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No matter what, Favre was always worth watching

By Gene Wojciechowski
Updated: March 4, 2008, 9:41 PM ET

It would have been nice if the final pass of his 17-season career hadn't been intercepted. Or if the final game of his football life hadn't been a loss in overtime. Or if the lingering memory of that Jan. 20 NFC Championship hadn't been of Brett Favre looking as though he'd just been removed from the frozen food section of your local grocery store.

But Favre has always defied logic. He played when his body begged him not to. He threw passes into slivers of daylight, or no light at all. And he retired when it seemed there was every reason for him to return for an 18th season.

I don't blame him. The NFL ages you like dog years. Every game extracts a price not only from your body but also from your will. Favre can still throw a football through three sheets of drywall, but there's more to it than that.

Favre has something left, but not enough. He can play, but he can't play like Favre anymore. Not every down and not every game. His heart -- and that's the body part that made Favre great -- isn't into it anymore.

Ron Wolf was the Green Bay Packers' general manager who traded for him in 1992. He heard about Favre's retirement from a neighbor.

"I was really surprised about that," Wolf said Tuesday evening. "Everything he did was with such great passion. But the more I thought about it, if he decided he didn't have that passion anymore, it was probably the best thing that he retired."

Favre could have quit a year ago and everyone would have understood. Instead, Favre returned to Green Bay and became 23 again. Otherwise, what was the point?

Half the fun of watching the Packers work their way to the conference championship game last season was watching Favre. That's what I'll miss. He played like he was still drawing plays in the dirt. He played like his hair wasn't gray and his bones didn't ache.

Favre made his Packers debut in Game 3 of the 1992 season. He replaced an injured Don Majkowski, and on his first play called an audible that didn't exist. Then he was sacked and fumbled away the ball. He was a green and gold train wreck.

Standing on the sideline was then-first-year Green Bay coach Mike Holmgren. He had lost his first two games, and in comes Favre calling imaginary plays. Years later, Holmgren distinctly recalled thinking, "I'm never going to win a game in this league."

Then Favre put together a last-minute, game-winning drive that day against the Cincinnati Bengals. He even was the holder on the extra point, though go watch the video of it. So scared was Favre of getting his hand kicked that he did a Lucy, of Peanuts fame, and actually let go of the ball moments before the PAT attempt.

The Green Bay Press-Gazette said it distributed 50,000 extra editions Tuesday for its Favre coverage, the newspaper's first extra edition since Sept. 11, 2001.

Favre was a throwback. He could have played in any football era. He would have played with or without a helmet. He would have gone face mask to face mask with Butkus. He was a football player, not a quarterback.

Wolf thought Favre was the best player in the 1991 NFL draft, but Atlanta got to him first. Falcons coach Jerry Glanville couldn't see past Favre's immaturity, so he sent him to the Packers the next year.

"Let's face it," Wolf said. "I put my career in Brett Favre's hands and he's not let me down … turns out he was the best player in the 1991 draft."

Turns out he was one of the best players in any draft. Turns out he'll be a first-ballot Hall of Famer and -- sorry, Don Hutson -- go down as the greatest player in what Wolf calls "the citadel of pro football" -- Green Bay.

ESPN did one of those sound track highlight reels with Favre one time. There he is telling a ref, "Take two weeks off and then quit." There he is unleashing a belch that lasts longer than the national anthem. There he is saying that just once he'd like to throw a ball left-handed.

He wasn't the greatest quarterback ever to play the game. But I'd pay to see him. In fact, I did exactly that earlier this season. Took one of my daughters to Lambeau Field and sat in front of two drunks in orange deer-hunting gear who, to their credit, said before kickoff: "You know how there's always a couple of guys who are really obnoxious during a game, eh? That's us."

Didn't matter. The Packers beat the Carolina Panthers. Favre threw three touchdowns. And one of the drunks spilled his freshly purchased beer on my shoes.

Favre had the right idea about the NFL. He was a kid when he joined the league in 1991. He was a kid when he left it Tuesday. He knew if he stayed another season, it would quit being a game and become something without a soul.

His passing records matter, but they don't define him. Favre wasn't about numbers, he was about letters: W or L. He played hurt. He played hard. He played in more snow than Iditarod dogs. By the time he was done, he had played in 253 consecutive regular-season games, 275 if you include the playoffs.

I'll remember some of those victories, but mostly I'll remember his Lambeau Leaps, or how he slung wide receiver Greg Jennings across his shoulder pads after throwing his record-breaking 421st career touchdown pass. I'll remember his old-school sideline handshakes with teammates, when he'd tell them, "Put 'er in the ol' vise." Or how he'd fake a throw after a handoff.

The NFL got a little less interesting Tuesday. You watched Favre for what he did and what he tried to do. You marveled at his complete and utter fearlessness. You shook your head in amazement when he made great plays and when he made bonehead plays.

I wished he would have stayed one more year. But that's the selfishness talking. At some point, he had to leave. It was inevitable.

There will be withdrawal pains -- for him, and for us. Favre played the game like he loved it. Maybe that's why he's leaving.

He wanted to keep it that way.

Gene Wojciechowski is the senior national columnist for You can contact him at

Favre will be missed

Rick Morrissey
Chicago Tribune
March 5, 2008

Our loss.

That's probably heresy to most hard-core Bears fans, but it's true. Anybody who likes football, who likes emotion and effort and dash, had to like Green Bay Packers quarterback Brett Favre.

Oh, I know, he haunted the Bears for years. I know he usually did whatever he wanted against the team from Chicago, and what he wanted to do most was win. So that's what he did, over and over against the Bears, to the tune of a 22-10 record. By all rights, he should have had carpal tunnel syndrome from the 53 touchdown passes he threw against the Bears alone, but the guy never seemed to get injured.

The NFL became a colder place Tuesday with word of Favre's retirement. Chicago even might have dropped a degree or two in response.

I can't think of a higher compliment than to say he was Chicago, even though he lived in a far northern suburb we refer to as "Wisconsin." He was what Chicagoans want in their athletes. He was hard-working, fun-loving, daring, devilish, unblinking, unpredictable and opportunistic. He was as tough as a Chicago winter, which, admittedly, is a Green Bay winter with training wheels. But you always had this vague, empty feeling he belonged here. In search of proof, you kept waiting for that bayou drawl of his to produce a few "dees," "dems" and "dohs."

He accomplished a lot in 17 NFL seasons, winning a Super Bowl and three most valuable player awards. Those things were him, of course, but they were not all of him and certainly not the best part of him. No. That was reserved for his approach to football.

He looked like a kid who was playing a game in a park, and even the most cynical among us had to appreciate that, especially in a sports world in which greed and self-absorption seem to be the most prevalent attributes. If he threw a touchdown pass, the look on his face would lead the uninitiated to believe it was the first time it had happened to him.

There was something about his wild, reckless smile that made you feel as if you were in on the stunning accomplishment or the bawdy joke. There was some cowboy and fighter pilot to him, with a pinch of Jack Nicholson thrown in.

The cowboy imagery probably works best. He made it feel as if your six-shooter had just been shot out of your hand by the fastest gun in the West. No shame in that, you told yourself. And you were right.

If you're sick of Favre beating you, then you're probably happy to see him go. The Bears trotted out 21 different starting quarterbacks during the time he was entrenched in Green Bay. So some of you are saying "good riddance," which is understandable. But in a broader sense, his retirement is a blow to the NFL, which becomes more structured and sterile with each passing year. Favre was anything but that. He probably has permanent smudges on his finger from drawing up plays in the dirt.

If the early reports are true that the Packers did little to encourage the 38-year-old Favre to play another year, then shame on them. He showed last season he could play a low-risk game without feeling he was selling his soul. And Green Bay won in the process.

Perhaps he simply figured it wasn't going to get any better than last season, when the Packers made it to the NFC championship game, losing to the Giants, the eventual Super Bowl champions. Or maybe it's exactly what he told ESPN, that he couldn't stand the thought of coming up short again, of going to the Super Bowl and losing.

Whatever the case, it's our loss.

He had his failings and his dark times. Off the field, he got himself addicted to painkillers. On the field, he too often tried to make the spectacular play when the safe play was the right play.

He was human, and he let his humanness show. He wasn't shy about showing his excitement over a big play, and he wasn't afraid to cry at a painful loss. He dealt with his addiction, his wife's breast cancer and his father's death with candor. He did not have a spokesman ask everyone to respect his privacy. He was honest-to-goodness honest. He seemed to embrace his relationship with the public. There was something symbiotic about it.

We avoid calling athletes heroes anymore because they so often let us down. And when men and women are dying in combat, it seems embarrassingly hyperbolic to throw around such lofty words. But let's agree that there was a lot about Favre that was worth emulating.

Find joy in what you do.

Put your talent to work.

Try to rise to the occasion.

Don't shy away from your problems.

Toward the end of Favre's career, gray hair started taking over his buzz cut. If the lion were not yet in his winter, he was seeing his share of snow showers. But he played on and played well.

It's a little colder now. Can you feel it?

Ironman Favre takes last bow

Retiring QB legend personifies all that is great about sports

March 5, 2008
Chicago Sun-Times Columnist

I'm pretty sure Brett Favre is the most beloved NFL star ever. Maybe that's a thin branch to tread, but think about it.

Dan Marino, Joe Montana, Walter Payton, Jim Brown, Gale Sayers. How many others?

Johnny Unitas, Joe Namath, Emmitt Smith, ''Mean'' Joe Greene, Red Grange, Bronko Nagurski?

None revered, appreciated by all, the way Favre is.

Every football hero before Favre lacked something, either in personality, endurance, struggle, geography, timing, enthusiasm, humor.

You think of Barry Sanders and you sigh. You think of Dick Butkus and you wince.

Think of Brett Favre? You smile.

Of course, Favre has all the quarterback records.

Good Lord, his bio takes up 30 pages of the Packers' 2007 media guide.

Without question Favre is the most durable quarterback in NFL history. You can get a measure of his consistency by considering he was one of only seven quarterbacks to start all 16 regular-season games -- in 1993.

And, of course, he hasn't missed a start since.

So suddenly we are left with the vacuum created by his quick, unexpected, yet ultimately reasonable voice mail to ESPN's Chris Mortensen, stating his own legacy left him stressed out, with ''big shoes for me to fill.''

That message itself showcased one of the reasons Favre was beloved not only in Green Bay, but also -- a lot less noisily -- in enemy strongholds such as Chicago, Detroit and Minneapolis.

How could anyone detest a competitor who so loved his competitors and the competition?

Universal admiration evident

Favre always told it the way he saw it, even if it didn't fit somebody's preconceived notion of what superstardom should be.

Always, Favre's football activities were colored with joy, infectious puppy-dog-with-a-new-toy joy.

You could go to a Packers postgame news conference, and Favre would talk to the media with care and some introspection, even if he was battered to a pulp (which often was the case).

Then you could go into the locker room and see all his family and friends come through. And then, when just about every Packers employee except the janitors had left, you could talk to him about almost anything you wanted.

One time I talked to him about the orange and camouflaged and animal-skin-covered fans in Lambeau during yet another deer-season game.

Favre waxed on about how he had looked out his window at the team motel early that morning and had seen a nice-sized buck not far away -- and how it had stirred the country hunter in him.

''Boy, I wanted to be out in a deer stand,'' he said wistfully.

People love Favre for the troubles he has seen -- the family deaths and illnesses and his own addictions and his gridiron wounds that one time had him coughing up blood before throwing a touchdown pass.

They admire him most of all for overcoming those hurts, for moving on, for refinding his joy of the game -- and, thus, life -- time and time again.

How could you boo Brett Favre, with actual malice, and mean it?

You couldn't.

Reckless but brilliant

The Bears played against Favre so many times that 21 quarterbacks started at various times in the years that Favre calmly sat at the throttles for the Pack, yielding the keys to no one.

From Kramer, Krieg and Krenzel to Moreno, McNown, Matthews, Miller, blah, blah and blah.

And Favre.

Is there a critic anywhere who doesn't salute such resilience, such constancy in this stupidly changing world?

Favre became something symbolic to everyone -- kid brother, gunslinger, genius, wild man, father, statesman, saint.

That he is going out at close to the peak of his game, even at 38, separates him from virtually every legendary athlete who has preceded him -- Muhammad Ali, Willie Mays, Michael Jordan, etc.

But always it comes back to that irrepressible joy of the game and the way it was manifested in Favre's life as part brilliance, part recklessness, all-encompassing.

It's a fact that Favre's attempts to do what couldn't be done nearly unhinged early coach Mike Holmgren.

And yet Holmgren ended up laughing with Favre as much as cursing him.

There was that playoff game in Detroit in 1994, and Favre, who had thrown 25 interceptions for the season, needed to lead the Packers from a 24-21 deficit with a minute to play. He already had thrown a third-quarter interception that Lions cornerback Melvin Jenkins had returned for a touchdown. Why not one more?

So as Favre rolled left and, under pressure, started to throw a simple dump pass to tight end Ed West, it seemed reasonable.

Then he stopped and let fly with a cross-field heave to streaking wide receiver Sterling Sharpe, who was uncovered because (a) nobody could throw the ball that far and (b) nobody would try to throw the ball that far.

Sixty yards in the air, at least.

Touchdown. Packers win.

''I told myself, there's gotta be something better,'' Favre said to us with a grin after the game. ''That's my problem. Sometimes there's not something better.''

Here's hoping all his retired days are nothing but good.