Saturday, July 05, 2008

Vermont is for Lovers, Liberal Judges, Pedophiles and Stupid Parents

[Ok...admittedly, the article is not the most even-handed, sophisticated approach to the subject...but hell, I don't give a damn. Somebody needs to start going "Rambo" on these bastards...and I mean the new-wreaking-bloody-havoc version of Rambo...not the I'm-only-going-to-wound-you version from "First Blood" - jtf]

By Doug Giles
Saturday, July 05, 2008
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This undated photo released by Vermont State Police shows Brooke Bennett. Vermont State Police say they have found a body believed to be that of the missing 12-year-old whose uncle allegedly planned to force her into a sex ring the day she disappeared. Police said Brooke Bennett's body was found in Randolph, where the uncle lives. (AP Photo/Vermont State Police)

I would love to wake up one morning and hear on Fox & Friends that the cops found a wannabe child molester dead in the woods rather than the kid he was about to rape.

Is that too harsh?

Okay, how about finding the perv bleeding badly from an 8mm wide crack in his skull, with a punctured lung, a shattered knee cap, a penectomy performed with a shard of dirty glass as he teeters on the verge of death in a patch of poison ivy smack dab in the big middle of grizzly bear country?
How’s that?

I hope that suffices because that’s about as far as I’ll go down the road in being a liberal Christian when it comes to the plight of child rapists. My compassion begins and ends with the tiny, defenseless molested kid.

Sadly, a freshly dead or severely wounded pervert was not the story we all got crammed into our faces this week but rather another 85lb cute little girl, namely Brooke Bennett of Vermont, who was found in a shallow grave with the alleged culprits being her way-too-creepy uncle (who happened to have a kidnapping and rape prior) and her satanic ex-stepdad who was part of a local sex ring.

I’ve got a question: What kind of stupid parent would allow their dog, much less their daughter, to spend time around such tools?

Here’s a thought for all you couples or single parents baptized in stupidity who have young kids under your immediate care: How about not allowing your kid to hang out with a relative if said kin has been to prison for rape, child molestation, or kiddie porn, huh? It’s just a thought. Are you familiar with thinking?

Listen to me, moms and dads everywhere, if anything with a penis is involved in a sex ring, has been convicted of a sexual crime, or gives you that weird uncle NAMBLA vibe you might not want to invite them over for some KFC with the kids.

Given Vermont’s leniency toward the sickest bastards on the planet, if I were a parent of a girl living in the vapid state of Vermont, I not only would make sure Chester the Molester wouldn’t be allowed to drive my 12 year-old child to choir practice, but I would also make certain that my kid was a lethal weapon.

Yep, seeing that Vermont’s liberal legislative wussies wont pass Jessica’s Law and obviously seem to take pride in soft sentences for the most despicable amongst us, if I were a father of a daughter I would make certain that my kid would be the female equivalent of Bruce Lee.

Yes sir, not only would I not allow them around any uncle governed by the chimpanzee is his pants but I would also make certain that if my kids were going to live in a judicially jacked up place like Vermont then they must, from an early age, become ninjas comfortable with warning, defending, wounding and, if need be, killing anyone who sought to do them harm.

Does anyone have a problem with that?

- Doug Giles’ new book “A Time to Clash: Papers from a Provocative Pastor” is now available. Ann Coulter says "Doug Giles’ A Time to Clash is a substantive and funny tour de force for traditional values.” Doug’s award winning talk show and video blog can be seen and heard at:
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Williamses’ Rivalry Is Close and Compelling, if Not Classic

The New York Times
Published: July 5, 2008

Venus Williams (R) and her sister and teammate Serena sit before to play their doubles tennis match of the 2008 Wimbledon championships against France's Nathalie Dechy and Australia's Casey Dellacqua at The All England Tennis Club in southwest London, on July 4, 2008. AFP PHOTO / Carl De Souza (Photo credit should read CARL DE SOUZA/AFP/Getty Images)

WIMBLEDON, England — On Friday, Venus and Serena Williams were side by side on the English grass, applauding each other’s winners and then pirouetting in unison as they waved to the crowd after advancing to the final of the women’s doubles at Wimbledon.

On Saturday, they will be facing each other across the net for the singles trophy.

Such abrupt changes of mood and role have been a part of the Williamses’ existence since they were children learning the game in Compton, Calif. They would shift from playmates off the court to combatants on it for the duration of their practice matches.

“Venus was nothing but legs; Serena was nothing but muscle, and I would encourage Serena because she would lose all the time,” Oracene Price, their mother and co-coach, said in an interview at the All England Club. “And I’d say: ‘Serena, just believe it. You can do it. Stop doubting yourself.’ Because she looked up to Venus so much. And finally, she started doing it, but it wasn’t until they started playing professional that she really started doing it.”

On paper, their sibling sports rivalry has grown into a close and compelling one. Since it began with a Venus victory and a shared bow to the crowd in the second round of the Australian Open in 1998, they have played a total of 15 times as professionals. Serena has won eight, including six in a row during a particularly lopsided phase in 2002 and 2003.

But for those who have actually sat through their many close encounters, the effect has often been underwhelming. The unforced errors have piled up and the fans have felt conflicted. The psychological forces at work have often made it difficult for the sisters to fully express their games and their personalities. Meanwhile, their tactically similar games have made it difficult to generate the stylistic contrasts that have been the appeal of rivalries like the one between Martina Navratilova and Chris Evert, considered the gold standard in women’s tennis.

The sisters are aware of these perceptions, and Serena was quick to rebut the suggestion that she and Venus have yet to play a classic final, pointing to the 2002 United States Open final, played under the lights in New York, and the 2003 Australian Open final, played indoors because of extreme heat. Serena won those encounters. “I think you’re stating opinions,” she said. “I’ve had a very classic Grand Slam final against her at the Australian Open. It was three extremely tough sets. It was a long match. It wasn’t very easy. And I think also at the U.S. Open, it was fast, but it was very high-quality tennis. So I look forward to it.”

Adrian Dennis/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images
Serena Williams faces off against her sister Venus at Wimbledon.

Their last Grand Slam meeting, in the fourth round of the United States Open in 2005, was not on Serena’s short list. She was out of shape and sorts and was beaten in two awkward sets, 7-6 (5), 6-2.

Their last joint Grand Slam final, won by Serena at Wimbledon in 2003 in three sets, was also anticlimactic, because Venus played with a strained abdominal muscle that forced her to leave the court for additional treatment and that visibly hampered her in the final set. Venus said then that one of the main reasons she played was that she did not want to generate any more debate about whether she and Serena arranged their matches in advance. The sisters have always dismissed such claims.

“It hasn’t been easy,” Venus said after the 2003 final. “Serena and I have been blamed for a lot of things that never even happened. I felt today I had to play.”

The issue resurfaced briefly after Thursday’s women’s semifinals, when Venus’s opponent, Elena Dementieva, said that the upcoming all-Williams final would be “a family decision.” Dementieva later issued a statement denying that she had intended to imply that the result would be fixed, but the subject still received substantial coverage.

“They have never fixed a match,” Price said. “Why would they do something like that? They are both competitive people. Serena is as serious as a heart attack. But I’m not surprised that this still comes up. People are always looking for something negative.”

The question now is whether this latest final, their seventh in a Grand Slam, will turn into something more positive. Venus, the defending champion, leads in Wimbledon titles with four to Serena’s two, but Serena has eight overall Grand Slam singles titles to Venus’s six. Serena has also won all four of the majors, while Venus’s titles have all come at Wimbledon and the United States Open.

Richard Williams, their father and co-coach, says this match will be close, but he will not be in London to see it. He flew to Florida on Friday because he gets overwrought watching his daughters face off.

“He said he did his job, and his job was done,” Serena said. “No matter what happens, he’s for sure going to be a winner.”

Price, now divorced from Richard Williams, will be at Centre Court. She said she was convinced that it had not gotten easier for her daughters to play each other.

“No, because Serena is more competitive than ever,” Price said with a laugh. “Venus, when it comes to her sister, is more relaxed. But Serena, if she could win every one, she would and not feel anything.”

Price said she believed that her daughters’ limited tennis schedules and outside interests had helped them have longer careers than some of their now-retired former rivals, like Justine Henin and Martina Hingis.

“I know some of those players were just living and breathing tennis,” Price said. “You can’t keep going like that for too long. If that’s all you do, you’re going to burn out.”

Although the sisters still share a house in Palm Beach Gardens, Fla., and are sharing a house at Wimbledon, they often practice separately, working with their own male hitting partners. Serena works with the German Sasha Bajin, Venus with the former American tour player David Witt.

“I think that what makes it difficult when they hit together is that they both want to work on their own stuff, just like any other player would,” Witt said.

The mood was certainly not light and jovial as the sisters gave a joint news conference on Friday, with neither Venus nor Serena in a particularly communicative mood after defeating Nathalie Dechy of France and Casey Dellacqua of Australia, 6-3, 6-3. Asked if it had gotten any easier to play singles against each other, Serena answered: “The opponent hasn’t gotten any easier, that’s for sure. So it’s going to be a battle again. That’s just how it is.”

How Jesse Helms Made a Difference


The Wall Street Journal
July 5, 2008; Page A11

If Ronald Reagan was the sunny and optimistic face of modern conservatism, the uncompromisingly defiant exemplar of it was Jesse Helms, who died yesterday at age 86.

While Reagan has undergone a revisionist makeover by many historians who now recognize his accomplishments, Helms is still the conservative liberals most love to hate. But while they still disdain his views, many liberal groups are now using their own forms of the rhetorical and campaign techniques that Helms honed to perfection.

Jesse Helms was an influential television commentator in North Carolina when he decided to leave the Democratic Party, winning a U.S. Senate seat as a Republican in 1972. He went on to win four more terms, with a reputation as the Senate's most principled warrior on behalf of social conservatism, anti-Communism, limits on union power, and an assertive foreign policy that rejected State Department caution. Like Reagan, many of his views appear to have been validated. Others, such as his blind spot on racial issues and mean-spirited comments against gays were troublesome, but even the stubborn Helms made moves to modify his image in those areas late in life.

Two events early in his Senate career showcased Helms's unflinching nature and his political skills. In 1975, he engineered a visit to the U.S. by Soviet dissident Alexander Solzhenitsyn over the objections of the State Department, which forbade its own employees from attending a major Solzhenitsyn speech in Washington. State also blocked a proposed visit to the White House, leading Helms to accuse President Gerald Ford of "cowering timidly for fear of offending Communists."

That incident helped spur Reagan to challenge Ford for the GOP nomination the next year. Reagan lost the first five primaries, and he entered the North Carolina contest broke and under pressure to pull out. But Helms and his chief strategist Tom Ellis refused to give up. They employed Helms's huge, direct-mail list to build a grass-roots army of volunteers and raise money to air 30-minute speeches by Reagan across the state.

Emphasizing the Panama Canal "giveaway" and smaller government, Reagan won an upset victory and was able to battle Ford all the way to the GOP convention. He showed such strength at the convention that Ford invited him to deliver off-the-cuff remarks to the delegates. Reagan was so inspiring that some of Ford's own delegates exclaimed, "We just nominated the wrong candidate." Reagan later acknowledged how Helms's intervention rescued his political career.

Mr. Helms, pictured in 1983 with the Rev. Jerry Falwell.

But that level of success eluded Helms in a Senate where he was almost always outvoted. Rather than seek compromise, he staked out firm positions that attracted publicity for his causes. He was often able to block appointments he considered too liberal and was the first to highlight United Nations corruption, an issue on which he was clearly ahead of his time.

He also stumbled. His anticommunist fervor led him to back authoritarian regimes in Chile and Argentina far more than he should have. His 1983 opposition to a Martin Luther King holiday – he railed against King's associations with communists – was myopic and a throwback to a discredited past.

The issue of race will always cast a shadow on Helms's legacy. He could never understand why he was viewed by many as a bigot, having run one of the most integrated TV stations in the South and often hiring blacks on his staff. His criticisms of affirmative action and forced busing were on the mark. But as conservative scholar John Hood notes, "he failed to marry every criticism of government overreaching with calls for the South's social and moral transformation and clear denunciations of racist business owners."

Indeed, the mainstream media rarely put Helms's career in context the way they did, for example, with Sam Ervin, a Democrat who served with Helms in the Senate from North Carolina before retiring in 1975. Ervin was the leading legal strategist against Civil Rights legislation, and he largely crafted the Southern Manifesto against Brown v. Board of Education, the Supreme Court case that ruled school segregation unconstitutional. But Ervin was the man who chaired the Watergate hearings that helped bring down Richard Nixon, and his views on civil rights were almost never mentioned. Both Helms and Ervin were courtly, principled conservatives. Only one became a cartoon media villain.

Contrary to his reputation, Helms did change his mind. For his first decade in office he opposed aid to Israel and in 1982, after that nation invaded Lebanon, called for "shutting down" relations. But after learning more about Israel's security fears during a visit there in 1985, and receiving assurances that officials there could support some military sales to moderate Arab nations, he became Israel's stalwart ally. "It was a complete switch," recalls Morris Amitay, former executive director of AIPAC, the pro-Israel lobby.

Bono visits Jesse Helms' office in 2001.

Helms also softened on both AIDS and Africa. He developed an unlikely friendship with the rock star Bono, who convinced Helms to back AIDS funding and alleviate poverty in Africa by channeling more foreign aid through private sources.

But that kind of détente was rare. Most liberals delighted in baiting Helms and he reciprocated: He crowed about how disappointed CBS anchor Dan Rather looked in announcing his upset victory on election night in 1990. But liberals did pay attention to Helms, and gradually adopted some of his methods.

It was Helms who first sent his own foreign policy advisers overseas to second-guess the executive branch's foreign policy. Many liberals have no qualms in doing the same today. One liberal consultant told me he learned from Helms's ability to distill complicated ideas to a level that connected with ordinary people. His mastery of new media techniques and technology convinced many liberals they had to invest in the Internet and build up the passions of their base.

Jesse Helms was a major influence on American conservatism, but his career provides a blueprint for anyone who represents an embattled minority viewpoint. You can, with persistence and unflinching determination, change the political odds in your favor.

Mr. Fund is a columnist for

Friday, July 04, 2008

Today's Tune: Keith Richards - Eileen

(Click on title to play video)

Book Reviews: The Winter of Frankie Machine

A Novel by Don Winslow
Book review by Jules Brenner
Knopf, 9/26/06, 320 pp, $23.95

Return to list of books

Don Winslow can be trusted to infuse over-familiar subjects with a fresh perspective. What he did for the cross-border drug trade in "Power of the Dog" he does now for mob hitmen. And, it isn't just because he shows Frankie Machine's human face, his intelligence, awareness and heart. By the time you finish reading this character portrait you'll have an understanding of inside mob psychology and behavior you never had before.

After a career that spanned a couple of decades, in which Frank Macchiano exhibited skills of markmanship and assassination rare, even, for the Mafia, and after establishing a reputation as a guy whose word is currency, he actually quits. Motivated by a desire to be a father to his daughter Jill that he and his ex-wife Patty never thought they'd have, and no taste anymore to do the business of his crime bosses, he exchanges his assassination kit for a life of surfing with his FBI buddy, playing the sheriff on San Diego's Ocean Beach Pier, furnishing bait for fishermen and building up a real estate portfolio.

His main objective is being able to support Jill through medical school. As sidelines, he takes care of his ex-wife's plumbing problems and his girlfriend Donna's plumbing preferences.

It's a full life, full of memories. And then one day it all changes. With a hit out of "the Combination" mob in Detroit. On him. But, a failed one. In our first look at what he can do, he turns an ambush on a boat, set up by Mouse Junior, a kid striving to prove himself to daddy, the west coast boss, into a scene of carnage. 62 years may have tapped a little off Frankie's body strength but it hasn't tampered with his deadly superiority in a tangle, even with two heavy east coast guys.

"Who wants me dead?" he asks in his practical, analytic way. For the answer, he reaches back in time, to memories that remain vivid.

Which is a very clever device on the author's part for building a portrait of a mob assassin's life with a series of flashbacks starting in 1963, the time of the man's first job assignment. As he traces all the murderous episodes that follow, he realizes that the killing machine has become the target of a contract because of something he knows -- something he's witnessed in the past. Not that Frankie has ever been a rat. But just his knowing appears to be too great a risk to someone--someone willing to set bi-coastal savagery out his way and ruin his life as a law-abiding citizen. As for putting him into the ground, well this is smart Frankie Machine they're dealing with. He's just enough better than the hoodlums coming for him to make the contract a very hard one to fulfill.

After reading a lot of mystery fiction, it occurs to me that a handful of mystery writers get undeserved credit for what Don Winslow has naturally. He puts fearsome criminality together with an unbreakable code and deep character sensitivity and creates an anti-hero whose survival becomes a personal issue. His pace flows with clarity and freshness while detailed knowledge of his subject and very tough action resolves into a style that grips your attention in a superbly balanced, tightly wound thriller. The man's a class act and it's no wonder that Robert De Niro was so quick to glom onto the screen rights so that he can be Winslow's Frankie Machine. Soon, in a theatre near you. But don't wait. The book's worth picking up today.

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Jules Brenner's Critical Mystery Tour

"The Winter of Frankie Machine"
(Reviewed by Guy Savage MAR 16, 2008)
(Jump to read a review of California Fire and Life)

“You could take the Crips, the Bloods, the Jamaican posses, the Mafia, the Russian mob, and the Mexican cartels, and all of them put together couldn’t rake in as much green in a good year as Congress does in a bad afternoon. You could take every gang banger selling crack on every corner in America, and they couldn’t generate as much ill-gotten cash as one senator rounding the back nine with a corporate CEO.”

I was only into a few pages of Don Winslow’s thriller The Winter of Frankie Machine when I realized that there must be several middle-aged Hollywood actors who would kill for the film rights to this novel. So it came as no surprise to learn that Robert De Niro bought the script, and that a film version is scheduled for release in 2008. I only hope that the film version does justice to the clever twists and turns of this excellent thriller. Another of Winslow’s novels The Life and Death of Bobby Z made it to the big screen with mixed results. So let’s hope that the screenplay for The Winter of Frankie Machine is handled correctly, and if so, Winslow may have a huge hit on his hands.

The novel’s protagonist, sixty-three year old Frank Machianno is a former hit man known as Frankie Machine who now lives in retirement from the mob. From his home in San Diego he runs a number of businesses—including a bait shop, a linen service and a property management business. The book begins with an average day for Frank as he juggles business responsibilities with his personal life, and this includes saving time for his demanding ex-wife and his luscious girlfriend, the lingerie-sporting Donna.
At a vigorous sixty-three Frankie seems to have it all: security, good health, a sex life most teens would envy, and plenty of free time to enjoy the good things in life. But one day all this comes to an abrupt end when two young punks approach Frank. It seems that these boys have been bootlegging their own company’s porn videos, and now “guys from Detroit” also known as the “Combination” want a piece of the action. The punks don’t want to share, and so they want to hire Frank to sort it out—one way or another.

While Frank’s first instinct is to tell the kids to get lost, one of them is the son of the “boss of what’s left of the L.A family.” With hints that he can’t turn down the job, Frankie accepts $50,000 in payment and goes to talk some sense to Vince Vena, a member of the “ruling council of the Combination.” Word is that “Detroit is positioning itself to move in on what’s left of the West Coast, and in one of the few profit centers left.” So Vince’s muscling into the West Coast porno action may not be an isolated incident but instead it may be the first step in a concerted effort to take over West Coast operations.

Frank anticipates a typical negotiation session with Vince, but instead a brutally violent encounter with Vince convinces Frank that someone has taken a hit out on him. But why?

At first Frank asks himself: “what have I done?” But before long he realizes that this is the wrong question. The right question is what does Frankie Machine know? And from this point the novel goes back and forth in time into the shady episodes of Frank’s bloody past to uncover why someone wants him dead now, years after he’s retired.

Frankie Machine proves that he still has what it takes as he leaves a trail of blood behind him. While mob hit men converge on his path, Frankie tries to buy time to uncover the truth, and this is a journey that takes him all the way to the top of the corruption power center of America.

Coming on the heels of California Fire and Life, The Winter of Frankie Machine, a quintessential mob story, is a complete change of pace. Although the protagonists of both novels fight alone, Jack Wade (California Fire and Life) is a boy scout next to Frankie Machine. Frankie Machine is a study in conflicting morality—a good father, a dependable ex-husband, but nonetheless his past is a bloody trail of executions conducted without remorse. Now, in his 60s, this is Frankie’s “winter” as the title suggests. Old age looms, but retribution is hot on his heels, and Frankie may not enjoy the old age that he’s so slickly taken away from other men with a bullet to their heads. What’s so interesting about this novel is that while Frank has managed (or so he thinks) to step away from his past, he really has done no such thing. His past is waiting for him, and he must confront it—whether he wants to or not:

“Stop feeling sorry for yourself, he thinks. After all, you’ve got it coming. You’ve done a lot of bad things in this world. You’ve taken life, and that’s the worst thing there is. You can justify it all you want, but when you look back at your life with your eyes open, you know what you were.”

Read a chapter excerpt from The Winter of Frankie Machine at author's website
Bibliography: (with links to
The Death and Life Of Bobby Z (1997)
California Fire and Life (1999)
The Power Of The Dog (2005)
The Winter of Frankie of Machine (September 2007)
The Dawn Patrol (June 2008)

Former Republican NC Sen. Jesse Helms dies at 86

AP File Photo
In this June 16, 1983 photo, President Ronald Reagan greets Sen. Jesse Helms, R-N.C. at a dinner honoring Helms in Washington. Helms has died at age 86, the Jesse Helms research center says.

The Associated Press
The Washington Post
Friday, July 4, 2008; 12:30 PM

RALEIGH, N.C. -- Former Sen. Jesse Helms, who built a career along the fault lines of racial politics and battled liberals, Communists and the occasional fellow Republican during 30 conservative years in Congress, died on the Fourth of July. He was 86.

"It's just incredible that he would die on July 4, the same day of the Declaration of Independence and the same day that Thomas Jefferson and John Adams died, and he certainly is a patriot in the mold of those great men," said former North Carolina GOP Rep. Bill Cobey, the chairman of The Jesse Helms Center at Wingate University.

Helms died at 1:15 a.m, the center said. He died in Raleigh of natural causes, said former chief of staff Jimmy Broughton.

"He was very comfortable," Broughton said.

Funeral arrangements were pending, the Helms center said.

"America lost a great public servant and true patriot today," White House spokesman Scott Stanzel said.

Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky said few senators could match Helms' reputation.

"Today we lost a Senator whose stature in Congress had few equals. Senator Jesse Helms was a leading voice and courageous champion for the many causes he believed in," McConnell said in a statement.

Helms, who first became known to North Carolina voters as a newspaper and television commentator, won election to the Senate in 1972 and decided not to run for a sixth term in 2002.

"Compromise, hell! ... If freedom is right and tyranny is wrong, why should those who believe in freedom treat it as if it were a roll of bologna to be bartered a slice at a time?" Helms wrote in a 1959 editorial that foretold his political style.

As he aged, Helms was slowed by a variety of illnesses, including a bone disorder, prostate cancer and heart problems, and he made his way through the Capitol on a motorized scooter as his career neared an end. In April 2006, his family announced he had been moved into a convalescent center after being diagnosed with vascular dementia, in which repeated minor strokes damage the brain.

Helms' public appearances had dwindled as his health deteriorated. When his memoirs were published in August 2005, he appeared at a Raleigh book store to sign copies, but did not make a speech.

In an e-mail interview with The Associated Press at that time, Helms said he hoped what future generations learn about him "will be based on the truth and not the deliberate inaccuracies those who disagreed with me took such delight in repeating."

"My legacy will be up to others to describe," he added.

Helms served as chairman of the Agriculture Committee and Foreign Relations Committees over the years at times when the GOP held the Senate majority, using his posts to protect his state's tobacco growers and other farmers and place his stamp on foreign policy.

His opposition to Communism defined his foreign policy views. He took a dim view of many arms control treaties, opposed Fidel Castro at every turn, and supported the contras in Nicaragua as well as the right-wing government of El Salvador. He opposed the Panama Canal treaties that then-President Carter pushed through a reluctant Senate in 1977.

Early on, his habit of blocking nominations and legislation won him a nickname of "Senator No." He delighted in forcing roll-call votes that required Democrats to take politically difficult votes on federal funding for art he deemed pornographic, school busing, flag-burning and other cultural issues.

In 1993, when then-President Clinton sought confirmation for an openly homosexual assistant secretary at the Department of Housing and Urban Development, Helms registered his disgust. "I'm not going to put a lesbian in a position like that," he said in a newspaper interview at the time. "If you want to call me a bigot, fine."

After Democrats killed the appointment of U.S. District Judge Terrence Boyle, a former Helms aide, to a federal appeals court post in 1991, Helms blocked all of Clinton's judicial nominations from North Carolina for eight years.Helms occasionally opted for compromise in later years in the Senate, working with Democrats on legislation to restructure the foreign policy bureaucracy and pay back debts to the United Nations, an organization be disdained for most of his career.

And he softened his views on AIDS after years of clashes with gay activists, advocating greater federal funding to fight the disease in Africa and elsewhere overseas.

But in his memoirs, Helms made clear that his opinions on other issues had hardly moderated since he left office. He likened abortion to the Holocaust and the Sept. 11 terror attacks.

"I will never be silent about the death of those who cannot speak for themselves," he wrote in "Here's Where I Stand."

Helms never lost a race for the Senate, but he never won one by much, either, a reflection of his divisive political profile in his native state.
He knew it, too. "Well, there is no joy in Mudville tonight. The mighty ultraliberal establishment, and the liberal politicians and editors and commentators and columnists have struck out again," he said in 1990 after winning his fourth term.

He won the 1972 election after switching parties, and defeated then-Gov. Jim Hunt in an epic battle in 1984 in what was then the costliest Senate race on record.

He defeated black former Charlotte Mayor Harvey Gantt in 1990 and 1996 in racially tinged campaigns. In the first race, a Helms commercial showed a white fist crumbling up a job application, these words underneath: "You needed that job ... but they had to give it to a minority."
"The tension that he creates, the fear he creates in people, is how he's won campaigns," Gantt said several years later.

Helms also played a role in national GOP politics _ supporting Ronald Reagan in 1976 in a presidential primary challenge to then-President Ford. Reagan's candidacy was near collapse when it came time for the North Carolina primary. Helms was in charge of the effort, and Reagan won a startling upset that resurrected his challenge.

"It's not saying too much to say that had Senator Helms not put his weight and his political organization behind Ronald Reagan so that he was able to win North Carolina, there may have never been a Reagan presidency," Cobey said. "Most people feel like there would have never been a President Reagan had it not been for Jesse Helms."

During the 1990s, Helms clashed frequently with Clinton, whom he deemed unqualified to be commander in chief. Even some Republicans cringed when Helms said Clinton was so unpopular he would need a bodyguard on North Carolina military bases. Helms said he hadn't meant it as a threat.

Asked to gauge Clinton's performance overall, Helms said in 1995: "He's a nice guy. He's very pleasant. But ... (as) Ronald Reagan used to say about another politician, `Deep down, he's shallow.'"

Helms went out of his way to establish good relations with Madeleine Albright, Clinton's second secretary of state. But that didn't stop him from single-handedly blocking Clinton's appointment of William Weld - a Republican - as ambassador to Mexico.

Helms clashed with other Republicans over the years, including fellow Sen. Richard Lugar of Indiana in 1987, after Democrats had won a Senate majority. Helms had promised in his 1984 campaign not to take the chairmanship of the Foreign Relations Committee, but he invoked seniority over Lugar to claim the seat as the panel's ranking Republican.

He was unafraid of inconveniencing his fellow senators _ sometimes all of them at once. "I did not come to Washington to win a popularity contest," he once said while holding the Senate in session with a filibuster that delayed the beginning of a Christmas break. And he once objected to a request by phoning in his dissent from home, where he was watching Senate proceedings on television.

Helms was born in Monroe, N.C., on Oct. 18, 1921. He attended Wake Forest College in 1941 but never graduated and was in the Navy during World War II.

In many ways, Helms' values were forged in the small town where his father was police chief. "I shall always remember the shady streets, the quiet Sundays, the cotton wagons, the Fourth of July parades, the New Year's Eve firecrackers. I shall never forget the stream of school kids marching uptown to place flowers on the Courthouse Square monument on Confederate Memorial Day," Helms wrote in a newspaper column in 1956.

He took an active role in North Carolina politics early on, working to elect a segregationist candidate, Willis Smith, to the Senate in 1950. He worked as Smith's top staff aide for a time, then returned to Raleigh as executive director of the state bankers association.

Helms became a member of the Raleigh city council in 1957 and got his first public platform for espousing his conservative views when he became a television editorialist for WRAL in Raleigh in 1960. He also wrote a column that at one time was carried in 200 newspapers. Helms also was city editor at The Raleigh Times.

Helms and his wife, Dorothy, had two daughters and a son. They adopted the boy in 1962 after the child, 9 years old and suffering from cerebral palsy, said in a newspaper article that he wanted parents.

AP Special Writer David Espo contributed to this story from Washington.

Reflection Day

These two truths should be self-evident.

By Victor Davis Hanson
National Review Online
July 04, 2008, 7:00 a.m.

On this Fourth of July of our discontent — with spiraling fuel prices, a sluggish economy, a weak dollar, mounting foreign and domestic debt, continuing costs in Iraq, a falling stock market, and a mortgage crisis — we should remember two truths about America. First, the United States remains the most free and affluent country in the history of civilization. Second, almost all our problems are lapses of complacency, remain relatively easily correctable, and pale in comparison to past crises.

By almost any barometer, the United States remains the most fortunate country in the world. We continue to be the primary destination of immigrants, who risk their lives to have a chance at what we take for granted. Few in contrast are flocking to China, Russia, or India. The catalyst for immigration is primarily a phenomenon of word of mouth, of comparative talking among friends and families about the reality of modern-day living, not of scholarly perusal of social or economic statistics.

When one compares any yardstick of material wealth — the number of cars, the square footage of living space, the number of consumer appurtenances — Americans are the wealthiest people in the history of civilization. Why so? Others have more iron ore, as much farmland, greater populations, and far more oil reserves. But uniquely in America there remains a system of merit, under which we prosper or fail to a greater extent on the basis of talent, not tribal affiliations, petty bribes, or institutionalized insider help. More importantly still, we are impressed by those who advance rather than envious of their success. The lobster-barrel mentality is a human trait, but in the United States uniquely there is a culture of emulation rather than of resentment, which explains why neither Marxism nor aristocratic pretension ever became fully entrenched in America.

Our system of government remains the most stable and free. Consider the constitutional crises in Europe where national plebiscites continue to reject the European constitution that grows increasingly anti-democratic in order to force its vision of heaven-on-earth on its citizenry. There is no need to mention the politics of China, India, and Russia whose increasing affluence ensures a rendezvous with unionism, class concerns, suburban blues, minority rights, environmentalism — all long known and dealt with by the United States. Elsewhere the remedy for tribal and sectarian chaos in Africa or the Middle East is usually authoritarianism.

The current challenge of America is not starvation or loss of political rights — we have been far poorer and more unfree in our past, but the complacence that comes with continued success, to such a degree that we think of our bounty as a birthright rather than a rare gift that must be hourly maintained through commitment to the values that made us initially successful: high productivity, risk-taking, transparency, small government, personal freedom, concern for the public welfare, and a certain tragic rather than therapeutic view of the human experience.

In that regard, most of our present pathologies are self-created. In fits of utopianism we felt we could be perfect environmentalists, no longer develop our ample oil, coal, and nuclear resources, maintain our envied lifestyle, mouth platitudes about “alternative energies,” and yet be immune from classical laws of supply and demand. In truth, with a little national will, within a decade we could both be using new sources of energy and producing our entire (and decreasing) appetite for oil without importation at all of foreign supplies. When our petroleum runs out, we will find other sources of energy; when a Saudi Arabia’s or Venezuela’s fail, so goes their entire national wealth as well.

Our budgetary laxity is a bipartisan stand-off in which free-spending pork-barrel Republicans mouth platitudes about reductions in spending while Democrats continue to vote for increased government programs, assured that either military cuts or tax increases will pay the tab. We still await some gifted statesman who will convince us that we can increase revenues and cut spending without loss of essential governmental services or oppressive taxes

Iraq is expensive, but draws on a fraction of a $12 trillion economy; for all the acrimony over the war, Iraq is stabilizing, al-Qaeda has been discredited, and the notion of constitutional government in the heart of the ancient caliphate is not longer caricatured as a neocon pipedream — an accomplishment beyond the military of any other country.

Slumping house prices are a concern, but we forget that nearly 95 percent of homeowners meet their monthly mortgage payments, that housing prices are merely returning to their 2002 levels — to the relief of first-time potential buyers — that many of the problems were caused by housing speculators who wished to flip properties for instant profits, by overzealous lenders who warped the rules, and by misplaced liberalism that sought to put everyone in his own home, despite the historical fact that between 30 percent and 40 percent of the population either should not, or does not wish to, own their homes.

Given the strength of our system and culture and our inherited values and wealth, as long as we don’t tamper with our Constitution, a uniquely American entrepreneurial culture, and the melting-pot notion of shared values rather than balkanized tribes, races, and religions, we can easily rectify our present mistakes without much reduction in our soaring standard of living. In America alone — for all our periodic hysterical self-recrimination — there is still comparatively little danger of coups, nationalization of foreign assets, crippling national strikes, sectarian violence, terrorism, suppression of free speech, or rampant government and judicial corruption that elsewhere lead to endemic violence and economic stagnation.

On this troubled Fourth we still should remember this is not 1776 when New York was in British hands and Americans in retreat across the state. It is not 1814 when the British burned Washington and the entire system of national credit collapsed — or July 4, 1864 when Americans awoke to news that 8,000 Americans had just been killed at Gettysburg.

We are not in 1932 when unemployment was still over 20 percent of the work force, and industrial production was less than half of what it had been just three years earlier, or July, 1942, when tens of thousands of American were dying in convoys and B-17s, and on islands of the Pacific in an existential war against Germany, Japan, and Italy.

Thank God it is not mid-summer 1950, when Seoul was overrun and arriving American troops were overwhelmed by Communist forces as they rushed in to save a crumbling South Korea. We are not in 1968 when the country was torn apart by the Tet Offensive, the assassinations of Martin Luther King Jr. and Robert Kennedy, and the riots at the Democratic convention in Chicago. And we are not even in the waning days of 1979, a year in which the American embassy was seized in Tehran and hostages taken, the Soviets were invading Afghanistan, thousands were still being murdered in Cambodia, Communism was on the march in Central America, and our president was blaming our near 6-percent unemployment, 8-percent inflation, 15-percent interest rates, and weakening international profile on our own collective “malaise.”

We live in the most prosperous and most free years of a wonderful republic, and can easily rectify our present crises that are largely of our own making and a result of the stupefying effects of our unprecedented wealth and leisure. Instead of endless recriminations and self-pity — of anger that our past was merely good rather than perfect as we now demand — we need to give thanks this Fourth of July to our ancestors who created our Constitution and Bill of Rights, and suffered miseries beyond our comprehension as they bequeathed to us most of the present wealth, leisure, and freedom we take for granted.

— Victor Davis Hanson is a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution.

An interview with Jesse Helms

Yes to Senator No

National Review Online
September 12, 2005

They called him “Mr. Conservative,” after Barry Goldwater relinquished the title. They called him a lot of other names, too — one was “Senator No.” Today, he says, “I was tempted to send a thank-you note to the newspaper that first called me that. I enjoyed being known as ‘Senator No’ because it summed up my purpose in helping to stop a lot of bad government policies and proposed laws.”

That answer is pure Jesse Helms. He is talking by e-mail from his office in Raleigh. He retired from the Senate in 2003, after 30 years there.

And he has just written a memoir called Here’s Where I Stand. An early reviewer in Booklist — the journal of the American Library Association — said “Helms was the most reviled and despised U.S. senator.” Well, he was no doubt the Left’s bête noire, just as Ted Kennedy is the Right’s. (Although Hillary Clinton challenges him for that position.) Through the years, Helms was notably calm in the face of attacks. He quotes Harry Truman: “If you can’t stand the heat, stay out of the kitchen.” And he says, “Some of the biggest laughs I ever got were from political cartoons intended to ridicule me.”

While in the Senate, Helms was above all an anti-Communist, a Cold Warrior. Did he ever think he’d see the end of that war? “I surely hoped and prayed I would. After all, the Cold War was a comparatively recent aberration in the sweep of history and I was convinced that the desire to be free would be more powerful than the grip of Communism.” Helms credits Reagan’s “firmness,” and says, “Gorbachev could see which way the tree was falling and was smart enough to jump out of its way.” Needed in the West, says Helms, are “leaders who have the same kind of backbone their freedom-loving citizens have. Appeasement and negotiation have never worked in overcoming evil.”

So, what does he think of the current president? “I think George W. Bush is a principled man and has proven his determination to do what he thinks is best for the country without worrying about his popularity.” And what about the conflict in which we are currently engaged? Is it as tough a challenge as the Cold War? “The War on Terror is every bit as tough a challenge as the Cold War — probably more so, because those who oppose us are ideologues who are not interested in our defeat so much as our demise. But that does not mean this war is any the less winnable.” It will be won “if we do not give in to those who would try to appease the enemy.”

One charge that has long dogged Jesse Helms is racism — the contention that he is anti-black. And he says? “Of course I’m not anti-black, and any number of African-American friends and Capitol Hill staffers would be happy to set that record straight. I have always been opposed to violence from any quarter; to unconstitutional quotas; and to politicians who try to rob people of their ability to dream their own dreams and reach their own goals through their own efforts by selling them the lie that they can’t succeed without the government running their lives. I have always believed that the American Dream is the birthright of every American, and that the free-enterprise system is the route to secure that dream.”

In his 1990 reelection campaign, Helms ran a TV ad that showed a man crumpling a letter informing him that he had been denied a job — he had lost out because of race quotas. The ad caused a huge stir, widely deemed a racial low blow. Says Helms: “What a tempest in a teapot.” The ad “was about quotas, and my opponent’s support for a bill that was later ruled unconstitutional by the U.S. Supreme Court. The outcry was just one more attempt to change the subject from the issues to race. I chose to run on the issues.”

And the American South today? Is it fully integrated with the rest of the country, or are there Civil War hangovers? “Let’s see,” says Helms. “The fastest-growing spectator sport in America is NASCAR. Country-music stars pack stadiums everywhere they perform. The last two presidents of the United States have been from Arkansas and Texas. Two of the biggest banks in the country are headquartered in Charlotte, North Carolina. I’d say the South has pretty well recovered from a dispute that took place almost 150 years ago. Of course, if Hollywood keeps serving up stereotypes of country bumpkins with bad accents, we may have to retaliate.”

In his long career, he must have met many interesting people. Who were the most interesting? “This question would require a second book!” Helms says. “Maybe it was my early training as a journalist, but I’ve found every person I ever met has some quality that makes him or her interesting and unique as a person. Sometimes you have to dig a little harder, but everyone has a story of interest.” And his favorite colleagues? Well, start with Reagan and Thatcher — but in the Senate, “I’d include Hubert Humphrey and Jim Allen and Joe Biden and Orrin Hatch and Pat Moynihan and so many others retired or currently serving, or sadly no longer with us.” (Jim Allen was Sen. James Browning Allen of Alabama, who died in 1978, while in his second term.)

And Helms’s not-so-favorite colleagues? They “provided challenges.” Some senators, like Paul Wellstone, arrived in Washington “determined to dislike me,” but wound up becoming personal friends. With others, such friendship was impossible: “but we could still respect the fact that we were there because the people of our home state elected us. We could respect their choice by our civility to one another.”

It was frequently said about Senator Helms that, a provincial, he never traveled the world — and how can you be chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee (as he was) without knowing the world?

Helms: “I’ve traveled extensively to Asia, Africa, South America, the Middle East, and Europe throughout my life and my Senate career. In 2001 I took the committee to Mexico for its first meeting on foreign soil. What I did not do is make these trips at government expense or to make a big publicity show, so it was assumed by people who didn’t bother about knowing the truth that I did not have firsthand knowledge of world issues.” Furthermore, “I had trusted staff members who served as my eyes and ears around the world and close friendships with world leaders and foreign nationals who made sure I had the best information available about the issues in their countries.” So, “far from being hampered, my approach to fact-gathering made sure I wasn’t getting the spin version of those issues,” spin being “too often a part of those well-known political junkets.”
He was a successful politician — he never lost an election. But, says Helms, “I did not enjoy the campaign trail, and I never considered myself an eloquent speaker or debater.” What he enjoyed was “setting out conservative ideas in a way folks could understand and appreciate.”

A boilerplate question: Your greatest achievement in the Senate? “This is not a question I can answer. History will handle it. I can tell you that my wife thinks that one of the most important changes we helped bring about was to make roll-call votes routine. When senators had a voting record that the voters back home could examine, they could no longer talk one way during the campaign and vote another way in Washington. Those voting records helped send a lot of liberals into early retirement.”

Speaking of Mrs. Helms, what about her? “Meeting and marrying Dorothy Coble was and to this day remains the best part of my life. She is my best friend and the most beautiful woman I have ever seen.” The Helmses were married in 1942; the senator was born in 1921. He says, “I grew up during the Great Depression. I needed three jobs to support myself in college. I had no inheritance beyond the example of faith, hard work, and honesty. But I lived in the United States of America, and my father — who served as both police chief and fire chief in a small southern town — lived long enough to see his youngest son sworn in as a United States senator.”

He was called “Senator No,” and almost always portrayed with a scowl. But his outlook is positively Reaganesque: “We have no limits if we partner our dreams with our willingness to work for them.”

A Man of Seasonal Principles

By Charles Krauthammer
The Washington Post

July 04, 2008

You'll notice Barack Obama is now wearing a flag pin. Again. During the primary campaign, he refused to, explaining that he'd worn one after Sept. 11 but then stopped because it "became a substitute for, I think, true patriotism." So why is he back to sporting pseudo-patriotism on his chest?
Need you ask? The primaries are over. While seducing the hard-core MoveOn Democrats that delivered him the caucuses -- hence, the Democratic nomination -- Obama not only disdained the pin. He disparaged it. Now that he's running in a general election against John McCain, and in dire need of the gun-and-God-clinging working-class votes he could not win against Hillary Clinton, the pin is back. His country 'tis of thee.

In last week's column, I thought I had thoroughly chronicled Obama's brazen reversals of position and abandonment of principles -- on public financing of campaigns, on NAFTA, on telecom immunity for post-Sept. 11 wiretaps, on unconditional talks with Mahmoud Ahmadinejad -- as he moved to the center for the general election campaign. I misjudged him. He was just getting started.

Last week, when the Supreme Court declared unconstitutional the District of Columbia's ban on handguns, Obama immediately declared that he agreed with the decision. This is after his campaign explicitly told the Chicago Tribune last November that he believes the D.C. gun ban is constitutional.

Obama spokesman Bill Burton explains the inexplicable by calling the November -- i.e., the primary season -- statement "inartful." Which suggests a first entry in the Obamaworld dictionary -- "Inartful: clear and straightforward, lacking the artistry that allows subsequent self-refutation and denial."

Obama's seasonally adjusted principles are beginning to pile up: NAFTA, campaign finance reform, warrantless wiretaps, flag pins, gun control.
What's left?

Iraq. The reversal is coming, and soon.

Two weeks ago, I predicted that by Election Day Obama will have erased all meaningful differences with McCain on withdrawal from Iraq. I underestimated Obama's cynicism. He will make the move much sooner. He will use his upcoming Iraq trip to finally acknowledge the remarkable improvements on the ground and to formally abandon his primary season commitment to a fixed 16-month timetable for removal of all combat troops.

The shift has already begun. Yesterday, he said that his "original position" on withdrawal has always been that "we've got to make sure that our troops are safe and that Iraq is stable." And that "when I go to Iraq . . . I'll have more information and will continue to refine my policies."

He hasn't even gone to Iraq and the flip is almost complete. All that's left to say is that the 16-month time frame remains his goal but that he will, of course, take into account the situation on the ground and the recommendation of his generals in deciding whether the withdrawal is to occur later or even sooner.


And with that, the Obama of the primaries, the Obama with last year's most liberal voting record in the Senate, will have disappeared into the collective memory hole.

Obama's strategy is obvious. The country is in a deep malaise and eager for change. He and his party already have the advantage on economic and domestic issues. Obama, therefore, aims to clear the deck by moving rapidly to the center in those areas where he and his party are weakest, namely national security and the broader cultural issues. With these -- and, most important, his war-losing Iraq policy -- out of the way, the election will be decided on charisma and persona. In this corner: the young sleek cool hip elegant challenger. In the other corner: the old guy. No contest.

After all, that's how he beat Hillary. She originally ran as a centrist, expecting her nomination to be a mere coronation. At the first sign of serious opposition, however, she panicked and veered left. It was a fatal error. It eliminated all significant ideological and policy differences with Obama -- her desperate attempts to magnify their minuscule disagreement on health-care universality became almost comical -- making the contest entirely one of personality. No contest.

As Obama assiduously obliterates all differences with McCain on national security and social issues, he remains rightly confident that Bush fatigue, the lousy economy and his own charisma -- he is easily the most dazzling political personality since John Kennedy -- will carry him to the White House.

Of course, once he gets there he will have to figure out what he really believes. The conventional liberal/populist stuff he campaigned on during the primaries? Or the reversals he is so artfully offering up now?

I have no idea. Do you? Does he?

Thursday, July 03, 2008

Basketball still has a future in Seattle? Are you kidding?

By Steve Kelley
Seattle Times staff columnist
Thursday, July 3, 2008 - Page updated at 04:52 PM

New Sonics owner Clayton Bennett, right, shakes hands with former owner Howard Schultz at the conclusion of a news conference following the sale of the Sonics and Seattle Storm to an Oklahoma investor group on July 18, 2006.

Basketball died in Seattle Wednesday afternoon. It died because too many people who should have cared didn't. It died of neglect. It died because all of the powers-that-be stopped paying attention.

It's no secret the sport has been sick in this city for a long time. There have been so many bad front-office decisions for so many years, basketball has been on life support since president Wally Walker let coach Nate McMillan fly south to rebuild the Portland Trail Blazers.

This has been a team in trouble for a long time, but we always thought there could be a cure. Losing was cyclical. After all, Walker could keep drafting first-round centers only for so many years.

Not until that coffee-making crock, Howard Schultz, sold the team to Clay "Boo-Hoo" Bennett did we truly understand that this team was gone.

Basketball is dead, and don't look for any miracle resurrections. Chances are good that an entire generation will grow up in this town without the NBA to watch.

The team formerly known as Sonics has moved to Oklahoma City. The Sonics Web site was changed before Seattle Mayor Greg Nickels could clear his throat to start his news conference.

The Liars won.

Owner Clay Bennett, that man possessed, now possesses a very bad basketball team in a very different city.

The Oklahoma City Bums.

The only consolation for Seattle's hoops cognoscenti is that these OKC Bums are doomed for a long time. The Ford Center could be considered obsolete just about the time that team starts competing for the playoffs. And young superstar Kevin Durant will be playing for, I don't know, the Knicks, maybe?

The pulse is weak in Oklahoma City.

But the pulse is gone in Seattle.

Fans welcome Dennis Johnson, Jack Sikma and the rest of the Sonics back to Seattle on June 2, 1979, the day after beating the Washington Bullets 97-93 in Game 5 to win their only NBA title.

After two wasted years of angst and acrimony; after millions of dollars poured into a hopeless lawsuit; after all of Bennett's lies; after all of the rallies and visits from legends of the past, this is all we get.

Are you kidding me?

In this lopsided deal, the NBA didn't even guarantee Seattle another team. There is no timeline for the return of basketball, just some vague understanding between the parties.

According to Nickels, Seattle has a written promise from the NBA that it will "notify" the city when another franchise is for sale, or it will notify Seattle if there is the possibility of expansion.

Can you imagine?

"Yo, Seattle, David Stern here. We just got word Charlotte is unhappy with its lease. You remember what a lease is, don't you? It's that worthless piece of paper that's supposed to keep a team in a building for the length of time stated on that paper. What a joke that is, huh?

"Anyways, where was I? Oh yeah, I'm just notifying you, as per our agreement, that Charlotte is for sale. Good luck. You have my word we will consider your application to move the team to your fair city. And you know, my word is as good as... well, let's not go there."

When Nickels was asked at the news conference why we should trust anything the NBA says, he responded, "I'm not going to go there."

Why not?

What makes him think, as he told us Wednesday, that the league will consider an offer from the same group that includes Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer, and that it mocked at the recent Board of Governors meeting?

Why should anyone believe the NBA, which steadfastly has said a remodeled KeyArena is not a viable solution to keeping the team in town, when it now says the remodeling plan will work?

And who thinks there will be another expansion team in our lifetime? And please, pause for a moment to consider just how gosh-awful that team would be.

It's over, Seattle.

D-League, anyone? Harlem Globetrotters?

A Seattle Supersonics fan holds up a sign to demonstrate his feelings during the final home game of the season.

Bennett and his buddies have been rewarded for their lies. He gets to leave town even though his "best efforts" to keep the team here had all of the passion and commitment of a night in the low post with former Sonic Benoit Benjamin.

The league is gone.

Shame on Schultz for selling the team to a guy who had no intention of keeping it here.

Shame on former team president Walker for the years and years of lousy decisions that made for so many losing seasons, which made it easy for politicians to ignore the franchise's long-term needs.

Shame on Stern for turning his back on a city that supported his product through the down seasons, as well as the ups, for 41 years.

Shame on Gov. Christine Gregoire and Rep. Frank Chopp for either not understanding or not caring about the future of the sport in this state.

And shame on City Councilmember Nick Licata, who poisoned the atmosphere between the city and the league so profoundly with his negative statements that even his backtracking "I love this game" testimony at the federal trial was far too little and way too late.

Basketball died in Seattle on Wednesday, and it feels too soon to mourn.

The anger we feel today is too real.

Steve Kelley: 206-464-2176 or

Today's Tune: The Motels - Only the Lonely

(Click on title to play video)

Why Do We 'Keep and Bear Arms?' Part 1

by Larry Elder
Posted: 07/03/2008

A prominent 20th-century Democrat made the following statement about the purpose of the Second Amendment: "Certainly one of the chief guarantees of freedom under any government, no matter how popular and respected, is the right of citizens to keep and bear arms. … The right of citizens to bear arms is just one guarantee against arbitrary government, one more safeguard, against the tyranny which now appears remote in America but which historically has proven to be always possible."

The Supreme Court, in a 5-4 decision, struck down the 1976 Washington, DC, ban on handguns. The court ruled that the Founding Fathers wanted the Second Amendment to allow individuals the right to keep and bear arms. The minority disagreed, arguing that the right only extends to those belonging to a state "militia," such as the National Guard.

The Second Amendment reads as follows: "A well regulated Militia being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms shall not be infringed." What did the Framers mean?

Is "Militia" -- as the Framers intended -- an arm of government? Or did the Framers define militia as something completely different -- a group of armed citizens with a right to "keep and bear Arms" to guard against unjust or tyrannical government power.

The Founding Fathers assumed that any government, including the one they established, could grow into a monster. They argued that only "the people" with a right "to keep and bear arms" could prevent such a tyranny.

James Madison, the "father of the Constitution," stated that tyrants were "afraid to trust the people with arms," and lauded "the advantage of being armed, which Americans possess over the people of almost every other nation.

Thomas Jefferson wrote: "What country can preserve its liberties if its rulers are not warned from time to time that their people preserve the spirit of resistance? Let them take arms."

George Mason said, "To disarm the people -- that was the best and most effectual way to enslave them."

Elbridge Gerry of Massachusetts said: "What, sir, is the use of a militia? It is to prevent the establishment of a standing army, the bane of liberty. … Whenever governments mean to invade the rights and liberties of the people, they always attempt to destroy the militia, in order to raise an army upon their ruins."

Noah Webster, the prominent political essayist who fought in the Revolutionary War, wrote: "Before a standing army can rule, the people must be disarmed; as they are in almost every kingdom in Europe. The supreme power in America cannot enforce unjust laws by the sword; because the whole body of the people are armed, and constitute a force superior to any band of regular troops that can be, on any pretense, raised in the United States. A military force, at the command of Congress, can execute no laws, but such as the people perceive to be just and constitutional; for they will possess the power, and jealousy will instantly inspire the inclination, to resist the execution of a law which appears to them unjust and oppressive."

Samuel Adams likened the Second Amendment to the First: "That the said Constitution shall never be 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."

Dictators throughout history sought to disarm their citizenries in order to impose power:

Vladimir Lenin said, "One man with a gun can control 100 without one."

Mao Zedong said, "Political power grows out of the barrel of a gun."

Josef Stalin said: "We don't let them have ideas. Why would we let them have guns?"

Adolf Hitler said: "The most foolish mistake we could possibly make would be to allow the subject races to possess arms. History shows that all conquerors who have allowed their subject races to carry arms have prepared their own downfall by doing so."

Thomas Paine, in 1775, spoke about another kind of "tyranny." Bans and restrictions on firearms affect the law-abiding citizenry, shifting power to the non-law-abiding. Criminals ignore laws. That's why we call them criminals. Paine said: "The peaceable part of mankind will be continually overrun by the vile and abandoned while they neglect the means of self-defense. … (Weakness) allures the ruffian (but) arms like laws discourage and keep the invader and plunderer in awe and preserve order in the world. … Horrid mischief would ensue were (the good) deprived of the use of them. … The weak will become a prey to the strong."

Oh, the prominent Democrat quoted in the first paragraph? It was said Oct. 22, 1959, by future senator and Vice President Hubert H. Humphrey. How times -- and much of the Democratic Party -- have changed.

- Mr. Elder is an attorney, syndicated columnist, syndicated radio talk-show host and author of Showdown: Confronting Bias, Lies, and the Special Interests That Divide America. (St. Martin's Press, 2002)

McCain: Pump This!
Posted: 07/02/2008

Well, I guess we're all pretty relieved we didn't drill in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge back in 2002. What a disaster that would have been.

The vote on ANWR was almost entirely along partisan lines, with all Republicans, except a handful of "moderates," voting for drilling, and all Democrats, except a handful of sane Democrats like Zell Miller, voting against drilling.

John McCain opposed drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge because he polled soccer moms and found out they were against drilling. They thought it sounded too much like going to the dentist. McCain wanted to ensure that he remained beloved by the two pillars of his base: "centrists" and New York Times reporters.

Even Sen. Chuck Hagel voted for drilling in ANWR. But John McCain, "our" candidate, voted against it.

I guess we're beginning to see the problem of basing a political platform on the passing fancies of "centrists." These are people who have no opinions because they know nothing about national issues. They're the ones who check the "not sure/no opinion" box on polls regarding the legalization of cannibalism.

You can't blame them: They're not being paid to know something about national issues. Those people we call "senators" and "representatives."

But now, astronomical gas prices have forced even soccer moms to spend 10 minutes looking at a problem that their leaders were supposed to be thinking about for years. And the soccer moms are saying: Drill! Drill! Drill! Bobby, come down off of there! Stop hitting your sister! Where was I? Oh, yeah ... Drill! Drill! Drill!

Consequently, McCain recently switched his position to go along with the centrists. See, that's the downside of having chosen all your political positions by polling centrists: The moment they acquire any knowledge, they'll realize you're an idiot.

It's always the same argument. Year after year, the "moderate Republicans" so respected at The New York Times harangue us to dump the Christians, the conservatives, the Swift Boat Veterans, the "right-wing extremists," the gun-and-God clingers and the fanatical pro-lifers from our party so we can repel every American who voted for Ronald Reagan in order to win the votes of people like Christine Todd Whitman.

Yes, by all means let's clear out all that deadwood and pave the way for a 49-state landslide! (For the Democrats.)

McCain followed the Times' strategy to a T. He called Jerry Falwell an "agent of intolerance." He called the Swift Boat Veterans "dishonest and dishonorable." He has denounced every Christian minister who tries to endorse him. Over the years, McCain has ostentatiously attacked every issue of importance to conservatives and embraced every crackpot liberal idea, including the left's latest plan to exterminate the human race, called "global warming."

Two weeks ago, McCain skipped the capitol prayer breakfast in California, instead appearing with Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger at an environmental event in nearby Santa Barbara. Schwarzenegger's absence marked the first time a governor skipped what has come to be known as "the governor's prayer breakfast." I guess in the world of moderate Republicans an environmental event qualifies as a religious observance.

The keynote speaker at the breakfast, Hollywood producer Mark Joseph, quoted a recent cover article in Christianity Today by professors Daniel Taylor and Mark McCloskey that said:

"In premodern times, the courage of a leader often had to be physical. In the last 500 years it is more often moral. Moral courage is the ability to do what's right even when it is deeply unpopular, even dangerous. Courage is only found where there is the genuine possibility of loss -- loss of friends, reputation, status, power, possessions or, at the extremes, freedom or life."

No wonder McCain and Schwarzenegger skipped it.

Moderate Republicans like McCain have taken to heart liberals' admonition that Ronald Reagan's appeal had absolutely nothing to do with his conservative philosophy. Don't be like him! You'll lose the soccer moms! Liberals assure us that Reagan won landslide elections because Americans were mesmerized by his sunny disposition and corny jokes. If that's true, why isn't Al Roker president?

The irony is, the only people McCain can count on to vote for him are the very Republicans he despises -- at least those of us who can get drunk enough on Election Day to pull the lever for him. In fact, we should organize parties around the country where Republicans can get drunk so they can vote for McCain. We can pass out clothespins with his name as a reminder and slogan-festooned vomit bags. The East Coast parties can post the number of drinks necessary for the task to help the West Coast parties. For more information, go to

Not being ignorant "centrists," we know what a world-class disaster B. Hussein Obama will be. Meanwhile, the centrists McCain spent years impressing with his outraged denunciations of conservatives, Swift Boat Veterans and Christians will be voting for Obama. They think he's cute.

How many times do we have to run this experiment?

Taking the advice of Democrats, Republicans ran "moderates" for president in 1944, 1948, 1976, 1992 and 1996. All lost. Republicans also ran a "moderate" for president in 1988, but that was unwittingly -- both to us and, fortunately, to the voters. In other words, in the language of the market, the best tip on "moderate Republicans" is: SELL!

But now, apparently, we have to run the experiment again. This year, moderate Republicans have hit the jackpot. John McCain is the Platonic ideal of a "moderate Republican."

To paraphrase Richard Nixon on George McGovern in 1972: Here we have a situation where moderate Republicans finally have a candidate who almost totally shares their views. Now we'll see what the country thinks.

Ann Coulter is Legal Affairs Correspondent for HUMAN EVENTS and author of "High Crimes and Misdemeanors," "Slander," ""How to Talk to a Liberal (If You Must)," "Godless," and most recently, "If Democrats Had Any Brains, They'd Be Republicans."

Jordan's Legal Jihad

By Stephen Brown
Thursday, July 03, 2008

[Click on link to view Geert Wilder's fim "Fitna"]

In a brazen attempt to stifle free speech in the West, a Jordanian court recently summoned twelve European citizens to answer criminal charges of blasphemy and inciting hatred.

Among those sought by the court is Geert Wilders, the Dutch liberal politician who made the anti-Islamist film, Fitna. Released last March, the Dutch MP’s production caused an uproar in Islamic countries, since it equated Islam with violence. Now a Middle Eastern court would like to prosecute Wilders for the “crime.” (Ironically, a Dutch court dropped charges against him for inciting hatred against Muslims with his film the day before the Jordanian court issued its subpoena.)

The Jordanian court’s move is only the most ambitious attempt to silence debate about Islam. Until now, the preferred strategy has been to file civil lawsuits in western courts to intimidate critics. The latest version of what may be called the legal jihad is even more disturbing.

In one subpoena, issued in early June, the Jordanian court ordered ten Danish newspaper editors to travel to Jordan for the “crime” of having republished the “Mohammad cartoons” last February. The cartoons, first published in 2005, were also greeted with disturbances in Muslim lands. Seventeen Danish newspapers republished the controversial cartoons as a response to the discovery of an Islamist plot to murder Kurt Westergaard. Westergaard, a caricaturist, drew the most famous of those cartoons in the form of Mohammad wearing a bomb-shaped turban, for which he is also included in the summons.

This new campaign of intimidation against the West is being mounted by a Jordanian organization calling itself “Messenger of Allah Unite Us”, which is made up of “… media outlets, professional associations, parliamentarians and thousands of volunteers.” This organization, according to one account, arose as a “civilized response” to the Mohammad cartoons’ republication in 17 Danish papers last winter, after which it took the matter to a Jordanian court and successfully had charges pressed against the Danes, and later against Wilders.

The subpoenas will be sent to the twelve Europeans through their embassies in Jordan. If they do not appear within 15 days, the Messenger of Allah group says it will seek international arrest warrants through Interpol.
But while Denmark and Holland will not forcibly send innocent citizens to Jordan, this new, “legal jihad” tactic of criminalizing those believed to have insulted Islam constitutes a threat on an unprecedented level against freedom.

Citizens of western countries who criticize Islam, and are even willing to face lawsuits in civil courts their own countries for doing so, may now exercise restraint if they risk facing criminal charges in a Muslim country. Especially if the charge is blasphemy and it is being tried by a sharia court, which can impose a death sentence (The Danes and Wilders, a Jordanian lawyer said, are facing a maximum of three years in jail).

As well, critics of Islam who have outstanding warrants against them from courts in Muslim countries will have their freedom of movement restricted, since travel abroad will now be problematic. Wilders expressed this sentiment, saying he will be careful when he travels now. Such targeted individuals, like Wilders, will obviously have reservations travelling to a third country where Jordan could file an extradition application or may already have an extradition treaty in place.

But what is most disturbing is that an Islamic country would dare subpoena citizens of another state for an action not committed within its borders but in a land where no laws were broken. Besides being meant as a weapon of intimidation, this tactic also represents a frightening extension of Islamic law into the heart of western countries.

But perhaps most ominously, this incredibly brazen measure shows that even a small Islamic country like Jordan has no fear of Europe. And, indeed, no retaliatory response met the Jordanian court’s action against European citizens.

Europe’s appeasement is also evident in the second part of Messenger For Allah group’s anti-blasphemy campaign. This part calls for a commercial boycott of all Danish and Dutch products in Jordan and of anything associated with the two countries, such as airlines and shipping companies. The boycott campaign actually began late last February but was suspended due to the losses Jordanian importers were incurring that had large stocks of unsold Danish and Dutch products.

The boycott, however, was resumed June 10. One million posters containing the logos of banned Dutch and Danish products will eventually hang in Jordanian businesses under the title “Living Without It.” The boycott will also be spread by television and radio ads, t-shirts, and bumper stickers.

Dutch and Danish companies were instructed they could get their products off the boycott list if they, essentially, betrayed their nations’ values and their countrymen. The affected companies, according to The Jordan Times, were told to denounce the Dutch film and the Danish cartoons in the media both in Jordan and in at least one publication in their own country, support the Jordanian legal action taken against Wilders and the Danish newspaper people as well as the creation of an international anti-blasphemy law.

Several companies have already complied. When informed of the stipulation that requires a denunciation be published in a Dutch newspaper, a spokesman for a Dutch food company that exports to Jordan said his company “…would print it if needed.”

But such groveling will only buy these companies a little time, as another Dutch company discovered. It had immediately distanced itself from Wilders and Fitna after the film’s release last March but still had products placed on the boycott posters.

The Dutch government did not fare much better in its appeasement efforts. One Dutch embassy official in Jordan said he was surprised his country was included in the boycott in the first place since his government had already printed statements in the Jordanian press distancing itself from Wilders’ film.

And, naturally, the Jordanian blackmailers’ demands have not stopped. Only last week, Dutch and Danish companies were told to put the boycott posters up in their own countries if they did not want their products blacklisted.

Perhaps to further intimidate Holland’s and Denmark’s populations, the Jordanians are also claiming their boycott campaign is causing these countries huge financial losses of over four billion Euros in four months. A Danish official, however, says that is ridiculous since his country only exported about $50 million worth of goods to Jordan in 2007.

The overall goal of the Messenger of Allah group’s legal and commercial campaign against the two European states, it says, is the enactment of “a universal law that prohibits the defamation of any prophet or religion”, especially of the Prophet Mohammad. Islamic countries are already pushing for such a law at the United Nations.

“The boycott is a means but not an end,” said Zakaria Sheikh, a spokesperson for Messenger of Allah Unite Us. “We are not aiming at collective punishment, but when the Danish and Dutch people put pressure on their governments to support the creation of an international law, we are achieving our goal.”

Well, there you have it. The Muslim organization wants Denmark and Holland not just to muzzle themselves but to help it muzzle the rest of the world as well.

But just the opposite should occur. All western countries should help put a muzzle on Jordan’s ridiculous campaign to squelch free speech, meddle in the internal affairs of two sovereign, western states and intimidate their citizens. In terms of financial measures, Denmark, showing its usual mettle, has already led the way when it told the Sudan it would have to repay a $500 million debt the Scandinavian country was considering cancelling, if it joined the boycott.

It should also be pointed out in the West that Jordan, which is demanding respect for its religion, does not respect other religions equally. While the practice of other faiths is not forbidden in the Middle Eastern country, none are allowed to proselytize, and converts from Islam to other religions are prosecuted by Jordanian sharia courts.

Moreover, the Jordanians should be told that if they want to extradite inciters of hatred to their courts, then citizens of their country, and of other Islamic countries for that matter, who have advocated killing Jews and other the infidels will be extradited to face western courts. In the end, if legal jihad is not recognized as the danger to the West that it is, and vigorously opposed, it will wind up punishing more than just two small European countries.

Stephen Brown is a columnist for A scholar and former news reporter, his field of expertise is Muslim forced marriages and honor killings. Email him at