Saturday, July 02, 2011

Book Review: G.K. Chesterton - A Biography

A mind as wide as the legendary waistline.

By Edward Short
Even when defending Chesterton on a disputed point, Ker gives the reader enough information to come to his or her own conclusions. Take, for example, the notorious question of whether GKC was an anti-Semite. Ker quotes from a 1911 Chesterton letter: “Jews (being landless) unnaturally alternate between too much power and too little . . . the Jew millionaire is too safe and the Jew pedlar too harassed . . . I don’t mind how fiercely you fight for the pedlar.” One can say that in these words there is more a class bias than a race bias, but talk of a “Jew millionaire” being “too safe” is, to my ears, too close to the recent Norwegian headline Jay pointed out a few days ago: “Rich Jews Threaten Obama.” Ker also quotes a passage from Chesterton’s 1935 book The Well and the Shallows: “The Jews are now being jumped on very unjustly in Germany,” with the result that Chesterton and Belloc, “who began in the days of Jewish omnipotence by attacking the Jews, will now probably die defending them.” So Chesterton opposed the policies of the Nazis, and was willing to fight them, which put him ahead of many people in the England of 1935; but he spoke of “the days of Jewish omnipotence,” a puzzling era to which I find no reference in serious history books. Can anybody help me as to when exactly that era was? The upshot of the quote, then, is that Chesterton was a decent and kind man who opposed Nazism, but had a certain attitude toward the Jews that was unfortunate. Whether it was anti-Semitism or not depends on rather complicated issues of taxonomy; someone who said that sort of thing today would almost certainly be an anti-Semite, but in the context of the virulent common prejudices of 1935 it might have been more excusable. (One of the most commonly quoted Chesterton mots is, “The Catholic Church is the only thing which saves a man from the degrading slavery of being a child of his age.” This system was evidently not, in Chesterton’s case, fail-safe.)

I mention this in detail to get the unpleasantness out of the way first; it’s well-known, after all, that anti-Semitism is the most serious rap against Chesterton these days. But read the 729 pages of this book, and you will see that his faults are the concomitant of his virtues. He was a Romantic, who loved sharp lines and bright colors, and devoured the world as only a genuine lover would. In his enthusiasm he sometimes bit off more than he could chew, and ended up getting some things wrong. But as a percentage of the staggering volume of words he generated, what he got wrong was relatively small. And what comes through most vividly in the book is Chesterton’s overall decency: I think most people will come away from a reading of this book with a sense that it is a great thing to look at the created world from the standpoint of Chesterton. From there — as from any other given angle — you will see some things wrong or out of proportion; but you will be consumed by gratitude for the gift of existence in all its diversity, and, most likely, end up reaching out for Someone to thank for it.
NB. The only review of this book I have read so far manages to get it spectacularly wrong, in one important regard. The London Telegraph’s review ends as follows:
By the time page 700 is reached, with its summary of the Chestertons’ final trip abroad (“They met on the quay in Calais. They arrived in Amiens on the evening of the 10th. Next day they left for Rouen . . .”) it becomes clear that this book has done what should have been impossible: it makes Chesterton sound boring.
Wrong, wrong, wrong. I read this review before reading the book, and so I picked up the book with great trepidation, expecting a tedious chronicle of names and dates and personal trivia. To my surprise and delight, I found that the passage quoted by the Telegraph reviewer was far from representative. Any biography of this size is bound to have some elements of dry, encyclopedic chronology; but in Ker’s book, they are far more the exception than the rule. On just about every page, one will find extended quotes from Chesterton, of the kind that display his personality and overall joie de vivre. The author made me rediscover my early love of Chesterton and his perspective on the world, and for that I am deeply grateful.

Dr. Ian Ker: On Writing Biography -

Liberal Frankensteins

From Greece to California, the liberal dream is dead.

By Victor Davis Hanson
July 1, 2011 4:00 A.M.

This Fourth of July, what remains is the Founders’ vision of a limited government; the idea of a population united by common values, themes, and ideas; a republican form of checks-and-balances government to prevent demagoguery, factions, and tyranny of the majority; the sanctity and autonomy of the nation-state; and individual freedom and liberty as protected through the Bill of Rights. Everything after and against that has proved a failure.

Indeed, what makes this Fourth different from recent celebrations is the ongoing repudiation of almost everything antithetical to the Founders’ views — the redistributive, all-powerful welfare state, the therapeutic arrogance that believes human nature can be altered by an omnipotent well-meaning government, the postmodern notion that nationhood and borders are passé, and the utopian idea that war can be declared obsolete and the need for defense transcended. From Greece to California such dreams are dead.

The European Union is unwinding for two very simple reasons. First, it is not a constitutional state, but a loose conglomeration of nations run by elites who are not responsible to the people. For decades the undemocratic nature of rule from Brussels was masked by politically correct edicts on everything from global warming to anti-Americanism. But as the money runs out, the elites’ fraud becomes impossible to hide.

Second, Mediterranean countries were allowed to cook their books in such a way that northwestern European money would continue to be loaned to the siesta cultures that had not produced goods and services to justify the influx of foreign capital and the attendant lifestyle it ensured. Now we are well past any chance that German money can be paid back; the only mystery is over the conditions of the default — whether slow and incremental, or sudden and cataclysmic — and whether it will leave in its wake a downsized EU or no EU at all.

In other words, the notion that platitudinous elites could, by their proclaimed virtue, establish a constitutional union without real democratic values proved unrealizable. More important still, socialism came to an end with fiscal insolvency. This happened, of course, most dramatically in southern Europe, where climate and culture conspired to hasten its demise; but northern Europeans now realize that they too have a rendezvous with a Greek-like reckoning unless they increase worker productivity, curb government, prune the power of public-employee unions, bring market-based incentives back into the workplace, reestablish national sovereignty, raise the retirement age, and address the declining demography that is so often the handmaiden of socialism. In short, EU elites have done what the half-century-long threat of Red Army tanks and missiles never could: destabilize Europe to the point of anarchy.

Here in the United States, we await the imposition of Obamacare, despite the fact that the public does not want it, the nation cannot afford it, politicians regret it, and companies seek exemption from it. Our current pace of $1.6 trillion annual deficits, for all the talk of Keynesian gymnastics, is unsustainable — and even acknowledged as such by those who are most responsible for the latest round of fiscal irresponsibility. As we near 50 million Americans on food stamps, another year of 9-plus percent unemployment, and the third $1 trillion–plus budget deficit, even statists are beginning to see that statism does not work — a fact brought home not just by the disaster in Greece, but also by the growing divide between a successful red-state paradigm and California-like blue-state doldrums. What saves the United States for now is only the fact that, unlike California, it can print money — plus the fact that there is no red-state version of America to flee to.

On the immigration front, there will still be some quibbling, but the liberal argument for open borders has been lost, both here and in Europe. The United States simply cannot afford any longer the $50 billion that flows to Latin America each year in remittances, coupled with multibillion-dollar costs for providing social services to seek parity for illegal aliens, in addition to vast new outlays in education and criminal justice. California elites swear that a multimillion-person community of illegal aliens has nothing to do with our near-bottom ranking in public-school math and science scores, but privately even the most die-hard unionist teachers confess that it does. When Los Angeles has more resident Mexican nationals than do most cities in Mexico, and when the liberal paradigm of the salad bowl in lieu of the melting pot is into its fifth decade, then it is logical, not aberrant, that tens of thousands in the Rose Bowl would not merely cheer a Mexican soccer team over a home-team American one (understandable, though regrettable, garden-variety ethnic chauvinism), but trump that by booing even the mention of the United States.

Either federal law will be enforced and immigration will return to an orderly, legal process — where merit, education, and skill sets are used as litmus tests for would-be immigrants without regard to ethnic or racial background — or else Arizona, New Mexico, and California will soon become a dysfunctional region, where one class flees and quite another enters, and soon even illegal aliens seek a new, more northern border to cross. Open borders, non-assimilation, ethnic separatism, and tribalism lead to the Balkans or Rwanda — not, as envisioned, to a society patterned after the boutique diversity of the faculty lounge.

The classically tragic notion that deterrence — based on military preparation, balance of power, and eternal vigilance — alone prevents wars is returning, as the postmodern idea that international good will and multilateral policing can ensure world peace has almost sputtered to an end. Colonel Qaddafi is not impressed by an indictment from The Hague, and so far he is not backing down in the face of the combined air power of France and Britain. Qaddafi fears no new Napoleon or second Wellington, and he will leave only if the United States, for either good or bad reasons, decides to lend Europe the military wherewithal to end the Libyan regime.

In the last hundred days, the world has seen not only how weak and divided are the European members of NATO, but also how the once-celebrated European notion of “soft power” means very little in the world of perpetually savage nations. What stops China from carving out a new co-prosperity sphere in Asian waters, Russia from reconstituting a hegemony over the former Soviet republics, Turkey from ending the notion that the Aegean is a Hellenic lake, a new alliance of radical Arab states from attacking Israel, a soon-to-be-nuclear Iran from threatening its Jewish and Arab rivals, and North Korea from invading the south is only lingering worries over a U.S. military response or an American-led alliance of resistance — not international sanctions or condemnation, a U.N. decree, an Arab League resolution, an International Criminal Court writ, an IMF or World Bank reprimand, a lecture from an EU grandee, or the EU rapid response force.

Back home, we have suffered through decades of declining test scores and rising teachers’ salaries, and we now have a trillion dollars in college loan debt, more remediation for incoming college freshmen, weaker skills apparent in graduating college seniors, an omnipresent -studies curriculum, and a new national dialogue over whether college is even worth it — not just in terms of whether college degrees raise salaries sufficiently to justify huge loans, but whether the new therapeutic race, class, and gender curriculum is antithetical to classical liberal arts with their emphasis on reading, written expression, math, and science.

Modern university education has achieved the dubious result of turning out a self-described sensitive, caring mind that has never been more ignorant of the past and the present. The modern therapeutic university has managed all at once, with its various “centers,” reduced teaching loads, empty faculty research, and legions of new administrators, to put tuition costs beyond the reach of most Americans, to spark an entire new competing industry of no-frills, private, for-profit certificate-granting trade schools, and to end the old idea that a student’s B.A. degree was synonymous with competency or a faculty member’s Ph.D. with wisdom.

We live in an age in which advocates do not believe in their own advocacy: A “planet is doomed” Al Gore refuses to fly economy; a statist John Kerry won’t pay taxes on his yacht unless he is caught; an anti-war Barack Obama won’t honor the War Powers Act he once deified; and the liberal congressional and media establishment will not put their children in the D.C. schools that are the reification of their own ideology.

In short, the generation that came of age in the 1960s succeeded in bringing to life the Frankenstein’s monster it designed in its own image — but suddenly it seems terrified of the very thing it created.

— NRO contributor Victor Davis Hanson is a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution, the editor of Makers of Ancient Strategy: From the Persian Wars to the Fall of Rome, and the author of The Father of Us All: War and History, Ancient and Modern.

Roger Maris and the Myth of the Asterisk

Another myth Pepe tried to bust is the myth of the asterisk that was supposedly placed after Maris's accomplishment in the record books. Sunday's Daily News included an excerpt from 1961 in which Pepe states the case for the asterisk that never was.

There was no asterisk. Not then. Not now. Not ever.
The myth that an asterisk was used to denote that Roger Maris needed expansion and a longer schedule of games to exceed Ruth's single season home run record has been perpetuated in story on and film. But it's not true. It never was. There never was an asterisk. What there was for almost 50 years, however, were two entries in baseball's official record books, as such:

Most Home Runs, Season.

61 Roger E. Maris, AL: NY, 1961 (162 G/S)

60 George H. Ruth, AL. NY, 1927.

So there was no asterisk on the books.

Pepe's account is mostly right, but I want to add a couple of things. I've been fighting the myth of the asterisk for years. First, in the 1996 book, That's Not The Way It Was or (Almost) Everything They Told You about Sports Is Wrong and then in my 2002 book, Clearing The Bases, The Greatest Baseball Debates of the Century. In the latter I wrote:

That anyone ever thought there was an asterisk is at least as much the fault of the New York Daily News' Dick Young as of Commissioner Ford Frick. Frick worshiped Ruth and was at his bedside the day before he died (and made much of that in interviews and after-dinner speeches). Maris had the bad luck to have his greatest season in 1961 at a time when Frick was commissioner of baseball. As early as July 17, when Maris and several sluggers were ahead of Babe Ruth's 1927 pace, Frick, apparently distressed that the new 162-game season would give someone an unfair crack at Ruth's record, called a press conference and issued this ruling: 'Any player who has hit more than 60 home runs during his club's first 154 games would be recognized as having established a new record. However, if the player does not hit more than 60 until after this club has played 154 games, there would have to be some distinctive mark on the record books to show that Babe Ruth's record was set under a 154-game schedule.'"

In his biography of Maris, Roger Maris, A Man for All Seasons, my late New Jersey neighbor Maury Allen got it right. Dick Young, he said, called out loud "Maybe you should use an asterisk on the new record. Everybody does that when there's a difference of opinion.

What Pepe and other baseball historians haven't understood is that Frick's statement was not a ruling but merely an opinion: Frick had no power whatsoever to make a ruling on the subject. To put it simply, he was grandstanding. What escaped most baseball writers present at Frick's press conference, and what continues to escape the sports media today, is that major league baseball had no "official" record book and didn't have one until Total Baseball got the job in the late 1990s. So, in essence, Frick was trying to pressure publishers over whom he had no authority to print his version of the Maris/Ruth home run chase.

What everyone seems to have forgotten is that Frick himself denied that the asterisk ever existed. The reason is that practically no one remembers that Frick wrote an autobiography published by Crown in 1973, Games, Asterisks and People. "No asterisk," he wrote, "has appeared in the official record in connection for that accomplishment." He failed to mention that there as no "official" record and that some record books chose to list the record for "Most Home Runs Season" the way Pepe related, but several more (including Gillette's record book) did not.

Frick, though, couldn't resist reminding us that "His [Maris's] record was set in a 162- game season. The Ruth record of 60 home runs was set in 1927 in a 154-game season."

Frick's denial of the asterisk did nothing to erase it from fans' memories. In a bizarre postscript to the asterisk story, in 1991 Commissioner Fay Vincent issued a statement indicating that he supported "The single record thesis," meaning that Maris held the record for most home runs in a season period. The Committee on Statistical Accuracy, appointed by Vincent, then voted to remove the asterisk from Maris's record.

Thus, a commissioner of baseball voiced his support for removing an asterisk that a previous commissioner denied every having put there in the first place. Probably nothing did more to enhance the myth of the existence of the asterisk as Vincent's "removal" of it.

I don't know if the combined efforts of Pepe, Frick, Vincent, and myself are ever going to convince the fans that there never was an asterisk next to Roger Maris's name in the record books. But here are a few observations:
One, no matter how many games Ruth and Maris played, it should be noted that Maris hit his 60th home run in his 684th plate appearance, while Ruth didn't reach 60 until he had had 689. Two, there was an oft-repeated theory by sportswriters who didn't like Maris that Yankee Stadium's short right field porch was responsible for many of Maris's "cheap" home runs. The right field fence at Yankee Stadium was as short or shorter in Ruth's time, but it was simply assumed that Ruth, who hit home runs longer than Maris did, didn't need a short porch. In any event, Maris actually hit 30 home runs in Yankee Stadium that season and 31 in all other American League ballparks.

On second thought, what had has probably perpetuated the myth of the asterisk more than anything else for this generation's fans is Billy Crystal's wonderful 2001 film, 61*, which, after Bull Durham, gets my nod as the best baseball film ever made. I'll give Crystal a pass for making the mistake, but as far as everyone else is concerned, it's time to dispense with the notion of the asterisk and recognize Maris for what he did.

Friday, July 01, 2011

How to ‘Green’ Your 4th of July (Take Note, Right Wing Revelers)

By Doug Powers • July 1, 2011 04:38 PM

It only stands to reason that if the 4th of July is more of a Republican holiday, it must be inherently bad for the environment. I mean, that’s what Republicans are all about, right?

Fortunately, an op-ed in the New York Times is there to help “green” our Independence Day feast:
FOOD is responsible for 10 to 30 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions. By many estimates, cooking represents more of a meal’s carbon footprint than transport. For certain vegetables, it accounts for more emissions than agriculture, transport and disposal combined.

Fourth of July, the national celebration of combustion, presents an opportunity for atonement.

I’m not advising you to forsake grilling this holiday and join the ranks of raw-foodists. Nor do I believe that we can reverse climate change by eating burgers rare instead of well done. But a little creative thinking can reduce this year’s Fourth of July carbon emissions without gustatory sacrifice. And maybe that awareness will carry into other days and other parts of our lives.
Read on and discover all the things you should take into account when planning your July 4th cooking, from how to prepare the potato salad to skipping the baked desserts (unless a rare FLOTUS pie waiver is obtained). The list of considerations is so long that you could end up accidentally hanging yourself from the eco decision tree:
Now for the burgers and dogs. First, a green disclaimer. Beef is an environmental disaster, no matter how you cook it. However, if you can’t resist grilled cow, your big decision is between charcoal and propane.
This guy must be a blast to party with.

He goes on to point out so many things you should take into consideration that, if you took the time to ponder them all, by the time you actually started cooking it would be July 6th.

For other ways to “green” your 4th, I suggest printing several copies of the above article, setting them on fire, and cooking burgers and hot dogs over the flames. That way none of it will go to waste. Also, instead of environmentally unfriendly traditional fireworks, try blowing up an electric car. You’ll still get the “boom,” plus you’ll be helping get those carbon nightmares out of circulation. It’s a brand of “green” firework serves as its own offset.

(h/t Fox Nation)

No Independence Day for debt-ridden America

By Mark Steyn
The Orange County Register
July 1, 2011

Dozens of countries have "Independence Days." Nov. 25, for example: Independence Day in Suriname. In that instance, as in most others, the designation signifies nothing more than transfer of de jure sovereignty and de facto operational control from a distant European capital to a more local regime. 1975 in Suriname's case. They had the first military coup seven years later.

But in America "Independence" seemed as much a statement about the character of a people as a designation of jurisdictional status. The first Americans were British subjects who had outgrown a British king as benign and enlightened as any ruler on the planet. They demanded "independence" not from foreign rulers of another ethnicity but from their own compatriots with whom they had a disagreement about the nature of government. Long before the Revolutionary War, small New England townships governed themselves to a degree no old England towns did. "Independence" is not about the replacement of a king in London with a president in Washington but about the republican virtues of a self-reliant citizenry free to exploit its own potential.

Please, no snickering. The self-reliant citizen? In the damning formulation of contemporary American vernacular, he's history – as in over and done with, fuhgeddabouttim. What's left of that founding vision on this less than Glorious Fourth of July 2011 in the Brokest Nation in History? "You go talk to your constituents," President Obama taunted Republicans on Wednesday, "and ask them are they willing to compromise their kids' safety so that some corporate jet owner continues to get a tax break?"

In the Republic of Brokistan, that's the choice, is it? Give me safe kids or give me corporate jets! No corporate aviation without safe kiddification! In his bizarre press conference on Wednesday, Obama made no fewer than six references to corporate jet owners. Just for the record, the tax break for corporate jets was part of the "American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009" – i.e., the stimulus. The Obama stimulus. The Obama-Pelosi-Reid stimulus. The Obama-Pelosi-Reid-Democratic Party stimulus that every single Republican House member and all but three Republican senators voted against. The Obama-Corporate Jet stimulus that some guy called Obama ostentatiously signed into law in Denver after jetting in to host an "economic forum."

Charles Krauthammer did the math. If you eliminate the Obama-Pelosi-Reid Corporate Jet Tax Break, you would save so much dough that, after 5,000 years, you would have clawed back enough money to cover one year of Obama's debt. Five thousand years is the year 7,011. Boy, our kids'll really be safe by then. I see some leftie at MSNBC has just been suspended for characterizing the president's performance Wednesday as that of a demotic synonym for the male reproductive organ. So I shall be more circumspect and say only that even being a hollow unprincipled demagogue requires a certain lightness of touch Obama can't seem to find.

Speaking of corporate jets, did the president fly commercial to Denver? Oh, but that's different! He's in "public service." A couple of weeks before he flew Air Force One to Denver, he flew Air Force One to Williamsburg, Virginia. From the White House (well, via Andrews Air Force Base). That's 150 miles, a 30-minute flight. He took a 747, a wide-bodied jet designed to carry 500 people to the other side of the planet, for a puddle-jump across the Potomac.

Oh, but it was for another "economic forum." This time with House Democrats – the ones who voted for the Obama Corporate Jet Tax Break. "Economic forums" are what we have instead of an economy these days.

Aside from the Sultan of Brunei and one or two similar potentates, no other head of state goes around like this. In a self-governing republic, it ought to be unbecoming. But in the Brokest Nation in History it's ridiculous. And the least the beneficiary of such decadence could do is not condescendingly lecture those who pay for their own transportation. America's debt is an existential crisis, and playing shell games with shriveled peas of demonizable irrelevancies only advertises your contempt for the citizenry.

By the way, one way to cut back on corporate jettage would be to restore civilized standards of behavior in American commercial flight. Two weeks ago, a wheelchair-bound 95-year-old woman at Northwest Florida Regional Airport flying to Michigan to be with her family for the final stage of her terminal leukemia was made to remove her adult diaper by the crack agents of the Transport Stupidity Administration. George III wouldn't have done this to her.

Oh, c'mon, do you want to compromise your kids' safety in order to give grope breaks to dying nonagenarians? A spokesgroper for the Transport Stupidity Administration explained that security procedures have to be "the same for everyone" – because it would be totally unreasonable to expect timeserving government bureaucrats to exercise individual human judgment. Oddly enough, it's not "the same for everyone" if you're Olajide Oluwaseun Noibi from Nigeria, who on June 24 got on a flight at JFK with a college ID and an expired boarding pass in somebody else's name. Why, that slippery devil! If only he'd been three-quarters of a century older, in a wheelchair and dying of leukemia, we'd have got him! He was arrested upon landing at LAX, and we're now going to spend millions of dollars prosecuting him. Why? We should thank him for his invaluable expose of America's revolting security theater, and make him head of the TSA.

What else isn't "the same for everyone"? A lot of things, these days. The president has a point about "tax breaks". We have too many. And on the scale of the present tax code that's a dagger at the heart of one of the most basic principles of free societies – equality before the law. But, of course, the president is not opposed to exemptions and exceptions and special privileges on principle: After all, he's issued – what is it now? – over a thousand "waivers" for his own Obamacare law. If you knew who to call in Washington, maybe you got one. If you didn't, tough.

But that's the point. Big Government on America's unprecedented money-no-object scale will always be profoundly wasteful (as on that Williamsburg flight), stupid (as at the TSA) and arbitrary (as in those waivers). But it's not republican in any sense the Founders would recognize. If (like Obama) you're a lifetime member of the government class, you can survive it. For the rest, it ought to be a source of shame to today's Americans that this will be the first generation in U.S. history to bequeath its children the certainty of poorer, meaner lives – if not a broader decay into a fetid swamp divided between a well-connected Latin-American-style elite enjoying their waivers and a vast downwardly mobile morass. On Independence Day 2011, debt-ridden America is now dependent, not on far-off kings but on global bond and currency markets, which fulfill the same role the cliff edge does in a Wile E Coyote cartoon. At some point, Wile looks down and realizes he's outrun solid ground. You know what happens next.

That's all, folks!


On a special night, Dean Smith’s cameo elevates the goose bumps

By Dan Wiederer
June 30, 2011

PHOTO BY Robert Willett -

Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski, right, and former UNC coach Dean Smith share a smile. At left is Charlie Scott, who became UNC's first African-American scholarship athlete in 1966, who told the crowd that Smith made his largest impact as a teacher and person.

RALEIGH – Charles Scott woke up around sunrise Wednesday in Atlanta, his eagerness already percolating and his sense of responsibility dialed in. Just like always.

It was Scott’s honor to present Dean Smith at Wednesday night’s Naismith Good Sportsmanship Award ceremony at the Progress Energy Center’s Memorial Auditorium in downtown Raleigh. Which meant Scott wanted to be prepared and punctual.

So he set a departure time for 6:45 a.m. to make the 7-hour trek north and stuck to it.

Only when 6:45 arrived and he settled into the driver’s seat, his wife was nowhere to be found, still inside getting ready.

“At 6:55 she still wasn’t there,” Scott said. “At 7 o’clock she still wasn’t there.”

The former North Carolina All-American was practically crawling out of his skin, gnashing his teeth and wanting to pound the steering wheel. But, he says, many years of marriage plus an enlightening career at UNC taught him valuable lessons about patience and respect and tone.

So when his wife finally got into the car 25 minutes behind their scheduled departure time, Scott turned and delivered the sternest reprimand he could think of.

“You will never play for Coach Smith,” he said.

It’s been 41 years since Scott last played college basketball, 41 years since he was last under the direct command of Smith. But to hear him speak Wednesday, Smith’s influence still resonates daily, providing a benchmark with which to evaluate his life.

Forty-one years later and Scott still cherishes the opportunity he had to play for Smith and still finds himself not wanting to let his old coach down.

“Coach Smith was not our coach, he was our mentor,” Scott said. “He set the standard by which every day I get up I ask myself, ‘How would Coach Smith feel about what I��m doing today? Am I a good human being? Am I a good father? Am I a good neighbor? Am I compassionate?”


Three Tobacco Road legends – Smith along with Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski and former N.C. State women’s coach Kay Yow – were honored Wednesday for their contributions to basketball, for succeeding at a high level and always doing it the right way. And if the 70-pound Naismith Good Sportsmanship trophy each honoree was given seemed impressive, then I don’t know how you’d even begin to describe the sincere praise heaped upon all three coaches on a goose bump-filled night.

By far, the most special moment came when Smith was officially honored, first with the presentation by Scott, and then with an emotional speech from his protégé, Roy Williams.

At 80 years old and still in a fierce battle with a cruel neurocognitive disorder, Smith attended Wednesday’s ceremony. But he was on stage for less than 10 minutes, a reminder to everyone to soak up these moments while they last.

Yet it was no surprise that even in that short amount of time on stage, Smith received a pair of standing ovations plus warm hugs from Scott and Williams and an extended ovation from Krzyzewski.

And, as you probably guessed, the stirring applause triggered that old palms-down reflex in Smith with the legendary coach gesturing for everyone in the audience to sit down and to stop brightening the spotlight.


Williams noted that while Smith is rightfully praised as an innovator, he himself has spent his entire coaching career as “a copier,” trying desperately to emulate everything Smith ever did.

First, Williams quoted an old adage Smith used to recite.

“The dogs may bark but the caravan rolls on.”

Then the current Tar Heels coach invoked Kierkegaard.

“Life can be understood backwards but it must be lived forwards,” Williams said.

With a crack in his voice, he explained why those maxims resonated.

“Both of those,” Williams said, “I interpret as you have to move on. Regardless of what adversity you have, you have to move on. But the one person I cannot do that with is Coach Dean Smith. Because I have to (look back) and remember every single day I spent with him. I have to remember everything he gave me.”

Krzyzewski, too, felt a profound appreciation for Wednesday night’s event and valued the opportunity to spend time with Smith, against whom he battled for 17 years in the ACC. Before the night’s ceremony began, Krzyzewski visited briefly with Smith in the green room.

Later, on stage, Coach K looked around at an array of Smith’s former UNC players – from Phil Ford to Eric Montross, Rusty Clark to Al Wood, Dave Hanners to Dennis Wuycik – and let the admiration they have for Smith wash over him.

“Dean set the standard for basketball – and not just college basketball – that everyone is still trying to reach,” Krzyzewski said. “He demanded that his teams play as one. And what he got in return from all these guys who played for him was the intense loyalty that they feel toward him. And that’s something I’ve admired since I started coaching. It’s really one of the great things in all of sport: that intense loyalty the Tar Heel players have for Coach Smith.”

Smith has never needed nor wanted the commendation. But you can be certain he’ll forever be proud of that loyalty and what it has meant in building and elevating the North Carolina basketball program.

Yet for Smith, this was always about more than basketball. He wanted to impart wisdom and teach life lessons to his players. And you can bet that Charles Scott wasn’t the only one who woke up Wednesday measuring himself by the values Smith instilled.

Staff writer Dan Wiederer can be reached at or 486-3536.

Today's Tune: The Airborne Toxic Event - Sometime Around Midnight (Majordomo Version)

Beck Bids Adieu

Posted By Arnold Ahlert
July 1, 2011 @ 12:13 am In Daily Mailer, FrontPage | 5 Comments

Yesterday was Glenn Beck’s last day on Fox. In his run there, which began in 2008 after Fox hired him away from rival network CNN, Mr. Beck was a lighting rod for relentless progressive vitriol. Perhaps only George W. Bush and Sarah Palin have been subjected to more criticism than the controversial TV and radio host. Yet despite the controversy, Beck leaves behind a solid legacy in two arenas: his attention to the far-left’s alliance with Islamic radicalism, and his exposure of the breathtaking degree of leftist radicalism that permeates the Democratic Party.

Beck has done yeoman’s work with regard to exposing radical Islam, as demonstrated by a a six-part series of videos (available here, here, here, here, here and here). In fact, Beck’s ongoing exposés of that radicalism remain unmatched by most in the mainstream media. Yet when Beck offered his rationale connecting Muslim radicals with the “hard-core socialist Left,” he was not only taken on by the Left, but conservatives as well. For instance, the Weekly Standard’s Bill Kristol accused Beck of “hysteria,” and National Review’s Rich Lowry called it a “well-deserved shot.”

The leftist/Islamist alliance is in fact quite ubiquitous and there are many disturbing examples of it that Beck took care to document. The radical leftist group Code Pink, which has forged ties with Hamas, did indeed spend time in early 2011 agitating in Cairo and at the Egyptian Rafah crossing, a border which many Egyptians believe Mubarak closed because he was a pawn of the Israelis. It was Code Pink founder Jodie Evans, along with leftist Weather Underground terrorists Bernadine Dohrn and Bill Ayers, who helped organize last year’s Free Gaza Movement which launched the “peace” flotilla attempting to break the Israeli blockade of Gaza. This year’s 11-ship flotilla, with the same objective, includes a boat named the “Audacity of Hope” and carries American leftists, including author Alice Walker, who this week called Israel and America “terrorist states” (as the Iranians do). Beck also created a video montage of leftist organizations mingled with Islamic radicals, all promoting the same anti-Semitic message. Ironically, that video begins with Chris Matthews mocking Beck for making the connection.

Yesterday, on the same day Beck’s Fox career was coming to an end, he may have received one of the more satisfying vindications of his assertions: Commentary Magazine reported that the Obama administration is reversing a five-year ban on contact with the Muslim Brotherhood. That would be the same Muslim Brotherhood which spawned Hamas, whose charter is dedicated to the destruction of Israel and calls for the extermination of Jews. “We believe, given the changing political landscape in Egypt, that it is in the interests of the United States to engage with all parties that are peaceful, and committed to non-violence, that intend to compete for the parliament and the presidency,” said Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

Perhaps Beck is equally vindicated by another revelation which occurred recently. Left-wing Congressman Dennis Kucinich (D-OH), despite assertions that his statements had been “mischaracterized” by the Syrian media, was caught praising President Bashar Assad as a man “thinking about the different ways that would be the best way to address the needs of the people…And frankly, that’s a positive development.” How has Assad been addressing the needs of his people? By gunning them down in the streets for daring to stand against his thug regime. Over 1,400 men, women and children have been murdered so far.

Glenn Beck also made the Left hysterical when he took on one of its cherished icons, George Soros. Beck contended that Soros has a five-step plan to bring down America, a charge which was greeted with contempt. One of those steps, according to Beck, was to “control the airwaves.” Once again, Beck was vindicated when an in-depth Fox report revealed that Soros “has ties to more than 30 mainstream news outlets–including The New York Times, Washington Post, the Associated Press, NBC and ABC.” The breadth of Soros’ media connections are explained in great detail, but nothing sums up his influence better than this:
Readers unhappy with Soros’ media influence might be tempted to voice concerns to the Organization of News Ombudsmen–a professional group devoted to ‘monitoring accuracy, fairness and balance.’ Perhaps they might consider a direct complaint to one such as NPR’s Alicia Shepard or PBS’s Michael Getler, both directors of the organization. Unfortunately, that group is also funded by Soros.
The response to Beck’s efforts to expose Soros were characterized as anti-Semitic, with Daily Beast columnist Michelle Goldberg calling them an “updated Protocols of the Elders of Zion.” ADL leader Abraham Foxman piled on as well, calling Beck’s coverage of Soros’ actions as a boy during the Holocaust (when he aided Nazis in the confiscation of Jewish property) as “completely inappropriate, offensive and over the top.” Yet a 60 Minutes interview with Steve Kroft is where this information originated, and most of the controversy surrounding the interview has to do with Soros’ near-sociopathic lack of guilty for his conscription: “No feeling of guilt?” asked Kroft. “No,” said Soros. “There was no sense that I shouldn’t be there. If I wasn’t doing it, somebody else would be taking it away anyhow. Whether I was there or not. So I had no sense of guilt.”

Of course, Beck’s exposure of the control of the far-left over what’s left of the Democratic Party, facilitated immensely by Soros, was monumental. From Obama’s czars, such as dedicated Marxist Van Jones and the FCC’s chief diversity czar and Hugo Chavez sympathizer Mark Lloyd, to the president’s spiritual advisor and self-admitted Marxist Rev. Jim Wallis, Beck has sought to shine the light on the assortment of radical elements that form the basis of this administration and its defenders.

For that he has been routinely excoriated by the American Left, various elements of which have actively worked toward or endorsed the abridgment of Beck’s free speech. Even to the end, as yesterday’s piece in the Baltimore Sun indicated, there will be no letup. Writer David Zurawik stated that Glenn Beck ”will leave a TV legacy of reckless, divisive and ugly speech in his wake,” and that “he and Fox News should both feel some shame for the harm they have done to the national political discourse — how they have taken an hour of dinnertime each weeknight and used it to help polarize us with paranoid and angry words.”

Despite such obtusely hyperbolic detractors — who consistently and bizarrely level more vitriol and hysteria toward Beck than the very “hate” they purport to despise him for — Beck remains popular. Even with a forty percent drop-off from his ratings high-water mark, Beck’s remained the most popular show on cable news in his time slot, with almost two and a half times the number of viewers as his closest rivals, CNN’s Wolf Blitzer and MSNBC’s Chris Matthews. And contrary to published reports that he was fired, Beck is leaving Fox because his contract is up, and his business and creative teams at Mercury Radio Arts prefer to get out from under the grind of producing his 5 p.m. show amid the corporate bureaucracy “where most ideas must be generated, spelled out in pitches, run by producers, budgeted, then run by more producers, approved by senior executives, etc.”

His next venture, GBTV, will be a web-based TV network, with two hour shows broadcast on weekdays from 5-7 PM EST, beginning on Sept. 12th. The show will also be available on demand. Subscriptions will cost $4.95 per month for access just to the show, or $9.95 for premium member access to all of the site’s programming. Advertising will provide additional revenue. “Lots of people are talking about the digital content revolution, but few are willing to risk it all and place a huge bet on the future,” said Christopher Balfe, President & COO of Mercury Radio Arts in a statement. “With GBTV, Mercury is doing just that. Fortunately, our incredible team at Mercury, as well as our industry-leading business partners, makes me confident that we will once again build something extraordinary.”

On his last show, Beck explained the reasons for his success. “I contend that is the reason we are successful here…because it’s true,” he said last night. “It seems as though there’s no truth anywhere anymore. We’ve made a lot of enemies on this program. We’ve taken on every single person we’ve been told not to take on…because the truth has no agenda. It will lead us where it leads us. This show has not only survived; we have thrived.” He then explained where he was going. “I have given up on admiring the problem. I am focused solely on the solution…I’m running to something. I know exactly where I’m supposed to be.”

Will Beck remain a controversial figure? Undoubtedly. Yet despite his well-publicized foibles, Beck was more than willing to take on the sacred cows of political correctness and their defenders, often by the most devastating method possible:

Their own words.

Arnold Ahlert is a contributing columnist to the conservative website

Corporate Jets and Tax Breaks

Obama takes demagogic dishonesty to a new level.

By Jonah Goldberg
July 1, 2011 12:00 A.M.

President Obama’s core message in his Wednesday press conference, his first since March, could be found in his advice to Republicans. “You go talk to your constituents and ask them, ‘Are you willing to compromise your kids’ safety so some corporate-jet owner can get a tax break?’”

This was just one of six shots the president took at corporate-jet owners. A novice might be forgiven for thinking that the president really doesn’t like corporate jets or that the Republicans cared so much about the darn things that they had proposed crossing out “arms” in the Second Amendment and replacing it with “corporate jets.” Where’s Charlton Heston to proclaim, “From my cold dead hands you can have my Learjet 85 . . . ”?

A novice might also think that tax status of corporate jets is of disproportionate significance in how to move this country toward a balanced budget.

But the novice would be wrong. For starters, Obama’s most recent budget calls for adding $9.5 trillion in new debt over the next decade. If you got rid of the “accelerated depreciation” of corporate jets, Reuters economics columnist James Pethokoukis calculates, it would save a whopping .03 percent of that total.

Sadly, the room was full of journalists who do not consider themselves novices but who nonetheless let Obama get away with this demagogic dishonesty. No one asked the president why he suddenly cares so much about getting rid of a tax break he himself was for before he was against it. Indeed, no one asked why, if it is such an affront to the liberal conscience, it was part of Obama’s stimulus bill, which was passed without any Republican votes in the House and only three in the Senate (which means Nancy Pelosi voted for special tax breaks for corporate jets and the GOP didn’t).

More broadly, no one threw a flag on his claim that “every single observer who’s not an elected official, who’s not a politician,” agrees with him on the burning need to raise taxes as part of any budget deal. This is a good example of Obama’s most grating tic, his need to claim that all reasonable and serious people agree with him and anyone who disagrees must be doing so for base or ideological motives.

No one queried why he talks about the need to raise taxes on “millionaires and billionaires” but the fine print of his proposals defines millionaires and billionaires as people who make $200,000 a year as individuals or $250,000 as joint-filing couples. Jay Duckson at Central Business Jets tells the Wall Street Journal that the starting price for a private jet is $10 million dollars. Annual upkeep and fuel is about $500,000. You do the math.

This points to what is most offensive about Obama’s focus-grouped class-warfare rhetoric: the total incoherence of the underlying policies.

The day before his press conference, Obama was in Bettendorf, Iowa, at the Alcoa Davenport Works plant to highlight his economic vision for manufacturing. “Alcoa is showing us the future we can build here in eastern Iowa and across the country,” he proclaimed.

“The idea is to create jobs now, and to make sure America stays on the cutting edge of manufacturing for years to come,” Obama declared.

The factory Obama visited, however, isn’t a generic aluminum plant. It is, according to Alcoa, the “premier aerospace supply plant and is today the hub of Alcoa’s $3 billion aerospace business.”

That includes the general aviation industry, which is centered in Wichita, Kan., where they make private jets “right here in America” as Obama likes to say. The upshot: Obama says that Alcoa must lose business among American customers to repeal a tax break Obama and the Democrats supported because Republicans want to balance the budget.

To be fair, Alcoa’s biggest customers aren’t manufacturers of private jets but the big manufacturers of commercial jets — you know, like Boeing. Well, that company is being told by Obama’s union-hack-packed National Labor Relations Board that it cannot open a new manufacturing plant in South Carolina, because to do so would offend Obama’s beloved unions in Washington State.

The point isn’t that there’s no merit to any of Obama’s positions (personally, I’m all for clearing the junk out of the tax code). The point is that at this point merit simply has nothing to do with the positions Obama takes.

— Jonah Goldberg is editor-at-large of National Review Online and a visiting fellow at the American Enterprise Institute. You can write to him by e-mail at, or via Twitter @JonahNRO. © 2011 Tribune Media Services, Inc.

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Self-Deception and the Jihad

When it comes to the jihadi threat, we’re now way beyond willful blindness.

By Clifford D. May
June 30, 2011

"All warfare is based upon deception,” instructed Sun Tzu, the great Chinese military strategist of the 6th century B.C. But when it comes to the Global Jihad of the 21st century, the extent to which we in the West insist upon deceiving ourselves would shock even Sunny. Five brief examples follow.

1) Yonathan Melaku (pictured at right) was charged in federal court with shooting at the National Museum of the Marine Corps. The officials who arrested him later searched his home and found a videotape in which he is shouting “Allahu Akbar!” They also found a notebook in which he’d written about Osama bin Laden, al-Qaeda, the Taliban, and The Path to Jihad, a book of lectures by Anwar al-Awlaki, the American-born Islamic cleric who was widely considered a moderate before he fled to Yemen where he is now a top al-Qaeda commander.

So it’s pretty obvious what Melaku was up to, right? Not if you’re a federal employee, it’s not. “I can’t suggest to you his motivations or intent,” James W. McJunkin, assistant director in charge of the FBI’s Washington field office, told reporters at a news conference. “It’s not readily apparent yet.”

Many in the mainstream media also expressed befuddlement. A Washington Post story carried the headline: “Pentagon Shooting Subject Not Known to Law Enforcement.” (Really? That’s the news here?) The article told readers that “a motive for the shootings — and why Melaku had possible bomb-making materials — remains elusive.” So does that mean we can’t rule out a crime of passion — or a paint-ball competition that got out of hand?

To be fair, if you read to the very end of the story you will learn that it has occurred to some law enforcement officials that Melaku’s “writings and the contents of his laptop” might “indicate a desire to be involved in jihad.” Ya think? And not jihad in the sense of a struggle for individual self-fulfillment?

2) A couple of weeks ago, I wrote a column arguing that there was no evidence to support the mainstream-media narrative that Muslims in America face increasing discrimination and persecution — as do, for example, religious and ethnic minorities in most Muslim-majority countries, a topic the mainstream media assiduously avoids. I received many angry letters in response. My favorite included three newspaper stories meant to prove I was wrong.

The first cited a poll showing that a majority of Americans “believe that Muslims face more discrimination than any other religious group in the U.S.” Well, yes, that has to be expected given the decade-long media campaign to establish this meme. The next was a piece by liberal commentator Alan Colmes headlined, “Growing Bias Against Muslims in America” and citing rising “claims of bias against Muslims in the workplace.” It, too, offered no proof — or even evidence — that such claims are justified by facts.

Finally, there was a story about Muslims in North Carolina who, following the terrorist attacks carried out by Lashkar-e-Taiba in Mumbai, India, received an e-mail saying that “such violent acts wouldn’t intimidate people, but only make them stronger.”

“I was furious,” Motaz Elshafi — an American-born Muslim who received such a note — told USA Today. He had a right to be. The e-mail he received — though by no means threatening — was misdirected. Nevertheless, one might have hoped Elshafi would mention that he was at least equally furious with those who slaughter innocent men, women, and children based on their reading of his religion.

3) The term “conscientious objector” used to refer to those who sought exemption from military duty because their religious beliefs prohibited their use of violence. But, as Patrick Poole has reported, in May the secretary of the army granted conscientious-objector status to a soldier — a volunteer — who refused to deploy to Afghanistan. PFC Nasser Abdo claimed that sharia, Islamic law, prohibits him not from killing anyone, but only from killing fellow Muslims — including, apparently, “violent extremists” who join the Taliban and al-Qaeda.

“I don’t believe I can involve myself in an army that wages war against Muslims,” Abdo told al-Jazeera. “I don’t believe I could sleep at night if I take part, in any way, in the killing of Muslims.”

Imagine if, in 1942, a PFC Helmut Shultz had said: “I don’t believe I could sleep at night if I take part, in any way, in the killing of Germans.” You think he would have been called a conscientious objector and sent merrily on his way?

4) A few days ago, the regime that rules Iran, designated by the U.S. State Department as the world’s most active state sponsor of terrorism, held what it called the First International Conference on the Global Fight against Terrorism. The U.S. and Israel were singled out as “satanic world powers” with a “black record of terrorist behaviors.” This should have been the subject of scorn and ridicule from the “international community.” But senior officials from at least 60 countries attended and U.N. secretary general Ban Ki-moon delivered a message via special envoy expressing his appreciation to Tehran. Apparently he was not bothered by the fact that Sudanese president Omar al-Bashir, indicted for genocide by the International Criminal Court, was among those attending. Don’t worry: American taxpayer support for the U.N. is not in jeopardy.

5) Yale University has decided to shut down the Yale Initiative for the Interdisciplinary Study of Antisemitism (YIISA) following protests — for example, from the Palestine Liberation Organization’s representative to the United States — that studying the rise of Jew-hatred in the Muslim world is by definition “racist” and “right-wing.” Meanwhile, the Islamophobia Research and Documentation Project (IRDP) at the University of California at Berkeley continues to receive funding and support.

A few years ago, Andy McCarthy wrote Willful Blindness, a book about political leaders, academics, journalists, and others refusing to see the jihadi threat staring America in the face. But we’ve now gone well beyond that. The examples above — and I could cite many more — have to be seen as determined self-deception, if not symptoms of madness. I’m pretty sure Sun Tzu would agree.

— Clifford D. May is president of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, a policy institute focusing on terrorism and political Islam.


By Ann Coulter
June 29, 2011

Of all the details surrounding the liberal mob attack on Glenn Beck and his family in New York's Bryant Park last Monday night, one element stands out. "No, it won't be like that, Dad," his daughter said when Beck questioned the wisdom of attending a free, outdoor movie showing in a New York park.

People who have never been set upon by a mob of liberals have absolutely no idea what it's like to be a publicly recognizable conservative. Even your friends will constantly be telling you: "Oh, it will be fine. Don't worry. Nothing will happen. This place isn't like that."

Liberals are not like most Americans. They are the biggest pussies on Earth, city-bred weaklings who didn't play a sport and have never been in a fight in their entire lives. Their mothers made excuses for them when they threw tantrums and spent way too much time praising them during toilet training.

I could draw a mug shot of every one of Beck's tormentors, and I wasn't there.

Beck and his family would have been fine at an outdoor rap concert. They would have been fine at a sporting event. They would have been fine at any paid event, mostly because people who work for the government and live in rent-controlled apartments would be too cheap to attend.

Only a sad leftist with a crappy job could be so brimming with self-righteousness to harangue a complete stranger in public.

A liberal's idea of being a bad-ass is to say vicious things to a conservative public figure who can't afford to strike back. Getting in a stranger's face and hurling insults at him, knowing full well he has too much at risk to deck you, is like baiting a bear chained to a wall.

They are not only exploiting our lawsuit-mad culture, they are exploiting other people's manners. I know I'll be safe because this person has better manners than I do.

These brave-hearts know exactly what they can get away with. They assault a conservative only when it's a sucker-punch, they outnumber him, or he can't fight back for reasons of law or decorum.

Liberals don't get that when you're outnumbering the enemy 100-1, you're not brave.

But they're not even embarrassed. To the contrary, being part of the majority makes liberals feel great! Honey, wasn't I amazing? I stood in a crowd of liberals and called that conservative a c**t. Wasn't I awesome?

This is a liberal's idea of raw physical courage.

When someone does fight back, liberals transform from aggressor to victim in an instant, collapsing on the ground and screaming bloody murder. I've seen it happen in a nearly empty auditorium when there was quite obviously no other human within 5 feet of the gutless invertebrate.

People incapable of conforming to the demands of civilized society are frightening precisely because you never know what else such individuals are capable of. Sometimes -- a lot more often than you've heard about -- liberals do engage in physical violence against conservatives ... and then bravely run away.

That's why not one person stepped up to aid Beck and his family as they were being catcalled and having wine dumped on them at a nice outdoor gathering.

No one ever steps in. Never, not once, not ever. (Except at the University of Arizona, where college Republicans chased my assailant and broke his collarbone, God bless them.)

Most people are shocked into paralysis at the sight of sociopathic liberal behavior. The only ones who aren't are the conservative's bodyguards -- and they can't do anything without risking a lawsuit or an arrest.

My hero Tim Profitt is now facing charges for stopping a physical assault on Senate candidate Rand Paul by a crazed woman disguised in a wig.

But the disturbed liberal whose assault Profitt stopped faces no charges -- she instigated the entire confrontation and then instantly claimed victim status. In a better America, the cop would say, "Well, you provoked him."

Kentucky prosecutors must be very proud of how they so dutifully hew to the letter of the law (except in the case of Paul's assailant).

Maybe they wouldn't be such good little rules-followers if they ever, just once, had to face the liberal mob themselves. But if Beck's own daughter can't imagine the liberal mob, I suppose prosecutors can't be expected to, either.

Michael Moore and James Carville can stroll anywhere in America without risking the sort of behavior the Beck family experienced. But all recognizable conservatives are eternally trapped in David Dinkins' New York: Simply by virtue of leaving their homes, they assume a 20 percent chance of being assaulted.

Bullying is on the rise everywhere in America -- and not just because Obama decided to address it. It's because no one hits back. The message in our entire culture over the last two decades has been: DON'T FIGHT!

There were a lot fewer public confrontations when bullies got their faces smashed.

Maybe it's time for Beck to pony up some of those millions of dollars he's earned and hire people to rough up the liberal mob, or, at a minimum, to provide a legal defense to those like Profitt who do.

These liberal pukes have never taken a punch in their lives. A sock to the yap would be an eye-opening experience, and I believe it would do wonders.

They need to have their behavior corrected. It's a shame this job wasn't done by their parents. It won't be done by the police.

As long as liberals can't be normal and prosecutors can't be reasonable, how about a one-punch rule against anyone bothering a stranger in public? Then we'll see how brave these lactose-intolerant mama's boys are.

Believe me, liberal mobbings will stop very quickly after the first toilet-training champion takes his inaugural punch.



Daily Gut: On Tolerance -

Teacher of the Year

By Sean Higgins
The American Spectator
June 29, 2011

Last year, education reformers had high hopes for a documentary film called Waiting for "Superman". With impeccable liberal credentials -- it was made by the same people behind Al Gore's An Inconvenient Truth -- the film mercilessly highlighted failures of the American public school system.

It also systematically demolished the argument that the problem was underfunding and instead pointed the finger at government bureaucracy and the control teachers' unions have over the system.

Hopes that the film would do Fahrenheit 9/11 numbers, though, were in vain. It pulled in about $6 million at the box office. That's good for a documentary, but far less than the average horror flick or rom-com.

Then, shortly after the film's release, the filmmakers got a lesson in how little impact their documentary had. Its nominal star, D.C.'s public schools Chancellor Michelle Rhee, was obliged to step down. Her patron, Mayor Adrian Fenty, lost his bid for re-election mainly because teachers unions spent massively to elect his Democratic primary opponent, Vincent Gray.

The teachers unions did it solely to get the crusading reformer Rhee fired and make an example of her to anyone else who dared cross them. (Meanwhile, it took only two months for Gray's administration to become embroiled in a variety of corruption scandals.)

But where thoughtful, sober-minded commentary failed, savage mockery might succeed. Another film has hit the theaters and this one may have a far more potent effect on the education debate.

Bad Teacher took in $32 million last weekend and is certain to become a one of the summer's biggest hits. That's very bad news for defenders of the educational status quo like American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten. This black comedy is the most scabrous portrayal of public education ever put to celluloid.

Cameron Diaz stars as Elisabeth Halsey, a public middle school teacher who literally does not care for students at all. When we first see her, she's just marking time until she can land a rich husband and not have to work at all. When her fiancé calls off their engagement she's forced back into teaching and her dislike of molding young minds curdles into outright loathing.

She doesn't bother to teach the kids at all, regularly shows up to class hungover, solicits bribes from parents in exchange for good grades, embezzles money from school fundraisers and tells the one go-getter in her class to give up her dreams of becoming president in exchange for something more realistic, "like a masseuse."

"When I first started teaching, I thought that I was doing it for all the right reasons: Shorter hours, summers off, no accountability ..." she explains.

The last part is key: No matter how big a train wreck Halsey is, she is never in any danger of losing her job or even being disciplined. When a rival teacher confronts the principal with the (accurate) charge that Halsey is using drugs on school property, he balks at probing the matter, fearful of what the unions will do to him.

There is nothing that can be done about her, so the authorities pretend not to notice. This, the film suggests, is routine.

Later in the film (Spoiler alert!), Halsey does buckle down and start teaching her students -- but only because she discovers that a big financial reward goes to the teacher whose students do best on a statewide test and she wants the money to get a boob job. (Merit pay, anyone?) Her methods include pelting her students with basketballs until they give the correct answers.

Even this turns out to be short-lived when she realizes the students aren't doing well enough, so she instead engages in an elaborate scam to cheat the test. When her rival tries to expose her fraud, Halsey has her -- a teacher who actually does inspire students -- framed for drug possession and bounced out of the school. And that's the happy ending.

It is a tribute to the talents of the Diaz and the filmmakers that they actually manage to get you rooting for this horrible person. But the fact that the public is ready to accept such a portrayal no doubt played a part as well.

Just a few years ago portraying a teacher in a major studio film as anything other than an uplifting hero would have been unthinkable. (One of Bad Teacher's running gags is that Halsey's classes consist mainly of her showing such films like Lean On Me or Dangerous Minds.) But the stench of failure emanating from the nation's public school system has become impossible for even Hollywood liberals to ignore. Something has to explain why the schools are so rotten.

Bad Teacher suggests the problem may be the teachers themselves and the union-controlled system that protects them at the expense of the students. Tens of millions of people are likely to get that message this summer.

If I were American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten, I'd stay out of the multiplex for the next few months.