The Coach, the Biographer and the Last Chapter

The New York Times
April 30, 2012

Joe Paterno last November, shortly after Jerry Sandusky's arrest. More Photos »
(Richard Perry/The New York Times)

“This won’t be another book about X’s and O’s, will it?” Joe Paterno’s daughter Mary Kay asked.
Joe Posnanski, then a senior writer for Sports Illustrated who had done a flattering profile of Paterno for the magazine in 2009, was trying to persuade the famous Penn State football coach and his family to agree to cooperate in a full-blown biography. In his pitch to the family, Posnanski quickly identified one of their initial misgivings.

“This seemed to be the early worry of the people closest to Joe, that this would be another in the series of surface Joe Paterno books,” Posnanski wrote in a book proposal delivered to publishers, “that it would not delve deeply enough into what Joe means, the impact he has made on countless people and a college town in Pennsylvania and the game of football.”

In the proposal, Posnanski then emphatically, even ardently, tried to reassure the Paternos.

“This book, I told them, will have a few O’s, and almost no X’s,” wrote Posnanski, a product of Cleveland, a onetime columnist at The Kansas City Star and a writer with a self-confessed soft spot for sports greats of the past. “This book will tell the remarkable story about a man who could have been anything but decided that the best way he could help change America was one college football player at a time.”

Indeed, Posnanski promised, his proposed biography would be nothing less than “the most amazing football story ever told.”

Posnanski’s pitch worked. Paterno agreed, and Simon & Schuster paid Posnanski a reported $750,000 advance to produce the biography.

Of course, Paterno’s story ended with a couple of spectacularly unexpected chapters: last fall, a former top assistant was charged as a serial pedophile, and Paterno was fired for having failed to do more after being told in 2002 that the former assistant had molested a young boy in the showers of the Penn State football building. The former assistant, Jerry Sandusky, went on to molest more boys, prosecutors have charged.

Paterno, saying little about the matter publicly, was dead months later. He owned the record for most victories by a major college football coach, but to many, it seemed as if, very late in the game of life, he might have snatched defeat from the jaws of victory.

Certainly, the jarring revelations, and Paterno’s exit as a consequence of what Penn State’s board of trustees deemed a failure of moral leadership, created warring camps among those left to debate Paterno’s legacy.

There was a chorus of furious critics who pilloried Paterno, saying he turned out to be just another big-time coach willing to place the interests of the football program over basic human decency. This camp had more to seize on when The Wall Street Journal reported in November that Paterno, again in contrast to his polished public image, had regularly over the years tried to intimidate university officials when his football players wound up in trouble or were arrested.

On the other side, there was an aggrieved, angry population of Paterno loyalists who charged that he had been made a scapegoat, that a lifetime of accomplishment and distinction had been cast aside by a lynch mob of self-serving university officials and a knee-jerk press corps.

Then, too, there was Posnanski, the Paterno believer and biographer faced with one of the more remarkable late-project twists to reckon with. Would he halt his project, or recalibrate its timetable to allow him to trace the fuller meaning, if there was fuller meaning, to the revelations and accusations concerning Paterno? Could there be more secrets? Or would the imperative be to publish sooner rather than later, to maximize the storm of notoriety? There are, after all, 550,000 living Penn State alumni, many of them, judging by their protests and letters to the editor, hungry to have the Paterno they thought they knew delivered back to them.

Posnanski, a near compulsive blogger and poster on Twitter, offered a kind of glimpse of his predicament soon after the initial revelations last fall. In a blog post for Sports Illustrated titled “Darkness,” he acknowledged that he was still trying to process the news.

“I came to State College to write about a real man,” he wrote. “I won’t tell you anything surprising: This terrible, evil story has made it harder. But I do buy into Tom Hanks’s line about baseball. It’s supposed to be hard.”

Posnanski, 45, has since moved on from Sports Illustrated and fallen largely silent on his biography. He would not be interviewed for this article.

One salient and sensitive question appears to have been settled by his publisher. Jonathan Karp, the publisher of Simon & Schuster, decided to move up the book’s publication date to late summer, in time for the start of football season, from Father’s Day 2013. “One of the reasons we accelerated is that there is so much more public interest,” Karp said. “Joe believes he can tell this story now — the pages I’ve read so far are superb.”

A book proposal, Karp stressed, “is a starting point,” noting that Posnanski has total editorial independence.

“I am confident this book will be the defining word,” Karp said. “He was far along in his work when all this happened.”

A Love of Sports and Metaphors

Posnanski’s challenge has been faced by scores of biographers before him, and several said in interviews that they could sympathize with his situation; it is part and parcel, they said, of doing meaningful research that you find out unpleasant and unknown episodes about your subject. Vince Lombardi had great difficulties with his family, for example.

Still, it is pretty unusual for a biographer to be forced to consider such a potentially significant and arresting discovery in the middle of the task at hand.

David Maraniss of The Washington Post, who has written acclaimed biographies of Bill Clinton and Lombardi, said that Posnanski had reached out to him as he started the Paterno biography. When the Penn State news broke, Maraniss said, “All I was doing was thinking: how is he going to deal with this?”

The question, Maraniss said, is how to integrate the final days into the story of a life. “Am I writing a biography or am I writing a book about a tragic ending?” he asked. “It is an incredible ending and frame for the book, but it is not the whole book. The worst thing you can do with a book of history or biography is put it in a temporal frame that will be overtaken, that captures a zeitgeist that will not last.”

Posnanski, whose first and deepest sports love has been baseball, is a model for a certain kind of modern sportswriter. He is as comfortable writing a stylized profile as he is dashing off a Twitter post to his more than 50,000 followers about the scene in a Las Vegas casino; he is also apt to cite arcane statistics to make a case for an underappreciated infielder.

But the history and majesty of sport assume a prime place in his writing — his first book was a sentimental attempt to follow a baseball season through the eyes of a different Kansas City star, the Negro leagues player Buck O’Neil.

In other words, Posnanski revels in sports for their own sake, but also eagerly plumbs them for metaphors for life. And certainly it was his fluency with the tools of metaphor-rich, sepia-toned sportswriting that helped him conceive and then land the Paterno biography.

First, there was his profile of Paterno, shortly after he arrived at Sports Illustrated in 2009, complete with the writerly conceit that the article was addressed to Paterno’s father, Angelo. In Posnanski’s hands, the elderly coach with the huge number of victories was depicted as a son trying to live up to the standards of his father. Paterno’s success, even in Angelo’s demanding terms, was evident in the profile, and was announced by the headline that appeared above it: “Joe Paterno Top of the World, Pa!”

Soon enough, there was the book proposal, a copy of which The New York Times obtained. It spoke of “the grand experiment” that Paterno carried out at Penn State by stressing academics and athletic success. But the pitch also spoke about sons and fathers. The biography would be about much more than sports for their own sake.

Elaborating on his conversations with Paterno, Posnanski wrote in the proposal: “He was told again and again that the story is not about a season or a game or a stolen moment behind the scenes. It is about a remarkable life and the many people who have been touched by it.”

When Paterno agreed, Posnanski shared the news with his readers. In a March 22, 2011, post titled simply “Announcement,” he wrote: “I cannot begin to describe how excited I am about this project. I am, as you could probably tell from my previous stories on the man, a huge fan and admirer of Joe’s. But even more than that I am endlessly fascinated by him and his lifelong quest to do something large, to impact America, through football. So writing about Joe, his triumphs, his struggles, his journey, well, it really is everything I’ve ever wanted to do as a writer.”

With the new demands of a book, would he be able to keep up the blogging and tweeting?
“I don’t think I’m the kind who can just disappear into a cave and emerge with a book” is how he answered his own question. And his blog was peppered with updates from the field — stories Paterno told, say, about recruiting against the N.F.L. legend Al Davis when Davis was the coach at the Citadel. Posnanski, only recently relocated to Charlotte, N.C., from the Kansas City area, described his daughters’ visit to State College, Pa., a k a Happy Valley, where he would be ensconced with Paterno and the family during the 2011 football season.

Then, on Nov. 5, a comment popped up on Posnanski’s blog — 30 deep, among heated arguments about the intentional walk. The commenter, Grulg, asked: “So Joe, while you are covering all things Penn State/Joe Paterno, have you any light to shed on the child molestation story about Mr. Curley there? pretty nasty stuff. Just curious.”

That day, Tim Curley, the Penn State athletic director, and Gary Schultz, the university’s senior vice president for finance and business, were charged with perjury and failure to report to the authorities what they knew of the allegations against Sandusky, the former defensive coordinator for Paterno. Sandusky had been arrested that weekend.

Conflicted but Committed

As has become well known, Sandusky is accused of exploiting his charity in State College to befriend boys whom the authorities say he sexually assaulted. The most staggering allegation came from the Penn State quarterbacks coach, Mike McQueary, who told a grand jury that when he was a graduate assistant, he saw Sandusky rape a boy in the football building’s showers in 2002. Sandusky has denied the charges, and a trial is scheduled for June.

It was McQueary’s account that brought Paterno directly into the story. McQueary has testified that he told Paterno, complete with graphic detail, of the attack. He said he told Paterno in the coach’s home, at his breakfast table, the morning after the suspected rape.

Paterno, by his own testimony, never told the police. He never sought to inquire after the welfare of the boy. He never confronted Sandusky, a man he had known for more than three decades and who, while retired, had free run of the Penn State football facilities.

Instead, Paterno notified Curley, the athletic director, even waiting 24 hours to do that. Several days after Sandusky’s arrest, Paterno was fired. Paterno issued a statement at the time, saying he regretted not having done more and encouraging people to pray for Sandusky’s suspected victims.

In his nearly stream-of-conscious writings, Posnanski began to reveal the stress the developments had caused. “This story, for me at least, needs time,” he wrote in November. “This thing is so vile, so grotesque, that it is human nature to want everyone to pay. Innocent children were hurt, scarred, and as a parent, this is something so horrible that I cannot even think of a penalty harsh enough. There is no way to see this thing clearly now, not for me, anyway.”

His comments were immediately scrutinized for tone, and for what they didn’t say.
He wrote how he felt pressured to speak out against Paterno. “I know there are people who believe that I have a responsibility to write more, to have an opinion, to come out strong, I know this because many, many people have written to tell me that in no uncertain terms,” he wrote on his Sports Illustrated blog. “I respect their opinion. But I disagree with it. The way I see it: I have a responsibility to write the best, most insightful and most honest book I can possibly write about Joe Paterno. That’s what I signed up for. I’m not backing down from that because of this awful, evil situation. I’m also not walking away from a life and a man.”

A Biographer’s Obligation

Maraniss, and others, can appreciate the tension of the moment, and the obligation.
“In this case, the characteristics that turned people away from Paterno, from his seemingly glowing career, might have been characteristics that were there all along — not in a venal way,” Maraniss said. “That’s Joe’s challenge.”

In the case of Bill Clinton, Maraniss had already published his biography, “First in His Class,” before the Monica Lewinsky scandal nearly derailed Clinton’s second term. But he said that when the news broke, it conformed to his narrative of Clinton. “For me, it was an opportunity to explain what Clinton does — his endless cycle of loss and recovery,” Maraniss said. “The characteristics can be explained beyond sex.”

As for the opportunity to judge his subject, Maraniss, whose latest biography subject is President Obama, said: “I was asked all the time, did I like Clinton or not like him? And I would say, he is my character.”

Mark Kriegel, a sports columnist who has written biographies of Joe Namath and Pete Maravich, was more expansive. “I believe to do a biography, you need to love your subject, but you have to balance that passion,” he said. “On some level, you have to love your subject, you have to have the devotion to your subject’s flaws and virtues. You have to care enough to become obsessed with your subject’s flaws.”

Creating distance is important, too. “In some ways, that was easier for me with Namath, who didn’t cooperate,” Kriegel said.

While the episode was hardly as serious as the events surrounding the Penn State program, Kriegel recalled how he learned about Namath’s drunken encounter with an ESPN sideline reporter, Suzy Kolber.

“I had just handed in the manuscript, went out to dinner with my then-wife and saw my message light on my answering machine — we had answering machines then — blinking furiously,” he recalled. “ ‘Did you see what happened?’

“My first instinct was, I have to rewrite everything,” he said. “I wound up adding three-quarters, half a page. It had to go this way.”

Kriegel added that the episode “made it much more difficult, I suspect, for Namath to complain about all these scenes of alcohol and alcohol abuse.”

History or Myth?

Posnanski’s initial thoughts on Paterno and the scandal provoked an array of complaints. When Posnanski’s comments to a Penn State communications class about Paterno (yes, since 2008, there has been a class on Paterno at Penn State) defending the former coach leaked out via Twitter, he was held up to even more criticism.

It was that week that Posnanski appeared at his lowest moment, and he wrote that he was going “underground.”

“I have done something in the last week that I haven’t done in years,” he wrote Nov. 17. “I’ve unplugged. I have dropped off Twitter. I’m not on Facebook. I’m not scanning the Internet. And, as you may have noticed, I’m not posting on the blog.”

He lasted four days, but the point had been made. Posnanski again wrote about Paterno in January, shortly after Paterno died at 85. In that column, he presented Paterno’s final summing up: “It doesn’t matter what people think of me,” he told Posnanski. “I’ve lived my life. I just hope the truth comes out. And I hope the victims find peace.”

Also in that column, Posnanski contrasted Paterno’s “full life” with “a single, hazy event involving an alleged child molester.” That description of a “hazy” event again drew criticism. Since then, Posnanski has truly turned silent about Paterno.

In an interview last week with Dave Kindred of the National Sports Journalism Center, Posnanski said he hoped to finish the book by the end of April. He said the biography had become a “very, very different book,” in light of the startling final chapters of Paterno’s life.

“But in many ways, it’s still the same,” Posnanski said. “It’s still about his life — a life that changed dramatically at the end.”

David Garrow, a longtime history professor whose biography of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., “Bearing the Cross,” touched on King’s personal failings, said it was important to challenge your subject, even one as celebrated as King. “We are not in the business of being uplifting — that could be myth, but it ain’t history,” he said. “The lives of saints is not history, it’s myth. I think it is a far more powerfully inspiring story for readers to appreciate the inescapability of human imperfection than to spin myths.”

He recalled the final pages of “Bearing the Cross”: “One of the real fears I’ve always had is that people will think that King is different in kind than they are. If there is a moral purpose to history, it is conveying to people that humanity does not include perfection.”

Garrow said that from his casual following of the Penn State situation, he was much more intrigued by The Wall Street Journal article on Paterno’s intervention in academic discipline than by his reaction to the Sandusky case. The Journal article is “the foundational piece on my perspective (as an academic) on Paterno,” Garrow wrote in an e-mail.

But it is no surprise that Garrow would create his foundation in the administrative hallways, rather than, say, the football field.

Sports biographies are necessarily different from the work Garrow has produced. Although athletes and coaches often have rounded lives — whether as a humanitarian like Roberto Clemente, a trailblazer like Jackie Robinson, a strategic innovator like Lombardi — their celebrity is invariably linked to the performance on the field.

“All of us do that — confuse victory and virtue; after a winning streak we think, ‘He must be great, we must have been wrong about him,’ ” Kriegel said. “The Paterno character was less well regarded,” he said, when Penn State had a string of bad seasons, but “when they became contenders, that success becomes proof of his lasting moral standing.”

He added, “But that is something endemic to sportswriting.”

The Sports Illustrated profile that Posnanski wrote about Paterno — which laid the groundwork for the biography — appeared in 2009, when the Nittany Lions were coming off one 11-2 season and midway through another.

Posnanski is unabashed in looking to sports for qualities that can be in short supply in the rest of the world. In his final column for Sports Illustrated this month — he is leaving to write for a joint venture between Major League Baseball and USA Today — he wrote about the miraculous shot by Bubba Watson at the end of the Masters.
“He hit that crazy shot,” Posnanski wrote. “It did everything he had hoped — off the pine straw, around the corner, on the green, toward the hole, all as light faded at Augusta and the gallery at No. 10 went out of their minds. There was one guy there just jumping up and down over and over and over again. He looked like he would never stop. Bubba two-putted and put on the green jacket. As I said, this is personal. This is why every day I remind myself how lucky I am, how lucky I have been, how wonderful it has been to write for Sports Illustrated. This is what sports can do.”

Going all the way with LBJ

The Washington Post
April 30, 2012

Around noon on Saturday, Nov. 23, 1963, almost exactly 24 hours after the assassination in Dallas, while the president’s casket lay in the East Room of the White House, Arthur Schlesinger, John Kennedy’s kept historian, convened a lunch at Washington’s Occidental restaurant with some other administration liberals. Their purpose was to discuss how to deny the 1964 Democratic presidential nomination to the new incumbent, Lyndon Johnson, and instead run a ticket of Attorney General Robert Kennedy and Sen. Hubert Humphrey.

This example of the malignant malice of some liberals against the president who became 20th-century liberalism’s most consequential adherent is described in Robert Caro’s “The Passage of Power,” the fourth and, he insists, penultimate volume in his “The Years of Lyndon Johnson,” which when completed will rank as America’s most ambitiously conceived, assiduously researched and compulsively readable political biography. The new volume arrives 30 years after the first, and its timing is serendipitous: Are you seeking an antidote to current lamentations about the decline of political civility? Immerse yourself in Caro’s cringe-inducing catalogue of humiliations, gross and petty, inflicted on Johnson by many New Frontiersmen and, with obsessive hatred, by Robert Kennedy.

Caro demonstrates that when, at the Democrats’ 1960 Los Angeles convention, John Kennedy selected Johnson, an opponent for the nomination, as his running mate, Robert Kennedy worked with furious dishonesty against his brother, trying to persuade Johnson to decline. Had Robert succeeded, his brother almost certainly would have lost Texas, and perhaps both Carolinas and Louisiana — President Eisenhower had carried five of the 11 Confederate states in 1956 — and the election.

Johnson, one of the few presidents who spent most of their adult lives in Washington, had no idea how to win the presidency. Convinced that the country was as mesmerized as Washington is by the Senate, Johnson did not formally announce his candidacy until six days before the 1960 convention.

Johnson did, however, know how to use the presidency. Almost half the book covers the 47 days between the assassination and Johnson’s Jan. 8 State of the Union address. In that span he began breaking the congressional logjam against liberal legislation that had existed since 1938 when the nation, recoiling against Franklin Roosevelt’s plan to “pack” the Supreme Court, produced a durable congressional coalition of Republicans and Southern Democrats.

Caro is properly enthralled by Johnson putting the power of the presidency behind a discharge petition that, by advancing, compelled a Southern committee chairman to allow what became the 1964 Civil Rights Act to get to the Senate, where Johnson’s meticulous cultivation of another Southern chairman prevented tax cut legislation from becoming hostage to the civil rights filibuster. By taking such arcana seriously, and celebrating Johnson’s virtuosity regarding them, Caro honors the seriousness of his readers, who should reciprocate the compliment.

Caro astringently examines Johnson’s repulsive venality (regarding his Texas broadcasting properties) and bullying (notably of Texas journalists, through their employers) but devotes ample pages to honoring Johnson as the most exemplary political leader since Lincoln regarding race. As vice president, he refused to attend the 400th anniversary of the founding of St. Augustine, Fla., unless the banquet would be integrated — and not, he insisted, with a “Negro table” off to the side. He said civil rights legislation would “say to the Mexican in California or the Negro in Mississippi or the Oriental on the West Coast or the Johnsons in Johnson City that we are going to treat you all equally and fairly.” Caro never loses sight of the humiliations and insecurities that were never far from Johnson’s mind.

Caro is a conventional liberal of the Great Society sort (“Unless Congress extended federal rent-control laws — the only protection against exorbitant rents for millions of families . . . .”) but is also a valuable anachronism, a historian who rejects the academic penchant for history “with the politics left out.” These historians consider it elitist and anti-democratic to focus on event-making individuals; they deny that a preeminent few have disproportionate impact on the destinies of the many; they present political events as “epiphenomena,” reflections of social “structures” and results of impersonal forces. Caro’s event-making Johnson is a very personal force.

Samuel Johnson said of Milton’s “Paradise Lost” that no one ever wished it longer. Not so Caro’s great work, which already fills 3,388 pages. When his fifth volume, treating the Great Society and Vietnam, arrives, readers’ gratitude will be exceeded only by their regret that there will not be a sixth.

Top five cliches that liberals use to avoid real arguments

By Jonah Goldberg
The Washington Post
April 27, 2012

One of the great differences between conservatives and liberals is that conservatives will freely admit that they have an ideology. We’re kind of dorks that way, squabbling over old texts like Dungeons and Dragons geeks, wearing ties with pictures of Adam Smith and Edmund Burke on them.

But mainstream liberals from Franklin Roosevelt to Barack Obama — and the intellectuals and journalists who love them — often assert that they are simply dispassionate slaves to the facts; they are realists, pragmatists, empiricists. Liberals insist that they live right downtown in the “reality-based community,” and if only their Republican opponents weren’t so blinded by ideology and stupidity, then they could work with them.

This has been a theme of Obama’s presidency from the start. A couple of days before his inauguration,Obama proclaimed: “What is required is a new declaration of independence, not just in our nation, but in our own lives — from ideology and small thinking, prejudice and bigotry” (an odd pronouncement, given that “bigoted” America had just elected its first black president).

In his inaugural address, he explained that “the stale political arguments that have consumed us for so long no longer apply. The question we ask today is not whether our government is too big or too small, but whether it works.”

Whether the president who had to learn, in his own words, that there’s “no such thing” as shovel-ready projects — after blowing billions of stimulus dollars on them — is truly focused on “what works” is a subject for another day. But the phrase is a perfect example of the way liberals speak in code when they want to make an ideological argument without conceding that that is what they are doing. They hide ideological claims in rhetorical Trojan horses, hoping to conquer terrain unearned by real debate.

Of course, Republicans are just as guilty as Democrats when it comes to reducing arguments to bumper stickers. (Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin has written that “the president’s economic experiment has failed. It is time to get back to what we know works.”) But the vast majority of Republicans, Ryan included, will at least acknowledge their ideological first principles — free markets, limited government, property rights. Liberals are terribly reluctant to do likewise. Instead, they often speak in seemingly harmless cliches that they hope will penetrate our mental defenses.

Here are some of the most egregious examples:

‘Diversity is strength’

Affirmative action used to be defended on the grounds that certain groups, particularly African Americans, are entitled to extra help because of the horrible legacy of slavery and institutionalized racism. Whatever objections opponents may raise to that claim, it’s a legitimate moral argument.

But that argument has been abandoned in recent years and replaced with a far less plausible and far more ideological claim: that enforced diversity is a permanent necessity. Lee Bollinger, the president of Columbia University, famously declared: “Diversity is not merely a desirable addition to a well-run education. It is as essential as the study of the Middle Ages, of international politics and of Shakespeare.”

It’s a nice thought. But consider some of the great minds of human history, and it’s striking how few were educated in a diverse environment. Newton, Galileo and Einstein had little exposure to Asians or Africans. The genius of Aristotle, Socrates and Plato cannot be easily correlated with the number of non-Greeks with whom they chatted in the town square. If diversity is essential to education, let us get to work dismantling historically black and women’s colleges. When I visit campuses, it’s common to see black and white students eating, studying and socializing separately. This is rounding out everyone’s education?

Similarly, we’re constantly told that communities are strengthened by diversity, but liberal Harvard sociologist Robert Putnam has found the opposite. In a survey that included interviews with more than 30,000people, Putnam discovered that as a community becomes more ethnically and socially varied, social trust and civic engagement plummet. Perhaps forced diversity makes sense, but liberals make little effort to prove it.

‘Violence never solved anything’

It’s a nice idea, but it’s manifestly absurd. If violence never solved anything, police would not have guns or nightsticks. Obama helped solve the problem of Moammar Gaddafi with violence, and FDR helped solve the problem — far too late — of the Holocaust and Hitler with violence. Invariably, the slogan (or its close cousin “War is not the answer”) is invoked not as a blanket exhortation against violence, but as a narrow injunction against the United States, NATO or Republican presidents from trying to solve threats of violence with violence.

‘The living Constitution’

It is dogma among liberals that sophisticated people understand that the Constitution is a “living, breathing document.” The idea was largely introduced into the political bloodstream by Woodrow Wilson and his allies, who were desperate to be free of the constraints of the founders’ vision. Wilson explained that he preferred an evolving, “organic,” “Darwinian” Constitution that empowered progressives to breathe whatever meaning they wished into it. It is a wildly ideological view of the nature of our political system.

It is also a font of unending hypocrisy. After the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, conservatives argued that the country needed to adapt to a new asymmetrical warfare against non-state actors who posed an existential threat. They believed they were working within the bounds of the Constitution. But even if they were stretching things, why shouldn’t that be acceptable — if our Constitution is supposed to evolve with the times?

Yet acolytes of the living Constitution immediately started quoting the wisdom of the founders and the sanctity of the Constitution. Apparently the document is alive when the Supreme Court finds novel rationalizations for abortion rights, but when we need to figure out how to deal with terrorists, suddenly nothing should pry original meaning from the Constitution’s cold, dead hands.

By the way, conservatives do not believe that the Constitution should not change; they just believe that it should change constitutionally — through the amendment process.

‘Social Darwinism’

Obama this month denounced the Republican House budget as nothing more than “thinly veiled social Darwinism.” Liberals have been trotting out this Medusa’s head to petrify the public for generations. It does sound scary. (After all, didn’t Hitler believe in something called “social Darwinism”? Maybe he did.) But no matter how popular the line, these liberal attacks have little relation to the ideas that the “robber barons” and such intellectuals as Herbert Spencer — the “father” of social Darwinism — actually followed.

Spencer’s sin was that he was a soaked-to-the-bone libertarian who championed private charity and limited government (along with women’s suffrage and anti-imperialism). The “reform Darwinists” — namely the early-20th-century Progressives — loathed such classical liberalism because they wanted to tinker with the economy, and humanity itself, at the most basic level.

More vexing for liberals: There was no intellectual movement in the United States called “social Darwinism” in the first place. Spencer, a 19th-century British philosopher, didn’t use the term and wasn’t even a Darwinist (he had a different theory of evolution).

Liberals misapplied the label from the outset to demonize ideas they didn’t like. They’ve never stopped.

‘Better 10 guilty men go free . . .’

At least until George Zimmerman was in the dock, this was a reflexive liberal refrain. The legendary English jurist William Blackstone — the fons et origo of much of our common law — said, “Better that 10 guilty persons escape than that one innocent suffer.” In fact, this 10 to 1 formula has become known as the “Blackstone ratio” or “Blackstone’s formulation.”

In a brilliant study, n Guilty Men,” legal scholar Alexander Volokh traced the idea that it is better to let a certain number of guilty men go free — from Abraham’s argument with God in Genesis over the fate of Sodom, to the writings of the Roman emperor Trajan, to the legal writings of Moses Maimonides, to Geraldo Rivera.

As a truism, it’s a laudable and correct sentiment that no reasonable person can find fault with. But that’s the problem: No reasonable person disagrees with it. There’s nothing wrong with saying it, but it’s not an argument — it’s an uncontroversial declarative statement. And yet people say it as if it settles arguments. It doesn’t do anything of the sort. The hard thinking comes when you have to deal with the “and therefore what?” part. Where do we draw the lines? If it were an absolute principle, we wouldn’t put anyone in prison, lest we punish an innocent in the process. Indeed, if punishing the innocent is so terrible, why 10? Why not two? Or, for that matter, 200? Or 2,000?

Taken literally, the phrase is absurd. Letting 10 rapists and murderers go free will almost surely result in far more harm to society than putting one poor innocent sap in jail.

When you hear any of these cliches — along with “I may disagree with what you say, but I would defend to the death your right to say it,” which is another personal favorite — understand that the people uttering them are not trying to have an argument. They’re trying to win an argument without having it at all.


Jonah Goldberg is editor at large of the National Review Online and a fellow at the American Enterprise Institute. His book “The Tyranny of Cliches: How Liberals Cheat in the War of Ideas” will be published Tuesday.

Triple Play! Obama Blows Off Congress, Funds Palestinians, Lies About PA Stance on Israel

Friday night news dump: President Obama has decided to provide $192 million to the Palestinian Authority despite Congress’s freeze on PA funding after its president, Mahmoud Abbas, attempted to declare statehood unilaterally last September, in violation of the PA’s treaty commitments.

Obama’s “waiver” of the restrictions on Congress’s Palestinian Accountability Act was first reported in the foreign press (AFP), which is where Americans generally need to go to get news about what the U.S. administration is up to. A report from the Times of Israel is here. [Hat tip, Creeping Sharia.] The New York Times, evidently too busy reporting on how much Israel sucks, did not find this story fit to print.

White House spinmeister Tommy Vietor stated that President Obama made the decision to pour American taxpayer dollars into Palestinian coffers in order to ensure “the continued viability of the moderate PA government.” He added the claim that, as the report puts it, “the PA had fulfilled all its major obligations, such as recognizing Israel’s right to exist, renouncing violence and accepting the Road Map for Peace.”

In the real world, the very immoderate PA has reneged on all its commitments. In addition to violating its obligations by unilaterally declaring statehood, the PA has also agreed to form a unity government with Hamas, a terrorist organization that is the Palestinian branch of the Muslim Brotherhood. The PA continues to endorse terrorism against Israel as “resistance.” Moreover, the PA most certainly does not recognize Israel’s right to exist. Back in November, for example, Adil Sadeq, a PA official writing in the official PA daily, Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, declared that Israelis
have a common mistake, or misconception by which they fool themselves, assuming that Fatah accepts them and recognizes the right of their state to exist, and that it is Hamas alone that loathes them and does not recognize the right of this state to exist. They ignore the fact that this state, based on a fabricated [Zionist] enterprise, never had any shred of a right to exist…

In sum, everything Obama is saying about Palestinian compliance is a lie. Even if we were not broke, we should not be giving the PA a dime. To borrow money so we can give it to them is truly nuts.

Will Congress do anything about it? There is a very simple answer to this: slash the executive branch’s budget. That is the weapon the framers gave Congress to rein in a corrupt, spendaholic executive branch. You could start with a treble damages rule: Obama gives $192 million to the PA against Congress’s directive, Congress responds by slashing $600 million out of the State Department’s budget. That would be start — though State would still have $51 billion left over to fund the Muslim Brotherhood and its other favorite Islamic supremacists.

Bill ‘Moose’ Skowron, hero of the Yankees’ 1958 World Series team, dead at 81 from congestive heart failure

Skowron, the Yankees regular first baseman from 1955-62, was a five-time All-Star

By                                                                                                                                         New York Daily News
April 27, 2012

Bill ‘Moose’ Skowron (r.) is pictured with Roger Maris, Yogi Berra and Mickey Mantle after the four sluggers are named to the 1960 American League All-Star squad. (Charles Hoff/New York Daily News)

Bill (Moose) Skowron, the hulking and popular Yankee first baseman of the 1950s and ’60s and the hero of their come-from-behind 1958 World Series triumph over the Milwaukee Braves, died of congestive heart failure early Friday morning at Northwest Community Hospital in Arlington Heights, Ill. Skowron had also battled lung cancer for several years. He was 81.

Skowron, a five-time All-Star, was the Yankees’ regular first baseman from 1955-62, averaging 18 homers and 75 RBI as a Bomber. He finished his career with a .282 average, 211 homers and 888 RBI. He was especially lethal in the World Series, hitting .293 with eight HRs and 29 RBI in 39 games over eight Fall Classics.

In the 1956 World Series, Skowron had been held hitless by the Dodgers until the seventh game when he came to bat with the bases loaded in the seventh. He hit a grand slam into the left field stands to break the game open. Two years later, Skowron spurred the Yankees to rally from three games to one against the Braves by singling in what proved to be the winning run in the 10th inning of their Game 6 4-3 victory. He then hit a decisive three-run eighth-inning homer off Yankee killer Lew Burdette for the 6-2 Game 7 win.

It was after that Series that Skowron revealed that his nickname was not due to his bulky 6-foot, 200-pound frame but because when his grandfather gave him a short haircut, his grade school classmates thought he looked like Benito Mussolini and began calling him “Moose.”

Skowron went to Purdue on a scholarship as a fullback and punter. After his freshman year, however, he felt his calling was baseball and signed a $25,000 bonus as an outfielder with the Yankees in 1951.
After Skowron hit .341 and led the American Association in homers (31) and RBI (134), the Yankees were sold on his bat, but not so much on his glove. (“I almost got killed in the outfield,” Skowron later said. “I couldn’t go back on balls and I didn’t get good jumps on them.”)

It was decided to move him to first, but at the time the Yankees had future Hall of Famer Johnny Mize and Joe Collins there, so they sent Skowron back to Kansas City.

In the meantime, they enrolled him in the Fred Astaire dance school in an attempt to make him more nimble around the bag.

“It helped me a lot with my footwork,” Skowron said, “and it didn’t hurt me socially, either.”

When Skowron finally did get called up in ’54, he batted .340 in 87 games, platooning with Collins. He hit over .300 his next three seasons and became entrenched at first base.

His career, however, was plagued by injuries — in 1957 he missed 30 games after damaging his back lifting an air conditioner; in 1955 he was out for more than 40 games with a torn thigh; and in 1959 he missed half the season with a broken arm suffered in a collision with the Detroit Tigers’ Coot Veal.

His battles to stay in the game were ironic given the advice he got from a Yankee first baseman of the past, Wally Pipp.

“I met Pipp at an Old-Timers’ Day at Yankee Stadium,” Skowron recalled, “and he told me: ‘Don’t ever get a headache or catch a cold. I got a headache once and took a day off and never played again. A guy named Lou Gehrig took my place.’ I made sure from that day on to do everything I could to remain healthy.”

After the 1962 season, the Yankees traded Skowron to the Dodgers for pitcher Stan Williams in order to make way for Joe Pepitone. The deal quickly came back to haunt them in the ’63 World Series when Skowron led the Dodgers’ four-game sweep over the Yankees, hitting .385 with a homer and three RBI.

That spring, Skowron was charged with assault when he left the Dodgers spring training camp in Vero Beach, Fla., and paid a surprise visit to his house in Hillsdale, N.J., where he caught his then-wife in bed with another man.

He played for three other clubs, including his hometown White Sox, and retired in 1967.

In recent years, he worked as a greeter in the U.S. Cellular Field suites for the White Sox. He is survived by his second wife, Cookie; two sons, Greg and Steve; and a daughter, Lynnette.

“Moose was a guy who brought huge joy to everyone he came in contact with,” said White Sox board chairman Jerry Reinsdorf. “I can’t tell you how much people here loved him.”

The Real War on Women

Honor killing, forced marriage, genital mutilation — that is a war on women.

By Lee Habeeb
April 26, 2012

A father near Batman, Turkey, shows a photo of his 14-year-old daughter who recently committed suicide. (Corbis)
Her name was Derya. She lived in Batman, Turkey, she was 17 years old, and she had a problem that few American women know about, let alone have ever experienced: The men in her family were doing everything they could to get her to kill herself.

It started with text messages like this one from her uncle: “You have blackened our name. Kill yourself and clean our shame, or we will kill you first.”

What was Derya’s crime? What had she done to deserve a message like that from a relative? She had fallen in love with a boy she had met in school the previous spring.

When news of this outrage reached Derya’s family, her mother warned her that her father — her own father — might kill her. She didn’t listen.

And then the orchestrated campaign of terror began. Threatening text message after threatening text message, sent by her brothers and uncles, sometimes as many as 15 a day.

Young Derya was so overwhelmed that she did the only thing she could do to free herself from the shame and the pain: She tried to kill herself.

Not once. Not twice. Three times, Derya tried to kill herself, first by throwing herself into the Tigris River, then by hanging herself, and finally by slashing her wrists with a kitchen knife.

“I felt I had no right to dishonor my family,” she told a New York Times reporter in July of 2006, “that I have no right to be alive. So I decided to respect my family’s desire and to die.”

The reporter learned that every few weeks, in parts of Turkey deeply influenced by conservative Islam, young women were taking their own lives for the same reasons Derya tried to take hers. Others, the Times reported, were stoned to death, strangled, shot, or buried alive by their male relatives.

And what were the crimes of these young women? Well, in Batman, such offensive conduct as wearing a short skirt, wanting to see a movie, or being raped by a stranger. It goes without saying that engaging in consensual sex warrants death.

And people think there is a war on women in America?

But the Times story got worse, as the reporter explained the reason why Derya and other women and girls in Turkey were trying to kill themselves. It turns out that Turkey, in its hopes to join the European Union, was beginning to punish men for their attacks against women and girls. Honor killings, it seems, are frowned upon by the EU.

So the men who run things came up with a great new idea: Why not pressure girls to kill themselves instead?

“Families of disgraced girls are choosing between sacrificing a son to a life in prison by designating him to kill his sister or forcing their daughters to kill themselves,” said Yilmaz Akinci, who works for a rural development group in the region. “Rather than losing two children, most opt for the latter option.”

Now that is a real war on women.

And yet we have heard almost nothing from President Obama in his three years in office about Islam and women.

Even in his infamous speech in Egypt, he spoke only briefly about women’s rights, and among his comments was this:
Now let me be clear: Issues of women’s equality are by no means simply an issue for Islam. In Turkey, Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Indonesia, we have seen Muslim-majority countries elect a woman to lead. Meanwhile, the struggle for women’s equality continues in many aspects of American life, and in countries around the world.
That’s right. He basically said that women are as poorly treated in America as they are in countries like Turkey and Pakistan!

What President Obama failed to mention in that speech was genital mutilation or rape or polygamy or honor killings in parts of the world where Islam is the predominant political and cultural force. And he didn’t mention those honor suicides in Turkey.

President Obama’s speechwriters must not have consulted Nina Shea of the Hudson Institute, who has been writing about this subject for years.

This March, Ms. Shea published a survey of some of the world’s worst offenders on the women’s-rights front, with brief descriptions of some of those nations. Here is how she described life for Saudi women:
Women are required to have male guardians whose permission is necessary for traveling outside the home — even for emergency hospital visits. The state dictates their appearance with dress codes that enshroud them in anonymous black robes from head to toe. Apart from lingerie stores, they are barred from retail jobs and most service work. Under a code unique to Saudi Arabia, they are also banned from driving. They cannot mingle with unrelated men. A special police force, mutaween, patrols streets, shopping malls, and other places to enforce such laws; the mutaween captured rare international attention in 2002 when, during a fire at a girls’ school in Mecca, they caused the death of 15 girls by pushing them back into the blazing building because, in their panic, the girls had run out without their veils.
Ms. Shea then proceeds to chronicle the state of women’s rights in Iran:
Women are subject to state-enforced dress codes and sequestration laws. Their testimony in court is weighed less than men’s. They are disadvantaged under family laws. Also, according to the penal code, four male witnesses or a combination of three male and two female witnesses are required for a rape conviction; if a woman brings a rape accusation but fails to meet the burden of proof, she is subject to 80 lashes. The law permits a man to kill his adulterous wife, and women convicted of adultery can be sentenced to stoning. Protesting for women’s rights is harshly punished.
And then Ms. Shea turned to Pakistan, which President Obama specifically mentioned in his speech, suggesting that that nation’s struggle for women’s rights was further along than our own here in America:
A frequent problem for Christian women in Punjab, the largest province, according to Father Khalid Rashid Asi, general vicar of the Catholic diocese of Faisalabad, stems from that country’s persistent practice of forcing rape victims to marry their rapists, a situation that becomes compounded by forcible conversion to Islam; the criminal justice system fails to protect such women and girls. A well-documented case that illustrates the problem occurred on December 24, 2010, as recorded by the Asian Human Rights Commission and reported by the British Pakistani Christian Association. Anna, a twelve-year-old Christian girl, was visited by a Muslim friend at her home in Lahore and invited to do some last-minute Christmas shopping with her. Instead, when she got into the friend’s car she was abducted by the friend’s relatives. She was taken to a house in another city where she was held for eight months and repeatedly raped and beaten, in order to convert her to Islam. Her family did not know what had happened to her; her father, Arif Masih, filed a complaint with police but they took no action. In September 2011, Anna managed to escape and run to a bus station where she called her frantic family, who drove to retrieve her. Her kidnappers then petitioned police for her return, asserting that she had converted to Islam and was now married to one of her rapists. The police told the family it would be better to hand over Anna to the rapist, since he was now her husband and they would face a criminal case if they refused. Appalled at the suggestion and terrified that their daughter would be again taken, the family has gone into hiding.
Last but not least, Ms. Shea described the state of women’s rights in Afghanistan, and as you read this excerpt from her work, it will make you wonder why groups like the National Organization for Women don’t put public pressure on President Obama to help their Muslim sisters all over the world.
Afghanistan also treats women unequally under the law and shares many features of gender discrimination and restriction found in the laws of Saudi Arabia and Iran. Those calling for greater women’s rights can be harshly punished for the crime of blasphemy against Islam. For example, Shia scholar Ali Mohaqeq Nasab, editor of Haqooq-i-Zen magazine, was imprisoned by the government for publishing “un-Islamic” articles that criticized stoning as a punishment for adultery. Afghanistan also applies, in some areas, tribal law that gives women few rights. Three weeks ago the New York Times detailed one particularly abusive tribal law that is said to be “pervasive” in Pashtun areas, aptly named “baad.” It is the abduction, lifelong enslavement, and rape of a girl — who was eight years old in the Times’s story — by a family in compensation for a wrong committed by the girl’s relatives.
That’s the real war on women happening right now around the globe. But our media will instead peddle the fake war here in America, in order to advantage one political party over another.

But for those in the media who are hell-bent on aiding and abetting President Obama, this line of attack may just backfire. Even on an issue as contentious as abortion, a 2009 Pew Press release had this stunning bit of news: “Men and women have been evenly divided on the issue in previous years; however, this is the first time in nine years of Gallup Values surveys that significantly more men and women are pro-life than pro-choice.”

Some liberals may not like the fact that more women disagree than agree with them on abortion and other so-called “women’s issues,” but the right that American women hold most sacred is their God-given right to express themselves.

Even if it means disagreeing with the mullahs at the National Organization for Women.
The fact is, not all women think alike. Ask Ann Coulter. Ask Laura Ingraham. Ask Michelle Malkin. Ask Condoleezza Rice. Ask Nikki Haley.

Heck, ask my wife, who leans to the right of William F. Buckley Jr., and the millions of other American women who don’t want to be considered a special-interest group, let alone be pandered to by bureaucrats and politicians.

One can only hope that during this hectic election season, the editors and producers pushing the phony war on women in America come to their senses and do some reporting on the very real war on women in Turkey, Afghanistan, Saudi Arabia, and the countries affected by the Arab Spring.
And in the meantime, say a prayer for Derya and the hundreds of thousands — if not millions — of other victims of that ongoing war.

— Lee Habeeb is the vice president of content at Salem Radio Network, which syndicates Bill Bennett, Mike Gallagher, Dennis Prager, Michael Medved, and Hugh Hewitt. He lives in Oxford, Miss., with his wife, Valerie, and daughter, Reagan.

The anatomy of three hits

By Ken Dryden
The Globe and Mail
April 27, 2012

Raffi Torres of the Coyotes crashes into the Blackhawks’ Marian Hossa. Torres has been suspended for 25 games as a result of this hit.

It was the Stanley Cup final, the Detroit Red Wings and Toronto Maple Leafs, 1964. The game was in Toronto.

Leafs goaltender Johnny Bower was 39. He had kicked around the minor leagues almost all his professional career but everyone knew he would do anything to stop shots, even put his maskless face in front of them. In the last few years he had earned his chance.

Gordie Howe had always been great. He had the hands to score, the elbows and attitude to command the corners, and the fists to embarrass anyone foolish enough to take him on. He was 36.

Bower and Howe were both from Saskatchewan, Bower from Prince Albert, Howe from Floral. They had fished together. They were great competitors.

The puck was shot into the corner in the Leafs’ zone. Bower moved toward the puck uncertainly, leaving himself exposed from behind. Howe bore down toward the puck. Howe, the toughest guy around, could’ve plastered Bower’s head against the glass, perhaps deciding the Cup.

Instead, he yelled: “Look out, John, I’m behind you.”

The Leafs won the Cup. I was 16, living in Toronto. I read the story the next day in the newspaper. Howe’s “Look out, John” comes to me 48 years later.

It was the third game of the opening round of the Stanley Cup playoffs, the Chicago Blackhawks and Phoenix Coyotes, 2012. Raffi Torres of the Coyotes crashes into the Blackhawks’ Marian Hossa.
It was the perfect moment for a brain-rattling hit. Hossa didn’t see Torres coming. He had no reason to see him coming. He didn’t have the puck. He had every right to assume he was in no danger. So he let down his guard. It was Torres’s moment.

Torres did what he did not because it was survival but because the weak have it coming to them. He had been taught – if they have their head down or their eyes away from the play. And because he’d started toward Hossa while Hossa still had the puck, or almost still had the puck, Torres could say he was “just finishing his check.” That it was “just a late hit.” Torres crushed Hossa because he could.

It was the sixth game of the Coyotes-Blackhawks series, the third period. Michal Rozsival for the Coyotes was carrying the puck behind his own net, chased by Blackhawks forward Jonathan Toews. Coming from the other side of the net was Chicago forward Andrew Shaw. Four games earlier Shaw had hit Coyotes goalie Mike Smith in the jaw with his shoulder as Shaw had turned behind the Coyotes’ net, sending Smith spinning to the ice. Smith was shaken, but continued. Shaw was suspended for three games.

This was Shaw’s first game back. Rozsival didn’t see Shaw coming. Shaw could’ve launched himself into Rozsival’s head the way Torres had into Hossa’s. But he didn’t. He hit Rozsival solidly in the chest with his shoulder. The puck went loose. Maybe Shaw let up because he had still in his mind his three-game suspension. Maybe Shaw realized it was his job to create a scoring chance, not to maim.

I love the first round of the playoffs. Everything is fresh, everything is possible. First seeds play eighth seeds that are just as able to win as they are. Upsets happen. By the last two rounds especially, when even the unworldly energy of the underdog seems to flag, talent tends to win out and the outcomes become more predictable. In the first round there are also games everywhere on the digital box, time zone after time zone. If the games don’t quite blend into each other, the emotions of them do. Every next game in a night seems more exciting because of the last one. Every next game seems more out of control because the last one was.

This year’s first round felt like a giant primal scream. The scream began when Nashville’s Shea Weber rammed the head of Detroit’s Henrik Zetterberg into the glass. It picked up volume after the Rangers’ Carl Hagelin took out Senators captain Daniel Alfredsson, culminated with the Torres hit and in the days that passed before his final suspension was announced. By then, things seemed different than they had ever been before. You could hear it in the intensity of the talk on sports channels, on mainstream channels, in newspapers, and on the streets. Players going down one after another! What’s going on here?

The talk wasn’t just about which player was a disgrace or what coach should be fired, but the violence that seemed deep in the game itself. Yet people were watching. TV ratings were up. One writer explained that it was because of our fundamental human love of violence. But for most, it was simpler. The unimaginable was happening in front of our eyes every night; we couldn’t not watch to see what would happen next.

Then one moment chilled my spine. It was the reported words of some of the coaches saying if the NHL isn’t going to do something, we’re going to have to do it ourselves. But if they take it into their own hands, how far does that go?

Players commit themselves to their teammates and to their teams. It’s what they love about their teammates, and what their teammates love about them. It’s what the fans love about them too. If these players are asked to do more, they will do more. Yet something keeps them from committing to what they shouldn’t commit. In the 1980s, if opponents of the Edmonton Oilers had truly done everything to win the Cup, they would’ve gone after Wayne Gretzky’s head. It wasn’t Gretzky’s enforcer teammate, Dave Semenko, who stopped them, nor the referees nor the league officials and the suspensions they would have levied. The players wouldn’t do it. Some basic humanity, some basic belief in the essence of a game holds us back.

That all seemed on shaky ground in the first round this year. In this atmosphere, if the teams were to do it themselves and not wait for the league, it might mean not just a fist for a fist but a head-shot for a head-shot. This after news of the New Orleans Saints’ “bounty” on opponents to injure them, and the curdling words of Saints assistant coach, Gregg Williams, about a San Francisco 49ers running back: “We’ve got to do everything in the world to make sure we kill Frank Gore’s head.” Where are we going? Is there anything we won’t do?

Now, with fewer games to build up the collective temperature, and with the consequences clearer – of the injuries more so than the suspensions – maybe things will settle down. Maybe they will revert to teeth-gritting, eyes-popping normal playoff intensity.

Don Cherry likes to talk about how the implementation of the instigator rule changed the game. Teams had employed enforcers to protect their star players but, with the new rule, enforcers might draw an extra penalty as “instigators” when they intervened. This proved too high a price for teams to accept, star players went unprotected and, according to Cherry, made them increasingly open to abuse and injury, throwing the game out of control. But control doesn’t come only from enforcers like Semenko. The league could act as its own enforcer, to shut down the most dangerous and exaggerated aspects of its play. This it could have done. Make no mistake: in round one it wasn’t the league as enforcer that settled things down. Brendan Shanahan’s 25-game suspension of Raffi Torres was shooting a fish in a barrel. The real enforcer was the public. They’d had it and they said so. They don’t believe Gordie Howe and Johnny Bower are wusses.

Democrats should let sleeping dogs lie

Obama's childhood appetite for dogs isn't as critical as his adult appetite for spending and statism. But it was part of his cool, which Mitt Romney doesn't have, according to the left.

By Mark Steyn
The Orange County Register
April 27, 2012

A couple of days ago, Obama campaign top dog David Axelrod threw in the towel on the dog war. "I thought it was a little absurd to talk about what the President had done as a 10-year-old boy," he sniffed to MSNBC's Andrea Mitchell, which is as near as the suddenly sheepish attack dog will ever get to conceding that Barack Obama is the first dog-eating president in the history of the Republic.

For those coming late to the feud, the Democrats started it, assiduously promoting accounts of a 1983 Romney vacation to Canada in which the family pooch Seamus rode on the roof of the car. Axelrod and the boys thought they could have some sport with this, and their poodles in the media eagerly played along. The New York columnist Gail Collins alone has referred to it dozens of times.

And then Jim Treacher, the sharp-eyed wag of The Daily Caller, uncovered this passage from Chapter Two of Obama's bestselling but apparently largely unread memoir "Dreams From My Father," in which the author recalls childhood meals with his stepfather, Lolo Soetoro:
"I was introduced to dog meat (tough), snake meat (tougher), and roasted grasshopper (crunchy). Like many Indonesians, Lolo followed a brand of Islam that could make room for the remnants of more ancient animist and Hindu faiths. He explained that a man took on the powers of whatever he ate: One day soon, he promised, he would bring home a piece of tiger meat for us to share."

There followed an Internet storm of "I Ate A Dog (And I Liked It)" gags. Axelrod, an early tweeter of Romney doggie digs, has now figured out that the subject is no longer profitable for his boss. The dogs he let slip aren't quite that savvy. Jeremy Funk, communications director of "Americans United For Change," is still bulk-emailing links to the video "Should We Have A President Who Isn't Even Qualified To Adopt A Pet?" Confronted by the revelation that his preferred candidate only swings by the Humane Society for the all-you-can-eat buffet, he huffs that this is "false equivalence." "A 6-year-old with no choice in the matter" is not the same as a grown man choosing to place his dog on the roof of his vehicle. My Canadian compatriot Kate McMillan, a dog breeder, advised Mr. Funk to "try this experiment – sit a normal, American 6-year-old down at a plate and tell him it's dog meat. Watch what happens."

For their next exploding cigar, the Democrats chose polygamy. Brian Schweitzer, the Democrat governor of Montana, remarked that Romney was unlikely to appeal to women because his father was "born on a polygamy commune." Eighty-six percent of women, noted Gov. Schweitzer with a keenly forensic demographic eye, are "not great fans of polygamy." You can understand the 86 percent's ickiness at the whole freaky-weirdy idea of a president descended from someone who had multiple wives. Eww.

Just for the record, Romney's father was not a polygamist; Romney's grandfather was not a polygamist; his great-grandfather was a polygamist. Miles Park Romney died in 1904, so one can see why this would weigh heavy on 86 percent of female voters 108 years later.

Meanwhile, back in the female-friendly party, Obama's father was a polygamist; his grandfather was a polygamist; and his great-grandfather was a polygamist who had one more wife (five in total) than Romney's great-grandfather. It seems President Obama is the first male in his line not to be a polygamist. So, given the "gender gap," maybe those 86 percent of American women are way cooler with polygamy than Gov. Schweitzer thinks. Maybe these liberal chicks really dig it.

The exploding cigars are revealing not merely of Democrat hypocrisy but of a key difference in worldview between liberals and conservatives. Jeremy Funk and Gov. Schweitzer reflexively believe that their dog-eating polygamy-scion is different from the other guy's dog-transporting polygamy-scion. This is nothing to do with young Barack being 6 or 10 years old and meekly eating whatever was put in front of him. He was 34 years old when he wrote the passage quoted above and 10 years older when he recorded the audio edition. And, as both versions make plain, he thinks it's kinda cool, and he knows that to the average upscale white liberal it has the electric frisson of the exotic other.

Obama is correct that certain cultures believe a man takes on the powers of whatever he eats. In Liberia, where presidential contests are somewhat more primal than in this effete republic, Samuel Doe was captured by some of his eventual successor's, ah, campaign staff, who cut off President Doe's ears and then fed them to him. They then removed His Excellency's genitals and wound up in a fight over who should get them, believing that the still-not-quite-yet-late president's powers would be transferred to whoever got to chow down on the crown jewels. I'm not suggesting that President Obama has eaten a human penis, because, if he had, he'd almost certainly have boasted about it to the impressionable NPR ninnies who gobbled up his memoirs. But I am suggesting that Mitt Romney might like to consider it for next year's Inauguration Day.

I jest – just in case the Secret Service are taking a break from their Colombian hookers and are minded to investigate me for a threat against what Joe Biden would call the "big stick." My point is that self-loathing cultural relativism is so deeply ingrained on the left that any revulsion to dog-eating is trumped by revulsion to criticizing any of the rich, vibrant, cultural diversity out there in Indonesia or anywhere else. Most polygamy in the developed world is nothing to do with Mormons: It's widely practiced by western Muslims, whose plural marriages are recognized de facto by French and Ontario welfare departments and de jure by Britain's pensions department. But "edgy" "transgressive" leftie comics on sad, pandering standup shows will reserve their polygamy jokes for Mormons until the last stern-faced elder in Utah keels over at the age of 112. In the United Kingdom, 57 percent of Pakistani Britons are married to their first cousins, with attendant increases in their children's congenital birth defects. But the comics save their inbreeding jokes for stump-toothed West Virginians enjoying a jigger of moonshine and a bunk-up with their sisters. The editor of Washington's leading gay newspaper was gay-bashed in Amsterdam, "the most tolerant city in Europe," but by Muslims rather than the pasty rednecks who killed Matthew Shepard, so liberals don't have a dog in this fight.

Likewise, the epidemic of black-on-black murder versus the once-in-a-blue-moon Trayvon Martin: to the liberal mindset, certain dogs won't hunt. In one of his many bestsellers, Ayatollah Khomeini produced a hierarchy of "the uncleans": Dogs are at Number Six, Infidels are at Number Eight, and Number 11 is "the sweat of an unlawful ejaculation." In the liberal hierarchy, conservative infidels are at Number One, dogs are somewhere between 8 and 11, and the sweat of an unlawful ejaculation isn't on the list at all.

Axelrod is right. Obama's appetite for dogs isn't as critical as his appetite for spending and statism. But it was part of his cool. "Mitt Romney isn't cool," declared Brian Montopoli of CBS News this week in a story headlined "Can Mitt Romney Make Boring Sexy"? For economically beleaguered Americans, the more pertinent question is: "Can Barack Obama Make Cool Affordable"? It's not just that Obama ate the dog, but that he's screwing the pooch.


"Crucify Them": The Obama Way

By Michelle Malkin
April 27, 2012

One of President Obama's radical eco-bureaucrats has apologized for confirming an indelible truth: This White House treats politically incorrect private industries as public enemies who deserve regulatory death sentences.

Environmental Protection Agency administrator Al Armendariz (pictured above), an avowed greenie on leave from Southern Methodist University, gave a little-noticed speech in 2010 outlining his sadistic philosophy. "I was in a meeting once, and I gave an analogy to my staff about my philosophy of enforcement, and I think it was probably a little crude and maybe not appropriate for the meeting, but I'll go ahead and tell you what I said," he began. In a video obtained and released by Sen. James Inhofe, R-Okla., Armendariz then shared his bloody analogy:

"It was kind of like how the Romans used to conquer little villages in the Mediterranean. They'd go into a little Turkish town somewhere, they'd find the first five guys they saw, and they would crucify them. And then you know that town was really easy to manage for the next few years. ... So, that's our general philosophy."

Echoing President Obama's "punch back twice as hard" treatment of his political enemies, Armendariz explained to his underlings that "you hit them as hard as you can, and you make examples out of them, and there is a deterrent effect there. And, companies that are smart see that, they don't want to play that game, and they decide at that point that it's time to clean up."

In other words: Suck up, fly left, or face prosecution. The goal isn't a cleaner environment. The goal is political incitement of fear.

Publicly humiliated by the video release of the persecution strategy session, Armendariz said he regretted his "poor choice of words" this week. "It was an offensive and inaccurate way to portray our efforts to address potential violations of our nation's environmental laws. I am and have always been committed to fair and vigorous enforcement of those laws."

Tyrannical actions, of course, speak louder than weasel words. And the record shows that Obama environmental overlords run amok.

It was Obama's power-mad Interior Secretary Ken Salazar who vowed to keep his "boot on the neck" of BP after the Gulf oil spill in 2010. Salazar and former eco-czar Carol Browner colluded on a fraudulent report -- condemned by federal judges -- that completely distorted a White House-appointed expert panel's opposition to the administration's job-killing, industry-bashing drilling moratorium.

It was Obama's EPA that railroaded a senior government research analyst for daring to question the agency's zealous push to impose greenhouse gas rules. When Alan Carlin asked to distribute an analysis on the health effects of greenhouse gases that didn't fit the eco-bureaucracy's blame-human-activity narrative, he was gagged and reprimanded: "The time for such discussion of fundamental issues has passed for this round. The administrator and the administration has decided to move forward on endangerment, and your comments do not help the legal or policy case for this decision. ... I can only see one impact of your comments given where we are in the process, and that would be a very negative impact on our office." Public relations management trumped truth in science, the deliberative process and fairness.

It was Obama's U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, in cahoots with the witch hunters at the Department of Justice, that raided Gibson Guitar factories in Memphis and Nashville three years ago over an arcane endangered species of wood. The guitar police have yet to bring charges, leaving the company in costly legal limbo.

And as Inhofe pointed out in response to Armendariz's "apology": "Not long after Administrator Armendariz made these comments in 2010, EPA targeted US natural gas producers in Pennsylvania, Texas and Wyoming. In all three of these cases, EPA initially made headline-grabbing statements either insinuating or proclaiming outright that the use of hydraulic fracturing by American energy producers was the cause of water contamination, but in each case their comments were premature at best -- and despite their most valiant efforts, they have been unable to find any sound scientific evidence to make this link."

Indeed, Armendariz the Executioner tried nailing a drilling company -- Texas-based Range Resources -- to the cross in 2010 with an emergency declaration that its fracking work in the Lone Star State had contaminated groundwater. The Texas Railroad Commission, which oversees the oil and gas industry, found no scientific evidence of the Obama EPA's claims.

Forbes magazine reported: "In recent months a federal judge slapped the EPA, decreeing that the agency was required to actually do some scientific investigation of wells before penalizing the companies that drilled them. Finally in March the EPA withdrew its emergency order and a federal court dismissed the EPA's case."

Vice President Joe Biden is right about Obama's "big stick." Too bad he's using it to beat down America's domestic energy producers and wealth creators instead of our foreign enemies.

Today's Tune: Reckless Kelly - Wicked Twisted Road (Live)

An Unintended Tribute to Chuck Colson from the Left

By Mark D. Tooley
April 24, 2012

Voices across the religious and political spectrum have hailed the legacy of Charles Colson, the former Nixon White House staffer who, after his Watergate-related imprisonment, founded a global evangelical ministry for prison inmates.

One exception is Franky Schaeffer, a self-described regretful founder of the Religious Right and son of the late great evangelical theologian, who rejected his father’s legacy and now spits venom at seriously religious people, on his blog, in his books, and sometimes for The Huffington Post.

“Wherever Nixon is today he must be welcoming a true son of far right dirty politics to eternity with a ‘Job well done,’” Schaeffer snarked. An earlier draft of his diatribe headlined that Colson had “gone to his reward,” implying an eternity other than Heaven. But even in his reposted new draft, Schaeffer was churlish: “Evangelical Christianity lost one of its most beloved and bigoted homophobic and misogynistic voices with the death of Charles W. ‘Chuck’ Colson, a Watergate felon who converted to ‘evangelicalism’ but never lost his taste for dirty political tricks against opponents.” (Link to entire piece below)
Bitter towards his devout parents and most of his old allies and friends, Schaeffer conspiratorially claims that conservative religious activists target abortion and same sex marriage primarily to trick working class traditionalists into voting Republican. Or as he elegantly claims of Colson: “Few men have done more to trade (betray?) the gospel of love for the gospel of empowering corporate America and greed through the misuse of the so-called culture war issues to get lower middle class whites to vote against their own economic interests in the name of ‘family values.’”

Himself now cynical and unmoored from any transcendent moral tradition, Schaeffer assumes that his targets, including Colson, are similarly jaded.

But if Colson’s conversion and over 35-year evangelical ministry were other than genuine, he was a master performer. Across 4 decades, Colson’s “Prison Fellowship” touched hundreds of thousands of lives around the world. Prison inmates neither vote nor typically are potential contributors. But Colson made his life’s work offering otherwise hopeless and forgotten people the hope of transformation that he found in the Gospel as he faced incarceration. He cheerfully proclaimed himself a former miscreant who was delivered solely by God’s grace. As driven and focused in ministry as he was as Nixon’s ostensible “hatchet man,” Colson was a joyful warrior.

Seemingly consumed by his own demons, and himself rarely evincing any joy as he trashes family and former friends, Schaeffer maybe resents the opposite trajectory of Colson’s life compared to his. Literally dying with his boots on at age 80, falling ill at a conference he organized after delivering his final speech, Colson’s departure from this world was the perfect finale for an evangelist and social reformer. It recalls pious British Prime Minister William Gladstone’s own stated wish to die while worshipping in a church, or former President John Quincy Adams, exerting himself for abolition, collapsing on the U.S. House of Representatives floor while delivering his final oration.

Unlike the power obsessed, Religious Right stereotype preferred by Schaeffer, Colson emphasized private ministry over political action. Chastened by his own role in the Nixon Administration, Colson warned fellow evangelicals not to rely on the pursuit of power. In his last speech, delivered at the Wilberforce Weekend Conference that he named after his hero, the great British abolitionist, Colson insisted: “Elections can’t solve the problem we’ve got.” Instead, believers should work through their churches to redeem individuals and the culture. “Look in the mirror, that’s where the problem is,” he suggested, with passive churches in mind. “This is a moment when the time is right for a movement of God’s people under the power of the Holy Spirit to begin to impact the culture we live in.”
Faith in a transcendent authority superseding the New York Times, Hollywood, or the latest academic fads, is always infuriating to the Left, which typically searches for the ostensibly REAL agenda motivating traditional religious believers in America.

In his rambling anti-tribute to Colson, Schaeffer denounced Colson and all of the “neo-conservative/Roman Catholic” friends who gave a gloss of “intellectual respectability and aid and comfort to what were nothing more than oppressive ideas rooted in an anti-Constitutional theocratic far right wish list for changes that were supposed to roll back the parts of the democratic processes – say Roe v. Wade, women’s rights and gay rights — that far right Catholics and Protestants didn’t approve of.”

Schaeffer thinks Colson was plotting theocracy as he preached to, prayed with, and wept among thousands of prison inmates who were his chief focus across the decades since his own release from prison. The allegation speaks more of Schaeffer than Colson. But all of the lavish tributes showering upon Colson’s memory may have discomfited Colson, remembering the Gospel warning to beware when all men speak well of you.

In contrast, Schaeffer’s hatefully absurd diatribe maybe would have provoked an appreciative and amused smile. And maybe Colson is now consulting with Schaeffer’s late father, prayerfully plotting the return of a sadly wayward son.


Colson: An Evangelical Homophobic Anti-Woman Leader Passes On -

Frank Schaeffer's Fundamentalist Fakery -