Instapun*** Archive Listing

Archive Listing
November 4, 2005 - October 28, 2005

Friday, November 04, 2005

Another Non-Story


WISDOM. The mainstream media buried the news of Iraq's heavy voting turnout and constitutional confirmation under its own fabricated milestone of 2,000 American deaths in the war. They much prefer showing us the violence in Baghdad to reporting on any positive political developments in Iraq. The excuse is supposed to be the old journalistic truism "if it bleeds, it leads."

But now there is honest-to-God bleeding going on in Paris, France. So how come the MSM is reluctant to show it to us? Hugh Hewitt asked Mark Steyn about this on his radio show:

HH: Mark Steyn, how do you account for the indifference or ignorance of the mainstream media in America?

MS: Well, I think this is now basically becoming a willful effort at misleading. It's not just the United States. Other countries, too, are reporting this as their youths, or their French youth. And it isn't until you get thirteen paragraphs into the story, and they're quoting one of these youths, and you realize he's called Mohammed, that it occurs to you that there might be an ethno-cultural religious component to this situation. And this is absolutely grotesque...

If there were escalating riots night after night in 20 American cities, it would be the ONLY story in media outlets around the world. And given France's arrogant habit of lecturing America about all sorts of relevant issues -- mideast politics, racism, the superiority of the European welfare states, proper conduct of the war on terror -- the irony of a meltdown of civil order in the capital city of France would seem to cry out for extensive reporting and analysis. But that's precisely the problem, isn't it?

The real linchpin of American liberal opposition to the foreign policy of the Bush administration is actually little more than an image, scrupulously maintained, of the sleek European diplomats who gravely prefer negotiated fig leafs to confrontations with Islamofascism. It's fairly easy to promote their superior manner, couched carefully in the representation of Europe as the older, wiser, more measured voice of western civilization. I use the term "image" because that's all it is and all it has been in living memory. The equally repressed details of the oil-for-food scandal demonstrate beyond doubt that European diplomats and "statesmen" would be quite at home in the Tammany Hall of America's 19th century. The toleration, particularly in France, for antisemitic outrages, also downplayed by the MSM, must remind us that the character flaws which produced two world wars in 30 years haven't been fixed. Europeans are still the pampered problem children of the world. It is they who continue to evade adult responsibilities at every turn, who manipulate all and sundry to their own advantage while insisting that everything which doesn't go their way is wrong because it's, well, not fair.

Rioting muslims in Paris is a huge problem for the American left. It suggests that the Europacifists don't have all the answers -- about the efficacy of socialist welfare programs, about the nature of Islamic militants, about the very definition of the social justice they pretend to revere above all other things. In fact, riots in your capital make it dramatically obvious that something important is broken in your nation.

The only picture gallery I've been able to find is this one, posted by the Times of London. Here is the accompanying story:

The poor suburbs of Paris were set ablaze in the worst of eight consecutive nights of rioting, with 500 cars torched and a gym and primary school razed.

Police today reported that the wave of unrest has now spread to at least 20 provincial towns.

An army of 1,300 police reinforcements moved into the bleak estates of the north-east of Paris last night, to enforce a belated pledge by Dominique de Villepin, the Prime Minister, to stop the rioting that has engulfed the largely Muslim ghettos.

Despite hopes that Eid-ul-Fitr, the festivities ending the fasting month of Ramadan, would calm the unrest, police reports suggest an escalation in what the police union has described as a "civil war"..

Gangs of youths armed with bricks, sticks and petrol canisters spilled through the streets of high-rise housing estates, torching buses and hurling rocks at trains. At least 80 arrests were made in fierce clashes with the massed ranks of riot police.

According to one report, a disabled woman was doused in petrol and set alight when she was unable to escape a bus under attack in the northern suburb of Sevran. She was rescued by the driver and is being treated for severe burns.

Disturbances also took place for the first time in other towns, including Rouen, Marseille and Dijon..

Television networks have mostly stayed away from the scenes of the confrontations. Camera crews have been physically attacked and reports blamed for stoking the discontent.

"Why a school, why a car? What can you say about such blind violence," said Michel Beaumale, mayor of Trappes, southwest of Paris, outside the smouldering ruins of a local primary school.

Francis Masanet, leader of the UNSA police union, said: "It is very serious and we fear that events could get worse."

The warfare of the streets, initially triggered by the deaths of two African teenagers who ran into an electricity relay station fearing they were being chased by police, has flared into broader protest against the living conditions and prospects of African communities.

It has been played out against a backdrop of political bickering between the Prime Minister and Nicolas Sarkozy, the interior minister and his rival for presidency in 2007. M de Villepin has been accused of leaving his rival to deal with the fallout from the unrest.

M Sarkozy's hard-line stance - he has spoken of "hosing down" the "scum" - has fanned the flames of protest, and may have damaged his future prospects for the presidency. It has also exposed a philosophical split in the Cabinet and country over the place of immigrants in French life, and caused policies of integration dating back 30 years to be re-examined.

Evidence of the scale of law-breaking, in what are officially known as "les quartiers difficiles", came with a police report yesterday that 28,000 vehicles had been torched in outbreaks of urban violence in France so far this year.

Unemployment among French men aged 15 to 24 has risen from 15 per cent four years ago to more than 22 per cent. It is thought to be as high as 30-40 per cent among young second- and third-generation immigrants in poorer high-rise suburbs.

Bad Hair Blog (h/t Instapundit) has been monitoring other British news organizations, including the BBC and the Economist, and reports they seem less interested in the story than the Times:

Last evening the BBCA news had 8 minutes of Joe Wilson commenting on Libby, and the business news, before they mentioned the seventh day of rioting in France. This morning they had 11 minutes of reporting on the Pakistan earthquake before mentioning the eighth day of spreading rioting in France.

I had forgotten about the Joseph Wilson story. I'm glad to be reminded. That's obviously the real reason the riots haven't gotten more attention here. After all, a dirty internecine squabble between the administration and the CIA about one still ambiguous item of Saddam's WMD activities proves that the French and Germans were dead right to oppose the Iraq War as reckless American adventurism; the right way to deal with middle eastern fascists is to smother them with flattering old world charm. That always works. Right?

Except when it doesn't. But what are a few trivial exceptions among the liberal elites who really should be ruling the world? In this case, it's better to wait for the French to get a handle on the situation and congratulate them after the fact for saving the Elysee Palace from unidentified arsonists.

That should be soon now. It better be soon. Are you listening, M. Chirac?

UPDATE. Michelle Malkin has also picked up on the item referenced above about the disabled woman who was set on fire in a bus. Her other coverage of the Paris riots is extensive and includes a link to another photo gallery.

UPDATE. Just for fun, here's Google's ham-handed mechanical translation of this page into French. Much more civilized, no?

Thursday, November 03, 2005


Some sexes are more equal than others.

20 CARATS. Via Instapundit, we found the blog of Cathy Young, a New Jersey woman endowed with sturdy common sense on many matters, though not all. (She presumed to tweak InstaPunk's nose anent the Miers nomination: something about "defending mediocrity," wherein she omitted the definition of 'mediocrity' that includes one of the top 50 female attorneys in the country). She's pro-choice but not unaware of the demons unleashed by that position and, oddly, she seems interested in the inequalities that have been created under the law:

Did the woman ask him to impregnate her and sign an agreement relieving him of any financial obligations? He's still liable if she changes her mind. Was he underage and legally a victim of statutory rape? Makes no difference. (One such case, in Kansas in 1993, involved a 12-year-old boy molested by a baby sitter.) Did the woman have her way with him when he had passed out from drinking and brag to friends that she had saved herself a trip to the sperm bank? Tough luck, said Alabama courts. Did she retrieve his semen from the condom she had asked him to wear during oral sex and inseminate herself with a syringe? Yes, it's a true story, and in 1997 the Louisiana Court of Appeals told the man to pay up, saying that a male who has any sexual contact with a woman -- even oral sex with a condom -- should assume that a pregnancy may ensue.

Her newest entry on the abortion debate is worth reading in light of our own recent post, including all the comments from men and miscellaneous other inferior sexes. We do wonder, though, whether her views on female superiority amount to a preference or just an acceptable unintended consequence.

Perhaps she'll deign to inform us directly.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

The First Bombshell

READY, SET, GO. The expected series of grisly and damaging revelations about Supreme Court nominee Samuel Alito began today with this headline in the Los Angeles Times:

A Phillies Fan With Blue-Chip Legal Stats

The text of the article goes on to quote Alito thus:

"My real ambition at the time was to be the commissioner of baseball," said Alito, an ardent fan of the Philadelphia Phillies. "I never dreamed that this day would actually arrive."

Senior Democratic members of the Senate Judiciary Comittee were quick to respond. Senators Edward Kennedy (MA) and Patrick Leahy (VT) held a joint press conference in which they read the following statement:

We are gravely disappointed to learn that the Bush administration's nominee is so far out of the mainstream of American baseball allegiances. And we are alarmed on two points. First, the millions of fans of America's most popular team, the Boston Red Sox, cannot help but feel marginalized by Judge Alito's eccentric membership in what can only be described as a splinter minority of sports affiliations. How can such a candidate possibly hope to represent the dreams and aspirations of the majority of Americans when he persists in allying himself with one of the oldest and least admirable franchises in the history of America's pastime? Second, his ambition to be commissioner of baseball suggests a sinister intention to hijack the game from the followers of contemporary mainstream franchises and turn the clock back to a time when there were only a handful of major league teams, all exclusively white and mostly redneck. We believe this represents a compelling reason to reject the nomination of Judge Scalito, and we urge our fellow Americans to protest the President's irresponsible selection.

Senator Charles Schumer also issued a statement from his home in New York:

This terrible stain on Judge Alito's record is a dagger in the heart of the millions of Yankee fans who make up the majority of the nation's baseball loyalists. The candidate has been unmasked as a partisan of a radical fringe minority. It could hardly be worse if he announced that he had season tickets to that other contemptible red-city team, the Texas Rangers. This nomination cannot be permitted to stand.

Senator Arlen Specter (PA) objected to the characterization of Phillies fans as a fringe minority, citing national polls which demonstrate that 70 percent of those who follow major league baseball have heard of the Phillies. "This is a team that in its 120 years of All-American history has won a World Series, among other accomplishments," said Specter. "To this day, the team has avid fans located as far east as New Jersey, as far south as Delaware, and as far west as just east of Harrisburg. That takes in a lot of American territory and a lot of Americans, both Democrat and Republican."

However, Republican Senators Mike DeWine (OH), John Cornyn (TX), and John Kyl (AZ) were more cautious in their responses to the revelation, agreeing that Alito's affiliation with the Phillies would be a legitimate subject for questioning by the judiciary committee. "It's distressing but not necessarily fatal that Judge Alito appears to be out of touch with the majority American preference for illustrious franchises like the Cincinnati Reds and Cleveland Indians," said deWine, "but just because the Phillies are the biggest losers in the whole history of baseball, bar none, does not make Alito a loser. Not necessarily. Not completely, anyway."

Senator Joseph Biden of Delaware could not be reached for comment.

Separately, Senator Dianne Feinstein (CA) blasted Alito's association with the Phillies, declaring that it "indicates a juvenile, racist, and male chauvinist strain of character that a grown man continues to obsess over a boy's playground game that has historically discriminated against African-Americans and excluded women entirely. This is not only inconsistent with the judicial temperament the American people demand of Supreme Court nominees, but representative of the profound evil that the the Bush administration always does. Or is. Whatever. You know what I mean."
It's getting ugly early, ain't it?

Not so fast, Neal

Boob vs. Babe

SIMPLE. Every so often, we feel obligated to bang on the empty drumhead that calls itself Neal Boortz. We see by the clock that it's the first of November, which means that magic time has come round once more.

Today, the semi-literate legal eagle from Atlanta is explaining -- yet again -- why conservatives should forget all about where the latest Supreme Court nominee stands on Roe v. Wade. We're already abundantly on record as saying Roe v. Wade is highly problematic as a conservative litmus test because it's impossible to know how any justice will vote until he's on the court, so we're not carrying any right wing water here. What we're compelled to do instead is challenge Boortz's airy assertion that he knows exactly where Americans stand on the abortion issue. Here's his flat-out declaration:

Abortion will never be made illegal throughout  the United States...ever.  If Roe vs. Wade were overturned tomorrow, all 50 states would immediately take over with their own laws.  The vast majority of the American people are pro-choice, so that issue is really settled.  Alito's nomination has nothing to do with abortion.

This is a prime example of Boortz's usual sloppy and (deliberately?) misleading thinking, which we have documented before, here , here, and here, without rebuttal. He makes an illogical argument that depends upon a mischaracterization of fact. We'll deal with the putative fact first -- that the vast majority of Americans are pro-choice. The evidence he'd cite comes from a survey like the one published by SurveyAmerica, which presents a state by state percentage breakdown and a U.S. breakdown weighted by population to arrive at the following totals: 38 percent pro-life and 56 percent pro-choice.

Convincing? Only if you ignore the self-evident fact that this is an enormously complicated and emotionally charged issue in which the easy labels are certain to create distortions by being mentioned at all. The actual question asked of the respondents to this survey was, "On abortion, are you pro-life? Or pro-choice?" Either-or. Black or white. Nothing in between. (No wonder this would sound like music to the space between Neal's ears.)

Anyone who looks, though, will find evidence that Boortz's "vast majority" is in question. According to an article in the Washington Times earlier this year:

The balance between pro-choice women and women who say abortion should be outlawed or severely restricted is shifting toward the pro-life side, bumping that group into the majority in the debate over reproductive rights, according to a new national poll.

Fifty-one percent of women surveyed by the Center for the Advancement of Women said the government should prohibit abortion or limit it to extreme cases, such as rape, incest, or life-threatening complications.

The findings, with a 3 percent margin of error for the 1,000 women surveyed, tips the scale from the last sampling in 2001, when 45 percent of women sided against making abortion readily available or imposing only mild restrictions. Only 30 percent support making it generally available, down from 34 percent in 2001, the survey found.

Even some pro-abortion groups have gotten poll results they didn't expect;

In June, the Center for the Advancement of Women released the results of a poll showing that 51 percent of women took a pro-life position. Their poll also found that keeping abortion legal was the next to last most important priority for women as compared with other public policy issues.

Jennifer Bingham of the Susan B. Anthony List, a pro-life group that works to elect pro-life women to public office, tells the media has painted a false impression that a majority of women support abortion.

"Poll after poll is showing that more and more American women are classifying themselves as pro-life," Bingham said. "After 30 years of the message that 'choice' means a women's right to choose an abortion -- women are finally expressing choice as the right to have a child."

What's going on here? Are the liberal pollsters skewing their questions? Are the right-to-lifers making statistics up? No. The fact is that the results vary significantly from 1) poll to poll, based upon what specific questions are asked about abortion, and 2) from time period to time period even on identical questions about abortion.

Here is an excellent site containing the results of numerous polls taken by news and political organizations representing left, right, and center political views. It's well worth the time it takes to read all the way through it. We don't pretend to have the statistical expertise to unravel all the mysteries of the frequently contradictory responses, but we will make a few observations that are pertinent to Roe v. Wade and the customary view of the topic as a war between pro-lifers and pro-choicers.

Perhaps the clearest trend in the results is that a majority of Americans believe abortion should be legal under some circumstances, especially in cases of rape and incest. A substantial minority believe abortion should always be legal. But the corollary of both these results is that a wavering majority of Americans also believe that abortion should be illegal in certain circumstances. It seems a fair inference, for example, that Americans lose tolerance for abortion the longer a pregnancy lasts and the more it is employed as a convenience by those who are too lazy to use contraceptives. A huge majority wishes to see fewer abortions and more parental involvement in decision making. The exact percentage breakdowns on all these positions move significantly up and down through time. Interestingly, the difference between the sexes on most questions seems slight or nonexistent. Apparently, the abortion issue is not about a male conspiracy to control women.

[Note that we invite -- even insist that --  you (to) examine the various studies for yourselves. We are not trying to put words in the mouths of the American people.]

One obvious bottom-line is that however the media and politicians speak about abortion, the terms pro-life and pro-choice do not apply to the fat part of the Bell Curve. An enormous number of Americans are somewhere in between, confused, struggling to navigate a sensible course through the hyperbolic rhetoric that prevents calm discussion of the complexities in public. There are those who believe it's a moral issue but should not be controlled by government or law. There are those who believe the government and the law must play a role because moral issues are involved. And there are those who believe the government and law must be involved because there are no moral issues involved. Almost no one is happy with the current state of affairs, but a majority do not believe that the issue is so critical it must be considered more important than all other issues before the country and its political parties. In other words, they can walk and chew gum at the same time; they are able to evaluate a public figure's position on abortion issues in the context of his position on other important matters. Presumably, they could also tolerate a period of legal confusion without losing their minds if Roe should one day be struck down.

In this context, Boortz's simplistic statement that a vast majority are pro-choice is disingenuous at best. Saying it enables him to make his specious case that Roe v. Wade is irrelevant. When he says, "If Roe vs. Wade were overturned tomorrow, all 50 states would immediately take over with their own laws," he thinks he is concluding the discussion. In fact, he is papering over the very serious relevance of Roe v. Wade, which is the federal law that thus far has been interpreted to mean that all abortions, in all circumstances, are beyond the reach of law. This is not what a vast majority of Americans want. For example, approximately 80 percent of Americans believe that the parents of minors seeking abortions should be notified. Unfortunately, the bizarre concept of privacy written into the constitution to justify Roe v. Wade also eliminates any possibility to do the will of the American people on this point.

It is the existence of an over-arching blanket license like Roe v. Wade which prevents people on all sides from coming to grips with the specifics of their own convictions. Boortz is correct in saying that overturning Roe would throw the question back to the states. That, by the way, is a step closer to where it can be dealt with meaningfully. There is a very clear difference in poll results from state to state. If Roe were overturned, Massachusetts might pass a state law identical to Roe, while Utah might pass a law banning abortion altogether. Other states might legalize abortion but require notification and/or consent by parents and spouses. Under our federal system, people unhappy with the laws in their own states would still have access, though the threshhold would be higher. In every state, however, the door would finally be open for individual communities, political districts and states to make the difficult distinctions, exceptions, and regulations preferred by the local majority, which no one is permitted to do today.

At a simple-minded level, Boortz is right to predict that abortion will never be entirely illegal. Yet it's equally true to say that if Roe were struck down, abortion will never again be universally legal and wholly unrestricted. Further, it's true to say that the various state laws governing abortion will come much closer to reflecting the complexities of the moral and ethical principles involved. Bad laws can be corrected. Unless the one unbreakable commandment is that there be no law. Note, too, that it is the existence of this one unbreakable commandment which holds this important issue hostage to our fading ability to determine how one nominee (at a time) feels about one supreme court case. To what definition of democratic rule does this state of affairs conform? Is it really superior to the messy give-and-take of people interacting with legislatures in individual states to pass, enforce, and refine laws that directly affect their lives?

Roe v. Wade is relevant. How Supreme Court nominees stand on Roe is relevant. Overturning this decision is in the interest of the vast majority of the American people, whether they know it or not. But sadly, another consistent by-product of the many polls is that they mimic the dunce logic of idiots like Boortz, reflecting an incorrect assumption that the abortion issue begins and ends with this one nightmarishly flawed supreme court opinion.

The clock ticks on. How many monolithic pro-choicers will there be when every woman can observe 4D ultrasound movies of her brand new fetus?

Not a rhetorical question. See for yourself what's coming.

See also The Doorway.



His father turned, and he followed the stiff black coat, the wiry figure walking a little stiffly from where a Confederate provost's man's musket ball had taken him in the heel on a stolen horse thirty years ago, followed the two backs now, since his older brother had appeared from somewhere in the crowd, no taller than the father but thicker, chewing tobacco steadily, between the two lines of grim-faced men and out of the store and across the worn gallery and down the sagging steps and among the dogs and half-grown boys in the mild May dust, where as he passed a voice hissed:

"Barn burner!"

- Excerpt from Barn Burning by William Faulkner

To read the whole story, follow the link.

Monday, October 31, 2005

Dowdy Booty

Those are some BIG damn feet.

SACRED TRUTHS. Maureen Dowd is still baffled by the fact that life involves tradeoffs, from which she, apparently, should be an exception:

Sylvia Ann Hewlett, an economist and the author of "Creating a Life: Professional Women and the Quest for Children," a book published in 2002, conducted a survey and found that 55 percent of 35-year-old career women were childless. And among corporate executives who earn $100,000 or more, she said, 49 percent of the women did not have children, compared with only 19 percent of the men.

Hewlett quantified, yet again, that men have an unfair advantage. "Nowadays," she said, "the rule of thumb seems to be that the more successful the woman, the less likely it is she will find a husband or bear a child. For men, the reverse is true."

A 2005 report by researchers at four British universities indicated that a high I.Q. hampers a woman's chance to marry, while it is a plus for men. The prospect for marriage increased by 35 percent for guys for each 16-point increase in I.Q.; for women, there is a 40 percent drop for each 16-point rise.

Since Maureen is always writing about Maureen, it's clear that she's hankering for a husband and a child. Instead, what does she get? Matt Drudge running a caption contest making fun of her.

It's all so unfair. That's why her new book is called "Are Men Necessary: When Sexes Collide." I suppose her preferred line of attack is that men aren't necessary, that the world would be better off if women -- especially smart women -- were artificially inseminated like dairy cows and free to bring up their smart female-only progeny in a one-sex society. That way, female IQs could keep going up while the male population dwindled away to nothing. But what does this mean in terms of one of Dowd's favorite talking points?

Women moving up still strive to marry up. Men moving up still tend to marry down. The two sexes' going in opposite directions has led to an epidemic of professional women missing out on husbands and kids.

In the dairy cow model, women will still be disappointed. There won't be any smart, powerful men to pursue. There will be millions of female geniuses, all desperately seeking some nonexistent male to show off to. The frustration will be immense. And what happens when powerful, brainy women get frustrated? You work out the answer for yourselves, but it's a good bet the answer rhymes with schmarmageddon.

Rather than a total reengineering of society, the right way out of this crisis might be for the smart, powerful men in Washington, DC, to get together and draw straws. The one who draws the short straw will arrange to be caught by Maureen Dowd, marry her, and spend the rest of his life making her feel beautiful, sexy, wanted, and indispensably brilliant. A tough assignment for somebody, to be sure, but it could save civilization as we know it. Isn't that worth the sacrifice of one heroic man? You decide.


A Battle over Principle

Miers stands aside in favor of Alito.

PRECEDENTS. At last the conservatives can begin preparing for the fight they've hungered for so desperately. The Senate Judiciary Committee will be the setting for a titanic confrontation between the conservative vision of the constitution as immutable bedrock of America and the liberal vision of the constitution as a paper towel used to wipe up every mess the little people make on the floor. It should be memorable. Intellectuals on the right have been girding for battle since Bork got bonked, and liberals have been amassing a war chest of personal smears even longer than that. We asked the God of the Right Wing, George Will, what it's going to take for his fellow Princeton alum Samuel Alito to prevail against Democrats Leahy, Kennedy, Schumer, and Biden on the left and Arlen "Bore them to Death" Specter in the slimy middle. Will was uncharacteristically direct:

Training is going to be the key. This contest will be more about endurance over multiple rounds than specific ring tactics. Kennedy in particular can hang in there as long as his corner maintains a ready supply of scotch, and Specter can keep going on the constant buzz he gets from the sound of his own voice. So Sam "The Jersey Giant" Alito is going to have to avoid the temptation to punch himself out in futile knockout attempts when he scores, as he will, with devastating clarity and logic. He should take his shots, sure, but when you're fighting opponents who just don't know when they've been staggered, you can get into a lot of trouble with over-pursuit. The bout will probably go the distance, and it may be decided in the end by a split decision.

Over at the Weekly Standard, the God of the Neocons, Bill Kristol, showed us the impressive conservative arsenal that Alito will have at his disposal:

We have to admit that it inspires confidence... at least until you get a load of the liberal arsenal they're displaying over at the Democratic caucus:

Principle is a wonderful thing, and we're sure it's going to be a great moment for American democracy when the idealists square off in the hearings. Are you looking forward to it as much as we are?

Friday, October 28, 2005

Psssst. White Sox Win.

PSAYINGS.5S.1-8. Here's a mystery:

The Chicago White Sox's first world championship in 88 years was also the lowest-rated World Series ever.

Chicago's four-game sweep of the Houston Astros averaged an 11.1 national rating with a 19 share on Fox. That's down about 7 percent from the previous low, an 11.9 with a 20 share for the 2002 World Series between the Anaheim Angels and the San Francisco Giants...

This year was a drop of almost 30 percent from last year's series, in which the Boston Red Sox swept the St. Louis Cardinals for their first title in 86 years. That had a 15.8 rating with a 25 share.

The team's world championship drought was longer than that of the Red Sox, who rode a public relations tidal wave last year celebrating the end of the fabled "Curse of the Bambino." That was a good show, and the Red Sox did perform valiantly in battling back from a 3-0 deficit against the New York Yankees in the League Championship Series. But why would the ratings meter plummet to zero for Sox of another color?

If you want to talk curses, Boston's fancied sin of trading away Babe Ruth is a molehill in comparison to the tragic mountain of atonement the White Sox have had to survive and surmount. Their curse is no whimsical trick of hindsight, but a dark reality: their name carries the blackest stain on the history of baseball, throwing a World Series for money. After the disgrace of 1919, it took them 40 years to return to the World Series and another 46 after that to return for a second time. That's a bleak record indeed. Shouldn't this near century in the valley of the shadow have mustered some traction in the national television audience?

It's possible to find excuses for the lack of interest. Most obviously the Red Sox legend isn't wholly a creation of imaginative Boston sportswriters. The Bambino aside, the team's record of 4-3 losses in the World Series has no rival in baseball. The team has blown up in clutch situations with a regularity that even a Phillies fan like myself can only regard with awe. But why this should have somehow transformed the Red Sox into beloved martyrs rather than dismissible goats on the national stage is hard to fathom. Couldn't the Irish sportswriters of Chicago mount even a one-year challenge to the Irish sportswriters of Boston and charm us into believing that 'Sox' equals 'charisma,' regardless of geography?

Another factor: In contrast to the glamor of the long Red Sox-Yankees rivalry, Major League Baseball is understandably less interested in reminding fans of the game's most terrible moment. They'd like to forget it altogether, so hyping it is unthinkable. But shouldn't the fans repond to the subversive thrill of digging the unacceptable plotline out of the dustbin and making it their own?

Finally, the White Sox bear the additional burden of being second in the hearts of Chicagoans to the even more infamously incompetent Cubs. Much has been written about why this is, and oddly the Black Sox scandal doesn't seem to be as overtly important as one might think, but why it's so isn't as important as the fact that it's so. Here, for example, is an excerpt from Chicagoan Andrew Greeley's column on the White Sox victory:

Why the difference between Cubs fans and Sox fans? As a working hypothesis I attribute the difference to the fact that the South Side Irish feel culturally inferior, perhaps because of the endless ridicule they must endure from the patently cultural superior West Side Irish and the North Side Irish (such as these latter might be). Or perhaps it is fading memory of the smell from the Stock Yards.

In fact, the sense of inferiority among the South Side Irish is understandable because they have much to feel inferior about (Sorry, Mr. Mayor!).

Of course, Father Greeley affects a tongue-in-cheek style here, though he harps on and repeats his main points a few too many times; in truth, he means what he says. (It's not the first time this over-praised cleric has shown his mean streak.) If Chicagoans can't embrace the White Sox without wrinkling their noses in distaste, how could the wider baseball audience?

And maybe that's emblematic of the difference between a fairy-tale curse and a real curse. Perhaps the 1919 Black Sox are a sin that can't be expiated by a World Series victory, or two, or ten. Maybe they're destined to roam the stage of major league baseball as a perpetual phantom, the invisible team that can never incarnate vividly enough to displace the eight dead men who nearly killed the game for everyone.

2005 WhiteBlack Sox

Well, I know everyone has more important things to think about today. So go on about your business. Forget the White Sox. That seems to be the lesson here.

The Plame Blame

Scooter's in trouble.

RERUN. A man with gray hair should never be called Scooter. You're supposed to leave that crap behind on the playing fields of Groton or Choate or wherever. That was his first mistake. The second was cooperating with the investigation of a special prosecutor. As the Martha Stewart case demonstrated, there is no longer any fifth amendment protection against self incrimination when the feds are involved. If you refuse to incriminate yourself, you are indicted for perjury. Never mind that the crime for which you failed to incriminate yourself was not a crime at all, which is why, of course, a nonpartisan special prosecutor who has wasted two years chasing a wisp of political gossip is absolutely compelled to indict somebody for lying about whatever he said or did after not committing a crime.

This would all be mildly amusing if it weren't so laughably ludicrous. Now the libs have what they want (or part of it), and just watch them salivate and slobber and stammer with indignation about the vileness of a crime that used to be committed on a daily basis by the President they revere so much they're determined to put his perjurer wife in the Oval Office.

We'll stand by what we've already said about this fictitious outrage: it's not even plausible enough to make a bad TV series (NSFW).

Fitzgerald is nonpartisan. In a pig's eye.

Then again, the defendant's name is Scooter. Sounds like an impasse to us.

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