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The following is one of those stories that at first blush, you check the calendar to make sure that it isn’t April 1st. The next thing you do is pinch yourself to make sure you’re awake. Finally, desperate not to believe what you have just read, you swear off dropping acid, smoking pot, and taking other mind altering substances in hopes that the hallucination that has appeared in front of you will disappear – the result of some drug addled stupor you’ve fallen into.

Alas, you then read the story again and realize that it is not April 1st, you are, in fact, awake, and that you haven’t dropped acid for 30 years anyway so what’s the point?

A 22-year-old woman is suing a Chicago Spanish-language radio station over allegations that they refuse to give her the car she won in a contest because she’s undocumented.

Maribel Nava Alvarez won the Corvette on July 4, 2005, in a raffle sponsored by 107.9 FM La Ley.

In a lawsuit naming both the radio station and its parent company, Spanish Broadcasting System, Alvarez says La Ley withheld the car when officials found out she’s undocumented.

She is suing for breach of contract and emotional distress.

In a written statement, La Ley said that it is legally required to get a valid Social Security number or tax identification number from anyone who wins prizes worth more than $500.

The station tried to give Alvarez the car even though her tax information couldn’t be verified, the statement said.

Alvarez said she was never told she needed to be a U.S. citizen or legal resident to win the car.

I’ll give you a moment to pick your jaw off the floor…

What’s wrong with this picture? We can start by taking the Tribune to task for referring to the woman as “undocumented.” She is, of course, an illegal alien who is breaking the law by residing in the United States without a visa or green card. But hey! Whose counting?

And I don’t know what’s more shocking; the fact that the station tried to give her the car anyway without collecting the necessary tax information or the unmitigated gall of the woman to sue for “emotional distress.” Living here illegally is emotionally distressing in and of itself. But to try and soak a radio station for trying to follow the law and deny her the benefit of her ill gotten gains is beyond the pale, beyond avarice, and beyond belief.

The Spanish Broadcast System attorney played a little hardball with the woman:

Alvarez’s suit also names SBS lawyer James Cueva, who sent her attorney a letter on Dec. 19, 2005, threatening to contact immigration officials if she pursued a lawsuit.

“I will caution you that if you insist on filing suit against SBS, I will in turn be forced to refer this matter to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement as I believe your client is in this country illegally,” the letter said.

Cueva’s remarks “have sometimes been presented without proper context,” the station’s statement said.

Alvarez said she has left the Chicago area out of fear that she would be deported.

Why should the station apologize for a lawyer doing his duty as a citizen and reporting an illegal alien? The context is perfect; an illegal alien was trying to claim an expensive prize without having to pay taxes on it and was threatening to sue in order to get even more loot from the station. Whatever context you want to view that in is fine with me.

The woman is a fool. She should have waited a few months when the amnesty bill that will almost surely be passed gives her everything her little mercenary heart desires.

Until then, I sure hope she finds a way to deal with her “emotional distress.”

By: Rick Moran at 12:51 pm | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (8)

Michelle Malkin linked with Illegal alien demands free car

For all of my new found friends on the left (and old friends on the right) who have been cheering me on as I have skewered the Administration over their prosecution of the war, this post may come as a bit of a disappointment.

While I believe the increase in troop strength won’t by itself lead to a satisfactory conclusion to the war, I feel compelled to support the President and General Petraeus who have both indicated that the troop increase is necessary to get a handle on the security situation in Baghdad and Anbar province.

Yes, a less than enthusiastic endorsement but a realistic one, I think. I have said many times that we are well beyond the point where military action alone can save Iraq. Only the Iraqi government can carry out the political moves necessary to take the heat out of the insurgency, the militias, and the sectarian violence that is killing more than 150 people a day and creating a growing refugee problem as Sunnis flee the mixed neighborhoods of Baghdad to avoid the slaughter.

Having said that, the surge appears to be well thought out and, if implemented with the kind of vigor our troops have shown so far in running al-Sadr’s militia to ground, it is more than possible that there can be a large decrease in the violence – breathing room for al-Maliki to make the overtures necessary to broaden the support of his government among Sunnis while restraining the Shias from taking their revenge for Saddam’s atrocities.

But whether you think the surge will work or not (and yes, I want it to work very badly), you should ask yourself a question: Is it up to the Senate to micromanage the war by second guessing both the Commander in Chief and the Commanding general in theater?

The Biden resolution states “It is not in the national interest” for the President to send more troops to Iraq. Further, as Chuck Shumer helpfully points out, this is only the beginning:

Sen. Charles Schumer D-N.Y., said Thursday that the resolution the committee approved is not the last that will be heard from Congress.

“A resolution that that says we’re against this escalation, that’s easy. The next step will be how do you put further pressure on the administration against the escalation, but still supporting the troops who are there,” he said on NBC’s “Today” program.

“That’s what we’re figuring out right now,” Schumer added. “But this will not be the end. There will be other resolutions with more teeth in it afterwards and my bet—they’ll get a majority of support and significant Republican support.”

Indeed, this is the dilemma for Democrats and those Republicans who wish to undercut the Commander in Chief during a time of war: how do you hide the fact from the voters that you are voting to cut our troops under fire off at the knees?

A very delicate political problem that the Democrats will find some way to solve. In the meantime, the larger question remains of whether the Senate should be setting war policy at all.

Yes they can cut off funding if they wish, although they cannot propose such a measure. All money bills must originate in the House (there are ways around that constitutional requirement but by tradition, the Senate usually allows the House to lead). And they can hold hearings and jawbone to their hearts content. But can they micro-manage issues like troop levels? Why not war doctrine? Why not tactics and strategy?

The answer is that these Senators are not interested in supporting the troops, or helping the Iraqis, or tamping down the violence, or anything except looking out for their own political hides:

If they were serious and had the courage of their convictions, they’d attempt to cut off funds for the Iraq effort. But that would mean they would have to take responsibility for what happens next. By passing “non-binding resolutions,” they can assail Mr. Bush and put all of the burden of success or failure on his shoulders.

This is not to say that the resolution won’t have harmful consequences, at home and abroad. At home, it further undermines public support for the Iraq effort. Virginia Republican John Warner even cites a lack of public support to justify his separate non-binding resolution of criticism for Mr. Bush’s troop “surge.” But public pessimism is in part a response to the rhetoric of failure from political leaders like Mr. Warner. The same Senators then wrap their own retreat in the defeatism they helped to promote.

I’m not so sure about that last part. The American people are smart enough to know that things are not going at all well in Iraq. They don’t have to hear it from Senators or Congressmen or even political pundits. The one dimensional reporting we are getting from Iraq about body counts and the latest massacre is sufficient enough to sour them on the war effort. And while media coverage of the war is horribly incomplete, I doubt whether it would make any difference if the “good news” that happens in that bloody land were reported as well. Vice President Cheney’s rantings aside, it is not defeatism in the media or the Congress or in the blogosphere that is hurting our efforts in Iraq. It was and continues to be Administration policies that have proven themselves a failure.

Acknowledging that fact is the first step to fixing the situation. The second step is to lower our sights in what we can accomplish in Iraq militarily. And the final step will be in assisting the Iraqi government in coming to terms with the Sunnis and the Kurds and facilitating a truly national, non sectarian government where all Iraqis can live together in peace.

None of this will be accomplished by the Senate. And this is why I’m joining with Hugh Hewitt and other bloggers in signing a petition pledging not to support Republican Senators who vote with the Democrats on the Biden resolution. I would add that I will not support any Senator who votes for any resolution that undercuts the Commander in Chief or the Commanding General in theater in their plans to improve the security situation in Iraq. This includes a bunch of alternative resolutions eagerly being drawn up by Republican Senators who don’t want to be left behind when the “Stick it to the President” train leaves the station.

Hugh is also urging people to call Senator McConnell’s office ((202-224-2541) and urge him to organize a filibuster of the resolution.

Judging by the favorable reaction to his State of the Union speech, the American people, although highly skeptical, appear to be inclined to give the President one more chance to succeed in Iraq. The least we can do as Americans is to give our support to the Commander in Chief.

By: Rick Moran at 11:40 am | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (19)

CATEGORY: Government, Politics

Two election workers in Ohio’s most populous county were convicted of tampering with votes prior to a recount of the ballots after the 2004 election:

Two election workers in the state’s most populous county were convicted Wednesday of illegally rigging the 2004 presidential election recount so they could avoid a more thorough review of the votes.

A third employee who had been charged was acquitted on all counts.

Jacqueline Maiden, the elections’ coordinator who was the board’s third-highest ranking employee when she was indicted last March, and ballot manager Kathleen Dreamer each were convicted of a felony count of negligent misconduct of an elections employee.

Maiden and Dreamer also were convicted of one misdemeanor count each of failure of elections employees to perform their duty. Both were acquitted of five other charges.

Rosie Grier, assistant manager of the Cuyahoga County Elections Board’s ballot department, was acquitted of all seven counts of various election misconduct or interference charges.

Here is proof positive that the forces of darkness were attempting to subvert the democratic process and hand the election to evil George Bush, right?

Well…not exactly.

You see, Cuyahoga County is about 70% Democratic. And the poll workers were hired by by the county elections board. Although the board is made up of two Democrats and two Republicans, I would hazard a guess (the article doesn’t, of course) that these convicted poll manipulators were Democrats. In fact, given the way patronage jobs work in most parts of the country – Democratic and Republican – it would be safe to say that these were Democratic party activists, rewarded with a nice plum of a job for past service.

What exactly were they trying to accomplish? Kerry got 67% of the county vote in 2004 and a few votes tossed his way wouldn’t have made any difference in the long run.

It appears that the workers were caught in something of a bind; some dufus laid out procedures for handling the recount without examining what the law said about it:

Grier, the worker who was acquitted, was the only defendant who commented following the verdicts.

“It has all been very stressful,” said Grier, 54. “Yes, I’m very relieved. But, none of us should have been in this courtroom today. These charges should not have been brought against any of us.”

Defense lawyer Roger Synenberg said in his closing argument that the 2004 presidential election was the most publicly observed ever in Cuyahoga County and the workers were simply following procedures as they understood them.

The county was already under fire for what happened on election day in Cleveland. Extraordinarily long lines were found in black precincts due to a lack of foresight by county officials in ordering enough voting machines. Also, some precincts failed to open on time because the county failed to staff them with the appropriate personnel. There were also a number of problems with the machines that did show up and there were long delays in either replacing or repairing them.

In short, Cuyahoga County’s managing of their own election was one gigantic cluserf**k. But don’t tell the conspiracy theorists that. Their heads might explode. You see, the conspiracy mongers have laid all of these problems at the doorstep of former Secretary of State (and co-Chair of the Bush campaign in Ohio) Kenneth Blackwell.

Blackwell’s administration of the election was marked by incompetence and, at times, a suspiciously partisan bent. However, many of the problems the conspiracy theorists try and tar him with are actually problems created by local election officials. The fact is that elections in this country are a disgrace; amateur hour for political hacks of both parties. It is too easy to fiddle with the results, too difficult for voters to register or understand procedures, and the government is too lazy to address the problem.

To try and single out one party or another for disapprobation for the way they handle elections locally or state wide is ridiculous. This is a national problem that cuts across party lines and regions.

This case highlights that fact. My purpose in bringing it to your attention is not to savage the Dems but to show that problems in Ohio – a flashpoint for the left in their conspiracy-addled brains – had as much to do with incompetence and ignorance as it did with some hidden agenda by Diebold or the machinations of the evil Republicans.

The question isn’t whether there is a problem with the way Republicans run elections or the way that Democrats run elections but in the way that elections are run in general. The sooner we come to agreement on that singular conclusion, the quicker we can address the problems associated with the most precious freedom we have; the right to choose our leaders.


I have changed the headline of this article from “Dem Election Workers…” to simply “Election Workers…” because I cannot find concrete evidence that any of the indicted workers were in fact members of the Democratic party. Given that the county is 70% Democratic, it would stand to reason that a plum job at the Board of Elections would probably go to a Democrat.

Any way you look at it, this appears to be either a case of the staff following stupid procedures that didn’t take into account what the law said about handling recounts or, just as likely, pure bureaucratic laziness. If discrepancies had been found, it would have been tons of more work for the staff – reason enough to fudge the results of a hand recount by picking out precincts where there was an exact match with the tally.


Reader David Singh tracked down the political affiliations of the BOE workers:

David Singh wrote:
I looked up the voter registration records for the three election workers in
Cleveland who were on trial. I expected to see three registered democrats as
you surmised. Luckily, all three had names unique in the Ohio voter reg.
database @

The surprising results:


By: Rick Moran at 8:21 am | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (11)

Iowa Voice linked with More “They Stole Ohio” Nonsense
The Thunder Run linked with Web Reconnaissance for 01/25/2007
Michelle Malkin linked with Election incompetence, not conspiracy, in Ohio


Virginia Woolf
1/25/1882 – 3/28/1941
British author

71 Giovanni Morone
1/25/1509 – 12/1/1580
Italian cardinal and diplomat

64 Robert Boyle
1/25/1627 – 12/30/1691
Anglo-Irish chemist

77 Joseph-Louis Lagrange
1/25/1736 – 4/10/1813
Italian-French mathematician

37 Robert Burns
1/25/1759 – 7/21/1796
Scottish national poet

60 Benjamin Robert Haydon
1/25/1786 – 6/22/1846
English historical painter/writer

77 Dan Rice
1/25/1823 – 2/22/1900
American clown

50 George Edward Pickett
1/25/1825 – 7/30/1875
American Confederate Army officer

76 Charles Curtis
1/25/1860 – 2/8/1936
American 31st vice president

85 Rufus Matthew Jones
1/25/1863 – 6/16/1948
American Quaker and author

91 W. Somerset Maugham
1/25/1874 – 12/16/1965
English novelist/playwright

76 William C. Bullitt
1/25/1891 – 2/15/1967
U.S. diplomat

73 Paul-Henri Spaak
1/25/1899 – 7/31/1972
Post-World War II statesmen from Belgium

54 Viljo Revell
1/25/1910 – 11/8/1964
Finnish architect

1/25/1954 – ??
Right Wing Weblogger

By: Rick Moran at 6:07 am | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (6)

CATEGORY: Middle East

This article originally appears in The American Thinker

In what is being referred to by pro-government forces as an attempted coup, Hezb’allah and their allies in the opposition took to the streets on Tuesday in what was billed as a “General Strike” in order to force the government of Prime Minister Fouad Siniora to capitulate to opposition demands for a “National Unity Government.”

Protestors blocked roads with burning tires in what appeared to be an extraordinarily well organized effort to shut down the country. The roadblocks effectively kept tens of thousands of people from commuting to work and many of Lebanon’s businesses were closed for the day. Also, the road to the airport was blocked when dump trucks appeared and piled dirt and garbage at strategic locations along the route.

Pro government forces clashed with the opposition at many locations throughout the country, but especially in the north in Tripoli where violence continued Wednesday. All told, at least three deaths were reported and 133 injured. Most of the injuries were from gunshot wounds.

As swiftly as the violence broke out, it appears today that the opposition has called off the protests. Hezb’allah leader Hassan Nasrallah may have been taken aback by the intensity of the clashes between his supporters and those of the government and decided to take a step back. Or, he may have planned the strike as a one day demonstration of his ability to shut the country down any time he wishes. In either case, it is clear that Nasrallah has begun to ratchet up the pressure on the government and force them to accede to his demands.

But in so doing, Nasrallah has energized the Sunnis and forced them to confront the Shias. The act of blocking the roads in southern and western Beirut hemmed the Sunnis into their own enclave and was seen as something of a blockade. Not only that, the roadblocks and the shutting down of the road to the airport was all too reminiscent of what transpired during the years of civil war. Many of the same areas that were battlegrounds during that horrible period once again saw blood running in the streets. The significance was not lost on Nasrallah nor on the Sunnis which may be the main reason that the Hezb’allah leader called off the general strike. Nasrallah and his masters in Iran do not want a civil war in Lebanon. He would just as soon swallow Lebanon whole without a messy sectarian conflict on his hands.

This doesn’t take into account what Nasrallah’s Christian ally Michel Aoun would like to see happen. Aoun and Nasrallah appear to be getting farther apart in what each wants to accomplish with these opposition demonstrations that have been going on since early December. Where Nasrallah wants a sufficent number of ministers in the cabinet so that he would have veto power over the government, Aoun’s Presidential ambitions seem to have taken a backseat in Nasrallah’s planning.

And Aoun’s machinations have split the Christian community to the point that some of those clashes yesterday were between Christian factions loyal to Aoun’s Free Patriotic Movement and the pro-government Lebanese Forces headed up by Aoun’s longtime rival Samir Geaegea. The Maronite Patriarch Nasrallah Boutros Sfeir has condemned both sides in the conflict but so far has done little to try and heal the split among his people. This schism among Christians is another reminder of what happened during the civil war when the anti-Syrian faction headed up ironically by Aoun fought pitched battles with Geagea’s Lebanese Forces in East Beirut. It is indicative of the tragedy that is Lebanese history and politics that 17 years later, the same forces are fighting again only this time it is Aoun allied with pro-Syrian forces and Geagea in opposition.

Where was the army during these clashes? Early in the day, the army commander Michel Suleiman ordered his troops not to fire on protestors but to try and keep the roads open. This order was honored in the breech as there is ample evidence the army not only assisted the opposition by preventing people from going to work but also stood by and allowed small numbers of protestors to blockade the roads. It is clear that the army failed to do its job. Troops did move in when violence erupted to scatter combatants with tear gas and by firing their guns into the air. But the damage is done. Prime Minister Siniora may not be able to trust the army when Nasrallah makes his next move.

The timing of the protest is interesting in that Siniora was headed to Paris to conclude talks that would bring billions of dollars in aid to the Lebanese economy, devastated by Hezb’allah’s war with Israel last summer. The US has pledged more than $750 million while the French have promised another $500 million to help rebuild much of the infrastructure destroyed in the war as well as help with Lebanon’s crushing debt burden. By any measure, the Paris III Conference, involving dozens of countries in the reconstruction effort, is a triumph for Siniora’s government – something that Nasrallah couldn’t abide. In effect, Siniora is demonstrating that the government doesn’t need Hezb’allah or its allies to govern effectively.

At present, Nasrallah appears to be running out of “peaceful” options in his quest to overthrow the government. Everything he has tried in order to bring down Siniora has failed. He has been stymied not only by the support of the Lebanese people for the government but he has been checked by Lebanon’s friends and neighbors who have worked diligently to help Siniora and his government survive, now holed up in the Grand Serail for nearly two months in order to prevent Hezb’allah from achieving their aims through assassination.

The Arab League has been especially supportive and their appears to be a tentative agreement to end the cabinet standoff that has been negotiated by Saudi Arabia and Iran. Few details are available but the agreement apparently addresses both cabinet representation for the opposition as well as coming to an understanding regarding the International Tribunal that will try the assassins of ex-Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri. This is crucial as it is thought that the Tribunal will almost certainly implicate high level Syrian government officials in the death of Hariri as well as other bombings and assassinations in Lebanon over the past 2 years. It is doubtful that the Saudi’s would have agreed to any measures that would dilute the power of the Tribunal which makes Hezb’allah’s acceptance of this agreement problematic. It is equally doubtful that Nasrallah will be handed veto power over cabinet decisions.

This means that either Nasrallah accepts this face saving retreat (he will probably get a near majority of ministers) or he continues his quixotic protests in the hopes that eventually he can wear down the March 14th Forces in government. But it is becoming more apparent as time passes that the only way that Nasrallah will get what he wants is through violence. Siniora and his government aren’t going anywhere. There is no chance that early parliamentary elections will be held that would give him an opportunity to muscle his way into power through voter intimidation and fraud. And his alliance with Michel Aoun may begin to become more of a burden as time goes on. Losing the vain Aoun would doom his faction to a permanent minority as well as taking away any fig leaf of legitimacy he held in his claim that he represented all Lebanese and not just the Shias.

What will he do? A hard man to read, Hassan Nasrallah. He seems unwilling to take the final plunge into civil war (something opposed by his paymasters in Tehran) but will lose credibility if he simply gives in and goes home. His calculations must include the fact that rule by the Shias or a Shia dominated government will be unacceptable to the Sunnis and most Christians. For this reason, I believe that if the agreement ironed out between Iran and the Saudis gives him enough of what he wanted, he may fold and go home, hoping that the next round of elections will give him more leverage in his next confrontation with the government.

Nasrallah knows that no one will dare disarm his militia, something called for in 2 separate UN resolutions and the Taif Accords under which the Lebanese government operates. And as long as his bully boys have the guns, they will have the ultimate veto power over the Lebanese government and society. For this reason, Nasrallah will be able to bide his time and wait for the next opportunity to take Lebanon to the brink.

By: Rick Moran at 5:21 am | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (0)


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The first black coaches in the history of the Super Bowl. Tony Dungy of Indianapolis (left) and the Bears Lovie Smith (right)

The National Football League is the most successful professional sports organization in America, light years ahead of Major League Baseball and the National Basketball Association in terms of marketing, promotion, and TV viewership. They are also by far and away the most insular, clubby, chummy group of evil rich, white males that ever banded together to make a fortune.

They are the only professional sports league in America who successfully broke a strike (1987) and, in so doing, got the players association union decertified. The way they accomplished this feat was the result of one of the most cynical betrayals of football fans imaginable; replacement players. Placing teams on the field that were little better than junior college outfits and calling them professionals, NFL owners brazenly fobbed off the games to the fans, the media, and even the giant TV networks and had the gall to count the wins and losses of the replacement players toward a team’s final record after the strike ended late in the season.

The league is extraordinarily tolerant of bad behaviour, even criminal activity. At least 35 players were arrested in 2006 – 8 members of the Cincinnati Bengals alone – on criminal charges ranging from gun possession to assault. Steroid use is still rampant, largely because the league continues to refuse to deal with it. A perusal of the NFL Crimes Newsblog will quickly disabuse anyone of the notion that the NFL could care a tinker’s damn what kind of criminals and scofflaws are representing them on the turf every Sunday.

Now don’t get me wrong. I love professional football. I love to watch it, to talk about it, to write about it. But it is good sometimes to take a step back and examine the cost of our obsession – the real human toll in broken lives, broken dreams, and broken spirits that, at bottom, are the responsibility of the owners and, by extension, their creation; the administration of the National Football League, Inc.

The league’s owners ride players like cheap horses until, unable to perform any longer, set them adrift to deal with a myriad of health and psychological problems on their own. The NFL Players Association President Gene Upshaw proudly proclaims:

“The bottom line is, I don’t work for [retired NFL football players]. They don’t hire me and they can’t fire me. They can complain about me all day long. They can have their opinion. But the active players have the vote. That’s who pays my salary.”

And so you are left with the fact that many NFL players retire into poverty and die much younger than is normal.

All this would be bad enough. But like other professional sports, the struggle of African Americans to achieve recognition much less equality in this multi-billion dollar industry has been a combination of insidious racism and cloying condescension. And nowhere is this borne out more than in the “storyline” that is emerging during this Super Bowl interregnum regarding the coaches of the Chicago Bears and Indianapolis Colts – the first black head coaches to win through to the Super Bowl in NFL history.

Please note the year. It is the year of our Lord (or, for you agnostics out there, the Common Era) 2007. I don’t want to be a party pooper – especially since the NFL and an all too willing media are pulling a collective deltoid muscle patting themselves on the back for being so progressive and enlightened – but what exactly is there to celebrate about the fact that 144 years after the Emancipation Proclamation and more than 40 years after the Civil Rights Bill passed Congress, a person of color has led his team to the biggest sporting event in America?

Instead, the story should be what the hell took so long? The reason that this will not be the story is that the answer would reveal several uncomfortable truths about the NFL and perhaps American society in general that some believe should remain buried.

The dirty little secret in the NFL and, in all professional sports save perhaps the NBA, is not the success of Tony Dungy and Lovie Smith but rather of all black head coaches. In fact, black coaches are more successful as a group than the average. Why is that? It’s because the secret that is whispered in the halls of power in the NFL and the various teams is that in order to be hired in the first place, an African American coaching candidate must be better than the white candidate.

Why have black coaches been so successful? Seems as though it’s because a black man can’t get a job coaching in the NFL unless he’s uncommonly impressive. The eight black coaches in the NFL’s modern era have a combined record of 442-368-1, a .546 winning percentage. They’ve made the playoffs in 29 of their 50 combined seasons.

These results mirror what University of Pennsylvania economics professor Janice Madden found in her 2004 study of the differences in job performance between black and white coaches. She determined that the success of black coaches was “consistent with NFL teams ‘requiring’ that African-American coaches be better than Whites to obtain and to keep their positions.”

‘Twas an interesting conclusion, but it didn’t take a Ph.D. to figure that out. Old folks have been saying similar things for years. In a 1999 interview with Time, Chris Rock said he worked as hard as he does because “[he] was raised to believe that [black people] had to be better than white people to succeed,” a take on racism not unique to him.

The same held true for years regarding black quarterbacks and still does to some extent although players like Vince Young and Michael Vick are rapidly changing that dynamic. And the same could be said for front office positions. A variety of reasons have been given for the dearth of black sports executives, including the belief that African Americans aren’t interested in those jobs because of the salary differential between player and front office. But is that the real reason? Candidates for those executive positions come from a wide variety of backgrounds,and not all of them are former athletes. In recent years, there has been some progress in Major League Baseball in that a concerted has been underway to seek out and hire minority executives. And the NBA even has a program in place to promote ownership of franchises by minorities.

But it was only in 2002 that the NFL, threatened with a lawsuit by the Black Coaches Association, initiated a rule that whenever there was a head coaching vacancy, the NFL franchise had to interview at least one minority candidate. To say that this action, forced upon the league because of the scandalous lack of black head coaches, was a little late in coming would be an understatement. And this is the way it has been in the NFL for most of its existence. The rich white man’s club was perfectly content to use the African American to put fannies in the seats. But underneath the glitz and the glamour, the screaming fans and adoring press, there was the ugly undercurrent of discrimination based on skin color.

Can affirmative action “fix” this situation? Perhaps not. Perhaps, it is a simple matter of time passing and barriers being broken one by one until, as Martin Luther King so eloquently said, we begin to judge people “not by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.” Or, in the case of NFL coaches, whether they are a part of the “the in crowd” who are at the front of the line when jobs are handed out regardless of past performance. In fact, real progress in the NFL should be measured not by the success to be had by black coaches, but perhaps by their failures as well:

That isn’t to say there hasn’t been progress in minority hiring in the NFL. It’s just that more significant milestones in the fight for equity in hiring have been overlooked. There was greater cause for celebration when Ray Rhodes, fresh off two horrendous seasons coaching the Eagles, was hired by the Packers in 1999. The same could be said when Dungy, after a string of disappointing postseasons in Tampa Bay, was hired by the Colts shortly after being fired by the Buccaneers.

After years of black coaches being passed over for retreads, Rhodes and Dungy—and, later, Dennis Green and Herman Edwards—had become retreads themselves. They’d become insiders, part of the head coaching network. Their names were considered right alongside other guys that, for whatever reasons, hadn’t gotten it done before but were still respected in the business.

That is progress.

Two men doing the jobs they’re paid to do? Not so much.

And to that, I say Amen.

So during the next two weeks as you listen to the self congratulatory tone among commentators and league officials about what a “tremendous achievement” it is to have a black coach in the Super Bowl, it may be well to keep in mind the history of the NFL and why that achievement – so long in coming – should only spur the league to redouble their efforts to bring equality of opportunity to all.

By: Rick Moran at 7:45 am | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (8)


George Bush will go before the American people tonight and perform one of the only Constitutionally mandated duties of a President; he must “from time to time give to the Congress Information of the State of the Union, and recommend to their Consideration such Measures as he shall judge necessary and expedient;” (Article II, Section 3).

It is not necessary that he give this speech before a joint session of Congress. Our first two Presidents felt it desirable to do so but from the time of the Jefferson Administration through President William Howard Taft’s final message in 1912, the “State of the Union” was an often lengthy report to Congress full of wish lists for various departments and boring summaries of the latest wars to kick Indians off their land. Woodrow Wilson invented the SOTU as a modern presidential dog and pony show, believing that the presidency was “dynamic, alive, and personal.”

Even modern Presidents have sometimes not bothered to deliver the SOTU in public and instead, simply handed one into Congress like a kid handing his homework. Jimmy Carter was the last President to forgo the pleasure of appearing before Congress. His final SOTU in 1981 was hand delivered to Congress and judging by its length, they may have had to use a crane to get the damn thing to the Speaker’s office. Reading it through, one is struck by the blindness, the moral cowardice, and the denial of reality that oozes from every page. Even after the whupping the Gipper gave him, Carter could never acknowledge either his own mistakes or that his worldview was warped, stupid and naive.

State of the Union speeches have since become grand civic theater – a cross between a classic melodrama when a President points to the American hero of the day in the gallery and low, bawdy house comedy as the reactions of the opposition party become as much a part of the speech as the words uttered by the President.

But there was a time when the State of the Union speech took on enormous drama and in a very real way inspired millions.

Ronald Reagan’s 1982 speech was his first SOTU. He was at the height of his powers, holding the Congress and the nation spellbound with soaring rhetoric and hardheaded assessments of both our domestic and foreign problems:

But from this podium, Winston Churchill asked the free world to stand together against the onslaught of aggression. Franklin Delano Roosevelt spoke of a day of infamy and summoned a nation to arms. Douglas MacArthur made an unforgettable farewell to a country he loved and served so well. Dwight Eisenhower reminded us that peace was purchased only at the price of strength. And John F. Kennedy spoke of the burden and glory that is freedom.

When I visited this Chamber last year as a newcomer to Washington, critical of past policies which I believed had failed, I proposed a new spirit of partnership between this Congress and this administration and between Washington and our State and local governments. In forging this new partnership for America, we could achieve the oldest hopes of our Republic—prosperity for our nation, peace for the world, and the blessings of individual liberty for our children and, someday, for all of humanity.

It’s my duty to report to you tonight on the progress that we have made in our relations with other nations, on the foundation we’ve carefully laid for our economic recovery, and finally, on a bold and spirited initiative that I believe can change the face of American government and make it again the servant of the people.

Seldom have the stakes been higher for America. What we do and say here will make all the difference to autoworkers in Detroit, lumberjacks in the Northwest, steelworkers in Steubenville who are in the unemployment lines; to black teenagers in Newark and Chicago; to hard-pressed farmers and small businessmen; and to millions of everyday Americans who harbor the simple wish of a safe and financially secure future for their children. To understand the state of the Union, we must look not only at where we are and where we’re going but where we’ve been.

After detailing the dire straits he found the Republic upon taking office, Reagan ticked off a few of the measures he had taken to remedy the situation. It is important to remember that the recession at that time was really beginning to bite as Fed Chairman Paul Volker put the screws to inflation by jacking up interest rates. And yet Reagan insisted on staying the course with his economic plan, convinced in the end that it would work.

Of course it did – mostly. The deficit soared when Reagan misjudged the Democratic Congress. He thought they would be forced to cut entitlements and other non defense spending in order to avoid all that massive red ink. He was wrong there. But if there is one thing all Americans can be grateful to Reagan for is that he let Volker wring inflation out of the economy. The medicine was bitter but absolutely necessary. It was a courageous choice, one that liberals never give him credit and one that every President since has had reason to silently thank him for.

While self congratulatory, the speech also pointed up the pain that was being inflicted and a warning that things would not get better anytime soon:

No one pretends that the way ahead will be easy. In my Inaugural Address last year, I warned that the “ills we suffer have come upon us over several decades. They will not go away in days, weeks, or months, but they will go away . . . because we as Americans have the capacity now, as we’ve had it in the past, to do whatever needs to be done to preserve this last and greatest bastion of freedom.” ’

The economy will face difficult moments in the months ahead. But the program for economic recovery that is in place will pull the economy out of its slump and put us on the road to prosperity and stable growth by the latter half of this year. And that is why I can report to you tonight that in the near future the state of the Union and the economy will be better—much better—if we summon the strength to continue on the course that we’ve charted.

I don’t believe any President since this speech has ever been anything except Little Miss Suzie Sunshine about the current and future state of the Union. And Reagan’s prediction about economic growth was almost spot on; it took until the second quarter of 1983 for growth to begin again. And this time, it was non-inflationary growth. The inflation rate had been whittled down from 12% to less than 4% in two years.

But where Reagan succeeded brilliantly was his inspiration in placing Lenny Skutnik in the gallery to be recognized for heroism. When the President does this nowadays, it seems trite and forced. But back in 1982, Skutnik really was a hero – a very ordinary guy who performed a truly heroic act.

Just two weeks before the speech, on a snowy icy day in Washington, D.C., an Air Florida jet taking off from what was then called Washington National Airport crashed a mile from the airport, hitting the 14th Street bridge and plunging into the icy Potomac River. Six passengers managed to get out of the sinking plane to take their chances in the water.

Traffic on the bridge was at a total standstill which delayed many rescuers from reaching the crash site. A few firefighters with inadequate equipment made it to the river bank and a helicopter began to rescue those in the river by dropping lifelines to the 6 passengers in the icy water. One of the passengers, Arland Williams, began passing the lifelines to others who were too cold to make a move toward them. This eventually cost Williams his life as he became the only passenger who drowned as a result of the crash.

One of the passengers that Williams gave a lifeline to could not hold on as the helicopter began to lift her out of the water. It was then that Skutnik, seeing what was happening and watching as the woman slowly began to go under, jumped into the water. A firefighter leapt in after him to keep Skutnik from drowning and together, they ended up helping the woman to shore.

The crash and aftermath had mesmerized the nation for days and Skutnik was hailed from coast to coast as a true hero. Reagan tapped into all that emotion and skillfully used Skutnik as a prop to underscore his message of courage and that ordinary people can make a difference:

And then there are countless, quiet, everyday heroes of American who sacrifice long and hard so their children will know a better life than they’ve known; church and civic volunteers who help to feed, clothe, nurse, and teach the needy; millions who’ve made our nation and our nation’s destiny so very special-unsung heroes who may not have realized their own dreams themselves but then who reinvest those dreams in their children. Don’t let anyone tell you that America’s best days are behind her, that the American spirit has been vanquished. We’ve seen it triumph too often in our lives to stop believing in it now.

A hundred and twenty years ago, the greatest of all our Presidents delivered his second State of the Union message in this Chamber. “We cannot escape history,” Abraham Lincoln warned. “We of this Congress and this administration will be remembered in spite of ourselves.” The “trial through which we pass will light us down, in honor or dishonor, to the latest [last] generation.”

Well, that President and that Congress did not fail the American people. Together they weathered the storm and preserved the Union. Let it be said of us that we, too, did not fail; that we, too, worked together to bring America through difficult times. Let us so conduct ourselves that two centuries from now, another Congress and another President, meeting in this Chamber as we are meeting, will speak of us with pride, saying that we met the test and preserved for them in their day the sacred flame of liberty—this last, best hope of man on Earth.

It is very hard to recapture the emotions one felt listening to those words, remembering the times in which they were delivered. Those too young to comprehend or who weren’t born at that time will never understand the rank pessimism that Reagan was fighting. Like today, the naysayers were talking about the end of American dominance. We’re through, they said back then. Might was well walk away and let the Soviets have the world if they want it so badly. We’re running out of oil, our economy will never be the same, and we’ll have to learn to live with inflation and slow growth. Better get used to the idea that from now on, we’ll have limits on our power, our hopes, our dreams.

Those warnings sound just as silly today as they did back then. I don’t see anyone anywhere trying to challenge the “broken” American military. No nation wishes to commit suicide. That domestic insurrection directed against Iranian President Ahmadinejad has many elements to it, not the least of which is the realization that unless they shut the guy up, they are liable to be paid a visit by our “broken” military.

And all that paper held by the Chinese and other foreigners? While not dismissing the problem outright it should be pointed out that 25 years ago it was the Saudis and the Japanese buying up the United States that had our doomsayers in such a glum mood.

Our “moral standing in the world” always suffers under Republican Presidents. In 1982, it was Reagan’s “bellicose” rhetoric that was frightening women, children, and the French and causing the rest of the world to hate and fear us. You should know by now that our moral standing can only improve when we fight in places where we have no national interest and then only when liberals can be convinced that we are killing people selflessly.

What we need to hear tonight is a dose of Reaganism – a very large, full measure of the man’s optimism, faith, hope, and will.

But what we definitely won’t hear tonight, what we need to hear tonight, is what we have not heard since Reagan’s 1982 stirring call to action; the kind of pep talk that would pull us together as a nation and send us out to do battle with our enemies if not united then certainly with a helluva lot more confidence in ourselves than we have at present.

George Bush is a lameduck coming before Congress to give a largely meaningless speech during which he will appeal for support on Iraq. The American people do not appear to be in a mood to give their assent. Whether it is because they don’t think him capable or whether they have lost faith in him as a leader is immaterial to the issue at hand; winning or losing what’s left of Iraq.

If there is victory to be had in Iraq – and if it comes it will be with caveats galore – George Bush must use whatever persuasive powers he has to convince the American people that the goals he sets up to measure victory are realistic and can be achieved in a relatively short period of time. No timetable but rather a ticking clock. And with every movement of the clock hand we get closer to the 2008 election where success or failure in Iraq will define his party and his legacy and the President’s room for maneuver will be lost (if it’s not already gone).

The stakes are just as high now as they were in 1982. Back then, Reagan was attempting to infuse the nation with the spirit of optimism. For Bush, he must give the country a reason to support our fight in Iraq. I wish I could be optimistic that the President will rise to this challenge and overcome his limitations to give the speech of his life. But past history suggests all of us will be disappointed and Bush will fall far short of what is necessary to rally the nation to him.

By: Rick Moran at 1:54 pm | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (7) Political News and Blog Aggregator linked with President Bush Faces State of the Union Challenges
The Political Pit Bull linked with State of the Union Preview
CATEGORY: "24", General

What would really happen if a nuclear weapon had detonated in Valencia, California?

The reason that this is a legitimate question is because the best experts on terrorism and those whose business is assessing threats to America say that it is not a question of if we will get hit by a nuclear weapon but rather when the attack will occur. And the best guess of these experts is sometime within the next decade.

So the “unthinkable” better start to be thought about and in a serious way or such an attack will be much worse than it should be.

The sanitized view provided by the show of the aftermath of a nuclear attack actually does a disservice to the national conversation we must have about the eventuality of a WMD attack on America. A true depiction of the horrors of such an attack was provided by The Rand Corporation in their paper “Catastrophic Terrorism Scenarios.” It paints a horrific picture of what might happen if a small nuclear device hidden in a truck (one kiloton) was detonated in a city of 1-5 million people with few skyscrapers.

What would it be like? Take the worst parts of the Bible and multiply by a factor of ten. First responders in the blast zone would be dead and it would be impossible for others to reach the injured due to high levels of radiation. Communications would be down over a wide area. Electricity, water, gas, would all be disrupted for dozens of square miles outside the blast area. The electromagnetic pulse (EMP) would knock out car ignition systems, computers, and all electronic devices within the line of sight of the blast (horizon to horizon).

The resulting panic (which was hinted at in last night’s episode but looked to be extraordinarily mild compared to what would really happen) would overwhelm the transportation systems in the vicinity of the blast area. Roads would clog with cars filled with desperate, frightened people trying to escape the fallout. Law and order would break down and it would be survival of the fittest. With traffic not moving, people will abandon their cars and move away from ground zero on foot. First by the thousands, then the tens of thousands until, depending on where the blast occurs, as many as a quarter of a million people could become refugees, overwhelming the government’s ability to take care of them or stop them for that matter.

These refugees will flow through smaller towns and villages in their path like locusts, stripping each town bare of food, weapons, and any other items useful to survival. Gun battles would break out in the streets as residents fought for their lives and possessions. The refugees would likely organize themselves into gangs for protection and to acquire food, fuel, and the necessities of life.

The Army? The National Guard? Eventually, force would have to be used ruthlessly to stop the exodus and bring order out of the chaos. But it wouldn’t happen for several days. In the meantime, thousands more would probably have died as a result of murder, mayhem, and even radiation sickness. This is because the radioactive cloud containing the fallout would move much faster than the refugees. And those susceptible to lower dose radiation poisoning – the very young, the very old, and perhaps certain genetic types – would sicken and die without the medical care that could save them.

And the nightmare could be just beginning. Some estimates of the economic impact of the nuclear device detonated on American soil (depending on where it occurs) speculate that upwards of a trillion dollars would be lost. That’s five times the economic price of the attacks on September 11 which sent the economy into a recession. Needless to say, sucking a trillion dollars out of the American economy would be catastrophic, causing unemployment to skyrocket and perhaps even lead to “deflation” – where prices for items collapse. The worldwide economic downturn as a result of this massive hit on the American economy would lead to further instability throughout the world.

Admittedly, the show couldn’t and probably wouldn’t show most of these effects of a nuclear detonation on American soil. But after reading that Rand Corporation scenario, I guarantee you will want to do the minimum necessary to protect yourself and your family. Family Security Matters is an organization dedicated to helping American families prepare for just such eventualities. Their website contains a wealth of helpful information that you need to know in order to survive if worse comes to worst. And here’s another Rand study on the best ways to prepare for WMD attack.

The detonation of the Valencia nuke created controversy because detractors saw the “politics of fear” being advanced. On a superficial level, this is true. But more importantly – and what the critics have failed to acknowledge – is that when such a devastating attack occurs, those who are most prepared for the tragedy will likely be the ones who will survive. And denial of the threat or passing it off as simple politics, given what we know about our enemies, is sheer lunacy.


The White House – indeed, the entire country – is in a state of shock. As the President’s security team looks on in horror at the mushroom shaped cloud blossoming over suburban Los Angeles, the grim task of dealing with the unfolding crisis begins. Estimates of the dead start at 12,000 with untold numbers of wounded. President Palmer’s first instinct is a good one; he must address the nation as soon as possible.

I am undecided about Palmer. Is he a spineless wimp or a thoughtful, cautious leader? So far, he has acquiesced in security measures that appear to be much harsher than anything President Bush has initiated while giving lip service to freedom and the Constitutional niceties. It could mean he’s indecisive or, like Lincoln, he will do what is necessary to save the Republic. He bears watching in later episodes.

Cut to a street scene where last we left Jack weeping over the now confirmed death of Curtis. The looming cloud in the distance has him mesmerized. People all around him are panicking, loading up cars with possessions and running away from the blast. What is crossing his mind? Shock? Confusion? Bestirred out of his reverie by a man who we learn is a helicopter pilot whose chopper went down as a result of the blast wave and who needs assistance to save his passenger, Jack snaps out of it and rushes to assist. He calls Bill and tells him he wants back in.

At the moment, Jack’s change of heart can be viewed in the context of him being a creature of duty; the country needs him and he responds automatically. How far that will take him remains to be seen.

We meet a Mr. McCarthy who apparently was one of the middle men used by Fayed to secure the assistance of Marcus, the creator of the trigger device. With the trigger destroyed, Fayed orders McCarthy to find him someone else who can make one. For double the money, McCarthy will apparently sell the soul of his mother and find another traitor who will assist the terrorists.

Jack saves the copter passenger using what appears to be a piece of one of the last remaining TV antennas in the United States. Those of you who are too young to remember when fiddling with the rooftop antennae was a rite of passage from boyhood to manhood can be forgiven if you didn’t recognize what Jack was using to jimmy open the door of the copter. After a very nice gratuitous explosion of the copter hitting the ground, Jack learns from Bill that there 4 more nuclear nightmares that must be dealt with. Bill reminds him that he had begged off the job just a few minutes earlier. “Not after this,” says a newly energized Bauer.

Back at the White House, the Secret Service has moved President Palmer into the bunker. A wise precaution given the circumstances. Convening a national security meeting to discuss retaliatory options against countries that sponsor terrorism, the President is confronted by a fire breathing Admiral with the conscience of a serial killer and the bigotry of a Kluxer:

ADMIRAL: We’ve been playing games with these terrorists for 11 weeks now. The only language they understand is force so let’s speak it to them real clearly. We guarantee that if each of these countries sustains three major metropolitan nuclear strikes, they will have neither the time nor the resources to play in our sandbox anymore. These people want to live in the stone age. I say let’s put them there.

Sounds like some horrible caricature of a right wing pundit – which, of course, was the whole point.

The President rejects the Admiral’s “advice” saying that the United States will indeed retaliate but not until the enemy is identified.

At CTU, the enemy is welcomed as a guest. Assad assures Bill that he only wants to help and extends his hand in friendship. Bill looks at the terrorist’s hand as if it had recently been in a vat of warm, oozing cow dung and ushers Assad into the conference room. From Bill’s interrogation, it is clear that this is a massive conspiracy, one that even our own barely competent intelligence agencies shouldn’t have missed. We learn that Fayed tried to acquire nuclear weapons six months ago from a former Russian general named Gredenko. And when Chloe runs the name using her magic terrorist enabler identifier program, we find that one of Gredenko’s business contacts in Los Angeles is none other than Jack’s father Phillip who runs BXJ Corporation.

Bill calls Jack and informs him of this bit of unsettling news and we find out that Jack has some definite “issues” with his father, a man he has not spoken to in 9 years. He convinces Bill to let him do the interrogating of Bauer The Elder, making us wonder just what methods Jack will employ to get the old guy to talk.

At the detention center in Anacostia, the FBI has hit upon a brilliant scheme; why not wire up Walid and allow him to mix with a suspected cell of fanatical, cutthroat jihadis who would just as soon slit your throat as give you the time of day. The mild mannered Walid seems an unlikely candidate for such a job but that doesn’t seem to phase our FBI. After all, it’s not their hides on the line when Walid goes undercover to assist them.

The Feds hatch a plan to grab Walid from the common area of the detention center and take him into the bathroom for a talk. While knocking the Muslim businessman around (while whispering what he’s supposed to do in his ear), they flash him the name of Fayed in hopes he can get the terrorists to open up about his future plans. His girlfriend, the President’s sister Sandra, is fit to be tied but is silenced effectively by the slightly bored and insufferable FBI agent who lets her have it by stating the obvious; if she wasn’t the President’s sister she wouldn’t even be there.

Jack steels himself for the call to his father but instead, gets the butler who tells him dad is out of town and left his cell phone behind to boot. Puzzled, Jack gets the number for his brother while “Liddy” (G. Gordon?), a man who monitors security at Jack’s father’s house calls the brother and tells him to expect the call.

The shock when we see that Jack’s brother is Graham, last year’s “Mr. Big,” the leader of the Blue Tooth Mafia (so named because all the bad guys used Blue Tooth cell phones), is total. Even more shocking is Graham’s disappointment: “We should have killed Jack while we had the chance rather than handing him over to the Chinese,” says Graham matter of factly.

One thing is clear. What with his father perhaps involved with a nuclear terrorist and his brother heading up a conspiracy that killed a former President, almost embroiling the US in a war, Jack sure has one helluva an interesting family. One wonders if his mother may have been Mata Hari.

The phone conversation between the brothers is strained, stilted. Graham assures Jack of his fidelity while he was in China – a hollow assurance given what we saw last year when Graham tried several times to kill Jack or get the President to kill him. And when Jack asks of the whereabouts of his father, there must have been something in Graham’s voice that made Jack suspect his estranged brother knew more than he was letting on.

Jack calls Chloe to get his brother’s address. He will pay him a visit. Not a friendly family get together but by the look on his face, we know Jack will do whatever it takes – even to his own brother – to get to the truth. Chilling, indeed.

At the White House, we are treated to more one dimensional debate on the Security vs. Liberty issue. I found this exchange particularly gruesome in the cavalier way in which Lennox wants to take away constitutional rights by using fear as a political club:

TOM: That’s why I see an opportunity here.

KAREN: Opportunity?

TOM: The bomb will remove any remaining doubt that we should be taking more aggressive measures; suspension of certain freedoms, detention, internment, deportation – Now is the time we hit these topics.

KAREN: Tom, your are counseling that we embrace the politics of fear.

TOM: I’m saying we embrace reality. We ARE afraid. But if fear consolidates public support for measures that can save our country from extinction, then you bet I’m in support of fear.

Spoken like a true walking, talking, Democratic talking point. The accusation that the Administration has used “fear” to gin up support for warrantless wiretapping and other domestic security measures is straight off the Democratic National Committee website. The difference, of course, is between those who believe there is a threat and those who think the threat doesn’t exist or has been overblown for political purposes. I suppose we should come to expect this kind of sophistry from Hollywood regarding this debate, but that last speech by Tom was just a little too much to swallow.

The President responds to Lennox by saying that the speech he was giving was not about policy but rather simply to calm the American people. This is another indication of either his indecisiveness or thoughtfulness. We’ll have to see in the weeks ahead.

Meanwhile, McCarthy picks up his girlfriend who us upset that they are not going to Vegas as planned. Instead, the middleman calls Fayed and tells him that he will probably have a replacement to help him set off the bombs very soon. All he had to do was look in the Yellow Pages under “Triggers: Nuclear” to find the right sort of fellow to help.

AT CTU, before Assad is whisked to Washington to hobnob with State Department and other appeasement types, Bill thanks him for his help and shakes his hand. And if a chorus of Give Peace a Chance had risen in the background, I think I would have been sick.

Over at the detention center, Walid begins to play his role perfectly, being just reluctant enough to impart any information of his own while casually dropping Fayed’s name to one of the terrorists. While he feigns ignorance, the terrorist is evidently impressed with Walid enough that he invites him to join his little terrorist clique. Several dead pools have Walid not lasting until noon. I’m not sure. The writers can drag this detention center thread on for a while, pulling clues that keep Jack hot on Fayed’s trail. I say it will be closer to mid afternoon before Walid is either killed by a terrorist or actually is brainwashed and joins them (if he’s not one already).

Jack shows up at Graham’s house unannounced. This throws his villainous brother for something of a loop – just as Jack intended. After being introduced to Graham’s son, we’re treated to a Scarlett O’Hara-Rhett Butler moment as the camera catches Jack looking up the staircase at Graham’s wife Marilyn before we get a similar shot of her looking down on him. What passes between them makes me think Audrey is going to be a jealous woman before the day is over.

Jack and Graham retire to the study to catch up on old times. Graham is still unsure why Jack is there but he knows he’s in trouble. Jack asks about Gredenko. Graham airily denies any knowledge of the Russian general and begins to tell a story about pre-Chavez Venezuala when Jack brings him up short. Convinced now that Graham is indeed hiding valuable information, Jack strikes a mighty blow and knocks his brother to the ground.

It’s “Bauer Time” and Graham is about to wish he had never been born.

After tying him up, Jack gives Graham the customary one chance to come clean before beginning the torture:

JACK: Graham, people in the country are dying and I need some information. Are you going to give it to me or am I going to have to start hurting you.

GRAHAM: (as Jack is choking the life out of him): You’re… hurting… me… now!

JACK: (deadpan) Trust me. I’m not.

Back at the White House, our angst ridden President can’t let the American people see who truly frightened he is. Tom helpfully informs him that bravado would be no more appropriate than fear. That may be true but the American people don’t need to see a President who is afraid. So perhaps a little bravado would be helpful as well.

The President starts in with what sounds like a pretty mealy-mouthed speech full of empty platitudes and cliches that made him sound more Carteresque than Reagan-like. Oh well. Maybe he’ll grow into the job.

And Graham? The mastermind who was willing to use terrorists for personal profit, who planned the murder of his own brother, and who was willing to sell out the United States for a dollar finally – finally is going to be made to answer for his transgressions. Jack places a plastic bag over Graham’s head, perhaps getting enormous satisfaction out of Graham’s terror as the wicked brother begins to suffocate. How far will Jack go?

As always, as far as he has to.


A rare night off for the Grim Reaper although we can now confirm that Curtis is indeed dead. And in the interest of accuracy, a commenter pointed out that I missed the dead soldier slumped over the wheel of the bus that carried Nameer to the airport, killed by the traitorous guard. That means one more for Jack and two added to the total for the show.


SHOW: 349


No real Chloeisms this week because of her limited face time. But only because it was such a perfect line and so well delivered by Keifer Sutherland, we will make Jack’s threat to Graham about hurting him (“Trust me. I’m not”) an honorary Chloeism of the Week.

By: Rick Moran at 9:36 am | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (20)


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Rex “The Wonder Dog” Grossman celebrates after throwing a TD pass to Bernard Berrian.

There is nothing more satisfying than proving the world was wrong about you. When you know in your heart of hearts that you are right and everyone else is full of it and then go out and show your detractors how ignorant they truly are, the satisfaction is total.

This is how my beloveds reacted following their stunning takedown of the New Orleans Saints in yesterday’s NFC Championship game. Winning 39-14 in the wind and snow of Soldiers Field, the Bears proved many national analysts wrong – analysts who thought that the mighty Saints offense would blow the Bears into Lake Michigan.

Instead, it was the much maligned Bears defense that rose to the occasion. Save for a stretch in the third quarter where New Orleans quarterback Drew Brees shredded the beloveds secondary, the Bears defenders made one big play after another, pressuring the Saints star into numerous incompletions and sacking him 3 times – one of which resulted in a fumble recovered by the Bears. They held the vaunted duo of Reggie Bush and Deuce McCallister to a measly 56 yards rushing. And while Bush burned them once on a spectacular 88 yard touchdown pass, in the end he was a non factor.

The Bears front four played an outstanding game. The pressure they were able to put on Brees meant that fewer blitzes needed to be called. And the Bears corner backs stuck to the Saints receivers like glue, with Peanut Tillman fully redeeming himself from his disastrous game last year against the Panthers.

On offense, Wonder Dog was 3-16 for 37 yards midway through the third quarter. But he had 3 of his passes dropped and simply threw away another 4. He avoided being sacked and made generally good decisions, although he missed several open receivers as the ball seemed to sail on him when he was playing with the wind.

But Grossman stepped it up a notch in the latter part of the third quarter and into the fourth by going 8 for 10 including the 33 yard miracle catch by Berrian for a touchdown. No interceptions, no turnovers and good decision making – about the best you could expect from Wonder Dog for the day.

Where the Bears won the game was on the ground. Nearly 200 yards rushing with Thomas Jones gaining 123 yards on 19 carries. And Cedric Benson pounded out 60 yards on 24 carries. Kudos to the offensive line who also had no holding penalties and no false starts.

Special teams recovered a fumble and covered kicks brilliantly. And Robbie Gould went 3 for 3 on field goals in the difficult conditions. Devin Hester didn’t break one but he did have a couple of significant punt returns. Plus, he held on to the ball.

A true team effort all the way down the line. It’s hard to imagine a better effort given the conditions and the opponent.

And as I mentioned last night, I thought the Saints simply didn’t play their game. Brees ended up 27-49 for 319 yards but he had an interception and a fumble. And 128 of those yards came on two plays; one on the very first series, a 40 yarder and then Bush’s eye popping 88 yard scamper.

And what happened to the running game? In that weather one would think that the best course of action would have been a more determined effort to establish the run. But Coach Payton seemed to lose patience for some reason so Brees continued to test the Bears downfield.

And so this Bears team becomes a part of Bears lore. And the game itself will also be elevated to legendary status, guaranteeing that years hence, people will recall the time when the wind and the snow combined in a spectacle of grit and determination that carried the team from the cold confines of Soldiers Field to the sun drenched pitch in Miami for The Big Game.

Make sure you visit this site often for stories and updates as we Countdown to the Super Bowl here at the House.

By: Rick Moran at 4:02 pm | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (5)


I suppose it had to happen sooner or later.

Either out of boredom or because our society is running out of things to be outraged and shocked about, a film director has made a movie about “the last taboo” – as opposed to the “last, last taboo” that was dramatized last year. And of course, this doesn’t include the taboo that was “last” just a few short years ago. The business of taboo breaking is becoming more profitable all the time – if not in monetary rewards then certainly in being on the receiving end of the critical acclaim given out by our cultural overseers who feel it their solemn duty to see to it that breaking taboos is an accepted, indeed praiseworthy goal of art. The idea that a taboo is no longer a taboo when it is considered as normal as a walk in the park seems to elude the post modern critics who see limits on good taste and common decency as artificial constructs created by the white male power structure to oppress the artist.

Of course, pouring this kind of raw sewage into the toxic mix that has become American culture then becomes an act of courage. The artist is speaking truth to power!

Yeah? I wonder what the horse thinks about it?

Zoo,” premiering before a rapt audience Saturday night at Sundance, manages to be a poetic film about a forbidden subject, a perfect marriage between a cool and contemplative director (the little-seen “Police Beat”) and potentially incendiary subject matter: sex between men and animals. Not graphic in the least, this strange and strangely beautiful film combines audio interviews (two of the three men involved did not want to appear on camera) with elegiac visual re-creations intended to conjure up the mood and spirit of situations. The director himself puts it best: “I aestheticized the sleaze right out of it.”

Devor and his writing partner, Charles Mudede, live in Seattle and were stunned, as were many in the state, by a story that broke in 2005 about a local man who died after having sex with an Arabian stallion. Though bestiality is not illegal in Washington, the subsequent revelation of the existence of an Internet-based zoophile community (the men refer to themselves as “zoos,” hence the title) was a shock.

How does this advance our understanding of humanity? How does this elevate the soul and make the spirit sing? How does this make us question our assumptions about reality or pique our curiosity about something hidden in the dark corners of our own consciousness?

I totally reject the notion that learning about animal abusers and what motivates them contributes anything of beauty or evokes feelings of longing or touches the inner person in all of us. These used to be the artist’s stock in trade; to elicit an emotional response that teaches the consumer of art something about himself, about society, or about humanity.

Now apparently, it is enough to simply make decent people want to vomit:

Though “Zoo” is intent on allowing these men to be heard, Devor’s intention was not polemical. “I’m not in there wrestling with the legal or animal cruelty issues,” he said. Rather, he envisioned a film like his others: “I count on the natural world pulling my films through. I thought the marriage of this completely strange mind-set and the beauty of the natural world could be something interesting.”

In introducing “Zoo” at Sundance, Devor called it “a difficult film and a difficult film to make.”

The key is not “art for art’s sake” but rather “art for the artist’s sake.” In this kind of atmosphere, the artist creates not to express himself but rather to draw attention to himself:

“A lot of people looked at me as if I was an exploitative person, dredging up something for profit, and that bothered me. I was certainly asked many times, often with a wrinkled brow, ‘Why are you making this film?’ It was something I did resent; I thought artists had the opportunity to explore anything.”

In the end, Devor ended up agreeing with the Roman writer Terence, who said “I consider nothing human alien to me.”

“It happens,” the filmmaker said, “so it’s part of who we are.”

In this construct, it is not the film but the film maker that matters. He’s “daring to be different.” He’s “exploring the outer boundaries of his art.” But since those boundaries keep getting pushed farther and farther away from what is elevating or simply enlightening, it is imperative that the artist violate tenets of decency, tradition, or moral order in order to satisfy the artificial rules that have been created. He is as trapped in his little contrived universe as the artists in the past he looks so disdainfully upon and ridicules for their conventions.

Where will it end? What is the real “last taboo?”

Do you really want to find out?


From Libertas, the conservative film blog:

So, this is a non-judgemental look at men raping animals? That’s even possible? And the filmmaker considers nothing human alien to him? The one time I could proudly join a PETA protest and where are they? You think, “Here it is. I can finally find common ground with the Left. We can finally join hands in brotherhood,” only to discover they’re not so sure about this one. It’s like when I was ready to stand with the feminists celebrating the end of the Taliban, but they didn’t show. Or, when I was ready to march with Jesse Jackson to fight for using taxpayer money to send poor inner-city kids to private schools, and he didn’t show. I await outrage from the Left at bestiality only to be told, ”It’s part of who we are?” He just couldn’t quite bring hemself to condemn this behavior?

If beastiality isn’t condemned, no wonder the rape of Dakota Fanning is no big deal. It’s probably gonna seem like a Disney film after this.

The author refers to an upcoming film entitled Hound Dog where the young Miss Fanning is raped and brutalized while Elvis Presely sings in the background.

Sensational! Maybe we can do a sequel and call it A Hard Days Night and turn Haley Joel Osmet into a crack addled male prostitute- unless that’s been done already.

By: Rick Moran at 2:12 pm | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (4)