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The “Windy City Flyer” aka Devin Hester returns one against the Cardinals.

It’s so close, the city can taste it.

Just one more game. One more obstacle in the form of the New Orleans Saints and my beloveds will be bound for Miami and the Super Bowl two weeks hence.

Everyone in town is talking about the Bears. The story dominates the local news on both radio and TV. They’re front page news on both the Trib and the Sun Times all week. The suburban dailies have gotten into the act as well, running 3 column stories below the fold and giving the local angle on the game.

On sports talk shows, the gloom is palpable. It seems most of the “real” fans – you know, the ones who wanted to feed Rex “The Wonder Dog” Grossman to the lions prior to last week’s game – have given up on the boys in burnt orange and blue while making the Saints out to be the second coming of the San Francisco 49’ers whose Joe Montana led teams dominated the game in the 80’s.

I can understand their trepidation. On offense, the Saints are loaded. A trio of excellent wide receivers and the double doom combination of Deuce McCalister and rookie sensation Reggie Bush at running back make it a difficult task for any defense to stop them.

But there are several factors that mitigate against a Saints victory today, not the least of which is the weather forecast. It will be cold (temp in the upper 20’s) and a fierce wind that will probably play havoc with both the passing and kicking games. And if that’s not enough, there’s a 90% chance that snow will fall during the game. With 1-3 inches expected today, the ground crew at Soldiers Field will keep the field covered until almost game time. This will make the turf a little slick. Generally, this favors the offense since the receivers know where they’re going while defenses must react to the play.

A slick field will also favor the offensive lines for both teams since they will have the advantage of a push off at the snap of the ball. All told, this is where the game will be won or lost; in the trenches.

While this is a truism for any NFL contest, on a cold, snowy , wet day like today, the war at the line of scrimmage will become even more vital. And largely because of that, I have to pick my beloveds to squeak by the Saints in a close contest dominated by the running game and field goal kickers for both sides.

Here’s how I see the key matchups:


Can the Bears stop the run? Probably not. But they must avoid the big play. They have proven in the past few weeks that even if a running back gains yardage on them, the defense has been able to stifle the opponents offense in other areas. And where my beloveds must absolutely stop the Saints is in the short passing game.

If conditions are as anticipated, Saints quarterback Drew Brees will use the flat pass to both Bush and McCalister as a way to extend the running game beyond the hash marks. Bush had 88 catches during the season and is a deadly weapon on the outside in the flat. And to counter this, Bears corners are going to have to be sure tacklers today. If Bush can get by the cornerbacks on a regular basis, it may end up being a very long day for my beloveds. Charles “Peanut” Tillman is an excellent run defender and a sure tackler. But the other cornerback Nathan Vashar is suspect. Both men must step up and be at the top of their games if the Bears are to stay in the game.

The Saints make devastating use of Reggie Bush by lining him up in several positions. He’s been at tailback, in a split set, in the slot, a motion man, and he’s even lined up at wide receiver. What the Saints try to do is isolate the youngster against a linebacker. Ordinarily, this is excellent strategy. But this would be playing directly to the Bears’ strength. Few linebackers are faster than OLB Lance Briggs and virtually none can beat Brian Urlacher. Brees might get a nasty surprise if he tries sending Bush up against one of those gents. Look for Bush to stay pretty much in the backfield and take those flat passes from Brees while trying to break one for a big play. They may try a few screens with Bush but the Bears have defensed the screen extremely well all year so they probably won’t get anywhere with it.

The Bears will probably employ a nickel package for most of the game. This will put enormous pressure on the defensive line to effectively rush the passer. With 5 defensive backs, they will try and keep blitzing to a minimum – unless Brees begins carving them up in the secondary. If that happens, look for Urlacher to come hard and come often.

In fact, the key to this game for the Bears is Brian Urlacher. If he plays as he’s capable of playing – if he dominates the game as he has shown he can do – there’s a very good chance that the Bears will win regardless of what the offense does. And if they can create some turnovers, it will be a long day for Brees & Co.

If conditions are bad, the Saints advantage at wide receiver may be blunted somewhat. Also, veteran Joe Horn is questionable with a sore groin. All told, I think the Saints will win or lose the game in the backfield. If Bush has a big game, they win.

But in the trenches, I think the Bears defensive line has a chance of dominating the Saints offensive line. New Orleans has a solid if unspectacular bunch protecting Brees but I believe by the fourth quarter, the Bears will have worn them down and will begin applying effective pressure to the quarterback. And if the game is close, that will be a difference maker.


Which Wonder Dog shows up today will be immaterial. Good Rex or Bad Rex won’t matter in snowy, windy conditions, because it will be the running game that will score points. And while New Orleans has two outstanding backs, the Bears also feature two effective runners of their own. Thomas Jones will start the game. But I really think this will be Cedric Benson’s game.

Benson is a bull. Unlike Jones who falls backward when hit, Benson is always moving forward. And that extra half yard that Benson is able to get out of runs may spell the difference in difficult playing conditions.

And if Benson (or Jones) can move the ball on the ground, look for Wonder Dog to try a few passes in the middle of the field. Otherwise, Offensive Coordinator Ron Turner will have him on a short leash, having him throw flat passes to the backs, quick slants, and quick out patterns to Desmond Clark. In fact, Clark may be another key in this game. If he catches more than 5 balls, Rex is probably playing well enough to win.

The Saints have two good defensive ends in Wil Smith and Charles Grant who are more than capable of blowing up plays. My beloveds will probably double team Grant given right tackle Fred Miller’s less than stellar play lately.

But the rest of their line is somewhat undersized. If the game is close in the fourth quarter, look for the Bears to try and ram it down their throats and pound the ball using Benson as the battering ram.

It is not likely that Rex will take too many shots down the field. But if he does, speedster Bernard Berrian will have the edge on the Saints corners and safeties. Saints CB’s Mike McKenzie and Fred Thomas are adequate but scouts say they can be beat using a double move. Both Bears wideouts Berrian and Mushin Mohammed excel at the double move- especially Mohammed. If Wonder Dog can get them the ball in the windy conditions, my beloveds have a chance for some big plays.

It goes without saying that if Grossman throws two or three interceptions, the Bears will lose. Ron Turner will probably do everything he can to prevent that by keeping the ball underneath. Unless the Bears are getting beaten badly.

The Saints linebackers are quick to the ball and speedy. Any running game the Bears can muster will depend on downfield blocking by the guards who pull often. Rueben Brown is especially effective here and All-Pro center Olin Kruetz will also pull on occasion. If the Bears offensive line can knock the linebackers back a yard or two, the running game should open up a little. Otherwise, expect New Orleans to make Rex Grossman beat them by stacking 9 men close to the line and daring my beloveds to pass.


Forget the fact that New Orleans is a dome team. With the Super Bowl as the prize, both teams will forget about the cold and snow and give it everything they’ve got. There will be no advantage to either team in that respect.

The Bears special teams may decide the ballgame – either way. Devin Hester looked scared last week and fumbled a punt while allowing both kickoffs and punts to hit the ground before he picked them up. He is perfectly capable of turning the ball over deep in Bears territory.

That said, he is also perfectly capable of bringing one back every time he touches the ball. He is an extraordinary weapon. And the Bears could really use a couple of long returns by Hester today.

If the game is decided by field goals, New Orleans must get the edge with the experienced John Carney. Robbie Gould may be going to the Pro Bowl but Carney has the leg to make the ball cut through the wind and split the uprights. Both men have proven themselves when the game is on the line however, so the edge is extremely slight.

And I think the punting game will play a role today. For that, the Bear’s Brad Maynard has it all over Steve Weatherford. In a field position game, the Bears will have a slight edge there as well.

When all is said and done, it will be a good game; hard hitting, good defense, and probably a couple of great plays by Reggie Bush. But in the end, the Bears will force the Saints into kicking field goals while the Bears should score a couple of touchdowns.

Final score: Bears 23-19.



Ed Morrissey picks the Saints – partly because of their special teams?

Perhaps I’ve forgotten which Saint returned 6 kicks for touchdowns or which Saints field goal kicker is going to the Pro Bowl. My bad…


Fifteen minutes to kick off and I just checked the radar. There’s a band of precip headed for downtown that should arrive by halftime. It’s light but appears to be a combination of sleet and snow.

Footing will be treacherous in the fourth quarter….


Halftime: Bears 16-7.

Bears pressure has thrown Brees off slightly – until that last drive when they moved down the field with ease.

Storm is still moving toward Chicago but still appears around an hour away, Could be that the 4th quarter is played in snowy, windy conditions.

If the Bears are smart, they’ll try and build some confidence for Grossman (3-13 for 37 yards) by having him make short tosses to the backs in the flat. Right now, he’s a non factor.

Saints will come back but Bears will still win – maybe by 10 points.


I’ll have a recap of the game tomorrow but what we long suffering Bears fans are feeling right now is beyond description. The 1985 team was expected to go to the Super Bowl. In fact, they were expected to dominate the NFL for at least a few years. But injuries to the punk quarterback Jim McMahon and the flight of Defensive Coordinator Buddy Ryan along with some key players made the hill a little too high to climb.

This year’s team was expected to get to the playoffs but the Super Bowl? There aren’t too many pundits who predicted it at the beginning of the year and here they are. And given the angst of the fans and the media over the last few months as the defense disintegrated, the domination of the Saints makes this trip to Miami even more of a shock.

The Saints did not play their game. Field position had something to do with it but it seems like Coach Payton lacked patience when he was down by only two points. Instead of trying to get the running game going (holes were opening up in the 3rd and early 4th quarter) he continued his downfield play calling. He got yardage but no points. And of course, the Bears defense came up with huge play after huge play.

The conditions surprisingly seemed to bother the Saints. As the game went along, Brees got progressively less accurate while Grossman, who started out an unbelievably bad 7-22 ended up completing his last 6 passes – including the miracle to Berrian.

What about Rex? Let’s see how he does in the warmth of Miami. His best games were in the heat of September and October. We’ll see how he responds to this definitely sub par performance. It must be said that he threw no interceptions, no fumbles, and was smart with the football.

At this moment, I don’t really care. Everything else is forgotten as my beloveds – my dearly beloveds – are going to the Super Bowl.

By: Rick Moran at 10:51 am | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (14)

Captain's Quarters linked with The Penultimate Bowls
CATEGORY: "24", Politics

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CAIR spokesperson complaining about portrayal of Muslims on 24

The sound is grating to the ears. Whenever there is the slightest opportunity to piggyback a grievance – either real or imagined – on a story that will guarantee a few precious lines of copy in newspapers or a few seconds of face time on television, the Council on American Islamic Relations will turn on the whine and, like a fingernail being drawn slowly across the surface of a blackboard, draw attention to themselves in the most excruciating manner possible.

Today’s torture is the result of the realistic portrayal of Muslim terrorists on Fox’s action series 24. The show has been a favorite target for the group. They pressured the producers to actually change the story line two seasons ago because of characters who they considered were not truly representational of Arabs. The plot that season centered around Jack Bauer’s most evil foe in the history of the series. Marwan was clever, resourceful, brilliant, dedicated, and a fanatical jihadist. This exchange between Bauer and Marwan sums up both sides of the war we are fighting with the jihadis brilliantly.

Marwan is in custody but a cruise missile has been launched in the Midwest and is headed for Los Angeles. In order to get the frequency so that we can destroy the bird, which is just minutes from impact, the President has instructed Jack to make a deal with the terrorist:

Jack: You and I both know all I want to do right now is kill you. But I have my orders. You win. I’ve been instructed to ask you what you want.

Marwan: What I want is already happening.

Jack: The death and destruction is a means to an end, Why don’t we just skip to the end?

Marwan: To the end?

Jack: Everything you did today you did for a reason, for your people. What do you want to change?

Marwan: I have no desire to have a political discussion with you..

Jack: You tell me where the missile is headed, you help me stop it and I’ll guarantee you’ll talk to the President. Believe me, he’ll have no choice but to listen. You have a chance to get what you want.

Marwan: I already have agent Bauer. After this day, elected officials and the American people will know that they can’t intervene in our lives, in our countries with impunity. Besides, your President sees me in only one dimension – evil.

Jack: As you see us?

Marwan: Yes…and vulnerable.

You won’t find a Muslim talking like that anywhere else on television. Which, of course, is why CAIR is desperate to stifle it. And with this year’s story line including the detonation of a nuclear weapon in Los Angeles by other fanatical Muslims, the whine has reached new levels of agonizing discomfort:

Being portrayed again as the heartless wrongdoers has drawn renewed protests from Muslim groups, including one that had a meeting with Fox executives two years ago over the issue.

“The overwhelming impression you get is fear and hatred for Muslims,” said Rabiah Ahmed, a spokeswoman for the Washington-based Council on American-Islamic Relations. She said Thursday she was distressed by this season’s premiere. “After watching that show, I was afraid to go to the grocery store because I wasn’t sure the person next to me would be able to differentiate between fiction and reality.”

Who is it that can’t tell the difference between fiction and reality?

This isn’t even hypersensitivity to slight. It is out and out paranoia. Anyone who is afraid to go to a grocery store in the Washington, D.C. area because they are scared of being attacked is a loon, pure and simple.

In fact, why not just cut to the chase and call the spokesperson a liar?

She might have a point if there was some kind of crime spree directed against American Muslims. But one of the least reported facts in the aftermath of 9/11 was the remarkably low number of “hate crimes” directed against Arabs.

Since 9/11 the Justice Department has investigated 750 “incidents” involving not just Arabs, but others who appear to be of middle eastern origin. Out of all those incidents, federal charges have been brought against just 35 individuals. They’ve also assisted local prosecutors with another 150 cases.

This hardly represents an epidemic of hate directed against Arabs. But you’d never know it listening to the carefully choreographed cries of outrage from CAIR and other Muslim groups:

Watching the show’s characters talk about detonating a nuclear weapon a few blocks from where she works unnerved Sireen Sawaf, an official with the Los Angeles-based Muslim Public Affairs Council, and a self-described “huge `24’ fan.”

“It’s a great show, and I do realize it’s a multidimensional show that portrays extreme situations,” she said. “They have gone out of their way to have non-Muslim terror cells.

“But I’m concerned about the image it ingrains in the minds of the American public and the American government, particularly when you have anti-Muslim statements spewing from the mouths of government officials.”

Sohail Mohammed, a New Jersey immigration lawyer who represented scores of detainees caught up in the post Sept. 11, 2001 dragnet, watched the episode depicting the nuclear attack with an Associated Press reporter.

“I was shocked,” he said. “Somewhere, some lunatic out there watching this will do something to an innocent American Muslim because he believes what he saw on TV.”

Are you kidding me? First, Ms. Sawaf’s belief that the way Muslims are portrayed on 24 will have an affect on government officials? And then the lawyer who makes an outrageous statement about a Muslim being attacked without one shred of evidence that such a crime has ever been perpetrated in the past as a result of any TV show much less 24?

This is grievance mongering at its worst. And the most vile practitioner of it is CAIR whose over the top response to any and all perceived slights actually overshadows the grievance itself. It makes one wish that they would be half as condemnatory about terrorist attacks against innocents as they are about being singled out at airports for security checks or having people cast uneasy glances in their direction on city streets.

Goodness knows that there is plenty of bigotry hurled against Muslim Americans. America is a big country with a lot of ignorant people whose fear of those who are different manifests itself in many hurtful ways. And if the grievance mongers at CAIR would confine themselves to combating this kind of ignorance and hate, then they would be doing themselves and the nation a favor.

But that’s not the way the oppressed minority game is played in America today. If there is no grievance, then manufacture one. Liberal guilt and a willing media will do the rest.

Judging by this statement, Fox Network appears ready to resist pressure this time around to change the story line of 24:

In a written statement issued late Wednesday night, the network said it has not singled out any ethnic or religious group for blame in creating its characters.

“24 is a heightened drama about anti-terrorism,” the statement read. “After five seasons, the audience clearly understands this, and realizes that any individual, family, or group (ethnic or otherwise) that engages in violence is not meant to be typical.

“Over the past several seasons, the villains have included shadowy Anglo businessmen, Baltic Europeans, Germans, Russians, Islamic fundamentalists, and even the (Anglo-American) president of the United States,” the network said. “The show has made a concerted effort to show ethnic, religious and political groups as multidimensional, and political issues are debated from multiple viewpoints.”

Unbelievable that a major television network finds it necessary to point out that they’ve tried to spread the villains around among a variety of races and ethnicities. Kind of makes you wonder who might be keeping score?

By: Rick Moran at 6:17 pm | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (15)

The Thunder Run linked with Web Reconnaissance for 01/22/2007
Simply Kimberly | Blog linked with Relax, It Is Just A TV Show
CATEGORY: Media, Politics

Most people don’t put much stock in opinion polls – unless you’re a liberal and the majority supports your position. Then the poll takes on all the characteristics of holy writ. Moses and his commandments have less truthiness than a liberal clutching the results of an opinion poll that agrees with one of his positions. Then, waving the piece of paper aloft a la Chamberlain home from Munich, we lesser beings are informed that Vox populi, vox dei, (“The voice of the people is the voice of God”) and that unless the government alters their policies to conform with the latest skewed data from such unbiased sources as AP, USA Today, and the New York Times, liberals will get mad and throw a tantrum while accusing their political opponents of setting up a dictatorship.

It’s all well and good for a lefty to chortle and point to a poll showing 70% of the American people believing that George Bush is an incompetent fruitcake with the brains of a marmoset and the integrity of a tree sloth. And any old poll on the Iraq War showing the massive discontent in the country with this botched adventure is enough to send the left into paroxysms of joy, seeing vindication of their position as proof positive that while there may not be a God, there is schadenfreud to be celebrated.

Every once and a while, however, some dumb ass pollster will ask a really stupid question that reveals a teensy bit more about the nature of the left than they intend. And in doing so, a shocking truth is revealed that would give the rest of the country pause – if there was a ghost of a chance in hell that the information would be as widely disseminated as say, the number of people who think George Bush has the brains of a marmoset and the integrity of a tree sloth:

A sizable minority is optimistic that the president’s plan will work. About one in four think it is either very (10 percent) or somewhat (29 percent) likely the plan will succeed, 27 percent think it is not very likely to succeed and another 25 percent say not at all likely.

Even though a majority opposes Bush’s new plan and many are doubtful it can succeed, that does not mean they want it to fail: 63 percent of Americans say they want the plan to succeed, including 79 percent of Republicans, 63 percent of independents and 51 percent of Democrats.

On the larger political front, more people think “most Democrats” want the Bush plan to fail and for him to have to withdraw troops in defeat (48 percent), than think Democrats want the plan to succeed and lead to a stable Iraq (32 percent).

There are three separate issues here. First, while most Americans are doubtful that the surge will succeed, a sizable minority – certainly enough to prevent Congress from scuttling the plan – believe it will work. No wonder Pelosi is going to give Bush his head and allow funding for the plan to go forward.

But the real shocker here is the number of Democrats who want the plan to succeed. A bare majority of Democrats (51%) want the United States military to prevail on the field of battle. Now if I were to posit a logical fallacy, I could say that since 49% of Democrats want the military to fail, then it follows that they wish large numbers of American soldiers to die to make their wish come true. But I would never accuse Democrats of any such thing, would I?

What I am accusing them of is that they would rather see the President, and by extension, the United States of America suffer a humiliating defeat than see their cherished ideas of defeatism dribble away like so much frozen custard on a hot summer’s day. They would rather the US lose than be proved wrong.

An exaggeration? The last number quoted above is even more telling. Here’s the breakdown of people who think the Democrats want the surge plan to fail:

Democrats 42% 38 7 12
Republicans 21% 67 7 5
Independents 30% 42 11

The first number refers to respondents who think the Democrats want the plan to succeed. The second number are those who believe Democrats want the plan to fail. The third number reflects those who believe some want one thing, some another. The last number represents those Americans in perpetual obliviousness; they don’t know.

What I find extraordinary is that 38% of Democrats believe that their own party is made up of…what? Traitors? Too harsh. How about a bunch of brainless twits whose myopia is so profound that they would wish for disaster to befall American arms. The fact that this could only mean that a lot of American soldiers would be killed for nothing makes their disconnect from reality complete.

You can be sure that this aspect of the poll will never, ever see the light of day on any other network save Fox News. Nor will it be reported in any major media outlet. And to the extent that lefty blogs pay any attention the poll at all, it will be to highlight the American people’s opposition to the surge.

But there it is in black and white. And no amount of spin or whining about the source or savaging the pollster for even asking the question will change what those numbers represent: That a sizable portion of the Democratic party has a vested emotional interest in the defeat of American arms.

One can argue (and I’m sure the left will) that Iraq is already “lost” and that therefore the poll is meaningless. But the question was specifically about the President’s plan and whether or not the respondent hoped that it would succeed. Even allowing for respondent stupidity (as Ace does here) that still leaves a sizable portion of the Democrats devoutly wishing for failure of the United States military on the field of battle.

Patriotism may be the last refuge of scoundrels. But cowardice is where the scoundrel goes first.


Dean Barnett calls it “The Most Depressing Poll Ever.” I have to agree. Despite my rather cavalier tone above, I find it incomprehensible that people would allow their opposition to the President or even the war itself to overcome their innate sense of patriotism that the overwhelming majority of Americans feel when it comes to our military.

Michelle Malkin contrasts the poll numbers with some steps foward in Iraq.

Sister Toldjah: :

Got that? 59% of Democrats say they would vote against funding the current level of US troops in Iraq in order to try and force a troop withdrawal and 8% “don’t know” (uh huh).

Bbbbut they support the troops.

Curt at Flopping Aces:

I’ve been saying this for so long my fingers cramp from all the typing. Liberals want nothing more then the United Stated to run from Iraq with our tails between our legs, knowing that would make the sacrificies of our troops to have been in vain, all so they could say “See! Bush was wrong!”.

How friggin disgusting.

By: Rick Moran at 8:27 am | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (22)

Sensible Mom linked with The Support The Troops... If They Lose

The votes are in from this week’s Watchers Council and the winner in the Council category is “Why is There A CIA” from Done With Mirrors. Finishing second was The Colossus of Rhodey for “American Fascists.”

Coming out on top in the non Council category was “A Strategy for the Long War” by Blackfive.

If you’d like to participate in the weekly Watchers vote, go here and follow instructions.

By: Rick Moran at 8:45 pm | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (0)


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Mike Ditka in a familiar pose.

The winds blow cold off of Lake Michigan in Chicago this time of year. Snow swirls around lamposts and street signs in ever widening eddies making little white vortexes as the city’s inhabitants, inured to the arctic cold, hustle along the broad avenues to their appointed tasks.

Grant Park is almost deserted these last few days as the temperature has dipped into the low twenties. On balmier winter days, you can usually find a couple of pick up touch football games to watch, the kids trying to imitate their gridiron heroes who cavort at Soldiers Field just a short distance away and who are usually done playing by this time every year.

Not so this year. For the first time since 1988, My Beloveds are going to play for a chance to go to the Super Bowl. The city is beside itself. Productivity has plummeted. Absenteeism has skyrocketed. Anything and everything with a Bear on it has been grabbed off the store shelves and displayed on cars, in the workplace, on front lawns and from apartment balconies.

Alternating psychotically between bouts of uncontainable excitement at the prospect of going to Miami for the Big Game and the cold, palpable fear of a devastating loss, Bears fans are in need of one gigantic Xanax or there is a danger that the mental health infrastructure of the city could collapse in a massive Chicagoland nervous breakdown.

And into this charged up atmosphere comes a betrayal so shocking, so shattering that some of the callers to the sports talk radio shows have actually wept in anger and sorrow.

Mike Ditka doesn’t care who wins the game this Sunday between the Bears and Saints:

It has been nearly 21 years since Mike Ditka led the Bears to the Super Bowl, and 14 years since he last walked the sidelines as their coach.

Yet on the eve of the Bears’ biggest game since 1989, “Da Coach” has his unique grip on this town again.

Many Bears’ fans were in an uproar over Ditka’s comments that he doesn’t have a rooting interest in the NFC championship game Sunday between the Bears and New Orleans Saints at Soldier Field.

He has ties to both teams, spending three forgettable years (a 15-33 record from 1997-99) as coach of the Saints. But it was in Chicago where Ditka became an icon; first as a Hall of Fame tight end and then as a larger-than-life coach who guided a larger-than-life team to glory in 1985.

The latest flap began Tuesday when Ditka told the Tribune, “I never root for anybody, really.”

Allow me to take you back in time to the year 1985 when the “Super Bowl Shuffle” Bears were not just beloved of the fans – any Bears team can make that claim. The relationship between the fans and the 1985 Bears was a sociological phenomena. I would venture to say that there has never been anything like it in the history of professional sports in America. The entire city, both football and non football fans, took that team and literally adopted it. The people adopted their swagger, their braggadocio, their kookiness. I daresay for a couple of months, the people of Chicago must have been insufferable louts.

And at the top of the crazy collection of characters who made up the team was Da Coach. Ditka with the jutting chin, the chest thrust forward in unspoken challenge to any and all who would question his team’s abilities or greatness. Ditka with the pugnacious prowling of the sidelines during games, smoldering like a volcano about to erupt and then exploding in anger or joy depending on the play of his charges. Ditka in the ref’s face. Ditka snarling at the opposing coach. Ditka and his assistant coach Buddy Ryan almost coming to blows during a game.

If there was ever a personality who evoked such powerful feelings of civic identity I am unaware of one. The triad formed by the coming together of Ditka, the city of Chicago, and the fans and residents was unprecedented and has endured despite Ditka’s desertion of the city for warmer climes. He is far more popular today than Michael Jordan whose luster was tarnished after leaving the Bulls by bad mouthing the team and then playing for the Washington Wizards for a couple of years.

So when Ditka came out and said that he wouldn’t root for the Bears, the town temporarily forgot about the game and buried its collective head in its hands:

Ditka’s comments caused a furor, as angry fans ripped the former coach for not being loyal to the team. It was as if they felt abandoned by someone many consider to be the ultimate Bear.

“Everyone understands he has an argument with the McCaskeys; he can’t get past that,” North said. “But they don’t understand how he can’t pull for the blue and orange. Those colors transcend anyone who runs the team. I mean, can you imagine Bill Walsh not rooting for the 49ers?”

The passion that Ditka still elicits speaks to his incredible popularity. His in-your-face approach to football, as well as life, resonated with a town that prides itself on being tough. His colorful and unpredictable persona never dimmed with Bears fans. He remains very much in their consciousness with his analyst work locally and nationally for ESPN.

“If Mike Ditka is on one side of Ontario Avenue and [Bears coach] Lovie Smith was on the other side the day after the Super Bowl, Mike would be mobbed,” North said. “He’s still the face of the franchise.”

Never mind that Ditka probably feels constrained by his position as analyst for ESPN not to take sides. Nevertheless, radio host Mike North of WSCR pointed out the obvious:

North was surprised Ditka didn’t stick by the Bears.

‘’It surprised me a whole lot,’’ North said. ‘’Usually, he shoots from the hip. He said he doesn’t make any predictions, but he predicted the Indy game [against New England]. Bears fans are his bread and butter. He can disassociate himself with the McCaskeys. We don’t care. He has an ax to grind with the McCaskeys, and probably for a good reason. But that has nothing to do with this game.

‘’Mike Ditka not picking the Bears is like Bear Bryant not picking the Crimson Tide.’’

It’s hard to tell about Ditka sometimes. Toward the end of his run as coach of the Bears, he became a caricature of himself, emphasizing the snarling cynic rather than a sort of lovable grouch whose droll sense of humor made most of the media look forward to his post game press conferences. His over the top rants the last couple of years as coach proved grating to both players and management, although most fans never wavered in supporting him.

His neutrality may also have something to do with the way he exited the team:

Mike Ditka didn’t back down Wednesday from a shot he took at Michael McCaskey, again referring to the Bears chairman as a ‘’snake.’’

Ditka first made the accusation during an interview with the Sun-Times’ Rick Telander for a column printed Wednesday. Ditka, fired as Bears coach after the 1992 season, elaborated during an interview with ESPN Radio’s Sean Salisbury and Steve Rosenbloom on WMVP-AM (1000).

‘’I dealt with a snake in Chicago,’’ Ditka said. ‘’I don’t really respect people who do those things. When I still had the job as the head coach, they talked to somebody behind my back. That’s a little disgusting. He talked to the guy he hired [Dave Wannstedt] before he fired me.

‘’You just heard it, and you just read it. You can book it.’’

McCaskey is the son of Virginia McCaskey (nee Halas) who is still majority owner of the Bears. A classless twit, I wouldn’t put it past the younger McCaskey to have done something so underhanded although there’s no confirmation that indeed the Bears talked to anyone prior to firing Ditka.

Regardless of the past, there is real anger directed at him for the first time in memory. And if the Bears make it past the Saints, the story may get even bigger. This is one of those stories that will be driven by talk radio and bleed over into local news coverage not just sports. And judging by the messages left at Ditka’s website for his restaurant, he may want to keep a low profile while he’s in town for the game:

“My code-word for success is “ACE”: Attitude, Character, and Enthusiasm.” Well, Mikey, Your ATTITUDE stinks, you have no CHARACTER, and your ENTHUSIASM towards the Bears is pathetic. You can’t have it both ways, FELLA

That “code word for success” is from one of Ditka’s best selling motivational books. He’s made a good living on the rubber chicken circuit, speaking at conventions and corporate gatherings about teamwork and improving yourself.

Is he in danger of losing all of this? No, but I believe that people in Chicago are looking a little bit differently at Ditka today than they were yesterday. And if the story continues into next week – and if Ditka can’t keep his mouth shut – he may do further damage to one of the most unique partnerships around. Ditka and the people of Chicago have come a long way together. It would be a shame if they parted company now.

UPDATE: 1/19

Ditka spent yesterday afternoon backtracking furiously from his statements of neutrality, giving several different explanations why he didn’t come out immediately in favor of the blue and burnt orange:

‘’I’m pulling and I’m rooting—as I always have every game this year—[for] the Chicago Bears,’’ Ditka said Thursday on WMVP-AM (1000) from his restaurant. ‘’Now, I thought I’d make that announcement on my show, not somebody else’s show.’’

Ditka explained why he wouldn’t, at first, choose the Bears over the Saints, saying it was a smoke screen.

‘’Does anybody ever think the reason I didn’t want to say anything in the first place … maybe, maybe I didn’t want to jinx them?’’ he told Steve Rosenbloom and Sean Salisbury. ‘’Did anybody think that possibility?’‘

Frankly, that’s a load of manure. Ditka said on three different occassions and in three seperate interviews that he had no rooting interest in the game. It wasn’t until the firestorm broke that he suddenly became worried about “jinxing” the team.

Ditka, who coached (and was fired by) both the Bears and the Saints, said he would like nothing more than for the Bears to make it to Miami and win the Super Bowl. He dismissed any notion he would be jealous if coach Lovie Smith won the title.

‘’Yeah, I’m really worried about that,’’ Ditka said sarcastically. ‘’That is my biggest worry, believe me.

‘’No, I’m not jealous about anything. I want the Bears to win. I’ve been a Bear fan since 1961 when I started. And I’ve always been a Bear fan. ... If you’re asking me, the truth is that. And that’s how it is. People can assume anything they want to. I can’t control that. It becomes kind of humorous, really.’‘

What’s humorous is to watch as “shoot from the hip” Ditka spins, and spins, and spins his way out of trouble with his meal ticket – Bears fans.

Maybe he should re-read one of his motivational books, concentrating on the chapter admonishing readers to be honest with themselves.

By: Rick Moran at 2:09 pm | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (5)

CATEGORY: Obama-Rezko

In what I hope will be a regular feature on this site, I will be following the progress of Illinois favorite son, Barak Obama, as he seeks to become the Democratic nominee for President of the United States.

There really is no other way to describe the fawning, goo-goo eyed coverage of Mr. Obama in the press except “Obamania.” More has been written about his pecs than about his thoughts on Iraq. One would think his first name is “Rock Star” given how many times that appellation has appeared as a descriptive of his impact on a crowd. His books have rocketed to the top of the bestseller charts – thanks to millions of dollars in free publicity given by the media.

Every move he makes is doted on. Every sound he utters has reporters swooning. Every step he takes toward declaring his candidacy for President starts a new wave of hagiography about his life story; his humble, mixed race upbringing, his bootstrapping college and law school, and his political career (necessarily the shortest and least informative of what’s written about him).

Here in Illinois where Obama was something of a known quantity prior to his being anointed a rock star cum savior, local reporters have jumped on the Obama bandwagon with gusto, being even more explosively enthusiastic about his candidacy than out of town scribes:

Call me nuts again, but here are the eight reasons why 65 percent of more than 13,000 click voters at this week were right when they said that Obama will win the Democratic nomination:

Columnist Eric Zorn then goes on to list reasons such as his likability, his race, his “rock star” status attracting the young, – and on and on. He even opines that Obama will win because “his team is tough:”

The snarks in the water have tried to stick Obama with the schoolyard nickname “Obambi” to suggest that he’s weak and naive. But he has assembled a seasoned campaign crew that will not shy from political street fights.

I pointed out before that “a Democratic corpse plucked from a Chicago graveyard could have won the race for Illinois Senator in 2004.” The Republicans self destructed six months before election day. And their choosing Alan Keyes – an extremely conservative, out of state politician – to replace the scandal damaged Jack Ryun barely 10 weeks prior to the voting was such a clear act of desperation that Obama outpolled Democratic Presidential candidate John Kerry by more than 20 points on election day.

Obama as tough campaigner? Ridiculous. The man has yet to be tested. And given the team of cutthroats in Hillary’s shop (blooded in two national campaigns) who are sharpening their knives in eager anticipation of shredding the rookie from cheek to groin, I daresay that there is a very good chance that much of the luster applied to Obama’s personae is bound to be sheared off in the process.

Where will they find the ammunition?

With only a slim, two-year record in the U.S. Senate, Obama doesn’t have many controversial congressional votes which political opponents can frame into attack ads. But his eight years as an Illinois state senator are sprinkled with potentially explosive land mines, such as his abortion and gun control votes.

Obama who filed papers this week creating an exploratory committee to seek the 2008 Democratic nomination may also find himself fielding questions about his actions outside public office, from his acknowledgment of cocaine use in his youth to a more recent land purchase from a political supporter who is facing charges in an unrelated kickback scheme involving investment firms seeking state business.

That “land purchase” is a scandal waiting to happen. In June of 2005, Obama purchased a House on the South Side of Chicago for $1.65 million. On that same day, the wife of a top Democratic fundraiser (who was under suspicions for illegalities and influence peddling at the time) purchased the adjoining vacant lot for $625,000:

Obama and Rezko then engaged in a series of private transactions to redivide and improve their adjoining parcels, the Tribune disclosed in November.

These arrangements came after Rezko was widely reported to be under a federal grand jury investigation.

Obama said it was “boneheaded” to engage in those transactions when Rezko was “under a cloud of concern.” Obama further told Tribune editors and reporters Dec. 14: “In retrospect, it was stupid. So I’m happy to own up to that. And, I will also acknowledge that from his perspective, he no doubt believed that, by buying the piece of property next to me, that he would, if not be doing me a favor, that it would help strengthen our relationship.”

Obama added that he had never “done favors for [Rezko] of any sort. Most of the time, I’ve never been in a position to do favors for him. I don’t control jobs. I don’t control contracts. There were no bills that he was pushing when I was in the state legislature that I know of or that he talked to me about. And there were no bills in federal legislation that he was concerned about, so there was no sense of the betrayal of the public trust here.”

And as far as Obama never having done any favors for Rezko, the fact that he hired a young man as an intern who was the son of one of Rezko’s associates less than a week before the land deal makes one wonder if there are any other “favors” Obama may have done for the disgraced fundraiser or his cronies.

Such speculation has raised the hackles of the Obamaniacs. Eric Zorn again:

All I hear amid the noise is the thrum of resentment and fear:

Resentment that he’s not playing by the old rules—that he hasn’t acquired his political capital by spending years swapping favors and grandstanding in lesser offices or by climbing the coattails of his politically powerful father.

And fear that he’s going to be a hell of a good candidate—brilliant, telegenic, immensely likable and on the popular (negative) side of the war in Iraq from the git-go.

Not to say that he’ll be a perfect candidate

That last appeared to have been hastily added by Zorn lest anyone try and count the stars in his eyes whenever he talks about Obama.

I shouldn’t pick on Zorn. He’s not alone. Sun Times columnist Lynn Sweet:

Obama’s physique is old news to Chicago Sun-Times readers. I’ve worked out several times next to Obama at the East Bank Club, but alas, could not follow him into the locker room. My colleague Neil Steinberg did and reported on Jan. 6, 2006, that the undressed Obama “doesn’t have enough fat on his body to make a butter pat.”

You be the judge in looking at the People photo whether anything has changed in a year. (My blog awaits your comments.)

“Telegenic” and sex appeal to boot! Now that’s what I call reporting!

Clearly, Obama has struck a chord with celebrity watchers, liberal Democrats, and even ordinary Joes who ache for someone to mount the White Horse and ride to the rescue; the shining knight saving us all from our partisan follies and rancorous politics. But is there anything inside the armor our savior is wearing? Or is it simply a matter of us filling that empty suit with whatever hopes and dreams we can stuff inside it?

Obama is not an everyman. He is an “anyman” – he’s anything you want him to be. Until he defines himself, he risks having his political opponents do it for him. And that’s an opportunity that Team Hillary is salivating for.

By: Rick Moran at 10:19 am | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (6)

Cao's Blog linked with Obamamania
Doug Ross @ Journal linked with Pelosi's Global-Warming Witch-Hunt
CATEGORY: Government

I’m not sure whether this is an huge change in policy or whether the media is spinning it that way, but the controversial NSA intercept program has now been placed under the jurisdiction of the FISA Court:

The Bush administration, in a surprise reversal, said on Wednesday that it had agreed to give a secret court jurisdiction over the National Security Agency’s wiretapping program and would end its practice of eavesdropping without warrants on Americans suspected of ties to terrorists.

More Politics NewsThe Justice Department said it had worked out an “innovative” arrangement with the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court that provided the “necessary speed and agility” to provide court approval to monitor international communications of people inside the United States without jeopardizing national security.

The decision capped 13 months of bruising national debate over the reach of the president’s wartime authorities and his claims of executive power, and it came as the administration faced legal and political hurdles in its effort to continue the surveillance program.


And here is where not knowing the technical details of how the program was carried out – something the media and the left have ignored from the beginning in their rush to claim the program “illegal” – may be the key to understanding why government lawyers were willing to sign off on this program in the first place.

Unless you believe NSA lawyers as well as Justice Department attorneys involved in signing off on the intercept program (many of whom threatened to resign unless changes were made) are in love with authoritarianism and unconstitutional abuses of power, then you have to believe that they found justification under the law and the Constitution to give their imprimatur to the initial program. These lawyers are not Republican flunkies. They are career prosecutors and attorneys as dedicated to the law as any left wing commenter who for more than a year have been offering one horseback opinion after another about the legality of the intercept program.

Despite appearances – that is to say, the way the intercept program was described by the New York Times – it was constantly nagging at me that the lawyers at NSA and Justice who vetted this program (and who apparently had access to details not revealed by the Times or the soothsayers on the left who are so confident about knowing exactly how the program works) had to have satisfied themselves that no one was breaking the law. If it came out later that they signed off on a program knowing full well it was illegal, their careers would be over not to mention they would be showing themselves to be moral cowards.

Orrin Kerr, no flaming Bush supporter or booster of the NSA program:

What’s going on? As with everything about this program, we can’t be sure; we don’t know the facts, so we’re stuck with making barely-educated guesses. But it sounds to me like the FISA Court judges have agreed to issue anticipatory warrants. The traditional warrant process requires the government to write up the facts in an application and let the judge decide whether those facts amount to probable cause. If you were looking for a way to speed up that process — and both sides were in a mood to be “innovative” — one fairly straightforward alternative would be to use anticipatory warrants.

An anticipatory warrant lets the government conduct surveillance when a specific set of triggering facts occurs. The judge agrees ahead of time that if those facts occur, probable cause will exist and the monitoring can occur under the warrant. The idea is that there isn’t enough time to get a warrant right at that second, so the warrant can be “pre-approved” by the Judge and used by the government when the triggering event happens.

I don’t know if this theory is right, of course. But it seems to be consistent with the clues in the DOJ briefing. Why are these orders taking a lot of time to obtain? If my theory is right, it’s because the triggering facts that amount to probable cause in a terrorism investigation presumably are complicated. There are cookie-cutter drug cases, but I gather there aren’t any cookie-cutter terrorism cases. It probably takes a lot of negotiation with the FISA court judges to figure out what different sets of facts they’ll accept as triggering events that satisfy probable cause. Plus, the Court might have required review every 90 days instead of the one-year max allowed under FISA because the FISA court judges would want to know if their trigger is working out in its application.

Kerr speculates that a Supreme Court case decided in March making “Anticipatory Warrants” legal may be the impetus behind this deal.

This story is going to open the door to rehashing the same arguments that each side has been flinging at each other for over a year. And the fact that we are no closer to definitive answers today on the legality of the program than we were a year ago is enormously troubling. The program has been reviewed by the Intelligence Committees of both the House and Senate. The Senate Judiciary Committee held hearings on the program. Even a government civil liberties oversight board has looked into the program.

To date, most Congressmen and Senators who have been briefed about the program – both Republicans and Democrats – have not called for its termination. There have been some who have urged the President to place the program under the auspices of the FISA Court but this is by no means a universal response by Congress. And the oversight board found nothing illegal and indeed, praised the Administration for their concerns over privacy issues.

All of this leads me to believe there is a missing element to this story – one not revealed by the Times in their initial reporting nor subsequent follow ups. The fact that a federal judge with no special knowledge of how the program worked declared it “unconstitutional is no help since her ruling has already been challenged and the government successfully got an injunction imposed to keep the program running. (Note: It is almost universally believed by attorneys that her opinion was so poorly written and incoherent that it will easily be overturned.)

But what could this “missing link” be? Did the Times get the story wrong initially? Not impossible but I’ve reread that story and the subsequent follow-ups and it appears fairly well sourced but, by necessity, incomplete. Did the NSA “eavesdrop” as defined by the law? Was the technical means used to intercept the messages something new and therefore beyond the scope of the FISA Court? Was use made of the Court in ways that have not been publicized?

As Kerr says, we just don’t know. And given all the facts we have at hand, I just don’t know either.


I deliberately didn’t want to explore opinion on this matter prior to writing this post (Kerr’s post caught my eye because his opinion on the intercept program has mirrored my own since the story broke; that it was probably borderline legal but bad news for civil liberties).

There appear to be two schools of thought; one that echoes my bold faced question above and another that sees the FISA Court caving in to the Administration. Ed Morrissey:

It’s not that the program has ended; it obviously will continue. My anger is over the fact that the Bush administration insisted on two points: one, that the FISA court would not cooperate on streamlining the process for warrants on these intercepts, and the second that the Bush administration had the authority to proceed without it. They took everyone along for a big ride, making all sorts of legal arguments about the AUMF and Article II —and now Gonzales has revealed that even they didn’t really believe it.

If they were negotiating with FISA to place the program under their jurisdiction, then they must have agreed with their critics that insisted FISA was a covering authority for such action. And if they’ve spent the better part of two years reaching an accommodation with FISA, why not just tell people what they were doing when the program got exposed? And for toppers, why didn’t they start negotiating with FISA in November 2001 when they started the program?

Ed says that Bush has blown his credibility and, given what I’ve read in the last hour or so, I tend to agree. Morrissey believes that Bush is making this move now because he thinks that the President is trying to cut his losses and keep the program running even though a Democratic Congress would move to terminate it.

Mark Levin is livid:

Is there no principle subject to negotiation? Is there no course subject to reversal? For the Bush administration to argue for years that this program, as operated, was critical to our national security and fell within the president’s Constitutional authority, to then turnaround and surrender presidential authority this way is disgraceful. The administration is repudiating all the arguments it has made in testimony, legal briefs, and public statements. This goes to the heart of the White House’s credibility. How can it cast away such a fundamental position of principle and law like this?

Marty Lederman has some interesting speculation:

Why didn’t this happen years ago? Might it have something to do with the prospect of a possible big government triple-loss on (i) state secrets privilege; (ii) FISA; and (iii) its article II arguments—a development that DOJ would understandably be eager to avoid?

Curiouser and curiouser . . .

Indeed, the prospects of getting legally hammered, not to mention John Conyers and his impeachment inquiry waiting in the wings, salivating at a chance to go after the President, may have focused the Administration’s efforts to take the fire out of the issue. If so, one wonders what other domestic security measures the Administration will seek to rollback.

The more I read about this decision, the more I realize that my post above is at best, superficial and at worst, an exercise in wishful thinking. The Administration has just admitted that what it had been doing for 5 years was either illegal, unconstitutional, or both. How this will play out over the next several months as Democrats begin sharpening the long knives and begin their investigations in earnest will determine the fate of the President.

By: Rick Moran at 7:32 am | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (29) Political News and Blog Aggregator linked with Bush changes course on warrantless spying
CATEGORY: Books, Politics

I’ve read a couple of books by Dinesh D’Souza, a self designated conservative intellectual whose most controversial book, “The End of Racism: Principles for a Multiracial Society caused some liberal’s heads to explode back in the 90’s. As examples of deep conservative thought, they are excellent brain candy; fluffy, superficial explorations of the left’s dominance of American culture and academia. The End of Racisim was even skewered by some conservatives for being wretchedly sourced and borderline bigoted. Two black fellows at The American Enterprise Institute resigned in protest over the think tank’s promotion of the book as well as D’Souza’s continued affiliation with the group.

One of the black fellows who resigned, Glenn Loury, wrote a review of The End of Racism in which he called the then 34 year old D’Souza “the Mark Fuhrman of public policy” which may have been a little unfair but indicative of the effect that D’Souza’s shallow critique of black culture had on genuine intellectuals like Loury. D’Souza also wrote Illiberal Education: The Politics of Race and Sex on Campus in which he anticipated the much more scholarly efforts of David Horwitz in exposing the left wing bias of professors and college administrators. In D’Souza’s case, the major criticism was again one of poor sourcing. I would add that Illiberal Education, as a dialectic, was an utter failure. Logical fallacies abound in the book and it should have finished the young man as a serious critic.

But the same conservative network of foundations, think tanks, and study groups that raises up and propels brilliant thinkers like Michael Ledeen, Fred Kagan, and Jeffrey Hart to prominence also brings us the occasional dud. D’Souza, and to some extent Ann Coulter, share a predilection for generating outrage both for the sake of advancing their personal public personae as well as eliciting angry responses from the left. The latter is important in that most criticism of their work is just as shallow and vapid as the work being criticized – easy pickings for a clever interlocutor like D’Souza who is a regular on CNN and other cable news networks where clever ripostes and chicken soup bromides rule the airwaves.

The only book of D’Souza’s that I really liked was Ronald Reagan: How an Ordinary Man Became an Extraordinary Leader – a hagiographic summation of The Gipper’s impact on America and the Presidency as well as a listing of his leadership qualities that D’Souza claims made him the leader that he was. Here D’Souza wasn’t attempting any deep analysis but rather simply giving his opinion of a man he obviously admired. It was a thoroughly enjoyable read with plenty of Reagan anecdotes and a rehash of some of his major addresses. I came away with a deeper appreciation of the man although not convinced that any of Reagan’s unusual qualities or unorthodox leadership style could necessarily be adopted by anyone else to be a successful President.

This much is clear; D’Souza is not cut out to be a scholar. His mind appears to be too undisciplined to rigorously examine the subject he writes about, taking the issues apart and putting them back together so that he is intimately familiar with all aspects of the matter. Nor does he seem to be very self critical in that I don’t see him constantly challenging his own ideas. While this is a failing of many people who consider themselves scholars, constantly bulldogging one’s own work brings texture and a richness to arguments and gives depth and nuance to criticism.

It is dangerous (and a little silly) to comment on a book I haven’t read. But D’Souza’s latest effort, The Enemy At Home: The Cultural Left and Its Responsibility for 9/11, judging only by what the author himself has said and news reports of its contents have revealed, I would have to say that D’Souza has elevated logical fallacy to an art form while making Ann Coulter look like a Sister of Mercy of liberal criticism.

D’Souza’s own words:

“In this book I make a claim that will seem startling at the outset. The cultural left in this country is responsible for causing 9/11. ... In faulting the cultural left, I am not making the absurd accusation that this group blew up the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. I am saying that the cultural left and its allies in Congress, the media, Hollywood, the nonprofit sector, and the universities are the primary cause of the volcano of anger toward America that is erupting from the Islamic world. The Muslims who carried out the 9/11 attacks were the product of this visceral rage—some of it based on legitimate concerns, some of it based on wrongful prejudice, but all of it fueled and encouraged by the cultural left. Thus without the cultural left, 9/11 would not have happened.

Muslim rage “fueled and encouraged by the cultural left” being “responsible” for 9/11? There are few more vociferous and sneeringly deprecating critics of the cultural left than yours truly but this is sheer lunacy. And it gets worse:

“I realize that this is a strong charge, one that no one has made before. But it is a neglected aspect of the 9/11 debate, and it is critical to understanding the current controversy over the ‘war against terrorism.’ … I intend to show that the left has actively fostered the intense hatred of America that has led to numerous attacks such as 9/11. If I am right, then no war against terrorism can be effectively fought using the left-wing premises that are now accepted doctrine among mainstream liberals and Democrats.”

First, the idea that no one has made this charge before is ludicrous and shows that D’Souza either lives in a cocoon or is a shoddy researcher:

It took culture warrior Robert Knight to refine the argument, and he was quite specific about who was to blame:

“None of this happened by accident. It is directly due to cultural depravity advanced in the name of progress and amplified by a sensation-hungry media.

  • We were told putting women into combat areas is progressive and enlightened.
  • We were told pornography is liberating, and that anyone who objects is a narrow-minded Puritan who needs therapy. We have been flooded with porn imagery on mainstream television and in magazine ads. Where did those soldiers get the idea to engage in sadomasochistic activity and to videotape it in voyeuristic fashion? Easy. It’s found on thousands of Internet porn sites and in the pages of “gay” publications, where S&M events are advertised alongside ads for Subarus, liquor and drugs to treat HIV and hepatitis.
  • We were told homosexuality is harmless and normal, and the military should live with a “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy that allows homosexuals to stay in the barracks. We were told that men “marrying” men and women “marrying” women is inevitable – not only for America, but for the world. Imagine how those images of men kissing men outside San Francisco City Hall after being “married” play in the Muslim world. We couldn’t offer the mullahs a more perfect picture of American decadence. This puts Americans at risk all over the world, especially Christian missionaries who are trying to bring the Gospel to people trapped in darkness for millennia.
  • This is a Perfect Storm of our own making, and it is up to normal Americans to unmake it. It is not beyond correction. The American people should start by getting on their knees and asking God’s forgiveness for letting it get this bad. Then, they should ask Him for guidance in how to restore the moral order.”

While Knight is talking specifically about Iraq, he generalizes the jihadis hatred – ostensibly the same hatred that fueled the 9/11 attackers. (Read Eric’s entire piece. It is an excellent antidote to D’Souza’s idiocy.)

In fact, as this review of The Enemy at Home in Slate Magazine by Timothy Noah points out, D’Souza’s slings and arrows directed at the “cultural left” (a term he apparently never defines) seems to have missed their mark entirely:

The heart of D’Souza’s book isn’t his libeling of the American left, but rather his libeling of the American right. D’Souza notes, correctly, that al-Qaida’s hatred toward the West in general, and the United States in particular, is animated to a great extent by America’s permissive culture. But Bin Laden isn’t some Michael Medved figure grumping about the vulgarity of American Pie. He’s got bigger fish to fry. Al-Qaida’s enemy isn’t the excesses of secular culture; it’s secular culture itself. And to a surprising degree, D’Souza is willing to go along for the ride. Theocracy, D’Souza argues, is misunderstood to mean “rule by divine authority of the priesthood or clergy.” Not so! There are checks and balances, just like in the U.S. Constitution. In Iran, for instance, “the power of the state and of the mullahs is limited by the specific rules set forth in the Koran and the Islamic tradition. The rulers themselves are bound by these laws.”

Jesus Lord what sophistry! And ignorance to boot. It would come as a huge surprise to the small number of cowering democrats in Iran that the power of the state is “limited” in any way. More than 200,000 Revolutionary Guards make sure of that. And the Supreme Leader, whose power is technically checked by an Assembly of Experts, in reality does anything he damn well pleases as long as he’s clever enough to justify it by interpreting the Koran broadly enough.

But Noah’s point that D’Souza is actually libeling conservatives is well taken. If conservatives in this country express similar criticisms of the cultural left as the Islamic fanatics, according to D’Souza’s illogic doesn’t that put the social righties on the same moral plane as the jihadis? Doesn’t it, in fact, make us allies with conservative traditionalists around the world – even conservative Muslims? You betchya!

[I]f the political left and the Islamic fundamentalists are in the same foreign policy camp [because they both hate American imperialism], then by the same token the political right and the Islamic fundamentalists are on the same wavelength on social issues. The left is allied with some radical Muslims in opposition to American foreign policy, and the right is allied with an even larger group of Muslims [which includes radical Muslims] in their opposition to American social and cultural depravity. This is the essential new framework I propose for understanding American foreign policy and American social issues.

I hardly think we need this kind of “framework” – which is about as broad and simplistic as I’ve ever seen proposed – in reaching a new intellectual paradigm that explains either American foreign policy or the cultural left. D’Souza is spouting nonsense – a language he speaks with great fluency and total obliviousness to rationality.

If D’Souza had written about the toxicity of the culture promoted by the left and its effect on the mores and manners of American society – dumbing down discourse while polluting the values and traditions that hold the country together, I may have taken a flyer on the book and bought it. But from all that I’ve read about this book – both left and right – it’s a tome only the rabid cultural warriors could embrace.

Do you think they’ll catch the irony of D’Souza’s idea of making common cause against the left by allying with Muslim conservatives? I think not. They’ll probably be too busy chortling over the savaging of lefty icons to pay much attention to what passes for nuance in the book.

By: Rick Moran at 10:44 am | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (16)

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Mr. Dark has come calling and he’s brought his carnival of terror with him.

The Ray Bradbury novel that inspired the title of this recap (not the execrable 1983 film) was full of extraordinary imagery and allegories; the carousel that, depending on which way you rode it, either made you younger or older. The mirror maze. The strange and terrifying freaks. And Mr. Dark himself, a man with a tattoo for every soul he had ensnared to serve him.

Opposed by two 14 year old boys who were alternately terrified and intrigued by what the carnival offered. Mr. Dark met his end when one of the boy’s fathers embraces an age-regressed Dark and kills him because the devil cannot endure love. For Jack Bauer, a mere shadow of his former cold blooded self, the demons that haunt him finally get the upper hand when he is forced to shoot and seriously wound his CTU partner Curtis.

For Jack, it is too late. Mr. Dark already has a tattoo with his name on it emblazoned across his chest. The realization that the deal he made with the devil that allowed him to do his job better than anyone else while believing he was giving his life meaning proved too much for him. He physically rejected the compromises with his own humanity he was forced to make all these years. His incarceration by the Chinese was the trigger. But it was the recognition of his own isolation that caused him to vomit forth all the pain and self imposed loneliness from his soul when he finally came to grips with what he was capable of doing to get the job done; save his mortal enemy while possibly killing his friend.

The physical torture Jack endured in the Chinese prison was nothing compared to the mental anguish this realization must necessarily bring. And there is only one thing that could bind Jack’s wounds and prop him up so that he could go forth and continue to do his job; the call to duty.

The horror of a nuclear bomb being detonated on American soil is probably the only thing that could have saved Jack from the ultimate fate of experiencing a self loathing so powerful, it would have meant an end to his CTU field career. He is a creature of duty. And watching as the mushroom cloud blossomed over Valencia, Jack realized that if ever the United States had need of his “special talents,” it was now.

Jack has gotten on the carousel and is riding it backward – back to a time when he was without pity or remorse. He has a mission now. His life, such as it is, has meaning again.

Bad news for the terrorists. And not good news for Jack as once again, he descends into the demon haunted world of blood and violence to save the United States from the ultimate threat to its existence.


It should be interesting to see how the writers play with the nuke scenario. This Rand Corporation study of what would happen if a nuke detonated in a major American city is extremely sobering. Needless to say, 5 nukes going off in 5 different cities would be a catastrophe unprecedented in the history of industrialized civilization. It would be an open question if the United States could survive the economic, political, and public health impact of such an attack. Yes, there would physically be an area known as “USA” on the maps. But I doubt if you or I would recognize what kind of country it had become.

Simply put (and I’ve said it many times over the past three years about one episode or another), television doesn’t get any better than last night. And the exciting thing is, we still have 20 hours to go.

SUMMARY: 8:00 AM - 10:00 AM

As the White House grimly reviews the casualty figures from the latest round of attacks, Fayed calls the President. It seems that the terrorist reads the New York Times and Washington Post because he calls for the release of all enemy combatants at “Palmdale” detention center (an obvious euphemism for Guantanamo). As with all terrorist demands on the show, the United States has exactly one hour to comply or something really bad will happen.

For a country that has made it clear that we don’t negotiate with terrorists, 24 has consistently made a liar out of every modern President by showing the US not only negotiating with terrorists but simply giving in to their demands. Even Reagan used the Iranians to negotiate with with the terrorists holding our hostages in Lebanon. The show doesn’t even use the pretense of a third party for that.

Anyway, Palmer tells Bill to get the ball rolling at Palmdale just in case he decides to give in to Fayed’s demands. And in a rare show of unity, both Karen and Lennox oppose the deal.

After the failed suicide bomb at the train station, Jack and Assad follow Fayed’s man through the city streets hoping he will lead them to the terrorist leader. Jack convinces Assad that they need CTU’s help to track the car when it becomes clear that the terrorist is heading out of the city. Assad, wary of working with “the enemy” agrees but the country is such a mess, no satellite coverage is possible for several minutes.

Fearful that they will lose track of the terrorist, Jack hits upon a brilliant scheme, almost as scathingly brilliant as his convenience store heist in Season 4 when he was faced with a similar situation; carjack another vehicle and ram the terrorist’s car. Insurance fraudsters know the scam well. Deliberately side swipe a victim’s vehicle while having a “witness” (who happens to be in on the scam) claim it was the victim’s fault.

Jack casually steals a Jeep Cherokee, rudely pushing the owner away, and cuts through back alleys and side streets in order to catch up to the terrorist’s car. The scam works to perfection. And Assad, taking the side of the victim in this case, convinces the terrorist to get in his vehicle and continue his journey.

Back at The Typical American Family’s house, Ahmed (pronounced “Achhhmed”) takes the entire Wallace family hostage. Unable to complete his mission for Fayed because of the injuries he suffered as a result of the beating by his neighbor, he coerces The Typical American Dad to do his errand for him; take a box to a mysterious man named Marcus and pick up an item in return.

Assad meanwhile is playing his role of helpful stranger like a pro. Knowing that CTU is listening to his conversation thanks to his leaving an open phone line on his cell, he ticks off a landmark so that CTU can track him. Jack meets up with Curtis and his TAC team, filling him in on the good news that Assad is a reformed terrorist now and that all the hundreds of dead bodies trailing in his wake don’t mean squat. Curtis has a sour look on his face when he states the obvious:

CURTIS: The man is a terrorist, Jack. He’s responsible for taking hundreds – perhaps thousands of innocent lives over the past 20 years. Doesn’t that mean anything to you?

JACK: I don’t know what means anything anymore, Curtis. I’ve spent my whole life defending the country against people like Assad. Now he’s trying to disarm his people and renounce terrorism. I guess people change.

Sure they do. Just ask Yassar Arafat. Renounce terrorism for yourself but turn a blind eye while your subordinates gleefully continue to kill civilians. The strategy has the dual advantage of making you look like a statesman while still allowing for killing your enemies.

Arafat “changed” alright. He went from being a scumbag terrorist to being a scumbag terrorist enabler. And for that, he got the Nobel Peace Prize as well as becoming Bill Clinton’s most frequent (male) overnight guest at the White House.

Speaking of Presidents, Palmer learns that Pamela was arrested for obstructing the FBI and is being taken to the Anacostia Detention Center. Palmer calls her and the woman is breathing fire and taking names. She wants to make a federal case out of her arrest but Palmer dismisses her grandstanding and orders her release. Before leaving the detention center she wants to see Walid but the FBI is through playing with her and escorts her home.

Finally, CTU gets satellite coverage of Assad’s car just in time for Fayed’s man to be picked up after being dropped off. Jack and Curtis close in with CTU TAC. After being introduced to Curtis, Assad is promptly placed into custody. Jack protests but to no avail. Assad looks a little miffed but seems mollified after Jack, employing his legendary good manners, thanks the reformed terrorist for his help. Curtis looks at Jack like he’s from another planet.

The TAC team moves smoothly and professionally into position. Fayed’s man has opened a self storage unit and, amidst the dozens of boxes of Czech ammunition, takes out a laptop computer. But hearing a sound on the roof, he catches a glimpse of TAC team member and starts a firefight. Wounded, he takes out a grenade and blows himself to kingdom come, apparently destroying any evidence that would lead CTU to Fayed.

Upon hearing this and realizing he has no other options, the President orders the release of the enemy combatants. The MP’s carefully load the prisoners on buses to take them to an airplane and eventual freedom.

Our Typical American Dad meanwhile has found the mysterious Marcus and dutifully delivers the package. We discover it contains money – lots of it. Marcus then informs the TAD that it’s not enough, he wants $50,000 more before he gives up the “item.” Upon calling Ahmed (pronounced “Achhhmed”), the TAD is ordered to get the item at all costs or his family is toast. Desperate, the TAD asks to see the item and when Marcus brings it out for inspection, the TAD shockingly kills him.

Back at the site of the recent firefight, CTU recovers a hard drive with some engineering specs on them. Since they’re in Arabic, Jack calls for Assad to lend his assistance. Curtis objects but Jack prevails and the former terrorist informs us that the specs are for a trigger device for a nuclear weapon. But not just any nuclear weapon. The device is made to trigger a so-called “suitcase” nuke.

There has been a lively debate among nuclear experts about whether or not “suitcase” nukes could actually fit into a suitcase. Former Congressman Curt Weldon famously lugged a suitcase around Capitol Hill for a few days to dramatize our vulnerability. Weldon’s Committee held hearings on the subject which was dramatized by Russian General Alexander Lebed’s famous claim on 60 Minutes that there were a hundred suitcase nukes that Moscow couldn’t account for.

Best guess? Possible but not likely. And the amount of maintenance that would be necessary (changing many impossible to get components every six months or so) to keep the bomb capable of detonating probably means that at the moment, terrorists don’t have one.

Meanwhile, a man is identified as part of the plot but no one knows his real name. Seeing a picture of the suspect, Assad recognizes him immediately as one Hassan Nameer, a nuclear expert who has expertise in suitcase nukes. When Chloe runs the name, the database spits out the fact that Nameer was being held at Palmdale. Immediately, the President realizes that Fayed’s “demands” were nothing more than a smokescreen to free Nameer. Bill stops the plane from taking off but too late! A turncoat American soldier hid Nameer in a luggage compartment on the bus that took the inmates to the airport, killed one of his fellow soldiers, and freed to the terrorist to hook up with Fayed to complete the work of arming the bomb.

Once he realizes he has escaped, Bill loses his famous cool:

Bill: Nameer is a known terrorist with possible access to suitcase nukes and he escapes in broad daylight.


Everyone on the floor looks anxiously at Bill. The guy has never raised his voice, not even to Chloe. Clearly, everyone is starting to feel the strain.

Back at the White House, another grim meeting, this time about the consequences of the detonation of a suitcase nuke in a large city. The number of deaths and serious injuries could be in the hundreds of thousands. That cuts it. Palmer says in a voice reminiscent of Commissioner Gordon summoning Batman, “Get me Jack Bauer!”

But Bauer tries to beg off, feigning being out of practice. Nonsense. Jack’s already offed two bad guys and made a deal with a reformed terrorist. Sounds like he hasn’t missed a beat.

Except he has, of course. Jack is tired of the responsibility but when the President says “I need you” to run the operation, Jack’s finely developed sense of duty overcomes his misgivings and he agrees to run the hunt for Fayed and Nameer as well as stop the detonation of the nuke. But Curtis is still balky about working with Assad. Jack asks Chloe to look into any connection between Curtis and Assad.

Nameer takes a magic carpet ride and arrives at Fayed’s lair just minutes after having escaped (on foot) from detention. He even mentions he had to come all the way across town – a feat that for any normal Angelino takes hours. No matter. We get our first look at The Gadget. Funny, it doesn’t look that dangerous…

Having made his first kill, The Typical American Dad calls Ahmed (pronounced “Achhhmed”) and demands the release of his family. The terrorist gives him one – his wife – and threatens his son unless he delivers the device to Fayed at the designated address (which is overheard by young Scott Wallace). Although agreeing not to call the Police after her release and conversation with her husband, The Typical American Mom dials 911 anyway. The police pass on the info to CTU and Jack realizes they are hot on the trail when the TAM mentions that she overheard Fayed’s name while being held by the terrorist. Jack and Curtis take the TAC team to the Wallace house to rescue young Scott and grab Ahmed (pronounced “Achhhmed”)

After confirming with a Middle Eastern ambassador that Assad is indeed seeking to lay down his arms, the President calls Jack and asks to speak with Assad. Palmer offers him immunity for all his past crimes as well as protection if he will help catch Fayed and foil his nefarious plans. Assad agrees in principle, but like all good terrorists, he wants to see it in writing.

Back at Anacostia Detention Center, Walid has a conversation with another inmate that leads him to believe the man is involved in the terrorist attacks. He makes it a point to listen in to a conversation between two inmates, trying to get as much information as possible.

Our Typical American DAD finally makes it to Fayed’s hideout. As he is ushered into Fayed’s presence, Nameer eagerly takes the device and proclaims that it’s just the ticket to light up the sky with the fires of burning infidels. TAD puts two and two together and realizes what the terrorists are up to and says “You’re nuts!” which is true as far as it goes but not a smart thing to say if you want to stay alive when surrounded by about 20 bloodthirsty jihadis. TAD begs Fayed to call Ahmed (pronounced “Achhhmed”) and have his son released. On his way out the door, Fayed makes the call and orders the terrorist not to release Scott but kill him instead. The mastermind makes his way to another safe house while Nameer races to complete his work and arm the bomb.

CTU TAC arrives at the Wallace house. Just a Typical American House in a Typical American Suburban Neighborhood. So quiet, so peaceful. And yet, the wolf has been living among them for years, waiting for the day when he could tear off his sheep’s clothing and reveal his true nature. “Achhhmed” was just the friendly guy who lived across the street 3 short hours ago. Now he orders Scott to kneel and turn around so that he doesn’t see the shot coming.

Just in time, CTU busts in and distracts the terrorist. Despite orders from Jack to take him alive, a TAC member sees Bauer and Ahmed pointing guns at each other and fires.

It doesn’t matter how we pronounce Ahmed’s name anymore.

But young Scott comes to the rescue when he recalls the address that Ahmed had given his dad to take the package. Two other TAC teams race to the location while Jack finalizes the agreement with Assad and the United States government. Assad asks for a few minutes to examine the fine print which makes one pine for the days when terrorists were simply terrorists and not also versed in the nuances of law. I guess it just goes to show that lawyers have indeed taken over the world.

Back at Anacostia, Sandra finally gets in to see Walid. She also, finally, gets slapped down by someone for spouting her civil liberties absolutist positions – and it’s none other than Walid who tries to shake some sense into the woman. After telling her that he overheard some prisoners talking that made him think they were not innocent Muslims locked up by a capricious and bigoted government, Sandra starts in with her shrill talking points:

SANDRA: They’re being held illegally! Any statement they make…

WALID: Damnit Sandra! Stop being a lawyer for one damn minute! These guys may be planning something that could hurt a lot of people…

Well, that shuts her up. Temporarily at least. Walid tells her that the two inmates kept repeating a phrase in Arabic. He has Sandra memorize it and promise to pass it on to the FBI.

Back at the Wallace house, Curtis is told of the deal with Assad and gets a very sour look on his face – as if he were sucking on the sourest lemons possible. Jack doesn’t give it another thought because he thinks Curtis is on board when he says “If that’s the way it has to be, then that’s the way it has to be.”

Too late! Chloe calls with the news that there is indeed a history between Curtis and Assad. It seems after the Gulf War, Curtis’ outfit was on patrol and ambushed by Assad’s men. Curtis was wounded and the terrorists took two of his men as hostages. After releasing a video showing them begging for their lives and then beheading the unfortunates, it is not surprising that Curtis is a little unbalanced where Assad is concerned.

And we see just how unbalanced when Assad, on his way back to CTU headquarters, is accosted by Curtis just before he gets in the CTU van and finds himself looking down the barrel of Curtis’ gun.

Jack, realizing that Curtis may try something, races out side and draws his own gun, pointing it at his friend, telling him to move away and put his gun down. For several tense moments both men face off against each other. Curtis with his gun to Assad’s head. Jack with his gun pointed at the gap between Curtis’ vest and neck. When Curtis, crying now, shakes his head and says “I can’t let this scum live,” Jack realizes there is nothing for it.

The sound of the shot is not only a surprise, but the wound that opens up in Curtis’ neck along with the look of total surprise and shock on his face makes us catch our breath. As his friend slowly sinks to the ground with the life oozing out of the wound in his neck, Jack is confronted with the ultimate irony of his life; he has just saved his mortal enemy by shooting and perhaps killing his friend.

It is too much. The retching sound as Jack throws up makes us all queasy. This is not the Jack Bauer we’ve come to know for 5 years. We always knew he had a soft spot for women, children, and dogs but we’ve never seen his soul ripped open as we have here. Not even when his wife was lying lifeless on the floor at CTU have we seen Jack so totally, and utterly exposed. Even a pep talk from Bill can’t assuage the guilt and self loathing that has Jack saying “I’m done” with a finality that makes us think he really means it.

That is, until the nuke goes off.

CTU moves in on Fayed’s headquarters just as Nameer is finishing up the trigger. In the ensuing firefight, with the TAD looking on in absolute horror, Nameer makes it to the “on” switch of the bomb and flips it.

The two million degree heat from the detonated nuke obliterates anything and everything within a half mile of ground zero. And rising into the morning sky with a terrible majesty is “The Finger Of God” – the all too familiar but still an unbelievable sight of a mushroom shaped cloud, billowing upward and outward. Near its base, a roiling, churning sea of fire and smoke.

The White House, CTU, and Jack all look on in speechless horror. The unthinkable has been thought. The unspeakable has been spoken. And America will never be the same.

Milo brings the translation of the Arabic phrase overheard by Walid at Anacostia: “Five Visitors.” There are four more of these mini-cataclysms out there. Four more American cities that could suffer the same fate. And CTU has no leads, no clues, and apparently, no Jack. What are we going to do?

What are we going to do?


Obviously the casualty count from the nuke will be substantial. In deference to the fact that such an event should not be made light of, I will forgo adding the casualties from the nuke attack to this body count.

But the terrorist and TAC team count at CTU that occurred before the blast will be included.

112 confirmed dead in Baltimore
200 confirmed dead in Boston
Fayed’s man blows himself up
Ahmed becomes a permanent sleeper agent
1 CTU TAC man down at Fayed’s headquarters
2 terrorists taken out by TAC prior to nuke blast


Show: 347


Chloe speaking to Morris about Milo:

CHLOE: He could bounce you. That’s what I think you want sometimes.

MORRIS: Why would I want that?

CHLOE: I don’t know. It’s your character flaw. Not mine.

By: Rick Moran at 11:48 am | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (17)

Wry Mouth linked with 24: Spoilers Aplenty
Below The Beltway linked with The Broken Hero, Part II

“I don’t know how to do this anymore.”
(Jack Bauer)

Sure you do, Jack. It’s easy. Just empty your soul of pity, compassion, and empathy while keeping uppermost in your mind that you’re doing it for the good of the country.

I’m sure it will all come back to him eventually. I just hope it comes back to the writers of this show before we’re treated to a full blown outbreak of miasmic political correctness; a whimpering, simpering mish mash of civil liberties speechifying and multicultural hooey that threatens to cloud the focus of the show before it even gets started.

In a phrase; too one dimensional. I don’t mind that the White House Chief of Staff Thomas Lennox (played woodenly by Peter MacNicol) is a forceful advocate for domestic security measures that most Americans would find excessive, unconstitutional, and oppressive. But his mantra – “security has its price” is simple minded slop. I prefer a little nuance with my villains, please.

The angst ridden cries of betrayal are already coming from some of my friends on the right. I’ve seen comments on some conservative sites where people are so upset that they say they’ll never watch the show again – a threat I don’t believe for a moment. No matter how politically correct or terrorist-friendly the show gets, real 24 fans will continue to tune in. And the reason is simple; Jack Bauer is the most compelling character on television. The show may go PC but Jack never will.

But after all, it is a just a television show. And despite the extremely serious nature of the civil liberties vs. security debate perhaps, in the end, it may be that reducing the complex arguments for and against extraordinary security measures to one line sophisms is the best way to get a national conversation going on the topic. Goodness knows we need it. Too often, when it comes to discussing this vital issue, people have been talking past each other rather than trying to come to some kind of consensus on the best way forward.

How do we keep the homeland safe while maintaining our freedom? Anyone who says that this is simple question or that one side or the other is either unpatriotic or in favor of establishing a dictatorship isn’t helping matters any.

As I write this, it has been several hours since the premiere ended and we have yet to hear from the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR). They’re late. Usually by this time, they would have been tearing up the airwaves with anguished cries, bemoaning the unfair portrayal of Muslims as terrorists while simultaneously calling for a boycott of the show’s advertisers. If they condemned terrorist acts half as enthusiastically as they call for boycotts of shows that attempt to portray the true nature of our enemies, people might pay more attention to them.

All things considered, however, the first two hours was indeed riveting. And the storyline is as realistic as it gets. Pay close attention people because this show may very well be giving us a glimpse of the future. It is much more likely that suicide attacks on buses, trains, shopping malls, and sporting events would be carried out on American soil than nerve gas or nuclear attacks on large cities. And the rather esoteric arguments we are having today about liberty and security may one day become deadly serious debates about the survival of the United States as a free country.

And Jack? I wouldn’t worry about him. Give him a couple of hours, let him get a few kills under his belt and he’ll be as right as rain. On the surface anyway. How did those years of prison and torture affect him psychologically? I hope they make Jack’s struggle to give his life meaning a major part of the show. Coupled with his pursuit of the terrorists, that should make for some first class dramatic television.

SUMMARY: 6:00 AM - 8:00 AM

America is under seige. For eleven weeks, terrorists have been carrying out devastating attacks on “soft targets” killing thousands of Americans and giving the rest of the country the willies.

At the White House, a debate on civil liberties versus security is taking place between former CTU Director Karen Hays, now National Security Advisor, and Thomas Lennox, the smarmy, oily Presidential Chief of Staff. The President, none other than Wayne Palmer, brother of the deceased former President, has his feet firmly planted in both camps – for the moment. He listens to both sides of the argument and then fails to come to a decision regarding setting up detention camps for terrorist suspects. When Lennox chants his “security has its price” mantra Palmer responds “so does freedom, Tom” which is one way for the writers to show both sides of the issue. It was eerie how many of the same arguments have been echoed by both sides in the liberty versus security debate in real life. However, Lennox sounded like a B-list blogger spouting ignorant generalities and meaningless tripe while Hughes sounded reasonable and heroic in defending civil liberties.

Guess which side the writers want you to come down on?

It is at this meeting that we learn of the plan to hand over Jack Bauer, imprisoned by the Chinese for the last 18 months, to a supposed terrorist traitor, one Abu Fayed. In exchange for Jack (and $25 million), he will betray Hamri al-Assad, the terrorist that the government believes is behind the attacks.

Cut to the airport where Bill and Curtis are watching as a C-130 taxis toward them carrying a bearded, unwashed, unkempt Jack Bauer. It was hard to tell if he had just been released from captivity or whether he was on his way to a formal Moveon.Org banquet. The presence of the ubiquitous Mr. Cheng Zhi, the Chinese security agent who kidnapped Jack last year confirmed the fact that yes, Jack was being released from Chinese custody. We also learn from Mr. Cheng that in the nearly two years that Jack was a prisoner, he never spoke a word. (Too bad we can’t get Jack’s daughter Kim to attempt that trick.)

At CTU, Chloe gets nosy when she’s asked to set up a link to military operation that she knows nothing about. She confronts Nadia Yassir, second in command at CTU-LA and finds out that Jack is to be handed over to his enemies in exchange for information on the whereabouts of Assad. The military and CTU will use the information to take out Assad and his network. None to pleased, Chloe is comforted by her ex-husband Morris who also works in the office.

The producers have spiffed Chloe up considerably from her previous incarnations on the show. She’s gone from a typically disheveled, absent minded geek to a wannabe hottie with brown hair instead of her original blond tresses, nice clothes, and even a dab or two of makeup. But you know what they say about putting a hog in a dress. They could make Chloe into the most glamorous looking woman on the show and she’d still be, well…Chloe.

At the airport, Bill fills Jack in on what’s expected of him – ritual suicide. Jack doesn’t bat an eyelash. The first word out of his mouth is “Audrey” which means at some point in the next 24 hours, we will have a reunion scene with tears and hugs and kisses – probably just before Audrey is kidnapped. Jack also asks about Kim and is informed that neither woman knows he’s been released. Fans of the show devoutly hope that Kim is kept blissfully ignorant of her father’s release so that the American viewing public can be spared an appearance by Elisha Cuthbert, the only female in film history to be outacted by a cougar.

As Jack cleans up in preparation for his death, he takes off his shirt revealing horrible scarring from the torture he received at the hands of the Chinese. He appears a broken man, resigned to his fate.

Emerging from the airport shaved, shorn, and wearing a shirt buttoned all the way to the top (making him look decidedly mild mannered and a little nerdy), Jack takes a call from the President who apologizes for asking him to sacrifice his life. Barely coherent, Jack assures President Palmer that he knows what’s expected of him. After hanging up, Lennox assures the President he is doing the right thing: “It isn’t right, it isn’t wrong. It’s simply our only option…” – something that could be realistically said about many decisions by many Presidents over the years.

Arriving at the exchange point, Bill has a tender (in a manly sort of way) moment with Jack where we learn what really makes Bauer tick:

BILL: I don’t know what to say, Jack.

JACK: Do you understand the difference between dying for something and dying for nothing? The only reason I fought so hard to stay alive in China was because I didn’t want to die for nothing. Today, I can die for something my way, my choice. To be honest with you, it will be a relief.

This is a point about Bauer I was trying to make in my piece in The American Thinker yesterday. It’s not that Jack has a death wish. But he does crave the release that a meaningful death can bring.

Back at the White House, Karen discovers the nefarious plans of Lennox to set up detention centers for suspected terrorists despite the President’s refusal to authorize them. Once again, we are treated to the “security has its price so get used to it” argument from the faux conservative Lennox. Perhaps the writers will go all the way and make Lennox into a Manchurian Candidate type of character who talks tough against terrorists but actually willingly does their bidding by turning Americans against each other and destroying civic life. That kind of nuance may be beyond the writers, however, who seem to revel in portraying many political types – both right and left – one dimensionally.

Cut to a quiet suburban neighborhood where The Typical American Family is arguing about whether to send their child to school given the security situation. The father wants to cower in the house. The mother wants to go on living their lives normally. Their son Scott cuts the argument short when he informs that their their Friendly, Liberal, Neighborhood Arab Terrorist family across the street just had a visit from the FBI and the father is being led away in cuffs.

Seeing some neighborhood bullies approach their innocent looking neighbor’s house, the boy wants to rush to his defense but is restrained by the father who intercedes on behalf of Ahmed (pronounced “Achhhhmed”) and then invites the young man into his house for protection. It’s only later we find out that Ahmed (pronounced “Achhhmed”) is actually a real live, honest to goodness terrorist and that the father and son are being played for fools.

Meanwhile, Abu Fayed arrives to take Jack away. Chloe and Morris, using a little of their well known geek magic, are able to pirate a signal off of a commercial satellite in order to keep an eye on Jack. Alas, Fayed has thought of every contingency, even getting access to CTU surveillance protocols, so that Chloe’s clandestine caper is easily exposed. Threatening to break his deal with CTU unless the satellite is redirected, Fayed gets Nadia to nix Chloe’s coverage. He then teases our heroes by saying that he will now “think about” whether to reveal the location of Assad.

Nadia and Bill are fit to be tied with Chloe. In phone con with Karen telling her of Chloe’s stupidity, Karen bemoans the idea that “there are people in the Administration “willing to tear up the Constitution in the name of national security,” something she believes that country may not recover from.

If the country could survive the curtailment of civil liberties during the Civil War, World War I, and World War II, the idea that it wouldn’t recover from whatever temporary measures were deemed necessary (albeit unconstitutional in the strictest sense and deplorable from a civil liberties standpoint) during this conflict reveals perhaps how little faith the writers have in this country. When people of good will on both sides can agree, the “torn up Constitution” can be put back together as it was in the aftermath of all of those conflicts.

At Fayed’s headquarters, Jack is facing death with quiet resignation. Even the prospect of torture (payback for what Jack did to Fayed’s brother years ago), doesn’t deter him from reminding Fayed that he made a deal with CTU and that he has to give them Assad’s whereabouts. To make his death even more painful, Fayed tries to take away any meaning that Jack’s selfless act would bring by informing him that Assad is not the terrorist mastermind behind all of the attacks but rather it is he, Abu Fayed, who is the actual perpetrator and Assad has come to America to stop him because he wishes to lay down his arms and negotiate with the west.

Uh-huh. And I was a finalist for the Miss America pageant not so many years ago.

Leaving aside that issue for the moment, Fayed does indeed call CTU and tell them where to find Assad. Then, just as he is about to snip off one of Jack’s fingers, he is informed that he has an important call. Leaving Jack alone with only one guard (stupid, stupid, terrorist!), we learn that the caller is none other than Ahmed (pronounced “Achhhmed”) who tells Fayed about his father. The terrorist mastermind could care less about that, only wondering about “the package” that Ahmed (pronounced “Achhhmed”) has in his possession. The way he said “package” can only mean trouble for America.

And Jack? Channeling Bela Lugosi, he uses his teeth to rip the heart monitor cuff off of his arm, thus feigning death. The lone terrorist guard leans down to investigate and Jack once again uses his teeth – this time to sever the jugular of the guard. Finding the keys, he makes his escape. Fayed’s search is cut short when one of the terrorists reminds him that they must get back so that “the operation” – one designed to “kill thousands” of Americans – can be carried out on time.

Put Ahmed’s “package” together with Fayed’s “operation” and you’ve got a nightmare waiting to happen.

Meanwhile, Jack finds a nearby parking garage where there just happens to be one of the few cars left on the road without an alarm system, wheel locks, or electronic ignition. Ripping some wires from underneath the dash, Jack magically starts it. After informing CTU and the White House of his escape and being rebuffed by the President in his effort to call off the military strike on Assad, Jack speeds to Assad’s location in an effort to save the good terrorist so that he can get to Fayed. Jack gets the address from the phone book in his cell, simply looking under the listing for “Terrorists: Reformed.”

In another call to the Friendly, Liberal, Neighborhood Arab Terrorist, Fayed orders him to “retrieve the package.” Making his excuses to the Typical American Family, he leaves the house only to be confronted by young Scott who apologizes for all the bad things that have happened to him and, by extension, all the bad things we Americans are doing to innocent Arab terrorists just like him. Scott chalks it up to “the whole world is crazy.” Ahmed replies “It’s been crazy for a while, you just haven’t noticed,” which is true as far as it goes. Someone as oblivious as young Scott wouldn’t have much of a clue about the real danger “Achhhmed” and his merry band of suicidal, beheading fanatics pose to America.

Jack, however, does recognize the danger – at least we all used to think so. As Jack creeps up on Assad’s hideout, we wonder what in God’s name he’s doing warning this terrorist scum – a man that Jack knows has killed hundreds of innocents. This is not a case of the ends justifying the means. After all, Jack doesn’t have to save him. All he has to do is capture him and torture the information from him regarding Fayed’s whereabouts.

And when Jack enters the hideout and points his gun at Assad, you half expect him to shoot it out with the thugs right there. But Jack needs to know where Fayed is so he helps Assad find the traitor in his midst with the transponder our military is honing in on and then spirits him away just as the helicopters blow the place to smithereens.

It is mystifying. And a little disconcerting. Has Jack gone wimpy? The question is answered a little later when he and Assad, along with the wounded terrorist traitor, take refuge in a house. It is there we discover that Fayed’s information is true – that Assad wants to “lay down his arms” and “negotiate with the west.” He wants to “mainstream” his organization.

The obvious parallel with Lebanon’s terrorist group Hizbullah is nauseating. The first question we might ask is just what there is to “negotiate.” Our security? Our freedom? It’s hard to tell whether Assad is supposed to be a Bin Laden character or, more likely, a standin for Hizbullah leader Hassan Nasrallah (who has no intention of negotiating with anybody and threatens to start a civil war in Lebanon if anyone tries to take away his guns).

And to make matters even worse, did you notice that when Assad was giving his little speech about his peaceful intentions, that there was an American flag covering the window behind him? This murderous thug was actually framed by the flag with the lighting bringing the flag to prominence. It made me queasy.

Strange and troubling.

Things get even stranger when Jack starts to question the terrorist traitor. Beginning the ritual torture of the man, hearing his cries and screams of pain, Jack loses interest quickly saying that he believes him when he says that he doesn’t know where Fayed is. This doesn’t satisfy Assad who really applies the screws to the hapless traitor who then gives up a location where he knows Fayed’s men will be.

It is here that Jack, realizing he may have lost his touch – and heart – says “I don’t know how to do this anymore.” We hope he remembers very soon. We’ve still got 22 hours to go.

So Jack and Assad become the most unlikely anti-terror team in history as they seek to bring down Fayed together so that Assad can safely lay down the arms of his happy group of martyrs and negotiate whatever he intends to negotiate with the west. I sure hope that after his usefulness is at an end, Jack remembers that the only good terrorist is a dead terrorist.

At CTU headquarters, Chloe discovers that it was Jack that helped Assad escape death. She tells Bill who plans to keep this little tidbit to himself for the time being. One can imagine Lennox loosing the dogs on Jack if he found out.

We meet Sandra Palmer, the President’s sister, who is a liberal attorney for what appears to be a CAIR-like group of Muslim-Americans. No terrorists here, she chirps confidently as the FBI shows up asking to see personnel records from the group. The FBI leaves in a huff but from the look the Agent in charge gives Palmer, you know they’ll be back. Terribly upset that the FBI would ask for voluntary cooperation from anyone, she calls her brother to complain. She voices her mistrust of Lennox and his crew of mini-authoritarians, saying that they “treat the Constitution like a list of suggestions” which is extremely clever and would probably elicit a titter at an ACLU meeting but is hardly the point. The scary part is that the Constitution does indeed allow for such actions – just ask Japanese-Americans who lived during World War II.

Back at Terrorist Central, Fayed gives a last minute pep talk to a suicide bomber about ready to go on a mission. We don’t know where he will strike but there is more talk of the operation that will kill thousands.

As expected, the FBI returns to the CAIR-like group’s headquarters, this time with a document known as an Administrative Warrant. This is actually a warrant that doesn’t need to be issued by the courts. It is a warrant that was authorized by the Patriot Act but must go through a rigorous approval process by both the local FBI office and the national headquarters. Unless they believed that there was information about a nuclear weapon about to go off, there is no way on God’s green earth that the FBI agents would have been able to secure such a warrant in a matter of minutes. But, when trying to show how close the US is coming to a dictatorship, anything goes.

Sandra, not willing to have the FBI get a hold of the names and addresses of employees, electronically shreds the files. The FBI arrests her along with the head of the organization who apparently is her lover.

Meanwhile, Ahmed (pronounced “Achhhmed”) retrieves “the package” which was hidden inside the wall of his house. Before he can leave, his bigoted neighbor pays him another visit and starts to beat on him. The terrorist is able to get his hands on a gun and kills the neighbor just as Scott shows up. Showing concern for his wounds, Scott suggests a trip to the hospital. Unfortunately, the young man realizes too late that not everything in this world is as it appears. Sometimes your Arab neighbor across the street really is a terrorist.

“We’re friends,” says young Scott. “Friends? You can’t even pronounce my name!” says Ahmed (pronounced “Achhhmed”).

Jack and Assad are waiting at the designated intersection when Fayed’s men show up. Assad informs us that it is a suicide bomber and his handler. The unlikely anti-terrorist team follows the two men to the train station. Jack sticks with the bomber and tells Assad to stay with the handler.

Boarding the train with the bomber, Jack is suddenly confronted by the conductor who demands his ticket. Having left his wallet in China and thus is without funds to pay for the ride, Jack informs the conductor that he is trying to stop a terrorist attack. I’ll have to remember that one the next time I get on the Chicago and Northwestern for a trip to the loop.

Just as the terrorist is about to set the bomb off, Jack intervenes and literally kicks the guy off the train so that the bomb explodes several blocks short of its intended target – Union Station – which is where the handler ended up to make sure that the suicide attack went off properly. Seeing that it didn’t, the handler calls Fayed and gives him the bad news. The call was intercepted by the NSA who were illegally monitoring the innocent terrorists, egregiously violating their privacy and Constitutional rights but also confirming what Jack said; that it is Fayed and not Assad who is the terrorist mastermind.

So the stage is set for Assad and Jack to take down Fayed together while the White House and CTU are left wondering what their next move will be. President Palmer thinks that “things are going to get much worse.” Knowing the writers for the series as we do, that would seem to be an understatement.


As has been my practice for the previous two years, only confirmed, on screen kills will be part of this body count.

22 Americans died in the bus explosion. Also, scratch one suicide bomber.
Jack reverts to cannibalism and eats his first kill.
Air strike sent 4 of Assad’s men to hell.
Assad kills the traitor.
Ahmed (pronounced…Oh, forget it!) offs his neighbor.
Another suicide bomber dies when Jack kicks him off the train.


Jack: 2
Show: 31


Something new this year. I will pick three quotes from Chloe and have my readers vote on which one will win “Chloeism of the Week” honors.

1. To Morris after he got chewed out by Milo:

“Morris, I had the same problem with Department Heads when I first started. Then I learned how to fit in.”

Only those of us who truly know and love Chloe can appreciate that one!

2. To Bill, admitting her role in the satellite caper:

It’s my fault. Fire me.

3. Same setting:

BILL: Chloe, look at me.

CHLOE: I’d rather not!

Other suggestions will be considered.


My friend Steve Strum will once again confront the logical inconsistencies in the series with his weekly “24isms.” Fascinating stuff!

By: Rick Moran at 12:38 pm | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (26)