Thursday, January 31, 2008

Useless stats for the Super Bowl

Here are three stats, two useless, another to be determined and other than the first one below, the other useless stat is up for debate:

(1) The Giants are 2-0 in the Super Bowl against teams they played in the regular season (beat Broncos in '86; lost to Bills at home in '90) and 0-1 against a Super Bowl opponent they had not previously met that season; the Patriots are 1-1 in rematches of regular season matchups ('85 = lost to Bears in both reg. season and Super Bowl; '01 lost to Rams during season, won in Super Bowl) and 2-1 in non-rematches (beat Panthers, Eagles; lost to Packers).

(2) The Giants outscored their opponents 373-351 this year during the season, 68-51 in the postseason; the Patriots outscored their opponents 589-274 this season and 52-32 in the playoffs.

(3) No quarterback who led the NFL in passing yardage in a given season has won the Super Bowl that season; Tom Brady led the NFL in passing yards this year.

For those who missed us

The Monk has been preternaturally busy over the past few days, thus the level of inactivity on the blog actually increased.

One quickie observation: momentum is everything in the presidential races. Not from a caucus standpoint -- the Iowa results generate news but not much else because the Iowa caucus is probably the least representative method of gauging support possible under the primary system. But from New Hampshire to Michigan to South Carolina to Florida, the results have caused sea changes in the races: Edwards out because he cannot come close to Obama in SC; Giuliani out because his big-state strategy failed thanks to small states where he had been doing well just 8 weeks ago. We now have, in essence, two two-candidate races: Obama v. Clinton, McCain v. Romney.

And Obama has the BOmentum -- Drudge notes that his overall support is up 11 percentage points and he's now within 43-39 of the Hillabeast. Meanwhile, McCain has the lead over Romney in the Republican race.

Ultimately, given Romney's flip-flop issues and the gnawing certitude I feel that the country is not ready for a Mormon as president, I think McCain is the better pick.

But I preferred Giuliani.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Saddam bluffed, to re-constitute WMD

A fascinating piece though the idiot Bush Lied, People Died crowd won't be tuning in:
(emphasis added)

NEW YORK, Jan 24 (Reuters) - Former Iraqi President Saddam Hussein kept up the illusion that he had weapons of mass destruction before 2003 because he did not think the United States would invade, an FBI agent who questioned him said.

In an interview with CBS' "60 Minutes" to be broadcast on Sunday, FBI agent George Piro describes conversations with Saddam in the months after his capture in December 2003. Piro said Saddam, who was hanged from crimes against humanity in December 2006, wanted to maintain the image of a strong Iraq to deter Iran, its historic enemy, from hostile action.

"He told me he initially miscalculated ... President (George W.) Bush's intentions. He thought the United States would retaliate with the same type of attack as we did in 1998... a four-day aerial attack," Piro said.

"He survived that one and he was willing to accept that type of attack," Piro said, according to excerpts of the interview released on Thursday.

CBS correspondent Scott Pelley asks Piro: "He didn't believe the U.S. would invade?" Piro answers: "No, not initially."

No Iraqi weapons of mass destruction were found despite the Bush administration's warnings before the March 2003 invasion that Iraq's arsenal of banned weapons presented a threat to its neighbors and U.S. interests. Once the invasion was certain, Saddam asked his generals if they could hold the invaders for two weeks, Piro said.

"And at that point, it would go into what he called the secret war," Piro said, though he added he wasn't convinced that the insurgency was Saddam's plan. "Well, he would like to take credit for the insurgency," said Piro.

CBS said Piro debriefed Saddam for almost seven months, trying to win his confidence by convincing him he was an important envoy answering to Bush. "This and being Saddam's sole provider of items like writing materials and toiletries made the toppled Iraqi president open up to Piro, a Lebanese-American and one of the few FBI agents who spoke Arabic," CBS said.

Even when it became clear that Saddam did not have weapons of mass destruction, he tried to keep up the mystery.

"For him, it was critical that he was seen as still the strong, defiant Saddam. He thought that would prevent the Iranians from re-invading Iraq," Piro said.

The Iraqi leader had also intended to restart the weapons program and had the means to do it.

"He still had the engineers. The folks that he needed to reconstitute his program are still there," Piro said. "He wanted ... to reconstitute his entire WMD program."

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Actual grace after defeat

Credit Rafael Nadal. In a sport where grace after defeat is all too rare, the world's #2 ranked men's player took a beating at the Aussie Open semifinals losing to Jo-Wilfried Tsonga 6-2, 6-3, 6-2. Nadal committed only 12 unforced errors in the whole match (the poorly named tennis stat that tracks shots the player hit into the net or out of bounds -- in reality a good opponent will FORCE your "unforced" errors) -- a miniscule amount for a losing player. He took a beating despite just four unforced errors in the first two sets.

Nadal's reaction?

"I was playing fine," Nadal said. "He played unbelievable. Congratulate him."

And Nadal also said no matter what he tried, he had no answers.

"I can't believe some volleys," Nadal said. "I tried to play little bit slower. I tried to play a little bit faster. I tried to play more inside the court, behind the court. No chance. Not today."

Kudos to Nadal -- no excuses, no false congratulations, just simple honesty that the better player won on this day and Nadal was not him.

Another Bush Administration failure

Norman Podhoretz will have an extended essay in the next issue of Commentary explaining why the United States (or Israel) should take military action against Iran's nuclear power (read: weapon) industry. The whole thing is worth a read, and is not merely a reiteration of Podhoretz's earlier opus on why the US should, in the words of Senator McCain, "Bomb, bomb, bomb, bomb, bomb Iran."

The Monk would, however, draw your attention to three of the four footnotes to Podhoretz's essay. First, a flaw in the latest National Intelligence Estimate that The Monk cited too:

Among the principal authors of the new NIE, an editorial in the Wall Street Journal reported, were “three former State Department officials with previous reputations as ‘hyper-partisan anti-Bush officials,’ according to an intelligence source.” Even without knowing this, a careful reader of the new NIE summary could easily tell that it had been written by opponents of the military option who, moreover, were not so sure that Iran was all that dangerous.

Second, this fact is clear to anyone who is not predisposed toward excusing the Iranian government -- Iran uses negotiations with the West and/or the UN to distract attention from its nuclear weapons program:

. . . negotiation was merely a tactic used by Iran to buy time . . . As we learn from [Jeffrey T.] Richelson [author of Spying on the Bomb]: “Iranian nuclear negotiator Hassan Rouhani told his nation’s Supreme Cultural Revolution Council in September 2005 that Iran, in dealing with the IAEA, had agreed to suspend activities only in areas where it was not experiencing technical problems, and that the Isfahan uranium-conversion facility was completed while negotiating with the [European Union]. Rouhan informed the council that ‘while we were talking with the Europeans in Tehran, we were installing equipment in parts of the facility. . . . [B]y creating a calm environment, we were able to complete the work.’”

Third, the disastrous fallout from the NIE:

A typically conspiratorial . . . view, circulating through the Middle East, holds that Bush actually arranged for the new NIE, as a cover for capitulating to Iran. Evidently acting on this interpretation, the Sunni regimes (including Saudi Arabia and Egypt) that were expected by Condoleezza Rice to form a coalition against Shiite Iran once the U.S. got the “peace process” going between Israel and the Palestinians (hence the meeting she arranged at Annapolis) have instead been scrambling in various ways to come to terms with Tehran. As Gerald Steinberg of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs pointed out: “Within two weeks following publication of the NIE report, . . . Egypt moved to improve relations with Iran.” What was even more extraordinary, “Saudi Arabia welcomed Iranian President Ahmadinejad to Mecca.” The effects of the NIE were also manifest in China, which “signed a major contract on energy development and supply with Iran,” as well as in Russia, which, after stalling on a long-promised delivery, “quickly dispatched two shipments of nuclear fuel for the Bushehr nuclear reactor.”

Ultimately, without some military intervention, Bush's foreign policy will be a complete failure because he will have allowed Iran to obtain nuclear weapons capability despite eight years to stop Iran from obtaining the Bomb.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

A despicable custom

The New York Times Magazine highlighted Muslim female circumcision in short but prominent article entitled A Cutting Tradition this past Sunday.

When a girl is taken — usually by her mother — to a free circumcision event held each spring in Bandung, Indonesia, she is handed over to a small group of women who, swiftly and yet with apparent affection, cut off a small piece of her genitals. Sponsored by the Assalaam Foundation, an Islamic educational and social-services organization, circumcisions take place in a prayer center or an emptied-out elementary-school classroom where desks are pushed together and covered with sheets and a pillow to serve as makeshift beds. The procedure takes several minutes. There is little blood involved. Afterward, the girl’s genital area is swabbed with the antiseptic Betadine. She is then helped back into her underwear and returned to a waiting area, where she’s given a small, celebratory gift — some fruit or a donated piece of clothing — and offered a cup of milk for refreshment. She has now joined a quiet majority in Indonesia, where, according to a 2003 study by the Population Council, an international research group, 96 percent of families surveyed reported that their daughters had undergone some form of circumcision by the time they reached 14.
Any distinction between injuring the clitoris or the clitoral hood is irrelevant, says Laura Guarenti, an obstetrician and WHO’s medical officer for child and maternal health in Jakarta. “The fact is there is absolutely no medical value in circumcising girls,” she says. “It is 100 percent the wrong thing to be doing.” The circumcision of boys, she adds, has demonstrated health benefits, namely reduced risk of infection and some protection against H.I.V.

Nonetheless, as Western awareness of female genital cutting has grown, anthropologists, policy makers and health officials have warned against blindly judging those who practice it, saying that progress is best made by working with local leaders and opinion-makers to gradually shift the public discussion of female circumcision from what it’s believed to bestow upon a girl toward what it takes away. “These mothers believe they are doing something good for their children,” Guarenti, a native of Italy, told me. “For our culture that is not easily understandable. To judge them harshly is to isolate them. You cannot make change that way.”

It's a good piece by the Times though I take issue with the sentiment (bolded) in the last paragraph. That is the worst of Western, intellectualistic mumbo-jumbo. "Who are we to judge?"

The reason that female circumcision is practiced is because religious authorities believe it makes for more faithful wives for Muslim men The practice robs women of a joy that many have never experienced and will never know. That is wrong. And if we value our traditions, our morals and our liberty we need to say clearly: WRONG IS WRONG.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Bush Tax Cuts Favor Wealthy?

NOT IN ANY WAY YOU LOOK AT IT - according to a report by the National Center for Policy Analysis, a non-profit, nonpartisan public policy research organization based in Dallas.

DALLAS (January 21, 2008) – As Congress debates whether to renew tax cuts enacted early in the George W. Bush presidency, as well as various economic stimulus plans, critics often label the measures as "tax cuts for the rich." Yet a new report from the National Center for Policy Analysis (NCPA) says the Bush tax cuts made the tax code more progressive, no matter how progressivity is measured. In fact, the report concludes that every major tax change (Republican or Democrat) over the past two decades has increased the share of taxes paid by the wealthiest Americans.

"It is politically popular to say that tax cuts benefit the wealthy," said Michael D. Stroup, a Stephen F. Austin University economist who authored the NCPA report. "The accusation does not match the reality."

The progressivity of the tax system can be measured in four ways:
(1) the share of taxes paid by different income groups,
(2) the share of income paid in taxes,
(3) the change in taxes relative to the change in income over time,
and (4) a comparison of inequality of income to the inequality of taxes over time.

Looking at the first three measures, the report found that:

The top 1 percent of income earners pay more than one in every three dollars the IRS collects in taxes. From 1986 to 2004, the total share of the income tax burden paid by the top 1 percent of earners grew from 25.8 percent to 36.9 percent, while the total share of the tax burden paid by the bottom half of earners fell from 6.5 percent to only 3.3 percent.

During the same period, the percentage of income the top 1 percent of tax filers paid in federal income taxes rose from 18.3 percent to 19.6 percent. By contrast, the percentage of income the bottom fifth of tax filers paid in federal income taxes dropped from 0.4 percent to zero.

The income share of the top 1 percent rose 7.7 percentage points, from 11.3 percent to 19 percent, while their income tax burden rose even more, by 11 percentage points, from 26 percent to 37 percent.

The final measure compares the inequality of income to the inequality of taxes paid over time among all income groups. This measure is the "progressivity index," and is a numerical representation between 0 and 1. The closer the index value is to 1, the more progressive the tax system. For example:

From 1990 to 2000, the progressivity index increased from 0.476 to 0.617, during a period where marginal tax rates increased but capital gains tax rates fell.
From 2001 to 2004, under George W. Bush's tax reforms, the tax progressivity index continued to rise from 0.608 to 0.664.

"Its important when discussing tax reforms to consider how the system reacts, because of the great discretion high earners have in how they earn income and therefore pay taxes," said Stroup. "Bush's reforms have helped diminish the income gap between rich and poor, rather than make it worse."

And, in an argument virtually every liberal REFUSES to understand - to make tax cuts at all meaningful in terms of generating expenditure or investment you HAVE to cut taxes where tax rates are the highest and that's consistently the top quartile of wage earners in the country.

The iconic anthem of Australia

Mark Steyn muses on the structure, inspiration and history of the song "Down Under" -- the only song by an Aussie band to hit the top of the US and UK singles charts at the same time, and the icon that most shaped the average American's view of Aussies before Crocodile Dundee.

FOMC surprise rate cut of 75 basis points

The Federal Reserve Open Market Committee cut the overnight Fed Funds rate 75 basis points (3/4 of one percent) to 3.5%. Similarly the discount rate was cut 75 basis points to 4%.

This was due to severe drops in the stock markets last week and a fall in excess of four percent in the S&P and the Dow yesterday in futures markets which had remained open despite all other markets being closed for the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday.

This rate cut was a surprise only in timing and possibly marginally in magnitude. The Fed was sure to cut at the end of its two day meeting on 30Jan and the cut was likely to be at least 50 basis points. With the dislocation in the markets the Fed decided to show the flag a little early.

This will almost certainly take any move off the table next week so the net change may be limited. Overall though it was the right move as equity markets approached panic and that's what the Fed should be doing.

A nice little rout

The Monk follows tennis only tangentially, but he knows who he dislikes and Justine Henin is near the top of that list. The petite yet steroidal-looking Belgian is the worst in-match sport on the tour -- frequently using bathroom breaks, phantom injury timeouts and other dilatory or distracting tactics to undermine her opponent. The Monk remembers dubbing her the "little sh*t" when she pulled about three BS tactics in a row to disrupt Jennifer Capriati at the US Open about 4 years ago in a match that Capriati was winning. The tricks worked, Capriati lost momentum and the match. Whereas the Williams sisters are notoriously lacking in grace after losing (they only credit the opponent for good play most grudgingly, and started doing so after years on tour of bad press for not doing so), Henin will deploy every trick available to thwart her opponent during the match -- a far worse trait.

This morning, Henin got smoked. For the first time since 2007 Wimbledon, Henin lost -- this time in a 6-4, 6-0 rout by Maria Sharapova (prettier than Anna Kournikova and Sharapova has actually WON major tournaments) in the Australian Open quarterfinals. For those who don't know, the Aussie Open is the #4 of the four top tennis events known as the Grand Slam (in order of importance: The Championships of Wimbledon, US Open, French Open, Aussie Open). It was the first time in six years that Henin lost a set 6-0. Surprisingly, Henin was the favorite of the Aussie crowd, which proves that the Aussies are generally losing their taste: first politics (the loss of John Howard), now sports.

LOST as a losing proposition

The Monk has twice blasted the Bush Administration's desire to ratify the Law of the Sea Treaty. Frank Gaffney shows how environmental activists have used existing US law to stymie necessary military operations by the Navy and notes that LOST will have no provision allowing appeal of decisions made by the international tribunal it creates -- an inviting venue for lawfare.

Read the whole piece.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Giants 23, Packers 20

Woo hoo!! The Giants are going to the Super Bowl!

So what if they're just another speedbump on the Patriots' road to history, the Giants are NFC champs for just the fourth time, and reached that pinnacle by beating the Packers in the playoffs for the first time since the 1938 NFL Championship. Big Blue did it on the road (that's an NFL-record 10-straight road wins for the Giants) by winning the third coldest playoff game in recorded NFL history.

And the simple fact is that the Giants were the better team yesterday. QB Eli Manning controlled the game with his effective passing, threw with decent accuracy in -1 to -3 F temperatures with a 12 mph wind (the Giants had about six drops that hurt Eli's 21-40-254 line), Plaxico Burress had his best game in a month and made Green Bay Pro Bowl cornerback Al Harris into his b*tch, Ahmad Bradshaw again ran effectively (including a 38-yard TD called back on a phantom holding penalty) and the defense crushed the Packers' game plan. The defense throttled the Pack's running game and contained the Green Bay passing game -- something it completely failed to do in the Pack's 35-13 win at Giants Stadium in week 2. Indeed, without the 90-yard TD from Favre to Driver in the second quarter, the Pack would not have cracked 200 yards for the game!

The Giants have ultimately made or adjusted to three changes this year that have immensely helped the team even though the talent level may be lower than in either of the two previous years: (1) the retirement of Tiki Barber forced Manning to become the leader of the offense because the man who had set the agenda for the offense was gone -- and Eli assumed the leadership when he actually piped up against Tiki in response to some of the latter's comments as an NBC talking head; (2) Coughlin took a better approach to his players in year four -- he communicated with the team, especially the leaders, and became more human to them without losing his toughness; (3) the injury to Jeremy Shockey deprived Eli of his preferred outlet receiver, which forced the QB to read the play better. Shockey was always in Eli's ear about how to throw and where to throw and that influenced Eli's decisions (e.g., three of the four interceptions he threw against Minnesota were passes intended for Shockey). Forced to be more resourceful, Eli has been.

So congratulations to the New York Giants -- a team whose coach was thisclose to getting sacked last year and even in the latter part of this year even though he's the first coach since Parcells to lead the franchise to three-straight playoff appearances; a team that lost its all-time leading rusher and yardage gainer (rushing and receiving yards) but still had the #4 running game in the NFL; a team whose QB went from first-round semi-bust to franchise player in the course of four weeks; and a team that went 1-5 against playoff teams during the regular season only to become the first NFC team to win three road playoff games en route to the conference title while becoming just the second NFC wild card team ever to reach the Super Bowl (1975 Cowboys).


Three notes: (1) Colin Cowherd (of all people) mentioned that the absence of Barber and Shockey may have helped the Giants' offense become a more cohesive unit working under Eli -- I need to credit him with the concept and I agree; (2) I'm bumping this post up; (3) I think Packers' fans are the Dukies of the NFL but with such a huge dollop of Wisconsinism -- cheesehead fans who noticed Archie Manning leaving the stadium to meet his son after the game were congratulating him and wishing Eli well.

MLK Day 2008

Today is the celebration of Martin Luther King, Jr.'s birthday (his real birthday is January 15). The tradition at my college newspaper was to reprint his I Have a Dream speech from August 28, 1963 in the editorial pages on MLK day. In keeping with that, The Monk offers the following:

I am happy to join with you today in what will go down in history as the greatest demonstration for freedom in the history of our nation.

Five score years ago, a great American, in whose symbolic shadow we stand today, signed the Emancipation Proclamation. This momentous decree came as a great beacon light of hope to millions of Negro slaves who had been seared in the flames of withering injustice. It came as a joyous daybreak to end the long night of their captivity.

But one hundred years later, the Negro still is not free. One hundred years later, the life of the Negro is still sadly crippled by the manacles of segregation and the chains of discrimination. One hundred years later, the Negro lives on a lonely island of poverty in the midst of a vast ocean of material prosperity. One hundred years later, the Negro is still languished in the corners of American society and finds himself an exile in his own land. And so we've come here today to dramatize a shameful condition.

In a sense we've come to our nation's capital to cash a check. When the architects of our republic wrote the magnificent words of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence, they were signing a promissory note to which every American was to fall heir. This note was a promise that all men, yes, black men as well as white men, would be guaranteed the "unalienable Rights" of "Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness." It is obvious today that America has defaulted on this promissory note, insofar as her citizens of color are concerned. Instead of honoring this sacred obligation, America has given the Negro people a bad check, a check which has come back marked "insufficient funds."

But we refuse to believe that the bank of justice is bankrupt. We refuse to believe that there are insufficient funds in the great vaults of opportunity of this nation. And so, we've come to cash this check, a check that will give us upon demand the riches of freedom and the security of justice.

We have also come to this hallowed spot to remind America of the fierce urgency of Now. This is no time to engage in the luxury of cooling off or to take the tranquilizing drug of gradualism. Now is the time to make real the promises of democracy. Now is the time to rise from the dark and desolate valley of segregation to the sunlit path of racial justice. Now is the time to lift our nation from the quicksands of racial injustice to the solid rock of brotherhood. Now is the time to make justice a reality for all of God's children.

It would be fatal for the nation to overlook the urgency of the moment. This sweltering summer of the Negro's legitimate discontent will not pass until there is an invigorating autumn of freedom and equality. Nineteen sixty-three is not an end, but a beginning. And those who hope that the Negro needed to blow off steam and will now be content will have a rude awakening if the nation returns to business as usual. And there will be neither rest nor tranquility in America until the Negro is granted his citizenship rights. The whirlwinds of revolt will continue to shake the foundations of our nation until the bright day of justice emerges.

But there is something that I must say to my people, who stand on the warm threshold which leads into the palace of justice: In the process of gaining our rightful place, we must not be guilty of wrongful deeds. Let us not seek to satisfy our thirst for freedom by drinking from the cup of bitterness and hatred. We must forever conduct our struggle on the high plane of dignity and discipline. We must not allow our creative protest to degenerate into physical violence. Again and again, we must rise to the majestic heights of meeting physical force with soul force.

The marvelous new militancy which has engulfed the Negro community must not lead us to a distrust of all white people, for many of our white brothers, as evidenced by their presence here today, have come to realize that their destiny is tied up with our destiny. And they have come to realize that their freedom is inextricably bound to our freedom.

We cannot walk alone.

And as we walk, we must make the pledge that we shall always march ahead.

We cannot turn back.

There are those who are asking the devotees of civil rights, "When will you be satisfied?" We can never be satisfied as long as the Negro is the victim of the unspeakable horrors of police brutality. We can never be satisfied as long as our bodies, heavy with the fatigue of travel, cannot gain lodging in the motels of the highways and the hotels of the cities. *We cannot be satisfied as long as the negro's basic mobility is from a smaller ghetto to a larger one. We can never be satisfied as long as our children are stripped of their self-hood and robbed of their dignity by a sign stating: "For Whites Only."* We cannot be satisfied as long as a Negro in Mississippi cannot vote and a Negro in New York believes he has nothing for which to vote. No, no, we are not satisfied, and we will not be satisfied until "justice rolls down like waters, and righteousness like a mighty stream."¹

I am not unmindful that some of you have come here out of great trials and tribulations. Some of you have come fresh from narrow jail cells. And some of you have come from areas where your quest -- quest for freedom left you battered by the storms of persecution and staggered by the winds of police brutality. You have been the veterans of creative suffering. Continue to work with the faith that unearned suffering is redemptive. Go back to Mississippi, go back to Alabama, go back to South Carolina, go back to Georgia, go back to Louisiana, go back to the slums and ghettos of our northern cities, knowing that somehow this situation can and will be changed.

Let us not wallow in the valley of despair, I say to you today, my friends.

And so even though we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow, I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream.

I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal."

I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia, the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood.

I have a dream that one day even the state of Mississippi, a state sweltering with the heat of injustice, sweltering with the heat of oppression, will be transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice.

I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.

I have a dream today!

I have a dream that one day, down in Alabama, with its vicious racists, with its governor having his lips dripping with the words of "interposition" and "nullification" -- one day right there in Alabama little black boys and black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls as sisters and brothers.

I have a dream today!

I have a dream that one day every valley shall be exalted, and every hill and mountain shall be made low, the rough places will be made plain, and the crooked places will be made straight; "and the glory of the Lord shall be revealed and all flesh shall see it together."²

This is our hope, and this is the faith that I go back to the South with.

With this faith, we will be able to hew out of the mountain of despair a stone of hope. With this faith, we will be able to transform the jangling discords of our nation into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood. With this faith, we will be able to work together, to pray together, to struggle together, to go to jail together, to stand up for freedom together, knowing that we will be free one day.

And this will be the day -- this will be the day when all of God's children will be able to sing with new meaning:

My country 'tis of thee, sweet land of liberty, of thee I sing.

Land where my fathers died, land of the Pilgrim's pride,

From every mountainside, let freedom ring!

And if America is to be a great nation, this must become true.

And so let freedom ring from the prodigious hilltops of New Hampshire.

Let freedom ring from the mighty mountains of New York.

Let freedom ring from the heightening Alleghenies of Pennsylvania.

Let freedom ring from the snow-capped Rockies of Colorado.

Let freedom ring from the curvaceous slopes of California.

But not only that:

Let freedom ring from Stone Mountain of Georgia.

Let freedom ring from Lookout Mountain of Tennessee.

Let freedom ring from every hill and molehill of Mississippi.

From every mountainside, let freedom ring.

And when this happens, when we allow freedom ring, when we let it ring from every village and every hamlet, from every state and every city, we will be able to speed up that day when all of God's children, black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual:

Free at last! Free at last!

Thank God Almighty, we are free at last!

Friday, January 18, 2008

Everything will be alright if we go shopping

In the immediate aftermath of the downturn of the economy post-Enron, President Bush suggested that Americans could help the economy if they "go shopping" -- a statement mocked by Barenaked Ladies in their song "Shopping."

It seems Pres. Bush and Democrats in Congress feel the same prescription is all that the economy needs to cure its current malaise. That's why instead of across the board tax cuts, AMT indexing or abolition, capital gains tax cuts and inflation indexing, eradicating the sunset provisions of the Bush tax cuts that are set to expire in 2010, rolling back the reach of SarbOx, cutting corporate income tax rates to a level competitive with Europe and Asia, and other useful remedies, the political branches are only considering doling out rebates to the middle class as a trick to get the economy growing faster.

It's simple shortsighted foolishness by the President who wants to help without a plan to do so effectively and political opportunism by the Democrats who have little incentive to take dramatic action because a bad economy helps their chances to re-take the White House.

It's a diseased political environment we live in.

The Lewinsky Decade

James Taranto reviewed the state of American politics on the 10-year anniversary of the most famous scoop in Internet history -- The Drudge Report's January 17, 1998 alert that Newsweek's Michael Isikoff had learned that "A White House intern carried on a sexual affair with the President of the United States" and Newsweek had spiked the story. Taranto analyses the state of politics, the ease with which the Clintons flipped the focus of the issue from themselves to the Republicans; the effectiveness of Pres. Clinton's strategy to lie, lie, lie; the paranoid response by HRC (accusing "this vast right-wing conspiracy that has been conspiring against my husband since the day he announced for president."); and the highest level of pure partisanship to ever hit Capitol Hill from the Clinton impeachment and trial to the election of 2000 to the Daschle-led Senate.

But there's another key aspect to this -- conservative distrust of the press reached an all-time high in the immediate post-Lewinsky days and has not abated. The mainstream press spiked the story (Newsweek), and buried or ignored the story (NYT and Washington Post) until the Stained Dress exposed Pres. Clinton as a liar. Instead, the press allowed Clinton to air his misrepresentations, gave credence to the VRWC accusation and painted the Republicans as accusers from the Salem Witch Trials and Ken Starr as a new Thomas Newton. When the Stained Dress exposed Clinton as a liar and the press as his dupes, the media took a well-deserved hit to its reputation for objectivity and honesty. That only worsened with its coverage of the 2000 election, the false Bush National Guard story in 2004 and the NYT's various national security exposes that have harmed the national interest since 2004.

And it all started because a fat philanderer liked the zaftig intern in the beret.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

The madness of Queen Hillary

Victor Hanson shows that HRC has gone out of her mind -- and if that doesn't result in an Obama/Richardson ticket in November, it certainly WILL give the Republicans tons of cannon fodder for the general election:

. . . lately the senator has gone wild. She egotistically claimed that ipso facto her election would bring down world oil prices. Then she claimed ownership of the surge she tried to stop, by boasting that those parochial Iraqis apparently listen to her every word, as Iraqis, the U.S. military, and the enemy all must adjust their strategy to her most current position on the war.

Then she offered a history lesson of the civil-rights movement as a way to explain the difference between her, the sophisticated and savvy parliamentarian, and Sen. Obama the inspirational naif, who, apparently in the African-American rhetorical tradition, is a useful foot soldier to rile up the masses, before turning over the real legislative work to the pros.

* * *

. . . The more Hillary talks, attacks, cries, pontificates, and rewrites history, the more [Obama] appears sympathetic and above her petty fray as she punches herself out.

True. But nearly anyone is sympathetic when contrasted to her.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Sharp insight

This insight from satirical news website Scrappleface says it all:

After years of working together informally, The New York Times and the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) today publicly announced the launch of a joint effort dubbed ‘Overt Operations, Pakistan Sector’.

The revelation comes on a day when the Times reported that the Bush administration may expand anti-terrorist activities in tribal areas of Pakistan, near the Afghanistan border, according to unnamed sources present at a top-secret briefing Friday.

“Overt operations,” an anonymous Agency source explained, “are similar to the better known covert operations — very top secret, hush-hush and all that — except that we publish details about our plans in advance through the New York Times out of a sense of fairness and compassion toward the folks from al Qaeda.”

Giants 21, Cowpatties 17

So much to like.

After the Giants shocked the Cowmanure in Dallas, The Monk is quite happy and that will last a bit, no matter what happens next Sunday in Green Bay. The Cowgirls are now 0-6 in their last six playoff games (tied for worst playoff losing streak ever), for the second time they lost at home in the playoffs to a team they'd beaten twice in the regular season, and they are the first NFC #1 seed to bonk in the divisional round since the league expanded playoffs to the 12-team format.

Best parts of the game: (1) the Giants' last-minute drive to tie the game at halftime; (2) the Giants' pass rush.

Before the team's 70+ yard drive in 46 seconds right before halftime, the Giants were down 14-7, Dallas had controlled the ball for nearly the whole second quarter including a 10+ minute TD drive, and the Cowudders were set to receive the second half kickoff with a potential chance to get a two-score lead. Eli led the team to the tying score, changing the complexion of the game.

The Giants' pass rush finally rattled the Cows. Before yesterday's game, the Big Blue pass rush had only two sacks in two games against Dallas, but 51 in the 14 games against everyone else. During the loss at Giants Stadium, the GMen only hit Romo twice. SI's Dr. Z, Paul Zimmerman, noted that Giants Pro-Bowl DE Osi Umenyiora was completely shut out by Dallas LT Flozell Adams (and with a name like that, you better be 350 pounds and mean). Not so yesterday -- Osi pressured Romo constantly in the second half and Romo made stupid mistakes, like taking sacks after running out of the tackle box (when he could have just spiked the ball and had an incompletion).

So all credit to the Giants, who outplayed Dallas in two of the three key matchups of the game -- Giants' Defense v. Dallas Offense and the Special Teams battle. The Giants' to-do list for next week starts with the O-line -- the #4 rushing team in the league needs more than 90 yards on the ground and cannot let Eli get sacked on one of every seven pass attempts (12-18 passing, 3 sacks on 21 pass plays).

But today, The Monk has smiles for his Big Blue. They're going to the NFC title game (post AFL/NFL merger record = 3-0) to play the Packers (Giants = 1-4 in playoffs v. Pack, only win in 1938).

Woo hoo.

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

The b*tch is back

Cartoon Source

PaMonk nearly blew a gasket this morning after Hillary Clinton's win in New Hampshire, and for good reason. Just when we thought it was safe to put the Clintons out of our mind, the bitch is back.


Here's PaMonk's little diatribe. Considering he's old enough to remember the first printing press by Guttenberg, it probably took him about an hour to type this ;-).

The free world's next leader will lead the U.S. because she shed calculated tears at a coffee chop on Monday afternoon---I predicted trouble for Obama to your mom, e-mailed some media, etc.--and the results are there:Hillary sweeps N.H. via an overwhelming FEMALE (sympathy) vote!!! Read M. Dowd in today's NYTimes as she skewers the Clintons who have pulled off another one...

We're on our way to a third term for Bill--G*d save us.

Dowd's column is linked to this post. Here's a tidbit:

There was a poignancy about the moment, seeing Hillary crack with exhaustion from decades of yearning to be the principal rather than the plus-one. But there was a whiff of Nixonian self-pity about her choking up. What was moving her so deeply was her recognition that the country was failing to grasp how much it needs her. In a weirdly narcissistic way, she was crying for us. But it was grimly typical of her that what finally made her break down was the prospect of losing.

As Spencer Tracy said to Katharine Hepburn in “Adam’s Rib,” “Here we go again, the old juice. Guaranteed heart melter. A few female tears, stronger than any acid.”

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Republicans and Democrats

Readers of this site will know that I am a big fan of NRO's Jay Nordlinger who is probably National Review's best writer. He has another excellent Impromptus column today - do read it. But this excerpt struck me:

Years ago, Thomas Sowell wrote a column that I have never forgotten. He said that liberals field their A team, while conservatives field their B team. What did he mean by that? He meant that the “best and the brightest” of the liberals slaver to enter politics, or journalism, in order to control other people’s lives. But our best and brightest — the Right’s elite — are in the economy, inventing things, establishing businesses, and making the country grow.

And this is very relevant:

I was reading an AP story yesterday — here — and saw something quite surprising: “millionaire Mitt Romney.” Here is the full sentence: “Among those listening to the affable Arkansas governor were evangelical Christians, who on Thursday night helped propel Huckabee past millionaire Mitt Romney to win the race’s first test of strength, the Iowa caucuses.”

So that’s how he’s to be described now? “Millionaire Romney,” as though he were merely some rich boy, running on his trust fund — to hell with the Olympics, to hell with Bain Capital, to hell with the governorship of Massachusetts? Was the 2004 Democratic nominee ever described as “millionaire John Kerry”?


Congratulations to the Goose, Rich Gossage, who became the fifth reliever in baseball history to be elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame after an egregiously long wait. The intimidating and overpowering righty finally cracked the 75% vote requirement and obtained votes from almost 86% of the voters.

Among closers with 300+ career saves, he has the most relief innings, most wins, most strikeouts and 125 saves of 2+ innings! Rivera has 11. Indeed, Goose pitched in an era where closers would come into the game in the seventh, and would pitch more when their team was in a tie. As ESPN's Keith Law noted, today's closers come in and throw as hard as they can for 15+ pitches to get out of one inning; Gossage would enter a game and throw as hard as he could for 40 pitches or more and multiple innings.

Goose's numbers are far better than Bruce Sutter's, but the latter got into the Hall two years ago because his use of the split-finger fastball was considered revolutionary. The selection of Sutter over Gossage in 2006 was a mistake, now it's partially nullified.

Gossage is the only player elected by the BBWAA this year. Five other new members are selections of the Veterans' Committee. Near misses by Jim Rice, Andre Dawson, Bert Blyleven and not-so-near misses by Tim Raines, Tommy John and Mark McGwire were notable. The Monk thinks John, McGwire and Dawson should be in.

But today is a day for the Goose to revel. Congratulations to him on an honor that he's deserved without receiving for entirely too long.

The King, 73 years later

Today is the 73rd anniversary of the birth of The King, Elvis Presley. He died on August 16, 1977. I was seven then, and MaMonk, PaMonk and I were staying at a random B&B in Utrecht, Netherlands during a side trip on our summer vacation. The next morning the innkeeper, who spoke no English, came over to us waving the morning paper and repeating "De Keeng, de Keeng" and pointing at his photo.

Elvis is only a couple of months older than MaMonk. Over the past 31 years, she's seen her son graduate from various schools (elementary, high, college, law), get married, and have a kid. She continued her career, retired at a decent income, and now travels the world with her husband of 44+ years.

Something to be said for living simply and not burning out.

NFL Fever?

The Monk gets ill enough as a Giants fan in the Dallas area every time Big Blue plays the Cowpatties during the NFL season. Now, it's worse. For the first time ever, the Giants face the Cowgirls in the NFL playoffs.

Hoo boy.

According to ESPN last night and in a report on Sunday, there have been 53 occasions where teams had met twice during the regular season and then faced each other in the playoffs. In 17 of those matchups, one team had swept the regular season series. Thus, it's far more common that teams had split their two matchups. Of the 17 times where one had swept the season series, 11 times the regular season winner turned the trick in the playoffs; only six times did the team that went 0-2 gain revenge.

The Giants are 3-1 in playoff games against NFC East foes since the AFL/NFL merger. In 1981, they knocked off the defending NFC champion Eagles in the wild card game; in 1986, they beat the Redskins for the NFC title; in 2000, they beat the Eagles in the divisional round of the playoffs; last year, they lost to the Eagles in the wild card round. In '81 and '06, they had split with the Eagles during the regular season. In '86, the Giants swept the Redskins during the season and whupped them in the playoffs. In '00, the Giants whipped the Eagles twice during the season (33-18, 24-7) and scratched by them in the playoffs (20-10 -- no offensive TDs).

Considering their storied playoff history (32-23), the Cowherders are surprisingly just 2-4 against the NFC East. Their last playoff win was in 1996, and they lost badly to the Cardinals in '98 after beating them twice during the regular season.

How much does all that mean? Between little and nothing. If T.O. is even as healthy as he was during the Patriots-Eagles Super Bowl (he played hurt and still had a big game), the Cowtippers will win. The Giants have had no answers for Dallas' deep passing game this year and The Monk fears only that Big Blue won't be able to develop one in one week with a banged-up secondary that was average (at best) all year.

The Navy's suicidal restraint

Three US warships, operating in international waters, passed through the Strait of Hormuz Sunday morning and encountered five Iranian navy speedboats that threatened to attack. The Iranians dumped boxed in the water (mines? -- that was the implicit hint) and verbally claimed they would seek to blow up the US ships. The Naval vessels never fired on the Iranians, even though they came within a miniscule (as naval conditions measure) 200 meters of the USN vessels. The USN reports that the ships had prepared to fire, but the Iranians turned away and sped off.

At the first sign of such aggression, or at worst at the first verbal threat, the Navy should have blown the Iranians to Hades. This is the same hesitation that ended up killing sailors off the coast of Yemen in 2000 and it only emboldens the enemy. Ralph Peters is right:

We should've sunk every one of them.

Not because we're warmongers. But because the Iranians had made threats, verbal and physical, that amounted to acts of war. When will we learn that resolute action taken early saves vast amounts of blood and treasure later?

Oh, from Washington's perspective we did the right thing by "exercising restraint." But Washington's perspective doesn't amount to a gum wrapper in a gutter. What matters is what the Iranians think.

Poor decision by the commanders.

Palestinians sceptical as Bush bypasses Gaza

headline of the day from al-Reuters.

Trying to think of a reason that the President of the United States would stop in that diseased hole. Aside from putting himself and the Secret Service in mortal danger.

Monday, January 07, 2008

The sure thing

It is official, there is no surer thing when it comes to bowls than this: if Ohio State plays an SEC team in a bowl, it will lose.  After tonight's BCS title game, for which Ohio State was properly the underdog, Ohio State is 0-9 all time against SEC teams in bowl games.

That is astounding.  Worse yet, most of those losses have occurred in the past 17 years since the Big Ten and SEC have had multiple second-tier bowl tie-ins.  Both the former Outback/Gator and Citrus Bowl have had Big Ten/SEC matchups for nearly two decades.  OSU has had more than its share of opportunities to knock off ANY foe from the SEC -- six from those tie-in bowls, and two straight in the "BCS title game" (the 35-6 beating Alabama put on OSU in the 1978 Sugar Bowl doesn't really matter in this diatribe).  Seriously, it is almost an accomplishment to continually bonk.  Compare that to Michigan and Penn State winning a combined 11 of 15 bowls against SEC teams since 1991 (this includes Penn State's pre-Big T[elev]en matchup with Tennessee in the '92 Fiesta Bowl).  Truly strange -- even more so than Notre Dame's glorious nine-bowl losing streak.

This OSU team doesn't deserve any real blame.  Most pundits thought Michigan was the team to beat in the Big T(elev)en this year before the Wolverines honked against a division I-AA team.  OSU won the league, whupped Wisconsin, Penn State and Michigan and bonked on the road against Illinois.  And OSU is relatively young -- only a handful of starters are seniors and the QB is not quite the all-American that Heisman winner Troy Smith was last year.  So it's also to OSU's credit that it played moderately well against a superior team instead of laying a horrible-smelling egg against an equal (at best) like it did in the '06 title game against Florida. Sickeningly enough, Jim Tressel has set up the program to beat in the Big T(elev)en and beating it is rare -- just ask Michigan.  The Monk says that because he thinks the program is shady.

Worse yet, The Monk now has to listen to all the nearby LSU fans chirping about how great this team is and their second national title in five years and blah blah blah.  Disgusting.  And all that would have been avoided if West Virginia could have scored 1/3 as many points against bottom-barrel Pitt as it did in whomping Oklahoma.  Too bad the BCS is so horrendous that it farked up the 2003 title game and didn't have USC put a colossal beating on LSU -- the end result if not for the farcical choice of OU to meet the Tigers in the "title" game -- that would at least brunt the nausea.

So kudos to LSU for sucking marginally less than UGa, WVU, USC, Mizzou and getting more respect than KU.  What a ridiculous way to determine a national "champion."

Thursday, January 03, 2008

Kudos to Dr. Bill Krissoff

Courtesy, here's a story about the anti-Sheehan. Bill Krissoff is an orthopedic surgeon. He's 61. His older son, Marine Corps 1st Lt. Nathan Krissoff, died in Anbar Province in December 2006 at age 25. His younger son is a Marine.

Krissoff closed his practice and enlisted in the Navy. But he needed a waiver because the oldest age for medical officer enlistees in the Navy is 42. So he obtained one from President Bush after discussing the matter with the President at an American Legion convention in Reno, Nev.

Why the Navy? Because Naval medical staff ministers to Marines.

Flashman and the eternal rest

Sad news from across the Pond -- British author George MacDonald Fraser died earlier today. Fraser is the author of the rollicking, ribald, and frequently hilarious historical adventure novels known as The Flashman Papers. Fraser took the bully Harry Flashman from the novel Tom Brown's School Days and invented his life story. This summary from the IHT obituary linked to this post is more than fair:

In Fraser's hands, the cruel, handsome Flashman is all grown up and in the British Army, serving in India, Afghanistan and elsewhere. Now Brigadier General Sir Harry Paget Flashman, he is a master equestrian, a pretty fair duelist and a polyglot who can pitch woo in a spate of foreign tongues. He is also a scoundrel, a drunk, a liar, a cheat, a braggart and a coward. (A favorite combat strategy is to take credit for a victory from which he has actually run away.)

Last, but most assuredly not least, Flashman is a serial adulterer who by Volume 9 of the series has bedded 480 women. (That Flashman is married himself, to the fair, dimwitted Elspeth, is no impediment. She cuckolds him left and right, in any case.)

Readers adored him. Today, the Internet is populated with a bevy of Flashman fan sites. Flashman's exploits take him to some of the most epochal events of his time, from British colonial campaigns to the American Civil War, in which he magnanimously serves on both the Union and the Confederate sides. He rubs up against eminences like Queen Victoria, Oscar Wilde, Florence Nightingale and Abraham Lincoln. For his work, Flashman earns a string of preposterous awards, including a knighthood, the Victoria Cross and the Medal of Honor.

The novels' conceit is that Fraser discovered a long-lost cache of personal papers from the deceased Flashman and reconfigured them into the multi-volume memoirs. When the first novel Flashman was published in the US, about 1/3 of the reviewers believed that the book was an actual memoir, not just Fraser's creation. The tales also contain numerous footnotes where Fraser "judges" the accuracy of Flashman's claims and adds historical background to the story.

Fraser himself was a WWII veteran who became a newspaper journalist until he wrote his way out of that career with Flashman. He also wrote a variety of non-Flashman historical novels. He died at age 82 on the Isle of Man, where he'd made his home, after losing a three-year fight against cancer.

George MacDonald Fraser, RIP.

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Bowled under

The Monk failed to watch Michigan-Florida -- the only bowl game worth watching yesterday. I taped (on DVR -- who uses actual tape?) the Virginia game and was bored until the last four minutes when the Cavs bonked a two TD lead and coughed up 17 points. The remaining games were either not worthwhile (UT-Wisco) or blowouts (Mizzou by 31, Georgia by 31, USC by 32). I hope the ratings completely tank this year -- the BCS is a travesty and this year is no different. Of course OSU is in, but it's no better than the fifth best team in the country (USC, Georgia, LSU, OU WVU), benefited by playing a bunch of stiffs outside the Big T(elev)en and by beating a weak conference. Think OSU is the best matchup for LSU? The Buckeyes lost last year's national title game 43-14 and that team was far superior to the product they're putting out this season.

Oh, and OSU is 0-8 in bowl games against SEC teams. What's worse: the Big Ten and SEC had multiple bowl tie-ins (i.e. #3 SEC v. #3 Big 10+1 or #4 v. #4), leading OSU to play an SEC team six times in 11 games from 1990-2002, and losing each. Yeesh.

The sickening thing this year is that USC is probably the best team, just like in 2003 when it got screwed by the moronic computers running the BCS polls that chose Oklahoma (lost 35-7 in Big 12 conference title game!) -- nearly the same computers that chose FSU to play Oklahoma in 2000 even though Miami was 10-1 too and had whupped FSU.

You get it yet? The system is broken. Too much TV money ensures that it won't be fixed any time soon.

N.B. -- a small update from after the WVU rout of Oklahoma. I forgot WVU was thisclose to playing OSU for the national title but lost its position with that ridiculous bonk against Pitt. OU should be mortified by allowing > 350 rushing yards in a game for which it had four weeks to prepare.

Just a little cuckoo

I like the Scots a lot. Beautiful country, great castles, interesting history, tough buggers too. But they're really a little nuts.

Seriously, click the link and read about the annual game of ba'.

Must be something in the whisky.

Warren on Bhutto

Canadian columnist David Warren who knew Benazir Bhutto has a column on her and the Pakistan People's Party. I'm not an expert on Warren's antecedents nor a real student of Pakistani politics. Warren's column though seems quite plausible and can be viewed here. Snippets:

...And at Benazir Bhutto's death, it is now inherited by her 19-year-old son, Bilawal, under the guardianship of his corrupt father. The many prize idiots in the Western media who presented Ms Bhutto as a beacon of democracy are now perhaps beginning to grasp what path she was lighting.

The creed of the PPP -- "Islam is our faith, democracy is our politics, socialism is our economy, all power to the people" -- consists of three calculated lies followed by a howler. A more honest creed might be, "Government of the Bhutto, by the Bhutto, and for the Bhutto."

Those who thought Ms Bhutto the agent of democracy and progress, because she was young and a woman and told them in fluent English exactly what they wanted to hear, should know that she, like every other woman who has risen to power in the region, including a prime minister of India, two in Bangladesh, and now two in Sri Lanka -- inherited dynasties founded by powerful men...It is the failure to grasp such simple facts that makes so much Western journalism ridiculous.
She was my exact contemporary, and I met her as a child in Pakistan, so let me jump on this bandwagon. I remember her at age eight, arriving in a Mercedes-Benz with daddy's driver, and whisking me off for a ride in the private aeroplane of then-President Ayub Khan (Bhutto père was the rising star in his cabinet). This girl was the most spoiled brat I ever met.

I met her again in London, when she was studying at Oxford. She was the same, only now the 22-year-old version, and too gorgeous for anybody's good. One of my memories is a glimpse inside a two-door fridge: one door entirely filled with packages of chocolate rum balls from Harrod's. Benazir was crashing, in West Kensington, with another girl I knew in passing -- the daughter of a former prime minister of Iraq. They were having a party. It would be hard to imagine two girls, of any cultural background, so glibly hedonistic.

After her father's "martyrdom" Bhutto became, from all reports, much more serious. But I think, also, twisted -- and easily twisted, as the spoiled too easily become when they are confronted with tragedy. She became pure politician. Think of it: she, a libertine in previous life, submitted to an arranged marriage, because she needed a husband to campaign for office. Stood by him in power only because there was no other political option when he proved even greedier than she was.

For she was entirely Westernized, but also Pakistani. She thought in English, her Urdu was awkward, her "native" Sindhi inadequate even for giving directions to servants. Part of her political trick, in Pakistan itself, was that she sounded uneducated in Urdu. This is as close as she got to being "a woman of the people."

Brave, unquestionably brave. Which I would qualify by adding it was one facet of a wilfulness not otherwise attractive. She was irresponsible to make her assassin's job so easy, by campaigning in plein-air after what had happened in Karachi; wrong to lure so many to their own deaths around her.

Faced with the actual problems of Pakistan, she twice made a disastrous prime minister. Her death obviates a third term. But the legacy creates as large a mess. She tutored her supporters to blame President Musharraf for any harm that might come to her, so that when Al Qaeda pulled off the murder, they scored twice. In addition to killing a hated symbol of Westernization, they set the mobs not against themselves, but against Musharraf. As I have argued before in these columns, for all his visible faults, Musharraf has been dealing to the limit of his abilities and opportunities with the actual problems of Pakistan.