Washington Prowler

Wlady’s Corner(July 2003)

Summer blahs.

By 7.31.03

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Who's Your Ombuddy? (posted 7/28/03 2:33 a.m.)
For sometime now the new regime at the New York Times has been urged to hire an ombudsman. What's stopping them? An extra echo chamber can't hurt. Look at how the Washington Post's ombudsman Michael Getler serves his masters. His Sunday report saw him officially sign on to his paper's ongoing efforts to help Democrats create a scandal out of the administration's Iraq policy. "How about a call for public hearings to investigate these issues," one reader asked Getler. He didn't note that such a question is official DNC policy. Instead he called on the press to find new ways to advance the story. Who'll ombud the ombudsman?

Caught in the Act (posted 7/28/03 2:33 a.m.)
How does it feel, Bob Dylan used to ask. Now certain Democratic senators know. They are angry that defenders of such conservative Bush judicial nominees as William Pryor are accusing them in an ad campaign of anti-Catholic bias. In fact, they're personally offended, which suggests the charge is sticking.

The New York Times' Robin Toner reports, "The accusation of anti-Catholic bias seemed especially galling to some of the Democratic senators who happen to be Catholic." He mentions the Judiciary Committee's Sen. Patrick Leahy, whose defense is that he recalls his father talking about bad old days when Irish Catholics confronted signs saying they "need not apply." But Senator, today you'd probably tell those same Irish not to apply for a federal judiciary position if they're staunchly opposed to abortion, say. Every Democratic Catholic mentioned in Toner's story -- Durbin ("personally opposes abortion but backs abortion rights"), Kennedy, Cuomo -- supports policies antithetical to fundamental Catholic teaching.

Pryor has made it clear what his views are, and Toner describes them as conservative and anti-abortion. Democrats oppose Pryor on both counts, though they deny they do so because of Pryor's "deeply held" Catholic beliefs. Instead, in Toner's words, "they oppose Mr. Pryor because of his record, including what they assert is a history of extreme statements on issues like abortion..." So there we are. Evidently they're not opposed to Pryor on religious grounds but they equate his religious views with extremism nonetheless. (They don't seem to be willing to extend free speech to him either.) Their views couldn't be clearer: conservatives and pro-lifers need not apply.

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Crushed (posted 7/23/03 2:27 a.m.)
The Democrat-media led putsch ended yesterday with the expiry of Saddam's two sons. "One Victory -- but the conflict continues," ABC's "Nightline" declared. But its heart wasn't in it. The show really had nothing to say. Bush and his forces needed a break. They got one -- a very big one, the kind that shifts momentum, changes the terms of debate, and demoralizes the opposition to a point that is near impossible to recover from.

ABC's evening news, even without Peter Jennings, had rotten egg all over its face as it ridiculously followed up on its opening on Uday and Qusay's demise with a story on the White House changing its story on a uranium reference in a State of the Union address seven months ago. Did Jennings' crew think anyone outside the DNC and the Baathist Mortuary possibly cared?

Even in covering Pvt. Jessica Lynch's return home ABC was dyspeptic, claiming her West Virginia town will be relieved to move on from all the attention her near tragedy brought it. Evidently not too many heroes live in the Jennings crowd's midst.

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Out of Bounds (posted 7/21/03 2:02 a.m.)
This is what it's come to: an open confession of adultery is regarded as a sound defense in a rape case. Blame Clinton, blame Hollywood, blame the corruptions of the modern NBA, but Kobe Bryant's eerie press conference the night of his indictment redefined the decadent mind. "You know, I sit here in front of you guys, furious at myself, disgusted at myself for making the mistake of adultery." Mistake? Mistake is when you double-dribble. What happened to the notion of sin? Or how about this love song suddenly delivered by Bryant to his faithful wife? "You're a piece of my heart, you're the air I breathe." (Quite a thing to say in smoggy L.A.) And what's a true confession if not accompanied by a pathetic excuse: "I'm a man just like everybody else." Just what the feminists love to hear.

On Sunday much was made of an Orange County Register report suggesting that the young plaintiff in the case had contemplated suicide just two months ago. Experts view this development as a bonanza for the defense, given that it could paint the woman as "hysterical and over-reactive." But what does it tell us about a man who would go after a woman in such frail condition in the first place?

In a final creepy note, Bryant acknowledged he has much as stake and "it has nothing to do with the game of basketball; it has nothing to do with endorsements" -- a sure sign it has everything to do with basketball and endorsements, without which he doesn't qualify for press conferences at Staples Center. Huge interests are involved, and note how the Bryant's Lakers went ahead last week signing two key veteran free agents and all the coverage of these signings assumed the newcomers would be playing alongside Bryant and the Lakers' other superstar, Shaquille O'Neal (a law enforcement aficionado who's been silent throughout this scandal). Bad news is unacceptable if it disrupts a celebrity franchise on its way to invincibility.

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Playing Long Ball (posted 7/16/03 1:29 a.m.)
It was an ominous All-Star Game. The National League had it wrapped up. A big lead, and baseball's three top closers ready to snuff out the Americans over the last three innings. The McCarvers in the announcers' box essentially told viewers to shut down early. They seemed totally unprepared to call the two gigantic home runs that won the game for the American League in the late innings.

Democrats and media (a.k.a. Mr. & Mrs. One And The Same) will immediately seize on a parallel between the National League's collapse and the Bush team's (supposedly) vanishing lead. In this scenario, Bush may have been riding high, but he's not a finisher and has no bullpen. How presumptuous. For one thing, the Dems don't exactly have a Jason Giambi or Garret Anderson in their lineup. At this stage they'd probably settle for a banjo hitter. For another, the Americans' Hank Blalock, the misunderestimated hero who hit the winning two-run pinch-hit homer in his first at bat as an All-Star, is an unsung member of the Texas Rangers. Last anyone checked, it's still George W. Bush's team. How long before Mr. Blalock receives a Crawford welcome?

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Fabricated Request (posted 7/10/03 1:29 p.m.)
"'The American Spectator story is a complete fabrication and we have asked for a retraction,'" said Kerry spokeswoman Kelley Benander." So writes the Boston Herald today, apropos the John Kerry campaign's flatly denying a report by our Washington Prowler that it has sent people into Vermont to dig up dirt on Howard Dean. One immediate problem. We've not heard from Ms. Benander or anyone else in the Kerry camp about a retraction or anything else (and we never hang up on anyone speaking French or in a heavy French accent).

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Hair Day (posted 7/8/03 11:58 a.m.)
Thanks to a video someone had sent her, Hillary could learn all about Maggie: "My goodness, she changed her hair, she changed a lot of things. As you see yourself in pictures you think, 'Oh, I could make a better job of that.'" Think again, Ms. Hillary. Of all the things to focus on regarding Thatcher, she settles on the prime minister's hair? Has all that peroxide turned a once smart woman into a ditzy blonde? This is more than depressing. How unfortunate that Hillary didn't pay attention to Phyllis Diller's coif, particularly when it consisted of a tangle of snakes.

Brought On (posted 7/8/03 11:58 a.m.)
Libs hate it when George W. Bush talks tough. When he said "Bring 'em on" last week apropos the terrorists and Saddamites still at large in Iraq, they took it personally, as if the comment were really directed at them. Now they're treating Bush's remark as his Cartesian moment, something along the lines of "he doesn't think, therefore he thinks he can talk big."

More interesting have been the defenses of Bush in this matter, particularly the well-received comment by Canadian David Warren, He suggests it was a calculated remark from Bush, who has turned U.S. forces in Iraq into an equivalent of flypaper, attracting terrorist flies to its sticky center and away from Israel and the U.S., which are now safer. Better U.S. military casualties, in this thinking, than U.S. civilian losses. In Warren's words:

"President Bush has also, quite consciously to my information, created a new playground for the enemy, away from Israel, and even farther away from the United States itself. By the very act of proving this lower ground, he drains terrorist resources from other swamps."

What's wrong with his analysis? Probably the notion that terrorism is a fixed pie phenomenon and not a growth economy. Whether you think of them as flies or mosquitoes, it's important to remember that the one thing these insects have in common is that they breed in incredible numbers and forever overcome human efforts to eradicate them. It has yet to be demonstrated that U.S. forces, as a target of opportunity, aren't attracting new members into terrorist ranks. Moreover, Americans feel neither consoled nor safer knowing American men are still dying overseas. I wish there were more to Warren's argument than wishful thinking.

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Lady Hillary (posted 7/7/03 12:27 a.m.)
Beyond what Drudge reports it's not clear what Hillary told the London Times -- but in one way or another she said she found Margaret Thatcher an inspiration, just the sort of inconsiderate, egomaniacal comment the newly widowed former prime minister needs to hear in this dark hour of her life. On European tour for her book, Hillary has already caught flak for spending the July 4 break in nonpatriotic pursuits. Now to boost sales in the U.K. she's merrily invokes Lady Thatcher as one of her models.

It would have helped if in her so-called book she had written something worth noting about Thatcher -- but all we get is a single cold-eyed mention (p. 238) of "former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, whose career I had followed with great interest." If you're choking on those fumes it's probably too late to warn you not to hold your breath for any engagement on Hillary's part with Thatcherite ideas and policies.

On the other hand, we can look forward to the French leg of Hillary's tour, in which we find out how inspiring she found the example of Marie Antoinette, especially her quick rhetoric.

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Limited Fireworks (posted July 4, 2003)
The kindest reader in the world informs us this July 4, "Having withdrawal pains because you didn't publish today!" Well, we thought he'd be away too, at the lakeside or beach closest to his abode. It's not even too bad to stay behind in the emptied Washington area, the best time of year to be reminded of what might have been if limited government were a genuine ideal. See you on Monday, when the federal monster resumes it ever expanding adventures.

Meanwhile, heed the advice of a friend looking down on us from Canada: "Let your pride in your troops shine, know you are blessed with your president, and don't get sunburned, remember the sun screen!"

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About the Author
Wlady Pleszczynski is editorial director of The American Spectator and the editor of AmSpec Online.