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Leagues of Their Own

Hearn-Scully, contra-Iran, leak soup, Shelby's steel and much more.

8.8.02

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HEARN 'ROUND THE WORLD
Re: Wlady Pleszczynski Chickie Babe:

Chick needed no sidekicks. Baseball has so little action, Vin could spin his yarns minutes at a time. The basketball changes hands however every few seconds and the simulcast doesn't allow much time for analysis.

My friends and I used to make fun of Stu Lantz's usual brief summation, "Well, that's right, Chick." Chick would take it from there. KCAL should have never forced the second announcer on him anyway.

Also, the amazing thing about Chick's Laker broadcasts was his realizing that his old lines had become clichés and never repeating them with the same intonation. When Stu (b)egged him to declare the "game in the fridge," Chick toyed with Stu and the listeners by saying it just at the right moment.

These days, one can hear a typical baseball announcer force his way into a third-rate home-run call. But Hearn had a complete command over his terminology.

To use another worn-out cliché, he was a pro's pro.

He will be missed.
-- Dan Leo
Sunny Isles Beach, FL
(Resident of Hollywood, CA -- 1987-2001-- and a long-time Laker hater but a huge fan of Francis Dayle Hearn)

I always enjoy, and nearly always agree with Wlady Pleszczynski's comments, however I must object to his characterization of Vin Scully "as the greatest baseball announcer there ever was and ever will be." Vin Scully is not even the greatest announcer the Dodgers ever had. Don't get me wrong, Scully is one of the greats and he deserves the praise he received from Wlady, The man who defined baseball on the radio is Walter "Red" Barber. When Red was in the cat bird seat, you were at the game. He explained the on-field action as if you were his baseball loving friend suddenly struck blind as you sat in your seat at the game, yet so involved in the national pastime that you refused to seek help until the final out. There, at your side, is Red, setting the stage for every pitch, reminding you of the score, the number of outs, the pitch count and the myriad of factors impacting the situation. Vin Scully is great, Red Barber was the Best Ever.
-- Steve Donohue

LEAK PLUGS
RE: Jed Babbin's Congressional Leakology:

Excellent piece. Excellent.

To not address this issue as Mr. Babbin has so succinctly stated would be a travesty. Thousands upon thousands of American citizens have held security clearances and have with good faith kept the law regarding national security.

To do any less is a crime.

Kudos on the article.
-- R.H. "Tex" Houston
http://www.ranchgazette.com

Jed Babbin may be correct in his oblique assumption that it was Sen. Richard Shelby who leaked the information regarding the NSA-intercepted phone call from Afghanistan to Saudi Arabia. Shelby, never camera-shy (well, exactly who in the Senate isn't?), has a well-known animus for CIA director George Tenet, although his disdain for the SIGINT operators at Fort Meade, at least to this reader, has been less well-publicized. If he's guilty of this leak, then indeed he should be prosecuted to the fullest extent possible.

All this being said, the leak undoubtedly led to James Bamford's "Outlook" piece in June 2002 in the Washington Post where he detailed the sorry state of NSA's linguistics sections in the languages of the region. According to Bamford, on September 11, you could "count the Pashto and Dari speakers at NSA on one hand and have fingers left over." It does little good to have a high-volume electronic vacuum sweeper at NSA if you have no one there to read the intercepts and piece together the bits. Just about the only good thing that has come from these leaks is that the public at least now knows just how incapable this country's intelligence operations were and probably still are in fighting a shadowy, disciplined enemy like al Qaeda. Unfortunately, things aren't apt to get any better by creating another elephantine bureaucracy in the guise of the Homeland Security department when we need to get meaner, leaner and smarter.
-- Bill Harrison
Arlington, VA

TIED TO BE FIT
Re: Dave Shiflett's Clothes Call:

Your Dave Shiflett accuses Nazis of wearing coats and ties. Hmm.

It seems to this reader too that any dunce can wear a coat and tie. But if a writer wants to accuse dunces and Nazis of wearing coats and ties, he should be more careful with his references.

I point to the following and Mr. Shiflett's closing; "When I hear anyone talk of culture, I reach for my revolver." This observation was made by none other than Hermann Goering, Hitler's Reichsmarshall, a known drug addict and also a cross-dressing homosexual. Mr. Shiflett should be more circumspect in his choice of references.
-- Paul Kellogg
New York

FOCUS ON IRAN
Re: Jed Babbin's Turning Iran Around:

I continue to believe the uprisings in Iran are the most important story in the world today, and only Mr. Ledeen (widely quoted in this article) is writing about it. Overthrowing the mullahs in Iran would have enormous impact on our war on terror: Where is the mainstream press? Simply disgraceful that they aren't covering this important story.
-- Judith Willms

Jed Babbin replies: I don't necessarily agree that the Iran demonstrations are the most important story, but it is definitely one of the most important. Michael Ledeen should get much credit for his attention to this issue. As to the rest of the media, their inattention to it is simply puzzling. I'm afraid that these days, where a camera does not go, no media will follow.

SHAH, PSHAW!
Re: Jed Babbin's Turning Iran Around:

I was living in Iran during the revolution which overthrew the shah, and I read Jed Babbin's article with interest. I found a lot in it with which I agreed. America, and the rest of the free world have discovered since 9/11 what I've been saying since 1979: fundamentalist Islam presents a far greater threat to Western civilization than Communism ever did.

American and other Western leaders made the mistake of looking on any regime which opposed the Soviet Union as necessarily being on the "good guys" side. This led to Western support for the mujaheddin who resisted the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan and various rather suspect regimes in the Middle East such as those ruling in Saudi Arabia and the Gulf states. It's ironic that weapons provided to Afghan rebels for their fight against the Soviets are even now being used against British and American troops.

On the other hand, I think it would be wrong to look too uncritically at the shah's regime. I believe that it was the considerable injustices perpetrated by the pre-revolutionary government that paved the way to the extremism which followed it. Was the shah's regime really all that much better than what has been imposed on the Iranian people since? Certainly, post-war Iran saw a very rapid increase in social inequality and secret police repression. When he came to power, the shah probably had some reformist tendencies -- he did make some attempts at land reform and gave women their first taste of emancipation -- but by the time he was overthrown, he was an isolated and universally despised autocrat.

The frequent Western attitude that my enemy's enemy is my friend led us into alliances with some very doubtful friends -- like the Somozas in Nicaragua and the Diems in Vietnam -- so it's not surprising that this policy was again followed in the Islamic world, and that contributed significantly to the growth of the extremism and virulent, irrational hatred which led to 9/11.

We keep looking for "moderate" Islam and are then surprised when it turns out that they really aren't moderate at all. I remember when Rafsanjani was the "liberal" speaker of the Majlis (parliament) -- now he's suddenly one of the leading conservatives. We hailed the election of Khatami -- yet another benighted cleric -- as the dawning of a new, more "moderate" Iran, and it wasn't. Please don't lets start supporting the shah's son, Reza, just because he's our enemy's enemy. There really isn't the least sign that he has any support at all within the country. We'd just be aligning ourselves once again with a discredited regime.

There are moderate voices in Iran, but it shouldn't be surprising to anyone that quite a lot of these are, perhaps, more to the left of center than we would like. That really isn't surprising. Under the shah, teaching about the French and Russian Revolutions was banned in state schools, and what has come since has scarcely allowed young Iranians the tools needed to make an informed decision about the merits of liberalism or socialism. They are against the conservative, reactionary conservatives who are ruining their country, trying to drag is back into the Middle Ages, so it's hardly surprising that they see themselves as progressives or even socialist.

I remember during the early days of the revolution having a long discussion with two gunmen from the fedayyin-e-khalq -- I had advertised my stereo for sale and they were trying to buy it cheap. We ended up discussing politics and philosophy for several hours. At one point, one of them said, "All we want is for everyone to be free to express their own opinions, for men and women to be treated equally and with respect, for people of all religions and none to be tolerant of each others' beliefs, etc., etc.... " I don't remember his exact words when he was describing his panacea, but I'll never forget his closing words: "Just like Cuba!" I tried to explain to him that Cuba wasn't quite as he imagined it to be and that he seemed to me to be describing France, England or the United States, but he and his friends were understandably ignorant of all this -- that's what happens when school curriculum is strictly controlled and international media restricted....

I suggest that these are the sort of people we should be supporting now, not some so-called "moderate" clergyman or the son of the deposed autocrat.
-- Mike Tribe

Jed Babbin replies: I'm not so holy. If we can ally ourselves with people such as Mr. Pahlavi or other opponents of the mullahs, I'm not concerned at this point about their pedigree. Unless they're in league with the mullahs or other terrorists, I say they're worth a look. I'm not saying we should install Mr. Pahlavi on his father's throne, and I'm also not saying we shouldn't.

I agree that there are no moderates among the Islamicists. The radicals are all about the same, and we can't treat with them, only defeat them. But to bring Iran back into the modern world, we need to join up with those who are willing to fight, and get the Ayatollah's crowd out for good. If we are too particular about allies, we'll end up with none. And the terrorists will stay in control. I'd like us to benefit from the Iranian opposition, and see the destruction of the ayatollahs without risking American lives. If we have to do it ourselves, so be it. But before we get to that point, we ought to see if the Iranians can do it themselves.

IDEALLY CRAZY
Re: Jerry Carter's The Crazy Congressman:

This Zioncheck fellow sounds like the ideal liberal! First his behavior explains how liberals can say and do the things they do with a straight face: they are disconnected from reality. A present day example: Senator Joe Bidden stands before us with his neat stands of perfectly aligned hair plugs and tells us one week that there is no reason to go to war against Iraq, the next war is necessary and I'm sure there will be a third chapter. Mrs. Clinton told the nation on a national news broadcast that if her husband had, indeed, had sex with that woman he would be in serious trouble. As soon as it was established that her personal satyr had enjoyed his dalliance she went back to the "vast right wing conspiracy" to explain his behavior and her enabling of it.

There are many such stories, and now I understand how the disconnected do these foolish things. But will anyone ever figure out to repair these horribly defective people?
-- Jay W. Molyneaux
Palm Beach, FL

NOOSE TIP
Re: Lawrence Henry's The Trouble With TIPS:

Incidentally, the TIPS program should really be called FINK (Federal Information Network of Knowledge), if we're going for catchy acronyms.
-- Kim du Toit

WHO DO YOU TRUST
Re: The Prowler's Simon Appearances:

Was Ronald Reagan the only one who had enough sense to trust the common man? Every day voters can sift through the slant of the newspapers. What they will get disgusted with is the condescension of the Rove's and the head of the GOP. The object is to defeat Davis in November, not to see who is boss of the GOP. I think President Bush understands this and for sure Cheney does.
-- Annette Cwik

MAKING THE CONNECTION
Great website! I am a Spectator subscriber and read that things are a changing once again. I only hope that The American Spectator remains afloat and continues to provide some of the best non-mainstream (read non-Liberal) writing available in the U.S. I plan to renew my subscription at least another year to see what unfolds.
-- Bill B.
Fairfax, VA

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