October 19, 2002

Herr Lindbergh

Sieg Heil, mein Fuhrer!

From LIFE magazine's 1941 interview with Adolf Hitler, six months before America declared war on Germany. Lindbergh is second from left, giving the Nazi salute at an America First Committee rally in New York City in May. The caption says that the 23,000 in attendance booed Roosevelt, but did not boo Hitler.

Many thanks to Michael Melsky's great online discussion board on the Lindbergh "kidnapping" (linked at right) for the tip.

Happy Hallowe'en, all.

From the e-mail this morning:

Alice Crockett's Ghost

Mark and Wendy DeShazo bought this house in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia near Lexington in the fall of 1998. They had heard it was haunted, but didn't believe the stories. Nevertheless, Wendy began seeing images and hearing voices a few months after they moved in. After Mark began seeing wispy presences in the kitchen he did some research in county records and old newspapers stories.

They found that from 1854, when the house was built, to 1882 the house belonged to John and Alice Crockett. John left to fight in the Civil War and never returned. Mark found one newspaper story saying John was missing, presumed dead at the Wilderness. A newspaper story printed shortly before Alice's death quoted the Rev. Thomas Boggs, pastor of Lexington Methodist Church as saying Alice had spent every morning since the fall of Richmond sitting at the kitchen table, looking across the fields in anticipation of John returning home.

Mark, a regional sales manager for Auto Advance and Wendy, a self-employed midwife are convinced the ghost of Alice Crockett still waits in their kitchen for John to return. After several failed attempts they caught this photo and audio of what they claim to be her.

It's wild and a little spooky once you find the ghost in the picture. It took me about 30 seconds to find it, but when you do it really stands out, like one of those optical illusions.

To save you some time, concentrate around the table. Don't focus too much on one spot, but look around the table and toward the window. Click on the link below for the picture. If you can enlarge it's best to do so,

Turn your computer volume way up; it's faint but you can hear Alice's ghost talking, sometimes in a low murmur.

It may take a moment or so before you can actually pick out the ghost, but I'm sure you will see something.


October 18, 2002

Jesse Who?

Some stories the PC Police just can't allow reported.

I wasn’t going to blog tonight but I saw an AP news headline – “Death of Cross-Dressing Teen Probed.” I clicked the link:

Three men were charged with murder Friday in the death of a cross-dressing 17-year-old boy whose body was found in a shallow grave two weeks after he disappeared from a party.

Police said Eddie Araujo showed up at the Oct. 3 house party as a girl named “Lida,” and was assaulted and killed after the suspects learned he was a boy.

“They’re going to pay for what they did,” said Araujo’s aunt, Imelda Guerrero. “I hope everybody out there who sees this learns something from this, because he was a beautiful person inside and out.”

Michael Magidson, 27, Jaron Nabors, 19, and Jose Merel, 24, appeared in court Friday on charges of murder with a hate-crime enhancement. They entered no pleas and were held without bail.

Quick, who did you just think of? That’s right, Matthew Shepard, the young gay man who was killed in Wyoming in 1998. Bet you didn’t think of Jesse Dirkhising. Nobody’s heard of Jesse Dirkhising, only a few of us right-wing cranks, it seems.

When Shepard died in September 1998, Brent Bozell writes, “he had already become a huge national news story that continues today. It made the cover of Time magazine with the headline ‘The War Over Gays,’ with reporters predictably using the occasion to blame religious conservatives and call for hate-crime laws and other gay-left agenda items.” Elton John wrote a song for Shepard.

I haven’t seen any songs written for Jesse Dirkhising.

Some murders just aren't newsworthy, I guess.

At 5 a.m. on September 26, 1999 Prairie Grove, Arkansas police responded to a 911 call to the house of gay lovers Joshua Brown, 22, and David Don Carpenter, 38. Police found Prairie Grove seventh-grader Jesse Dirkhising,13 on the floor, unconscious, near death, one of his wrists bound with duct tape. He was pronounced dead at St. Mary’s Hospital in Roger thirty minutes later.

A police investigation determined Jesse was repeatedly raped over a period of hours by Brown and Carpenter, also with foreign objects. While enduring this ordeal, his ankles, knees and wrists were bound in duct tape and he was tied to a mattress, gagged with his own underwear and blindfolded. Police found the sedative amitryptiline in the house, which had been used to sedate Dirkhising.

All in all one of the most horrific murders committed in recent memory. And the national press was… outraged? Stunned? Paying attention? None of the above. You see, young Dirkhising was killed by gays. And that's why the national media spiked the story.

Credit gay pundit Andrew Sullivan for complaining in The New Republic about how the national press simply ignored the murder. Compared to the avalanche of coverage afforded Matthew Shepard, Sullivan notes, by April 2001 “The New York Times has yet to run a single story about [Dirkhising]. The Washington Post has run only a tiny Associated Press report – and an ombudsman’s explanation of why no further coverage is merited.”

The only national TV network to report the story was Fox News. The Washington Times put the story on the front page -- just where Shepard's murder had been on all the other mainstream papers who allowed special interest groups to dictate their coverage of both murders.

Yet more examples of the liberal bias we right-wing nuts are constantly finding in the so-called “mainstream” media, where political correctness is more important than truth? Let Sullivan tell it:

In the month after Shepard’s murder, Nexis recorded 3,007 stories about his death. In the month after Dirkhising’s murder, Nexis recorded 46 stories about his. In all of last year, only one article about Dirkhising appeared in a major mainstream newspaper, The Boston Globe. The New York Times and the Los Angeles Times ignored the incident completely. In the same period, The New York Times published 45 stories about Shepard and the Washington Post published 28. This discrepancy isn’t just real. It’s staggering.

The Associated Press at first did not put the news of Dirkhising’s murder the national wire. I’ve just checked Nexis – within the first ten hours of Araujo’s murder I count 27 national wire stories.

Dirkhising rated 46 stories total in the year and half after his brutal murder in a country with a news media addicted to brutal murders. I’m betting Araujo tops that over the next 24 hours. Any takers?

Sorry, young Jesse. Had your killers been heterosexuals the American media would have given a damn. You would have been useful to them. As it is they can't be bothered with you.

French hypocrisy.

Toujours, toujours.

As we all know, of course, France is petrified lest anything be done to Iraq out of the bounds of international law. That is their stated reason for threatening a Security Council veto of American military action against Saddam Hussein: International law must rule, unilateralism is out.

Evidently they disapprove of unilateralism as practiced by Americans against murdering thugs – they even made us promise we wouldn’t execute convicted murderer Ira Einhorn before extraditing him. They looked the other way when America unilaterally and outside of Security Council, i.e. Russian wishes sent in the army to stop the slaughter in Bosnia. Kept Pierre from having to soil his hands.

French unilateralism in the interests of France, however is evidently acceptable:

In the Times Online is a piece about a meeting of the committee of euro-zone finance ministers this past Tuesday. French Finance Minister Francis Mer found himself outvoted by eleven to one in a vote relating to “demands for reductions in national budgets under euroland’s notorious Stability Pact.” Being good international cooperatists the French acceeded to majority will, non?

Non. All the other euro-zone finance ministers demanded France show its allegiance to the Stability Pact by announcing at least some symbolic tax rises and spending cuts. Our good M. Mer “openly put French national sovereignty ahead of the Maastricht treaty,” and thumbed his nose at the vote.

The other finance ministers, European Commission officials and central bankers were furious with France’s sabotaging the pact and undermining confidence in the euro project. Mer’s explanation for this gross breach of international law? “We decided that there are other priorities in France.” Quelle simplisme.

As concerns Iraq we have decided there are “other priorities” – a concept the French evidently now comprehend.

Sniper most probably Middle Eastern man.

Robert Young’s testimony accepted.

As I promised below, I’m glad I’m wrong. It appears Matthew Dowdy, 38, of Falls Church, Va., was charged with making a false statement in the sniper investigation. Earlier news accounts had been inconclusive as to which witness police believed was lying.

Young, as I point out below, said he got a good look at the driver of the white van and saw him to be a slightly-built Middle Eastern man. It is not known what Dowdy’s testimony was, but if Young’s testimony is deemed credible by police I’ll go along with his assessment.

So it’s a Middle Eastern man either running around shooting people in D.C. or driving whoever is doing the shooting. Discounting Dowdy’s testimony, whatever it was, does nothing to change that.

I Really Hope I’m Wrong Here.

Really, really, really.

News accounts a couple days ago of the latest sniper attack, at the Home Depot in Falls Church said there were witnesses who provided key details to police about the shooting, as one of them actually saw the guy shoot. The witnesses told police the shooter used an AK-74 assault rifle and said the driver of the getaway van was of Middle Eastern descent.

Now police are saying one of the witnesses filed a false report, there's no reason to think the sniper's Middle Eastern or using a terrorist weapon, and according to Stephen Manning of the Associated Press they’re contemplating filing charges against the guy.

Of the hundreds and hundreds of tips, leads and other calls to police, none of which have panned out, this is the first time I’ve heard of cops considering punishing a guy for coming forward with something.

It’s also the first time I’ve heard the suspect described as “Middle Eastern.”

On the whole I trust the cops here, they want to get this guy as much as the public wants them to get him. There are over 200 detectives working the case. Cops from neighboring jurisdictions are being pulled in to help, they’re getting literally hundreds of tips and calls from people who think they’ve seen or heard something – the vast majority of it worthless, but still it’s better than no help at all.

So why is this one guy who was at the scene of the latest attack being singled out for possible punishment? Because he claimed the suspect was Middle Eastern, and that’s not what anybody wants to hear right now?

I really, really hope I’m wrong about that. I’d love to be proven wrong.

Let’s recap.

Sniper shoots and kills a woman in a Fairfax County Home Depot parking lot Monday. Witnesses around. One comes forward and tells cops he got “a good look” at the guy in the white van. “That incident initially appeared to give police a big break in the case — the first witness to actually see the sniper,” one news report said.

According to Allen Breed of the Associated Press “Robert Young, a Washington construction worker, was among witnesses to Monday night’s shooting who returned to the shopping center Tuesday to talk with police.

“He said he heard a muffled gunshot and saw a white van. Young said as he backed his truck out of his parking spot, a white Astro van with two men inside tried to turn into his lane. He said the driver appeared very agitated to find his way blocked and instead drove by a neighboring restaurant and out of sight.

“Young described the driver as a short man of slight build who appeared to be Middle Eastern. ‘I got a good look at the guy,’ he said.

“The driver ‘seemed to be excessively irritated because he couldn’t pull into my lane,” Young said. ‘I thought this fool was going to want to get out of the van and duke (fight) or something. But he didn’t. He kept on going.’”

Young probably isn't the one who’s under suspicion of filing a false report, although Montgomery County Police Chief Charles Moose, according to Manning, “chastised reporters for running reports about the weapon and descriptions of the suspect as olive-skinned, possibly Hispanic or Middle Eastern.” To me that says the witness who reported the guy being olive-skinned is the non-credible one, but I could be wrong.

I thought it strange that cops tried to downplay the sighting almost as soon as it happened. “There are a couple of people who believe they saw a man shoot, unfortunately distance and darkness and perhaps adrenaline have made them unable to give a clear composite that we can disseminate,” Montgomery County Police Capt. Nancy Demme told Breed.

“Demme said one witness told police the shooter used an AK-74 rifle to kill 47-year-old FBI analyst Linda Franklin on Monday night outside a Falls Church, Virginia, Home Depot store,” Breed writes. “Police said the weapon can fire the .223-caliber round recovered from some of the shooting scenes.

“The witness firmly believes this is the weapon,” Demme said. “But we have to keep in mind that weapons are interchangable, like vehicles.”

What? Nobody else has seen the gun, this guy’s seen it, he “firmly believes” it’s the weapon, it fits with what cops know of the ordnance used and you’re saying it’s probably not the gun? Based on what? Other than the fact that you don’t want the public thinking there’s some Arab with an AK-74 running around shooting people, you’d rather they think it was some good old white American disgruntled postal employee with his huntin’ gun?

Bogus? Why?

As Manning reports “Moose said the witness’ emphatic description of the shooter’s AK-74 assault rifle is also bogus.” Based on what? It can shoot the bullets being dug out of the victims, nobody else has seen the gun, how do you know it’s bogus? If someone “firmly” believes it’s the gun he must know something about guns, he’s seen it and you haven’t, why call his account bogus?

Now, I’m almost completely ignorant of what police know in the case. I haven’t talked to any of the witnesses, I don’t know a thing about this supposedly non-credible witness and his story beyond what I read in the papers, but I do know that the AP’s Manning reports “authorities say they haven’t ruled out the possibility there could be multiple suspects.” And let me repeat that I’d be overjoyed if I were wrong about what I think.

But I wonder a couple things. I wonder why they would pounce on this guy unless they knew for a fact he was trying to screw them up. Isn’t that going to discourage other people who are afraid of being accused of filing a false report for telling cops something they’re pretty sure of but wouldn’t stake their lives on? If you know the guy’s lying to you keep that quiet for now and deal with him later, don’t dampen the enthusiasm of others for coming forward with what they think they know.

Maybe they do know that this guy’s trying to mess with the investigation, in which case kudos to them, they know a whole lot more than they’re letting on. Maybe that’s good police work – I believe it’s fairly common practice for cops to poormouth an investigation just before they’re ready to arrest someone.

Remember those killers who escaped from prison a couple years ago? Authorities were talking about significant leads on one side of the country almost as they were arresting them on the other. That’s good police work, it gives the target a sense of security and keeps him from running, making the cops’ job easier. I’m all for that.

I can’t see how that’s the case here. The reason cops were initially so pumped about this witness is he was the first to see the sniper. In other words, apart from this guy nobody has a clue whether he’s white, olive-skinned, black or pink with purple polka-dots. And cops say they know this witness, who was about 50 feet from the shooting is wrong, but they don’t say who they think is right.

And I wonder, and this is the part I really hope I’m wrong about, if cops simply don’t want the guy to be Middle Eastern. If politically correct negative profiling – can’t say he’s Middle Eastern, can’t have seen an assault weapon – is going on here.

Even before the witness was branded non-credible, the AP’s Breed wrote “[b]ut the witness reports of the shooter — some of which described the suspect as dark-skinned or Middle Eastern — were not consistent.” “The only common denominator thus far is male,” Demme said. “We don’t have a refined description to go by.”

Glen Guymon told Frank Clines of The New York Times that he and the witness in question started talking when police ordered them inside the Home Depot after the shooting. Guymon said the witness told him he saw a man in the parking lot standing behind a cream-colored Chevy Astro van. “There was a woman walking out to her car, he said she was with a guy,” Guymon, who didn’t see the shooting, told Clines. “The guy behind the van lifted up a rifle and shot her, then got in the car and drove off. He was probably about 50 feet away from where he shot her.”

Reached at home Thursday, Guymon told The Associated Press: “I’m shocked [the witness in question] was lying because he had a very detailed story. The guy sounded credible. He didn’t sound like he was making it up.”

Maybe he wasn't. Maybe there are Middle Eastern guys with AK-74 assault rifles running around picking off Americans. And maybe that's not what the cops or anyone else wants to hear.

Boy I hope I'm wrong.

October 17, 2002

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Clubbeaux and friend.

Picture time...

Join the G.I. Party.

Clubbeaux’s honored to have been invited.

Thanks to the good folk over at G.I. Party who saw fit to link to Clubbeaux. It’s a site for members of the armed forces to stay in touch, and allow the rest of us a window into their lives and jobs.

Keep up the good work.

Also thanks to Ipse Dixit for their astute observation under yesterday’s “A Worthy New Blog:”

“David of Clubbeaux may well make me look like a model of verbal economy, but his stuff is worth the time it takes to read.”

Why say it in ten words when you could use 37?

October 16, 2002

I’m not a conspiracy nut, but…

A second look at Oklahoma City.

I am not a conspiracy nut. I am, in fact, one of six or seven people alive who believe that on the whole, the Warren Commission got it right on the Kennedy assassination – wingnut Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone.

The Bildenburgers do not haunt my dreams. The Trilateral Commission holds no fear for me. I do not think the CIA is guilty of one-tenth of what they’ve been blamed for – for one thing they're usually inept, they’ve been trying to kill Castro for forty years now. Folks, they’re not that good.

Of course Richard Bruno Hauptmann was framed for the 1932 disappearance of Charles Lindbergh’s son, but that much is plain fact. You’d have to believe he did it to be the conspiracy nut there.

But I must say I have never been comfortable with the official explanation for the Oklahoma City bombing. John Doe #2 does trouble me, and an article by Micah Morrison in The Wall Street Journal last month echoes my doubts.

Of course the public’s interest has moved on. Hauptmann killed the Lindbergh child, McVeigh and Nichols bombed the Murrah building out of right-wing hate and Ramzi Yousef masterminded the first World Trade Center bombing. Americans love simple, clear answers. Cases closed.

However, as Morrison notes, “Jayna Davis, a former television reporter in Oklahoma City, believes an Iraqi cell was involved in the 1995 bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building here. Middle East expert Laurie Mylroie links Iraq to the first bombing of the World Trade Center in 1993, and has published a book on the subject.”

John Does #1 & #2.

Consider the case of John Doe #2. John Doe #1, Timothy McVeigh, was picked up quickly after the Oklahoma City bombing, upon which the government suddenly forgot that they were also looking for a Middle Eastern man, John Doe #2. This is eerily reminiscent of the case against Hauptmann, where all the cops were stone cold sure it was a gang operation when they found him in possession of the ransom money. They couldn't find a scrap of evidence against him or anyone else, so they simply prosecuted him as the lone wolf. Immediately after the trial, during which the State of New Jersey convinced a jury that Hauptmann had kidnapped and killed Charlie Jr. all by himself, they were pressing him to tell them who his accomplices were.

So the official version is not necessarily the one the officials themselves believe, but is usually the one that will get the public off their backs. Same with Oklahoma City. Morrison writes:

“The next day, the federal government issued arrest warrants and sketches of two men seen together, John Doe No. 1 and No. 2. John Doe 1 turned out to be McVeigh, who was quickly picked up on an unrelated charge. Following the arrest of McVeigh and Nichols, the Justice Department changed course, saying the witnesses were confused and there was no John Doe 2 with McVeigh.

“But Ms. Davis, who was covering the case at the time for KFOR-TV in Oklahoma City, says in fact there was a John Doe No. 2, and that she has identified him. The original warrant for John Doe No. 2 described a man about 5 feet 10 inches, average weight, with brown hair and a tattoo on his left arm. She says the man matching this description is an Iraqi political refugee named Hussain al-Hussaini, an itinerant restaurant worker who entered the country in 1994 from a Saudi Arabian refugee camp and soon found his way to Oklahoma City. She says she has more than 20 witnesses who can place him near the Murrah Building on the day of the bombing or finger him in parts of the conspiracy.”

Ms. Davis’s evidence was examined by Patrick Lang, a Middle East expert and former director of the Defense Intelligence Agency’s human intelligence collection section. In a memo to Ms. Davis, Mr. Lang concluded that Mr. al-Hussaini likely is a member of Unit 999 of the Iraqi Military Intelligence Service, or Estikhabarat. He wrote that this unit is headquartered at Salman Pak southeast of Baghdad, and “deals with clandestine operations at home and abroad.”

The Nichols-Yousef Philippines connection.

Terry Nichols is perhaps even more closely tied to Islamic terrorism. Ramzi Yousef and Terry Nichols were in the Philippines simultaneously, Morrison writes. Nichols’s trips there are undisputed; his wife’s relatives lived in Cebu City. Cebu is also the territory of the Islamic terrorist group Abu Sayyaf. Nichols was frequently in Cebu without his wife, and was in frequent contact with Ernesto Malaluan, a relative of his wife who had once lived in Saudi Arabia and owned a boarding house in Cebu City. The boarding house “shelters students from a university well known for its Islamic militancy.”

A defense examination of phone records found that Nichols had repeatedly called the Cebu boarding house in the weeks preceding the bombing, Morrison writes. Some of the calls were billed to a prepaid phone card to which McVeigh also had access. The calls were often made from pay phones at truck stops and the like, and sometimes followed mysterious patterns. In one instance, for example, the same number was dialed nine times in nine minutes before someone answered and spoke for 14 minutes.

The McVeigh defense also produced two witnesses, Nichols’s father-in-law and a resort worker, who said that while in the Philippines, Nichols had asked them if they knew anyone who knew “how to make bombs.”

The defense team also obtained a statement from Philippines law-enforcement officials about a meeting of Nichols and Yousef. The statement was given by a putative Abu Sayyaf leader, Edward Angeles. Angeles is a murky figure. Born Ibrahim Yakub and said to be one of the founders of Abu Sayyaf, he surrendered to the Philippine Army in 1995, claiming he had been all the time a deep penetration agent for the government. Angeles was assassinated in 1999 by unknown gunmen.

Much more evidence is presented by both Davis and Mylroie, and Morrison recounts more of it. I’ve hit the highlights here. As Morrison says, Davis and Mylroie are both firmly convinced that Iraqi agents were behind both the first World Trade Center bombing and Oklahoma City.

Knowing what we do now about the FBI’s literally deadly culture of political correctness it’s highly possible that both investigations were squelched to not appear as if the government were looking for Middle Eastern scapegoats for Oklahoma City. Yet the facts as Davis has collected them would seem to argue for a reopening of a clear-eyed investigation.

My Darwin Awards nominee.

It will be hard to top this guy:

Yes, evidently Wang Jiaxiong was trying to jump the Great Wall of China on a bicycle when, well, reality happened.

Therefore Mr. Wang is Clubbeaux's nominee for the 2002 Darwin Awards, which seek to honor “those who improve our gene pool by removing themselves from it in really stupid ways.”

Apropos of nothing, am I the only serious blogger who has yet to click on a single Ira Einhorn story? He killed Holly Maddux, he’s going to rot in jail for the rest of his life, good riddance, case closed. I say go get his silly little Swedish wife, too.

Some good news.

Thanks to John Cole over at Balloon Juice for the tip.

According to a poll released this week by the Hartford Courant, “By a growing margin, more than twice as many Americans feel U.S. Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton should never run for president…

“The Marist Institute for Public Opinion found 69 percent of Americans said the Democratic former first lady should never run for president. Twenty-six percent said she should run ‘someday.’ That’s a steady decline in support since March 2001 when the poll found 30 percent felt she should run for president someday.”

But if she doesn’t get back in the White House, how will “Hillary!” ever furnish that spare room in her new house?

The stench still lingers.

And unless you read the really fine print in The New York Times you probably missed this account of yet more Arkansas-style hogslopping at the great D.C. trough.

Of course had this been George Bush or Ronald Reagan instead of Slick & Mrs. Willie rest assured it would have been front-page news and the top story for Dan, Peter and Tom:

G.O.P. Inquiry Lists Gifts to Clintons in White House

Denise Rich, Malcolm S. Forbes, Nelson Mandela and other friends and supporters of the Clintons showered the couple with roughly $1 million in previously unreported gifts during the Clinton presidency, according to documents released by Republican Congressional investigators.

The gifts vary from tens of thousands of dollars in jewelry, rugs and furnishings to a $90,000 framed handwritten letter by President Harry S. Truman, a $10,000 Mickey Mantle trading card from 1952 and nine rare books, according to the documents.

The gifts were not disclosed by the Clintons because the couple turned them over to Bill Clinton’s presidential library, the investigators said. Under federal law, gifts that the first family do not keep for themselves are exempt from the public disclosure requirement on presidential gifts, the investigators said.

In other words, if someone hands you a $90,000 gift you know you’re not allowed to accept – presidents aren’t allowed to accept any gift worth over $260 – you simply throw it in storage and pick up on your way out of the White House. Presidential ethics Clinton-style.

The findings, compiled from information contained on the White House gift database, were released this morning during a meeting of the full committee. The report was commissioned by Representative Doug Ose, a California Republican, who is seeking to build support for legislation he has proposed to tighten the rules on gifts to presidents.

He suggested that the people who gave these gifts to the Clintons could have been trying to gain access to the White House and influence the administration’s policy decisions.

In February the committee issued a preliminary report in which investigators detailed nearly $400,000 in gifts that the Clintons took with them upon leaving the White House.

“Oh come on now, Denise Rich was just a good friend, really. The fact that Slick Willie pardoned her slimy rat of a husband on his last day as President? Coincidence. Pure coincidence.”

But the report said that the Clintons underestimated the value of dozens of those gifts…

There was a $2,000 bronze statue of an angel from Denise Rich; a $9,000 hand-woven Navajo chief’s blanket (circa 1885) from Larry Rockefeller; and an oil painting in a gilt frame, a cheese plate, a porcelain teapot, a gold cross and other items totaling $6,000 from Nelson Mandela.

Then there were other gifts that investigators say the Clintons may have used before donating them to the presidential library: nine custom-made tuxedo and dress shirts worth $900 from Walter and Selma Kaye; and four purses worth $8,680 from the handbag designer Judith Leiber.

“That depends on what your definition of ‘use’ is. Simply wearing expensive clothes isn’t ‘accepting’ a gift, we just had to make sure they were the right sizes.”

The report also shows that the former first family received gifts from individuals who were at the center of the Clinton White House campaign finance scandals. To investigators and others, that suggests that the gifts became another avenue for influencing the administration.

“Investigators and others?” By “others” presumably we mean “sentient carbon-based life forms?”

There was a $2,100 sculpture of a goddess on a wooden base given by James Riady, an Indonesian businessman who pleaded guilty to campaign finance violations last year and agreed to pay $8.6 million in fines for using foreign corporate money to back Mr. Clinton’s 1992 presidential campaign.

The Clintons also received two sculptures worth $1,550 from Johnny Chung, who was at the center of a 1996 campaign fund-raising investigation.

Amazing. Two years after they finally slithered out of the White House, gunny sacks of White House furniture in tow, the stink of the Clintons is still nauseating.

The Cave of Magic.

Has anyone else seen this?

I'm sure there's some rational explanation for this, but I get a big kick out of seeing something mysterious and fun once in a while. A friend sent me a link for The Cave of Magic, and I tried it, and it worked three times out of three. Frankly I'm blown away. I'll go online now and find out the trick behind it, but it sure is fun.

You try it, and let me know if it works for you.


Okay, I see how it works now, but it's really cool to see something like this for the first time. Like being a kid and having your dad do a magic trick with cards that you can't figure out.

O Danny Boy...

Not to keep beating a dead horse, but let’s look at Steve and Marty one more time.

Regular readers of this space know that I still cannot figure out why Washington Redskins owner Daniel “Because I’m The Rich Twerp Around Here, That’s Why” Snyder, who allegedly wants his pro football team to win more frequently than it loses, canned Marty Schottenheimer as coach last year.

Granted the Redskins started out slowly last year, Marty’s first year in D.C., losing the first few games before things started to click. They ended the season 7-3, getting quality wins over Denver, New Orleans and Philadelphia, and fell a game or two short of the playoffs – losing 20-15 to Chicago in a game they should have won.

That’s quite an acceptable turnaround year, thank you very much. Owners in the league would kill for such improvement.

This is with Tony Banks, the current Houston backup at quarterback, mind you, since The Danny didn’t like Brad Johnson, the quarterback he inherited when he bought the team. Yes, that same Brad Johnson who’s tearing up defenses in Tampa Bay, he wasn’t Snyder’s man, Jeff George was. George. G-E-O-R – huh? Today? Oh, probably selling insurance and driving the carpool on Tuesdays.

(The Redskins also dumped some past-his-prime loser named Rich Gannon as quarterback a few years ago. Yes, that would be the same Rich Gannon who’s in Oakland now, is one of the NFL’s elite quarterbacks and has been the MVP of the last two Pro Bowls. Not Danny Boy’s kind of QB. They canned Stan Humphries who then took San Diego to their first Super Bowl. Want to know when a quarterback’s going to have a good year? The Redskins dump him.)

Yes, Marty made some mistakes when he came to D.C. Yes, the Skins stunk out the joint early in the year. But Marty corrected those mistakes. He was, you know, learning. Adjusting. Finding what it took to win and jettisoning everything else. By the end of the year he’d found what worked.

Marty Schottenheimer isn’t a sexy ball coach. He’s meat and potatoes. He’s highly respected around the league, and all his teams do is win. He got off to a rough start in Washington, but by the end of the first year he had the team headed in the right direction and chugging along. In other words, he was doing what he was paid to come in and do. His thanks? “Goodbye, Marty.” Enter Steve Spurrier, stage left.

I will not write off Steve Spurrier. He had great success in college – anybody who can win at Duke is by definition a gifted ball coach. He’s having a rough adjustment to the NFL, but give him a mulligan, it’s his first year. There’s every chance he’ll be a good NFL coach. Look at college hotshot coach Jimmy Johnson's 1-15 debut campaign in Dallas. Oh Mike Lynn, where are you when we need you?

But we knew Marty Schottenheimer was a good NFL coach. He had the proven track record and the one-year turnaround in D.C. He showed what he could do. He wasn’t the glitter and pizzazz of Steve Spurrier, he was about quietly putting up Ws.

The San Diego Chargers are similar to the Redskins in many ways – a couple, three impact players but mostly paycheckers. Haven't made the playoffs in a while. Some promising young guys. Clueless owners. About the only major difference is how bad San Diego was last year, limping to a 5-11 finish, and how promising the Skins were at 8-8.

But now they have Marty and we… don’t. The Chargers beat a good Kansas City team in a close game last weekend, and the Redskins let the Saints use them as target practice for an hour. San Diego’s 5-1 and looking better every week, the Redskins are 2-3 and looking for the exit. They score about a touchdown more and give up a touchdown less per game than Washington.

It isn’t the horses. They’ve got LaDanian Tomlinson, one of the best young running backs in the league? We’ve got Stephen Davis, one of the best established running backs in the league. They’ve got defensive All-Everything Junior Seau? We’ve got the 2001 Pro Bowl linebacking corps – Jeremiah Trotter, LaVar Arrington and Jesse Armistead and cornerback Champ Bailey, one of the NFL’s best. They’ve got Drew Brees? Patrick Ramsey can sling it yard for yard with Brees or anyone. So far call it a push.

They’ve got Marty. We’ve got… cute cheerleaders.

October 15, 2002

I love to tell the story.

As Henry Ford might have said, you can practice any religion in an Islamic nation as long as it's Islam.

It has come to Clubbeaux’s attention that there are still people who think Islam is a “tolerant” religion. A read through the research compiled by IMRA on how Christians are treated in Islamic countries – especially how the Palestinian Authority is liquidating the 2,000-year old Christian community of Palestine – should set them straight.

Excerpts from the IMRA report released in early October:

In Saudi Arabia, foreign workers make up one-third of the population, many of whom are Christians. For their entire stay, which may be years, they are forbidden to display any Christian symbols or Bibles, or even meet together publicly to worship and pray. Some have watched their personal Bibles put through a shredder when they entered the country.

In Iran the printing of Christian literature is illegal, converts from Islam are liable to be killed, and most evangelical churches must function underground. Christians are not allowed to testify in an Islamic court when a Muslim is involved and they are discriminated against in employment.

A 1992 UN report on Iran cites cases of imprisonment and torture of Muslims who converted to Christianity and of Armenian and Assyrian pastors, the dissolution of the Iranian Bible Society, the closure of Christian libraries, and the confiscation of all Christian books, including 20,000 copies of the New Testament in Farsi.

In Egypt Muslim, but not Christian, schools receive state funding. It is nearly impossible to restore or build new churches. Christians are frequently ostracized or insulted in public, and laws prohibit Muslim conversions to Christianity. Islamic radicals have frequently launched physical attacks on Egypt’s Coptic Christians.

The old, old story.

Not that any of this is anything new. James Silk Buckingham traveled widely in the region and wrote Travels in Palestine in 1821. In it he noted that Christians were not permitted to ride on horseback without express permission from the Muslim Pasha.

Other European travelers to the Holy Land mentioned the practice whereby “a dhimmi [Christian] must not come face to face with a Muslim in the street but pass him to the left, the impure side” and described how Christians were humiliated and insulted in the streets of Jerusalem until the mid-1800s.

The British consul in Jerusalem wrote that in the Holy Land, particularly in Jerusalem until 1839, Christians were pushed into the gutter by any Muslim who would order them to “turn to my left, thou dog.” They were forbidden to ride on a mount in town or to wear bright clothes.

In the early 1900s, sporadic attacks on Christians by bands of Muslims occurred in many Palestinian towns. During the Palestinian Arab revolt in the late 1930s, which involved very few Christians, if Christian villagers refused to supply the terrorist bands with weapons and provisions, their vines were uprooted and their women raped. The rebels forced the Christian population to observe the weekly day of rest on Friday instead of Sunday and to replace the tarboosh by the kaffiyeh for men, whereas women were forced to wear the veil.

In 1936, Muslims marched through the Christian village of Bir Zayt near Ramallah chanting: “We are going to kill the Christians.”

From 1953 until 1967, Jordan undertook to Islamize the Christian quarter in the Old City of Jerusalem by laws forbidding Christians to buy land and houses. It ordered the compulsory closure of schools on Muslim holidays and authorized mosques to be built near churches, thus preventing any possibility of enlargement.

(Thanks to Little Green Footballs for the heads-up.)

October 14, 2002

See no evil.

Let’s think about this one.

Liberals, pacifists and anti-Americans of all stripes are quick to claim that 9/11 was actually America’s fault. Had we only spent billions and billions (more) dollars on Third World economic infrastructure projects, ensuring economic stability and joy everywhere on the planet while also loudly approving every belief system (except evangelical Christianity and Judaism) in existence, 9/11 wouldn’t have happened.

In an ideal world...

Theirs is a blissful position, since it can never be proven wrong. It’s the kissing cousin of the fundamental principles of pacifism: If everybody were a pacifist, there wouldn’t be any war and everybody would be happy. Therefore, the argument runs, we as pacifists are perfectly correct to criticize any belligerent stance or action America ever takes, since if America led the way in nonviolence the rest of the world would follow.

See? Tempting, isn’t it? That’s the great attraction of liberalism: It would be nice if it worked. What’s still so attractive about the ‘60s is the sense of unbridled possibility – “let’s try this, it might work, and if it does it’ll be really groovy.” Yes, if everyone in the world were pacifist there would be no war. Could I wave a magic wand this is the sort of world I would create. Tomorrow morning.

Unfortunately – and I mean that – there is no magic wand, and nations must defend themselves. Pacifists know this, and are careful to settle in belligerent countries with huge armies who will send nonpacifists out to fight and die to protect pacifists – e.g. the United States.

The logical corollary to their thinking is that if we Be Nice to other countries, spend lots of money and time giving them what they want, they will Like Us and everything will Be Good.

Take Kuwait. Please.

Fine, let’s see if they’re right. Take Kuwait. I can not think of any country America has been nicer to recently than Kuwait. They were militarily occupied by Saddam Hussein, America kicked Saddam out and left. You're welcome.

(Apostrophically think back on World War II. Who did we nuke? Japan. Who did we liberate? France. Who’s a good, reliable ally today and who hates us? See any pattern?)

According to liberal “thought” Kuwait should be, well, at least somewhat grateful. Are they right? Let’s see how much gratitude your average Kuwaiti feels towards America, as reported in The New York Times October 12th:

Saved by U.S., Kuwait Now Shows Mixed Feelings

KUWAIT, Oct. 11 — Muhammad al-Mulaifi, head of the information department at Kuwait's Ministry of Islamic Affairs, tried momentarily to suppress a smile, then broke into a broad grin when asked if he supported the terrorist attacks on the United States last year.

“I would be lying if said I wasn't happy about the attack," he said, sitting on the floor of his air-conditioned home office, a carpeted, cushioned oasis amid the harsh heat of this small, dry country. Mr. Mulaifi said that many Kuwaitis were delighted about what had happened to the United States and that he had attended parties held in celebration.

“Mixed” feelings? What is there “mixed” about that? Sounds like pure, unadulterated seething hatred to me.

Looks like liberals are wrong again (remember Communism, the great liberal if-only Utopia?) If average Kuwaitis were throwing parties for 9/11, why do liberals think there’s anything we could do to entice militant Muslims to love us? If helping liberate Afghanistan from the Russians didn't win Osama bin Laden's heart what would have? Stopping the slaughter of Muslims in Bosnia? Nope. Feeding starving Muslims in Somalia? No. Allowing Muslims in America perfect freedom of religion? Uh-uh. Any more ideas?

Repeat after me: See no evil, see no evil, see no evil...

What’s continually amazing about liberals is how wilfully ignorant they are. A liberal will sit in his salon in Manhattan and first clear his mind of everything the terrorists themselves said were the reasons for the terrorism, and then proceed to think well, gee, the only reason me or any of my friends would have rammed planes into the World Trade Center would be _____, therefore this is the “real” reason al-Qaeda had, therefore President Bush is an idiot for taking them at their word.

I have yet to read a single liberal commentator on Islam, al-Qaeda or the Arab world at large who evinces the slightest understanding of the fundamental differences in how they see the world and how we (including aforesaid liberal commentator) do. Were they the least bit interested in truly understanding why al-Qaeda does what it does, why Arabs hate America and Americans they could learn in short order.

This would, however, require admitting that Muslims simply see the world differently than we do, that Arabs and other Muslims have different values than those assumed in Manhattan, Georgetown and Berkeley. It would require a working knowledge of the Arab concept of honor – readily explained in Closed Circle among other fine books. Avalanches of evidence to the contrary, liberals insist that if we only “understand” militant Muslims and appease their demands – which they can’t conceive of as being unreasonable, really – the threat will evaporate.

Again, they’re in the enviable position of the guy who prefaces his arguments with “First get everyone in the world to agree with A.” This will never happen, so the clown’s argument can never be proven wrong, it can always be a safe stick with which to beat those of us who are trying to deal with reality as we find it.

Historian Stephen Ambrose, 66, Dies.

Clubbeaux is saddened by the death of Stephen Ambrose, and would like to offer an original, personal reflection on the passing of this great historian who did so much to promote integrity in the writing of history:

NEW ORLEANS (AP) – Though too young to see combat in World War II, historian Stephen E. Ambrose made a career of offering a soldier’s view of the conflict, from the sounds at Normandy to the chill at the Battle of the Bulge.

“His great gift was that he refused to allow people to think history was boring,” said Douglas Brinkley, a former student and collaborator. “He was always grabbing people by their lapels and saying, ‘Listen to this. Isn’t this fascinating?’”

Only days after the release of his latest book and with another book nearing publication, Ambrose died Sunday after a six-month battle with lung cancer. He was 66.

For much of his career, Ambrose was a little-known history professor. He burst onto the best-sellers list less than a decade ago with his 1994 book “D-Day June 6, 1944: The Climactic Battle of World War II.”

Based in large part on interviews with veterans about their combat experiences, the book recounted the chaotic, bloody beach invasions of Normandy from the American soldier’s perspective.

“He was saying, ‘There’s all this obsession with high command, but the real story is these citizen soldiers who still live in every town and hamlet in the United States,’” said Brinkley, who succeeded Ambrose as director of the University of New Orleans’ Eisenhower Center.

With unadorned but lively prose, Ambrose continued to captivate readers as he churned out history books at an industrial pace, publishing more than 30, including a half-dozen more best sellers such as “Citizen Soldiers” and “The Wild Blue.”

He “combined high standards of scholarship with the capacity to make history come alive for a lay audience,” Pulitzer Prize-winning historian Arthur Schlesinger said.

Why I’m Letting My New Yorker Subscription Lapse.

Besides the fact that I can get both The New Republic and Reason with the money, that is:

From the New Yorker’s current “Jet-Set Sounds” supplement, in a listing of pop concerts happening in Paris this fall:

Bela Fleck and the Flecktones

“The world’s top banjo virtuoso may be a household name, but don’t let that throw you: he’s a stellar musician…”

So here’s a guy who’s pronounced safe for the New Yorker’s readership despite the fact that people beyond the New Yorker staff's immediate acquaintances have heard of him.

Don't you just hate that, when the Great Unwashed Masses dare to encroach on the New Yorker's turf by listening to quality musicians?

I am going to miss the cartoons, though. I mean, some of them were actually down on my level.

Cheers Mate.

With a little help from my friends.

Thanks to the sharply-written Aussie blog Whacking Day for their mention of Clubbeaux. According to Whacking Day (“Australian for blog”) Clubbeaux “Doesn’t Suck,” which from an Aussie is high praise indeed. Evidently we’re not “The Dog’s Tits,” but we wouldn’t know what to do in such august company, we still drink the odd finger bowl.

Whacking Day seems to attract the higher sort of correspondent, witness a recent contribution [click link and scroll up – rapidly if you don't appreciate Aussie pub talk]: “What kind of an American, or man, for that matter, would allow the French to hold a veto over his country’s policy of war and peace?”

That’s good company to be in.

So here’s a [non-American beer of your choice] for ya, keep up the good work.

October 13, 2002

No, Islam’s not a violent religion.

Muhammad would have been so proud.

Bombing in Bali Nightclub Kills 187

Associated Press -- A car bomb destroyed a crowded nightclub on the tourist island of Bali Saturday, sparking a devastating inferno that killed at least 187 people and wounded 300 — many of them foreigners. Officials said it was the worst terrorist act in Indonesia’s history.

Authorities said a second bomb exploded near the island’s U.S. consular office. Police said there were no casualties in that explosion, but the Embassy was on edge Sunday after its recreation club in the Indonesian capital, Jakarta, was evacuated because of a bomb threat.

The blasts came three days after the U.S. State Department issued a worldwide alert for terror attacks and highlighted fears by the United States and others that Indonesia — the most populous Muslim nation — is becoming a haven for terrorists and that al-Qaida operatives are active.

“This is the worst act of terror in Indonesia’s history,” Gen. Da’i Bachtiar, the national police chief, told reporters at the site of the blast. “We have to be more alert for other acts of terror.”

The government’s crisis center in Bali said 187 people had died and that 309 were hurt, about 90 of them critically.

The explosion went off about 11 p.m. and left a huge crater at the entrance to the nightclub, which was located in the center of Kuta. It is Bali’s biggest tourist area and a maze of clubs, restaurants, shops, hotels and beach bungalows. It caters to a younger crowd of tourists and surfers.

The blast ignited a huge blaze — apparently caused by exploding gas cylinders — which collapsed the flimsy roof structure, trapping hundreds of revelers inside. Footage from Associated Press Television News showed several bodies strewn among the rubble.

“The place was packed, and it went up within a millisecond,” Simon Quayle, the coach of an Australian rules football team, told Australian Broadcasting Corp. radio.

The blasts occurred on the second anniversary of the al-Qaida linked attack against USS Cole (news - web sites) off Yemen that left 17 sailors dead. Australia has also been one of the United States’ staunchest allies in its war on terror and has 150 elite troops serving in Afghanistan (news - web sites).

Indonesian officials have denied the claims that terrorists are using Indonesia as a base. But the U.S. Embassy in the national capital of Jakarta closed Sept. 10 and remained shut for six days due to what U.S. officials said were threats possibly linked to al-Qaida.

Australia tourist Rachel Hughes, 18, said she and a friend had just arrived in Kuta when the blast occurred.

“Standing in the foyer of the Bounty Hotel, people were just walking in, blood dripping off them, burns to their face, skin coming off them,” she told Australia’s Seven Network.