All About Josh

Friday, January 10, 2003

WOW, THERE REALLY ARE A LOT OF INTELLECTUAL WRESTLING FAN BLOGGERS OUT THERE. You've got my roommate, Phil Kahn, whose blog On the Right Side is always worth a good look. Then, there's Josh Heit, another AU student who has jumped into the ring. And now David Adesnik of Oxblog, the scholarly Oxford student, posts in detail about the WWE -- taking a break from his numerous posts on US-North Korea relations!

I must say, I've never gotten wrestling, despite my occasional liking for "reality" television. But many of the greatest minds in the blogosphere seem to enjoy the "sport" a lot. David Adesnik has just shattered many stereotypes of the average wrestling fan -- and, I guess that's progress.

Tuesday, January 07, 2003

I JUST CAUGHT THE TAIL END OF HARDBALL, and I saw former Republican Congressman Rep. Joe Scarboroughdebating Nation publisher and wunderditz Katrina Vander Huevel debating the new book on Bush's presidency out by his former speechwriter and current NRO contributor David Frum.

I caught Scarborough bashing Frum and his fellow "neo-conservatives" as (and I'm paraphrasing here) "intellectuals that are never loyal to a Republican president. These guys called Reagan an idiot, Ford stupid, they're as disloyal as everyone on the left." Now, I haven't read Frum's book and other than his daily columns and recent television appearances, I know little about the guy. But Frum is no neo-conservative -- if the word is defined as a former liberal who has embraced the conservative movement. Charles Krauthammer, Bill Bennett and Irving Kristol are three prominent neocons. Frum isn't and never has been.

But David Frum always has been a conservative Republican. His formative years were during the Reagan era, after the Democratic party veered to the left in presidential elections. So what else is left by Scarborough's definition? I know little about Frum and even less about Scarborough, but the attack seemed to be targeted at Jewish conservatives. In what other context would Scarborough be using the word neo-con?

Max Boot of the WSJ wrote a terrific little piece about how neo-conservatism really doesn't mean anything today. Boot concluded that most neo-cons commonly disdain both an isolationist foreign policy and an automatic aversion to any government. Indeed, Bush's policies are essentially neo-conservative. He wants to force regime change in Iraq, and his compassionate conservatism allows room for certain government-run programs: witness faith-based charity.

So what was Scarborough's point in labeling Frum as a neo-con? Here's what Boot wrote in his column:

When Buchananites toss around "neoconservative" -- and cite names like Wolfowitz and Cohen -- it sometimes sounds as if what they really mean is "Jewish conservative." This is a malicious slur on two levels. First, many of the leading neocons aren't Jewish; Jeane Kirkpatrick, Bill Bennett, Father John Neuhaus and Michael Novak aren't exactly menorah lighters. Second, support for Israel -- a key tenet of neoconservatism -- is hardly confined to Jews; its strongest constituency in America happens to be among evangelical Christians.

Frankly, I think Scarborough's comment was anti-Semitic; the same type of verbal miscue that Trent Lott made when speaking at Strom's 100th birthday. It's fine to bash Frum individually as a opportunity-seeking, disgruntled former employee who was looking to cut a book deal while being disloyal to his former boss. (Then again, Frum's book The Right Man was very praiseworthy of Bush -- witness the title -- so I don't agree.) But to use this to paint "neoconservatives" as disloyal through the ages sounds like an anti-Jewish canard to me. Shame on Scarborough.

Monday, January 06, 2003

RICH LOWRY believes racial quotas in football hiring is absurd, and I agree with him. But what commentators and Johnnie Cochran-types miss is not a racial prejudice in pro sports -- with the exception of maybe Jimmy the Greek, I would doubt there is much of a racist sentiment in owners boxes of football or baseball. As anyone who has followed baseball will tell you, old notions die hard. The reason black managers and GMs are often passed over in favor of some veteran loser of a manager (see: Phil Garner) has nothing to do with race. It has everything to do with a habitual liking towards people with experience -- be they black or white. And, most of the veteran, curmodgeonly coaches with experience in both football and baseball are white. Don Baylor is a perfect example. The former black manager of the Chicago Cubs (and the Rockies, previously), he has always been at the top of the list for managerial openings despite his losing records and poor managerial strategies. Most owners, until recently, have loathed hiring general managers who have new approaches -- mainly statistical -- to the game. It wasn't until Billy Beane was hugely successful with the A's the first known GM to embrace sabermetrics (baseball analysis favoring stats over observation), when the trend changed. It is an "old-boy" network, but it's not based on race, it's based on experience -- whether they're successful or not.

The same holds for football. I'm not quite as high on Bill Parcells as Rich Lowry is, but he has been a very successful coach. (Not so much a great talent evaluator, but that's another story for another time.) But retread coaches, usually white, always pop up and get recycled. Dick Vermeil. Bobby Ross. Pete Carroll. Jim Mora. Tom Coughlin. The inept Rich Kotite was Jets coach for much longer than he should have been.

But it doesn't take quotas to solve the problem. Look at the Cincinnati Bengals. They've hired mediocre white coaches, passing up guys like Ted Cottrell and Marvin Lewis and have languished with sub-par records for nearly a decade. They recycled the veteran Bruce Coslet, and now may pass up on some very talented coordinators (both black and white) for a mediocre retread of a coach in Tom Coughlin. For these teams content on hiring for experience, they will often suffer the consequences. The future is in these talented young coordinators -- be they black or white. Hiring failed coaches is hardly a winning strategy.

MARK STEYN has a nice column on Britain and guns. Britain's ban on guns has actually led to an increase in crime. And, despite the growing gun control restrictions, England's murder rate is coming closer and closer to the United States. Here's the money quote:

But, as I said, it's hardly worth mentioning in relation to Britain. In my part of New Hampshire, we're all armed to the hilt and any gangster who fancied holding up a gas station would be quickly ventilated by guys whose pick-ups are better equipped than most EU armies. The right of individual self-defence deters crime, constrains it, prevents it from spreading out of the drug-infested failed jurisdictions. In post-Dunblane, post-Tony Martin Britain, that constraint doesn't exist: that's why the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea now has a higher crime rate than Harlem.

Meanwhile, America's traditionally high and England and Wales's traditionally low murder rates are remorselessly converging. In 1981, the US rate was nine times higher than the English. By 1995, it was six times. Last year, it was down to 3.5. Given that US statistics, unlike the British ones, include manslaughter and other lesser charges, the real rate is much closer. New York has just recorded the lowest murder rate since the 19th century. I'll bet that in the next two years London's murder rate overtakes it.

THE TIMES MAGAZINE RAN A VERY ILLUMINATING ESSAY by Michael Ignatieff, talking about the American empire and expanded global influence. (I also wouldn't use the word empire, though Ignatieff defines the word, as it applies to America, quite well.) It's a must-read, even though I would bicker ever so slightly about his suggestions towards the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Ignatieff suggests that a regime change in Iraq would morally obligate the U.S. to move us to get more involved in a road map for peace. Perhaps. However, I think the great benefits of a democratic, freedom-embracing government in Iraq would greatly hurt the PA's ability to fund these terror operations. And if Iran's mullahocracy soon falls on its own, those developments by themselves would greatly futher the peace movement -- without any action made by the United States.

It will take a non-corrupt Palestinian government who genuinely means what it says before any type of peace will exist between the Israelis and the Palestinians. A guarantee of security will also necessitate a guarantee a total revamping of the current hate-based curriculum so prevalent in the Palestinian education system. This isn't started by an American road map -- it needs to be sparked by the Palestinians themselves. Just like Sadat took the initiative to go to the Knesset, the Palestinians need to have honest brokers of their own. And I doubt that will happen until the Palestinians understand violence is not a viable option. The collapse of the totalitarian and terror-funding regimes in Iraq and Iran will help bring this goal about much faster.

PEGGY NOONAN has some interesting and, I think, spot-on analysis of President Bush in today's WSJ.

THIS PREVIEW OF ELECTION 2004 is priceless.

Sunday, January 05, 2003

INSTAPUNDIT points out this interesting article about the Islamist movement and its relation to Saudi Arabia. If you haven't seen it already, go and take a look.

I GUESS IT'S BECAUSE I'M IN A PRAISEWORTHY MOOD, but the guys at OxBlog just do a tremendous job -- especially David Adesnik's tireless commentaries -- from his eloquent response/Fisking to Fareed Zakaria and a slew of links and posts to the whole North Korea conflict. Kudos to Josh Chafetz too. It's one of the best-written, most intelligent blog sites you'll come across and I always make a daily stop there. You should too.

UPDATE: And while you're at it, check out the best liberal blog out there -- Kevin Drum's CalPundit. Again, a guy who writes well, with informative, well-argued posts. We don't agree a lot of the time, but he sure makes me think. I've been meaning to permalink the site, which I will be doing momentarily.

HERE'S A MUST READ from the WSJ on the differences between North Korea and Iraq. It's real simple, folks: North Korea already has nuclear weapons -- any US military attack now would likely spawn a significant counterattack. In essence, we're being blackmailed in the Korean Peninsula because of their weapons program and because of ineffective Jimmy Carter-led diplomacy. We can't let that happen in the Middle East; any type of appeasement with Saddam Hussein would severely limit our Middle East dealings and, hence, hurt our national security significantly. North Korea should stand as a lesson learned. Let's not make the same mistake again.

I'M A LITTLE LATE ON THIS, but the New York Times reported last week that moderate drinking is very healthy for you -- in fact, it decreases the risk of heart disease and stroke significantly. Check out this excerpt from the story:

In a study of more than 80,000 American women, those who drank moderately had only half the heart attack risk of those who did not drink at all, even if they were slim, did not smoke and exercised daily. Moderate drinking was about as good for the heart as an hour of exercise a day. Not drinking at all was as bad for the heart as morbid obesity.

¶In thousands of middle-aged Danish men with high cholesterol, moderate drinkers had 50 percent less risk of developing heart disease from blocked arteries than abstainers.

¶Among more than 100,000 California adults, moderate drinking after age 40 was associated with reduced death rates during every subsequent decade of life — in some people by as much as 30 percent.

You heard it here first, abstinence is bad for your health!

WHEN I TRAVELED TO ISRAEL last winter on the wonderful Birthright Israel program (thru Hillel), I had the wonderful opportunity to hear a d'var Torah (scholarly discussion) from UCLA's outstanding and engaging head Hillel Rabbi Chaim Seidler-Feller. One of the many things I remembered from his discussions was his comment that the secular Israelis take forgranted the religiosity of their daily lives. (I am reminded of these comments because Judith Weiss of Kesher Talk makes similar points, in referencing an article from Moment Magazine.)

In Israel, Jewish religious holidays are national holidays. The nation itself serves as a Biblical textbook, which every student studies in school. Nearly all families have a special Shabbat meal on Friday nights -- it was truly a special and holy night celebrating the Sabbath in Jerusalem. Everyone attends a Passover seder. Cheesecake is everywhere on Shavuot, a holiday many American Jews ignore. Ninety percent of Israeli Jews keep kosher -- 90 percent! These same Israeli Jews who would insist that they don't observe anything are in actuality more observant than they think. As a Conservative Jew who isn't as observant as I'd like to be, I can say it's genuinely hard to have a strong spiritual life when there are so many pulls and pressures in today's environment. I'm always in a rush to complete things, wolf down meals, scour the Web for my daily news consumption and never have much spare time for anything. When I was in Israel, I could relax and read books, spend time with friends and pray in historical synagogues -- all without having to worry about time.

Many people, both Jewish and non-Jewish, note the daily tension Israelis must feel with the threats of terrorism prevalent daily in the Holy Land. But when I was in Israel, especially in Jerusalem, I found an inner calm. I'm always stressed with schoolwork, social pressure and never have much time to relax spiritually. At least every Friday night, Israelis have this spiritual satisfaction. They may take it for granted, but it is really what makes even the most secular Israeli so Jewish.