Wednesday, April 02, 2003

Ordinarily I try to steer clear of rabid conservative columnist Kathleen Parker (how tidy does your worldview have to be to see the kind of straw men opponents she constantly picks fights with as the only barriers to global utopia?) But I think she makes an important point here (despite her smug rhetoric about how precise our troops have been). I never trust the media when they start quacking "quagmire" one week into any military conflict, as they've done since Vietnam.

Americans and Brits have secured strategic areas, including oil fields in the south and airstrips in the north; carefully minimized civilian casualties; fed and doctored surrendering Iraqis; uncovered a "torture hospital" and a terrorist camp packed with training equipment for nuclear, biological and chemical warfare; and encircled Baghdad in less than two weeks with less than 50 American casualties.

This is a failed plan?
Here in Chicago, hope tends to spring in April and collapse by mid-summer for the Cubs. So it was good to see new manager Dusty Baker get off to such a startling good start on Monday with a 15-2 romp of the Mets, the best Opening Day for the Cubs since 1899, if I heard the news right the other night.

Still, the outlook for this season includies too many question marks for Dusty Baker to go to his second straight World Series--read most of them in the opposing scout sidebar in the Cubs entry in Sports Illustrated's baseball preview. Or, as a Bay Area Cubs fan writes to the SF Chronicle:

The Cubs' Opening Day infield will consist of Mark Bellhorn, who's never played third base in his life; shortstop Alex Gonzales, who has less range than Bob Dylan; second baseman Mark Grudzielanek, who at 33 moves like his name weighs 10 pounds per letter; and 250-pound Korean rookie first baseman Hee Seop Choi. On artificial turf, this group is going to look like the freshman class at bullfighting school. Kerry Wood may become the first pitcher in history to request a trade to Colorado.

Sheesh, hard to believe they scored a run Monday, much less 15.

Get the latest from the Cub Reporter blogger, including a second-by-second countdown to the home opener at Wrigley Field.
China has threatened global health with its handling of the virus breakout, says the National Post.
Proud to be a Grand Rapidian: This report of hoop doings in my hometown of Grand Rapids, Michigan made the Sports Illustrated daily e-mail newsletter last month:

Let's see. Jock, check. Uniform, check. Shoes, check. Stash ... hey! A
Michigan high school basketball player who dropped a small bag containing
marijuana on the gym floor during a tournament game has been expelled from
school. Ottawa Hills High School in Grand Rapids took the action Monday
after the student, an unidentified senior, admitted it was his marijuana
that turned up during Friday's Class A district boys championship game
between Ottawa Hills and Northview High, said Sue Krieger, a school district
spokeswoman. The marijuana was discovered after a first-quarter scuffle for
the ball. A photographer with The Grand Rapids Press alerted a referee to
what he thought was litter on the court. When it was found to a bag of
marijuana, police were called. District officials said they don't know why
the student had the marijuana, how it ended up under Northview's basket or
where the player was carrying it, since the uniforms have no pockets. The
incident marred a remarkable finish for Ottawa Hills, which recovered from a
0-6 start to advance to the championship game before its title dreams went
up smoke. Northview won 55-53.
Etymology Today from M-W: roorback \ROOR-back\
: a defamatory falsehood published for political effect

If you think dirty politics are new, think again. In the midst of the 1844 presidential campaign between James K. Polk and Henry Clay, a letter was published in a newspaper in Ithaca, New York claiming that a reputable witness (one Baron von Roorback) had seen Polk purchase and brand 43 slaves. The letter caused an uproar that threatened to derail Polk's campaign until it was discovered that the whole thing was a hoax perpetrated by the opposing party — a 19th-century Watergate. Baron von Roorback didn't even exist. The incident proved a political boomerang; Polk won the election and the name "roorback" became a byword for political dirty tricks.

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