Partha Archives

July 26, 2002

It's Pat

In the future, on this page, you'll be reading occasional posts appovingly citing Brad Delong, Paul Krugman, Liz Phair, Gary Wills, Lisa Lowe, Ronnie Spector, Nadia Mustafa, C. Wright Mills, and Alejandro Portes.

No, David hasn't had a brain transplant. I'm Partha Mazumdar and I'm occasionally going to be collaborating with him on this blog (the page is still his, I'm just going to be helping out). I'm officially trained in American Studies and I "do" Asian American immigration specializing in Asian American entrepreneurship and representations of Asian Americans in popular culture. Entrepreneurship (and, specifically, Indian owned hotels) is my first love -- and nothing can ever approach a first love -- but popular culture studies has become a mistress I spend probably too much time with. I teach within the Department of Asian American Studies of the Unversity of Pennsylvania.

You'll all read soon, but my politics can best be described as Clintonian. I feel no shame (in fact, I feel great pride) in saying that the former president is my guide, my leader, and my admiration for him borders on reverence. Without any irony and not thinking that it's cheezy, I still believe in a place called Hope.

So, as you can see, my politics differ some from David's, but, this difference will be fun; as Mark Twain said in the Pudd'nhead Wilson's Calendar, "It were not best that we would all think alike; it is the difference of opinion that makes horse races."

Do we really want to know what the government does?

Missing in President Bush's current debate with Capitol Hill over the bill to establish an office of Domestic Security is any sort of discussion of a sentence in section 724 of the House bill. It's 724.a.1.A: "(A) shall be exempt from disclosure under section 552 of title 5, United States Code (commonly referred to as the Freedom of Information Act)"

I'm confident that people from both sides of the aisle can agree with the statement that the inclusion of this sentence is, for lack of a better word, wrong. I mean, why would we want a 170,000 person law-enforcement agency with investigative powers to have to, at some point -- at any point --, release what they've done? Who they've investigated? Why they investigated them? What they found? Who they followed? Who they wiretapped? Basically, any other question you can think of.

One would think that the mainstream media would be all over this. The Freedom of Information Act is one of its hallowed treasures and being a watchdog over the government is one of its rason d'etres. Just go to a panel discussion at Columbia University or Columbia, Missouri... the leading lights of the American media talk about these two things all the time (and they beat their chests while they congratulate themselves). However, we're not getting a peep over permanently exempting 170,000 employees from any sort of independent oversight. Maybe they really do only write about what Ari Fletcher and Congressional press secretaries tell them to write about.

July 27, 2002

Politics as Usual?

One is forced to wonder about the Right's current obsession with Robert Rubin. One example is Andrew Sullivan; in his childish one-way battle with The New York Times, Sullivan asks why the Times isn't interested in investigating "Rubin's allegedly glorious record as Treasury secretary," and the calls for 'investigating' Rubin are coming from many quarters, loudly and often.
Of course, these voices going after Rubin were silent when Rubin was actually Secretary of the Treasury. They seemed to have no problem with what he was doing, while he was doing it.
Is it too much to ask for the people invested with the power to affect the economy (the presidential administration) and their supporters to, in this time of economic and financial crisis, actually do something to help the country out? Instead, as evidenced by the growing attacks on Rubin, it seems that they they haven't left the 1990s and still don't have any other method of politics other than afixing blame.
You're in charge now, so go do something. The country will love you if you do. We didn't love Franklin Roosevelt because he spent all of his time dragging down the Hoover administration; we loved him because he took the bulls by the horns.
Sometimes it seems (like when listening to an Ari Fletcher press conference) that the administration has nothing under its sleave other than blaming the Clinton administration. You know, even if Fletcher is right, who cares? You're in charge now. Lead us. With our stock porfolios, our retirement accounts, our savings losing ten, twenty, thirty, fourty, fifty, sixty percent of their values, it's not too much to ask that you don't constantly search the past for scapegoats but look to the future with answers. Even if they're the wrong answers, give the consumers something to be confident about. Make us confident in you.

A thick envelope means you got in, a thin one means you didn't

In all the ruckus concerning someone at the Princeton admissions office accessing a dozen or so admission notices off of Yale's computer server, what's been lost is: what in the world could the Princeton admissions officer have gained by learning a few of Yale's admitting decisions?

One hypothetical proposed by a reporter at the Yale Daily News is that the information could have been used to help tailor better recruiting packages to attract these students. Perhaps, but I doubt it. Princeton had all they needed to know already; everything that the applicants listed as interests on their Yale application, one can assume, they also listed on the Princeton application. Some people have (somewhat jokingly) proposed that Princeton did it to help better recruit basketball players, and, while they have a point, if my school lost a playoff game to Yale in the past year, I'd want to fix the team, too, but I doubt this is the case.

I just don't see why anyone would do this, other than to check the security on the site (as has been claimed) or just because he was curious. Neither, of course, excuse what he did, but it does not seem to be all that sinister.

I have two more questions, though.

First, if the two schools would not have been Yale and Princeton, but had been the University of Kansas and Kansas State University, would the press be covering it so much? The same incident, the same everything. I doubt it, even though it's the same story.

Second, in addition to admissiongate, the Yale Daily News is fronting a story that Yale's unions may go on strike on the first day of classes. This appears to be a much bigger story, but addmissiongate is what's causing the buzz.

[David: Boy, this has been an embarrassing few months for me. First we get Cornel West foisted off on us again, and now this scandal. Plus, Paul Krugman keeps shaming the school with his New York Times columns.]

July 28, 2002

Amen, brother!

In his latest column, Thomas Friedman reminds us of something said by presidential candidate George W. Bush:

"The I.R.S. just announced they're going to hire an additional 2,079 bureaucrats. My opponent talks about fighting for the people against the powerful. But it works out a little differently under his plan. In his case, more audits for people, more power for the I.R.S. And that's the heart of his agenda: a fundamental belief in the federal government, a lack of trust and faith in ordinary Americans. . . . I trust people; he trusts the government."

But, the IRS is law-enforcement agency. It ensures that people abide by the law; it makes people pay their federal taxes. If you don't like the law, go after the legislators, however, George W. Bush has no shame in going after the 'bureaucrats'. More people, it must be infered from Bush's comments, should be able to avoid their taxes -- avoid the law.

From the quote above, we have to assume that "the powerful" are people like Ken Lay and "the people" are Enron stockholders. "The people" who had their 401(k) accounts decimated by "trust."

Why, one must wonder, if Bush trusts everybody to be law abiding -- why he trusts Ken Lay so much -- why he allows this country to have so many police officers? Don't trust the government, don't trust the law enforcers, trust the people.

Law enforcers have a job to do; oversight officials have a job to do; they make sure that our system works. Don't tie their hands, don't put them down. Let them do what they do and let's make sure the system works.

Friedman ends the column with a great line: " much of America's moral authority to lead the world derives from the decency of our government and its bureaucrats, and the example we set for others. These are not things to be sneered at by a president. They are things to be cherished, strengthened and praised every single day."

Preach on, Tom, preach on.

Nine for Nine

It probably isn't an appropriate subject for a blog, since it's difficult to be analytical or critical about it, but, I have to say that what happened this morning in Somerset is the best news I've heard is a long long time. It's just so wonderful; wonderful for the nine, wonderful for their families, wonderful for the crew that rescued them, and wonderful for the region I love, Southwestern Pennsylvania. I haven't lived there since I moved away for college, and now that I've passed the Foreign Service Exam, it seems that I'll be moving thousands and thousands of miles away, but Southwestern PA will always be home. And it's wonderful.

July 29, 2002


Proving once again that the best original programing on television is not produced by the networks but by cable stations, tonight Showtime premiered an hour and a half feature Our America directed by Spike Lee's old cinematographer Ernest Dickerson.

The show dramatizes three main characters: David Isay, a producer for Chicago's National Public Radio affiliate (ably portrayed by Josh Charles... you remember him, he played Ox in Dead Poet's Society), LeAlan Jones and Lloyd Newman, two kids who lived in the Ida B. Wells housing development in Chicago. Jones and Newman took microphones into the Ida B. Wells, their home, and, with Isay's assistance, produced some of the best radio this country has ever witnessed.

The first forty-five minutes of the Showtime program details their first project, Ghetto Life 101, which debuted in 1993.

The second forty-five minutes covers the second project, one exploring the events surrounding the death of Eric Morse, a 5 year old child thrown out a 14th floor window by two other kids -- one was eleven and the other was ten.

If you can, watch the Showtime program.

If you haven't already, you owe it to yourself to listen to the story Jones and Newman made about Eric Morse. I've linked it here: Remorse: The 14 Stories of Eric Morse. This isn't 'if you can'... this is a must.

It'll bring you tears as Jones and Newman articulately demonstrate that there is no 'our America' and 'their America.' It's all our America.

I see brown people

Pop quiz:

He's in his early 30s. His parents are both from India and they're both successful professionals. He lives in Philadelphia. He's devistatingly handsome (at least he thinks so). An essential part of his job is to watch movies. His teachers used to mispronounce his real name so other name gained some currency. He speaks flawless English, even with a regional Pennsylvanian accent, but people still ask him "where are you from?" (answer: his home town or Pennsylvania or the USA) "no, no, where are you really from?"

Are you thinking me? Partha Mazumdar?

Okay, how about the next clue: he's on the cover of the latest Newsweek magazine.

So, it's not me.

It's M(anoj). Night Shyamalan.

A couple of thoughts:

First, those people who downplay the importance of role models and the requests that minorities should be able to be able to see people who look like them in positions of power and celebrity, I have to say, have never gone day after day, week after week, month after month, year after year, not seeing people who look like them where ever they look. South Asian Americans, like me, are going to be talking about this Newsweek cover for a long time; they'll be saying: America really is a place where you can be Indian American and get on the cover of Newsweek.

Second, either Newsweek missed what Shyamalan is doing or he snookered them.

Sure, as is noted in the article, he's influenced by Hitchcock, Lucus, and Spielberg in his choice of subject matter, but in form, his primary influence is the great Indian writer, director, composer Satyajit Ray. From his framing, from his character development, from what he reveals and what he doesn't, from his pacing, Manoj is a student and admirer of Ray. He's bringing an Indian sensibility to Hollywood. It's a sensibility which many find slow, boring, and plodding, but for those whose attention span hasn't been reduced to nanoseconds, his movies are well worth the time.

And, after the American release of Lagaan, movie critics around the country announced that it would be the begining of an American appreciation of Indian films (India has the largest movie industry in the world). (Roger Ebert was more measured in his excellent review of Lagaan.) With Manoj and with other heavily Indian influenced movies such as Moulin Rouge, we don't need to go to the art house to see Indian movies. We can just go to the local multiplex. India is already here.

July 30, 2002

You've got to be kidding me

Companies give stock options -- the option to buy shares of stock in the company at a predetermined price some point at the future -- to executives because, supposedly, it provides an extra insentive for the executive to make the company stronger.

An executive, let's call him Ken, joins a company and it's at $20. He receives an option to buy ten million shares, when he leaves the company, for $10 each.

(First off, this $10 price seems bogus. All he has to do is break even and he makes $100,000,000, but that's how the world works, I guess.)

But, looking at this, Kenny doesn't have an insentive to make the company stronger. His incentive is to make the stock price as high as possible when he leaves. So, if the stock is at $50 on that magical day, and he can buy ten million shares from the company at $10 and then immediately sell them on the market, then he's made $400,000,000. (minus, of course, brokerage fees and capital gains tax)

Kenny Boy, in other words, is paid in a way where the company doesn't matter. The stockholders don't matter. Nothing matters, in terms of his golden pay day, other than the analysts. You know, the people who appear on CNBC during the day. They research the company and give independent advice on where they think the stock price should be. People listen to them, because the analysts are smart, well educated, research the company, are independent, and individual people and managers of smaller funds don't have the time or ability to do all of this research themselves. And the analysts are independent, after all.

And, if this story in the New York Times is true, company executives made decisions on who the analysts of their companies would be. (I'm using the plural here, even though the story is just about Enron. Like a lot of the stories we've been reading about, I'm confident more will follow.)

To get this straight... an executive would receive a great deal of the money (generated by the workers of the company) because it would be transfered to him, essentially, on the say of an analyst who the executive himself picked. You've got to be kidding me.

One likes to believe there aren't enough jails for scum like this. But, realistically, if you have friends in the White House and the Naval Observatory, one has to assume that Ken Lay won't see one minute of jail time. He'll spend his life at his many pools, at his many houses, while actual employees at Enron, whose retirement plans helped to raise the price of the stock, have to work decades longer because their retirement savings are gone.

July 31, 2002

It's too darn hot

It's really hot here in Philadelphia. It's hot all around the country.

In a recent article in Slate, Eric Klinenberg asks "Why don't Americans sweat over heat-wave deaths?" More Americans die from heat waves than all other natural disasters combined (including tornadoes, hurricanes, and floods).

The answer is simple: those who succumb to the heat are predominately old (without the physical strength to withstand the heat), poor (without the financial ability to pay for air conditioning), and scared (they stay inside their homes because they are scared to go outside into the crime filled streets of their neighborhoods).

The old, poor, and scared don't vote nor do they line the coffers of the major political parties. It's better political policy to make sure those who own hurricane-prone ocean-front property are well taken care of then elderly women in the Ida B. Wells housing project in Chicago. (Not to attempt to rhetorically minimize the pain engendered by hurricanes, but it is better politics).

Klinenberg notes that there are "simple and relatively inexpensive measures that could prevent future heat deaths," and that "it's just a question of whether we value the lives of poor city dwellers as much as the property of wealthy coastal developers."

I have another suggestion to add to Klinenberg's. When a heat wave rolls in, FEMA is called up. If it can respond to tornadoes and hurricanes, why not heat waves?

August 1, 2002

Maybe his heart wasn't in it

Just hours after making a big to-do of signing the corporate reform bill, President Bush began to try to water it down.

On provision of the bill protects employees who bring to Congress evidence that their companies have been cooking their books. Claire Buchanan, White House spokesman, issued a statement saying that this protection only applies when the Congress is "in the course of an investigation.”

That means, if you call up your local Congressman to alert him or her about fraud, you are not protected. The investigation must already have been started. That means, if the majority party never authorizes an investigation, you can never call it -- you can't call a minority member, because they don't have the power to authorize a formal investigation.

The White House is trying to have it both ways: look like it cares about corporate crime and letting the corporate criminals off. I think it's no surprize that, upon the news from Washington, the markets are down.

The markets want this reform. Investors want this reform. Everybody wants this reform, except the 61 people on this list, the crooks who are poised to join the list, and the President.

The list is of the 61 people who profited the most as their companies went bankrupt -- the people who stole the most as they drove their companies into the ground. I understand that a bunch of them are buddies of the current President, but they belong in jail. The President should use the presidency to ensure that evidence of criminal activity has the ability to come to light.

That's not too much to ask.

They killed Kenny!

In a quite puzzling story fronting today's Washington Post, we read what a terrible time Ken Lay had as Enron was collapsing, and what a good man he is.

A few excerpts:

Ken, the man of principle: "As part of the Dynegy deal, Lay was scheduled to get a 'golden parachute' -- a payoff that amounted to $60 million to buy out his three-year contract. But on Nov. 13, after the perk was disclosed by Bloomberg News, Lay announced that he would forgo it. It didn't look good at a time when many of his employees and investors were losing millions as the company's stock plunged."

Ken, well, the man of principle: "Lay shouldered responsibility for the mismanagement and concealment that marred the company's performance. Investigations were continuing and might turn up new facts but the culture of secrecy had ended, he promised."

Ken the martyr: "Ken Lay was alone. He drew back a privacy curtain in the emergency room of St. Luke's Episcopal Hospital and padded into view bare-legged, wearing a half-tied hospital gown, slippers and a confused expression.... 'There were six rooms in the emergency room," Blumenthal said. "All six were filled with patients. Everybody had somebody with them, a wife, a husband, a couple of kids. He was the only one who was all alone.'"

Ken Lay left Enron with having made $246.7 million. That's Alex Rodriguez money, except ARod hasn't bankrupted anybody's retirement plans.

Sorry if I don't feel badly for Ken Lay. He has a quarter of a billion dollars, has a friend in the White House, and will jet around the country and the continent for the rest of his life. Spending other people's money. If he felt really bad... if he really was responsible... he'd give the money back.

On the bright side

Other than not having to listen to the droning-babble about how brilliant the recent crop of Republican governors were, the horrible financial mess our state governments are currently in may have another bright side.

We may have seen the end of publicly funded sporting venues.

Yesterday, Pittsburgh's Sports & Exhibition Authority announced its plan for a $270 million new arena for the Pittsburgh Penguins, which includes a $90 million price tag for the State of Pennsylvania and $53 million for the residents of Allegheny County.

(Aside: one reason given for the necessity of a new arena is that it will help bring in bigger and better music concerts. But, this summer, the old arena has already booked Bruce Springsteen and the Rolling Stones. Pray tell, which bigger concerts will the new arena bring?)

This year, Pennsylvania faced a $770 million budget gap. Penn State University's state funding dropped $10 million, and similar cuts were made to the University of Pittsburgh, Slippery Rock, Indiana, and other Pennsylvania schools. Penn State raised its tuition 14 percent (in one year!), Pittsburgh by 13.5 percent, and the other schools an average of 9 percent. Does the Sports & Exhibition Authority really believe its going to get $90 million from the state? For hockey and bigger concerts?

They days of a team asking (or blackmailing) and the local government rolling over and building new buildings are over. At least for now.

August 2, 2002

Some things never change

Coming on two years after Bush/Gore, it's comforting to know that Katherine Harris, Florida's chief elections officer, still doesn't know Florida's election laws. She doesn't know the stuff she should know?... in Congress, she'll fit right in.

August 5, 2002

Don't Blame Me, I Voted For...

Watching the Sunday morning pundit shows is always a painful experience. This past Sunday's were ever more so.

I forced myself to listen to drivel about Al Gore's column in the New York Times. All the pundits could talk about was the apparent split between Joe Lieberman and Al Gore. Trent Lott opined about how discourse sounding like class warfare would get the Democrats nowhere (Lott also proudly proclaimed that he was a poor boy from Pascagoula, Mississippi, and it was funny because I thought he was the Senator from WorldCom).

What was lost -- intentionally, probably -- was what Gore actually said. If the pundits talked about the substance of Gore's message, they'd have to engage his points, and they'd be left short.

If the Democrats running this November have brains, they won't run away from Clinton/Gore like Gore tried to do in 2000. They'll cut out and pin this column above their desks and read it every morning before they go out and talk to the voters.

They'll remember that Clinton/Gore promised to use the surplus to save Social Security now. Bush used the surplus to give 1.6 million dollars worth of tax breaks that the middle class did not see. They'll remember that it's not just the stock market that has gone down in post-Enron Wall Street, but "it is confidence in the honesty of our government." Not that Clinton did not have an affair with a member of his staff (he did) and not that he did not lie about it (he did) but no one ever thought that he was not working for, what he called, "the forgotten middle class." Bush and Cheney are being more and more perceived to be, well, the oil executives that they both were.

If the Democratic Party can't run on so-called "class warfare"... if it can't run on a genuine prescription drug benefit plan... if it can run on a powerful Patients Bill of Rights... if it can't run against enormous tax breaks for the richest... if it can't run for a lockbox for Social Security... if it can't run against the executives at Enron and WorldCom and for the investors in Enron and WorldCom, then there is no point to having a Democratic Party. There is a point, and it's time to stop willow-wallowing and get out there and fight the battles worth fighting. Like Bill Clinton did.

Gore could have ended his Op-Ed piece with the same (identical) words that Franklin Roosevelt said when accepting the Democratic nomination in 1932 and Harry Truman said when accepting the Democratic nomination in 1948: "This is more than a political campaign; it is a call to arms. Give me your help, not to win votes alone, but to win this new crusade to keep America safe and secure for its own people."

Uhhh... no

In a letter in today's New York Times, Marisa Bartolucci writes:

"The New Democrats miss the point when they voice fears that the party, in seizing on allegations of corporate abuse, will again seem too populist for the majority of Americans. As the middle class and upper class watch their retirement investments evaporate, they are painfully recognizing that such large-scale corporate abuse makes us all 'little people.'

"Could the Democrats have a more salient issue when Americans feel this vulnerable?"

The answer is: No.

You lost me at 'Hello'

I don't know why, but I read Andrew Sullivan's blog.

Today, he had an aside which read: "Kushner's dreadful play, "Angels in America," was in part devoted to lionizing these fanatics [Marxists/Communists]."

Dreadful? "Angels in America"?

It's pointless to quible over matters of opinion, but "Angels in America" is not dreadful; it's brilliant. Without a doubt, the greatest play (two plays, actually) written by an American that I've ever seen.

(And, even though Ethel Rosenberg [of Julius and Ethel Rosenberg] was a character in both parts of Angels, she was hardly lionized. Sympathized with, perhaps (and I wouldn't even go that far)... used as an example of Roy Cohn's contempt for the legal system, that I'd say.)

For the union makes us strong

In Pennsylvania today, speaking about the 9 rescued coal miners, President Bush said the following: "It was their determination to stick together, and to comfort each other. It really defines kind of a new spirit that's prevalent in our country, that when one of us suffers, all of us suffers, that in order to succeed, we've got to be united, that by working together, we can achieve big objectives and big goals. Here is a living example of people working together to save nine precious lives, to make sure that nine families were reunited."

Did the President really say all of this, at a gathering for coal miners? Determination to stick together? Comfort each other? When one suffers, all of us suffers? In order to succeed, we've got to be united? By working together, we can achieve big objectives and big goals?

If I didn't know any better, I'd have thought that President Bush was speaking at a union organizing rally. He should really give it a try.

August 6, 2002

The life I endeavor to imagine doesn't include this

On Monday morning, National Public Radio's news program Morning Edition included a seven minute segment by Jill Kaufman on Henry David Thoreau's Walden. Some of us who weren't quick enough hitting our snooze bar had to listen to part of it. Even though I included the link to the story, I encourage you not to click it.

I believe I speak for millions who were subjected to Walden in high school that it should be joined with Ethan Fromme in a dust-bin of history of books that were once assigned in school but no longer are. High school should not be this cruel, and neither should NPR. Andre Codrescu is painful enough.

Good thing Ashcroft is in charge

If one reads this CNN story, it seems pretty clear that Abdallah Higazy was up to no good. The Assistant US Attorney had him arrested for, on September 11th, having an aviation radio, staying in a hotel across the street from the World Trade Centers, and for being Arab. None of these are crimes, of course, but the attorney said that all of this was "a potentially quite significant part" of the 9/11 investigation and had him charged with making false statements. Tying him into the events of 9/11 was, obviously, part of the reason behind the arrest.

It turns out, however, that he did not have an aviation radio, he did not lie about having a radio, and even though the FBI was on a great fishing expedition arresting everybody it could, he had nothing to do with 9/11. He spent a month in jail... enough time for the FBI to force a confession out of him. To do this, it seems the FBI threatened Higazy's family's safety.

This is a case that we all know about. It's long past time that the government release the names of everybody it took into custody after 9/11 and the reasons they were arrested. Long past time.

August 8, 2002

Is this news?

Unlike most in the blogsphere, I love the New York Times. I like it so much so that I subscribe to the paper edition full well knowing that it's all free on the internet; I think I should pay for something as wonderful as it is. (I also take the Philadelphia Inquirer and even though I have an extraordinarily talented friend who is on its staff, I often feel that it should pay me for reading it.)

However, even with my admiration of the Times, I was puzzled by a front page story today -- it's buried on the web-site, but it's on the front page of my edition -- "Hitler, It Seems, Loved Money and Died Rich."

Revelations in the article include that he received royalties from the sales of Mein Kampf and that his house in Berchtesgaden was paid for with state funds.

If the article would have included a photograph of the United States's E Company, 506th Regiment, 101st Airborne drinking Hitler's champagne after taking Berchtesgaden in late April 1945, maybe the article would have been enjoyable.

The only thing I could think of while reading the article was: is this really news? That is seems Hitler loved money?

August 9, 2002

Wylie Avenue Days

This morning, the New York Times fronted a wonderful story about the Hill District neighborhood in my hometown of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. For those of you with the time, I encourage you to read it. Fifty years ago, the Hill was one of the most exciting, vibrant, close-knit communities in the United States. It was like all those stories told about old-time Brooklyn except it was smaller, not in New York, and almost entirely African-American. I did not grow up there (my neighborhood was a couple of miles away), but I went to kindergarden through eight grade at a school at the top of the Hill.

One paragraph I found facinating in the story was: "Much of the neighborhood's spirit was crushed — literally — in the mid-1950's when the city demolished the lower part of The Hill as part of an urban renewal project, displacing 8,000 residents. The destruction was carried on by the 1968 riots, the crack epidemic of the 1980's and the steady outflow of middle-class blacks to other neighborhoods."

That urban renewal project did rip the heart out of the Hill District and the area never recovered. At the time, the local residents were adamantly against it and have never forgiven the city for pushing it through. But, this isn't the reason I found the paragraph noteworthy -- I knew all of this before... the project, the riots, the drugs, and the flight out of the Hill. I'm just amazed that the Times did not say what the urban renewal project was. They put, on the front page, a story about the growth, peak, decline, near-death, and current renaissance of an urban neighborhood, and they don't name the incident which precipitated the demise?

The urban renewal project was the building of the Mellon Arena (née Civic Arena). The Arena (as it is simply known in Pittsburgh, or outside of Pittsburgh as "The Igloo") was originally built for the Civic Light Opera and there was hope at the time that major league basketball and hockey could be lured to the site. The Pittsburgh Penguins have played there since their inception in 1967.

I love the Civic Arena and have fond memories of watching U2, Bob Dylan, Bruce Springsteen, the Go-Gos, the Grateful Dead, Duran Duran and dozens of other musical acts there, and seeing dozens upon dozens of Penguin games there. However, the building of the Mellon Arena was one of the most horrible acts of urban renewal and neighborhood destruction in this nation's history.

The current owner of the Penguins, Mario Lemieux, is insisting that the city and state build the Penguins a new venue next door to the Mellon Arena. City activists are petitioning to have the Arena be named an historic building which would preclude its demolition. Hill District residents are calling for a plan which, if the building is leveled, that new construction on the site would have the Hill in mind, replace the business district which was taken from them almost fifty years ago, and aid in the improvement of the neighborhood.

This is all going on right now. It's an essential part of the Hill's history and it's a major part of the Hill's future. I wonder why the Times did not mention any of it. Any profile of the Hill District must engage the construction and proposed demolition of the Arena.

August 11, 2002

Maybe Armey works for the New York Times

On Thursday, Dick Armey said: "My own view would be to let him bluster, let him rant and rave all he wants and let that be a matter between he and his own country... As long as he behaves himself within his own borders, we should not be addressing any attack or resources against him... If we try to act against Saddam Hussein, as obnoxious as he is, without proper provocation, we will not have the support of other nation states who might do so."

Armey seems to be a supporter of the decade-old policy of containment of Hussein, doesn't believe in an offensive strike, questions the allocation of resources against him (which, presumably, could be used other places, like here at home), and thinks we should have a coalition (or at least support) in any sort of military action. Dick Armey.

I don't think it's any coincidence that Armey is not running for re-election. He does not feel the necessity to participate in the great drum-beat for war.

It is important

Often overshadowed by New York (an hour and a half to the North) and Washington (two hours to the South), Philadelphia is a oft-overlooked city. Everybody learns about Independence Hall, the Liberty Bell, and the Constitutional Convention, of course, but most don't realize how big the city actually is. It's also still a big political city; its national conventions have nominated for President people like Millard Fillmore, Ulysses S. Grant, William McKinley, Franklin D. Roosevelt, Wendell Wilkie, Thomas Dewey, Harry Truman, Henry Wallace, and George W. Bush.

More than politics, however, what gets Philadelphians stimulated to argue... the thing they really care about... what they all are experts at... what they have opinions over formed by years of experience... is where to find the best cheesesteaks. It is a question of national importance, as Bob Dole found out when he asked to have a cheesesteak delivered to his plane at Philly International Airport instead of visiting himself in 1996 -- not a way to the hearts of Philadelphians or the Pennsylvania vote.

(When will politicians like Dole and Gore learn that the American people will love you provide the promise that you can lead them and if they think you are like them? Everybody in Kansas loves Bob Dole because he had the quintessential Kansan childhood, but in 1996 he went to the other 49 states and promoted an image of being out of touch. Gore went to 50 states advertizing a similar image. Heaven help the parties if Gore or Dick Cheney decide to run for President in 2004 or 2008. The parties should be looking to a working mother [Hillary Clinton] or a child of immigrants, City College grad, army vet [Colin Powell] or a life-long working man and public servant [Ed Rendell].)

Craig LaBan, the restaurant critic and guru of the Philadelphia Inquirer breached the subject in today's paper, and I was quite pleased by his opinions. The details of the rankings aside, I feel for the suburban readers of the Inquirer. The winner was not one of the three hot tourist places (Pat's, Gino's, Jim's... and none of these three deserved it), but an obscure South Philly staple which is only open Monday through Friday and closes at 2:30 p.m. John's Roast Pork caters to the workers of Philadelphia, and with its hours and location, few outside of South Philly or Center City will be calling for reservations.

August 13, 2002

I'm Confused

The President held a super-sized Economic Summit in Waco, Texas today. Not a summit, really, but a mass-public relations extravaganza to show the country that he's, channeling Karl Rove: heard the message from the American people and that he's on message. However, it turned out to be only a massive photo-op; no new policies were offered, no new direction, no new anything. Tommorrow, the President will be back fishing at his ranch.

The President did offer up a nugget of wisdom, however. In a panel discussion on retirement security he asked "How do we simplify the numbers so people know what they're looking at? How can people all over America feel confident about what they see and hear?"

The American people do not want Arthur Andersen-esque "simplifying" of their retirement account statements. They don't want the statements "simplified" so they can feel confident about them. What they want is to actually have enough money for retirement. What they want is to have their money safe. What they want is corporate crooks who steal their retirement to be punished (I'm counting a grand total of 5 arrests from Enron, Worldcom, and all the rest. Just 5.) That's it. They want to be able to retire one day and go fishing, like the President.

He hit me first!

Unable to shake the accusations that they're in the pocket of big corporations who steal money from working people's retirement plans, conservatives are attempting a new approach: liberals do it do. It's a time-tested strategy: cloud the issues, make everybody seem to be the same, and no harm will be done to you.

In the National Review Online, Joel Mowbray calls ULLICO, a financial-services company run which primarily invests money from union pensions, "Big Labor's Enron." If labor unions are corporate criminals as well, then we can all forget about all the money the President's friend Ken Lay stole from thousands of retirement accounts (the last figure was $247 million; why isn't he in jail yet?).

However, even though it did not stop Mowbray from writing the article, the biggest problem with ULLICO was that it was heavily invested in Global Crossing (which Mowbray calls "the telecom favored by wealthy Democrats such as Terry McAuliffe" -- what does that mean? Is Terry McAuliffe complicit in what happened there, Mowbray?). ULLICO did not anything that wrong except get burned by the criminals at Global Crossing.

Mowbray wants a Congressional investigation, except he does not think one will happen because "Sen. Ted Kennedy, chairman of the Senate committee that would be tasked with looking into ULLICO wrongdoing, received $1,000 from ULLICO in 2000. ULLICO's political action committee has handed out $31,500 this year, 94 percent to Democrats."

I'm sorry to point this out, though, but $31,500 does not make one a big spender in Washington. And the $1,000 that Ted Kennedy received two years ago? I'd hazzard a guess that Kennedy has room service bills from two weekends ago which are higher than that. ULLICO is not the issue that's depressing America's confidence in the financial markets and their bank accounts -- Enron is and the administration's timid response to Enron is. (Timid may be too generous, since there has been a complete lack of response to the current economic crisis from this White House.)

Mowbray should stop trying to confuse the issue and join millions of others who want the real corporate crooks behind bars.

August 14, 2002

On the other hand, Martha's Vineyard Sounds like Fun

During the peparations for yesterday's Economic Forum, President Bush said "Most Americans don't sit in Martha's Vineyard, swilling white wine." The allusion was clear: the East Coast elitist President Clinton held policy forums in Martha's Vineyard, but President Bush was in touch with the common man and was having a real meeting with real Americans in the heartland. While, this seventh-grade playground rhetoric may have been effective against Al Gore, it boggles the imagination that President Bush would actually think Americans would confuse Bush and Clinton... which one was raised by an alcoholic mother and abusive step-father in a middle-class family and worked his way to the White House and the scion of an incredibly wealthy and powerful family.

Instead of taking swipes at President Clinton, instead of pretending that he has a background similar to the rest of us, President Bush should realize who is is and that he's the steward of the Presidency now and get on with work of the White House. The Wall Street Journal, hardly a liberal voice, and who was quite unimpressed with the Economic Forum, has a suggestion. Bring in Bush's economic advisors from the 2000 campaign; it says "It's time to reconvene the brain trust and pass around the thinking caps." I wholeheartedly agree; it's time for some imagination and leadership from this administration.

August 16, 2002

Please, Sir, I want some more

(This isn't a sports blog, however, the baseball players union announcing August 30 as a strike date is the leading news story of the day.)

In a column detailing the possible strike, leading sports columnist, Mike Lupica, explains what he believes unions are all about: "Samuel Gompers was once asked to define organized labor and said, 'More.' The players say they are only fighting to preserve the status quo here. But they always want more."

Gompers was a Dutch Jew, born in London where, at 10, he was apprenticed to a cigar maker, moved to America at 13 where he began a career as a union leader of a cigar workers local and took over the leadership of the Federation of Organized Trades and Labor Councils, transformed it into the American Federation of Labor (the AFL of the AFL-CIO) of which he was President from 1886-1924. Gompers worked to better the attrocious working conditions and lives of America's workers, yet Lupica implies that Gompers's ideology was a celebration of avarice.

Instead, Lupica should have followed his Gompers sentence with an allusion to the musical "Oliver!" Trade unionism is not a ideology of greed and rapacity; it is, in an organized fashion, the exploited workers of a company stepping up to Mr. Bumble and asking for more.

In the musical, Oliver was right and Mr. Bumble was wrong. Asking for more is not always a bad thing. And, put in its simplest terms, the baseball players union just wants a free market for its members. That's definitely not a bad thing; that's the American way.

August 17, 2002

The irony is so thick, I can't see

The average baseball fan, it seems, is sick about how much baseball players make. Millionaires that just run around bases, they say. More than that, they should be feel lucky to play this game.

Furthermore, the average baseball fan don't want salaries to rise according to demand; they want artificial caps put on salaries.

Finally, these fans insist that there must be a luxury tax. "Give us -- and particularly in the small cities -- the same chances the small cities," they're saying. The luxury tax directly re-allocates money from the rich teams to the poor teams.

Let's review: (1) Making lots of money; being successful at your trade; being well-compensated is bad. (2) Free markets are bad. There should be pre-set rules on how much people make. (3) Redistribution of wealth is the only way to help the small guy.

This all seems like a Republican nightmare. However, why do I have a feeling that lots of people who voted for George W. Bush are currently taking the owner's side against the players?

[David Nieporent: because you like criticizing Republicans? I doubt there's much of a partisan gap in how fans feel about this labor battle.]

Matchmaker, matchmaker, look through your book and make me a perfect match

CNN television has been showing an interesting feature story recently. On the web-site, the link to it is entitled "India's arranged marriages go prime time."

Basically, there is a show on Indian television where, over the course of a few episodes, a woman picks a groom and gets married. It's much like Fox's show "Who Wants to Marry a Millionaire," or "Bachelorettes in Alaska" except no one calls those 'arranged.'. Arranged marriages happen in backwards places like India; in the United States, we're enlighted on the ways of love -- we have, FOX television, and an unbelievably high divorce rate. In India, where divorce is perfectly legal and acceptable (as much as divorce is acceptable), the divorce rate is 5 percent. What do they know, anyway?

August 19, 2002

Here Comes the Bride

Mike and Gloria, the bride and groom, wanted to have their favorite food, Chinese, at their wedding. The father of the bride, Archie, was disgusted and claimed that he'd order delivery. Something "American," Mr. Bunker proudly exclaimed: "Pizza!"

Over the next two weeks, I'm going to be a bit out of touch. I'll be checking in every day and writing when I get the time, but I'll be really busy. I'll be attending two weddings and doing a great deal of work for one of them.

The first one is this Saturday night. My two roommates are getting married. He was born in Israel and moved to the US at the age of five. She was born in Saigon, and after a refugee camp, came to the United States when she was one.

The second one is week from the upcoming Sunday, the day before Labor Day. My twin sister is getting married. She was born in the United States. The groom was born in Bombay and moved to the United States at 26.

The first wedding is going to be a blast. It's an Orthodox Jewish wedding, with the chuppah, the breaking of the glass, a klezmer band, lots of eating, lots of dancing, the bride and groom being held up on chairs, and rejoicing all night. The second one is going to be a blast, too. It's a Hindu wedding, with the walking around the fire, a D.J. playing Bollywood dance numbers, lots of eating, lots of dancing, and rejoicing all night.

It'd be difficult to claim that over the next two weeks I'll be seeing a representative cross-section of American life. They do not make as much money as their college buddies who went to Wall Street, but they all are quite accomplished. The jobs the four have are: (1) psychiatrist and clincal faculty member of the University of Pennsylania medical school, (2) staff member of the University of Pennsylvania and doctoral student at Penn, (3) pediatric neurologist and clinical faculty member at Harvard University medical school, (4) faculty member in Carnegie-Mellon University's Biology department. (The four have a mean age of 31.)

I feel that it's important to note that only one member of the two couples (my twin sister) and none of the eight parents was born in the United States. That's 1 out of the 12 principles of the two ceremonies. Also, both weddings are going to be very old world and old school.

Even though I'll not be seeing a cross-section of America, I'll be seeing a large and wonderful part of her. The United States is not just celebrating Independence Hall and presidents with boring one or two syllable last names. It's also about those who eschew tradtional notions of assimilation, keep old world traditions alive, remember where they are from, become American and make their mark in this country. I'll be giving a toast at both weddings. I'll write them later, but in both I want to say "God Bless America!"

August 28, 2002

Proving the Rule

Mickey Kaus is unhappy at Paul Krugman. Truth be told, Kaus seems to be, along with the rest of everybody in the blogsphere, always unhappy at Krugman.

This time it's because of the last sentence in Krugman's latest New York Times column: "Wouldn't it be nice if just once, on some issue, the Bush administration came up with a plan that didn't involve weakened environmental protection, financial breaks for wealthy individuals and corporations and reduced public oversight?"

In response Kaus writes: "What about EPA administrator Christie Whitman's decision to go ahead and get pollutants out of diesel fuel and engines, which most of the oil industry lobbied against? Is Whitman somehow not part of the 'Bush administration'?"

One has to wonder how long Kaus looked for this single example? Did he scour the budget for hours on end, go through thousands upon thousands of Bush proposals, until he found one that did not involve kickbacks for wealthy individuals and corporations? Perhaps what Kaus found is the exception which proves the rule.

September 4, 2002

This is leadership?

On the topic of invading Iraq, Richard Pearle has recently said that "The failure to take on Saddam after what the president said would produce such a collapse of confidence in the president that it would set back the war on terrorism."

This, of course, is the same reasoning Justice Scalia used to stay the 2000 Florida vote counting -- that if the votes turned out to be invalid, that there would be a collapse of confidence in President Bush.

Wouldn't it be nice if we had an administration which was in Washington because and did things that actually instilled confidence instead of not trying to lose it?


While at home last week, I saw the FX channel's movie R.F.K. To be frank, I didn't think it was very good; I encourage you, if you get the chance to see it (and the True Stories cable network occasionally shows it), to see the quite remarkable 1985 television mini-series on Kennedy's life entitled Robert Kennedy and His Times.

Both the 1985 and 2002 movies ended with a montage of Kennedy's funeral train travelling from New York City to Washington with voice-overs of the actors who played Kennedy reading from his most famous speeches. The 1985 version read out-loud his 1966 South Africa speech (actually written by Richard Goodwin of Quiz Show fame) where he waxed eloquently for future collegiate .sig files about individual acts of kindness overcoming the mightiest walls of oppression.

The 2002 show ended with Kennedy's speech at Lawrence, Kansas's Phog Allen Field House (if you read Kennedy's collected speeches, the editors get its name wrong). It's quite a remarkable speech. Here is the excerpt FX included:

Too much and too long, we seem to have surrendered community excellence
and community values in the mere accumulation of material things. Our gross
national product ... if we should judge America by that - counts air pollution
and cigarette advertising, and ambulances to clear our highways of carnage. It
counts special locks for our doors and the jails for those who break them. It
counts the destruction of our redwoods and the loss of our natural wonder in
chaotic sprawl. It counts napalm and the cost of a nuclear warhead, and armored
cars for police who fight riots in our streets. It counts Whitman's rifle and Speck's
knife, and the television programs which glorify violence in order to sell toys to our

Yet the gross national product does not allow for the health of our children, the quality
of their education, or the joy of their play. It does not include the beauty of our poetry
or the strength of our marriages; the intelligence of our public debate or the integrity of
our public officials. It measures neither our wit nor our courage; neither our wisdom nor
our learning; neither our compassion nor our devotion to our country; it measures everything,
in short, except that which makes life worthwhile. And it tells us everything about America
except why we are proud that we are Americans.

Yeah, it's heavy stuff. Integrity of our public officials... intelligence of our public debate... poetry... strength of marriages. It's stuff, quite sadly, we hear precious little of today.

If you can, actually, I recommend you see either, or both, of the Robert Kennedy shows. It'll remind you that, even though the rhetoric and actions from our current administration don't relect it, there are reasons why this country is remarkable other than our GNP and making rich people even richer.

September 5, 2002

The end of USA hegemony?

The USA mens basketball professionals lost their first basketball game ever tonight 87-80 at the hands of a remarkably able Argentina side.

This is only the third time the USA has lost a meaningful basketball game. The first was the shamefully officiated gold medal game in the 1972 Olympics and the second was an 1988 Olympic game against the Soviets. Both teams were horribly coached (the former by Hank Iba and the latter by John Thompson) and neither had professional players, just two dozen courageous collegians. When the professionals played, however, it was believed that America could never lose.

More so than baseball, basketball is a genuinely American sport. (Baseball derives from the English children's game Rounders, but basketball was invented and nurished here.)

This game may turn out to be like Canada's historic 7-3 hockey loss to the Soviet Union in the first game of the Summit Series of 1972 or England's 6-3 and 7-1 soccer losses to Hungary in 1953 and 1954. In both of those games, the losing side were the inventors of the game and both times they thought they were so masterful at their inventions that defeat was impossible. The losses sent shockwaves throught the countries.

Neither England nor Canada, however, learned anything from their losses. They didn't adapt their styles of play to the exciting playmaking witnessed on other shores. They kept on with their boring plodding strategies. They've both been world powers in their sports since, but neither country ever regained their previous unquestioned superiority. Both had more than enough talent to do it, but neither had the will to change or learn from others.

USA Basketball must take from this game that others play our game well, too, and we may have something to learn from them. There is a reason they beat us. USA Basketball shouldn't make the same mistakes as Canada and England.

Of course, the current administration may want to take a lesson, too. We don't have to do what other countries want, but we may be able to learn something if we take the time to listen. If we don't at least listen, our old style -- our unquestioned superiority -- may too disappear and one day soon we'll be looking around wondering how it all vanished so quickly.

September 7, 2002

I wonder how much admission is?

Over the next few days, governments, institutions, and individuals all over the world will be holding events marking the anniversary of 9/11. Here at the University of Pennsylvania, we'll be having a quite appropriate day of Remembrance, Reflection and Community. Events include bells tolling from the nearby churches and presentations by President Judith Rodin, Michael Eric Dyson, Professor of Religion and African American Studies, Afaf Meleis, Dean of the Nursing School, Harvey Rubin, Professor of Medicine, David Rudovsky, Senior Fellow in the Law School, and Jeremy Siegel, Professor of Finance.

On the other hand, Colorado College is having a symposium entitled "September 11 - One Year Later: Responding to Global Challenges" with a featured speaker being Hanan Ashrawi, Yasar Arafat's former spokesperson and ardent defender of homicidal terroristic attacks against Israel.

I'm all for free speech and open dialogue and would never advocate Colorado College cancelling Ashrawi's presentation. However, I wonder who the college has scheduled to speak on Martin Luther King Jr. Day. David Duke?

September 9, 2002

The Four Freedoms

Over the next few days, we'll be hearing a number of renditions of President Lincoln's Gettysburg Address. In today's New York Times, William Safire provided an English 101-esque critique of the speech and how it is relevant to the present day. I agree with Safire; it is altogether fitting and proper that we should be recalling the Gettysburg Address this week. We should remember, too, of course, that there have been many other great Presidential speeches and some of these may also be fitting in our remembering this week.

The one that I am thinking of is President Franklin Roosevelt's Four Freedoms Speech from January 1941. That January, the rest of the world was at war and the United States was soon to enter into the fray. The President spoke these words:

"In the future days, which we seek to make secure, we look forward to a world founded upon four essential human freedoms.

The first is freedom of speech and expression -- everywhere in the world.

The second is freedom of every person to worship God in his own way -- everywhere in the world.

The third is freedom from want -- which, translated into world terms, means economic understandings which will secure to every nation a healthy peacetime life for its inhabitants -- everywhere in the world.

The fourth is freedom from fear -- which, translated into world terms, means a world-wide reduction of armaments to such a point and in such a thorough fashion that no nation will be in a position to commit an act of physical aggression against any neighbor-- anywhere in the world.

That is no vision of a distant millennium. It is a definite basis for a kind of world attainable in our own time and generation. That kind of world is the very antithesis of the so-called new order of tyranny which the dictators seek to create with the crash of a bomb.

To that new order we oppose the greater conception -- the moral order. A good society is able to face schemes of world domination and foreign revolutions alike without fear.

Since the beginning of our American history, we have been engaged in change -- in a perpetual peaceful revolution -- a revolution which goes on steadily, quietly adjusting itself to changing conditions -- without the concentration camp or the quick-lime in the ditch. The world order which we seek is the cooperation of free countries, working together in a friendly, civilized society.

This nation has placed its destiny in the hands and heads and hearts of its millions of free men and women; and its faith in freedom under the guidance of God. Freedom means the supremacy of human rights everywhere. Our support goes to those who struggle to gain those rights or keep them. Our strength is our unity of purpose.

To that high concept there can be no end save victory."

I feel these words are quite appropriate for our times, today.

September 10, 2002

There he goes again

In his crusade against Howell Raines and the New York Times, Andrew Sullivan today includes the following tidbit:

"RAINES WATCH: From the Washington Post:

'Report Warns Iraq Could Produce Nuclear Weapons

LONDON, Sept. 9--Iraq could produce a nuclear weapon 'in a matter of months' if supplied fissile materials from an outside source, according to a report released here today. Saddam Hussein's government also has an extensive biological weapons capability, a smaller chemical weapons stockpile and a small supply of missiles to deliver them, the report concluded.'

From the Raines Times:

'London Group Says Iraq Lacks Nuclear Material for Bomb

LONDON, Sept. 9 — Saddam Hussein has substantial stockpiles of chemical and biological weapons and the capacity to expand production of them on short notice, but Iraq will be unable to build a nuclear weapon for years unless it obtains radioactive material on the black market, a leading security affairs research organization said today.'"

Sullivan is implying that: (1) The Washington Post's story is more accurate and objective, and (2) That the New York Times story, guided by Raines's hand, is dishonestly attempting to sway popular opinion against the United States's impending battle against Iraq. Sullivan trusts at face-value the Post story that Iraq's nuclear capability is, perhaps, mere months away.

However, if one looks at the actual report and supporting documents from which both the Post and the Times wrote their stories, we read: "Iraq does not possess facilities to produce fissile material in sufficient amounts for nuclear weapons.... It would require several years and extensive foreign assistance to build such fissile material production facilities.... It could, however, assemble nuclear weapons within months if fissile material from foreign sources were obtained," and "but it would be more difficult to acquire foreign materials, equipment and components without detection."

It seems, that while the Post story was basically accurate, the Times summarized the group's findings a bit better and more fully. Maybe Raines, in fact, does know what he's doing.

September 12, 2002

His soul is marching on!

The house I live in was built in the 1760s. It's in the "Old City" neighborhood of Philadelphia -- so named because, well, the neighborhood is old. The street in front of my house is made of Belgium Ballast stone. Ships from Belgium would load up with these stones, sail to Philly, dump the stones overboard and then load up with merchandise for their travel back to Antwerp; the enterprising citizens of Philadelphia did not let the stones go to waste -- they built roads with them. At the end of my block, there are two churches. The first is St. Augustine's, a Roman Catholic church, completed in 1829 (with the "Sister Bell" in its tower... the sister of the Liberty Bell... it was the bell in Independence Hall after the first one cracked). The second is St. George's, the site of the oldest Methodist church in the United States, dating back to the 18th Century. My block is all about being old; nary a cul-de-sac for miles. (If you have a good memory, the block was shown in the begining of the Sixth Sense.)

Yesterday morning, for the one year anniversary of 9/11, I went to the flag store two blocks away (which is right across the street from Betsy Ross's house; if you were going to have a flag store, where would you put it?), bought a flag pole, walked back and installed a flag on my house out a third floor window. When I went outside to see how it looked, I could, from St. Augustine's, hear music playing; it was John Brown's Body also known as the Battle Hymn of the Republic. One of America's greatest songs in tribute to one of America's greatest citizens.

When Brown was hung, churches all over the North paid tribute to him by ringing their bells, and for a second, on 9/11/02, I felt, standing on New Street, like I was back in the 19th Century. And I thought it was so very appropriate for 9/11 and the 21st Century. As Brown died to make men free, let us live to make them free.

September 13, 2002

I wonder

Big news out of Florida. Three men were pulled over, their car was extensively searched, 20 miles of Alligator Alley, the major east-west connector in south Florida, was shut down. Nothing was found. No terrorist literature, no explosives, no weapons, no nothing. It seems like the three were just kids heading down to Miami for medical school.

The CNN story has some few facinating nuggets, including: "Government sources said the men are U.S. citizens, two of whom are naturalized, and are of Middle Eastern heritage." Implied, one has to assume (because why else would it be mentioned?), that for CNN, there are now two classes of American citizenship, native-born and naturalized.

Second, the CNN reporter writes that according Eunice Stone, the woman who called the tip on the three in, "the men appeared to be in their mid-20s and spoke English without accents. She said one of the men had a long beard and wore the type of cap she said she had seen Muslims wear."

I wonder what kind of hat she's talking about? A New York Mets hat? I, for one, have seen lots of Muslims wear those. Maybe it was a Dodgers hat? Or a Royals? It's a shame the CNN reporter does not elaborate or give evidence that he or she asked Stone to expand these remarks.

(And, just wondering out loud here... lots of people advocate racial profiling when it comes the war on terrorism. We're told, don't search the old white grandma, instead double the searches of those who we are more likely to cause trouble. Does this now include brown men who speak English without an accent, were born in the USA, and appear to be in the mid-20s? I hope, for my sake, this isn't true.)

September 14, 2002

Please disregard

Please disregard the link in the previous posting ("I wonder"); CNN has changed it. It's now about how Eunice Stone was "'flat-out lying' when she told authorities she overheard three Muslim men at a restaurant laughing about September 11." When I linked it a few hours ago, the story was different; it was about three possible terrorists in Florida and a heroic woman in Georgia who tipped them off. Sorry for the confusion, but it was CNN's doing, not mine. It's not a shock, though.

The "hero" who tipped the authorities off had some more interesting things to say. According to the New York Times, "Ms. Stone... said she was surprised to hear the three speaking in perfect American accents." Surprised, I suppose, because in Ms. Stone's world, there is nary a brown person who speaks with an American accent. A Mazumdar family function would probably be such a shock to her that she would not be able to take it. For her sake, I'll make sure she's never invited.

Because of Ms. Stone, the three were detained for 17 hours. According to the Times, the stop "triggered a tremendous law enforcement response, especially after bomb-sniffing dogs reacted as if both cars contained explosives. Exhaustive searches and even swabbing of surfaces in the cars, completed many hours later, showed no traces of explosive materials." No other reason, other than her. And her surprize at, among other things, how well they spoke.

Stone's husband has said that ""I think my wife did the right thing. That's what they ask people to do... I praise her." Let's hope (although I fear it's unlikely) that these three don't carry the stigma of this stop -- an unjust and unfair mark of Cain -- with them for a long time. Let's hope that the people they encounter are not like Ms. Stone and accept them for who they are and not for who they're assumed to be because of the color of their skin (if you think this line is too much, remember, she was surprized at their English fluency. Why?) or because of the spectacular news reports surrounding the events of today.

Sure, Ms. Stone is racial profiling taken to its extreme, but through her we see it at its logical conclusion. After her, I wonder how it's possible to advocate for it.

One more note. CNN reports the following: "Authorities had referred to the three men as being uncooperative, even as they were being released. Asked if they were indeed uncooperative, Gheith acknowledged authorities could have interpreted that way: 'I made it clear to them that I would prefer them not to search my car. Maybe that's what they assumed as not cooperative, and I take that as my prerogative because I know there is nothing in my car'" The authorities in South Florida may call that 'uncooperative.' In the rest of the country, we call that the 4th amendment. We all retain our Constitutional rights, every one of us, even when your an American citizen and you're brown.

Once more into the breach, dear friends, once more

Another posting on the event in Florida. Sorry if it seems a dead horse is being beaten, but, geez, it only happened yesterday.

According to the Miami Herald, the police and federal authorities say the three men were uncooperative. It writes: "However, several other things conspired to escalate the incident even further," one of these things was "according to police sources, all three men at first were uncooperative - denying consent to search the car. 'It was probably not the right time for them to be copping an attitude with police,' said one federal law enforcement source who was up all night monitoring the investigation. 'But that's exactly what happened.'"

By not agreeing to a search, the three were simply asserting their 4th amendment rights against unwarranted searches.

It's not like the police could not search the car (and they, of course, did); they just had to provide probable cause, either then or later. It's too bad that the police and federal authorities are trying to deflect blame onto the three for escalating the situtation. It's a shame that the Herald writers, David Green and David Kidwell, don't counter the police account with a reference to the Bill of Rights, which I assume they both read in high school civics. Claiming your rights is not "copping an attitude" yet the writers included the line, without qualification, anyway.

Imagining a different world

Brad Delong alerts us to a recent essay by Edward Said on the terrorism in Israel. Said writes: "Suicide bombing is reprehensible but it is a direct and, in my opinion, a consciously programmed result of years of abuse, powerlessness and despair. It has as little to do with the Arab or Muslim supposed propensity for violence as the man in the moon. Sharon wants terrorism, not peace, and he does everything in his power to create the conditions for it."

So, according to Said, homicide bombing is bad, but it's Israel's fault. Those who want freedom are, because of the current conditions, have no other choice.

African Americans were oppressed for 350 years before the 1950s, by slavery, by Jim Crow, by lynchings, by discrimination, yet the main leader that arose in the 1950s was Martin Luther King Jr. Indians were colonized by the British, they suffered decades upon decades of abuse, powerlessness and despair, yet the main leader that arose in the independence struggle was Gandhi.

There are other alternatives for the Palestinian cause other than Arafat. Blacks in American found one as did Indians in India. It's a shame that Said can't imagine one. Homicide bombings are not the only answer; in fact, they are not an answer at all. All they are is murder.

September 16, 2002

With friends like these...

Marianne Stanley is a pioneer in women's basketball. In the 1970s, she played for the pioneering Immaculata College team. She coached Old Dominion to AIAW National Championships... the only national championship back then... the NCAA would not sanction a tournament. She later coached at the University of Southern California, another storied program (it's Cheryl Miller's alma mater). Many of those who currrently follow women's basketball sometimes seem to believe that the 1995 UConn team invented women's basketball -- instead, however, it was fostered and developed year after year by remarkable and couragous women like Stanley.

Stanley wasn't just a pioneer on the court. When she was the coach at USC, she filed a law suit against the USC administration demanding equal pay as the men's basketball coach. She lost her job and was out of basketball for a couple of years until Stanford hired her as a one year interim coach. She lost the case. She took a job at the University of California (Berkeley) currently, she is the head coach of the Washington Mystics of the WNBA.

Why the short history of Marianne Stanley? Today's Washington Post fronts a story that, while the head coach of the University of California, she allegedly demanded that a newly hired (and pregnant) assistant coach have an abortion or lose her job. When the assistant decided to keep her baby, her job was gone. It's in court now; Stanley claims the assistant wasn't fired nor did she demand an abortion, just that she asked for her resignation. Either way, it's quite damning towards Stanley.

How are young women going going to advance through the work world -- how are they going to have families and careers -- when friends like this treat them in this way? It's a sad, sad story.

September 17, 2002

You don't say

Near the end of a dime-a-dozen piece by John Leo about how liberal college faculty are in the new U.S. News and World Report college rankings issue, Leo makes a facinating statement: "Litigation is likely to play some role in reforming the campuses, particularly at state schools, where taxpayers are expected to foot the bill for ideological excesses. One suit successfully challenged the funding of leftist campus causes with fees collected from all students."

The case Leo is talking about came out of Wisconsin a few years back. Scott Southworth sued the University of Wisconsin over being forced to help fund so-called liberal student groups, and in 2000, the case was decided by the Supreme Court. However, he lost; the University of Wisconsin won. The suit wasn't successful (if winning is how Leo defines sucess, and I think he does). The 'leftist campus causes' are still funded by mandatory student fees. US News and World Report needs better editors reading Leo's pieces.

You can read the decision here: Board of Regents of the University of Wisconsin System v. Scott Southworth et. al. or look it up yourself at 529 U.S. 217. Don't bother, however, looking for a dissenting opinion -- it was a 9-0 vote.

September 19, 2002

Man Arrested, Charged with F.W.B.

FWB is "Flying While Brown."

Today's Philadelphia Inquirer fronts the story of Bob Rajcoomar and an experience he had on Delta flight 442, Atlanta to Philadelphia, about a month ago.

Rajcoomar was sitting in first class and, back in coach, a guy went a little nuts. When the guy would not stop being a butthead, two air marshals restrained him. They
handcuffed him and seated him in first class next to Rajcoomar (Rajcoomar switched seats). After the plane landed in Philadelphia, Philadelphia police officers came on board and arrested the unruly man. Noticing Rajcoomar -- and that he was brown -- they arrested him, too.

That's exactly why Rajcoomar was arrested, no other reason. He was a brown man on a plane. Rajcoomar, who for the next few paragraphs I'm going to call Major Rajcoomar (since he is a retired U.S. Army major), did not do anything wrong. He just sat there on the plane while someone else caused trouble.

Maj. Rajcoomar is quoted as saying: "One of the marshals said something like, 'We didn't like the way you looked.' They also said something like, 'We didn't like the way you looked at us.' " Maj. Rajcoomar's statement seems a little over the top -- I mean, he must have done something suspicious to be arrested, right? People are not just arrested because they are brown. Not in the United States. Everybody is respected here; equal justice under the law and all that.

Well, Maj. Rajcoomar, who for the next few paragraphs I'm going to call Doctor Rajcoomar (since he's been a medical doctor for the past 20 years), is right on target. David Steigman, a spokesmen for the U.S. Transportation Safety Administration, is quoted as saying Dr. Rajcoomar "to the best of our knowledge, had been observing too closely." There's a disturbance on the plane, the guy who caused it is seated right next to you, and you get arrested because you "had been observing too closely." Steigman, quite charitably adds, "the airline declined to press charges." I wonder what charges the airline would have pressed? Brown person looking intently?

So, word the wise for all the brown people reading this. If there is a disturbance near you, don't look at it. Look away. It probably won't keep you from being arrested for being brown, but it couldn't hurt.

I hope I die before I get old

I realize that the headline comes from the Who and not the Rolling Stones, but today's Philadelphia Inquirer includes a fascinating factoid about the Stones who played a concert in Philly last night.

The average age of the Stones is 58.25. The average age of a member of the Philadelphia Orchestra is 47. I don't know what it means, but it must mean something.

September 23, 2002

Lies Teacher Told Me

The cover story of the most recent US News and World Report is a remarkable piece examining the history which is currently taught at Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. Gettysburg, of course, was the site of the Civil War's most famous battle and from where President Lincoln said this country would have "a new birth of freedom."

It should be remembered, and it currently is not officially at Gettysburg, that he mean a freedom without slavery.

Gettysburg is not the only historic place in the United States where the past is whitewashed. I highly recommend reading James W. Loewen's Lies Across America: What Our Historic Sites Get Wrong. It's an essential companion for any vacation trip across America, or even a trip to my neighbors, Independence Hall and the old Presidential Mansion, here in Philadelphia as they confront their pasts. College campuses throughout this country could do worse than to make this book, and Loewen's Lies My Teacher Told Me required reading by all freshman.

(A wonderful exception to what is, painfully, a rule is Augustus Saint-Gaudens's Shaw Memorial in the Boston Commons.)

What changed his mind?

Right before he was elected, on August 27, 2000, on "Meet the Press," Dick Cheney said: "In the meantime, I think we want to maintain our current posture vis-a-vis Iraq. And we want to see to it that we keep the coalition in force, we maintain the sanctions that are currently on and can keep the pressure on. And hopefully, there'll be a change to the government of Iraq before too long."

But, today, if you advocate for that position now, meaning if you advocate for the coalition... if you advocate for sanctions... if you advocate for keeping this pressure on, you'll be called, well, lots of names (vid. many blogs, like Andrew Sullivan's, and what they've been calling the New York Times).

I think Jay Mazumdar (yeah, we're related) is right on target. None of us, even us on the so-called left, like Saddam. We don't think he should be in power, either. We just want to know what changed Cheney's and the rest of their's minds. None of us (well, perhaps some of us) are cynical enough to think that, without all this war talk, the administration would be currently be forced to discuss the economy and executive (including their executive) excess, and the administration does not want to do this. Most of us would simply like to know what's going on; we don't want to be like all those Americans in 1917 who voted for President Wilson, who in 1916 had campaigned that he'd keep us out of the war but within six months had gotten us into the war, with Ashcroft at our door if we noted the inconsistency. (Woops! I didn't mean Ashcroft, I meant Palmer.) (And, please don't reply "9/11" as the cause; Maureen Dowd has written quite correctly "The administration isn't targeting Iraq because of 9/11. It's exploiting 9/11 to target Iraq.")

Jay wrote: "The problem is with the cynical way the Bush administration has foisted war onto an unsuspecting populace. There was no mention of war during the last presidential campaign; there was no mention of Iraq when the neo-cons were beating the war drums against China after the spy plane incident. Indeed, there was no mention of war against Iraq until Bush and Cheney and Rumsfeld announced its inevitability, leaving the rest of us wondering whether we had missed something important. The problem isn't with overthrowing Iraq. It's with the chikenhawks who think the decision is their's and their's alone to make."

September 24, 2002

Wait until The Onion hears about this

Mel Gibson is set to direct and produce a new movie, "The Passion," detailing the final 12 hours of Jesus Christ's life. This story has been told many times on film, as far back as the 1898 French silent film "The Life and Passion of Jesus Christ," but never before like how Gibson is planning to do it. His movie will be entirely in Latin and Aramaic and without subtitles.

I can't think of who Gibson's target audience will be, but he does not seem to be worried. At a press conference last friday, he said: "Obviously, nobody wants to touch something filmed in two dead languages. They think I'm crazy, and maybe I am. But maybe I'm a genius."

September 26, 2002

Hats off to the Student Senate of the University of Mississippi

Hats off to the members of the University of Mississippi Student Senate. On Tuesday night, they unanimously repealed a resolution, passed 40 years ago by the same Ole Miss Student Senate, which censured the campus newspaper editor, Sidna Brower. That Senate was critical of Brower's writings on the presence of federal marshalls on the Oxford campus who were enforcing a federal court order that Ole Miss be integrated and that James Meredith be matriculated. At the time, it wrote that she "failed in time of grave crisis to represent and uphold the rights of her fellow students." This Senate wrote that Brower should be "commended for the outstanding journalistic courage she displayed throughout her tenure as editor of The Daily Mississippian."

Of course, this resolution does not change anything. It does not change what Mississippi was like 40 years ago and does not change what America is like now. However, it did make an older woman happy (Sidna Brower Mitchell has said that "I can't tell you how much this resolution means to me. I am really touched"). And, as Martin Luther King Jr. said in Oslo: "When our days become dreary with low-hovering clouds and our nights become darker than a thousand midnights, we will know that we are living in the creative turmoil of a genuine civilization struggling to be born." I believe Brower knew this then; the student leaders of the University of Mississippi know this now.

Perhaps she should have paid more attention during A.P. US History

Virginia Postrel's critique of Al Gore's recent U.S. - Iraq is adequate; it's the same old stuff -- not really too much to comment on. However, in an attempt to be witty in her jabs at the former Vice-President, she does miss at least one mark.

She quotes Gore: "'We have to recognize that this is a whole new era, and the advances in the technology of destruction require us to think anew.'" Then she compares this to a comic strip: "Think anew! It's worthy of a Dilbert PowerPoint presentation. What new thoughts are we to think? Here's where I get to writing 'weak and vague.'"

Postrel misses that Gore is obviously alluding to Lincoln's 1862 Message to Congress: "The dogmas of the quiet past, are inadequate to the stormy present. The occasion is piled high with difficulty, and we must rise -- with the occasion. As our case is new, so we must think anew, and act anew. We must disentrall ourselves, and then we shall save our country."

I believe that Lincoln's words are quite appropriate for today. So does Vice-President Gore. Postrel believes they belong in Dilbert.

September 27, 2002

Seattle redux

In Washington D.C. today, over 600 protesters have been arrested while showing their displeasure at the World Bank and IMF who will hold meetings there starting on Monday. These protesters reportedly have, among other things, "made a rush-hour attempt to close a main commuter artery", "harassed police with false 911 calls", thrown smoke bombs at police, set a tire fire, and smashed bank windows.

Even if the demonstrators had a valid reason to protest, these actions are unjustifable and accomplish little anything except alienating otherwise sympathetic people from their cause. They need to remember Martin Luther King Jr.'s four basic steps in any non-violent campaign: "collection of the facts to determine whether injustices exist; negotiation; self-purification; and direct action." Direct action comes last, and I don't think the anti-globalization folks who look back on Seattle with fond memories have accomplished one through three or even attempted two and three.

I wonder what his comfort zone is?

Republican candidate for the Maryland governorship Robert Ehrlich is open to debate and ideas for all -- just ask him. About his campaign, he has said "We're going to continue doing the things we've been doing to win their vote. We're willing to show up to debates and engage in conversation about issues with African-American groups. We're very comfortable operating outside our comfort zone."

A necessary question is: considering that Maryland, the state he hopes to lead, is 27.9 percent African-American, why aren't conversations about issues with African-American groups within his comfort zone? Ehrich's opponent, Kathleen Kennedy Townsend, correctly responded: "This is not Star Trek. African-Americans are not aliens. They are a part of our community, and I think that it has not been a part of your comfort zone. That's the problem with your party for a long period of time."

They said it

Lawmakers in Spain are debating whether to reduce the 16 percent luxury tax on diapers, the same rate that is levyed upon cigarettes and alcohol. Opponents of the tax want it reduced to 4 percent. Spanish Federation for Large Families President Jose Ramon Losana says that parents should be rewarded for having large families; he says: "When kids use diapers, they are generating gross domestic product."

October 1, 2002

And your point is?

The new issue of U.S. News and World Report has a puzzling article about the take-over of some of the schools within the Philadelphia public school system by Edison because of chronic underperformance. To be sure, the article is quite impressive, mostly because the author dropped the word "sclerotic" and used it correctly (this, however, does not to top the time I witnessed George Will correctly use "equipoise" in a conversation). It's puzzling, though, because the article really doesn't say anything. The author notes "it's far too early to gauge results," making me wonder why the article was written and, after being completed, why it was run.

One definite bright note for the Philadelphia public schools, though: according to the new Philadelphia Magazine, if you want your kid to get into the University of Pennsylvania (now the #4 school in the country according the U.S. News) it may be best to keep them in the Philadelphia schools. There is a joke there somewhere, but I don't know what it is or who the butt of it is, the Philadelphia schools or the University of Pennsylvania.

October 2, 2002

Classes cancelled

In Lawrence, Kansas, where I used to live, the University of Kansas Law School was right next to KU's basketball arena. The first year law students used to get annoyed on game nights because of the difficulty of getting to the library -- the basketball fans took all the parking spaces. They'd complain, but by their second year, they would be resigned to their fate and plan ahead; they'd either get to the library early or do their work at home.

Not wishing for its students simply to cope, Florida State University has come up with a novel solution on how to deal with the competing demands of academics and athletics. This upcoming Thursday, FSU is playing Clemson with the game starting at 7:45 p.m. What is FSU doing? It's cancelling all of its Thursday classes. Not just the evening classes, but all of them. The ones that begin at 9:30 a.m, the ones that begin at 3:30 p.m as well as the ones that begin at 8:00 pm. But, that's not it. It's cancelling all of its Friday classes, too. FSU President Talbot D'Alemberte says that "The game will involve more than 80,000 fans coming to campus during the day. A fall break seemed to be the answer for both the long-term and short-term challenges."

Maybe he'll drive by and hand me a dime

In 1914, the workers at the Colorado Fuel & Iron Corporation went on strike. They were evicted from their company-owned houses in Ludlow, Colorado, moved into a tent-city. On Easter 1914, the National Guard and company-hired gunman burned the tents, shot into the city with machine guns, and killed 13, including some of the worker's wives and children.

Colorado Fuel & Iron was owned by John D. Rockefeller. His image, was, to put it mildly, tarnished by the incident. So, what did he do to show is contrition? Instead of (somehow) making it up to his workers (or any other workers), he hired a P.R. man who advised him to give dimes to random poor children. For the next two decades, Rockefeller devotedly gave dimes away.

Yesterday, Global Crossing Chairman Gary Winnick, who made (read: stole) $734 million from the company's stock before the shares became worthless, will donate $25 million into the retirement funds of his thousands of employees, many of whom lost virtually everything. Winnick's crime may not be as reprehensable as Rockefeller's but his penitence is.

October 4, 2002

Woohoo! II

Readers of this blog may recall David's post on August 21, 2001 celebrating Represenative Cynthia McKinney primary defeat in her re-election bid. In the post, David cited McKinney's father, Billy McKinney, who spelled out the reason he thought his daughter lost: "J-E-W-S."

Gary Collard alerts me to a recent speech Cynthia McKinney made on the House floor; it seems she believes that Indians are also to blame for her loss. Among other things, she says: "I am inserting in the Record along with this statement shows that they admitted that they invested heavily in the effort to defeat me. To my colleagues of both parties who have also been involved in the effort to expose India's brutal record, I say: Watch out; they are coming after you, too," and "Now I have become the latest political officeholder in India's cross hairs. I won't be the last unless their activities are exposed. Mr. Speaker, whether I am in office or not, I don't intend to let a foreign power determine the results of American elections if I can help it."

The link includes what she inserted into the record. After reading it, I'm quite convinced that some Indian-Americans most surely did organize to defeat McKinney and elect her opponent. What McKinney amazingly fails to grasp is, just because some people of Indian decent did something, that does not mean the Indian government did it. She confuses Americans politically organizing around shared ethnicity or race (which she undoubtably condones) with "a foreign power" being out to get her.

Whatever. She accused President Bush of being behind the 9/11 attacks, is an anti-semite, and believes the Indian government is came after her because Indian-Americans in America must not be Americans, they must be Indian and under the thumb of the government (which, for what it's worth, is the world's largest democracy, but who's keeping track?). David said it best: "She's out, and that's what's important."

Chomsky speaks

Noam Chomsky spoke yesterday at his alma mater. Sadly or happily, depending on how one views Chomsky in these parts, he is an alumnus of the University of Pennsylvania.

The Daily Pennsylvanian article about the talk labelled him a "dissident" which, I suppose, is true; however, "dissident" is tradionally used to describe those who critique a totalitarian state. As in one of the Oxford English Dictionary definitions: "In political contexts, one who openly opposes the policies of the government or ruling party, esp. in a totalitarian system." I don't think Chomsky qualifies as a "dissident."

After the talk, two Penn students were allowed to speak to the crowd and encourage its members to sign a petition advocating that Penn disinvest from its endowment all holding it has in Israel. Chomsky became the first Penn alum to sign on. I realize that Penn disinvesting from Israel is about as likely as it making me a full professor tomorrow, but I'm still speechless.

October 9, 2002

Winning the battle, but losing the...

It's not really news anymore, but the Dow is down another 200 points today.

The Iraqi situation has effectively kept the stock market and the economy off the network news agenda, but President Bush is going to have to deal with the economy at some time. The question becomes: why has he not put it on a frontburner this summer and fall, when the worst that could happen is that the Republicans lose the midterm elections? (Note the use of "a frontburner" not "the frontburner" -- it's possible for the White House to do more than one thing at a time). Why is he waiting? So it'll simmer and be a boiling issue for the next two years? So he'll get beaten in 2004?

Jumping to Conclusions for a second... is this his corporate experience coming into action? Putting short-term goals ahead of long-term ones?

October 10, 2002

One bit of good news

There's an old maxim which ties fashion with the economy: "hemlines rise when the market goes up, they fall when the stocks plunge."

Today, stocks are plunging, but if the recent fashion shows in Milan and Paris are an indicator of future trends, hemlines are rising.

I think that one of these is good news.

Did he really just say that?

Sometimes I have to read things twice because I don't believe it the first time.

One instance of this just happened. It seems, and I couldn't believe it at first, that Henry Bellefonte publicly said the following the other day: "There's an old saying, in the days of slavery, there were those slaves who lived on the plantation and [there] were those slaves that lived in the house. You got the privilege of living in the house if you served the master ... exactly the way the master intended to have you serve him. Colin Powell's committed to come into the house of the master. When Colin Powell dares to suggest something other than what the master wants to hear, he will be turned back out to pasture."

After being appalled at Bellefonte's suggestion and noting how Bellefonte is quoting Malcolm X almost verbatim, I was puzzled to whom Bellefonte believes President Bush would listen to after he turned Secretary Powell "back out to pasture?" Some hawk when it comes to Iraq obviously. Who could it be? The National Security Advisor, perhaps. Condoleezza Rice.

October 13, 2002

Where is John Ashcroft when you need him?

Would it not be a good time to have a serious discussion on a national ballistic fingerprinting program -- "the keeping of an electronic record of the markings that the weapons leave on the bullets or shell casings" -- right now?

It can be well argued that "If we had that fingerprinting [for rifles], that guy wouldn't be free right now."

Ballistic fingerprinting would be able to prevent some future attacks of this nature. The events in Maryland and Virginia have made arguments against it shallow.

October 14, 2002

Nothing new

Newsweek magazine reports that the FBI is looking into failed applicants to the Fort Bragg sniper school for possible leads to the identity of the Washington area sniper.

Not to make light of the situation, but to make a point, this forces one to remember a scene from the movie "Full Metal Jacket" (a scene which Roger Ebert has called a "masterpiece"):

Do any of you people know who Charles Whitman was?
None of you dumbasses knows?

Private Cowboy?

Sir, he was that guy who shot all those people
from that tower in Austin, Texas, sir!

That's affirmative. Charles Whitman killed twenty
people from a twenty-eight-storey
observation tower at the
University of Texas
from distances up to four hundred yards.

Anybody know who Lee Harvey Oswald was?

Private Snowball?

Sir, he shot Kennedy, sir!

That's right, and do you know how
far away he was?

Sir, it was pretty far! From that book
suppository building, sir!

All right, knock it off! Two hundred and fifty
feet! He was two hundred and fifty feet away
and shooting at a moving target. Oswald got
off three rounds with an old Italian bolt action
rifle in only six seconds and scored two
hits, including a head shot! Do any of you people
know where these individuals learned to

Private Joker?

Sir, in the Marines, sir!

In the Marines! Outstanding! Those
individuals showed what one motivated
marine and his rifle can do! And before you
ladies leave my island, you will be able to
do the same thing!

One wonders why the FBI is looking for just *failed* applicants.

Also, the scene reminds us that sniper incidents are not new to the United States. In addition to simply catching the sniper (which we all pray will be done soon), affirmative efforts should be taken to make sure this never happens again.

Columbus Day

I'm all for an Italian American holiday. It could be October 4, not far away from the current Columbus Day. Name it for Francis Bernardone, Saint Francis of Assissi who preached purity and peace, served the sick, cleaned churches, and sent food to thieves. A wonderful, wonderful man, and a patron saint of Italy.

Currently, instead, we have Columbus Day. Columbus's men, under his direction, used Native Americans as dog food. "They would even take Indians from place to place with them -- as dog food -- as a kind of mobile dog food. When they got to where they were going for the night, [they would] allow the dogs to tear one of them apart and eat them." This according to Bartolemy de Las Casas, an acquantiance of Columbus and a European (this history was written by the "winners"). By 1555, sixty years after Columbus first arrived in Haiti, there were no Indians left. From a population of three million to zero. Columbus enslaved Indians, committed genocide against them (neither of these is in dispute), and now we have a holiday named after him.

A holiday named after Saint Francis, like the unofficial one we have for Saint Patrick, would be a good thing. And a much better thing.

October 16, 2002

Planning the day after

"If you're going to go in and try to topple Saddam Husein, you have to go to Baghdad. Once you've got Baghdad, it's not clear what you do with it. It's not clear what kind of government you would put in place of the one that's currently there now. Is it going to be a Shia regime, a Sunni regime or a Kurdish regime? Or one that tilts toward the Baathists, or one that tilts toward the Islamic fundementalists? How much credibility is that government going to have if it's set up by the United States military when it's there? How long does the United States military have to stay to protect the people that sign on for that government, and what happens to it once we leave?"

- Dick Cheney, quoted in the New York Times, April 13, 1991

October 17, 2002

Greatly exaggerated rumors

It's amazing what you can find on the web. If, during your surfing, you too come across this page, like I did today, be rest assured that I'm alive and well.

Here we go again

I often go to sleep listening to the BBC in Bengali. I like it because it kills two birds with one stone: it's the world news and it helps me keep up with my Bengali.

Tonight, I was listening, and I heard something that made me jump up. I'll link it here, but unless you know the language, you'll have to find someone who speaks it to translate it for you (which might not be that hard as you think; Bengali is the 4th most spoken language in the world, outpacing French and German, combined).

In the piece, the BBC interviews a person who quite seriously claims that the American government planned and planted the Bali bomb, and this can be proven by how few Americans died in the blast. From what I've read, this sentiment has not made it out of Asia yet, however, I'm sure this belief will resonate in some parts of the world (and, to a lesser degree, in this country -- witness Amiri Baraka). Let's hope this one dies a quick death and those who actually did it are found and brought to justice, or have justice brought to them, soon.

Returning to California

Commenting on the recent admission by an Enron official of price-manipulation in California, Brad Delong remarks that "people who said that the California energy crisis was due not to market manipulation but just to excessive pro-Green government policies seem to be very quiet these days."

Who are these people, anyway?

George W. Bush? Who said: "The problems in California shows [sic] that you cannot conserve your way to energy independence," quoted in the New York Times, May 29, 2001.

Dick Cheney?, who in attempting to blame Gray Davis for the entire mess said on Meet the Press on May 20, 2001; "They've bankrupted the biggest utility in the state, destroyed the state's credit rating and squandered a significant portion of the state's financial surplus in a harebrained scheme to try to use the state to purchase power.... They knew over a year ago they had a problem, and Gray Davis refused to address that problem. [They] kept putting it off and putting it off and putting it off, with the notion that somehow price caps could be maintained. Now, today, where are they in California? Well, rates are having to go up. The PUC just had to increase the rates themselves in California. They've got rolling blackouts, they've had some already. They'll have them across the state this summer."

Dick Cheney?, who called accusations that price-gouging was being allowed, "goofy," quoted in the San Diego Union-Tribune, June 5, 2001.

Perhaps it's time for an apology.

October 21, 2002


2. fig. A condition of affairs or events of a character opposite to what was, or might naturally be, expected; a contradictory outcome of events as if in mockery of the promise and fitness of things. (In F. ironie du sort.)


The Newsweek cover story promoting and containing excerpts from Kurt Cobain's diary.

One diary entry included in the Newsweek piece reads: "The most violating thing ive felt this year is not the media exxagerations or the catty gossip, but the rape of my personal thoughts. Ripped out of pages from my stay in hospitals and aeroplane rides hotel stays etc. I feel compelled to say f—k you F—k you to those of you who have absolutely no regard for me as a person." Ironic it no doubt is. Shameful, it isn't; I fear for the people involved, there is no shame to be felt when there is money to be made.

October 22, 2002

Movie reviewed by Enron

One has to wonder whether David Demby was being serious in his New Yorker review of Michael Moore's new movie, "Bowling for Columbine." The review was outstandingly poor. It's easy to disagree with Michael Moore, but I can't imagine it's easy to write such a sloppy review.

While discussing Moore's first movie, "Roger & Me," Demby writes: "Moore refused to see GM's big picture; he was outraged by the little picture—by the ruined city, with its desolate streets and impoverished workers scrounging around to make a living." One has to believe that, if he actually saw the movie (and I assume that he did), that he would have realized that this was the point of the "Roger & Me" -- the devil is in the details. Corporations may make decisions which are justified by their "big picture," but sometimes they have horrible effects -- effects which, in a humane and democratic country, should have been taken into account by the company.

Demby accuses Moore of the following: "he thinks powerful people should take responsibility for the troubles that their decisions lead to," which forces one to ask: does Demby not believe this? That powerful people should not take responsibility for their decisions?

Demby says the movie becomes "an absurdist portrait... of America as a paranoid nation." Yet, Demby does not reveal why it's absurd. In a responsible debate, you can't just disagree with your opponent, or just call his position names (like absurd), but you are required to state why. Moore did his part to further the debate. His movie isn't and shouldn't be the final word on its subjects. Demby refuses to engage the debate. He just wants to call the movie names.

Demby contributes the following analysis: "Moore traces our anxiety to guilt over slavery and the slaughter of Native Americans." I've seen the movie, too, and remember the part that covered slavery and Native Americans. Yet, Moore hardly "traces our anxiety" to it; his point was simply that Americans have owned and employed guns for a long time. Putting words in someone's mouth is easy but crass.

Near the close of the review, we read the following statement: "Moore's satirical scattershot method offers no way of distinguishing between real and pathological terrors." Again, this was Moore's point. American are terrified -- terrified by the local news, terrified by the shootings at Columbine, terrified by the government telling them that terror strikes are likely this upcoming weekend and when none comes that it will likely come next weekend. It's the fear that Moore was exploring, not whether the fear was justified or not (or, in Demby's words, real or pathological). This message wasn't subtle; it was obvious throughout the work. It's surprizing that Demby did not realize this. Actually, it's not surprizing.

October 24, 2002


A bunch of bloggers are disappointed that, while reporting today's events in the Washington sniper story, MSNBC originally couldn't find Alabama on an unmarked US map. It'd be easy to condemn MSNBC, or the US educational system, or the East Coast/West Coast elitism of American education and American media. Easy and unfair.

This is the same news organization, who, in 1998 after Tara Lipinski won the women's figure skating gold medal at the Olympics defeating Michelle Kwan, led with the headline: "American beats out Kwan." (Hint: the problem with this headline is that Michelle was born, raised, lives in the USA and is as American as apple pie and Mu Shu Pork).

I say, let's not be too hard on MSNBC. If they can't figure out that Americans are American, it's probably too much to expect that they know the rudiments of American geography.

October 29, 2002

Glenn Reynolds is a hoot!

The Instapundit has posted the following on his site. From reading what he has written, one has no choice but to believe the following: (1) if we were to qualitify their emotions, that President Clinton and Vice-President Mondale are feeling a lot less grief over Senator Wellstone's death than the Instapundit, and (2) in fact, President Clinton and Vice-President Mondale aren't feeling any grief at all... the picture, just one moment from a hours long ceremony and at the close of a week of coming to terms with the catastrophic news, illustrates their true feelings... they are immoral heartless Democrats who find this time a good one to yuck it up.

Even if Reynolds meant his post as a joke (and, for the life of me, I can't figure out what the joke would be), it seems to me, at least, that Reynolds was out of line.

Mazumdars in the house

Jay Mazumdar (yeah, we're related [my grandfather and his great-grandfather were brothers]) has an excellent post on his blog on Andrew Sullivan's call for all of us to "connect the dots" concerning John Allen Muhammad. Mazumdar points out, that, as of the data we have now, Sullivan seems to be reaching.

Speaking of Mazumdars, Jay's brother and fellow lawyer (I'm not a lawyer; the two of them are), Anandashankar Mazumdar has just started a blog (everybody is doing it.) I can't condone his liking Enterprise or Trading Spaces, but his post on Digital Rights Management is a must read for those interested in intellectual property rights and internet file sharing.

The three of us grew up hundreds of miles away from each other, like different baseball teams (me: the Pittsburgh Pirates, them: the Cincinnati Reds), with different parents (of course), and different lives (one of us is married with children -- and it's the youngest of the three!) yet we all grew up into unapologetic bleeding-heart-Wellstone-loving liberals. Isn't America great?

Why compound it by voting for this misguided relic

Concerning Walter Mondale, Andrew Sullivan asks us "Wellstone's death is indeed a tragedy. But why compound it by voting for this misguided relic?" Because, Mr. Sullivan, the people of Minnesota are not voting for the President, they're voting for a Senator. The Senate is a place where institutional memory counts for something, and, after all, they're not voting for Stom Thurmond., an actual misguided relic.

Misguided, Andrew Sullivan may believe his past was, but Mondale cut his teeth at the knee of Hubert Humphrey, the man who couragously spoke up at the on July 14, 1948 at the Democratic National Convention which led to Thurmond and his Dixiecrats breaking away. Even though his compromise pleased no one, Mondale, as a young man, was charged at the 1964 Democratic convention to find a compromise with the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party and the leadership of the national party. With his mentor, Humphrey, Mondale was a champion of what the Democratic party once stood for and what Wellstone believed it could be again. Mondale won't be leading the party in 2004, but over the next six years he could remind the party that what is required for a victory in 2004 -- he can be a bridge between the party's glorious past and Wellstone's tragically abreviated potential -- and show that the party needs a grassroots coalition of working-class whites, African Americans, Latinos, and youth. Those people who galvanized the party in the 1960s and those who President Clinton resonated with so clearly in the 1990s.

Grassroots. Whites. African Americans. Latinos. Youth. (And, I'll add Asian Americans.) This is what Wellstone was. This is what Mondale still is. A grand coaltion which includes everybody. I think it's something worth voting for in 2002. I also think it'll be something worth voting for in 2004.

October 30, 2002

Where was President Bush?

Why didn't President Bush go to tonight's ceremony for the late Senator Paul Wellstone?

Media Whores Online has its take on it. I can imagine three posibilities: (1) Wellstone voted against some of President George W. Bush's initiatives and the President still holds it against him; (2) Wellstone voted against some of President George H.W. Bush's initiatives and the current President holds it against him; (3) a trip to Minnesota would mean curtailing the President's current campaigning for Republican candidates [there's no money to be raised at a tribute]. And, yeah, Media Whores is correct -- when Ari Fletcher said "If you take a look at the historical record of when a sitting senator dies in office, no the President will not go. This has not been the past pattern. We will send an appropriate official," he wasn't telling the truth.

Going to an event like this, even if its someone who voted against you or your father, is Presidential. And, on top of that, it's the right thing to do. It unites (remember the campaign slogan: I'm a uniter not a divider?). None of the three reasons I can imagine for Bush not going are Presidential. Are there any other possible reasons? Was he busy tonight? Is he trying to get his job approval ratings to go ever farther down? (Currently 60 percent, 66 percent two weeks ago, 69 percent in August.)

You know more reports that millions of American parents lack confidence concerning their ability to raise their children. Being childless (and wifeless, for that matter) myself, I'm probably in no position to give advice on the matter. But, I can't help remembering the first line from Dr. Benjamin Spock's great book, Baby and Child Care: "Trust yourself. You know more than you think you do."

Bowling for Columbine II

If you haven't yet, go see Bowling for Columbine. Theaters and showtimes can be found here.

If my recomendation isn't enough, read my old friend's James Owens's review of the movie at his website, It's a good website, it's an excellent review, and, even though it had a few things I didn't agree with, it's a great movie.

Kudos to Kahn

A lot of bloggers are complaining about Rick Kahn's eulogy's to Senator Paul Wellstone. Well, I listened to it (you can too). To be perfectly frank, it's pretty great. It's difficult to understand why Republicans are so up in arms about it. (A eulogy to a politician that talks about what that politician believed in and encouraging those in the audience not to let the politician to have died in vain but to keep on fighting for his cause? No, say it ain't so!).

No, I don't think that Andrew Sullivan and the Instapundit and the pissed-off Republicans and Jesse Ventura are angry at Kahn's speech. They're angry at the crowd and its response.

Media Whores Online is correct. Sullivan and Reynolds and the Republicans who are angry (not all of them are; Tommy Thompson, the President's representative was okay with it all) know very well that the crowds at their memorials will not react like the crowd at Wellstone's memorial. At their memorials, no one will be talking about how they worked to better everyone's life. Their memorials won't be held in basketball arenas. Their memorials won't turn thousands of people away because there just wasn't room. Their lives haven't affected that many people that they would cheer uproarously in their memory. No one will be cheering at their nobility. No one will wait in line just to get in. It's a shame, too. Powerful people have the opportunity to affect people's lives like Wellstone did. The shame is that more people who have the opportunity don't do it.

Maybe they're more than angry. Maybe they're also jealous. Perhaps they're also a bit scared.

(And, whatever, lots of people are quoting Kahn's speech... one part of it... when he turned to the Republicans in the audience and said "We can redeem the sacrifice of his life if you help us win this election for Paul Wellstone." These people share Will Slaten line when he says that, "Somewhere, Wellstone must be turning on his cross." Go listen to Kahn yourself. The bit is about at the 15:00 minute mark. It's not as odious as it seems when taken in context. Kahn was talking about non-partisanship -- Wellstone's non-partisanship -- and that for the last week of the campaign, we all should win this election for Wellstone: win the election for non-partisanship. Listen for yourself. And, of course, listen to the crowd.)

November 3, 2002

There's a word for it... it starts with "hyp..."

After Trent Lott was booed at the Wellstone memorial, blame was cast upon the organizers of the event and their motives.

When Hillary Clinton was booed at a 9/11 function, blame was cast upon the Senator, herself. The heckers did nothing wrong. For verification, look here, here, here, or here.

Which is it going to be? You can't pretend to be on a moral high-road -- stake a claim for class and decorum and values -- only when it's personally beneficial. Either both booings were wrong or neither of them were (I say both). There's a word for that. But, I suppose that talking down the Wellstone memorial will get votes for Coleman, and that's all that matters.

(Thanks again to media whores and Jay Mazumdar.)

It's still the Golden Door

Concerning the Haitian refugees who recently came ashore in Flordia, Kathleen Park writes that "America cannot house, feed, clothe and educate every unhappy human being from every crummy country or America will sink."

I don't know if this is true, and, for that matter, I don't think that every poor person in the world is planning to come to the United States. But, if we take Park's statement as being true, let's end the hypocrisy.

To be true and consistent, all those who advocate sending the Haitians back to Haiti should also be advocating the following be removed from the base of the Statue of Liberty:

Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me.
I lift my lamp beside the golden door.

You can't have it both ways. Either we're the United States -- the country of immigrants, the country of the huddled masses yearning to breathe free, the land of the tempest-tost -- or we're not.

Did I miss something?

Mickey Kaus brings us this gem in his lastest blog entry: "If [Gary Hart had] just been a blatant, leering cheater, like Clinton -- well, that's a type we know and can deal with. But he wasn't -- which is why the fact that he's still married to his wife Lee, rather than cleansing him of the taint of the Donna Rice scandal, somehow makes him seem creepier. Why couldn't he get divorced like a normal politician?"

Mickey... I gotta tell you... you may call him a "blatant, leering cheater" (whatever), but your comparison by difference just doesn't work. President Clinton is still married.

And, I should add, for all I know, and for all you know Mickey, and for all the people reading this know, President and Senator Clinton are very happily married.

November 4, 2002

Goolisms has a new fun element... "googlisms." Basically, you search someone's name, the google spider looks for it and the computer tells you what, from the web-pages out there, what that person is like. To see what blogger Brad Delong's googism is, check out here. To test it, I checked under my old friend/boss/guru Robert Hemenway, the current Chancellor of the University of Kansas; googlism finds the following:

robert hemenway is the sixteenth chancellor of the university of kansas
robert hemenway is quoted in the october 23
robert hemenway is back at work while recuperating from surgery to have his prostate removed
robert hemenway is sponsoring the wheat state whirlwind faculty tour of kansas
robert hemenway is the host of the reception
robert hemenway is a perfect example
robert hemenway is part of the council
robert hemenway is expected to make a decision in the next month about whether or not to continue allowing alcohol at tailgate parties at memorial
robert hemenway is wrong when he says "tea cake accepts janie as an equal"
robert hemenway is taking steps to ensure that ku's new athletics director will have a comprehensive study of
robert hemenway is on the side of tradition

Okay, so far, so good, it all makes sense. That's what I'd expect to find for Bob Hemenway. I don't know what "tea cake accepts janie as an equal," but, whatever.

If we check out the host of this page and my blog partner, David Nieporent, we get:

david nieporent is one of the most prolific posters to the rec
david nieporent is an extremely dedicated fan
david nieporent is the nom de plume of syd thrift
david nieporent is right that almost all baseball players have a solid work ethic and good "intangibles" in general

Okay, still good. Daivd may disagree, but from what I know, there's no problem; he's a baseball fan and googlism reflects that. I think the Syd Thrift one refers to a tongue-in-cheek comment David must have written sometime back about the baseball executive (although, the truth be known, I'm kinda a fan of Thrift... I think he did a great job when he was the GM of the Pittsburgh Pirates in the 1980s... yet another thing David and I disagree on, I suppose.)

The problem comes when you googlism me. Googlism produces just one line:

partha mazumdar is said to have also suffered a bullet injury on his leg.

Huh? Bullet injury? Leg? What's it talking about?

November 5, 2002

You don't suppose

Just wondering... if President Clinton would have ordered a missile strike the day before a mid-term election, do you suppose that he would have been accused of wagging the dog?

I'm not saying that President Bush did what he did solely to influence today's election. Just that, if President Clinton would have done the exact same thing, Bill McCollum, Ed Bryant, James E. Rogan, Steve Buyer, Steve Chabot, Bob Barr, Charles T. Canady, Lindsey O. Graham, Chris Cannon, George W. Gekas, F. James Sensenbrenner, Jr., Henry J. Hyde, and Asa Hutchinson would have been all over the airwaves accusing him of everything, including stealing the kitchen sink.

At least there is one positive thing we can take from the list is that the 10 impeachment managers quickly disappearing from the American political scene. Hopefully some more will disappear today.

November 6, 2002

girls club

I'd like to point you to Kathy Newman's excellent column about David Kelley's recent (and recently cancelled) television show, "girls club" (I don't know why, but lower-case is how you're supposed to write it). Newman sees what other critics were unable or unwilling to -- that "Kelley does not really care about the law, nor is he a 'feminist.' He doesn’t have to be. But he is still one of the only TV writers out there who is writing ABOUT sex, and not merely using legs and sexy haircuts to get ratings.... girls club should not be seen as Kelley’s latest misstep. Rather, David Kelley is finally playing with the grown-ups, and it’s a huge relief."

Newman does get one thing wrong, though, when she wrote: "[Kelly's] law shows are not really about law at all. They never were. They are about relationships -- sexual ones -- and the ways in which these relationships can be made to play out in the context of a system with rules and regulations."

I've never seen any of Kelley's shows other than Ally McBeal (of which I was a dedicated viewer), and I don't think the show was about relationships at all. Quite the opposite, it was a show about being alone. Episode after episode closed with a shot of Ally sitting at her office desk or in her apartment by herself and cut to a wide cityscape of Boston and all the buildings within which lived millions of people, none of whom Ally was with. It was a show about how a single professional woman negotiated her loneliness.

Ally jumped the shark (as it were) when David Kelley began believing the press about the show being about relationships, the characters's querkiness, and the post-feminist idelogical position the show supposedly a trail-blazer of. Subsequently, Kelley made those the show's focus. No longer was the viewer treated (and it was a genuine treat) which we saw at the close of an early episode -- a shot of Ally kissing an an imaginary unicorn -- a unicorn that she dreamed about during her childhood and currently was dreaming about (and believing in) again. No, we got that annoying John Cage singing in some Mexican barbershop quartet. The generation x fans who flocked to Ally because her loneliness was real because it resonated with their own lives ran away from these later episodes like they were at a Perry Cumo concert. The show, which was once the jewel of generation x appointment television viewing, couldn't have been cancelled quickly enough.

We were left with with the vacuousness of that unbelievable utopian Friends world where not only everybody knows our names but there's no smoke and our favorite sofa is always empty.

For What It's Worth

For what it's worth, everybody I voted for today won -- including Mayor Ed Rendell and Congressman Robert Brady.

Is it too early to propose Rendell for the 2004 Democratic ticket? Straight-talking, intelligent, proven, and an unapologetic Democrat. He's exactly what the party needs.

And, he's a Penn alum to boot. With him, how can the party go wrong? (I'm just hoping, for his own piece of mind, that his new gubenatorial responsibilities won't keep from attending the Palestra. It's going to be a great year.)

Sullivan on Kansas

Andrew Sullivan writes today that: "RIORDAN WOULD HAVE WON: Can anyone doubt that now? Bush would have a friendly governor in California in 2004 if the California Republican party hadn't allowed itself to become captive to the hard right. The Dems are not the only people to learn lessons from last night. The Republicans need to internalize the fact that religious right conservatism, especially in places like California, is poison."

I don't know what he meant by "especially in California." The Republicans lost the Kansas governorship, too. Kansas forpetessake. Kathleen Sebelius becomes the first Democrat to win an open gubenatorial race in the Sunflower state in 65 years (eight years ago, she became the first Democratic Insurance Commissioner in over 100 years). Kansans, even in rural areas, voted for Sebelius over the hard right Tim Shallenburger. If a Republican can't win a state-wide race in Kansas, there must be something wrong with that Republican and there was with Shallenburger. Moving to the far right is bad no matter where you are -- California or Kansas (or Oklahoma where Steve Largent also lost his bid for governor). For their sakes, I hope the Republicans don't repeat what they did after their victory in 1994 and take the midterm election as an excuse to press a far right agenda.

Free Wynona

A good topic for an American Studies master's thesis would be to compare and contrast the press coverage of the Winona Ryder trial and the Fatty Arbuckle trials. What Arbuckle was accused of was much much more serious (rape and manslaughter); Hollywood was bigger back in Arbuckle's day; however, I'd bet that Ryder's case received more media attention (and Arbuckle's received a lot).

A lot of people made a lot of money and made their careers destroying Arbuckle. I wonder why so much was made out of Ryder's case, both by the Los Angeles District Attorney and by the Hollywood media? She's a famous actress, I understand, but she's not that famous. She's hardly a Julia Roberts or a even a Drew Barrymore. (If you disagree with me, name a big hit that she's been in. Or a great movie which she was the star of.)

The bottom line is the great national nightmare is now over. And if Ms. Ryder (or, Ms. Horowitz, if she does not go by her stage name in real life) needs someone to cheer her up, she's welcome to give me a call.

November 12, 2002

ESPN College Gameday

One thing history students constantly complain about is dates -- why do they have to memorize so many dates. (Answer: because it's important to know when things happened.)

I'm going to give you two dates:

1939: The last time an Ivy League college won a football national championship. (It was Cornell's brilliant 8-0 team).

1993: The year ESPN's College Football Gameday program began broadcasting their show from outside of the stadium of the biggest college football game being played that week. As of last year (I couldn't find the most recent numbers), they've made over 120 trips to 33 cities. They've gone to all the places you'd expect: Gainesville seven times, Ann Arbor and South Bend six times, Miami and Lincoln five times, and Knoxville four times.

This Saturday, the ESPN Gameday crew is going to broadcast from outside of Philadelphia's Franklin Field and feature the Harvard - Pennsylvania game; a first for the Ivy league, a first for Division I-AA, a first for many categories. I don't think that ESPN is caught in some kind of a timewarp and believe that Hamilton Fish is going to be lining up against John Heisman and John Outland, but they still chose this game to broadcast. I don't think this piece of information has any sort of grand international significance, but it's just facinating. And, it'll be fun to watch (but I can't decide what will be more fun: going to the game or watching it on tv.)

Where are they registered?

In the discussion of Ari Fleischer's recent wedding, few seemed thoughtful enough to ask: where is the couple registered? The answer is, at Target (Mark Dayton, heir to the Target fortune and Democratic Senator from Minnesota must be happy about this) and at Macy's. You can buy the happy couple a gift at either place and it'll be shipped to them. Congratulations to both.

November 13, 2002

Is he serious?

Glenn Reynolds over at Instapundit has lost his marbles. Today he wrote that Creedence Clearwater Revival was "the greatest -- and most thoroughly American -- American rock and roll band." "Fortunate Son" is a great song and all, but let's be serious. Is there anybody out there who would rather have CCR's new boxed set over a copy of the Beach Boys' "Pet Sounds"? Or would rather have seen CCR in concert than, say, Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band? Or the Jimi Hendrix Experience? Or Nirvana? The Jackson Five? The Ramones? R.E.M? All these bands are American, and they're all just great.

What's the greatest and the most thoroughly American rock and roll band? If I had to name one, I'd take any from the list I just gave over CCR, but I probably would have to go with The Funk Brothers. Who are they, you ask? They're the "best kept secret in the history of pop music." Hopefully, though, not for long.

November 18, 2002

It's a bird! It's a plane! It's...

I live right smack dab in the middle of a really big city, so this information doesn't really help me. But, to all of you who don't -- wake up early tomorrow morning (or, if you're on the West Coast, stay up late), go outside, and look up. You'll be glad you did. (Anywhere up should be good, but if you know where the constellation Leo is, look there.)

November 20, 2002


Getting a bunch of attention on the news recently has been the National Council of Churches and the Coalition on the Environment and Jewish Life's upcoming advertizing campaign: What Would Jesus Drive? Basically, these groups are saying that Jesus would not be driving a SUV... if He were around today, He'd be behind the wheel of an environmentally friendly auto, so you too should not purchase an SUV; you should be buying a earth-friendly car. (I'm not joking about this.)

With humility, I disagree with the National Council of Churches and the Coalition on the Environment and Jewish Life. I remember Luke 18:25 "For it is easier for a camel to go through a needle's eye, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God" (similar lines are also at Matthew 19:24 and Mark 10:25), and Mark 10:21 "Then Jesus beholding him loved him, and said unto him, One thing thou lackest: go thy way, sell whatsoever thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come, take up the cross, and follow me," and 2 Corinthians 8:9 "For ye know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that, though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, that ye through his poverty might be rich."

Personally, I don't think He'd own a car. If He had, He would have given it away. So, What Would Jesus Drive? He wouldn't -- He'd do what poor people do: He'd take the bus.

That's what the National Council of Churches and the Coalition on the Environment and Jewish Life should be advertizing.

Everyone is a moon, and has a dark side which he never shows to anybody.

Andrew Sullivan is puzzled at this entry in Kurt Cobain's journals ("I like to make incisions into the belly of infants then fuck the incisions until the child dies,") and why Newsweek did not publish it when it printed some of its excerpts.

Let's remember Mark Twain's line from his journal (the headline is also Twain, from Following the Equator): "there is a good side and a bad side to most people, and in accordance with your own character and disposition you will bring out one of them and the other will remain a sealed book to you."

It's too late, of course, but one wishes that those who are currently cashing in on Cobain's journals would have kept them sealed.

November 22, 2002


Whether it be from portrayals by Michel Bouquet, Reginald Owen, John Carradine, William Peterson, George C. Scott, Jeremy Kerridge, Patrick Stewart, Bill Murray, even Bugs Bunny, or (gasp!) reading it ourselves, we are all familar with the story of Ebeneezer Scrooge and Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol. One of the most memorable scenes is the horrifying conversation between Scrooge and a man asking him for a charitable contribution:

`At this festive season of the year, Mr. Scrooge,'
said the gentleman, taking up a pen, `it is more than
usually desirable that we should make some slight
provision for the Poor and Destitute, who suffer
greatly at the present time. Many thousands are in
want of common necessaries; hundreds of thousands
are in want of common comforts, sir.'

`Are there no prisons?' asked Scrooge.

`Plenty of prisons,' said the gentleman, laying down
the pen again.
`And the Union workhouses?' demanded Scrooge.
`Are they still in operation?'

`They are. Still,' returned the gentleman, `I wish
I could say they were not.'

`The Treadmill and the Poor Law are in full vigour,
then?' said Scrooge.

`Both very busy, sir.'

`Oh! I was afraid, from what you said at first,
that something had occurred to stop them in their
useful course,' said Scrooge. `I'm very glad to
hear it.'

`Under the impression that they scarcely furnish
Christian cheer of mind or body to the multitude,'
returned the gentleman, `a few of us are endeavouring
to raise a fund to buy the Poor some meat and drink.
and means of warmth. We choose this time, because
it is a time, of all others, when Want is keenly felt,
and Abundance rejoices. What shall I put you down

`Nothing!' Scrooge replied.

`You wish to be anonymous?'

`I wish to be left alone,' said Scrooge. `Since you
ask me what I wish, gentlemen, that is my answer.
I don't make merry myself at Christmas and I can't
afford to make idle people merry. I help to support
the establishments I have mentioned -- they cost
enough; and those who are badly off must go there.'

`Many can't go there; and many would rather die.'

`If they would rather die,' said Scrooge, `they had
better do it, and decrease the surplus population.
Besides -- excuse me -- I don't know that.'

If the House of Representatives does not act soon, 830,000 people will lose their unemployment benefits three days after Christmas. Let's put aside the economic stimulus 830,000 families spending at Christmas-time would add. Not acting now may be an act of conservatism, but it surely is not compassionate. It's an act worthy of Scrooge.

November 23, 2002

Well, no

Andrew Sullivan's blog has a quite workaday Paul-Krugman-is-bad piece. Krugman wrote about nepotism and, surpizingly(!), found that liberals like Krugman are bad. He writes about Krugman that "Every example of nepotism he gives is Republican or conservative, implying a seamless connnection between family favors and his increasingly unhinged idea that America is now in the grip of a brutal plutocracy," and he wonders where the Kennedy and Pelosi families were in Krugman's analysis. Well, geez Mr. Sullivan, I read Krugman's piece too, and, cripes, where was the Bush family? Krugman doesn't mention them, either.

Could it be that the Kennedys, the Pelosis, and the Bushes were *elected* (except, of course, the ones who lost election). That's why they were absent. Perhaps Krugman was focusing on the fact that the pork given to the families Krugman discussed was not democratically vented. Maybe that was his point?

December 2, 2002

Wen Ho Lee

CBS News reports that the Los Alamos National Laboratory has been suffering from "widespread theft and fraud," totalling millions of dollars and including a forklift, hundreds of computers, some from the top secret X Division, a cryogenic refrigerator, oscilloscopes. Sad and surprizing stuff, especially considering this news comes from such a respected institution as Los Alamos.

Puzzling, though... CBS doesn't make an obvious connection. Los Alamos is where Wen Ho Lee worked. Well, where he worked before his nine months of solitary confinement, before his public flaying, before he was taken out to the woodshed.

In light of this CBS news report detailing the daily operations of Los Alamos, it's time for another apology to Mr. Lee. Not that there was any before, but can there remain any doubt that the reason Lee was persecuted was because he was Asian-American?

December 7, 2002

The New York Times

Andrew Sullivan and a lot of others in the blogsphere are making a lot of hay on the New York Times' decision not to run two sports columns. Sullivan, citing, Jack Shafer, says that the Times should hire an ombudsman. Sullivan indignantly writes that "The Times has got to stop acting like the Vatican and open itself up to scrutiny and debate."

I don't see why. Even if we accept Sullivan's analogy, acting like the Vatican isn't the same as being like the Vatican. The Times is not a religious institution -- it's a newspaper. If Sullivan does not approve of it, he should either stop reading it or make his complaints known. Demanding institutional changes because of its ideological choices isn't, well, it isn't the American way. Judging from all the bandwidth that has been used to criticize the Times over its nixing of the two columns, it sure seems that the Times is subject to "scrutiny and debate." That's not what Sullivan wants, however. He wants this debate over the Times' editorial decisions (or his debate over the Times' editorial decisions) to be on the pages of the Times, itself.


I had planned not to write anything about the 100th birthday of Strom Thurmond because my parents once told me that if you can't say something nice about someone, you shouldn't say anything at all.

But then, from a link on Brad Delong's blog, I read James Edwards Jr.'s National Review column on the event.

The money section reads: "And Strom Thurmond has done more for blacks in South Carolina than he has received credit for. He opposed the liberal civil-rights movement because it sought to force radical change. He opposed not its goals, but its tactics. It forsook the legislative route of state legislatures and ordered, measured, consensual change for the heavy, centralized hand of the federal government and the courts. Its legacy includes judicial activism, an undermined federalism and a weakened Constitution."

I realize that, in some circles (including that of the National Review), that the word "liberal" is synonymous with "bad," however, I've never before heard the civil-rights movement called "the liberal civil-rights movement." If this is indeed true, I would hope that everybody in America will run and embrace being called "liberal."

And, a movement that tried to "force radical change" instead of taking an "ordered" and "measured" approach is wrong? What, prey tell Mr. Edwards, was the alternative? By 1963, slavery had been over for 100 years. Should this measured approach... something "consensual" (which I assume means that Bull Connor and Ross Barnett would also sign on to)... have taken another 100 years? Should the promise and rights granted to all Americans be precluded from millions of Americans living at the time with the assurance that they would be guaranteed to the great-grandchildren of these citizens? Would this have been a good thing? Depriving million of Americans of their consitutional rights? That would have been ordered and measured. I wonder whether this is just Edwards writing or the National Review's editorial policy?

Let's remember what Thurmond said when he was running for President: "I want to tell you, ladies and gentleman, that there's not enough troops in the army to force the southern people to break down segregation and admit the Nigra race into our theaters, into our swimming pools, into our homes, and into our churches."

If that's "ordered" and "measured" and opposing it is "liberal," well, to be frank, I've never been more proud to be a liberal.

For an opposing view on why the "liberal" civil-rights movement took the "heavy" and "centtralized" tactics it did, it may be worthwhile for Edwards to go to this link and read it. A highlight:

We know through painful experience that freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor; it must be demanded by the oppressed. Frankly, I have yet to engage in a direct-action campaign that was "well timed" in the view of those who have not suffered unduly from the disease of segregation. For years now I have heard the word "Wait!" It rings in the ear of every Negro with piercing familiarity. This "Wait" has almost always meant 'Never." We must come to see, with one of our distinguished jurists, that "justice too long delayed is justice denied."

We have waited for more than 340 years for our constitutional and God-given rights. The nations of Asia and Africa are moving with jetlike speed toward gaining political independence, but we stiff creep at horse-and-buggy pace toward gaining a cup of coffee at a lunch counter. Perhaps it is easy for those who have never felt the stinging dark of segregation to say, "Wait." But when you have seen vicious mobs lynch your mothers and fathers at will and drown your sisters and brothers at whim; when you have seen hate-filled policemen curse, kick and even kill your black brothers and sisters; when you see the vast majority of your twenty million Negro brothers smothering in an airtight cage of poverty in the midst of an affluent society; when you suddenly find your tongue twisted and your speech stammering as you seek to explain to your six-year-old daughter why she can't go to the public amusement park that has just been advertised on television, and see tears welling up in her eyes when she is told that Funtown is closed to colored children, and see ominous clouds of inferiority beginning to form in her little mental sky, and see her beginning to distort her personality by developing an unconscious bitterness toward white people; when you have to concoct an answer for a five-year-old son who is asking: "Daddy, why do white people treat colored people so mean?"; when you take a cross-county drive and find it necessary to sleep night after night in the uncomfortable corners of your automobile because no motel will accept you; when you are humiliated day in and day out by nagging signs reading "white" and "colored"; when your first name becomes "nigger," your middle name becomes "boy" (however old you are) and your last name becomes "John," and your wife and mother are never given the respected title "Mrs."; when you are harried by day and haunted by night by the fact that you are a Negro, living constantly at tiptoe stance, never quite knowing what to expect next, and are plagued with inner fears and outer resentments; when you no forever fighting a degenerating sense of "nobodiness" then you will understand why we find it difficult to wait. There comes a time when the cup of endurance runs over, and men are no longer willing to be plunged into the abyss of despair. I hope, sirs, you can understand our legitimate and unavoidable impatience.

Edwards, of course, still doesn't understand this impatience. He longs for ordered and measured.

December 9, 2002

Oh, that silly liberal media is at it again

Will Vehrs says that there's a lot of "piling on" criticizing Trent Lott's comments. (Instapundit links and comments on Vehrs' piece, here.)

Where, however, is this "piling on" actually happening? In the blogshere, sure. Not, however, in the mainstream media, though. Just by reading the papers, watching Sunday morning pundit shows, and the evening news, it would seem like Lott didn't make the statement at all. Vehr says this "piling on" is "I see this as a little partisan 'payback' for the Wellstone Memorial debacle." I think this is just a bit of overkill. Just a bit.

December 10, 2002

Yes, this apology isn't enough

Here is the complete text of Trent Lott's apology: "A poor choice of words conveyed to some the impression that I embraced the discarded policies of the past. Nothing could be further from the truth, and I apologize to anyone who was offended by my statement.''

Interesting choice of a word, using "discarded." President Clinton's heath care proposal was discarded. It was debated and was not implemented. It is no longer discussed. The policies of the past which Lott embraced the other day were not just "discarded" -- they were repudiated. It's a shame that Lott still does not realize this. Segregation and racial supremacy aren't, as some people believe about President Clinton's health care proposal and dozens of other policy suggestions which fail, a good idea which fell by the way side. They are the antithesis of everything American.

Lott made a mistake. We all make mistakes. He needs to apologize again, remembering Franklin Roosevelt's words at his fourth inaugural address: "We may make mistakes -- but they must never be mistakes which result from faintness of heart or abandonment of moral principle." These words are true when dealing with post-war Europe, Mississippi, or Iraq. We must remember moral principles. What was wrong in 1948 is still wrong in 2002. It was not simply discarded.

December 11, 2002

Family Feud

Today's New York Times fronts a story about a $15 billion family fortune, family strife, and a lawsuit by one of the family's youngest members to get what she believe to be her fair share. That 11 cousins are planning to collect $1.4 billion each, it's safe to say this share is quite substantial.

The battle is over the Pritzker fortune. I'd heard the name before -- the Pritzkers control, among other things, the Hyatt Hotel chain. However, I do not know much about the legal battles other than what I read in today's article. It's their business, and I can't say that I care that much.

What really caught my eye though, is the identity of the young cousin who filed suit. The Times identifies her as Liesel Pritzker, although I believe her birth name is Liesel A. Pritzker-Bagley. Her stage name is Liesel Matthews, and she was just brilliant in "A Little Princess." It's a remarkable movie, and as an 11 year old actress, Matthews made Sara Crewe come alive with all the kindness and magic that the extraordinarily demanding role required. Her performance of Sara's speech to Miss Minchin ("I am a Princess. All girls are. Even if they live in tiny old attics. Even if they live in rags. Even if they aren't pretty, or young, or smart, they're still princesses. All of us! Didn't your father ever tell you that? Didn't he?") more indignant and yet still genuine than most actors three times her age can manage.

I later saw Matthews playing as Harrison Ford's daughter in Air Force One. It was a smaller role, but there, too, she excelled.

I hope that no matter how this legal battle works out and after she gets whatever money is coming to her (and I have a feeling that even if she loses, she'll still win), that she returns to acting. She has a gift, and it would be remarkable to see it on the big screen again.

And, if you haven't yet seen "A Little Princess," you must. You can buy it here or here.

December 15, 2002

Zero is the lonelest number

The blogsphere is becoming the Lottsphere, and I'm not going to buck the trend.

The Washington Post reports today that Trent Lott has approached Condoleezza Rice and Colin Powell asking them to issue statements support him but they have refused.

Juxtapose this against the saccharine statements of support coming from Lott's fellow Senators. You can read one of them, from one of my two senators, Arlen Specter, here.

For a second, close your eyes and imagine how different this scandal would be right now if fifteen members of the United States Senate were African American. Or ten members. Or five members. Or, for that matter, even one member. Yeah, it would be much different, wouldn't it?

Trent Lott must feel right at home in the Senate, but that does not mean that the other 99 are required to be hospitable.

You can't be serious

If the Bush advisors quoted in David Frum's National Review article are to be believed, one of the major reasons President Bush is so concerned about the Lott debacle is that "Bush sees himself as the first Republican president in a generation to campaign explictly for black votes – a campaign compromised by Lott’s indiscretion." (Instapundit uncritically cites this, too.)

One has to wonder if this is simply spin on the advisor's part or lazy journalism by Frum or both.

If one recalls the 2000 Presidential election, the African American vote broke down like this: Gore 90%, Bush 9%, Nader 1%. To put this into perspective, a higher percentage self-described conservatives voted for Gore than black people voted for Bush.

Lott has not compromised President Bush's campaign for black votes. He wasn't getting it, anyway. The point is that Lott has compromised white votes. When this is finally realized, Lott will be gone.

Yet another apology

While watching "All the President's Men," I learned the term "non-denial denial." I think, with all of Trent Lott's apologies, we've now seen the emergence of the non-apology apology.

I've lost track on how many apologies there have been; the most recent one comes from the new issue of Time magazine (cover dated December 23, 2002) where Lott says: "I've said things and done things on race-related issues that weren't intended to be hurtful but that I now realize were hurtful."

Did he actually ever believe that segregation wasn't intended to be hurtful? He must have always known that it was intended to be hurtful to some people. If not, he seems to have grown up in the wrong century. Or was it just what he said about and did concerning segregation that wasn't intended to be hurtful? And, I wonder when "now" actually was. This week? When he's 60? After over a decade of being in the Senate?

There is a difference between digging oneself out of a hole and digging deeper into it. Lott needs to realize this.

December 16, 2002

A pet peeve

The American Film Insititute just released its list for the ten best movies of 2002. I realize these sorts of lists are a dime-a-dozen, but, jimminycricket, there are still two and a half weeks left in 2002.

I say this because four of the movies on the list, The Antwone Fisher Story, Chicago, Gangs of New York, and The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers haven't opened yet. Antwone Fisher, Gangs of New York, and the Two Towers open this week and Chicago doesn't actually open nationally until 2003 (it has a limited release scheduled for next week so it'll be eligible for the 2003 Academy Awards). I fully realize that the AFI is full of big-wigs who get invited to premieres, sneak previews, and get prints couriered to their homes, so they, no doubt, have seen these movies. But how are we supposed to evaluate their list when there is no way we could have seen forty percent of it? If it's not for us, why publically release it?

Couldn't they have waited until the first week of January to issue this list?

Hey, I'm just asking

One of the major points of evidence for Trent Lott supporters in proving he didn't mean what he said at Strom Thurmond's birthday party is that, as Dick Morris wrote today, "[Lott] took the lead in doubling funding for historically black colleges in Mississippi."

These historically black colleges were founded because of or in response to segregation. I'm just posing a question, not answering it, but wouldn't it make sense that a pro-segregationist Senator would be supporting these schools? Among other things, I could imagine such a Senator believing increasing funding to historically black colleges would keep African Americans away from Ole Miss.

Another note: Dick Morris also uses this to prove that Lott is a good guy: "There is not a racist bone in his body. That's why one third of Mississippi blacks vote for him, year after year." I hate to break it to Mr. Morris, but, in elections, one-third isn't all that many. Prey tell, why do the other *two-thirds* of Mississippi blacks vote against him, year after year?

What they were against

The Smoking Gun has put up a copy of the States Rights Democratic Party (a.k.a. the "Dixiecrats") platform. It's also linked by Instapundit and Jim Henley.

Perhaps as important as what the Dixiecrats were for is what they were against. Remember, they formed their party in response to the 1948 Democratic Convention (which took place in Philadelphia's Convention Hall, just a few blocks from my office), and it was the implementation and attempted implementation of the convention proposals which Lott was refering to when he spoke about "all these problems over these years."

Linked is the text of Hubert H. Humphrey's historic speech at the 1948 Convention. It's one of the main reasons Thurmond left the party and those who wistfully long for days gone-by still, apparently, deplore it.

Bellesiles Redux

Glenn Reynolds has just posted another fine piece on the Michael Bellesiles scandal. In it he cites the the Volokh Conspiracy and poses the following question: "whether there could be a Bellesiles in the legal-scholarship world." He answers yes and no. My question is, how did it happen in the history-scholarship world and could it happen again.

The "Report of the Investigative Committee in the matter of Professor Michael Bellesiles," found that Bellesiles' major sins were his trangressions of the American Historical Associaion's Statement on Standards of Professional Conduct, specifially those dealing with professional historical scholarship. He fell short on the AHA's rule that "Historians must not misrepresent evidence or the sources of evidence," and most of all, he fell short dealing with this paragraph:

Because historians must have access to sources--archival and other--to produce reliable history, they have a professional obligation to preserve sources and advocate free, open, equal, and nondiscriminatory access to them, and to avoid actions that might prejudice future access. Historians recognize the appropriateness of some national security and corporate and personal privacy claims but must challenge unnecessary restrictions. They must protect research collections and other historic resources and make those under their control available to other scholars as soon as possible.

Like scientists, empirical historians (I'm freely and quite blithely using this term) create their own data. Scientists do this through experiements. Historians do this through archival and other research. To check the validity of a scientist's findings, one can recreate the experiment (if it was a reliable experiement, of course). To check a historian, one must be able to access the archives and recreate the data. Scholarly progress cannot happen if this is not possible.

It must, however, be remembered when this paragraph was added to the AHA Statement of Standards -- after the David Abraham scandal of the mid-1980s. It is the memory of this case, I've gotta assume, why so many historians initally defended Bellesiles. They remembered the injustices done to Abraham (he was driven out of the history profession -- he landed on his feet, though. He went to law school here at Penn and is now on the faculty of the University of Miami law school) and attempted, in perhaps a knee-jerk reaction, to keep it from happening again.

If another scandal hits, one has to assume that, since we're always fighting the last war, historians will remember the Bellesiles scandal and will be, at first, hesitant to offer their support. Will another scandal hit the history profession? Sure it will. We should remember Lawrence Stone, Dodge Professor of History at Princeton, "When you work in the archives, you’re far from home, you’re bored, you’re in a hurry, you’re scribbling like crazy. You’re bound to make mistakes. I don’t believe any scholar in the Western world has impeccable footnotes. Archival research is a special case of the general messiness of life." The real question (more applicable to Abraham than to Bellesiles who seems to have made way too many) is how dedicated vested interests are in revealing and ascribing motives to your mistakes.

Lott Quote of the Day

On BET tonight, after Ed Gordon asked questions about his statement and his hideous voting record, Trent Lott actually said: "My actions don't reflect my voting record."

He wanted us to believe that he had grown since his segregationist upbringing. Gordon played along, asking about recent votes. These did not reflect any change. So Lott said, and I'm going to repeat it, "My actions don't reflect my voting record."

So, don't judge him on what he used to believe and, presumably (and I left the interview so presuming), still does. Don't judge him on what he's done as a legislator. Judge him on his worthiness as the Senate Majority Leader on his "actions" -- his non-legislative actions, and not on his past beliefs (past, of course, meaning everything before Strom Thurmond's birthday party ended) and if you do, you'll agree that he's a good egg.

The clock is now ticking on Lott's career as Majority Leader, there is no doubt about that (and he's also probably quashed any hopes of re-election, too), but it's not to late for him to be penitent.

December 17, 2002

Andrew Sullivan on the Democratic Party

Andrew Sullivan offers this gem on what he calls "the Democratic strategy on race": The Dems take black votes for granted, which is bad for them and worse for blacks; they too easily acquiesce to the biggest race-baiters in the business; they treat blacks too often as a group rather than as individuals."

I don't understand. If Democrats took black votes for granted, wouldn't they be ignoring blacks instead of acquiescing "to the biggest race-baiters in the business?" If Democrats were acquiescing "to the biggest race-baiters in the business," isn't this a sign that the Democrats take the black vote quite seriously and attempts to placate it?

Or, maybe Sullivan has hypnotized himself into believing in a litany of perported Democratic Party sins and types them without really thinking about what he's actually saying. (And, sadly, Sullivan is far from alone in this.)

December 18, 2002

Modern day Solomon

When we're children, we all learn the story of the two women who come to King Solomon both claiming to be its mother. Solomon, we're told, orders the baby cut in half, because of this order, the true mother is revealed. The story can be found in the first book of Kings:

Then came there two women, that were harlots, unto the king, and stood before him.
And the one woman said, O my lord, I and this woman dwell in one house; and I was delivered of a child with her in the house.
And it came to pass the third day after that I was delivered, that this woman was delivered also: and we were together; there was no stranger with us in the house, save we two in the house.
And this woman's child died in the night; because she overlaid it.
And she arose at midnight, and took my son from beside me, while thine handmaid slept, and laid it in her bosom, and laid her dead child in my bosom.
And when I rose in the morning to give my child suck, behold, it was dead: but when I had considered it in the morning, behold, it was not my son, which I did bear.
And the other woman said, Nay; but the living is my son, and the dead is thy son. And this said, No; but the dead is thy son, and the living is my son. Thus they spake before the king.
Then said the king, The one saith, This is my son that liveth, and thy son is the dead: and the other saith, Nay; but thy son is the dead, and my son is the living.
And the king said, Bring me a sword. And they brought a sword before the king.
And the king said, Divide the living child in two, and give half to the one, and half to the other.
Then spake the woman whose the living child was unto the king, for her bowels yearned upon her son, and she said, O my lord, give her the living child, and in no wise slay it. But the other said, Let it be neither mine nor thine, but divide it.
Then the king answered and said, Give her the living child, and in no wise slay it: she is the mother thereof.
And all Israel heard of the judgment which the king had judged; and they feared the king: for they saw that the wisdom of God was in him, to do judgment.

For more than a year now, two men, Alex Popov and Patrick Hayashi, have been in court arguing over the ownership of a baseball -- the baseball Barry Bonds hit for his 73rd homerun last year. They both claim the ball to be theirs.

Today, Judge Kevin McCarthy issued his ruling on the ball's true ownership. And, it's a ruling worthy of Solomon. The ball is to be sold and the money split between the two.

Well, that's one way to put it

Now that Mickey Kaus has just linked it, I'm sure Timothy P. Carney's recent article on the National Review site is going to get a lot of readers.

Near the end of the piece, Carney writes about Trent Lott, "If [James] Carville wins — if the bar for branding someone a racist is lowered to a single careless comment, an unreflective childhood in the south, and a belief in states' [sic] rights — that puts every Republican politician or nominee in a little more danger." It all sounds okay at first, but let's think about what Carney actually wrote.

A single careless comment? Lott said it more than once.

An unreflective childhood in the south? An explaination, perhaps. It's not an excuse, though. Lots of people who have grown up in the South don't share Lott's vision (there are millions, of course, but easy ones to point to are Alabama's Howell Raines and Arkansas' Bill Clinton). And, Carney must believe in Henry Hyde's defintion of childhood, for Lott has volunteered that even at 42 years old, he did not really know who Martin Luther King Jr. was.

A belief in states rights? Well, that's one way to sugar coat it. What Lott and Thurmond were exposing wasn't the states rights of today's federalism. It was an ideology of interposition, nullification, and segregation.

Perhaps if people like Carney can successfully spin this episode for Trent Lott, Lott may be able to stay as Senate Majority Leader. If that's the case, I'd put my money on the Democratic nominee in 2004.

December 19, 2002

Civics class should be required in high school

In response to a protest outside the INS offices in Los Angeles, INS spokesman Francisco Arcaute yesterday said that "The only time the INS detains anyone is if they have violated INS law."

I never realized before that the INS had its own laws. I thought that the United States had laws which various agencies, like the INS, implemented and enforced.

Leave it to Ann Coulter

I normally wouldn't write anything about Ann Coulter, because, geez, what's the point. However, this recent statement of hers takes the cake and, in a nutshell, tells you everything you'd ever want to know about her.... about the Trent Lott controversy, she is quoted today as saying: "I don't remember liberals being this indignant about the 9/11 terrorist attacks."

Quote of the Day

"Yes, I've got monkeys in my pants."

"...until justice rolls down like waters and righteousness like a mighty stream"

President Clinton is right on the money about the Trent Lott affair: "How do they think they got a majority in the South anyway? I think what they are really upset about is that he made public their strategy." Read John Marshall's excellent take on Clinton's statement here. This is exactly why Lott's comment has gotten so much attention.

The Democratic party has not seriously countered this strategy before. Whenever engagement has been attempted, Democrats would be accused of Robert Shapiro's infamous phrase "playing the race card." They'd be told, why are you talking about race? Don't you want a color-blind society? Isn't America about equality, after all? They'd be told, point blank, "you're playing the race card." They'd be (quite incredibly) told that discrimination is part of history so what are you talking about? They'd be accused of playing "identity politics." They'd be inundated with quotes from Martin Luther King, Jr. (well, actually, just one quote. You know, the "content of their character" one. As if King's extraordinarily detailed and complex thoughts and dreams could be summarized by only one sentence.) As a whole, and quite sadly, Democrats would go quiet in the face of this barrage, and the Republican Southern Strategy continued unchecked.

But now, Lott has made it possible to have an active engagement concerning this strategy. A Republican started the discussion, so the accusations go towards him; it wasn't started by Democrats, so the accusations aren't going towards them. Of course, the Republican party has to deny that what they've been doing is what they've been doing. This is one reason so many on the right have been so vocal in their criticizing Lott. If the Democrats have the courage, they should pursue this opening long after Lott is gone.

And, before I'm accused of "playing the race card," (whatever that's supposed to mean) let's remember Marshall's words: "One needn't think that the Republican party itself is racist. I don't. (In any case, that's too big a word, too general a question.) What the Republican party does have is a history -- not by accident, but by design -- of playing to and benefiting from the votes of racist and crypto-racist constituencies in certain parts of the country -- particularly, though not exclusively, in the South. They built the Republican party in the South on the foundation of racial resentment and civil rights rejectionism. Since then they've built a whole house on top of it. But the foundation's still there." That's exactly right, and let's talk about it.

Bonus: Where is the quote in the subject line from?

Previous jobs of Presidents

After reading David's post, and trying to see if I could do it from memory, I went through every election of the 20th century to see what the previous jobs of the Presidential nominees were. I think I have them all correct.

2000 Gore (VP) Bush (Gov)
1996 Clinton (Pres) Dole (Senator) Perot (Businessman)
1992 Clinton (Gov) Bush (Pres) Perot (Businessman)
1988 Dukakis (Gov) Bush (VP)
1984 Mondale (ex-VP) Reagan (Pres)
1980 Carter (Pres) Reagan (ex-Gov)
1976 Carter (Gov) Ford (Pres)
1972 McGovern (Senator) Nixon (Pres)
1968 Humphry (VP) Nixon (ex-VP)
1964 Johnson (Pres) Goldwater (Senator)
1960 Kennedy (Senator) Nixon (VP)
1956 Stevenson (ex-Gov?) Eisenhower (Pres)
1952 Stevenson (Gov) Eisenhower (University President)
1948 Truman (Pres) Dewey (Gov)
1944 Roosevelt (Pres) Dewey (Gov)
1940 Roosevelt (Pres) Wilkie (lawyer)
1936 Roosevelt (Pres) Landon (Gov)
1932 Roosevelt (Gov) Hoover (Pres)
1928 Smith (Gov) Hoover (ex-Cabinet official)
1924 Davis (ex-Ambassador) Coolidge (Pres) Lafollette (Senator)
1920 Cox (Governor) Harding (Senator) Debs (Prisoner)
1916 Hughes (Judge) Wilson (President)
1912 Wilson (Gov) Taft (President) Roosevelt (ex-Pres)
1908 Bryan (ex-Congressman) Taft (Cabinet official)
1904 Parker (Judge) Roosevelt (President)
1900 Bryan (ex-Congressman) McKinley (President)

What strikes me much more than the relative lack of sitting Congressmen and Senators on this list is the amount of Presidents, and Vice-Presidents. 1952, fifty years ago, was the last time there was an election without a President or Vice-President, and before that 1928. Because these executive officers have been taking up so many of the slots, it’s no surprise that there have been so few people from other jobs. (2004, of course, will be no exception, in that President Bush will be running). And, with these people taking so many slots, the remaining probably comprise too small a sample to make any solid judgements.

That being said, one thing is noticable. After World War II, we saw lots of war heroes. Eisenhower, of course. Both Kennedy and Nixon. Johnson was a decorated Navy vet. McGovern was a bomber pilot. Carter was a Naval officer. Bush, the father, was a fighter pilot. Dole was a veteran of the invasion of Europe. After Clinton and Bush, the son, and the years that have passed since VE and VJ days, that dynamic is gone. It's anybody's game.

To me, the Democratic nomination is open. I mean, how many people in America knew who Jimmy Carter was in 1974 or Bill Clinton was in 1990? That’s why we have campaigns… so the people can get to know the candidates.

That being said, then why is the political media spending so much time focusing on Kerry, Edwards, Liberman, Gephardt, and Daschle? Because it’s easy and the Washington media is lazy. Those five all live in Washington. The political media lives in Washington.

When the campaign starts and everybody has to go to Iowa and New Hampshire, they’ll start covering more people. And different people. The next Carter or Clinton, perhaps.

December 20, 2002

What's going on in California

Glenn Reynolds may be correct -- he probably is -- that the recent immigrant related arrests in California have been legal. That doesn't make them right.

Reynolds makes three major points:

(1) "This is hardly the Japanese-American internment revisited." Well, it is and it isn't.

These Middle Easterners are being treated like they are for no other reason than where they're from. That's how it's like Japanese-American internment. It wouldn't be surprizing to read something about these Middle Easterners in California that sounds something like: "we cannot reject as unfounded the judgment of the military authorities and of Congress that there were disloyal members of that population, whose number and strength could not be precisely and quickly ascertained. We cannot say that the war- making branches of the Government did not have ground for believing that in a critical hour such persons could not readily be isolated and separately dealt with, and constituted a menace to the national defense and safety, which demanded that prompt and adequate measures be taken to guard against it." That's from 1943, however, not 2002... Kiyoshi Hirabayashi v. United States, 320 U.S. 81 at page 99. (Aside: We all gotta remember, the Supreme Court repeatedly ruled that what was happening to Japanese-Americans was constitutional.)

We can all agree, from the President to Glenn Reynolds to me, that the vast majority, if not all, of the people being asked to register do not in any way pose a threat to this country. But they're all -- every male visa holder over 16 from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Sudan and Syria -- being forced to register. Instead of singling out a group of people (like was done to the Japanese-American community and to this community), there is an easy way around this. Make every male visa holder in the United States register with the INS. If you're from India, Ireland, Germany, Korea, China, or Iraq. It doesn't matter. Make the man working at a greengrocer in Queens, the man working at an interstate motel in Knoxville, the man on a fellowship at Cal Tech. It doesn't matter. Instead of just some, let's treat all immigrants like foreigners. Hardly the American way, but it would be fair.

(2) "These guys are all charged with being in violation of some immigration rule or another." This rationale is a cop-out. What about all the non-Iraqi/Libyian/Sudanese/Syrians who committed the same crimes? They're not being arrested. Are their crimes any less serious? Unless you believe that only Iraqi/Libyian/Sudanese/Syrians overstay their visas.

(3) "Inviting people to show up voluntarily for fingerprinting and then arresting a bunch of them seems to me to be a strategy that only works once. If the Feds knew that, then do they have some unstated reason for cracking down on illegal immigrants from Middle Eastern countries in these places and at this time? Possibly. This may be yet another small sign of coming war, and a preemption effort aimed at catching terrorist sleepers." Yeah, the terrorist sleepers are going to turn themselves in. That part isn't the reason. Reynolds equivocates at the end: "The other possibility, of course, is that the Feds are idiots, and that's one never to be discounted, especially where the INS is concerned." Another possibility is that they know exactly what they're doing and it has nothing to do with sleeper cells.

Is there a doctor in the (White) House?

It looks like Bill Frist is going to take Lott on. Frist, of course, is a pediatric surgeon.

Moving down Pennsylvania Avenue, I offer a trivia question: to my knowledge, there has never been a medical doctor President, however, there has been one that attended medical school and dropped out before completing his training. Can you name him?

Why stop there?

Glenn Reynolds writes that "I think the Republicans should demonstrate that they're taking the country beyond the legacy of segregation by passing the "End to Racism and Segregation Act of 2003," which would provide that neither the federal government, nor the states, nor any entity receiving federal funds may take race into account in any manner in the making of hiring, firing, promotion, or benefits decisions."

Why just hiring, firing, promotion and benefits decisions? If we're really going to go "beyond the legacy of segregation," how about not taking "race into account" when it pertains to current voting laws and current housing regulations? If we're going to be a color-blind society, why doesn't Reynolds advocate that the Republican Party pass a law that repeals every piece of post-1960 Civil Rights legislation?

If Reynolds is any guide, it looks like nothing has been learned from the Lott affair. It's a shame.

Brass tacks

Let's get down to brass tacks. There are one of two possibilites:

1. The United States has completely overcome its history of discrimination and is currently a completely egalitarian meritocratic society.

2. The United States hasn't and there are still areas in this country where discrimination can be found.

If you believe in #1, then what David calls "mandatory discrimination, racial preferences, quotas, special treatment" are not only bad policy, they are morally abhorant. If you believe in #2, then concrete action must be taken so #1 can be achieved.

Does anyone reading this really believe that #1 has been achieved?

Wonder why?

Glenn Reynolds, Ann Coulter, Rush Limbaugh, Pseudo Psalms, and many others are having a gas pointing out that the political party of the Solid South -- the political party that established and defended Jim Crow -- was the Democratic Party. Attention must be, of course, drawn away from what Trent Lott's comments revealed.

What they are saying is true enough. But it's no longer true about the Democratic Party.

Have they ever thought about why, during the Civil Rights movement, so many, including Trent Lott and Strom Thurmond, even Ronald Reagan for that matter, switched their party identifications from the Democratic Party to the Republican?

January 1, 2003

New Years Resolution

It would be nice to say that one of my new years resolutions is to post *much* more often to this blog. However, I don't know how much I'll be able to in the next month and a half.

Next week, I'm going to be making a long-overdue trip to Kolkata (that's Calcutta for those of you who haven't been keeping up with recent government mandated spelling changes). I'll be back in time to attend the Princeton - Penn basketball game at the Palestra; it's important.

If I can find a easily accessible computer over there (which I don't think will be *that* difficult) and if I have the time (which may turn out to be difficult), I'll keep you all posted in what I see, hear, and read.

West Bengal (the province which Kolkata is the capital of) has the only democratically elected communist government in the world (in the history of the world, I believe). A few years back, to poke a snook at the United States, it changed the name of the street the US consulate was on from Harrison Road to Ho Chi Mihn Saroni (Saroni means 'road'). So, you must realize that I can't wait to read the newspapers over there (especially the non-English-language ones) and see what they say about the US and Iraq. I hope that if there is a war, it won't start until I return to the US; however, if it does commence before, I'll make sure to keep you updated.

TRIVIA QUESTION: Kolkata has been the birthplace and childhood/early adulthood home to two Nobel Prize winners. Can you name them? (And, before you say Mother Theresa, I'll tell you that she was born and raised in Europe.)

January 3, 2003

You've got to be kidding me

It seems the administration wants to curb the quality and quantity of research done by foreign students at United States universities. The administration may have tapped the best and the brightest corporate minds for inclusion in the cabinet (see: Paul O'Neil, I suppose), but it seems to have no clue on what actually happens on America's college campuses. Like, for instance, who does a lion's share of this country's cutting edge scientific and engineering research. Even though they don't know, they can find out in the linked Associated Press article. The money sentence is: "About half of graduate students in the physical sciences and engineering come from abroad." (Aside: since the faculty come from the graduate student corps, let's take a guess at what the physical science and engineering faculty population is like?)

January 6, 2003

The forest for the trees

Let's see a show of hands over the blogsphere.

Who thinks that the United States will be a safer place... who thinks the objectives of the war on terrorism will be furthered... if Orhan Ozkan's visa is not renewed and he is forced to leave the country?

Didion on post-9/11

Simply summarized, Didion's thesis of Joan Didion's most recent New York Review of Books piece is that, right after 9/11/2001, there was an incredible opportunity for this country to explore its foreign policy shortcomings, but this opportunity was lost in a parade of patriotism and stifiling of open debate. The meat of Joan Didion's argument is found in the following paragraphs:

"California Monthly,... published in its November 2002 issue an interview with... Steven Weber..... It so happened that Mr. Weber was in New York on September 11, 2001, and for the week that followed. 'I spent a lot of time talking to people, watching what they were doing, and listening to what they were saying to each other,' he told the interviewer:

'The first thing you noticed was in the bookstores. On September 12, the shelves were emptied of books on Islam, on American foreign policy, on Iraq, on Afghanistan. There was a substantive discussion about what it is about the nature of the American presence in the world that created a situation in which movements like al-Qaeda can thrive and prosper. I thought that was a very promising sign.

But that discussion got short-circuited. Sometime in late October, early November 2001, the tone of that discussion switched, and it became: What's wrong with the Islamic world that it failed to produce democracy, science, education, its own enlightenment, and created societies that breed terror?'

The interviewer asked him what he thought had changed the discussion. 'I don't know,' he said, 'but I will say that it's a long-term failure of the political leadership, the intelligentsia, and the media in this country that we didn't take the discussion that was forming in late September and try to move it forward in a constructive way.'

I was struck by this, since it so coincided with my own impression. Most of us saw that discussion short-circuited, and most of us have some sense of how and why it became a discussion with nowhere to go"

Didion and Weber, however, miss an obvious possibility. Perhaps, on September 12th, people were reading books on Islam, Iraq, and Afghanistan (3 of the 4 subjects mentioned) not because they wanted to learn about American presence in the world, but because they wanted to learn about Islam, Iraq, and Afghanistan and figure out how they created the situation in which movements like al-Qaeda thrived and prospered. (Of course, Americans also were reading about our foreign policy; there is no requirement that only one avenue of thought and research be persued. This investigation was multivariate.) From this mid- and late-September reading and analysis, America's public debate developed into more detailed investigations on how societies that bred terror have been created.

Perhaps, the discussion did not short-circuit. Perhaps there was no failure of the political leadership or the intelligentsia (whoever they are) or the media. Perhaps the discussion actually did move forward in a constuctive way. In a quite logical progession, actually.

It's not that the discussion ended or was fruitless or has been a failure. It's just that the discussion did not go to where Didion wanted it to go. Instead of understanding this, or engaging in the discussion to move it to where she believes it should be, she castigates the entire conversation. Her article is worth a read, but it's too bad, really, that she doesn't have more faith in the intelligence and agency of the American people.

January 7, 2003

They didn't do it

It turns out that the nationwide search for Abid Noraiz Ali, Mustafa Khan Owasi, Iftikhar Khozmai Ali, Adil Pervez, and Akbar Jamal has been called off, because, well, the tip alerting the government that they illegally entered the USA and were up to no good was bogus.

Instead of wondering how many such tips are bogus, I'm comforted by the knowledge, as Amitava Mazumdar has pointed out, that even if they were up to no good, we had little to fear from these five. According to the Ashcroft plan, since they were Pakistani, they would have just registered themselves and we would have found them that way.

What's the term again?

Andrew Sullivan again jumps on his I-Hate-Al-Gore theme, applauding Richard Cohen's latest column which Sullivan characterizes as "disgraceful acquiescence in race-baiting in the last campaign" which caused Sullivan to go "from feeling queasy about Gore to being outright hostile."

But when one reads Cohen's column, it seems that Gore's main sin last campaign was that he didn't denounce a woman who wanted more action taken after her father had been murdered. For shame, Al! Cohen and Sullivan are correct -- you should have taken her out to the woodshed. That's what Cohen and Sullivan would have done.

And, that's it from last campaign. That's what made Sullivan outrightly hostile towards Gore. That's what Cohen uses to compare Gore to Trent Lott. Can the term moral equivalence be used here? I think it can.

January 8, 2003


I'm off for India in a few hours (my plane leaves in 5.5, I'll be leaving for the airport in 2). I'll be back in less than a month -- but I should be able to post a updates once I find a computer over there (and it shouldn't be hard to find a computer in India). Never fear; this page, of course, will be updated without me. David is on the case, so keep coming back.

January 12, 2003

Five questions in

Here in Kolkata, it doesn't take long for someone to ask me about America and Iraq. In fact, it happens in every conversation. One exchange I had this morning was quite telling.

I went to see a great uncle. He's my father's mother's brother. He's well into his 90s. He is almost blind and cannot walk without assistance. He spends most of his time in a village in West Bengal, but a few weeks out of the year, he's in Kolkata. Since he was in town, I went to visit. My visit was quite representative and telling. He did not get out of his chair (being frail), but he asked the following questions, in order of when I walked in the room (I've not included my replies, since they aren't as interesting as the questions; everything is translated from Bengali):

1. How tall are you? [I'm quite tall for a Bengali man -- I get the question a lot. Usually not as the first one, though].
2. How is your Bengali?
3. How is your reading and writing [in Bengali]?
4. What do you do for a living?
5. What is America going to do in Iraq?
6. What do Americans think about it?
7. What do American muslims think?
8. Has the WTO headquarters been rebuilt? [I didn't understand, so I asked him to repeat the question]
9. Has the World Trade Organization headquarters been rebuilt?

A few things I gathered from his questioning.

First, India and the rest of the 3rd World is quite concerned about America's intentions towards Iraq. They don't see it as part of the war on terrorism; it's seen as imperalism. Going through the UN hasn't changed matters. Unless the UN inspectors actually find Iraq in violation, this won't change. The administration may not care what the third world thinks, but it's what they think.

Second, there is a deep and abiding admiration in American democracy. We do it like nobody else. Everybody understands this. What Americans think actually matters when it comes to policy decisions. And, America is a diverse place; everybody understands this too.

Third, a lot of people don't really understand what was attacked on 9/11. It wasn't the WTO, of course. I wonder how pervalent this view is.

Fourth, there is a great confidence in America's ability to do anything. He asked if the World Trade Center had already been rebuilt. In India, there is no question that it will be rebuilt. American will do that. It has the money, it has the ability, and it has the will.

Admiration is not sufficent to describe how America is held. Awe is better. Admiration and awe. And, if it invades Iraq, imperalist.

More updates on the view from Kolkata to come.

January 19, 2003

My Bengali

My Bengali is improving by leaps and bounds during my stay here in Calcutta. My pronounciation is awful -- I sound like a big American instead of a true Bengali -- but my grammar and vocabulary are getting much better.

As proof... I've learned the Bengali words for revenge, terrorism, international relations, and border. I never needed them before (in talking with my parents, relatives, and family friends), but I need them now. Everybody wants to talk about the US and Iraq. Other than when I'm going to get married, it seems like the only conversation most people want to engage me in.

January 20, 2003

Who says globalization is a bad thing?

I woke up this morning here in Calcutta, got a cup of tea, turned on the television in the apartment, and watched the second half of the Tennessee - Oakland AFC Championship game. In Calcutta! As Vanessa Williams sang, isn't the world a crazy place.

February 2, 2003

A case for long trips

Necessary background: I'm staying here in Calcutta in a second floor apartment. There is a balcony that looks out onto the street. The balcony has a interlocking series of bars to keep criminals away. The daily newspaper gets delivered to this balcony.

At first I was amazed. How does the paperboy get the paper to the second floor balcony (the answer I was told: "he throws it." Well, duh.) Next question, how does the paperboy get the paper through the bars... I mean, there isn't much room (the anwer I was told: "he's really good.").

So, I was thinking, the Pirates should come to India and sign this guy. The Pirates can't hit the cut-off man, can barely field the ball *and* throw it to first base, and this guy can chuck a newspaper from the ground, to a second floor balcony, through a series of bars? And do it time after time after time? Wow.

But, then, this morning, during my fourth week here in Calcutta, I was awake at 6:30 a.m... when the paperboy arrived... and witnessed how he did it. His first throw hit the bars and clunked back down to the street. The second throw hit the bars. The third and fourth, too. His fifth finally made it threw and I had my newspaper.

I've changed my tune. If he takes five attempts at every building he goes to, it must take him hours to deliver the papers.

February 4, 2003

In case you were wondering...

Kalpana (as in Kalpana Chawla) means imagination.

He Killed Me (It Felt Like a Bullet)

Refering to the wonderful and remarkable 1963 Crystals' hit song "And Then He Kissed Me," Mickey Kaus suggests that "should legendary rock producer Phil Spector or anyone associated with him ever be suspected of involvement in a homicide" the accompanying newspaper headline should be "Then He Killed Me."

A headline with much more wit and one that would be much more appropriate to Spector and to his current situation would be a play on his 1961/1962 Crystals' anthem to misogyny "He Hit Me [But It Felt Like A Kiss]."

February 14, 2003

Dalip Singh Saund

The Kolkata Libertarian blog, Suman Palit writes about how Bobby Jindal has just resigned from the Bush administration to, it seems, run for the governorship of Lousiania. Jindal is of Indian origin, and Palit writes that Jindal's prospect of becoming governor is "example of how far this country has come since [he's] been here," which seems to have been ten years ago. Reading Palit's piece, it seems that now, Americans of Indian origin have a chance in the United States political scene.

I would like to alert Palit and his readers to Dalip Singh Saund. Saund, born and raised in India, was elected to the United States House of Representatives not this year or even ten years ago but 46 years ago.

February 24, 2003

A must read

Christopher Hitchens in the new issue of the Atlantic.

Another must read

From yesterday's Washington Post... about arranged marriages among ABCDs (American Born Confused Desis).

It's really well done. I have three minor problems with it, though:

1. The author didn't call me. (Sure, I'd have called Karen Leonard, too... her book Making Ethnic Choices is just top-notch. For what it's worth, Johanna Lessinger's From Ganges to the Hudson didn't leave me wowed. I don't know Maitrayee Bhattacharyya's work; it sounds facinating. The Philadelphia Inquirer knows to call when investigating Indian American youth culture. ;) )

2. In discussing why divorce rates are so much lower in Indians/Indian-Americans compared to those of non-Indian-Americans, the author resorts to the usual (and unsatisfying) explaination: "Divorce reflects poorly on an Indian family, and some proportion of arranged marriages endure not because they are successful or rewarding, but because leaving them would bring such shame." It would have been profitiable, I think, to take a look at the economic basis of these marriages... or, in other words, in situations where the wife earns much less than her husband, where is she supposed to go if she leaves? Especially, if she does leave, she's expected to take the children with her? A lot of unhappy marriages stay together not just because there would be shame if there were a divorce but because the woman has no other viable option.

3. There is an implied assumption throughout the article that non-immigrant American parents do not actively set their children up nor do take an active role in who their children date. And, we all know that's not true. (I mean, cripes, lots of high school kids -- both boys and girls -- can identify with aspects of Romeo and Juliet when they read it in 9th grade. Everybody's parents care about their children's prospective marriage partner's parents. It's not just Indians.)

February 25, 2003

Really makes you think

Reading Andrew Sullivan really makes you think. Think about how he doesn't know what's going on. From his latest post:

The second U.N. resolution is irrelevant to whether a war actually takes place.... If the resolution is defeated, but war ensues, Bush will take a small hit at home, a huge hit abroad (still, how much worse could it get?) - but, precisely because of these things, an even bigger domestic gain if the war is successful.

It could get a lot worse. Two things that must be remembered: (1) people abroad love the United States. Whether we're talking about Mexico, the Netherlands, or Russia. It's almost universal. Not governments and not the extremists, of course, but the regular people of the world. They love that the United States rebuilt the world after 1945. They love the moon landings. They love the energy, drive, and courage of Americans. They love the democracy and rule of law over here. (2) people abroad don't like President Bush. They didn't like him before 9/11 when he was taking this country out of its treaty obligations and they don't like his Iraqi policy now (and they don't see much of difference between the two -- nixing treaty obligations and not getting Security Council approval).

Sullivan is talking about point #2... how much worse could that get? I agree, not much worse.

If America invades Iraq and then occupies it with an American or an American-British army of occupation, we're endanger of losing #1. That would be terrible and quite worse. For no other reason, this is why there should be a multinational occupying force.

Bush will be seen as someone who did all he could to win over the U.N., but in the end, did what he believed was right. He will emerge principled and triumphant.

Is Sullivan serious about this? Bush will be seen as someone who did what was politically expedient and triumphant.

Ditto Blair, especially if a liberated Iraq reveals untold horrors, human rights abuses and French arms contracts.

Gee wiz... I hate to sound like those people who marched the other weekend, but can't we find out about these "untold horrors" and "human rights abuses" *before* we go to war?


Slate's feature "In Other Magazines" (IOM) noted the other day: "Time and CNN, however, kindly polled the populace: 54 percent of Americans are pro, 38 percent are against. Also, the poll notes, younger demographics are more pro-war than their elders, but the piece never explores why 63 percent of 18- to 29-year-olds support military action, while only 40 percent of those over 65 agree."

I'd refer IOM to the 80+ year old woman who I sat next to on the Pittsburgh-Philadelphia train on Sunday -- a woman who had stayed 2 years in Germany with her Army husband and five children in 1957 and 1958 as part of the United States army of occupation -- who held great misgivings about the upcoming war. Or, if IOM wishes to surf the web to another magazine, to 82 year old Roger Angell's piece in the latest New Yorker.

Note to Karl Rove: Old people vote. Very important demographic in Florida, as well.

February 27, 2003

Sad day

I, literally, grew up in Mr. Roger's neighborhood. He lived a few blocks down the street from my parents' house. He shopped at the neighborhood grocery store that I worked at during high school (before I worked there, he filmed a segment for his show at the store); I occassionally assisted him in his shopping. It wasn't until I went to college and my friends there had also knew of him that I learned that Mr. Roger's Neighborhood wasn't a local Pittsburgh show but was seen nationally. And, of course, like everybody else, when I was young, I watched his show.
Mr. Rogers was once asked what the secret of his show's success was. He replied that he never lost faith with the children. He was a great man and his lessons remain with us.

February 28, 2003

Nit picking

I realize it's nit-picking to point this out, but if my job consisted of only having to write a few columns a week, I'd double check what I wrote.

In his most recent syndicated column, George Will writes:

"Senate Democrats cite [Miguel] Estrada's lack of judicial experience. But 15 of the 18 nominations to the D.C. court since President Carter lacked such experience, as did 26 Clinton circuit judge nominees who were confirmed. And 43 of the 108 Supreme Court justices (most recently Byron White, Thurgood Marshall and Lewis Powell), including eight of the 18 chief justices (most recently Earl Warren) had no prior judicial experience."

I wonder why Will included Thurgood Marshall in this list? After all, from 1961 to 1965, Marshall sat on the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit. Did he just guess about Marshall's experience? Or assume? It makes one wonder about Will's other figures -- the 15 out of 18 and the 43 out of 108.

In the same article -- the gist of the article, in fact -- Will writes "The president, preoccupied with regime change elsewhere, will occupy a substantially diminished presidency unless he defeats the current attempt to alter the constitutional regime here. If at least 41 Senate Democrats succeed in blocking a vote on the confirmation of Miguel Estrada to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, the Constitution effectively will be amended. If Senate rules, exploited by an anticonstitutional minority, are allowed to trump the Constitution's text and two centuries of practice, the Senate's power to consent to judicial nominations will have become a Senate right to require a 60-vote supermajority for confirmations. By thus nullifying the president's power to shape the judiciary, the Democratic Party will wield a presidential power without having won a presidential election."

What Will means (and, if he wanted to be honest, what he should have written) is that filibusters are bad only when Democrats do it. When Republicans do it, filibusters are, for Will, good. For in his August 15, 1994 syndicated column (I'm quoting from page B5 of the Times-Picayune; it isn't on the web but it's in your local library):

"The idea that filibusters have become a serious problem is preposterous. Can anyone name anything of significance that an American majority has desired, strongly and protractedly, but has not received because of a filibuster? Who believes that insufficient activity is a defect of modern government?"

March 2, 2003

Someone else notices

Brad Delong has also noticed how George Will has changed his opinions on the Constitution now that the Republicans are in charge.

March 4, 2003


Perhaps the punditocracy in the U.S. is missing the true lesson of Turkey's legislature's recent vote. Maybe the lesson is that Iraq's neighbors aren't as scared of Iraq as we say they are.

Where's William Shawn when you need him, or... More Nit-picking

In the most recent New Yorker, Simon Schama describes Charles Dickens' trip to the United States, writing that "Decades before Joseph Conrad steamed his way upstream into the heart of imperial darkness, Dickens, travelling from Cincinnati downstream to Cairo, Illinois (reversing Mrs. Trollope’s route), experienced the Mississippi as a septic ooze, a turbid soup of animal and vegetable muck."

Of course, Dickens wouldn't have experienced the Mississippi River until after arriving in Cairo. As he was "travelling from Cincinnati downstream to Cario" he would have experienced the Ohio River.

Schama's article is about European attitudes towards the United States. Step one (for both us and them) probably is getting our geography down.

(And, the New Yorker is an American, not a European, publication. Don't know what to say about that.)

March 5, 2003

Vertical and Horizontal

Roger Ebert (he just doesn't do movie reviews) makes a compelling case in support of the 9th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals' recent decision on the Pledge of Alliegance. In the article, he makes a distinction between what he calls "vertical prayer" and "horizontal prayer."

Read the piece for yourself. And, if Ebert wanted to cite an outside source to buttress his argument, he could have quoted Matthew 6:5-6: "And when thou prayest, thou shalt not be as the hypocrites are: for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and in the corners of the streets, that they may be seen of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward. But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly."

Thoughts for the day

From the October 11, 2000 Gore-Bush Presidential Debate:

MODERATOR: Should the people of the world look at the United States, Governor, and say, should they fear us, should they welcome our involvement, should they see us as a friend, everybody in the world? How would you project us around the world, as president?

BUSH: Well, I think they ought to look at us as a country that understands freedom where it doesn't matter who you are or how you're raised or where you're from, that you can succeed. I don't think they'll look at us with envy. It really depends upon how our nation conducts itself in foreign policy. If we're an arrogant nation, they'll resent us. If we're a humble nation, but strong, they'll welcome us. And it's -- our nation stands alone right now in the world in terms of power, and that's why we have to be humble. And yet project strength in a way that promotes freedom. So I don't think they ought to look at us in any way other than what we are. We're a freedom-loving nation and if we're an arrogant nation they'll view us that way, but if we're a humble nation they'll respect us.

Later in the same debate:

MODERATOR: Saddam Hussein, you mean, get him out of there?

BUSH: I would like to, of course, and I presume this administration would as well. We don't know -- there are no inspectors now in Iraq, the coalition that was in place isn't as strong as it used to be. He is a danger. We don't want him fishing in troubled waters in the Middle East. And it's going to be hard, it's going to be important to rebuild that coalition to keep the pressure on him.

"No inspectors now in Iraq"... "it's going to be important to rebuild that coalition to keep the pressure on him"... hmm...

March 7, 2003

Best question of the night

The best question asked during last night's news conference was:

"QUESTION: Thank you, sir.

Mr. President, millions of Americans can recall a time when leaders from both parties set this country on a mission of regime change in Vietnam. Fifty-thousand Americans died. The regime is still there in Hanoi and it hasn't harmed or threatened a single American in 30 years since the war ended.

What can you say tonight, sir, to the sons and the daughters of the Americans who served in Vietnam to assure them that you will not lead this country down a similar path in Iraq?"

President Bush did not answer the question (he stayed 'on message'):

"BUSH: It's a great question.

Our mission is clear in Iraq. Should we have to go in, our mission is very clear: disarmament.

In order to disarm, it will mean regime change. I'm confident that we'll be able to achieve that objective in a way that minimizes the loss of life.

No doubt there's risks with any military operation. I know that. But it's very clear what we intend to do. And our mission won't change. The mission is precisely what I just stated. We've got a plan that will achieve that mission should we need to send forces in."

What's a good answer to the question? Any takers?

Another must read

Paul Krugman's column today is a must read for those who are for the disarming of Iraq -- even if it means the US going in alone and disarming him -- but believe the cause is currently being mishandled. And, it's a must read for those dubious of this position.

March 11, 2003

Go for broke

Interesting comment over at Instapundit. He writes about hearing a story concerning the "lessons learned from the Japanese internments" and that "there's not much reason to contemplate locking up very many Iraqi nationals in America anyway, since they're probably the most pro-war, anti-Saddam segment of the population."

Is he implying that there was reason to contemplate locking up Japanese and Japanese Americans? I don't think so, and, I sure hope not. Considering that the 6,000 Japanese American members of the 442/100 regiment during World War II (remember, the army was segregated back then) earned more than 18,000 individual decorations including 1 Medal of Honor (20 more Medals of Honor were awarded to the 442 in 2000), 53 Distinguished Service Crosses, 588 Silver Stars, 5,200 Bronze Star Medals, 9,486 Purple Hearts, and eight Presidential Unit Citations, making it the most decorated regiment during the war, perhaps Japanese Americans were among the most pro-American, patriotic, anti-Nazi (the 442 was one of the units that liberated Dachau) segments of the population?

You've got to be kidding me

Read this AP story about the investigation into allegations of rampant and criminal mismanagement at the Air Force Academy where dozens of female cadets have claimed to have been raped and the Academy responded with little assistance excepting punishing the women.

In the first sentence we read that TESSA is "the region's main civilian rape crisis center." Later we read that an Air Force team went to Colorado Springs to investigate the situation, spending 10 days on site.

But they did not go to TESSA or contact TESSA (where at least 38 of the female cadets went for assistance) because the investigators "were unaware of the center's existence during their first visit."

You've got to be kidding me. It makes one wonder what this team actually did for those 10 days. Who did they talk to? Did they ask *any* questions? (Like, for instance: "What would be a good place in the area to learn more about what happened?" or "Who in this area would be a good resource on this matter?")

March 12, 2003

Sullivan Watch

Andrew Sullivan made some hay in his never-ending campaign against the New York Times (you know, Andrew, we've all been rejected for jobs before; let it go) using the so-called Iraqi "drone."

First he wrote: "Compare the reports in the London Times with the New York Times or the Washington Post (zilch) on the alleged undisclosed drone aircraft buried in the appendix to Hans Blix's report to the U.N. last week. I don't know what to make of it. It seems a big deal to me, although the NYT makes a bigger deal about cluster bombs. I'm not an arms inspector, so I'm not sure why this discrepancy in coverage exists."

Then he wrote: "CNN has it [the "drone"] as its lead headline. Can Howell keep spinning for de Villepin indefinitely?" (Howell is, of course, Howell Raines, the Editor of the New York Times.)

But, it turns out that the drone isn't a big deal. It actually "appears to be made of balsa wood and duct tape, with two small propellors attached to what look like the engines of a weed whacker."

March 13, 2003

Bowling for New York?

Truth be told, I loved Michael Moore's "Bowling for Columbine" (although I didn't much care for the montage sequence that had Louis Armstrong's "What a Wonderful World" playing behind it). But, I've gotta recommend this short movie which takes a pro-war stance (more of an anti- the-anti-war protesters stance, actually). It's funny and makes its point very well -- in a Michael Moore sort of way.

The Case for Containment

The arguments against containment are many: (1) "Saddam as a serial aggressor bent on dominating the Persian Gulf;" (2) "Saddam has used WMD against his own people (the Kurds) and against Iran and that therefore he is likely to use them against the United States;" (3) containment "is unlikely to stop Saddam from getting nuclear weapons;" (3a) "Saddam would give nuclear weapons secretly to al Qaeda or some other terrorist group;" (4) a combination of all of these. Since these are true, a war to disarm him is necessary.

A case for containment is made here by John Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt. Another must read.

March 14, 2003


Andrew Sullivan recently posed the following quickie: "THE LONELINESS OF ASIAN-AMERICAN MEN: Well, heterosexual Asian-American men, anyway. I blame all those Berkeley white guys."

The link is to a UPI article that summarizes a Census Bureau report that Asian American women marry white men at a much higher rate than Asian American men marry white women.

I don't know if I'd use this variable as a description of loneliness, though, no matter what's supposedly going on at Berkeley.

For what it's worth, Asian American men are much more likely to currently be married than the population as a whole (56.4 percent to 54.2 percent for those over 15).

(And, I don't see what's so wrong with out-of-group marriages. Among other things, it's a traditional sign of assimilation.)

March 17, 2003

Follow the links

One of the big criticisms of Andrew Sullivan's blog is that the articles he links to don't always say what he says they say.

Today is no exception.

Under the heading "WINNING THE ARGUMENT," Sullivan writes: "The latest polling data show something worth remembering as we head into war. USA Today's poll shows the highest levels supporting an invasion of Iraq - 64 percent - since November 2001, a jump of five points from two weeks ago. 57 percent say that the Bush administration has made a convincing argument for intervention."

Following the links on the USA Today page, we find this: "But that support drops off if the U.N. backing being sought by the United States, Britain and Spain Monday is not obtained. If the U.N. Security Council rejects a resolution paving the way for military action, only 54% of Americans favor a U.S. invasion. And if the Bush administration does not seek a final Security Council vote, support for a war drops to 47%."

Since there's going to be no final Security Council vote, I suppose the poll says that support for a war is 47%. 17 points less than 64.

There's going to be a huge spike in support tonight and later this week, to be sure. But, right now, it's less than half.

How much is going to Haliburton?

Joshua Marshall alerts us to this story: "Bush Has Audacious Plan to Rebuild Iraq Within Year"

A more humane war

In a more lighthearted war, David Nieporent defeats me 2360 results to 552 results at Google fight.

(But, in should be noted, that Pennsylvania defeats Princeton 13 300 000 results to 3 310 000 results. Don't think using "Pennsylvania" is fair [it's, among other things, the name of a state, too]? Well, I just gotta say, the results don't lie.).

March 21, 2003

A thank you note

During the 2000 Presidential campaign, Dick Cheney had a usual stump speech. During the speech, he'd tell the audience that administrations don't build the army themselves... they inherit the military that that their predecessor built. He would continue that, after the first Gulf War (when he was Secretary of Defense), he sat down and wrote President Reagan a thank you letter... thanking him for organizing the great army that did such a great job. And then Cheney would say the big applause line: did anybody think that President Clinton would ever get such a thank you note? The crowds would erupt... and Cheney's job was done... trying to make people believe that President Clinton's policies had drastically weakened America's military strength.

Hopefully, this war will be a quick and successful one. And let's hope that, after it's over, Vice-President Cheney sits down and writes President Clinton a thank you letter for organizing the military that is so able and so prepared, as it's proving in Iraq and Afghanistan. What do you think the odds are?

March 24, 2003

Let's remember...

Before Michael Moore heard some boos at last night's Academy Awards, he received a standing ovation when his award was announced. How many standing ovations for award announcements were there last night? I'm asking because I don't know. Was his the only one? It might have been.

In addition to his movie, Moore also wrote the #2 best selling non-fiction book in America, which has been on the best seller list for just about a year.

So, when we read "But the crowd grew more hostile and began to jeer heavily as he continued," we should ask ourselves, was the crowd really hostile, or was it just a few loud people booing? From the crowd shots I saw on television during Moore's short speech, I didn't witness a hostile crowd. But "hostile" is money-making spin for the news media... they get a juicy story when there really might not be one.

If you want to hear Moore's take on the reaction, go here and click under the link for DOCUMENTARY FEATURE.

March 25, 2003


Last week, I asked "How much is going to Haliburton?"

It looks like we're begining to get an answer.

March 27, 2003

Machiavelli on Exiles

Kos alerts us to this March 16 appearance by Vice-President Cheney on Meet the Press:

VICE PRES. CHENEY: ... Now, I think things have gotten so bad inside Iraq, from the standpoint of the Iraqi people, my belief is we will, in fact, be greeted as liberators....

MR. RUSSERT: If your analysis is not correct, and we're not treated as liberators, but as conquerors, and the Iraqis begin to resist, particularly in Baghdad, do you think the American people are prepared for a long, costly, and bloody battle with significant American casualties?

VICE PRES. CHENEY: Well, I don't think it’s likely to unfold that way, Tim, because I really do believe that we will be greeted as liberators. I've talked with a lot of Iraqis in the last several months myself, had them to the White House. The president and I have met with them, various groups and individuals, people who have devoted their lives from the outside to trying to change things inside Iraq. And like Kanan Makiya who’s a professor at Brandeis, but an Iraqi, he's written great books about the subject, knows the country intimately, and is a part of the democratic opposition and resistance. The read we get on the people of Iraq is there is no question but what they want to the get rid of Saddam Hussein and they will welcome as liberators the United States when we come to do that.

The Vice-President isn't the only one... many people have cited the expat Iraqi community for intelligence information. It's important to remember what Machaivelli said about exiles. In short he said: don't form strategies based on what they say.

From Discourses, Book 2, Chapter 31:

"It ought to be considered, therefore, how vain are the faith and promises of those who find themselves deprived of their country. For, as to their faith, it has to be borne in mind that anytime they can return to their country by other means than yours, they will leave you and look to the other, notwithstanding whatever promises they had made you. As to their vain hopes and promises, such is the extreme desire in them to return home, that they naturally believe many things that are false and add many others by art, so that between those they believe and those they say they believe, they fill you with hope, so that relying on them you will incur expenses in vain, or you undertake an enterprise in which you ruin yourself..... A Prince, therefore, ought to go slowly in undertaking an enterprise upon the representations of an exile, for most of the times he will be left either with shame or very grave injury."

March 28, 2003

Richard Pearle's Replacement

I have an idea on who should replace Richard Pearle as chair of the Defense Policy Board.

Considering that we've targeted Saddam, the invasion has begun, and Franklin Graham -- son of Billy Graham -- and the Southern Baptist Convention is posed to enter Iraq to minister to the Iraqi's spirtual needs... is their any other person to be considered for the policy board? The answer is obvious. It's Ann Coutler, who, quite famously wrote: "We should invade their countries, kill their leaders and convert them to Christianity."

April 3, 2003

House of Cards

Andrew Sullivan is at it again. Today's swipe at the New York Times concerns this following correction, which appeared in yesterday's Times:

A front-page news analysis article on Sunday about the political perils faced by President Bush over the war with Iraq misattributed a comment about Saddam Hussein's government being "a house of cards." While some American officials had used the phrase to predict a shorter conflict and a quick collapse of the Iraqi leadership, Vice President Dick Cheney was not among them.

In response, Sullivan writes the following: "Amazing. Another front page Big Lie from Raines and company. Notice also the mealy-mouthed correction. Which other "American officials" are they talking about? Somehow, I suspect, if they exist at all, they're nowhere near the senior levels - which was the point of Johnny Apple's self-parodic piece. More and more, readers are beginning to realize that Raines' NYT doesn't just spin against the Bush administration on an hourly basis. It also merrily lies to keep the propaganda war going."

It wasn't just the Times which made this mistake. If Sullivan wants to read a correction that's not "mealy-mouthed," he should read this, from today's Philadelphia Daily News. I wonder why he chose the Times' correction and not the Daily News'?

April 24, 2003


The most recent datum I have reports that 261 people world-wide have died from SARS. All 261 of these deaths are tragic, however, while watching and reading news reports on SARS and how Canada, the United States, and the Far East is taking precautions to prevent its further spread, let's remember that: at last count 710,760 people die annually from heart disease in the US alone and that every 10 seconds, someone dies from a tobacco related health problem. (Of course, there is some overlap in these two figures.)

So, while thinking about SARS... thinking of the 261 in the world and the 710,760 annually in this country... everybody should also be thinking about hitting the treadmill and, if you smoke, quiting. We might not yet know how to defeat SARS, but we do know how to reduce heart disease and tobacco related deaths.

Praise Rick!

The Philadelphia Daily News has found someone who agrees with Senator Santorum.

May 2, 2003

Last night's landing

There's a debate going on over at Glenn Reynold's site about whether the footage of President Bush landing on the aircraft carrier will make great campaign footage for 2004.

We read statements like: "There was nothing false about it, because a carrier landing is no walk in the park. But I don't think it was a stunt. Bush is a piolt, and I'm sure he loved getting behind the controls for a brief moment - it was an expression of who Bush is, not a PR stunt."

And there are links to statements like: "I also think it did, and will, play like a mad bastard with the American people. Judging from the wails of shock and horror now rising from the usual suspects on the left, I think they think so too."

I agree with Reynolds. It's not going to play well in 2004. In fact, I'm positive the Bush administration won't even use it. Not once. They will focus on his role during the war as President... not on him as a pilot or his past life or anything else. Because, if they open this door, they know they'll have to answer questions about being a pilot and his own military service. Right now, they know the "liberal" media won't ask about it (they didn't ask in 2000, why would they ask in 2004?), so why offer them the opportunity?

The Book of Virtues

Since he lectured me and President Clinton and values, morals, and faith, I think I'm going to have to lecture him a bit. Via Eschaton: William Bennett is a big-time gambler.

So Mr. Bennett knows:

The 10th Commandment given to Moses: Thou shalt not covet thy neighbour's house, thou shalt not covet thy neighbour's wife, nor his manservant, nor his maidservant, nor his ox, nor his ass, nor any thing that is thy neighbour's. (Exodus 20:17). Gambling, of course, is desiring -- coveting -- someone else's money.

Do not desire more than what God grants you. Therefore take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed? (For after all these things do the Gentiles seek:) for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things. But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you. Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof. (Matthew 6:31-34) Mr. Bennett repeatedly tries to get rich quick, not comprehending these words from the first Gospel.

Money is the root of all evil. It's a oft told maxim, but it's from the Bible. For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows. But thou, O man of God, flee these things; and follow after righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, meekness. (1 Timothy 6:10-11) There are things in life much worthier in pursuing than money. Mr. Bennett should know this; it should be a cornerstone of his Book of Virtues and, one assumes, his life.

Bennett's venom against President Clinton, including The Death of Outrage, made Bennett a lot of money. But he should be rest assured. Outrage isn't dead. I'm outraged at his hypocricy.

May 3, 2003

Well, actually, Andrew...

Andrew Sullivan defends William Bennett today, writing that "What, I ask myself, has he conceivably done wrong? He has done nothing illegal. He has done nothing hypocritical. Only in the minds of a few religious fanatics, has he done anything immoral."

Well, you don't have to be a religious fanatic to believe that gambling is immoral. It can be well argued (and it *has* been well argued) that legalized gambling like casinos and the lottery exploits the poor. (And, if one wants to quote the big Book of Virtues, "He that despiseth his neighbour sinneth: but he that hath mercy on the poor, happy is he." Proverbs 14:21.)

But, as Atrios has alerted us, Bennett's erstwhile poker games with William Rehnquist, Antonin Scalia and Robert Bork are indeed illegal and punishable by up to five years in jail.

No, of course, I don't think Bennett should go to jail for playing poker with his friends. However, we should remember, that this crime is more than Kenneth Starr found on President Clinton after investigating Whitewater, Filegate, and all the rest. Bennett loved going to town on President Clinton. For what? For even less.

Sullivan wants us to respect Bennett's privacy. Bennett has done nothing *really* wrong -- we should all let it go. I cannot agree. Bennett knows better than anyone else the warning about judging others yest ye be judged.

May 5, 2003

It's time for him to Let It Go

Andrew Sullivan's meta-keywords for his site (the words he wants search engines to look for so to direct people to his site, or, in other words the words he thinks best describe what his site is about) are "andrew sullivan, book club, war, terrorism, culture, politics, faith, homosexuality, people, abortion, presidential, scandal, campaign, american, constitutional, clinton, offenses, attitude, dubya, george bush," so this should come as no surprize.

In his most recent missive, he writes that "Bill Clinton's public character, his lying, untrustworthiness and abuse of his office were important things to notice and criticize. But some of the rhetoric went further than that, and Bennett clearly egged it on. I'm thinking not about genuine public issues of abuse of power, sexual harassment and perjury, but private adultery and womanizing, which were linked in Clinton's case but not inseparable."

But, of course, President Clinton did not sexually harass anyone (does any rational person really believe that he did?). He didn't abuse his power (what's the only evidence that he abused his power? That he lied about the affair to members of his cabinet? Please!) . And, a great argument could be made (and I'd make it), that he didn't perjure himself (lying is not perjury). All he did was what Sullivan calls "private adultery" and lie about it.

Sullivan should let it go. However, when your site is still about Clinton, offenses, and scandals, I suppose it's difficult.

May 12, 2003

Sample size

Lots of people, like Mickey Kaus, are going to town on the Blair story from the New York Times. Blair and the Times, these people are saying, prove that affirmative action is bad. Kaus writes that "fairly direct consequence of the Times's misguided race preference policy" (Kaus actually put this phrase in bold type).

John Leo at U.S. News and World Report writes:

"Everybody knows that this argument tends to trigger cries of 'Racism!' So let's stipulate: The overwhelming majority of plagiarism cases and journalistic scandals have been the work of whites.... But once you create preferences, you run the risk of increasing the number of screw-ups among the preferred group. Relaxing standards or pushing an unprepared candidate into a high-pressure job tends to increase the odds of trouble. All of us figure this out rather quickly when the preferred group is relatives of the boss or people who went to the boss's college. It's true of identity groups as well."

It's a cute little 'stipulation' on Leo's part, but it just doesn't wash. Blair isn't being accused of failing to meet standards that were relaxed for him. He has been accused of a crime. Leo knows this and plagarism is what he's been talking about until this paragraph. But then he equates standards with crimes. We have to throw away what Leo has written, unless he wants to rewrite his piece to "once you create preferences, you run the risk of increasing the number of plagarisers and criminals among the preferred group." Is that what he meant? If he did, you see why I don't buy his stipulation.

And, Leo is talking about trends. Trends. He uses terminology like "increasing" and "group" and "odds" -- that's trends talk.

In his talk about trends, how large is his sample? How many "unprepared candidate[s]" in this "preferred group" does his analyze? How much data does he have?

He, in fact, has a sample size of one. Blair. That's not trends data. He takes one datum point to paint with a wide wide brush. Not good argument technique -- not even in 8th grade.

So, Leo can't competently analyze data. (Or, he can, but choses, for rhetorical purposes, not to). He mix-and-matchs accusations (by equating 'low' standards with plagarism). Perhaps the New York Times isn't the only publication with editorial problems. U.S. News needs to edit its authors better, too.

May 13, 2003

Data, Reporting, and Blair

On the opinion page of the Washington Post, Richard Cohen weighs in on the Blair affair. Cohen is as sure as Mickey Kaus and John Leo: “Yet not only was Blair not stopped, he was promoted to the national staff and ultimately given more responsibilities. Why? The answer appears to be precisely what the Times denies: favoritism based on race.”

Like Kaus and Leo, Cohen provides no evidence for his assertion. However, he does admit that Blair “clearly has talent” as a reporter. (Perhaps this is why Blair was promoted to the national staff?) If we review the logic of Kaus, Leo, and Cohen, we see their reasoning:

1. Blair was black
2. Well known to the Times editors, Blair was a mediocre reporter
3. Blair was promoted and kept working until the scandal broke
4. The Times editors must have promoted him because he was black

However, this line of reasoning does not work. There is not enough data to Jump to [these] Conclusions. For example, one could simply substitute the following:

1. Blair had gone to the University of Maryland
2. Well known to the Times editors, Blair was a mediocre reporter
3. Blair was promoted and kept working until the scandal broke
4. The Times editors must have promoted him because he was a Terripan

In absence of more data (or, for that matter, any data), this line of reasoning works just as well. We all know that there are ‘old-boy’ networks that exist at major places of employment – why couldn’t it be at work here? For all we know right now, it is at work.

What is needed are more data, and it is not difficult to figure out what data are needed. For instance, what are the promotion rates from the reporter internship program to the national staff? Is it near 100 percent? Is it, in fact, 100 percent? Is the hardest part of getting on the national staff actually getting the initial internship? What are the promotion rates by race? Do black interns get preference? Was Blair an exception or did he fit a pattern? Did Blair, in fact, receive preferential treatment?

Once these questions are answered, Kaus, Leo, and Cohen will be able to accurately talk about why Blair was promoted. Right now, they are three reporters who don’t have the facts – and who are not showing any desire to obtain the facts; they look like hacks who are using this incident to write ill-informed diatribes against affirmative action. You know, they may be right about why Blair was promoted, but, right now, they are showing the reporting skills worthy of Jayson Blair.

Kaus jumps the shark

Mickey Kaus has just jumped the shark on the Blair fiasco.

In his most recent post, Kaus writes: Howell Raines "is an egomaniacal Guilty Southern White Boy, running a star system based in part on loyalty, whose self-image involves him singlehandedly helping deserving African-Americans claim their rightful place in American society!" (Emphasis in the original.)

Nice use of sarcasm. But, one has to ask Kaus: prey tell, where do you think the rightful place in American society is for African-Americans? Either Kaus believes it's not as a reporter, or Kaus is in dire need of an editor.

May 14, 2003


Yesterday, I asked: "What is needed are more data, and it is not difficult to figure out what data are needed. For instance, what are the promotion rates from the reporter internship program to the national staff? Is it near 100 percent? Is it, in fact, 100 percent? Is the hardest part of getting on the national staff actually getting the initial internship? What are the promotion rates by race? Do black interns get preference? Was Blair an exception or did he fit a pattern? Did Blair, in fact, receive preferential treatment?"

Some data has been found. Since 1995, there have been 44 people in the New York Times program Jayson Blair was in. Thirty-seven were promoted to the full-time staff. Of the 7 who were not, 3 were black. Of the 37 who were promoted, 16 were members of minority groups. (We don't know how many of these 16 were black.) With this data, we find:

The New York Times had an overall 84.1 percent promotion rate from internship to staff (the 37 promoted divided by 44 total).

The New York Times had, at most, a 84.2 percent promotion rate for minorities from internship to staff (the 16 promoted divided by 16+3 we know were in the total -- we don't know how many of the other seven who were not promoted were 'minorities').

From this glimpse into the New York Times newsroom, it does not seem that 'affirmative action' played a large role in promotion decisions. To me, it looks like Blair was a con-man and there is nothing more to this story.

These data are, of course, limited, but for those saying that 'affirmative action' *necesarily* played a role in his promotion and his tenure at the Times, the ball is in your court.

May 16, 2003

Sullivan Jumps the Shark

In an attempt to remind us all of the 1990s (the gossip-mongered, no-unsubstantiated-accusation against the Clinton left-unturned 1990s), Andrew Sullivan jumps the shark on the New York Times Blair scandal.

In his most recent post, Sullivan writes: "Two days after he quit the New York Times, Jayson Blair, whose credit cards were all maxed out and who used national editor Jim Roberts' card for expenses, somehow paid off a $3853 American Express bill. Whence the sudden infusion of money?"

Sullivan's implication is clear: Blair was paid off by somebody. By whom, of course, Sullivan doesn't say (but he does use the word "whence" -- a word I don't think I've ever used, myself). But, who would pay Blair off? The Times? Howell Raines, himself? The University of Maryland journalism school? Any other guesses? Any other guesses that are *less* absurd? Question number two is, of course: why would they pay him off? To keep Blair quiet so the Times would not have to come clean about the scandal?

Whence came the money? Let's give it a try. Perhaps he got a new credit card with one of those balance-transfer programs? Or a loan from friends? Or from his savings? Or his parents paid it off for him? Or he had worked out a payment plan with the law firm representing American Express -- a plan which was finalized this month? None of these seem too illogical.

Or maybe, I suppose, Blair did get the money via nefarious means. However, without any data, Sullivan is attempting to manufacture a scandal. It's the "good old days" all over again.

May 29, 2003


If you are getting scared about the United States's future, you should check out the National Spelling Bee, currently being held in Washington. It won't quiet all of your fears, but it'll make you feel a little better.


Pococurante was the winning word in this year's National Spelling Bee.

The final 5 competitors were J.J. Goldstein, a Jewish girl from Rockville Centre, New York, Evelyn Blacklock, a homeschooled girl from Middletown, New York, Sai Gunturi, a South Asian American boy from Dallas, Samir Patel, a South Asian American boy from Fort Worth, and Trudy McLeary, a black girl from originally from Jamaica.

God Bless America.

May 30, 2003

Worst. Trade. Ever.

Over at the Volokh Conspiracy, the consipirators have been discussing what the worst trade ever was in baseball history.

David Post says, without question, it was Pete Harnisch, Curt Schilling, and Steve Finley for Glenn Davis. Jacob Levy reminds us of Babe Ruth for money, and Philippe de Croy brings up (not a trade, exactly, but a person) Calvin Schiraldi and the supposedly cursed Red Sox.

The answer to the question: what was the worst trade in baseball history? It wasn't Harnisch/ Shilling/Finley for Davis. Nor was it Frank Robinson for Milt Pappas. Or Ruth for money. Or Ryne Sandberg and Larry Bowa for Ivan DeJesus.

It was Amos Rusie for Christie Mathewson.

After the trade, Mathewson won 372 games for his new team (winning over 20 games 11 different seasons), the New York Giants, and was one of the greatest pitchers ever.

After the same trade, Rusie pitched in three games, winning none and losing one, for his new team, the Cincinnati Reds -- the team that traded Mathewson. And then Rusie's career was over.

June 2, 2003

Why We Will Always Need the New York Times I

From today's Times:

"WASHINGTON, June 2 — The Justice Department's roundup of hundreds of illegal immigrants in the months after the Sept. 11 attacks was plagued with 'significant problems' that forced many people with no connection to terrorism to languish in jails in unduly harsh conditions, an internal report released today found.

The highly critical report from the Justice Department's inspector general concluded that F.B.I. officials, particularly in New York City, 'made little attempt to distinguish' between immigrants who had possible ties to terrorism and those swept up by chance in the investigation.

Justice Department officials said they believed they had acted within the law in pursuing terrorist suspects. 'We make no apologies for finding every legal way possible to protect the American public from further terrorist attacks,' said Barbara Comstock, a spokeswoman for the department."

I'm all for finding every legal way possible to protect the American public from further terrorist attacks. Who isn't? But, an apology is in order, for what was done was not legal.

I'm not a lawyer, but it's not difficult to figure out why the actions taken weren't legal. All one has to do is go to these four sentences:

The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a grand jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the militia

In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial,

Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted.

Those are, of course, the 4th, the beginings of the 5th and 6th, and 8th amendments to the Constitution. People must be secure in their persons. They must, if they are imprisoned, charged with a crime and given a speedy trial, and they cannot be forced to languish in jail under unduly harsh conditions. It's un-American and un-Constitutional.

June 3, 2003

Why We Will Always Need the New York Times II

Paul Krugman's column today. Many others are going to link to it, some will attempt to "fisk" it. It's a must read.


Jay Mazumdar is right when he reminds us that we need to be precise about what we talk about: "The likelihood of Iraq having no WMDs seems pretty thin considering who Saddam was, how big Iraq is, and how many of its neighbors also seems to have WMDs. The WMDs probably are there, as the newly discovered trailers demonstrate. The question we should be emphasizing is whether Saddam ever had enough WMDs to present an imminent threat that justified a preventive, unilateral war lacking international legitimacy."

The war is over; what's the answer to this question?

Another entry about Paul Krugman

Roger Simon takes on Krugman's morning Times column:

What appalls me about this morning’s Paul Krugman NYTimes column about WMDs are not the factual errors, bad as they may be, reported on Instapundit and elsewhere, but the continued “Old Consciousness” Krugman’s article represents.

What factual errors in this morning's column? Instapundit does not list any. Neither does Simon -- he just states that they are there, that they are "bad," and his is appalled. Just saying that they are there doesn't make it so.

He and, alas, too many of my one-time allies on the Left are still mired in a “gotcha game,” attempting to dethrone George Bush at all costs, as if that were the most important action in the world, while the rest of us have moved on.

There is nothing wrong with being critical of the government or of our leaders. This isn't a "gotcha game" -- it's democracy. It's important. I wonder where Simon has "moved on" to.

This “Old Consciousness,” call it politics-as-usual or pre-9/11 or Party Politics, if you will, has placed Krugman and his ilk clearly, and I assume inadvertently, on the side of fascism—what should be a very uncomfortable spot for a left/liberal, former or otherwise. But on the side of fascism they are because the focus on missing WMDs, instead of on the unearthing of thousands of mass graves and the overthrow of a brutal, torturing regime that supported terrorism, distorts the reality of the victory in Iraq, which has already freed the people of that country and has changed the equation in the Middle East so that Israeli-Palestinian peace seems possible for the first time in years.

Krugman and his ilk are fascists? Or are on the side of fascism? Sticks and stones.

Krugman address this issue (of the "overthrow of a brutal, torturing regime") in his column: "It's no answer to say that Saddam was a murderous tyrant. I could point out that many of the neoconservatives who fomented this war were nonchalant, or worse, about mass murders by Central American death squads in the 1980's. But the important point is that this isn't about Saddam: it's about us. The public was told that Saddam posed an imminent threat. If that claim was fraudulent, the selling of the war is arguably the worst scandal in American political history — worse than Watergate, worse than Iran-contra. Indeed, the idea that we were deceived into war makes many commentators so uncomfortable that they refuse to admit the possibility."

The question remain: Was Saddam an imminent threat?

But Krugman must get the demon Bush, using any pretext he can, the WMDs in this case. But let’s give Paul his due. Let’s stipulate, even though we have no way of knowing at this point, the presence of these weapons was exaggerated by the administration; I still say—so what? Saddam’s gone. It was worth it. And I ask Krugman this simple question: What if some leader had used a similar ruse to get rid of Hitler in 1940? What would he think of that?

Prediction: We won’t be hearing a Krugman answer to that one any time soon.

I'll answer it.

I'm sure -- positive in fact -- that some leader would have LOVED to have used any ruse necessary to have gotten rid of Hitler in 1940. But, of course, no ruse was necessary in 1940. Great Britian and France were already at war against Germany.

And, does Simon genuine believe what he wrote in that paragraph? That it doesn't matter if our leaders -- and I'm not saying they did, he's saying that if they did, it doesn't matter -- if our leaders lie to us? That only the end result matters?

June 4, 2003


Thirty-five years ago today, Robert F. Kennedy won the California Democratic Primary and, after making his acceptance speech, was shot. (He was actually shot a bit after midnight on June 5th, but it was still the night of June 4th.)

Many extraordinary books have been written about Kennedy. Some of this countries best historians and journalists have weighed in -- including Evan Thomas, Pierre D. Salinger, Jules Witcover, David Halberstam, Jack Newfield, Arthur Schlesinger Jr.

For my money, however, the best biography of Kennedy is Joseph A. Palermo's In His Own Right: The Political Odyssey of Senator Robert F. Kennedy. It's extraordinary, Kennedy's voice comes across loud and clear, and it's a shame that it did not get the same attention as, say, Thomas's book, which was excerpted in Newsweek magazine a couple of years ago.

If you're interested in Kennedy's life, I highly recommend Palermo's book.

June 6, 2003


Once again, Jay Mazumdar is right on target.

With all the repulsive back-slapping and congratulations throughout the blogsphere about the resignations at the New York Times, perhaps it's time for some of these bloggers to come clean themselves. The New York Times has; will bloggers? Or is the blogsphere above self-correction? We know the New York Times can accept responsibility. Is the blogsphere above accountability?

Jay writes: "Prior to the onset of the war, right-wing bloggers were throwing around all sorts of accusations about how the French and the Germans opposed the war because they provided Saddam with his WMD arsenal in violation of UN sanctions. They promised us -- most prominently Steven den Beste -- that the war once prosecuted would reveal French and German duplicity and complicity with a murderous regime."

But den Beste wasn't alone. Andrew Sullivan made these accusations. Instapundit repeatedly made them (or repeated them).

So, it's time for accountability. Did the French and Germans provide Saddam with WMDs? Or, are we going to see a correction soon?

I'm not holding my breath.

The Day of Days

Recent diplomacy aside, on this anniversary, it's important to remember who are great friends are.

Witch Hunts

Instapundit approvingly quotes someone saying: "These people destroyed themselves. Nobody went on a witch hunt for Raines or Lott, they dug their own graves and made a lot of enemies all on their own."

Huh? No one went on a witch hunt for Howell Raines?

Not that he had anything to do with Raines's demise, but there is a two word answer for this incredible falsehood: Andrew Sullivan.

June 7, 2003

Raines's Legacy

Ken Layne writes (and Virginia Postrel agrees) that Howell Raines's legacy is a legacy of lies.

Other than trying to figure out which lies Raines actually told in these various scandals (did he tell knowlingly any?), I have to disagree with Layne and Postrel.

True enough, some will gloat on and on about Raines and his resignation. To these people, this will always be Raines's legacy.

To most, I believe, what they will most remember about Raines's stewardship of the Times will be its post-9/11 coverage (for which it won 6 Pulitzer Prizes) and, most of all, the Portraits of Grief. The Times is not a newspaper without fault. But, these were journalism at journalism's highest.

June 8, 2003


As many bloggers are either taking credit for Howell Raines's resignation or crowing about it, let's remember what the vast majority of the blogsphere still is. Once again, Jay Mazumdar, from a few months back: "But really, [bloggers] are little more than ideological librarians, providing links to stories (by real reporters) which confirm their preconceived notions. The writing styles of even the most respected bloggers (you know the ones) differ greatly from that found in news stories or respected columns. These bloggers confuse condescension with argument and sarcasm with wit, leaving the bitter aftertaste of pathetic know-it-all-ism. If blogging does have a future, it should be because true journalists have more to offer, other than their print media pieces. I think Josh Marshall is an ideal example, combining actual reporting with analysis reflecting both his opinions and a sense of fairness. It would be nice to see more blogs with actual news reporting and fewer peddlers of ideological rigidity."

Jay mentions Josh Marshall. There are other wonderful exceptions: Kos, Brad deLong, Kieran Healy, the extraordinarily literate duo of Molly Wyman and Deirdra Clemente (neither of whom write much about politics, and, in Molly's case, recently hasn't been writting much at all, but when they do write, it's written so incredibly well), and Jay Mazumdar. There are, of course, other exceptions, but, as of now, these are just exceptions and there are few.

June 9, 2003

The death of irony?

The Wall Street Journal opinion page is irate at the federal prosecutors handling Martha Stewart's case.

The WSJ says that Stewart's crimes, if there are any, aren't that big. It compares it to lying about speeding. Also, since she hasn't been charged with insider trading, they note that she shouldn't be charged (as she has been) with lying about participating in insider trading. (It's more complicated than this, but, basically, Stewart denied that she committed a crime, and the prosecutors have used this denial to charge her with misleading the prosecution and her stockholders). The prosecutors, the WSJ claims, are overreaching.

I wonder if the WSJ was able to write all this with a straight face? Or if they were intending to be ironic?

The Wall Street Journal, of course, was unrelenting in its pursuit of President Clinton. Clinton, whose crime (if you actually believe it was a crime), was lying about something he did. And the thing he lied about wasn't even a crime.

You can't support Martha Stewart and not support President Clinton. It's not logically possible. Except if you're the editorial board of the Wall Street Journal.

June 10, 2003


Last night's Charlie Rose show was a low point of American journalism. It was something you'd expect from Fox or the local news.

Rose had Chris Matthews and Margaret Carlson on to talk about Senator Hillary Clinton's new book. They weren't to talk about the buzz around the book, but what was actually contained in the book.

All three actually admitted that they hadn't finished the book, yet. You'd think that ethics would preclude them from discussing a book they hadn't completed. They just sat there, talking about what they assumed was in the book and making jokes about the Clinton family.

When I read a movie review, I expect that the critic has seen the movie. When I watch PBS, I expect the "experts" to have read what they are analyzing. From now on, I'll make exceptions for Chris Matthews and Margaret Carlson.

June 12, 2003

Time for Safire to Give it Up

In today's New York Times, William Safire writes: "In the Hillary Clinton Travelgate case, the independent counsel Robert Ray concluded that her sworn testimony was 'factually false,' but he declined to prosecute because he didn't think a jury would convict the first lady of perjury. Prosecutors hate to spoil their records."

Safire's implication is clear: Clinton was guilty, but her fame would have kept her from being found guilty.

If he would have pursued the matter, Robert Ray's record would not have been sullied because of the supposed incompitance of the jury. It would have been because, as Kenneth Starr himself said, there was no "substantial and credible" evidence of criminal wrongdoing.

Safire is still trying to spin "travelgate" for his own devices. However, the witch hunt is over. It's time for him to give it up.

June 17, 2003

Steven Den Beste I

In a piece about proposed reforms of the United Nations, Steven Den Beste writes: "Democracy [in India] doesn't operate as well as it does here in the US or in some (but not all) of the nations of western Europe, but it's a hell of a lot better than in China or Nigeria."

I wonder if Den Beste has perfomed or read a study of India's democracy or whether he just wrote this sentence because India is in the third world?

Maybe he's right. Maybe in India, maybe democracy doesn't work that well. Perhaps they have a system where a candidate can receive 500,000 fewer votes than his competition yet still win. I don't think so, though.

Steven Den Beste II

Steven Den Beste writes approvingly of the recent decrease in tourism in France. He attributes this to two reasons: (1) the supposed rudeness of the French, and (2) Americans voting with their checkbooks and getting back at France for its position on the second Gulf War. He writes that: "When it comes to tourism, it's a buyer's market. No one can stay in business indefinitely by sneering at their customers, and there's a lot of competition out there. But it's going to take a lot more than just forced smiles to change the situation. It's going to take a deep attitude change. The French need to accept that the tourists are doing the French a favor by visiting, rather than the French doing the tourists a favor by deigning to take their money."

I do not doubt that these two rationales are playing some role in the tourism drought. (Well, actually, the first one, the supposed rudeness of the French, doesn't hold much water -- these supposed attitudes didn't keep Americans from visiting Paris before). However, he incredibly omits other contributing reasons for this decline, like, say, the current weakness of the United States dollar and the current weakness of the American economy. It's expensive to go to France, and much more expensive than in years past.

But, I'm writing this post not because of Den Beste's shortsightedness. I'm writing it because of the last line I quoted. Tourists are not doing the French a favor by visiting. Tourists are taking part in an economic transaction. Tourists pay their money, and they get to do and see things when they are in France, like go to the Louvre. When I buy grapes or toliet paper at the local grocery store, I'm not doing the grocers a favor. I'm getting something out of the transaction as are the grocers.

Perhaps tourists like Den Beste have been treated rudely because they believe, just because they are spending money, that the French should be prostrate before them.

June 18, 2003

The Land of Nod

What's currently the best selling book on No surprize, it's the new Harry Potter book, which will be released next week.

The third best selling book on Again, no surprize, it's Senator Hillary Clinton's memoir, which was released a few days back.

What's the second best selling book on Don't cheat and look (or click on this link -- not until you've guessed).

It's John Steibeck's East of Eden.

The entire country spending a good part of the summer reading East of Eden? God bless Oprah Winfrey. Among other things, she's what Martha Stewart never could have been.

June 23, 2003

Show wrist, please

If David were a criminal, he says he'd move to Nigeria.

If I were going to be a police officer, I'd want to move to Chestertown, Maryland. From the Chestertown Kent County News (via the most recent issue of the New Yorker, this piece not on line):

"Donald David Cothin, 45, Millington, on April 15 was charged with possession of cocaine after he complained to police that the cocaine he had purchsed was not authentic.... It is alleged that at 8 pm., Cothin flagged down Tfc Stacy Hoon to complain about the drugs he had purchased and to say he wanted his money back."

June 30, 2003

The Search for Weapons of Mass Destruction

From the issue of Time Magazine hitting newstands today:

"Meeting last month at a sweltering U.S. base outside Doha, Qatar, with his top Iraq commanders, President Bush skipped quickly past the niceties and went straight to his chief political obsession: Where are the weapons of mass destruction? Turning to his Baghdad proconsul, Paul Bremer, Bush asked, 'Are you in charge of finding WMD?' Bremer said no, he was not. Bush then put the same question to his military commander, General Tommy Franks. But Franks said it wasn't his job either. A little exasperated, Bush asked, So who is in charge of finding WMD? After aides conferred for a moment, someone volunteered the name of Stephen Cambone, a little-known deputy to Donald Rumsfeld, back in Washington. Pause. 'Who?' Bush asked. "

July 4, 2003

Happy Independence Day

For July 4th, reverently quotes the first paragraph of the Declaration of Independence:

When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

A great paragraph, no doubt. On this day, it is appropriate to also remember the great paragraph of the first draft of the Declaration of Independence which Jefferson submitted to the Congress and but was deleted. Only if it would have remained:

he has waged cruel war against human nature itself, violating it's most sacred rights of life & liberty in the persons of a distant people who never offended him, captivating & carrying them into slavery in another hemisphere, or to incur miserable death in their transportation thither. this piratical warfare, the opprobrium of infidel powers, is the warfare of the CHRISTIAN king of Great Britain. determined to keep open a market where MEN should be bought & sold, he has prostituted his negative for suppressing every legislative attempt to prohibit or to restrain this execrable commerce: and that this assemblage of horrors might want no fact of distinguished die, he is now exciting those very people to rise in arms among us, and to purchase that liberty of which he has deprived them, & murdering the people upon whom he also obtruded them; thus paying off former crimes committed against the liberties of one people, with crimes which he urges them to commit against the lives of another.

July 11, 2003

This is funny

Go to, type in "Weapons of Mass Destruction" and click the "I'm Feeling Lucky" button.

July 12, 2003

Refreshing one's memory

One of the Articles of Impeachment introduced against President Clinton concerned a set of 81 questions submitted by the House Judiciary Committee Chairman Henry Hyde to President Clinton on the Monica Lewinsky affair. The fourth Article of Impeachment read, in part: "Clinton, refused and failed to respond to certain written requests for admission and willfully made perjurious, false and misleading sworn statements in response to certain written requests for admission propounded to him as part of the impeachment inquiry authorized by the House of Representatives of the Congress of the United States."

For those of you who have forgotten (and I pray that you have), question #41 was:

41. As to each, do you admit or deny that you gave the following gifts to Monica Lewinsky at any time in the past?

a. A lithograph
b. A hatpin
c. A large "Black Dog" canvas bag
d. A large "Rockettes" blanket
e. A pin of the New York skyline
f. A box of cherry chocolates
g. A pair of novelty sunglasses
h. A stuffed animal from the "Black Dog"
i. A marble bear's head
j. A London pin
k. A shamrock pin
l. An Annie Lennox compact disc
m. Davidoff cigars

Five years ago, a President was impeached. The House of Representatives was debating -- and, as you can see, I'm not making this up -- shamrock pins and novelty sunglasses. Moving to the present, we are talking about whether a President took the country to war on, in part, misleading and factually incorrect evidence.

Who thinks the current CIA/White House scandal will get one one-hundredth of the press Monicagate received? It's a shame, too.

July 14, 2003

Presidential Level

Call me crazy, but if the President said it, doesn't that mean it's made it to the "Presidential level"?

Unless, of course, we're not supposed to believe what the President says is presidential. That's what one is forced to believe Ari Fleischer was saying this morning.

July 16, 2003

Have You Been Distracted?

Glenn Reynolds claims that the stories about the false claims from the State of the Union address have been an attempt by "some Democrats and their media allies to distract people."

If you have, indeed, been distracted, I'd like to call the following to your attention: the federal deficit this year is going to be $445 billion.

Some of us are old enough to remember a budget surplus.

How to spend the surplus

"I want to take one-half of the surplus and dedicate it to Social Security, one-quarter of the surplus for important projects, and I want to send one-quarter of the surplus back to the people who pay the bills. I want everybody who pays taxes to have their tax rates cut."
-- Governor George Bush, 1st Presidential Debate

We owe it to our children to act now

"We owe it to our children and grandchildren to act now, and I hope you will join me to pay down $2 trillion in debt during the next 10 years. At the end of those 10 years, we will have paid down all the debt that is available to retire."
-- President George W. Bush, Address to Joint Session of Congress, February 27, 2001

Did I *really* see this?

I saw this on CNN this morning:

HEMMER: You're soon to be the wife of a member of the U.S. military. It comes with the territory in many ways. What have you thought about how difficult this might be going forward in the future with him, knowing that the U.S. military's engaged in so many different hotspots around the world?

HAMILTON: We have actually, since this deployment began, we have decided that we will no longer be in the army.

HEMMER: Oh, he's getting out after this tour of duty in Iraq? How do feel about that?

HAMILTON: Yes, yes. He can't stand for it.

HEMMER: Why is that?

HAMILTON: I support him 100 percent.

HEMMER: Why do you say he can't stand it?

HAMILTON: It's hard on the families, it's hard on the soldiers, and it's especially hard to know that you put your faith and trust into a president, and they continue to lie to you, they break promises, and it's hard to fight for somebody like that.

HEMMER: Do you watch the news?

HAMILTON: Yes, I do, yes.

HEMMER: You do?


HEMMER: Do you watch the news to get news from Baghdad, and if so, what is that like for you?

HAMILTON: I watch the news only to get news from Baghdad. It's good at times, when you think they're actually coming home. But it's horrible every morning when you wake up and there's another soldier killed and you don't know if it's yours.

Does anybody out there still believe that a Democratic candidate has no chance of defeating President Bush in 2004?

July 17, 2003

Advice for the Democrats

Glenn Reynolds offers advice to the Democrats.

Among his subjects are: Intelligence Failures (he thinks this is a no-go), the Saudi Connection ("lots of room" to criticize the Bush administration), Homeland Security (Reynolds focuses on the armed pilots program), Communications (which means media concentration), and lowering the drinking age. I don't know if Reynolds is attempting to be ironic in this last one, but, basically, he thinks the Democrats should be coming up with positions of their own and not just criticisms of the Republicans.

I have an idea for the Democrats. Things that, apparently, Reynolds hasn't thought of. How about running on the economy? Running on the idea of putting people back to work? How about running on health care? If everybody in America has the right to a lawyer when they're accused of a crime, shouldn't they have the right to a right to a doctor when they're sick? (Don't go running to a copy of the Consititution saying "Look, Partha, there is no *right* to a doctor written here!" -- I'm asking, shouldn't there be?). How about running on the concept of an open government that works for all its citizens and doesn't keep secrets from them? How about running on the slogan "Put People First" and insuring the United States is the United States for all its citizens.

This is a winning platform.

President Bush reviews the State of the Union address line-by-line and word-by-word

From Governor Dean's blog: Working at his desk in the Oval Office, President Bush reviews the State of the Union address line-by-line and word-by-word.

I really did see this

From today's Washington Post:

"Mary Kewatt, the aunt of a soldier killed in Iraq, saying: 'President Bush made a comment a week ago, and he said 'bring it on.' Well, they brought it on, and now my nephew is dead.'"

Does anybody out there still believe that a Democratic candidate has no chance of defeating President Bush in 2004?

Why he has a staff

If Vice-President Cheney did, as Eugene Volokh claims, just "misspoke" when he claimed that Iraq had nuclear weapons, shouldn't his staff have issued a correction later that same day? Or issued a correction the next day? Or at some point?

Let's be clear; we're not talking about the New York Times misstating something. Professor Volokh is talking about the Vice-President of the United States saying that the leader of another, quite bad, country having atomic weapons in prelude to a possible war. This is very serious stuff. Every word must be measured, and if it can't be (like "in the middle of a long unscripted exchange") then it should be corrected as soon as possible.

Unless, of course, you intend your misstatement to be absorbed and believed.

How to spend the surplus

"...we need somebody to simplify the code, to be fair, to continue prosperity by sharing some of the surplus with the people who pay the bills, particularly those at the bottom end of the economic ladder.... I can't let the man -- I can't let the man continue with fuzzy math. It's $1.3 trillion, Mr. Vice President. It's going to go to everybody who pays taxes. I'm not going to be one of these kinds of presidents that says, 'You get tax relief and you don't.' I'm not going to be a pick-and-chooser. "

-- Governor George W. Bush, October 3, 2002

Re-election and predicting the future

Andrew Sullivan, Glenn Reynolds, and NRO are going overboard on a recent story by Mark Steyn. Basically, Sullivan, Reynolds and NRO are really happy because Steyn says that President Bush is going to be reelected.

Let's all remember the perils of predicting a Republican future. From ABC This Week, January 25, 1998:

COKIE ROBERTS: Well, what do you think? I mean, how -- what are the steps Bill Clinton could take to survive?

BILL KRISTOL: I don't think he can survive, because he's not -- well, he really isn't telling the truth. And I don't think anyone...

COKIE ROBERTS: OK. So he is out. So then what happens next?

BILL KRISTOL: What happens is senior Democratic leaders go to the president -- and I agree with Sam; it could be in days, not in weeks -- and tell him this is insupportable, you cannot put the country through this.

James Buckley, the Republican senator from New York, in April of 1974 was the first Republican to say publicly that President Nixon had to resign. It would be ironic if the man who defeated him in 1976, Pat Moynihan, the Democratic senator from New York, stepped up and said that. But I think someone like Moynihan or Sam Nunn or Bill Bradley or a respected Democratic elder...

COKIE ROBERTS: Do you see that happening?

BILL KRISTOL:... in the next few days is going to say, Mr. President, you cannot put us through this.


GEORGE WILL: What -- what that -- what -- sooner or later Democrats are going to have their minds rolled back 24 years to 1964 when the Republican Party was annihilated because it was seemed to have been tardy in disciplining one of its own.

SAM DONALDSON: Well, I renew my question. What will President Al Gore do then?

BILL KRISTOL: He'll select -- he'll select a very respected figure as vice president, and he will have a big honeymoon. And it will -- he will actually advance legislation pretty effectively.

July 18, 2003

Sullivan on Blair's Speech

From Andrew Sullivan today:

This is what the carpers and nay-sayers still don't understand. The West is at war with a real and uniquely dangerous enemy.

I do understand this. The United States and the rest of the West is, indeed, at war with a real and uniquely dangerous enemy.

When the consequences of negligence become catastrophic, the equation of intervention changes.

I agree with this, too.

The burden of proof must be on those who counsel inaction rather than on those who urge an offensive, proactive battle.

Here is where I start to lose Sullivan. The burden of proof is on us all, not just those who, in his words "counsel inaction."

In this battle, we are the good guys. More to the point, we should always be confident that we are the good guys.

And, who counseled *inaction*? To take Iraq as an example, there were those who supported a continuation of sanctions and, if they didn't work, only then take military action. That's not "proactive," but it's not inaction.

Does it matter one iota, for example, if we find merely an apparatus and extensive program for building WMDs in Iraq rather than actual weapons?

Yeah, it does matter. If we're told that there were a bizzillon gallons of chemical weapons and then there aren't, then it does matter. In this war, as in any war, we need to be able to trust our leaders.

Or rather: given the uncertain nature of even the best intelligence, should we castigate our leaders for over-reacting to a threat or minimizing it?

I think the question of the day lies (pun intended?) within this sentence. Was it our best intelligence?

Follow-up questions are:

If it was, why was it so bad?

If it was not, why not?

Another questions are: if there are serious consequences because our leaders over-reacted, should we castigate them then? Or should we remain silent?

[Aside: Andrew Sullivan loved castigating President Clinton because the President had an affair with a member of his staff. Sullivan loves castigating Howell Raines and the New York Times because of problems at the paper. He has a thing for castigating. This situation is much more serious. Why is, on this topic, he adverse to castigation? Even if it's by people who disagree with him?]

Since 9/11, my answer is pretty categorical. Blair and Bush passed the test. They still do.

The war is still being fought. The test is still being administered.

You've got to be kidding me

Lloyd Grove reports (via Josh Marshall) that the White House has been spreading rumors about Jeffrey Kofman. Kofman was the ABC News reporter who filed a story from Iraq that the morale of U.S. soldiers has been dropping.

The White House alterted Matt Drudge that Kofman was gay and Canadian. I liked Canadian Bacon, too, but I agree with the "network insider" quoted by Grove: "Playing hardball is one thing. But appealing to homophobia and jingoism is simply ugly."

I just have to ask: if this is what carpers and nay-sayers can expect, does Andrew Sullivan still believe that "Blair and Bush passed the test?"

I don't know what to say

Read it for yourself.

Or read what Tom Tomorrow has to say: "...if this is on the level, the implications are extraordinary. I always had it in the back of my mind that Cheney was stonewalling on the energy task force to hide the corruption, the ties to Enron and so on. But what if the sons of bitches were sitting around deciding how to divvy up Iraq? What if that most reductionist of slogans is a simple statement of fact: it's all about the oil?"

July 19, 2003


John J. Miller over at the Corner notes that: "The White House has just released a list of this year's Presidential Medal of Freedom recipients.... What an outstanding group--the White House deserves an A+ for this."

I agree. It's a great group.

However, follow the link to the White House press release.

It's Roberto Walker Clemente. Not Roberto Clemente Walker.

Anyway, it's good to see that he won.


UPDATE: Look up one post to David's. My mistake. In my defense, a born-and-raised Pittsburgher am I, yet I'd never heard "Roberto Clemente Walker" before.


Howard Dean has sixteen questions for President Bush. Question number 15 is:

Mr. President, we need to know what you were referring to in Poland on May 30, 2003, when you said, "For those who say we haven't found the banned manufacturing devices or banned weapons, they're wrong. We found them." (The Washington Post, Mike Allen, 5/31/2003)

For comparison and perspective, the following was question number 15 of the House Judiciary Committee's questions for President Clinton. You know, the questions which formed a major basis for Article 4 of his impeachment:

Do you admit or deny that you discussed with Monica Lewinsky prior to December 17, 1997, that if either of you were questioned about the existence of your relationship you would deny its existence?

July 20, 2003

Who is to blame?

Q. Who is to blame for the bad intelligence concerning Iraq's supposed nuclear materials acquisition?

a. George Tennet
b. Dr. Rice
c. Dick Cheney
d. George W. Bush
e. All of the Above
f. None of the Above

The answer is, of course, f, none of the above. Because, according to the Speaker of the House, the blame lies upon -- get this -- former President Bill Clinton.

Speaking up for the Bush administration, House Speaker Dennis Hastert said on the same program that the decision to include the sentence "was made by the speechwriters and by the folks in the White House" using various intelligence sources that were thought reliable. If it wasn't, he said, much of the blame falls on former President Clinton.

"You know, intelligence is not an exact science," said Hastert, R-Ill. Before the terror attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, "we had a hard time just figuring out what was going, because our foreign intelligence was decimated. The human intelligence was decimated in 10 years before" by Clinton's proclivity not to use human rights violators and other shady individuals as intelligence operatives.

"We've spent the last four years, or 3 1/2 years, trying to build up credible intelligence sources so we can get people to get the human intelligence that we need," Hastert said.

Now we just have to figure out a way to blame the deficit on Clinton.

July 21, 2003

Irony didn't end on 9/11

Via Atrios:

"I think all foreigners should stop interfering in the internal affairs of Iraq," said Wolfowitz, who is touring the country to meet U.S. troops and Iraqi officials.


In this week's issue of Newsweek, Gersh Kuntzman writes about Beyonce Knowles: "although if you ask me, the only controversy is how come [Beyonce] doesn’t take off all her clothes already because, clearly, this is the actual product she is selling, and to remain clothed amounts to a particularly frustrating form of false advertising."

I think he should get a copy of Beyonce's new song, "Crazy in Love." I'm not a big Top 40 fan -- in fact, I'm not even a small Top 40 fan -- but this song is incredible.

This young woman has talent and is selling much more than skin. If you don't approve of what she did at Grant's Tomb, that's fair, and criticize her for that. But, don't say that she's just a stripper, because she's not. Her music is sophisticated, interesting, and smokingly hot.

Hospital Rankings

I'm not one who likes rankings... college rankings, business school rankings, or hospital rankings.

But, I just need to mention that the new US News and World Report hospital rankings came out today, and the #2 pediatric hospital is the Children Hospital of Boston. Pretty good. It's also the hospital where my twin sister, Dr. Mazumdar, works.

(The best pediatric hospital is, by the way, the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia -- right down the street from Williams Hall and Penn's Asian American Studies program. I've got #1 and #2 covered. I'd be a lucky guy if I had a sick child. Or not, I suppose.)


If the war in Iraq wasn't about Iraq being an immediate threat. If the war in Iraq wasn't about weapons of mass destruction. If the war in Iraq wasn't about oil. If the war in Iraq wasn't about its non-existent ties with al-Qaeda...

If the war in Iraq was genuinely about freeing the Iraqi people from fear, repression, and wonton murder...

Then, forgodsakes, why aren't we in Liberia?

WAILING WITH GRIEF, Liberians lined up 18 bloodied, mangled bodies outside the U.S. Embassy after a shell hit a U.S. diplomatic compound across the street, killing at least 25 Liberians. At least 10,000 refugees have taken refuge in an abandoned area of the compound.
The barrage of mortars began as the streets were crowded with people taking advantage of a 12-hour lull in the shelling to try to find water and supplies, the BBC reported. With more than 360 people injured, it appeared to be the bloodiest single day of fighting in three rebel attempts to take Monrovia, the capital, in the past two months.
As thousands of Liberians stood outside the compound asking when troops would come to protect them, Marines of the Fleet Anti-Terrorism Security Team, wearing green camouflage, body armor and helmets, flew into the embassy from nearby Sierra Leone and took off carrying 23 people.

July 22, 2003

William Kristol

William Kristol's now oft-cited column in the Weekly Standard argues that the questioning Democrats are doing about the Iraqi-nuclear material-intelligence will end up hurting the Democrats. He writes that "it's a free country, and if the Democrats prefer instead to act as a pathologically disgruntled lunatic fringe, then it'll be their problem more than anyone else's."

Let's remember for a second what Kristol wrote about the Linda Tripp and the Starr Report (much of this is Kristol quoting Mark Helprin, but Kristol obviously agrees with what Helprin is saying):

Politicians, jittery as they are, may wish to reread the prophetic words of author Mark Helprin, in a Wall Street Journal piece from October 1997. For Republicans, wrote Helprin, "there can be only one visceral theme, one battle, one task" -- "to address the question of William Jefferson Clinton's fitness for office in light of the many crimes, petty and otherwise, that surround, imbue, and color his tenure. The president must be made subject to the law."

Thanks to Monica Lewinsky and Linda Tripp -- and, of course, Ken Starr -- Helprin's call to arms carries a new urgency. Starr's report will reveal, in Helprin's words, "a field of battle clearly laid down." The lines have been drawn. What Republicans now need is the nerve to fight. They must stand for, to quote Helprin again, "the rejection of intimidation, the rejection of lies, the rejection of manipulation, the rejection of disingenuous pretense, and a revulsion for the sordid crimes and infractions the president has brought to his office." (Weekly Standard, May 25, 1998, page 18.)

To make things clear:

Kristol believes questoning an administration about faulty intelligence that was used to justify a war reveals one as a "pathologically disgruntled lunatic fringe."

A woman who tapes phone conversations about an affair she's having with a married man, the woman who was taped, and the man who investigated the taping laid down a great field of battle. Kristol believed the Republicans needed the nerve to fight this important battle. Need to fight, of course, because they were revulsed by the sorrid crime of adultery.

The Republicans are glorious. They were fighting against adultery; a battle to save the county, democracy, and the rule of law. Once more into the breach dear friends, once more. However, for Kristol, question a Republican president about bad intelligence, and you are pathological and luney.

I have one question: How does William Kristol differ from Ann Coulter?

More William Kristol

This is fun...

From his September 1, 1998 column in the Weekly Standard:

"Personal loyalty is an admirable trait, and so is political loyalty. Up to a point. Government officials work for the nation, not simply for the president. They swear an oath to the Constitution, not to the president. To remain loyal to a president who lies is to make oneself complicit in his lies. To remain loyal to a man who has brought shame to his office is to make oneself complicit in that shame. At some point, blind loyalty must yield to principled honor. When?"

That's right. Kristol was criticizing members of the Clinton administration for not resigning because the President lied about having an affair. Kristol wrote: "Bill Clinton is not a man of honor. But are there no honorable men around him? Can his staff and cabinet be lied to without consequence? Is there nothing that will impel them to depart? They need not become vociferous critics of the president. They need not denounce him. A quiet, principled leave-taking would suffice. But it would be refreshing if one of them refused to be complicit any longer in the ongoing lie that is the Clinton White House. Apparently, not one of them is willing to do that."

And this was about an affair. Not a war. An affair.

Where's the outrage, now?

The answer to the question: what happened to the WMDs?

Is it possible that there are no WMD in Iraq today because Bill Clinton led a coalition of the willing and disarmed Saddam Hussein 5 years ago?

The answer is, of course not. As Trent Lott said at the time: "While I have been assured by administration officials that there is no connection with the impeachment process in the House of Representatives, I cannot support this military action in the Persian Gulf at this time. Both the timing and the policy are subject to question."

But, it does make sense. "U.S. and British air and naval forces have attacked more than 75 Iraqi military targets after two nights of bombing in Operation Desert Fox, Pentagon leaders said here."

July 23, 2003

Randy Barnett wants to know

Randy Barnett says that he "really want[s] to know" so, really quickly, let's find out:


The contention that George W. Bush lied in his State of the Union speech, now spreading through the media and into the base of the Democratic Party, has caused me (Randy Barnett) to think again about a phenomenon I have been noticing since the election of 2000.

If the White House knew that those now-infamous 16 words were incorrect, if the number #2 person at the National Security Counsel knew, then it is a lie. Attributing an assertion to someone else (in this case the British) when you know it's false doesn't make what you've said the truth.

As you probably know, the idea that truth is “socially constructed” has been in vogue in academia for some time. I never took it that seriously and only mention it in passing in The Structure of Liberty. I did not think very many people could possibly believe it, or at least believe that, if true, it had any practical implications. Hey, even if the world is socially constructed, if we cannot willfully reconstruct it as we prefer, then it’s pretty much as irrelevant as the old speculations that we are just a brain in a vat or that the universe exists in a drop on some cosmic chemist’s workbench.

Of course "socially constructed" has been in vogue in academia for some time. It's really nothing new and lots of people believe it. It's the entire foundation of the discipline of Sociology. It's simply the belief that we live in societies and these societies form networks, bonds, and beliefs that become ingrained within individuals. I have no idea what the last sentence means, though. Societies change all the time -- we can willfully reconstruct societies.

That 'truth' itself is socially constructed is a bit more complicated, but in this debate it really isn't. Barnett, I, and the rest of the left live in the same society. Our truths are the same. (Unlike, say, us and some hypothetical other society where, say, poor, overweight, short, clumsy men are the true emblem of beauty and attraction for most women, opposed to rich, fit, tall, athletic men.)

Since the 2000 election, however, I have begun to realize for the first time that the Left really and truly lives in a socially constructed world — a world where “truth” is their own construction. In their world:

Al Gore was elected president. Bush was selected. The Supreme Court “decided the election” (rather than reversed a rogue Southern state Supreme Court and restore the rulings of local, mainly democratic, election officials). Bush is in the pocket of the oil companies. Dick Cheney really runs the country. Bush’s energy plan would destroy the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.

I'm squarely on the left, so let's look at these assertions:

Well, Al Gore did receive more votes than President Bush. If both the overcounts and undercounts had been counted in Florida, it would have been clear that Gore won Florida, as well.

I don't think President Bush is in the pocket of the oil companies. He sure listens to them, though. I don't think the Vice-President really runs the country. I don't know anything about the Artctic National Wildlife Refuge. Would the energy plan destroy it?

I could go on and on. These are not disagreements about “values” or ends, but disagreements about facts. Once you notice this phenomenon, you see it everywhere. Now the Left is lying about Bush to make him appear to be a liar because they cannot catch him in any actual lies. The question is whether they believe what they are saying. Some do, some may not, but millions certainly believe what they are hearing.

I don't see what he's talking about or what the lies are. Barnett is either: (1) willfully distorting what the "left" believes, or (2) taking extreme examples of the left and positing them as being normative. With both possibilities, he's shutting down the possibility of actual and real political debate.

I know that this is nothing new. Alger Hiss was innocent. Barry Goldwater was a neo-Nazi who was looking to start WWIII. J. Edgar Hoover wore women’s clothing. In the Second Amendment debate, the anti’s make up stories about what happened at the founding to fit enough of the facts just the way defense lawyers explain away the prosecution’s evidence. When the fit gets too hard to maintain, they switch stories to another made-up but more defensible version. Evidence is largely irrelevant, unless they are in a forum in which they are directly confronted.

Alger Hiss? Does anybody this side of Ann Coutler still care about Alger Hiss? For what it's worth, I think Hiss was guilty. I don't begrudge Barry Goldwater nor do I think he was a neo-Nazi. I wish Barnett would give examples for his Second Amendment claim (examples where the judges buy these "defense lawyer" claims -- I mean, defense lawyers argue all sorts of things, even in non 2nd Amdendment cases).

These “constructions” or fabrications are not just ideological disagreements. When the Left claimed, for example, that the Industrial Revolution immiserated the masses rather than greatly improving the standard of living of ordinary people, it was easy to dismiss this as a dispute about a past we could not directly experience.

I've read about the Homestead Strikes, the Haymarket Strike, and even read my Dickens. I've even read "leftist" labor historians such as Herbert Gutman and E.P. Thompson. And, I've gotta disagree. I don't think it's a fabrication to claim that a much of "the masses" had a bad time of it during the Industrial Revolution. (And, if wage labor originated during the Industrial Revolution, how does Barnett gauge that the "masses" had their standard of living "greatly improve." What variables are at issue here? An argument is necessary, not just a blithe assertion.)

But what I am now coming to appreciate is that increasing numbers of persons on the Left create in their minds a false world in which to live — a world that better suits their preconceptions. They are not content to disagree with the goals of their opposition or about predictions of future policy results. They must make up facts about the world that fit their theories — like the “homeless” crisis that immediately vanished when Clinton took office. Their world is really and truly socially constructed. In their world Cuba really is a better place, as was the USSR up until the moment it collapsed, at which point those on the Left retroactively became anti-communists who had long struggled to bring down what they formerly claimed was a better and more just society.

I don't think the homeless crisis vanished when President Clinton took office. I don't think Cuba really is a better place. Neither do I think the USSR was, either. Did the left really believe this once? Leftists like President Kennedy and President Johnson? Leftists who would take Barnett out to the woodshed if he claimed that somehow their anti-communism wasn't genuine.

I'm not making up facts. I'm just saying what being attributed to me, as a member of the left, just isn't true. It's easy to construct a scarecrow and then attack it. It's more difficult to actually engage in a real debate.

On legal historian e-mail lists to which I subscribe, the Left took forever to abandon Michael Bellesiles (of Arming America disrepute), perhaps because his story fit their world. Or perhaps it was because the worst possible thing is to admit the evil right-wingers are right about anything. I raise the Bellesiles affair not because I think he is typical of the Left, but because of the dogged refusal to admit his story was a fabrication when the evidence of fraud was visible for all to see.

But they did abandon him when it became clear that his work was faulty, right? Is Barnett's beef that the "left" didn't just jump away from Bellesiles at the first inkling of trouble or because it waited until the facts were out before making the correct judgement?

This socially constructed reality changes all the time to fit current ideological needs. One day, Bush is a moron; the next he is Machiavelli reborn; the next he is a moron again. Flip-flops don’t seem to faze them in the slightest. They just “move on.”

Nice little dig at, however one can believe someone is both not intellectually bright and calculatingly vindictive. I'm not (I repeat NOT) saying that I do, but it isn't a flip-flop.

And, what does this have to do with "social construction"?

I could go on and on with more examples, but you get the point. I disagree with conservative Republicans about a lot, but I just have not noticed them making up stories wholesale to bolster their world view. The closest I have seen is some of what they say about judges “making up rights,” but this sort of rhetoric has a genuinely factual basis.

Actually, I don't get the point, yet. More examples are necessary.

Still, this “social construction” phenomenon, if it indeed does exist, leaves me both disturbed and genuinely perplexed:

(1) Has it always been this blatant or extreme? I do not think so but, if not, what has changed? The perception on the Left that they have lost their grip on power? The access of so many to open microphones? Anger over Ronald Reagan’s victory and popularity? Republicans’ taking control of the House and their impeaching Clinton? George W. Bush winning the legal challenge to the decisions of local election officials brought by Al Gore?

Has it always been this blatant or extreme? Damn, that's a loaded question.

I'll have a go at it:


Maybe, Yes.

Sometimes I think it is because the format of most news-talk shows now mandates that people take adversarial positions. Producers must therefore find someone to take the other side of every issue, and cognitive dissonance leads these advocates eventually to believe what they say. Viewers then see seemingly authoritative speakers repeatedly insisting on the same “facts,” which they simply prefer to believe because they reinforce their preconceptions. On the other hand the establishment media is not even that balanced and its consumers only get information that fits their world view.

(2) How can intelligent people sustain these false beliefs seemingly indefinitely? This must take some toll on them inside. But what exactly is the price they pay internally or emotionally for living in an artificially constructed reality? Perhaps it is actually easier, rather than more difficult, to live in a world of facts that reinforce one’s predilections.

I still don't know what these "false beliefs" are. A more complete discription of the "left" was in order.

And, does Barnett actually think that what I believe... the reasons I twice voted for Bill Clinton (actually three time if you include a primary vote) and the reason I voted for Al Gore should be taking a toll on me "inside" and that I should be paying an internal or emotional toll.

I believe what I believe, and until he can show me that they are factually incorrect (which he hasn't), I'm going to sleep well tonight, thank you. I'm betting, so will the people who voted for Clinton over Bush I, Clinton over Dole, and Gore over Bush II. The left side has more people than the right in all three of these elections. Does Barnett want me to believe otherwise, or should all of us be feeling emotional pain?

(3) If this phenomenon is indeed as pervasive as I now think it is, how do I know that I am not doing exactly the same thing in reverse — thus confirming the claim that reality is indeed socially constructed? I know that is what I will hear from readers.

No, I'm not going to make this claim. I'm not that arrogant.

Perhaps everyone does do this to a certain degree. I do believe that, to some degree, “facts” and even sensory perception are “theory”-laden. The brain is such that you rarely see the theory working in the background, but sometimes it can be glimpsed. Everyone has had the experience of seeing an object on the horizon, in one’s peripheral vision, or across the room that looks like just shapes and colors, or looks like an object you know it cannot possibly be. Then you get closer or view it from a slightly different angle and what it ”really” is suddenly snaps into place. This is your brain “recognizing” the shapes and colors and then defining or redefining it.

I have no idea what he's talking about here.

Assuming we all do it to some degree — that no one is totally and completely objectively realistic about the facts — is what I am now perceiving on the Left simply a more extreme version of the phenomena, both as measured against how I think the world really is and perhaps also against how even the Left was even a few years ago?

I am interested in hearing your thoughts. Have you noticed it too? Have you noticed it getting worse? How can you know that you are not yourself equally guilty of doing exactly the same thing? And how can we settle our political disagreements if a large number of the players are living in a world of their own making? I really want to know.

I'm not living in a world of my own making. I just want people like Barnett to engage in real debate instead of mocking his opponents, instead of telling them what they believe and then pointing out that what he's just told them they believe is not just wrong, it's made up and foolish.

July 26, 2003

Gee, thanks

Andrew Sullivan on "many Democrats": "My beef with many Democrats right now is not that they're traitors of any kind but that they have got their perspective skewed; and they need to realize more strongly that we really are fighting truly bad guys out there and our president isn't one of them."

I'm pretty sure that I'd be in Sullivan's "many Democrats" category. He's generous to believe I'm not a traitor. Gee thanks. That's not a backhanded compliment, nor is it even damning with feignt praise. Even discussing the possibility that your political opponents are traitors is a horrendous thing. We're in a democracy forgodssakes.

I don't think I have my perspective skewed. See, when "many Democrats" criticize the President, they don't think he's the enemy or a bad guy equilivant of a terrorist, they see him as one of us but someone who should be promoting a different policy.

Anybody who doesn't see this, well, has their perspective skewed.

July 29, 2003


From Paul Krugman's column today: "Here's what Tom DeLay, the House majority leader, said in a speech last week: 'To gauge just how out of touch the Democrat leadership is on the war on terror, just close your eyes and try to imagine Ted Kennedy landing that Navy jet on the deck of that aircraft carrier.'"

Let's see about this Democratic leadership...

Ted Kennedy served three years in the U.S. Army. I don't know if he can fly, though.

Richard Gephardt, former House Minority Leader, might be able to fly; he served six years in the Missouri Air National Guard. David Bonior was a Staff Sargent in the United States Air Force. Tom Daschle was an officer in the U.S. Air Force. Senator John Kerry was awarded the Bronze Star, Silver Star and three Purple Hearts. Rangle is a Bronze Star recipient from the Korean war. The recently vocal Max Cleland is a Silver and Bronze Star recipient.

Looking at the leadership on the other side of the aisle: Hastert, Delay, Blunt, Frist, McConnell, Santorum, nor Lott are veterans.

For what it's worth, I trust the Democratic leadership on security issues. They are not out of touch. And they know what war is about.

Unless, of course, someone out there wants to do some spinning and claim that Kennedy, Gephardt, Bonior, Daschle, Kerry, Rangle, and Cleland are traitors.

July 30, 2003

Remembering Vincent

Over at The Corner, Kathryn Jean Lopez writes: "THIS IS SAUDI ARABIA: 2 & 4 years for murder. The husband (four years) tied up the 18-year-old maid while the wife (2 years) poured scalding hot water on their employee."

Of course, 2 & 4 years could happen here, too. Let's remember Vincent Chin. He was killed by two men... a step-father and a step-son. The step-son held Vincent and the step-father beat him with a baseball bat. The facts are undisputed. In fact, two police officers witnessed the event and both men pleaded guilty.

Ronald Ebens and Michael Nitz each received three years probation and a $3,700 fine. No jail time at all. In fact, it makes the Saudia Arabia sentence seem harsh.

It's too late for Justice for Vincent Chin, but as we poke fun at others, let's keep making sure our house is in order, too.

July 31, 2003


In a post about evolution and culture, Steven Den Beste writes "Darwinian evolution by natural selection is inelegant, inefficient, very cruel and wasteful and, it turns out, true."

I have to disagree. Inelegant it is not. Let's remember Darwin's last words of Origin of Species: "There is grandeur in this view of life, with its several powers, having been originally breathed by the Creator into a few forms or into one ; and that, whilst this planet has gone cycling on according to the fixed law of gravity, from so simple a beginning endless forms most beautiful and most wonderful have been, and are being, evolved."

NON-RELATED TRIVIA QUESTION: Charles Darwin was born on February 12, 1809. Name another person who was also born on 2/12/1809.

August 5, 2003

Another Sign Irony is Not Dead

Today on the National Review's group blog The Corner, Mike Potemra writes the following about something Roger Ebert said: "It’s heartening that this attitude can prevail, even in today’s climate of race-mongering and race-baiting."

Ironic, considering that one of The Corner's contributors is Charles Murray.

Facinating Wording

Today, Fred Barnes gives us this about Bishop-elect Gene Robinson: "The gay issue is threatening to split the Episcopal Church. Conservatives, traditionalists, and their allies note the Bible is explicit in identifying gay sexual relations as sinful and insist the church should stand against worldly trends. The church's official position is opposition to sexual activity outside of marriage. The pro-gay side argues the church must accept everyone, including gays."

So, according to Barnes, the "conservatives, traditionalists, and their allies" have the Bible on their side and have a coherent argument, and are even against something ("worldy trends.")

The other side aren't called "reformers" or "liberals" nor do they have allies. They are just "pro-gay." And they don't seem to have anything on their side. They just argue that the church must accept everyone. According to Barnes, they don't have any Biblical foundation for their argument. (Barnes is a journalist, after all. If they had an argument, wouldn't he have included it? :) )

If I were reading this, yeah, I'd agree with Barnes, too.

But I don't agree with Barnes. I remember Paul's letter to the Romans. "For the kingdom of God is not meat and drink; but righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost. For he that in these things serveth Christ is acceptable to God, and approved of men." (Romans 14:17-18). If Rev. Robinson is righteous, peaceful, and takes joy in the Holy Ghost, it seems that he's approved with God. Maybe not okay with Fred Barnes. But that's okay.

I hear they are posted at the Alabama Supreme Court building...

It seems the author of the e-mail damning Bishop-elect Gene Robinson claims he never meant the accustion to become public. ""He never expected this to become a matter for the secular press," someone in the know said. "It was meant to be an internal message to the powers that be. ... It got very beyond where he expected."

Reading the e-mail, it's hard to believe.

But, whatever.

Considering that these accusations ("grab-assing skirt-chaser", "improprieties had nearly brought law suits against the church", "does not maintain appropriate boundaries with men", "he put his hands on me inappropriately every time I engaged him in conversation) concern the touching of a "bicep, shoulder and upper back in the process of a public conversation," I just have to ask one thing:

Doesn't this guy know his ten commandments? Especially the one that goes: "Neither shalt thou bear false witness against thy neighbour." (Deuteronomy 5:20)

August 6, 2003

Saying one thing then saying you said something else

Today's example: John Derbyshire.

First he says that he's entertaining the idea that homosexuality should be criminalized. Or, in his words: "I have always thought that the criminalization of homosexual acts was both foolish, and inhumane, and un-Christian. I am no longer so sure."

Then he takes aim at someone who desires clairification on what he said (wondering if his words were an incitement to violence) by replying: "Only if you are the kind of hysterical moron who believes that the failure of a person whole-heartedly to 'celebrate' your lifestyle can fairly be described using the verb 'to bash.'"

Mr. Derbyshire, you didn't just not celebrate homosexuals, you said that, perhaps, they should be arrested and punished (the definition of criminalization). Either stand by what you wrote or retract it. Don't confuse the issue by sating one thing then saying you said something else. Don't try to play the good guy.

August 7, 2003

Schwarzenegger's Negatives?

Over at my fave site, The Corner, Tim Graham lists five possible negatives to a Schwarzenegger governorship:

1. Liberal media will have a new Dan Quayle caricature to show how much smarter Democrats are. But Arnold's no dummy, you suggest? Neither was Quayle. But if they can exploit the image, they will. Reporters will be asking about Swedish-style land-use planning just to get the gaffe.

Other than not knowing what liberal media he's talking about, this isn't going to happen. Quayle wasn't a dummy, but he wasn't Bush, Clinton, Bush, Reagan, Carter, Ford, Nixon, Johnson, Kennedy, Eisenhower, Truman, Roosevelt, or Hoover, either. There's nothing wrong with desiring more intellectual ability of a possible President than the fact that, even though he's not that smart, he's "no dummy." Schwarzenegger's is plenty smart and he isn't going to be a heartbeat away from the Presidency.

2. Liberal media will have a new Rudy Giuliani/Christie Whitman character at the NY convention to constantly underline how "fringe right" the GOP is on abortion and homosexuality.

The Democrats had Bob Casey at its conventions. Was this used to show how "finge left" the Democrats were on abortion?

3. After giving every responsible candidate in the recall race a fraction of the attention the Terminator gets, Gov. Arnold gets eight times as much attention as all other 49 governors combined (not to mention about 500 congressmen). That's how it worked for Gov. Ventura. Confirms theory that reporters think voters are deeply stupid and easily swayed by celebrity.

Reporters report stories that their readers want to read. It's not about stupid or celebrity.

Ventura was not just a celebrity. He was different. That was what demanded the attention. Will a Governor Schwarzenegger be different or just a run-of-the-mill moderate Governor? If he's different -- if he does things differently -- he'll get attention. If he's not -- attention won't be paid.

4. Despite the odd thought of Democratic, Starr-loathing operatives bombarding reporters with Arnold's sexual exploits and philosophies (oral sex isn't cheating), any Republican who even whispers in defense of Arnold's wild life will be portrayed as a complete hypocrite on the Lewinsky saga.

It wasn't that oral sex wasn't cheating. It was that some of us (in fact, most of us) didn't think it mattered. For those to whom all of that mattered yet defend Schwarzenegger's "wild life", yeah, hypocrite might just be the appropriate description. I'm going to be consistant, though. What Schwarzenegger did before is his own business.

5. Maria Shriver as First Lady of anything? Can't we complete the recent trend of Kennedy family electoral defeat?

I didn't realize that there was a trend. As far as I know, Edward Kennedy is still a Senator and Patrick Kennedy is still a Congressman. Sure, Kathleen Townsend lost. Did Joseph Kennedy II actually run for Governor and lose? I though he withdrew his candidacy.

As far as I can count, here are all the Kennedy electoral losses: 1968 Robert Kennedy lost the Oregon Democratic Primary (yeah, that's right, he won all the other state primaries in which he was entered as did his brother in 1960), 1972 Sargeant Shriver (John and Robert's brother-in-law and Schwarzenegger's father-in-law) lost the Vice-President race as McGovern's running mate, 1980 Edward Kennedy lost a bunch of primaries then lost a convention fight, 2002 Kathleen Townsend lost the Maryland Governor's race. I think that's it, but I could be missing one or two here or there. Considering that Patrick wins every two years and Edward every six, I don't see where the losing trend is. They sure do win a lot.

Saying one thing then saying you said something else II

Once again, John Derbyshire:

In reviewing the reactions he received from his diatrible yesterday, he writes:

"I got a strong impression, time after time, that the reader believed I SHOULD NOT BE ABLE TO SAY the things I said. A couple of readers said so flat out. Veiled threats to try and shut me down were common. ("Does Mr Buckley know the kinds of things you say on The Corner? Perhaps he should be told...") Make no mistake about it: there is a serious, strong current of thought out there that believes ANY objection to homosexuality is "hate speech" and ought to be criminalized--or, if it cannot be criminalized, shut down by any means that come to hand. I say again: there are many exceptions, and I thank those readers who, after identifying themselves as homosexual, went on to argue with me in a thoughtful and civilized way. But I now know something I did not know 48 hours ago, or knew only vaguely and imperfectly: gay fascism is real, and strong, and determined. If this Political Correctness cannot be stopped, we are going to lose our freedoms."

First off... the readers had no intention of shutting him off. They were going to tell his publisher and the publisher would or wouldn't make a decision. Is he scared of this? Of his publisher being aware of what he writes?

I'm not gay nor am I a facist, but cripes, isn't this last sentence ironic: "gay fascism is real, and strong, and determined. If this Political Correctness cannot be stopped, we are going to lose our freedoms."

Isn't Derbyshire the one entertaining the idea that homosexual acts should be criminalized? If Derbyshire gets his way, who is going to lose their freedoms?

Preach it, Al!

Al Gore today at NYU:

If the 21st century is to be well-started, we need a national agenda that is worked out in concert with the people, a healing agenda that is built on a true national consensus. Millions of Americans got the impression that George W. Bush wanted to be a healer, not a divider, a president devoted first and foremost to honor and integrity. And yet far from uniting the people, the president's ideologically narrow agenda has seriously divided America.

His most partisan supporters have launched a kind of civil Cold War against those with whom they disagree.

And as for honor and integrity, let me say this. We know what that phrase was all about.

But hear me well, not as a candidate for any office, but as an American citizen who loves my country, for eight years, the Clinton- Gore administration gave this nation honest budget numbers, an economic plan with integrity that rescued the nation from debt and stagnation, honest advocacy for the environment, real compassion for the poor, a strengthening of our military -- as recently proven -- and a foreign policy whose purposes were elevated, candidly presented and courageously pursued in the face of scorched-earth tactics by the opposition. That is also a form of honor and integrity.

August 9, 2003

Two questions about Howard Dean

I know that blogs are supposed to make assertions and make points and all that, but I have two questions which some of you readers (there are readers out there, right?) might know. I'm asking because I don't know:

1. Both Howard Dean's father and grandfather were top executives at Dean Witter Reynolds and were both fabulously wealthy. Do any of you know if Dean's grandfather was a founding/naming partner of Dean Witter Reynolds? I ask because it's hard to believe that it's chance that Dean's grandfather worked at the firm and his last name is part of the company's name. (Dean Witter Reynolds is commonly known as just "Dean Witter" and was recently purchased by Morgan Stanley.)

2. Howard Dean's wife's maden name is Steinberg (full name: Judith Steinberg; she kept her own name, but seems to be pulling a Hillary Rodham and adding her married name for her husband's political career). I'm just guessing here, but do you any of you know if she's Jewish?

2a. If the answer to #2 is yes, anybody know about the children? Were they raised Jewish?

Agreeing to Disagree

If you haven't been liking the charges of McCarthyism and anti-Americanism on the Jumping to Conclusions comment boards, you sure won't like Anandashankar Mazumdar's lastest post on his blog.

And, yeah, I know he just got married, but why doesn't Ananda post more often to his blog? There are people who want to read what he has to write.

(One major complaint about Ananda's page, though: cripes, in the "Sorely Missed" section of his page, where is the great and greatly underappreciated show "The American Embassy"? It NEEDS to return to television. Don't throw a one-in-a-million show away so quickly, FOX, because the next one-in-a-million show is a million shows away.)

Yeah, I think so, too

Over at the Corner, Steve Hayward writes: "In other California news today, the L.A. Times notes that California lost another 21,000 jobs last month, which is half the total nationwide job loss for the month. Someone in the White House ought to point out that job loss is worst where Democrats are in charge of things."

Good idea, Steve. Whatcha think the Democratic Response will be?

22.4 Million New Jobs Created Under the Clinton-Gore Administration?


2.1 million jobs lost Under the Bush Administration?

August 10, 2003

One of the reasons I like Schwarzenegger

I wouldn't vote for him myself, but I do like his movies (with exceptions, of course, like Kindergarden Cop and Twins), and I identify with him because, like me, he has a bicuspid aortic valve. Or, should I say, he had a bicuspid aortic valve.

August 11, 2003

As the Badger would have said, it's a bad day for hockey

If you could magically go to any entertainment event of the 20th century, where would you go? The premier of the Rite of Spring in 1915? The famous Armory art show? Watch Babe Ruth in the 1927 World Series? Woodstock? The Beatles at the Cavern in 1962 in Liverpool? Jackie Robinson making his debut for the Brooklyn Dodgers on April 15, 1947?

While watching Jackie's first game comes in a close second, I know exactly what I'd choose if I could go to one entertainment event of the 20th century. I've seen it on tape many times; it must have been genuinely miraculous to have been there that evening. That night when we beat the Russians.

The coach is gone now. Died today. It's a bad day for hockey.

August 12, 2003

It's funny because it's true

The Onion's take on why Gray Davis may be recalled.

90 percent of life

Arnold Schwarzenegger’s new official campaign web page exclaims: "There comes a point where we the people must demand more of our elected officials than just showing up."

I suppose that's why Arnold, not Keanu Reeves, is running for the California's governor's mansion.

Because Keanu, of course, quite famously told us all that "the most important thing in life is just showing up."

August 13, 2003

RE: Amuck or amok?

Eugene Volokh asks: "Amuck or amok" -- which is the prefered spelling?

He quite sensibly and correctly writes: "Amuck or amok?, asks a reader, responding to an earlier post. The answer, as is often the case with such linguistic issues, is that both are acceptable, as dictionaries make clear. A google search suggests that "amok" is more common, though "amuck" is common enough; a NEXIS search is unhelpful, because it quite reasonably treats the two as synonyms, so that a search for either finds both. The word comes from Malay, which helps explain the alternate spellings -- when words are transliterated from a language that isn't spelled using the Latin alphabet, there will naturally be many possible transliterations, and several of them may end up being fully standard in English (cf. Chanukah / Hanukkah, tsar / czar, the umpteen spellings of Kaddafi, etc.)."

But, even though I'm no Molly Wyman (a resident expert on etymology), I'm going to say that "amok" should be used sometimes and "amuck" others. "Amok" originally comes from the Malay amoq: "engaging furiously in battle, attacking with desperate resolution, rushing in a state of frenzy to the commission of indiscriminate murder... Applied to any animal in a state of vicious rage."

Through the years, it seems, "amok" became confused with muck: "Excrement, manure; dirt, waste matter" (probably from early Scandinavian meaning dung). So running amok (engaging furiously in battle) also became to mean running amuck (running through excrement). What makes more sense: "The Davis campaign to retain his office is running amok [engaging furiously in battle]" or "The Davis campaign to retain his office is running amok [running through excrement {figuratively, of course}]"?

I'd say, use "amok" for the former and "amuck" for the later. Depending on what you mean to say.

UPDATE: Like many other things, I might just be all wrong about this. The Oxford Dictionary of American Usage and Style says: "Usage authorities once held firmly to the idea that amuck is preferable to amok—solely on the mistaken notion that amuck is older in English and amok (though a better transliteration of the Malaysian word) was a late-coming “didacticism.” In fact, both forms date from the 17th century. And, in any event, amok is ten times more common than amuck today—e.g.: “For decades, the Buildings Department, which processes 35, 000 permits a year, has resembled a satirist's vision of bureaucracy run amok” (N.Y. Times). But some publications fight the trend—as evidenced by the title of Charles Krauthammer's essay “Elephants Run Amuck: After Killing Big Government, the G.O.P. Suddenly Risks Stampeding Itself to Death” (Time). Amok is now the standard term." ("amok" The Oxford Dictionary of American Usage and Style. Bryan A. Garner. Oxford University Press, 2000. Oxford Reference Online. Oxford University Press. 13 August 2003 )

August 14, 2003


John Derbyshire is too easy to ridicule. Ordinarily, I believe that someone as foolish as Derbyshire should be ignored, but people like he and Ann Coulter speak with such force and on such a large stage that they must be confronted.

Today, Derbyshire wrote: "Al Franken is a hysterical, delusional, America-hating, buck-toothed lefty dork. OK?"

Right now, Franken's book is the #1 bestseller on and it hasn't even been released yet. It's an easy prediction to make to say that, after its publication, it'll be a bestseller, if not, for a while, America's #1 best selling book.

What does that mean? That means a lot of people in American want to hear what Franken has to say. They agree with him.

I wonder if Derbyshire believes that these millions of Americans -- you know, the Franken agreers -- are also hysterical, delusional, America-hating, lefty dorks?

You'd have to assume that, in Derbyshire's world, the answer is yes. Also, you'd have to assume that, in Derbyshire's world, the only people who love America are those who agree with everything he and his fellow Corner members write. Anything else is, well, just un-American. (Not just un-American, but also hysterical, delusional, lefty, and dorkish.)

August 15, 2003

What to expect on May 14, 2004

Before more people, either your friends or on the news, tell you that 9 months after the great 1965 Northeast blackout, an abnormally high number of babies were born, please read this.

August 21, 2003

Alabama, Ten Commandments, the Two Great Commandments, and a Trivia Question

Q: According to the Gospels, when Jesus was asked which was the greatest of all the ten commandments, which one did he answer with?

A: The answer is, none of the above.

The conversation starts at Matthew 22:36: "Master, which is the great commandment in the law?" To which, the reply came: " Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself."

And to Jesus, these two commandments trump the ten in Deuteronomy, and those ten must be understood and be informed in terms of these two. How do we know this? Because He said so, at Matthew 22:40: "On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets. "

Which forces one to ask to those Christians down in Alabama who are supporting the non-removal of the Ten Commandments statue from the Supreme Court building... why the Ten Commandments? Why not the Two Great Commandments?

Is loving thy neighbor as yourself too touchy-feely, too P.C., for 2003?

August 25, 2003

Things are bad all over. Two examples

1. Teachers are taking dozens of free pens at conferences because their school districts no longer have the money to provide pens to their students. Pens!

2. Ken Lay takes a bath on his Aspen house. He only got $5.5 million for it. Hopefully he got more for his other three houses in Aspen.

August 26, 2003

10 Commandments Redux

I was born and raised in Pennsylvania and am and, as far as I can predict the future, will always be a Pennsylvanian. However, I lived in Kansas for a large part of my adult life and am proud to consider myself a Jayhawk.

For what it's worth, it never bothered me that the University of Kansas seal had a great religious image on it. Check it out for yourself. It's Moses in front of the burning bush. It's supposed to symbolize man being humble before knowledge. It's a fine symbol for a university. (KU doesn't hide from the image either; it is also a large part of one of its building's archecture.) (Yeah, I know, Moses did not receive the 10 Commandements at the burning bush -- he received them much later. But it was the same person [Moses] so it has *some* relevance.)

Aside: What I never understood, however, is how the Great Seal of the State of Kansas has all those mountains in the background. I've been all around Kansas. I never saw those mountains. And if you stand on Kansas's western most boundary, you cannot see the Rocky mountains. And, further, yeah, I know the song with the purple mountain majesties line, but they these mountains just don't exist. Unless I'm missing something big (like a mountain range somewhere in the Sunflower State), this is false advertizing.

Conclusions not matching the data?

Much of this article about Wesley Clark is pretty humorous (in an ironic way). Two lines in particular stand out:

"But an unexpected bolt from the blue suddenly ignited Clark’s life, turning mediocrity into a skyrocket ride that could yet land him in the Oval Office."

Mediocrity? At this point, the article has already listed his: (1) placing first in his class at West Point, (2) his being awarded a Rhodes Scholarship, (3) his successful completion of a master's degree at Oxford, (4) his Purple Heart, (5) his Silver Star, (6) his two Bronze Stars, and (7) his White House Fellowship. We should all be so mediocre.

"“Known by those who’ve served with him as the ‘Ultimate Perfumed Prince,’” writes veteran military combat soldier and journalist Col. David Hackworth about Gen. Wesley Clark, “he’s far more comfortable in a drawing room discussing political theories than hunkering down in the trenches where bullets fly and soldiers die.”"

See above vid. his Purple Heart, his Silver Star, his two Bronze Star, and, what hasn't been mentioned (by me but was in the article) his being wounded in action four times. But, yeah, I'm sure they're both right (both the person quoted and the author of the article who did the quoting in implicit agreement with the statement)... who wouldn't be more comfortable in a drawing room than in a trench. That doesn't mean Clark did not do his duty when he was called upon. And he did it heroically.

Dems v. Repubs

Jane Galt writes:

The Republicans, after all, are in many ways a larger tent than the Democrats.... And that's because they can. The Republicans only have two groups to please: social conservatives, and fiscal conservatives....

The Democrats, on the other hand, are a veritable festival of interest groups: unions, teachers, minorities, feminists, gay groups, environmentalists, etc. Each of these groups has a litmus test without which they will not ratify a candidate: unfettered support for abortion, against vouchers, against ANWAR drilling, whatever. A lot of groups means a lot of litmus tests, because with the possible exception of the teachers, no one group is powerful enough to swing an election by themselves.

This causes two problems. First, it drags the party platform marginally farther to the left than the Republican platform is to the right, which in a 50/50 nation is bad news, and it narrows the well of political talent. At the local level this doesn't matter, since districts go reliably for one party or another, but nationally it's a problem, which is why the Democrats are struggling to hold onto the senate and the presidency. It took a politician of the skill and charm of Bill Clinton to make it work.

I've gotta disagree on a number of levels.

First, it doesn't just take the skill and charm of Bill Clinton to make it work. No matter what you think of the 2000 elections, the fact remains that Al Gore received 500,000 more votes than George Bush. Gore didn't have the charm nor the skill of President Clinton.

Second, sure, the Democratic Party has lots of interest groups each having their own limus tests. But, when push comes to shove, the party members and independents come out to vote for their party. It's not like they have 135 different choices on the ballot. They usually have just 2 (or, in the case of the last three Presidential elections, 3, including Perot and Nader). So, President Clinton can anger labor with his support of NAFTA but still get labor's vote in 1996. Clinton can anger the far left with his ending of welfare as we know it in 1995 but still get their vote in 1996. Clinton can execute a mentally retarded person in 1992 and still get the anti-death penalty vote that same year. Gore can distance himself from Clinton's accomplishments and still his votes in 2000.

Why do Democrats (and many independents) rally around their candidate come election time? It is because the Democratic Party does have core beliefs that they all share. President Clinton articluated them like few others before, but others have, and others will. I give an example below.

Jane Galt continues:

But the larger problem is that those interest groups are increasingly coming into conflict. African-americans want vouchers, but the more powerful teacher's union says no. Latinos trend strongly pro-life, but don't let NARAL catch them at it. Environmentalists want stricter standards that cost union members jobs. The more interest groups under the tent, the looser the grip the party has on any one group. And as social security and medicare turn into the sucking chest wound of the budget, the money for the programs that Democratic politicians have traditionally used to cement those interest groups to them is disappearing.

Sure, there is conflict. But there is no conflict in opposition. Meaning, all of these interest groups that she lists... African Americans, teachers unions, Latinos, environmentalists, and the others she doesn't... are all united against the fiscal conservatism opposing them (politically opposing, that is). And it's not just solidarity in opposition, these groups, again, all share a corps of beliefs.

She continues:

And the reason that I thought of that is that Daniel Drezner makes what I think is essentially the same point in discussing why the Democrats are having such a hard time coalescing around a candidate.

Are Galt and Drezner agahst that the Democrats haven't coalesced around a candidate yet? It's 2003 forgoshsakes. The first primary is months away. The convention is basically a year away. What do they expect? A candidate all ready picked out? Ready to go? Sorry that just doesn't happen.

Picking a nominee is hard. The Democrats *should* be having a "hard time". It's always hard -- for both parties. For every George W. Bush who gets the nomination, there is a John McCain who fights for it and doesn't. Debating who the best person to run doesn't imply a hard time. It's democracy. Come next October, the party will be united. That doesn't mean a "hard time" is being experienced.

Oh yeah, what are these core beliefs? Courage and confidence.

It's an old story. It's as old as our history. The difference between Democrats and Republicans has always been measured in courage and confidence. The Republicans believe that the wagon train will not make it to the frontier unless some of the old, some of the young, some of the weak are left behind by the side of the trail. The strong, the strong they tell us will inherit the land.

We Democrats believe in something else. We democrats believe that we can make it all the way with the whole family intact. And, we have more than once. Ever since Franklin Roosevelt lifted himself from his wheelchair to lift this nation from its knees -- wagon train after wagon train -- to new frontiers of education, housing, peace; the whole family aboard, constantly reaching out to extend and enlarge that family; lifting them up into the wagon on the way; blacks and Hispanics, and people of every ethnic group, and native Americans -- all those struggling to build their families and claim some small share of America.

For nearly 50 years we carried them all to new levels of comfort, and security, and dignity, even affluence. And remember this, some of us in this room today are here only because this nation had that kind of confidence. And it would be wrong to forget that.

So, here we are at this convention to remind ourselves where we come from and to claim the future for ourselves and for our children. Today our great Democratic Party, which has saved this nation from depression, from fascism, from racism, from corruption, is called upon to do it again -- this time to save the nation from confusion and division, from the threat of eventual fiscal disaster, and most of all from the fear of a nuclear holocaust....

August 27, 2003

Dems v. Repubs II

Nick Schulz weighs in on Jane Galt's article.

He writes: "All of which will make the Democratic primary season hugely compelling. The Democrats haven’t had to debate what they truly believe since 1992 when Bill Clinton became the party’s standard-bearer. That’s a long cease-fire among factions."

I suppose... if you believe, of course, that Nader's run in 2000 was not part of a debate about what Democrats truly believe. And if you think that most of those who voted for Nader won't come running back to the Democratic party because they've realized that being progressive also means being anti the anti-progressives -- it means voting *against* those who you oppose. Or in this case, voting against the Republicans and for the Democrats in 2004.

And, if you add those who voted for Nader (who wasn't a great candidate) and Gore (who wasn't a great candidate) and assume that their votes will all go to the Democrats, the 2004 won't even be close. (Of course, if all the states fall like they did in 2000 [even giving Florida to Bush] but a Democratic nominee Dean switches New Hampshire, the 2004 election goes the other way, too).

He continues: "I think there’s some truth to this. But it begs some questions. Do fiscal and social conservatives have any true litmus tests? Any lines that Bush simply cannot cross? Bush’s stem cell decision was hugely disappointing to social conservatives. And Bush’s record on spending and on the size and role of the federal government is an absolute travesty from the perspective of any fiscal conservative. At what point would fiscal conservatives simply sit on their hands come election time?"

That's easy. Tax increases. If President Bush submitted a tax plan which substantially increased taxes (like, say President Clinton did in 1993), he'd lose his base. They'd sit on their hands come election time. Just like what happened to Bush I in 1992 (of course, a lot of these fiscal conservatives didn't sit on their hands in 1992... they got up and voted for Perot).

Here's a question I've got for Schulz: let's not talk about litmus tests. Is there any group that's part of the Republican base that a hypothetical Republican nominee will never lose? Because, for the forseeable future, the Democrats will always get African Americans; they'll always get labor; they'll always get new immigrants; they'll always get feminists. They'll always get the groups Galt discusses in her originial post. These groups may fight amongst each other during the primary season, but come November, they vote Democratic.

When a party is ideologically based (like the Republicans are posited to be in these two posts by Galt and Schulz) -- and not identity based (like the Democrats are posited to be by these same two posts) -- straying from this ideology causes fractions that groups will never forgive. Like Bush I saying read my lips then raising taxes. Like what brought about the Buchanan insurgency at the 1992 Republican Convention.

So, basically, my question is... dropping the sitting on hands image... who will *always* wait on line in the rain to vote Republican?

August 28, 2003

But where is it from?

Clayton Craymer writing on a post by Glenn Reynolds writes:

Instapundit has a whole bunch of quotes about religion and the founding of the United States.
As George Washington noted, "the government of the United States of America is not in any sense founded on the Christian religion."
The nice thing about the Library of Congress is that they have the complete set of Washington's papers online, and searchable by word and phrase. You can also search the complete text of the Journals of the Continental Congress, House and Senate journals through 1873, a gobs of other documents here. Guess what? That phrase "the government of the United States of America is not in any sense founded on the Christian religion" doesn't show up in either collection. Sorry, but with the choice of believing the Library of Congress, or someone with a strong antireligious bias (Instapundit's correspondent), I think I'll trust the Library of Congress more.
So, Washington didn't write it. It's not in the Journals of the Continental Congress. It's not in the House or Senate journals (through 1873). It's not in gobs of other documents. Is it in the Library of Congress or is it just a made up quote by someone with a strong antireligious bias?

Whereas it's true President Washington did not, himself, write it the line, it's certainly authentic and authentically important. With a more rigorous search of the Library of Congress, I'm sure Craymer would have found it.

The line "the government of the United States of America is not in any sense founded on the Christian religion" can be found in Article 11 of the Treaty of Tripolli. This treaty was signed by Commissioner Plenipotentiary David Humphreys on November 4, 1796. So, it wasn't Washington, himself, but an official representative of President Washington. (Aside: trivia question. When did the Department of State stop using the term "Commissioner Plenipotentiary" and replace it with "Ambassador"?) It was ratified by the United States Senate on June 7, 1797 and signed by President John Adams.

So, in summary: this line was negotiated by an official representative of George Washington, ratified by the 1797 United States Senate (whose presiding officer was Thomas Jefferson), and was signed by John Adams. I'm guessing that in the textbook definition of "original intent," this line is used as the example. (And if you want to see an original copy of the line "the government of the United States of America is not in any sense founded on the Christian religion", click here).

August 29, 2003


Larry Kudlow has a facinating paragraph in his recent National Review column column about Howard Dean:

For example, Dean's universal health-care insurance is Hillarycare. It's the same government-paid health insurance that's been a disaster in Western Europe and Canada. And it's the same socialist proposal that was defeated handily in a Democratic Congress ten years ago.
In addition to replying that sticks and stones will break my bones but childish name calling ("Hillarycare", "socialist") won't hurt me, it's important to remember that no matter what you thought about President Clinton's health care plan, it was not "defeated handily." It, in fact, was filibustered and never came up for vote. Had it been actually been voted on, it might have passed.

August 31, 2003

Labor Day Rental Recommendation

If you're going to be spending Labor Day at home, I have a video recommendation -- a recommendation quite appropriate for Labor Day. Harlan County U.S.A.

September 1, 2003

Shoe eating

I don't get it. Conservatives really like eating their shoes. So this Kathryn Jean Lopez will be eating her shoes on August 29, 2004.

Is this Hillary talk anything more than some odd sort of conservative wish fullilment? Do they really believe if they say she's running enough times that she will?

September 3, 2003

What does he mean by that?

Over at the Volokh Conspiracy, Daniel Drezner writes:

Just got back from seeing Bend It Like Beckham -- destined to become this year's My Big Fat Greek Wedding, with all the positives and negatives that title confers.

[First off, where has he been? It's "destined to become"? It's hardly a new movie. Cripes, I saw Bend it Like Beckham in Philadelphia last November.]

I wish he would have expanded on his analysis. I mean, *how* is it like My Big Fat Greek Wedding? He's not the first to make this comparison, but, other than they're both about immigrant families and they both have happy endings, how are the two movies similar? Did Drezner find the Anglo-Indian family in Bend It comic like the Greek-American family was portrayed as being? Did he think the similarities portrayed concerning second-generation assimilation in the Chicago and London rang true?

September 4, 2003


Kos alerts us to this pre-war statement by Richard Pearle:

Saddam Hussein's reign of terror is about to end. He will go quickly, but not alone: in a parting irony, he will take the UN down with him. Well, not the whole UN. The "good works" part will survive, the low-risk peacekeeping bureaucracies will remain, the chatterbox on the Hudson will continue to bleat. What will die is the fantasy of the UN as the foundation of a new world order. As we sift the debris, it will be important to preserve, the better to understand, the intellectual wreckage of the liberal conceit of safety through international law administered by international institutions [...]

The chronic failure of the security council to enforce its own resolutions is unmistakable: it is simply not up to the task. We are left with coalitions of the willing. Far from disparaging them as a threat to a new world order, we should recognise that they are, by default, the best hope for that order, and the true alternative to the anarchy of the abject failure of the UN.

But, of course, the REAL reason we're going to the U.N. now? Not poor planning. Not poor management. Not poor ideas. No one is admitting to major mistakes because no such mistakes have been made. We're going to the U.N. because of the American Left. Stanley Kurtz writes:

The president’s decision to turn to the United Nations for assistance in the occupation and rebuilding of Iraq makes a great deal of sense. It certainly isn’t the ideal approach, but given the divisions within our country, and our general unwillingness to enlarge our military, the president’s decision is reasonable.... Our culture war is real. Now it has taken its toll. In many ways we are strong. Yet disunited we are weak. Our turning to the U.N. is not necessarily a disaster. But it is a sign that our internal divisions have finally exacted a cost.

In this era of "personal responsibility," you can't lose if you blame other people.

When was?

When was the last time you heard the phrase "coalition of the willing"?

And, do you know what alert status we're in now? Is it red, orange, yellow, or mauve?

I wonder why these have gone by the way-side?

(Actually, I'm not wondering...)

The Vietnam analogy

Amitava Mazumdar writes that one aspect of the Iraq/Vietnam analogy may be valid:

It's pretty clear to me what these men are doing. The prospect that the Iraq project will come off successfully looks increasingly dim. So dim, that the nation's most visible war proponents have begun distancing themselves from the Bush administration's Iraq policy.

But they aren't admitting that the whole idea of the unilateral occupation and rebuilding of Iraq was an awful idea. They're arguing that if only the Bush administration spent enough money and sent enough troops, things would turn out as sunny as Kristol, Kagan, Pearl, and Sullivan had always predicted.

This is, of course, what the Vietnam War hawks said after we belatedly abandoned that costly effort. The lesson we should have taken from that war was that no matter how many troops we sent, or how many more billions of dollars we spent, we could not win the Vietnam War because the Vietnamese did not want us to win it, or at least did not care who won it. The history of Western occupation throughout Asia, should have taught us the same lesson.

But Kristol, Kagan, Pearl, and Sullivan never learned that lesson. They were seduced by the myth of the inevitable success of all things American. If they were honest and honorable, they would admit their error: that the number of troops and amount of money necessary to rebuild Iraq was predictably unaffordable, and that's only after adopting the dubious assumption that the occupation ever had any chance of success at all. Instead, they are retreating to a defense that conveniently cannot be disproved: if Bush did everything their way, everything would have gone well.

As they say, read the whole thing.

Mr. Ness! I do NOT approve of your methods. Oh yeah? Well, you're not from Chicago.

In a quite disingenuous post, Glenn Reynolds provides a quote and then comments:


"Isn’t it just about time that the left was asked what its plans are for combating terrorism?
The left doesn’t want us in Iraq, where we are bringing the fight right to the terrorists’ own backyard? Okay - what’s their plan?"

Yes. Given that what we're up against is, essentially, "the Klan with a Koran," you'd think they'd have some ideas. I don't recall anyone suggesting that the FBI shouldn't have been in Birmingham just because there was a bombing there. . . .

Putting aside the fact that there were many people (not from the "left") who did not want the FBI in Birmingham after the 16th Street Baptist Church was bombed (see: states rights, outside agitators)...

First, YOU'RE in charge. Don't pass the buck. Don't start trying to deflect blame on "the left." Just because your plan isn't going that well, it's not time to start criticizing others for their plans (or supposed lack of plans). It sounds like a little brother whose been bad and tries to distract everybody by complaining that his sister has hit him. Suck it up and deal with what you've made. It's not too late for a successful outcome.

Second, who amongst the major Democratic presidential candidates was not for all-out war against the Taliban? Who wasn't for all-out war against the terrorists? Who didn't want to end the evil-doers? Now, that was a plan, and it was a good one.

The fear is, however, that, in Iraq, we've taken the war to the "terrorists' own backyard" but we haven't taken it to the terrorists. With no WMDs and no connections to al-Queda, are these fears not grounded?

Third, the Birmingham analogy is, to put it mildly, troublesome. Mr. Reynolds, are you implying that if one believes this war is not being fought as promised, that he is of the same moral quality of those who believed that the deaths of the four girls inside the 16th Street Baptist Church bombing was no big deal? And that we believe that the bombers and those who supported the bombers shouldn't have been hunted down with all the retribution the United States had to bear?

November 2004

In an Associated Press story today, we read:

"It's like your building is half built, and the contractor comes in and says that to finish the building and put the roof on, it's going to cost a lot more," said Rep. Scott McInnis, R-Colo., a stalwart Bush supporter. "What's your choice? You've got to put the roof on."

That's a heck of an analogy. For, it's true... you need a roof, so you have to pay your contractor. You've got no choice. However, what are the odds that you'll hire this contractor again? Somewhere between slim and none, and probably you'll tell your friends and neighbors not to hire him, either.

To follow "stalwart Bush supporter," Representative Scott McInnis' analogy to conclusion, it doesn't bode well for the Bush team in 2004.

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