Sine Qua Non Pundit

And what is good, Phaedrus, And what is not good -- Need we ask anyone to tell us these things? ------ ------ ------ ------ E-mail:

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Thursday, May 02, 2002

Now This is Depressing

From the Google Smackdown:

And the undisputed champion is...

Richard Cohen (18,400)
Scourge of Richard Cohen (19)

The Walk Of Life

The XX-rated Scourge is going to have to wait until this weekend for completion. I just got home and have to be back at it again early tomorrow. But, is it a coincidence that the most famous porn star ever died the same week I am to write the XX-rated Scourge?

But, nonetheless, something is amiss. There is no Richard Cohen column today. No note that he is on leave or anything, just no column. Has Richard taken my advice to give up his day job and start looking for work as a straight man? Have my words had a lasting effect? Has Richard decided to retire as penance for his repetitive inanities? Am I working on the last Scourge?

Nah, but I can dream.

On the other hand, Nicky and Maureen and the editorial staff at the St. Louis Post-Dispatch are looking over their shoulders now, wondering who I might go after next. The Sorrow of Maureen Dowd has a certain ring to it if Richard should be an ex-columnist. And I certainly hope that somebody out there knows where these monikers are coming from.

Wednesday, May 01, 2002

I've been working on the XX-Rated Scourge for several hours tonight, and it's still not done. I hope to finish it tomorrow so that I can move on to tomorrow's column this weekend. Your patience is appreciated. One thought I'm weaving into it is that I plan to abandon the term "liberal" as a perjorative. Liberals don't bother me. Liberalism in its purest form is a force for good in the world. What isn't good are the utopian statists who deny human nature and are willing to run roughshod over others to implement their visions of utopia using the coercive power of the state. These people are giving liberals a bad name.

To help hold you over, here's an excerpt from an e-mail from my friend Buzz:

I read Cohen's latest self indulgent essay. He is very adept at strawman jousting. However, I can't help but get the feeling that if he ever jousts against reality and facts the result will be similar to what he fears will be the end of his crusade for silence -- he'll get punched in the face. Peggy Noonan wrote a description of "The West Wing" which I think could apply to Cohen's columns. With apologies to Ms. Noonan, Richard Cohen's columns are a left-wing nocturnal emission -- undriven by facts, based on dreams, their impulses as passionate as they are involuntary and as unreflective as they are genuine.

Tuesday, April 30, 2002
Who Gives a Puck?

Howard Fienberg has created a blog for hockey fans. It even drifts away a bit into other sports from time to time where players don't return to the action after getting 40 stitches. I'm honored to be an associate editor!

Do yourself a favor and go read the Puck Hog Blog.

Rejected headlines for this post:

Howard the Puck
Stick It
Have Another Donut
Howard's a Killer, Yeah, Howard's a Killer

Tomorrow ...

On yet another hand, I am too tired to do an XX-rated Scourge this evening so that will have to wait until tomorrow. I must do some research on Semites first.

Martin Devon does a fine impression of a Scourge here to tide you over until then.


The Scourge of Richard Cohen, Vol. XIX

(Ed. – The following is a bit of mean spiritedness that will be an on-going feature of this blog. Normally the author will endeavor to be reasonably fair, but this is an exception.)

Here I am feeling tired and sorry for myself, wondering if I’ve got the strength to scourge on, when I flip over to the Patio Pundit and notice that I’ve gotten Star Billing as The Scourge of Richard Cohen. I am humbled, and inspired to keep marching ever onward and upward.

Richard Cohen, on the other hand, injures his hand patting his bad self on the back for having the courage to take on a rude man in Speak Softly, or I'll hit you with a big stick:

As I sit in an airport lounge, a very loud voice snaps me awake from a drowsy state. It's some guy on a cell phone. He's setting up meetings, making appointments and God only knows whom he's talking to, …

Could it be … God?

… as it is not yet 7 a.m. on the East Coast.

Nowhere else matters, of course.

The lounge is empty, …

It’s a little early to start drinking. Isn’t it?

… but we few, we noble few, …

Happy, not noble. Unless Richard thought that first class somehow conferred nobility on him.

… marshal our collective eyeballs and just stare in rebuke. Nothing. A volcanic force builds within me. "Louder," I erupt. "We can't hear you."

I find it somewhat more effective to move in close, take out a pad of paper and start taking notes of everything the offender says in a very obvious way. This tends to terminate the calls fairly quickly as a rule. And I’ve yet to run into anyone who really wanted to start a fight in an airport for the last six months.

The man rises from his seat. "You got a problem?" he says. All eyes are on me now. I am heading to California for a meeting, interloping in the first-class lounge on account of an upgrade, but it's always the schoolyard to me.

I sometimes wonder if Richard can recognize his elitism.

I cannot back down. I pitch my voice low. "You're too loud," I say. I point to where the phones are. "Go over there." To my utter surprise, he does. Virtual applause fills the room, …

Virtual applause?

… and as we all file out to our planes, I am repeatedly thanked for my heroism.

By everyone else in the empty lounge?

I would call it high school all over again, but in truth I never had such a good day in high school.

Most of us have less than fond memories of our high school days, but if this was as good as it got for you, then this too would explain so many, many things.

But this incident -- a brush with death, in my telling -- did not teach me a lesson.

A brush with death? My goodness, but Richard takes himself awfully seriously.

Months later I was on a bus, …


… and a young man was talking loudly on his cell phone. He was making plans for the evening -- who would meet whom and where.

Maybe it was -- whore he would meet and whem?

It was a tedious, boring conversation, ...

Kind of like a Richard Cohen column.

... and I feel, against all expectation, that if you must talk loudly, you have a minimal obligation to be interesting.

A corollary to this might be if you are going to write often, you have a minimal obligation to be interesting.

This guy was not, and so, pressing my luck, I told him to pipe down. "!$&#!," he replied. And then turning back to his phone he described how some (expletive) was complaining about his use of the cell phone.

If it was me I would have said, “Richard !$&#!ing Cohen is complaining about this !$&#!ing phone I’m going to stick up his (expletive).

Hormones I had not felt in years coursed through my body.

Uh, thanks for sharing.

I went to battle stations, but, inexplicably, the jerk snapped his phone closed and turned his back on me. I expected the usual round of applause, but I heard nothing. I did make eye contact with a young woman who, I was sure, thought me her hero. But instead of praise, I got criticism. The bus was "a public space," she said, and the jerk was entitled to use it as he saw fit. I was flabbergasted.

Perhaps there is a slight difference between the riders on the bus and the people who find themselves in a first class lounge a little before 0700.

How wrong can you be?

Richard Cohen has a promising career as a straight man if he'll give up his day job.

It was precisely because the bus was a public space that the caller had an obligation not to impose his conversation on us. If he were at home, he could talk as loudly as he wished -- and no one would care. But by talking loudly on the bus -- this is called "cell yell" -- he was, in effect, "privatizing the public space," a phrase, my diligent research tells me, once used by Dr. Timo Kopomaa, a Finnish social scientist. The caller had, in effect, expropriated the public space for his own use.

So this whole thing is to let us know that you read this book.

This is a form of theft -- and you don't have to be a bus rider to be victimized. You are victimized when you are walking down the street and you get sonically mugged by some car that's little more than a boombox on wheels. Or when you pass some store that drizzles tinny music over you. You're victimized when such a car overtakes your own and its music overwhelms whatever sweet air or minuet happens to be emanating from your own speakers. That driver has taken over not only the public space but also the private one you maintain in your car. He has even chosen your music for you.

Richard Cohen: Victim.

It says somewhere in my research that young people see the cell phone as something to flaunt -- something having to do with sex and virility.

What? Richard does research?

I concur.

With himself?

In my experience, young people seem inordinately willing to share their personal lives with anyone who happens to be within earshot.

Experience = research?

If this is indeed a youth thing, then the future looks bleak.

Guess I can take my shades off now.

Twice now, I have put my life on the line in the name of keeping our public space public.

I am beginning to understand why Richard is so sensitive to criticism.

Sooner or later, though, I fear some goon will invade my space with his fist, ending my career as a crusader for silence.

Especially if he kills you. That’s what putting your life on the line really means Richard.

If and when that happens, I want the world to recognize my struggle and to say something nice about me.


Just, please, say it softly.

I heard he wrote a good column.
I heard he had a style.
And so I read his features,
And Scourged each one out loud.
But he just kept on writing,
Just like that Maureen Dowd.

Feeling my pain with his fingers,
Liberal knee-jerk with his words,
Killing my softly with his column.
Killing me softly with his column.
Insulting opponents with his words,
Killing me softly with his column.

(My apologies to Roberta Flack.)

Monday, April 29, 2002
Upholding Our Honor

The Dixie Dog Boys beat the Yankee scum 11-1/2 to 8-1/2 to win this year's version of our Ryder Cup competition. Personally, after a very slow start, my game came around a bit and I went 2-1 in my matches.

That's about all I'll write about the weekend's festivities, because my readership will drop from 8 to 2 if I start writing about myself.


Bill Clinton to Rescue AOLTimeWarner

Why Not? He's already in New York, so the commute is taken care of. He claims to have eliminated the US Federal budget deficit which was 4 times as large, so this should be a piece of cake. And if he needs a hand he can check in with Robert Rubin for tips and Marc Rich for cash.

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