Sine Qua Non Pundit

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Friday, May 10, 2002

Let's Test Whether Absence Makes the Heart Grow Fonder

No posts for a couple of days as I'm off to my niece's wedding.


A Whole Case of Sour Grapes

Is Mr. Dvorak bragging that he get's paid to read blogs while the rest of us don't? I only meet 2 or 3 of his 8 signs of pernicious blogdom. Personally, I find Mr. Dvorak's anti-blogging screeds more than a little tiresome. Whoops, better make that 3 or 4.

Original link via A Dog's Life. Now that's 4 or 5. Damn! Whoops, now it's 5 or 6.

At least visiting Mr. Hlatky's site doesn't cause annoying pop-up windows to appear.

Thursday, May 09, 2002

Google Trolls

Sombody hit my site after Googling for "hostel eleven prag."


If Arafat Had The Knack

It's a little dated, and frankly, damn bizarre, but I heard this song the other day and this is what came out...

My Karine-A

There's a shipment here for me, just for me,
Loaded up with weapons from Iran, Karine-A
To kill all my Jew enemies, Jew enemies
Worthless Oslo accords be damned, Karine-A

Never gonna stop blowin' up
Such a dirty mind I always give it up
For the martyr of the younger kind
My, my, my, my, my, my woooo
Mm, mm, mm, my Karine-A
Mm, mm, mm, my Karine-A

Those bastards at the CIA, the CIA
Gave intel to Mossad about Karine-A
But Indymedia helps me say, helps me say
And Reuters friends print its not my Karine-A

Never gonna stop blowin' up
Such a dirty mind I always give it up
For the martyr of the younger kind
My, my, my, my, my, my woooo
Mm, mm, mm, my Karine-A
Mm, mm, mm, my Karine-A

Uhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhoooohhhhhhhhh My Karine-a
Uhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhoooohhhhhhhhh Die Sharon-a
Uhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhoooohhhhhhhhh My Karine-a


Richard Cohen is off his meds today. He has become delusional and started hallucinating. There are so many egregious errors that I had to note them quickly before I have time to do a full Scourge. Check out the first paragraph:

Following a suicide bombing, fatalities are usually listed in two categories -- the innocent victims and then, almost as an afterthought, the bomber himself. For the most recent bombing near Tel Aviv, a third category must be added: Ariel Sharon's credibility. It has been shredded.

Richard's selective amnesia is in overdrive today. You better read this one quick before someone responsible at the Washington Post reads it and yanks it.

Wednesday, May 08, 2002

More Movies

Let's give up on the Top 100 idea. These are just more movies that I recommend with a little comment about them (my firend Vince offered some of these movies and comments -- but I wouldn't include them if I didn't agree):

The Great Escape (A great story -- a true story)
The African Queen (Humphrey Bogart was perfect as Charlie Allnut)
Where Eagles Dare (One of the very best war movies, makes me fear ever hearing Clint Eastwood say "hello" to me)
Animal House (It's just funny and it helps that I was in college when it came out)
The Gods Must Be Crazy (click-pop-click click-clock-bip-click-click)
Kelly's Heroes (Crapgame: "Make him a deal." Big Joe: "What kind of a deal?" Crapgame: "A DEAL deal. Maybe he's a Republican.")
Zulu (Chard: "The army doesn't like more than one disaster in a day." Bromhead: "Looks bad in the newspapers and upsets civilians at their breakfast.")
Silverado ( A really good modern western with Kevin Kline, Scott Glenn, Danny Glover, Kevin Costner, Linda Hunt, Brian Dennehy, Jeff Goldblum, Rosanna Arquette, and John Cleese, who is not from around these parts)
Mr. Roberts (Henry Fonda, William Powell, James Cagney, Jack Lemmon, Ward, do you think that flick had any good acting in it?)
M*A*S*H (A real classic, great actors, great script, great director -- before he started drinking his own bathwater)
Jeremiah Johnson (Watch your top knot)
Harvey ("Well, I've wrestled with reality for thirty-five years, Doctor, and I'm happy to state I finally won out over it.")
North by Northwest (Hitch by Hitchcock)
The Right Stuff (Manly manliness, no sensitivity sessions around campfires here looking for your inner child)
The Rocky Horror Picture Show (Saturdays at Midnight at the Biograph -- we were all young once...)
Cool Hand Luke ("What we've got here is failure to communicate.")
The Marathon Man (Like Indiana Jones says: I hate Nazis, and dentists)
Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels (Alright, I'm an Anglophile and I dig the accents, not a bad effort from Mr. Madonna))
Snatch (It is not a repeat of the previous movie, I like the accents, the actors, the plot, and the music)
Scarface (Say hello to my little friend)
Babe (This is a much, much better movie than just another nice family film -- I love it!)
The Terminator (First class movie, I don't think they expected it to be as good as it turned out to be)
Terminator 2 (They lived up to the hype and made a pretty good sequel which is very hard to do)
Predator (A real guy film, but don't go for any of the sequels)
Conan the Barbarian (I proposed to my wife after we saw it -- its "our" movie)
The Name of the Rose (Only here because I love the book so very much)
The Man Who Would Be King (How many chances do you get to see Kipling done well?)
The Untouchables (Excellent period piece by DePalma, glad to see him out of the slasher genre)
Terms of Endearment (It made me cry)
Gallipoli (A good anti-war movie with a very young Mel Gibson, watch it and then listen to the Pogues sing The Band Played Waltzing Matilda)
Breaker Morant (A bunch of fine actors in a great story for Aussie Tim Mate)
Mad Max (One of the best low budget films ever)
Robocop (Ever been in a theater rolling on the floor laughing and everybody's looking at you because they don't get it?)

More later...



The Professor started a little firestorm with his comments about NPR being biased. Since my commute changed about a month ago, I now get to listen each day to about 45 minutes of Morning Editiion and occasionally some of All Things Considered. My current assessment is that NPR is that on a 0-100 scale, where 0 is Rush Limbaugh and 100 is the two-headed beast James Carville/Paul Begala, NPR slides comfortably in around 80 on the bias meter. (An aside -- does anybody else think that James Carville would make a good Bond villain?)

NPR can be reliably counted on to clearly espouse classic illiberal utopian statist positions on all the standard issues like welfare, gun control, abortion, campaign finance reform, taxes, health care, etc. In their pure news stories, they report fairly, but because their world view is well to the left, the see the center as much farther over than it really is, or at least where it seems to be to me. This probably would only merit a score in the mid 50's. Another factor that pushes them up at least 10 points on the scale though is their editorial choices of what to report. About 20% of the stories they choose to report are clearly off the agendas of the left. Even if the reporting is reasonably fair-minded, I just don't give much of a damn about the plight of left-handed transexuals in Argentina, to give but one example. But what sends them sailing much, much higher are their soft news and opinion pieces which are invariably out there in Berkeley-land. Daniel Schorr is an unreconstructured old school leftie and it shows clearly. Their short little non-news pieces by guest speakers almost always approach life from the left as well. Not all of these are far left, but there is nothing to balance them out from the right. Nothing. That's why I put NPR up around 80 on the bias meter.

But what really bugs me isn't the bias, its their certainty of things which just aren't so. Whether they are speaking of economics, the environment, or the budget difficulties in the State of Missouri that are making it difficult to fund the state's film industry with tax dollars, not a day goes by when I do not hear at least one thing that is demonstrably false stated as fact. Not opinions sneaking by as news, but falsehoods presented as facts. Keeps my blood pressure up as much as some of the bad drivers.

Anyway, it's still better than anything else on the radio on the way in or out, but that's a big reason why I installed a CD player not long ago.

Tuesday, May 07, 2002
The Scourge of Richard Cohen, Vol. XXII

(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.)

Today’s Richard Cohen column is bizarre in more ways than one. How can anyone write so many true statements and still make a hash of it? Let’s investigate in Clinton on TV? Why Not?

Incidentally, that’s four question marks in his last three column titles. What is the semiotic import of this pusillanimous proliferation of punctuation?

Once or twice a day -- sometimes more -- some idiot with the computer name "accused RAPIST Klittoon" e-mails me something about Bill Clinton. There is nothing Clinton can do that this person (1) does not know about or (2) can't wait to condemn. I long ago stopped reading these messages, so I do not know what this guy said about Clinton's reported negotiations with NBC for a talk show of some kind, but I can tell you this: He's wrong.

The embers are still smoking from the last column full of straw men Richard wasted so much effort constructing and here he goes again building some more. For those of you unfamiliar with this particular variant of Richard’s technique, he sets up a pathetic example and then tries to slander anyone who disagrees with him by inferring that his opponent is just as slimy as the straw man he has constructed. In this case, if you don’t love Bill Clinton as much as Richard does, you harbor a marginally insane hatred for him. Oh, and you can’t spell either.

I don’t get many e-mails from my 8 readers, but at least all of them can spell.

But what if "accused RAPIST Klittoon" thinks that Bill Clinton having a TV show is a good thing? After all, by his own admission, Richard doesn’t know what he’s talking about on this point. Personally, I think it is an outstanding idea. If Bill Clinton gets to go on TV every day and show his fans what he’s like without all his handlers and spin doctors, maybe even Richard Cohen would finally become aware of what an absolute slug he is.

Nothing has built my faith in the strength of our body politic more than the fact that our nation has survived a demagogue like Bill Clinton for 8 years. Huey Long was a piker compared to Bill Clinton. For Bill Clinton, the highest principle he had was “what’s good for Bill Clinton.” I can think of no other President for whom this is true. Bush 43 certainly believes in something bigger than himself, as did Bush 41. Reagan believed in a number of things bigger than himself – especially America. Even Carter believed in a number of things bigger than himself, some good – peace and uh, well, um, uh, stifling his brother Billy the Libyan lobbyist – some bad – the UN and his energy policy – for instance. Ford certainly wasn’t self centered, and whatever other faults he may have had, Nixon wasn’t an egomaniac. I could go on but you get the point. Bill Clinton was willing to sacrifice everything and everyone for himself.

But he's not alone. No one I read and no one I heard had anything good to say about the purported negotiations. Jay Leno and David Letterman (I list them in order of ratings) cracked some jokes, the TV gasbags harrumphed and just about everyone agreed that by doing a talk show -- almost any kind of talk show -- Clinton was once again showing no class.

Watch out Tom Shales and Howie Kurtz. Writing for the Washington Post will not protect you, you’re about to make Richard Cohen’s enemies list.

[snip] I’ve cut out all the references to those rascally Republican ex-presidents (Ford, Reagan, and Bush 41) who made money after they left office by making speeches, glad handing, playing in golf tournaments, etc. No point in repeating the gratuitous slanders against business in general, and specifically the Carlyle Group, which according to Richard owns much of the known world. That’s so clever! [snip]

Personally, I don’t have a problem with what they did. And I don’t have a problem with Bill Clinton doing the same thing to make money. It’s called consistency, not that Richard isn’t the very model of consistency – hobgoblins, small minds, consistent foolishness, and all that. I believe in freedom and free markets, so if people want to pay for it, that’s their prerogative.

Honestly, Richard just doesn’t get it. I don’t think anyone has criticized the idea of Bill Clinton doing a TV show because he will be paid handsomely for it. I don’t recall anyone claiming that Bill Clinton cheapened the office of the President by going on a world tour of speaking engagements to make money, and if they did they were wrong to do so. The idea of Bill Clinton hosting a TV show is ridiculed because he will make a fool of himself. Over and over and over. The DNC is worried it will show up in commercials when any of his enablers run for office. Illiberal utopian statists in the media are worried because they are going to look even more foolish for defending and enabling him all these years. Hillary is worried most of all, if not for herself then for the future political aspirations of their daughter.

The only ex-president who seems to hold the presidency in awe is Jimmy Carter.

Ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha. Ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha.

There has never been a better ex-President, if you know what I mean.

But seriously, this is slander. On one level, if a $2M speaking fee isn’t a sign of awe, what is? And every single ex-president before Bill Clinton respected the office of the Presidency a hell of a lot more once they were out than Bill Clinton and his lackeys ever did while he held it.

But the others have sold out. Only they have sold out discreetly, behind the closed door of boardrooms or on the back nine of swell golf courses. They have sold access to themselves, to their knowledge and experience -- and done it all while receiving a pension, in Bush's case, of about $150,000.

Money bad. Business bad. Republican bad. We are rapidly entering multiple Claude territory here. I wonder what Bush’s ex-President office cost compared to Bill Clinton’s?

So don't give me any gasps of shock over Clinton.

After the final flurry of pardon scandals, I’m all gasped out.

Unless, of course, he's going to do a Montel Williams-style show, there's nothing wrong with doing television.

No it will be much worse than that. Anyone remember The Magic Hour? A friend called me the first week it was on and told me to make sure I watched it very soon, because it was so incredibly bad that it would be clear even to Magic’s sycophants that he needed to put a stop to it immediately. Bill will attempt to be serious like Bill Moyers or Charlie Rose, but it will be painful to watch. Come to think of it, so are Bill Moyers and Charlie Rose, but Bill Clinton will be much, much worse. I’ll take bets now that it will not last a full season. After all, how many times can Joe Conason and Paul Begala be guests? Do you think there is a chance anyone from the left who still wants to be reelected will appear with him, much less anyone on the right?

I’ll also take bets that within the first month of being on the air, Bill Clinton will say “I’ve worked harder on this than anything I’ve worked on in my life” at some point during an interview to promote the show.

Clinton's a great teacher who might now, for instance, convene a panel on the Middle East and teach us all something.

Ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha. Ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha.

He could turn from that to welfare, to drug prices, to medical insurance, to the sex scandal in the Catholic Church.

Ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha. Ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha.

Bill Clinton teaching on the sex scandal in the Catholic Church?

Ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha. Ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha.

Stop it, my side is hurting.

He has a wide-ranging mind …

And free ranging hands.

…and virtually unique experience.

It’s true that Andrew Johnson was the only other President impeached.

Ex-presidents are rare indeed.

Probably because the constitution demands that a President is at least 35 before being President. Before Nixon died, didn’t we have more ex-presidents alive than at any other time in our nation’s history?

I know, I know -- it's Clinton. His name is forever linked with a sex scandal, with impeachment, with those last-minute presidential pardons.

Think any of those topics will come up on his TV show?

How about these topics for his show:

Children, and the Republicans Who Starve Them
Republicans: Throwing the Elderly On the Street For Fun and Profit
Sexual Non-Relations
A Day as President, Blow by Blow
Reading “Is” Fundamental, Or Should That Be “Are” Fundamental?
Maintaining Your Political Viability At All Costs
Newts and Other Reptiles
Why I Would Handle 9/11 Better Than Bush
The Spin Cycle
Sycophants and Lackeys: Repulsive or Required?
Interns: Cheap Labor or Perquisites of Power?
Pardon Me
Why Winning With 43% is a Mandate, But Winning With 49% Ain’t

He demeaned the presidency, I grant you that, but not the ex-presidency.

It’s only been 17 months. Give him time; he’s still a relatively young man.

The Scourge of Richard Cohen, Vol. XXI

(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.)

Get your asbestos gloves and eye protection on. The straw men are virtually spontaneously combusting as fast as Richard Cohen can build them in A Sex Abuse Panic?

Harris Mirkin, PhD and associate professor at the University of Missouri, is in a spot of trouble.

Let’s be clear, Dr. Mirkin is an associate professor at University of Missouri, Kansas City. I’m not sure it makes much of a difference, but I’m sure Richard wants to slander an entire state that went heavily for Bush. Taking a few whacks at a smaller branch campus just doesn’t have the same effect.

Back in 1999 he published an article in which he characterized the concern over pedophilia as a "moral panic" …

And why exactly should concern over pedophilia be a bad thing?

… and questioned the concept of the "innocent child."

Feel that? Jean Jacques Rousseau is rolling over in his grave.

As if to prove him right, the state legislature took $100,000 out of the university's budget -- a penalty for having the temerity of independent thought.

Wrong, wrong, wrong. I understand Richard’s proclivity to confuse political and moral acts – just read any of his multitudes of defenses of Bill Clinton – but this is ridiculous. Does Richard Cohen now believe that morality can be legislated?

And this has nothing to do with independent thought. Watch out, the first straw man just burst into flames! I can hear Richard talking to his staff, “hey, those legislators in that state that went for Bush were scanning UM-KC’s publications looking for some independent thought to squash, and they just happened to find the one that seems to think we’re all a little too concerned with pedophilia.”

Child molestation is one of the few things for which a zero tolerance policy is warranted. The only thing that keeps me from advocating summary execution for anyone caught doing it is the knowledge that this would cause them to probably kill the children more often.

If Mirkin has any more, the university could go broke.

Whoosh, there goes another one! The budget deficit the state inherited from Mel Carnahan is a much greater threat to the universities of the state. Is there any irony more satisfying to Missouri Republicans than Mrs. Carnahan’s appointment leading to John Ashcroft becoming the Attorney General of the United States?

Predictably enough, various Missouri politicians denounced pedophilia and all sorts of child abuse.

Pray tell, why is this a bad thing?

One in particular, Don Lograsso, a Republican, declared that "sex between adults and children is not acceptable" -- a thought that may well not have occurred to anyone before.

Bush is dumb. Bush is a Republican. Lograsso is a Republican. Lograsso is dumb. QED.

But I have actually read the Mirkin article, published in the Journal of Homosexuality (Volume 37, Number 2) and can find no endorsement of sex between adults and children.

Whoosh. There went another one. Methinks the legislature might have gone a little farther than sending UM-KC a message had Dr. Mirkin actually taken this position.

I can, however, find an interesting discussion of the changing views about childhood sexuality and the concept of childhood innocence.


Maybe it is this that so riled the legislature.

Or maybe it was his belief that we shouldn’t be quite so judgmental about children who have sex. After all, some cultures think its ok for adults to have sex with 12 year olds and that we must respect their unique cultural contributions, right Dick?

Childhood sexuality is not my area of expertise.

I think this is a good thing.

But I can detect the scent of panic that overcomes us all when, from time to time, we sense our children are in danger.

I would rather that Mr. Cohen not speak of “our” children. They may be my children or his children or somebody else’s children, but they are definitely not “our” children. Mr. Cohen, Dr. Mirkin, and Hillary can go play in thier own village. Stay the hell away from mine.

Whether it is the overstated crisis of kidnapped children (remember those milk cartons?), reports of satanic rituals and abuse, murder or abuse by strangers or the fear that within every day care center lurked a pedophile, we tend from time to time to lose our minds where kids are involved.

Yea, we are programmed by nature to protect what is most precious to us.

I never noticed that Richard cared that much about other overstated crises – global warming, Israeli occupations, and burning churches. Anybody else notice that Chris Patten stated this as a matter of fact today?

For the little ones we are willing to throw away our common sense and our civil liberties -- and live in the land of the lurid.


Now the country is once again in a panic about the sexual abuse of children -- this time by Catholic priests.

Look out! Whoosh! There’s no evident panic about this that I’ve seen. There are a lot of concerned parents and seriously pissed off people who cannot understand why the Catholic Church has so much trouble seeing this systemic problem for what it is.

No doubt there's a problem and no doubt, too, this problem has been covered up by prelates who long ago should have quit in shame.

That’s good. The first step in any self-help methodology is to admit that there is a problem.

But the fact remains that just about everything from the merely inappropriate to the downright heinous has been conflated into a single term -- sexual abuse -- and has been made to seem equally serious.

It is serious Richard because it is about more than sex, and where it is about sex it is awfully damn serious. I understand the trouble you have with this concept because of your oft-stated love Bill Clinton (it’s a good thing he’s not a minor). Bill Clinton should have been shamed into resigning because of his abuse – yes, abuse – of Monica Lewinski. Managers in private industry throughout the country are constantly taught that people in positions of power must be overly and overtly careful about abusing their positions vis-à-vis subordinates. Is there any difference in power greater than President of the US and intern? It has nothing to do with whether she was a consenting adult. If I did what Bill Clinton did I would be fired as soon as HR could get somebody to come and escort me out of the building. And virtually all the feminist organizations in the US showed clearly how worthless and hypocritical they are when it came to this sordid episode.

What's more, not only is all inappropriate contact treated as abuse -- a word of great, lasting power -- but all the victims are considered children. There's a vast difference, however, between a 17-year-old and an 8-year-old or, in some cases, between a boy and girl -- especially, say, a boy of 17 who's being "abused" by a woman slightly his senior. Distinctions ought to be made.

There are women priests in the Catholic Church?

Ahh! Get the fire extinguisher! Are the crimes any less heinous if we stop counting some of them? And again, it is also a crime that these men are preying on vulnerable people from a respected position of trust.

This is the point in the column where I am obliged to state, for the record and before God, that I do not approve of adult-child sex.

How big of Richard.

Anyone who has read me over the years knows this.

We know a lot of other things too.

These kinds of relationships almost always entail an abuse of authority. In the case of priests, because the authority is linked to God, it makes the betrayal so much worse.

Bingo! Maybe there’s hope for Mr. Cohen after all.

But we have to proceed with caution. In the first place, as Mirkin says, the idea of the innocent child is a recent development. Previous generations, not to mention Freud himself, saw the child as a sexual being. Now, though, children are seen the way the Victorians once saw women -- as "innocent and non-sexual," in Mirkin's words.

HELP! Ahh! This is getting beyond my ability to control when we get more than one straw man at a time.

Recent? Recent? Ever read the Bible Mr. Cohen?

Sigmund Freud also said that sometimes a cigar is just a cigar. How can we trust anyone so enamored with big tobacco?

So if we think children are “innocent and non-sexual” we must also think of women that way? And I wouldn’t exactly think of Victorian morality as a “recent” phenomenon.

The current misperception about children has its consequences. A child who has sexual urges may later create a memory of something that never happened. These so-called repressed memories have resulted in virtual witchcraft trials in which adults are accused of wholly imagined crimes. It goes like this: If the child is sexually innocent, then the adult must be sexually guilty. After all, the innocent, the pure, could not have concocted such a sordid tale.

Ahh! HELP! The fire's out of control! Does anyone think this way except Richard Cohen, Janet Reno and other politically ambitious District Attorneys? The problem Richard mentions here is real and due process is frequently insufficient protection for those accused of child abuse. But to use cases like Amirault and the McMartin’s to lessen the amoral position of Dr. Mirkin is despicable.

I am not saying that there is no such thing as repressed memory or that all accusations of sexual abuse are false.


I am only saying that there is much we do not know and, as a consequence, there is a great need for caution and specificity.

An excellent principle. I look forward to watching Mr. Cohen try and apply it sometime, since he passed up the opportunity to state any cases like I did where these perversions of justice have occurred.

What we need more of are precisely the sort of iconoclastic articles that Mirkin has written. Yet he and Judith Levine, a journalist who has written a provocative book about childhood sexuality, have been lambasted as perverts rather than engaged in debate.

Absolutely amazing.

Child molestation is heinous, an abomination. But there is not all that much of it, and it is not all the same. At the same time, censorship and demagoguery, not to mention the defamation and incarceration of innocent people, are also abominations. Despite what some will tell you, we don't have to choose.

No! Ahh! Oh, the strawmanity!

Censorship? What article has not been published or what book has been banned?

Demagoguery? Imagine what a transcript of Crossfire would look like if all the demagoguery were edited out. And Richard isn’t complaining that politicians are grandstanding, is he?

Incarceration? What is Richard talking about? What do the Amirault and McMartin cases have to do with Dr. Mirkin or Judith Levine? Or who is sitting in a jail because of the "panic" that doesn't deserve to be there now? Can Richard be more specific?

What is forcing us to choose between Richard’s illiberal version of utopia where its ok to write about children and adults having sex in a speculative, detached manner, and Richard’s version of hell, i.e., where we are today.

I have never felt like calling Mr. Cohen a bastard more than I do right now.


UPDATE: My friend Vince notes that Richard and his ilk have no trouble decrying gun violence by "children" as old as 17, and sometimes 21. He also notes that Richard must mean "suggested" memories, not repressed memories. He really should try to be a bit more careful. His "thought" pieces are confusing enough without having to determine whether a given error is the expected logic error rather than a definition error.

Monday, May 06, 2002
Top 100 Movies

Ben Domenech has posted his Top 100 Movies. Ben notes that these are his favorite movies, not a Top 100 list or anything like that, so perhaps his youthful exuberance re Braveheart can be excused.

Here's a quick, completely unordered, off the top of my head without research, five minute list that I'll edit and amend later:

The Third Man (Funky zither music, Orson Welles, Joseph Cotten, what's not to like)
The Passion of Joan of Arc (Classic silent movie, Falconetti is marvelous)
The Silence of the Lambs (Demmerific!)
Stop Making Sense (Jonathon Demme's second best movie, and best music film ever (yes, much better than Woodstock))
Pulp Fiction (Quinten Tarantino has written some of the most quotable dialogue in the last 20 years)
Monty Python and the Holy Grail (Nothing like before, or since)
The Godfather (A truly great movie about truly bad men)
The Godfather Part II (Another truly great movie about truly bad men)
The Godfather Meets Abbott and Costello (I think this is the movie Francis Ford Coppola said he would make if he ever went back to make another Godfather sequel -- before he needed the money)
Star Wars 1, 2, and 3 (Definitely not 4, jury's out on the rest)
Raiders of the Lost Ark (This movie was made 30 years later than it should have been)
Sorcerer (Remake of "The Wages of Fear", maybe the best movie you've never heard of, much less seen)
Midnight Cowboy (I'm walkin heah)
The Killing Fields (Notice how it's never called an anti-communist movie?)
Saving Private Ryan (And to think it started out as an anti-war movie)
ET (Never seen it, but everybody says it belongs here)
Jaws (No big deal now, but boy was it scary in 1975)
Close Encounters of the Third Kind (See, Richard Dreyfus has too been in two good movies!)
Schindler's List (Never again)
Caddyshack (Best golf movie ever, worst gold movie ever: Caddyshack II)
It's A Wonderful Life (You have no heart if this can't make your top 100)
A Christmas Story (True story -- there's a beautiful house six blocks away that features "the lamp" in the front window every holiday season)
L.A. Confidential (Wow, oughta nowhere)
One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest (Anyone who read the book first probably wouldn't have bought Jack as Randle Patrick McMurphy)
Chinatown (Jack's Back)
2001: A Space Oddysey (Duh -- I wonder, is there a link to Odysseus here that hasn't been full explored in film criticism yet?)
A Clockwork Orange (The older I get the lower this one drops, but it made a hell of an impression at one time)
Dr. Strangelove (There's more here than meets the eye, even after the 23rd viewing)
The Ten Commandments (Don't mess with Moses, he's packin')
Ben Hur (Compare the chariot races to, oh, I dunno, say, NASCAR in Days of Thunder -- and did I mention not to mess with Moses?)
South Park Bigger, Longer, and Uncut (Rude, crude, and just about the funniest movie I have ever seen)
Casablanca (Before everyone wanted to be like Mike, there was Mr. Rick)
The Seventh Seal (The epitome of a "deep" movie)
All the Bond, James Bond films (College film teacher: there is good art and bad art and good trash and bad trash, this is good trash)
Citizen Kane (Amazing, even now)
Annie Hall (It certainly seemed funny at the time)
The Usual Suspects (I still think Kevin Spacy should have been awarded a meta-Oscar)
The Deer Hunter (Whatever happened to Michael Cimino?)

More later...


Midwest Bloggers Bash

May 17th

1900 CDT

TNGs (Webster Groves)

Juan Gato's Bucket of Rants

No Watermelons

Midwest Conservative Journal

Anne Wilson

Sine Qua Non Pundit

If you're a blogger, if you want to be a blogger, if you've ever read a blog, be there or be square.

I'll be both.

Drop me a line if you want to be added to the list...

Sunday, May 05, 2002
A Transcendent Moment of Joy

Saturday morning as I drove from my house towards I-64, I drove up Lindbergh Avenue through Kirkwood, Huntleigh, and Frontenac. That wide-open boulevard passes through gently rolling hills lined with trees bursting forth with new spring leaves as far as the eye can see. It was 70 degrees and the sky was a perfect azure blue without a single cloud. Scanning the FM radio stations, I settled on Boston playing Peace of Mind. It was beautiful. I felt at peace and truly glad to be alive. It was a wonderful, transcendent moment of joy, such a rare and uplifting feeling.

Then as I pulled onto I-64, I remembered that I was going to work.

Oh well, as William Shakespeare wrote, "'Tis better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all."

The Library at Alexandria, the Original Covenant Tablets, the Holy Grail, the Book of Mormon Tablets, and the Manuscripts of Shakespeare

Jay Manifold has published his long-lost artifact recovery wish list to cheer up Suman Palit. The Sine Qua Non artifacts are listed above. Overall, it is an interesting and eclectic list. It's certainly worth two minutes to review.

So I stretched the rules a bit. As Nathan Detroit sang in Guys and Dolls, "Sue me, sue me, go ahead and sue me."

Speaking of Detroit, I should be attending game 3 and maybe game 4 of the Blues/Red Things series this week. Oops, this isn't Puck Hog!

Coming Soon

I think I need an editor and a staff to keep up. I just now got to read Richard Cohen's Thursday column and man is it ripe. I heard an interview on NPR with Harris Mirkin and he did not come off sounding very good, even with a sympathetic interviewer. Now I only need the time to get to it. When I started blogging, it was winter. But now, the grass is growing, the fence needs painting and I'm working 75 hour weeks. Real life is definitely cutting into blogging. I'm reading only about 20% of the blogs I want to read. Ahhh, but enough about me.

I need to know something about you. After Scourging for several months, I need some feedback. I'm not (necessarily) looking for laudatory compliments, but for ideas, suggestions, thoughts, peeves, likes, dislikes, psychotic hatreds, and was the last entry too long? In short, anything to encourage me to keep spending a ridiculous amount of time on this venture.

Martin Devon had an excellent insight into why I Scourge Richard Cohen here.

The Scourge of Richard Cohen, Vol. XX

(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.)

Honestly, I’m still trying to figure out what the point of the column Richard Cohen wrote last Tuesday was. Richard seems to be on a blind walk, throwing out platitudes, building straw men, and producing red herrings on every street corner hoping that he’ll stumble into something profound by accident. Let’s summarize the relevant data from this column:

1. Richard is sometimes critical of Israel and sometimes critical of Palestinians, although he is a supporter of Israel and the Palestinian cause.

2. There are some people in the world whose criticism is groundless, specifically those who hurl the invective anti-Semitic around freely, associating anti-Zionism with anti-Semitism.

3. Israel may be overly sensitive to its critics.

4. Arab anti-Semitism exists and is often state sponsored.

5. Palestinians lack a state.

6. Arafat is a liar who cannot be trusted. Saying so doesn’t make one anti-Arab.

7. Richard Cohen claims to be tired of lazy labels.

Whew, that’s deep. He gets paid for this crap? I would say that Richard is demonstrating a firm grip of the bleeding obvious, but as we shall see in a minute, that isn’t quite so as we try and figure out Who's Anti-Semitic?

If I weren't a Jew, I might be called an anti-Semite.

One can be a Jew and an anti-Semite, but logic has never been one of Richard’s strong suits. We’ll revisit this topic again at the very end, but we should first go into what it means to be anti-Semitic. Anti-Semitic has come to take on the connotation of being anti-Jewish. And while all Jews are Semitic, not all Semites are Jews. The term Semites is applied to a group of peoples closely related in language, whose habitat is Asia and partly Africa. The expression is derived from the Biblical table of nations, in which most of these peoples are recorded as descendants of Noah's son Sem (or Shem). Semites include the Abyssinians, the Ahlami, the Ammonites, the Aramaeans, the Aribi, the Assyrians, the later Babylonians, the Bedouins, the Canaanites, the Edomites, the Ghassanites, the Hadramotites, the Hibiru, the Hyskos, the Katabans, the Lahmites, the Mahri, the Minaeans, the Moabites, the Nabataeans, the Sabaeans, the Socotri, and the Subari. What is really interesting is how many of these peoples are still alive today as clearly discernable populations. The names may have evolved slightly, but a little more research is in order here.

That should keep any interested readers Googling for quite a while. You can learn more here, here and here. The last link has an especially long dissertation on anti-Semitism and a good deal of reference material for further study. I tried to find Arab references to the kind of anti-Semitism Richard Cohen has written about, but they somehow eluded me.

At the very least, to be anti-Semitic is to be technically anti-Jew and anti-Arab, although as noted before it is rarely used except in the context of being anti-Jew. Is this because no one hates the Arabs? Doubtful, but perhaps the Arabs are not hated as widely and deeply as the Jews. Maybe this is because the bigotry toward Arabs is much more recent than against Jews. Is anti-Jewish bigotry a strange tribal artifact of the Diaspora wherein the Jews where wandering throughout Europe, Asia, and Africa as hated and oppressed outsiders while the Arabs were not? This seems somewhat more likely to me. The kind of hatred and bigotry against Jews that developed throughout much of Western Civilization could only have come from close and frequent exposure to Jews combined with a mindset that confuses cause and effect and a desire to have a political or economic scapegoat for all manner of imagined sins. It would be hard to develop the kind of bigotry against Arabs that has been so often expressed towards Jews if your only knowledge of them is as romanticized warriors or exotic desert sheiks with harems. You may not like them and you may fear them, but it is doubtful you would loathe them. This would seem to be a fairly accurate characterization of many modern European views towards Arabs and Jews respectively.

Anyway, calling someone an anti-Semite is rarely taken to mean that someone thinks you are anti-Arab, but how would Richard’s first sentence sound coming out of, say, Fouad Ajami’s mouth if we substitute “Arab” for “Jew” since both are in fact Semites? For the purposes of moving forward, I will accept the common meaning of anti-Semitic for the rest of this Scourge.

I have occasionally been critical of Israel.

Give the man a gold star.

I have occasionally taken the Palestinians' side.

Uh, on second thought, don’t.

Small minds are the hobgoblins of consistent foolishness or something like that.

I have always maintained that the occupation of the West Bank is wrong and while I am, to my marrow, a supporter of Israel, I insist that the Palestinian cause -- although sullied by terrorism -- is a worthy one.

While all of this may be true, it does seem to be beside the point. And that last qualifier is a hell of a lot more significant than just a little throwaway line. The West Bank settlements stand as a barrier to a potential political settlement. Genocide bombers stand as a barrier to civilization. And I’m sure that Israel isn’t willing to accept Richard’s conditional support on his terms, since he doesn’t seem to believe that protecting Israel from terrorism is a “worthy” cause.

In Israel itself, these positions would hardly be considered remarkable. People with similar views serve in parliament.

And in the bizarro universe, there are Baathists and Saudi princes that openly espouse Zionism in their respective tyrannies. But not in this universe. Oh, there I go again, being all judgmental and using magical logic again.

They write columns for the newspapers.

Based upon my biweekly reading of Richard’s columns, this is not a strong point in their favor.

And while they are sometimes vehemently criticized -- such is the rambunctious nature of Israel's democratic din -- they are not called either anti-Semites or self-hating Jews.

Well, for some of them, as Richard indicated, it may well be because they are not, in fact, Jews. And considering that America-haters like Cynthia McKinney can keep getting reelected here, why should this be a surprise in Israel? After all, we are supposed to value tolerance and diversity over all other virtues, aren’t we?

I cannot say the same about America.

Uh oh. Here it comes.

Here, criticism of Israel, particularly anti-Zionism, is equated with anti-Semitism.

Especially in the minds of those who need to build straw man that can be easily torched to prove a point.

The Anti-Defamation League, one of the most important American Jewish organizations, comes right out and says so. "Anti-Zionism is showing its true colors as deep-rooted anti-Semitism," the organization says in a full-page ad that I have seen in the New Republic as well as other magazines. "No longer are the Arab nations camouflaging their hatred of Jews in the guise of attacking Israel."

The ADL can be both right and wrong here as well. Anti-Zionism is not automatically anti-Semitism, but all anti-Semites are anti-Zionists. And the Arab nations are both quite anti-Zionist and anti-Semitic. If Richard had been reading Little Green Footballs anytime over the past 3 months this would be abundantly clear to even him.

I feel compelled to pause here and assert my credentials.

This is like a bad version of The Exorcist, Part 5. The power of Cohen compels you. The power of Cohen compels you. The power of Cohen compels you.

Few people have written more often about Arab anti-Semitism than I. I have come at this subject time and time again, so often that I have feared becoming a bore.

Too late.

But not nearly as much as a bore as when Richard starts going on about the death penalty. And in the last 6 months, I haven’t noticed that much written about Arab anti-Semitism by Mr. Cohen. Since the Scourging began in February, I can find nary a word.

Arab anti-Semitism not only exists, it is often either state-sponsored or state-condoned, and it is only getting worse. It makes the Arabs look like fools. How can anyone take seriously a person who believes that Jews engage in ritual murder?

But at least they are backing a worthy cause -- albeit sullied by terrorism, right Dick?

But that hardly means that anti-Zionism -- hating, opposing, fighting Israel -- is the same as anti-Semitism, hating Jews anywhere on account of supposedly inherent characteristics.

Zionism does pose some problems for non-Zionists (note I did not write anti-Zionists – I try to be a little more careful than Richard tends to be), but it seems perfectly understandable to me. If I were a Jew, I would find it exceedingly difficult to depend on the rest of the world to protect me and my family. The track record over the last thousand years is less than stellar, and listening to what is currently emanating from the UN and the EU can’t make any Jew feel good about their long term prospects for goodwill from the world community.

If I were a Palestinian living in a refugee camp, I might very well hate Israel for my plight -- never mind its actual cause -- and I even might not like Jews in general.

Or Americans – remember the cheering post 9/11 or the fact that they backed Saddam in Bush V1.0. Note the total lack of objective reasoning here. Feelings reign triumphant, even if they are wrong. And doesn’t this sentence sound just a little like it has been lifted from something Robert Fisk might have written in a perverted variant of the Stockholm Syndrome, trying to deflect criticism from his attackers?

After all, Israel proclaims itself the Jewish state.

Makes more sense than proclaiming itself the Norwegian state.

It officially celebrates Jewish holidays, including the Sabbath on Saturday.

How dare they!

It allows the orthodox rabbinate to control secular matters, such as marriage, and, of course, it offers citizenship to any person who can reasonably claim to be Jewish.

The unprecedented gall! Can you believe that they democratically decide to run their society this way?

If they want to turn the whole government over to the religious fanatics, they need to follow the fine example set by Iran, Saudi Arabia, the Sudan, or perhaps Nigeria. The people cannot be trusted to decide such things. The rabbis need to get on board, mullah things over, and do it the Shari’a way.

This so-called right of return permits such a person to "return" to a place where he or she has never been. Palestinians must find this simply astonishing.

Now I know why Richard Cohen is so much more successful than I am. Richard’s intoxicating and addictive sense of moral certainty allows him to write in a world where words have only one clear and unambiguous meaning. After all, to Richard Cohen, the term “right of return” has the same meaning whether it is said by Israel in reference to Jews seeking a last refuge on earth where they can feel they belong, or whether it is said by Yassir Arafat in reference to Palestinians who lost successive wars as an aggressor and now want the world to make them whole, yet again. My problem is that I keep referring to dictionaries where a word like “right” alone has 12 different meaning as an adjective, 11 different meanings as an adverb, 9 different meanings as a noun, and 6 different meanings as a verb. And then when I start combining words, the meanings can get even more subtle and potentially confusing. Finally, when it is all placed into an historical context, the same words and phrases can have entirely different, and sometimes contradictory meanings. Richard Cohen’s brain functions differently than mine. He is able to bypass all this difficulty and charge ahead with his simplisme ideas. I wish I weren’t troubled by all this anti-simplisme.

But Richard’s simplisme is simply astonishing. Zionism is predicated, amongst other things, on a sense of Jewish self-sufficiency to never again trust to the goodwill of others to protect them. What other “Jewish” country is there to emigrate to for persecuted Jews? And please, don’t join the CAIR bandwagon and say America.

On the other hand, the West Bank used to be part of Jordan. Ask Yassir Arafat why Jordan kicked his butt out of the West Bank. If the Palestinian “right of return” is granted by Israel, who really believes that Arafat can be trusted to not then further try to destroy Israel? Richard Cohen can’t be seriously trying to morally equate the Jewish “right of return” with the Palestinian “right of return,” can he? I wonder how many Palestinians the Kuwaiti’s would allow to “return”?

To equate anti-Zionists or critics of Israel in general with anti-Semites is to liken them to the Nazis or the rampaging mobs of the pogroms. It says that their hatred is unreasonable, unfathomable, based on some crackpot racial theory or some misguided religious zealotry. It dismisses all criticism, no matter how legitimate, as rooted in prejudice and therefore without any validity.

Sort of how Richard treats those who criticize Bill Clinton or those who support the death penalty. And can we please dispense with the use of "Nazi's" to speak of anyone but Nazi's for a while?

No doubt there has been an upsurge of anti-Semitic incidents in Europe.

No doubt. Look out, Richard’s big “but” is about to swing into action.

But there has also been an upsurge of legitimate criticism of Israel that is not in the least anti-Semitic. When Israel recently jailed and then deported four pro-Palestinian Swedes, two of whom are physicians, under the misguided policy of seeing all the Palestinians' sympathizers as enemies of the state, it was an action that ought to be condemned -- and the Swedes who have done so ought not be considered anti-Semites.

I’m sure that these Palestinian sympathizers were doing their level-headed best to help ensure that no more genocide bombings were going to take place. But what does being Swedes or physicians (or non-physicians) have to do with it?

When the same thing happens to a Japanese physician, that too ought to be condemned -- and it was, as it happens, in the Israeli newspaper Haaretz.

And when Hell freezes over, perhaps we’ll see the Arab News condemn genocide bombings, or even better reporting that the Saudi princes have stopped funding those who recruit and teach children to do such things.

A column by Gideon Levy made the point that Israel cannot reject and rebut all criticism by reciting the mantra: "The whole world is against us."

While it is true that this is not an adequate defense against all criticism, flimsier arguments are posited every other week by Richard Cohen to argue against the application of the death penalty. In fact, I don’t recall anyone arguing that Israel can do whatever it wants because “the whole world is against them.” The recent 99-0 vote in the Senate ought to put the lie to at least part of this straw man.

The same holds for American Jews. To turn a deaf ear to the demands of Palestinians, to dehumanize them all as bigots, only exacerbates the hatred on both sides.

One can want to see an improvement in the lives of Palestinians all around while concurrently believing that the all of the leadership of the Palestinian Authority are contemptible bastards who deserve death for the heinous acts they have committed personally, and worse, for condemning perhaps one or two more generations to deprivation by fostering this insane hatred of Israel and Jews.

The Palestinians do have a case.

Let’s hope it is not packed with nails, bolts, screws and Semtex.

Their methods are sometimes -- maybe often -- execrable, but that does not change the fact that they are a people without a state.

Is Richard once again getting dangerously close to excusing the actions of the genocide bombers, Nativity Church hostage holders, and all manner of terrorism because, well, they don’t have a state?

As long as that persists so too will their struggle.

Please, spare me the first-semester-in-college-just-finished-reading-the-first-three-chapters Marxist struggle claptrap.

The only way out of the current mess is for each side to listen to what the other is saying.

Barak: We will give you everything you have asked for peace.
Arafat: It is not enough. Israel must be destroyed. All the Jews must be driven into the sea.

-- or --

Israel: We would like to live in peace.
Arafat’s Genocide Bomber: BOOM!

To protest living conditions on the West Bank is not anti-Semitism.

And to fight terrorism doesn’t mean Israel is an occupying force either.

To condemn the increasing encroachment of Jewish settlements is not anti-Semitism.

Who said it was, other than Richard Cohen?

To protest the cuffing that the Israelis sometimes give the international press is not anti-Semitism either.

True, but that doesn’t change the fact that there are a lot of ant-Semites running around in the International press.

To suggest, finally, that Ariel Sharon is a rejectionist who provocatively egged on the Palestinians is not anti-Semitism. It is a criticism no more steeped in bigotry than the assertion that Yasser Arafat is a liar who cannot be trusted. That does not make me anti-Arab -- just a realist who is sick and tired of lazy labels.

This is how tired of labels Richard Cohen is: In this paragraph he labeled Sharon a “rejectionist” and himself a “realist”. He has railed interminably in this column about imagined anti-Semites. Earlier in the column, he stooped to labeling people he doesn’t agree with as Nazi’s and rampaging pogrom mobs. If I had more time or a staff of researchers at my disposal like Richard Cohen, I’d compile a comprehensive list of labels Richard has used for people he doesn’t like since the Scourges began. But, then again, I do want to publish this Scourge sometime this month.

Let’s try some logic, Richard Cohen-style:

If Richard Cohen is not an anti-Semite, then he must be a Semite. This is, in fact, very much a true statement since Richard is a Jew and all Jews are Semites. Since this pseudo-syllogistic form worked once, let’s try it again. No one has ever claimed that Richard Cohen is an anti-idiotarian, therefore, Richard must be an idiotarian, or in short, an idiot. QED

Since Richard finished with labels, there is something else I wish to add. I have frequently referred to Richard Cohen as a knee-jerk liberal. I plan to abandon the term "liberal" as a pejorative. Liberals don't bother me. Liberalism as a descendant of the 19th century movement towards a more complete philosophy of individual human rights over the rights of the State have been a significant force for good in the world. However, the 20th century variants of liberalism have transmogrified the vision into a nightmare, providing us with worker’s paradises and political correctness. These utopian statists who deny human nature are willing to run roughshod over others to implement their visions of utopia using the coercive power of the state. This is not good. These utopian statists are giving liberals a bad name. My friend Buzz has suggested that I call them “illiberals" to highlight the fact that the systems, processes, and muddled thinking they typically espouse actually contradict that which they claim to believe.

Henceforth, I will endeavor to be more careful and speak of Richard Cohen as a tedious, knee-jerk, pretentious, self-serving, unable to see beyond the beltway pundit, or as an illiberal utopian statist, but never as a liberal. He doesn’t deserve to have that fine and noble term applied to him.

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