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Saturday, June 08, 2002


I try and use MS Word for my longer posts, but when I cut and paste the final results over to the Blogspot, many non-alphabetic characters get displayed as question marks by IE. This seems to be a recent development, although it is also affecting older posts and archives. I'm not sure what's more annoying, your having to read through what looks like a serious typo problem on my part or me having to spend an extra 20 minutes cleaning up the latest Scourge post-posting.


What can be done about it?

Does Movable Type have this problem?


Friday, June 07, 2002

The Scourge of Richard Cohen, Vol. XXX

(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.)

Jeez. Here I am at a major milestone, the XXXth Scourge, and Richard gives me such thin gruel upon which to feast. Oh well. Let's see what I can get into with Richard's The 'Outing' Of a Bishop:

Back in 1997, the FBI arrested some Washington cops for what is known as "fairy shaking". It entailed blackmailing married men who led secret lives as homosexuals. Time moves on, and now we are into something a bit different. With apologies to the D.C. cops, I call it "prelate shaking."

With apologies to D.C. Cops? After their pathetic performance with Chandra Levy and her remains? But then again, on average, they may still be hitting a little better than Richard.

It's hard to deny that this is what happened to Archbishop Rembert G. Weakland of Milwaukee, who publicly apologized last week for his "sinfulness" in some sort of an affair with a younger man more than 20 years ago.

I still cannot comprehend how a Catholic priest can have an affair with a man or a woman, or God forbid a child, and remain a Catholic priest. I wonder, what sort of penance does a priest get when he confesses these kind of sins? Isn't a confession more in order than an apology?

The man, Paul Marcoux, now 54, squeezed $450,000 out of Weakland and his diocese in an out-of-court settlement. He claimed he had been sexually assaulted.

Isn't assault a criminal offense? Why should the church or Bishop Weakland be able to buy indulgences for criminal acts?

The precise details of what transpired between the two men may never be known. Suffice it to say, though, that Marcoux was 33 at the time of the alleged incident and Weakland 54. What's more, it's clear that theirs was not a one-night relationship. They spent much time together both before and after the alleged assault. Even if there was "date rape" -- the term Marcoux used on "Good Morning America" -- it did not involve sexual intercourse.

Of course! If fellatio were sex, then Bill Clinton would be guilty of perjury, amongst other things. Or maybe Richard wants to define intercourse as necessarily requiring a penis and a vagina. But I don't think Richard's as clever as our boy Bill with such wordplay, so he's probably referring to fellatio. But wouldn't that be fellowatio in this case?

Now I must stop to admit something about myself that may be true of you, too. When the Weakland story broke -- on many front pages and all over television -- I paid only glancing attention: Yawn, another pedophile priest.

Yawn? Speak for yourself Richard.

There seemed to be so many, and anyway I had already written two columns on the subject.

Since good things come in threes, I'm guessing we'll be seeing a fourth before much longer.

Since I had nothing more to say, I paid only cursory attention to the story.

Until Richard ran out of ideas and wrote this.

But I was negligent.


The Weakland story had indeed become part of the larger one of church sex scandals. Only in this case, no child had been molested. Instead, a man had been outed -- a bishop, a rare liberal one at that.

A rare liberal one? Is there another Catholic Church than the one that spawned liberation theology that I don't know about?

What's more, news organizations that ordinarily shy from exposing homosexuals plunged into this one.


Somehow Weakland, like a dolphin caught in a tuna net, became just another priest hauled in by the burgeoning pedophilia scandal.

Dolphin in a tuna net? My gosh, how many illiberal shibboleths do we have to endure?

I grant you, issues other than sex were involved.

Oh? So maybe it's about more than the "outing" of a bishop?

Weakland did make that huge payoff, and most of the money was not from his own funds.

Then perhaps it's not really a stretch to say that Weakland did not make the payoff, but that the Church made it on his behalf. There is a difference.

In a 1980 letter to Marcoux, the bishop said he had only $14,000 on hand. "I simply do not have private funds." Eighteen years later, however, Marcoux got $450,000 in an agreement negotiated by his lawyer and lawyers for the diocese.

Lawyers, lawyers everywhere, and not a clod to think.

I don't know what the term "blackmail" means anymore.

Oh come on Richard. A Google of "blackmail" returned 217,000 hits. I think you can find the meaning in there somewhere. Or consult your dictionary with only one meaning per word. You can do it, I have faith in you!

I suppose because lawyers were involved, this agreement cannot be called that.

Sure it can. A Google of "Blackmail Jesse Jackson" returned 1910 hits!

But it sure looks like blackmail and had the effect of blackmail -- and it was abrogated anyway. (Marcoux was supposed to destroy all relevant documents and keep his fat mouth shut. Instead, he kept Weakland's letter and ultimately granted TV interviews.)

The fact that Paul Marcoux is a slug makes Bishop Weakland no less of a slug.

There are lessons galore in the Weakland case. For the media, the obvious one is not to treat all church sex-scandal stories as if they are one and the same.

Has Richard discovered that the media frequently oversimplify and jump to conclusions?

Another is that not all "victims" may really have been victimized.


Yet a third is that sometimes power -- real power -- resides not with the supposedly powerful, a bishop no less than a cavorting congressman, but with the supposedly powerless person who has nothing to lose and everything to gain by exposure.

This isn't power, except the same sort of destructive force that the genocide bombers use. What positive good can come out of the exercise of this kind of "power"? And what about the abuse of power by Bishop Weakland?

Weakland is now a disgraced ex-bishop. Marcoux is who he was and soon will be again -- a nobody.

He was a disgraced bishop a long time before he became a disgraced ex-bishop. And being a nobody is about the worst thing you can be in Richard's world.

Finally, of course, there is a lesson here for the church. Weakland, who had always been frank about the difficulties of celibacy, has been lost to the church because it, no less than he, could not accommodate the exigencies of human nature.

Puhleeze. No Richard, he is lost to the church because he is a slug who broke his vows of chastity and spent a huge sum of money that would have been better spent giving inner-city kids an education than covering his ass.

The church insists on a form of eunuchism, setting off its priests from the rest of humanity, which is roiled by sex, lust, love and any combination of them all, not the least of them being simple physical intimacy.

I'm not Catholic, but I can respect the rules the Catholic Church has lived by for a long, long time. It's not a bloody cafeteria where you get to pick and choose what you believe, and ignore the rest for whatever reason you want to rationalize. Especially for those within the church hierarchy!

We all need a hug.


It is sad to read Weakland's letter to the younger Marcoux. He mentions his "love" for the man and the ache of someone fearing that he has been used. "Was our friendship to proceed or fall on my ability to provide?" he asked. "I don't want to think so. There is a hurt there that needs reassuring."

I really don't want to make light of either man's feelings or the emotional pain I'm sure they have experienced. But, bottom line, Bishop Weakland should have resigned if he couldn't uphold the vows he took. And why exactly did Richard feel compelled to write about this?

This wasn't a scandal. It was a crime.

Or, perhaps both. They aren't antonyms. I'm sorry, but like I wrote, this was pretty thin gruel.


Wank The Monkey

I clicked on a URL named George Bush's America and this is what is on the page:


Bush to set out Middle East policy next week
Fair enough. though more than a little snarky.

Kennedy nephew guilty of murder
George Bush's America?

Anti-terror office will start turf war
Ooo, that's an original thought.

Recruitment crisis puts nuns on the net
Too many double-entendres to list here.

Camelot tarnished
A litany of Kennedy crimes and misdemeanors. Again, this is George Bush's America?

Esprit de corpse
A weird review of Six Feet Under that is used to criticize everything that is American.


Blunders prompt US security shake-up
Or, perhaps, terrorists prompt US security shake-up.

The Bush doctrine makes nonsense of the UN charter
And this is bad because...?


White House chief warns of lurch to right
Lurch is not amused.


How the computer 'killed' nation state
This advisor to Carter, Bush 41 and Clinton wants to: create umbrella states with a common economic and defence policy allowing for cultural variation. Something that, in decades, could solve a conflict such as Isreal and Palestine. Uh huh.

John Hart
Obituary, chance to flog US over Viet Nam.


US Wins! No links here for H.D. Miller to ignore.


It's official, global warming does exist, says Bush
Day late and a euro short there Mr. Engel. Strike one.


Bush sets out case for US first strikes
That's two strikes Mr. Engel. In the immortal words of John Lee Hooker, Boom Boom Boom Boom.

Nuclear attack film thrills America
Strike three! Your'e out! Not even Roger Ebert would write something like this.


WTF? Bill @#&*%*& Clinton? A whole section with two articles on Bill Clinton in George Bush's America? That's it!

Adios Wanker.


So That's Why They're Called The Wanker

Two die in botched rescue is the headline from The Wanker on the rescue of Gracia Burnham. Unfortunately Martin Burnham and Deborah Yap were killed in the rescue attempt, although it is not clear whether they were killed in crossfire or deliberately by the rebels. But we do know that Abu Sayyaf deliberately held them against their will for over a year, demanding a ransom for their release.

Not content to finish without taking a few gratuitous whacks at the US military, the Wanker finishes with:

Critics have argued that the Burnhams and Ms Yap could have gained their freedom for a fraction of the amount spent on the US military mission.

Of course, we could have avoided all of this by paying their extortion demands. I guess that must be the EU way.

But what, dear Wanker, would we do once we ran out of money?


White Men Can't Break An Ashtray and a Lock on the Door of a Black Cab Taking Him Back to His Hotel From a Central London Nightspot on Thursday in the Early Morning and Then Flee the Vehicle

And I thought weed was supposed to mellow Woody out. Maybe it's genetic.


I Can't Give It Away On 7th Avenue

Martin Devon accuses Bryan Preston of being a slut for adding lots and lots of links to try and accelerate his growth along N.Z. Bear's blogosphere evolutionary path. Mr. Preston lifted a whole lotta links from somewhere.

And I still couldn't make it on to his list.

Does it matter?

I'm shattered.



Blaming the Victim?

Falun Gong Barred From Iceland

The government on Friday barred all Falun Gong members from entering Iceland in a bid to prevent a large demonstration against Chinese President Jiang Zemin when he visits the country next week.

Iceland? Iceland?

Hundreds of foreign Falun Gong members were due in Iceland for the protest, and the government does not have the resources to control it and maintain public order, said Bjorn Fridfinnsson, a ministry secretary.

Maybe they should just ask the troops that cleared Tiananmen Square to come and reprise their act. After all, President Zemin must be protected from those anti-violent demonstrators. But, why should he have anything to fear from them?


It Must Still Suck To Be Terry McAuliffe

Poor Terry is reduced to issuing press statements like this:

"Today, President Bush is holding a political event in Iowa at taxpayer expense."

How dare a politician act like a politician. This alone is deserving of three Claudes!

"Last night in Washington, President Bush asked Congress to work with him. Today in Iowa, he shuns Iowa's elected officials, refusing to invite them to join him simply because they are Democrats. When President Bush promised to change the tone in Washington, I doubt people realized he planned to make it more partisan."

Maybe, that's because he's in Iowa.

"If President Bush wants to hold campaign events, then campaigns should pay for them. The Republican National Committee should pick up the tab for this campaign event and President Bush should stop using taxpayer money to promote his partisan political agenda, especially when he chooses to ignore important elected officials from the other side of the aisle."

Is it even worth trying to count the taxpayer expenses Clinton ran up campaigning for her agenda? Uh, I mean his agenda. Actually, I think I was right the first time.


If We Privatize Air Traffic Control ... Then the Terrorists Will Have Won?

I didn't catch all the details, but according to NPR someone in the Federal Government has issued an opinion that air traffic controllers can be privatized. Naturally, the National Air Traffic Controller's Union has responded with a statement that such a move would threaten national security. Uh huh.

I work with a large number of civil servants. I find them to be pretty much like all the people I work with who aren't civil servants -- a broad spectrum of skills and talents with some highly motivated and extremely sharp people in the mix. They do an excellent job executing their responsibilities supporting our nation's military. But if they are just like me and the other people I work with, why couldn't we be expected to do the same tasks without jeopardizing national security? Say, the National Air Traffic Controller's Union wouldn't be trying to protect it's turf using that old "national security" canard, would it?

DOWNDATE: Here's a link to the AP story. The story doesn't mention the "national security" concerns, but that's what I heard on NPR.


A Ridge Too Far

Five year ago, who would have thought that we'd be speaking of the "homeland" in an unofficial, much less official sense?

Best argument against Tom Ridge being named Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security: The Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security is a guy who shouldn't smile all that much. We don't want a guy who is known for getting along in that role. We need a sonofabitch that's going to kick ass and take names. I'd vote for a guy like Col. Jessup personally, although Rudy Giuliani might be a better real life choice. Maybe we should lobby to get Howell Raines the job. After all, he knows more than the rest of us, isn't afraid to lecture anyone on their deficiencies, and it will probably take an illiberal whose PC credentials are above reproach to do the thankless job of taking away people's rights -- kind of like "only Nixon could go to China." Then again, that would mean taking responsibility for what happens, rather than merely assuming the authority to pontificate and bitch about them.

Thursday, June 06, 2002


I got home ok, though the weather did delay the flight a while.

The Professor gave me some linky love. Let the deluge begin.

Richard Cohen still hasn't posted his usual Thursday column. Is he... scared?

In the car on the way home, NPR had Eleanor Clift babbling on. Please God, I look forward to the day when sycophant spinners like Eleanor Clift are tarred and feathered for being mindlessly evil morons who find it necessary to paint absolutely everything with a partisan political spin. Can't people ever be acting on some principle other than political advantage? Not according to Eleanor Clift. Hopefully, there's enough tar and more than enough feathers for all these bastards on the left, the right, and in the middle, you know, the ones who always want to see both sides of every issue.

I am also sick to death of people who continue to speak and write as though any government action or organization can ever fully protect them. It is a bizarre offshoot of people who have bought into the nanny state and have lost touch with reality. We cannot possibly protect everyone all the time without destroying the economy and shredding the constitution. This is not a good idea. By all means we want to do what we can to detect and prevent terrorist acts, but to borrow an old football saying for the current situation, the best defense is a good offense.

Remember the old TV sitcom trick where someone would get hit on the head and lose their memory or go slightly crazy? Then another bump on the head would restore them to their old selves? Are amnesia and insanity binary in nature? Couldn't another knock on the head just make them forget even more, or send them into a different form of craziness?

Since we are entering a more bellicose stage in our history, should we expect a lot of war movies now? After the WW II movies in the last couple years, Black Hawk Down, The Patriot (2 of them!), Gladiator, and a new movie coming out highlighting the contributions of the Navajo whose language was undecipherable by the Japanese, should we expect to see a lot of new movies featuring our troops, especially special forces, and remakes of movies like The Great Escape? Wouldn't every actor out there want to be in a movie like that? Are you reading Mr. Linse? With Spiderman being so successful, is America looking for heroes again?


Not Exactly

While I share the Professor's concern that a reorganization of assets may or may not do the trick for Tom Ridge, et al, his statement that management reorganizes when they aren't sure what else to do is kind of a Dilbert-like working class myth. As a mid-level manager, we try to avoid reorganizations because they are disruptive, time consuming, and a drain on efficiency. On the other hand, the world or market that the old organization was meant to respond to has changed, so we need to change with it. While it's easy to poke fun at mid-level managers or senior management for reorganizations, in about 99% of the cases I'm fairly certain they are doing what they think is right. That's not to say they do it well, but they are trying to do their jobs. Why would anyone think that any manager is trying to make his own life more difficult?


We're Not Worthy!

Or qualified.


The Apocalypse

Four years from today, the date will be 6/6/6.

Just an observation.

Make of it what you will.


India, Pakistan Exchange Heavy Fire, Five Wounded

"This will only increase the steadfastness of our people," Arafat said, referring to the Israeli attack.

Colombian Mayor Killed

Egypt got 24 N. Korean No-Dong missiles, violating pledge (Ed. Aside: No-Dong? So much for the missiles being a phallic symbol.)

Bomb on Indonesian Bus Kills Four

Sinn Fein candidate elected mayor of Belfast

"The world situation is desperate, as usual" -- The Chink, Even Cowgirls Get the Blues by Tom Robbins

I just hope I get home tonight.

Wednesday, June 05, 2002

Uh huh

So that's how you shed a terrorist past:

The IRA-linked Sinn Fein party won the post of Belfast mayor for the first time Wednesday, marking another important step away from its terrorist past.

Cause is still vacationing on the left coast and effect is not returning my calls.

Act II

Israei forces have surrounded Arafat's headquarters and bombs are going off. If Israel has finally had enough, then we are at the end of the beginning, but the end itself is still a long way off.

I firmly believe Israel is justified in its actions, but that doesn't mean I look forward to the coming deluge.



Biased like journalism, only honest about it.

DOWNDATE: The Professor notes roughly the same thing this morning.

Tuesday, June 04, 2002

The Scourge of Richard Cohen, Vol. XXIX

(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.)

Even when Richard Cohen takes a position I agree with -- in this case, arming pilots -- he finds it impossible to avoid taking cheap, snarky, and smarmy shots at his other favorite illiberal shibboleths. Incidentally, I wonder if Richard Cohen ever had a squeeze named Annie? After all, he's not into miracles and he sees life all too cynical. Many bloggers have already jumped on at least one line Richard Cohen wrote today, and while the Professor is correct that Richard's favoring pilots having guns puts him to the right of the Bush administration, Richard is still -- as are "all reasonable people" -- very, very much in favor of gun control. Well, being the unreasonable person I am, I'm Doin' What Comes Naturally, coming out with both guns blazing, to make you choose between the Scourge's butta or Cohen's Guns...:


All Richard Cohen columns should start with this caveat. Oh, and Richard -- Anything You Can Do I Can Do Better.

... readers of this column will remember when, some years back, I was burglarized. It was the middle of the night, sometime around 3 a.m., when I heard a noise -- the back door being forced open. I awoke with a start, tried to quiet my thumping heart, rushed to the head of the stairs and heard someone running around the floor below. At that moment, what I wanted more than anything in the world was a gun.

More than a peace process? More than the abolition of the death penalty? More than President Clinton? More than President Gore? More than the greatest love the world has known?

Perhaps Richard never went through basic training and learned the difference between his rifle and his gun.

Does Richard no longer believe that You Can't Get a Man With a Gun?

Or did Richard merely experience a normal human self-preservation response recognizing that anyone who would break into your home might be armed and probably means you no good? Of course, Richard's illiberal utopian statism made it impossible for him to own a gun, which might have kept his heart rate a little lower during this stress inducing experience. But at least I'll give Richard credit for practicing what he preaches in this instance, unlike someone like Carl Rowan who wanted to take away everyone else's guns, but still have a gun for himself in case he has to shoot any more late night swimmers at his home.

What I wanted at that moment -- and only that moment, I hasten to add -- was denied last month to airline pilots who just might have to deal with a terrorist somehow getting into the cockpit.

Now, just for the sake of consistency, how many people think Richard Cohen would have considered arming pilots for a New York minute before September 11, 2001? After all, Richard has not changed his mind about whether I should be able to own a gun.

That this decision was made by the pro-gun Bush administration only deepens the mystery.

Cue Twilight Zone music.

If I were a pilot, I would want a gun in the cockpit. And in every survey, most pilots say they do.

Survey says: GUNS!

The gun I would want would not be carried on my person. It would not be on me when I went to the bathroom or left the cockpit for any reason.

How about stopping a terrorist?

It would be in a secure location, accessible only to someone who knew a code, and while it might be loaded with bullets that could stop a man but not penetrate the fuselage, even conventional ammo does not present an unacceptable risk.

Let's hope Richard won't need to get to it quickly. Not that I'd fly on a plane if I looked into the cockpit while boarding and saw Richard Cohen in there.

This gun would be used only as a last resort to stop a terrorist from gaining control of the plane.

First resort is ok with me. Is there a checklist? How many different items does a pilot have to try first before asking the terrorist to stop while he punches in the code to get his handgun?

It's probably not too much to say that if pilots had had weapons on Sept. 11, the attacks might have been averted. A man with a box cutter is no match for a man with a gun.

Sure the attacks might have been averted, and cheese eating surrender monkeys might fly out of my butt. But that's a long way from saying the attacks would have been averted. Even if the pilots had guns, would they have tried to shoot at a terrorist threatening to cut the throat of a flight attendant before September 11, 2001? I don't think so. Richard is pretty sloppy in his reasoning that we knew everything then that we know now. If this were true, then all of us passengers, and the CIA, and the FBI would all be doing conducting ourselves the same way today that we were on September 10, 2001. I doubt that any of the passengers on the first two planes knew that they were going to be crashed into the WTC Towers after the hijackers took control of the planes. If they did, I think they would have acted as the heroes on Flight 93 acted once they had this hindsight that Richard is tapping into now. The passengers on the plane that hit the Pentagon (this idiocy notwithstanding) seemed to know at the very end that they were going down, but still may not have realized what was happening or why. The limited time they had to react and the lack of understanding as to why they were going to crash probably prevented them from organizing the same sort of assault as the one on Flight 93.

The union that represents the pilots, the 62,000-member Air Line Pilots Association, favors having a weapon in the cockpit. Not all pilots agree, of course. Some of them feel that arming pilots would distract from the real job at hand -- making the cockpit as secure as possible as quickly as possible.

Is ALPA breaking into a, "Guns, guns, when do we get guns" spiel like Cadet Eugene Tackleberry?

I think the pilots job in that circumstance is to get all the passengers down safely, if possible, and to prevent losing control of the plane at all costs. Securing the cockpit is a means to an end, not the end itself. Remember that on September 10, 2001, nobody thought that hijackers would be suicidal like thy were on September 11, 2001. Today, we will automatically assume this to be the case.

This includes, among other things, bulletproof cockpit doors that can't be broken down. It also includes beefing up the air marshal program. After all, El Al, Israel's national airline, does not arm its pilots and has not had a hijacking since 1968. It uses sky marshals.

Richard is either ignorant or displaying selective amnesia on this point. El Al's success has a whole lot more to do with what goes on before the passengers set foot on the plane, than relying on the air marshals to stop something once the plane is in the air. They are a last line of defense, but virtually all terrorists would have been stopped long before this.

But El Al has only 34 airplanes. The United States has more than 20,000 flights a day.

Planes, flights, whatever makes the discrepancy look the worst. The real issue is whether the flying public is ready for the delays caused by the screening processes that El Al uses to root out terrorists in the place of the FAA's apparent policy of annoying every sixth person in line.

Back in 1995, when he was governor of Texas, George W. Bush signed a bill giving Texans the right to carry a concealed weapon. The bill insisted only that the gun-toters be at least 21, pass a criminal background check and have no history of mental illness. I can only hope that pilots already meet those criteria.

Poor Richard can only hope.

If that's the case, then why is it somehow logical to allow every Tom, Dick and Harry to pack some heat but to forbid that same right to airline pilots, who, I may point out, often are ex-military people?

Are there no female Texans in Richard's world? And how many of those pistol-packing Texans are ex-military? Would that make it ok for them? Finer minds than mine (Glenn Reynolds and Eugene Volokh just to name two) have advocated allowing pilots to carry weapons on planes. Eugene Volokh has also addressed why it's a bad idea for Tom, Dick, and Harry to carry concealed weapons on planes unless they are pilots or deputized personnel.

Regardless, they would all be trained in the use of the gun, and their first duty, always, would be to fly the plane -- no matter what. Only if a terrorist somehow managed to gain access to the cockpit would the pilot use the weapon. Could even a stray shot be worse than a commandeered plane on a terrorist mission?

Those stray shots must be awfully damn bad to have to even ask that question. The pilot is explicitly responsible for the safety of the plane and its passengers. The pilot is implicitly responsible for not allowing the plane to threaten, injure, or kill those not on the plane as well. This is more important than being glued to the cockpit, in my opinion. This is a bit of a false dichotomy, as the choice is not just between staying secure in the cockpit and losing control of the plane.

I am, like all reasonable people, in favor of the tightest restrictions on guns.

Richard really got people going with this one. It's one thing to insinuate that I'm crazy because I think Andrea Yates deserved the death penalty. It's entirely another to call anyone who doesn't favor your confiscation of firearms unreasonable. And what's up with little Nicky breaking into a reprise of his earlier column I savaged as Chicks with Firesticks? The Professor thinks little Nicky is parroting Violence Policy Center and the Brady Campaign press releases. Considering this came out the same day as Richard's anti-gun screed, I think they are cribbing from DNC press releases. I've expended all my energy dealing with Richard Cohen. Jeff Goldstein takes care of little Nicky.

I fear the things, since they are easily concealed and lethal.

Lot's of things are easily concealed and lethal. I don't fear them because they are small and lethal. I fear the men and women who want to harm me, by any means necessary, small or large, concealed or openly displayed.

The more there are, the more chances they will fall into the wrong hands.

Too late. The criminals and terrorists already have guns and knives and pointed sticks. If I write that I fear a keyboard falling into Richard's hands, will he stop writing to assuage my fear?

That is precisely what I feared the night I was burglarized -- not that the burglar had a knife (I had scissors), but a gun.

My God, think what Norman Mineta would have done had you been on a plane! It doesn't matter that a terrorist has a gun, you have scissors!

Allow me to suggest that if you think an intruder has a gun and all you have are scissors, waiting for him at the head of the stairs probably isn't the best thing to do.

But even in my most anti-NRA moods, I want the cops to be armed, since, among other things, just by being so, they deter crime.

Very telling there with moods driving Richard's thinking rather than logic. But why is it so hard for him to extend that line of reasoning to the rest of the population? I wonder if Richard heard the news that communities' ability to overrule states' concealed carry laws were ruled unconstitutional.

Allow me to this time to take a moment and piss off Richard Cohen by offering a few links to any other unreasonable people out there.

The National Rifle Association

Glock Sport Shooting Foundation

Second Amendment Foundation

Shooter's Web Ring

Armed pilots would also be a deterrent. A terrorist would not be dealing with the chance that an air marshal is aboard but the certainty that, in the cockpit, is a gun and a person -- cool enough to be an airline pilot -- who is cool enough to use it.

Just checking, but I think this means that Richard approves of concealed carry if you are "cool" enough to be an airline pilot. After all, wouldn't a "cool" airline pilot be even "cooler" if he's not flying a plane?

Just one night in my life, I wanted a gun.

And what did he want on all the other nights? Never mind, I'm sorry I asked.

On just one flight, a pilot might feel the same way.

Or even on every flight!

I got news for Richard. If a terrorist gets up on any flight now, he better hope the air marshals get to him first, since the air marshal will be the only person on the plane who merely wants to subdue and arrest him.

Throughout this all-over-the-map screed, Richard Cohen does not mention any of the other reasons people may have for wanting guns like hunting, recreational target shooting, collecting antiques, varmint control, or preserving skills and knowledge about past ways of life. Unfortunately, Richard Cohen didn't appear to learn much from his earlier experience and I'm guessing that if he hears another burglar in his house, presumably we'll get to read about his scissor-wielding defense of his person and property again. Nonetheless, all these legitimate reasons for owning firearms are subject to the same hysterical gun confiscation rationales that will help provide people like Richard Cohen with the illusion of safety, rather than actual safety -- as Richard found out himself one morning at 3 AM.


Dyslexic Dreams

Syrian dam collapses

At first I thought it read damn Syria collapses.


You Can Have My Nukes When You Pry Them From My Cold, Dead Hands

Stephen Green puts the odds of a major war between India and Pakistan at 20%. I think they are much worse:

Pakistani President Gen. Pervez Musharraf said Tuesday that possessing nuclear weapons implies there are circumstances under which they will be used, but said it is irresponsible for a leader to discuss such things.

Asked at a news conference to state Pakistan's nuclear policy and explain why it will not renounce first use of nuclear weapons in case of war, as India has, Musharraf said, "The possession of nuclear weapons by any state obviously implies they will be used under some circumstances."

Will! You read that Stephen? He said will!


Perfect 20/20 Hindsight, Plus or Minus 6 months

Egypt Warned U.S. of a Qaeda Plot, Mubarak Asserts

Egyptian intelligence warned American officials about a week before Sept. 11 that Osama bin Laden's network was in the advance stages of executing a significant operation against an American target, President Hosni Mubarak said in an interview on Sunday.

And it only took us 6 months for the Egyptians to discover that they had told us! But aren't the NY Times headline writers exaggerating just a little?

Mr. Mubarak said his intelligence officials had no indication what the target would be and had no idea of the magnitude of the coming attack.

Howell must be so proud of his Raines Men.


Fool Me Once, Shame On You

According to news reports:

House Democratic leader Dick Gephardt is offering support to the Bush administration if it decides to use force to topple Iraqi President Saddam Hussein

Remember when:

Gephardt voted against the use of force in the run-up to the 1991 Persian Gulf War

Or worse, when he threatened to withdraw funding from the military if they were deployed?

Maybe he's learned, or perhaps I should just complete the header: Fool me twice, shame on me.



Thanks to Elizabeth Spiers, I found Snoop Doggy Blog.

While I am not a fan of rap culture in general, or Snoop in particular, I'm happy to help introduce some diversity and welcome Snoop to share his thoughts and ideas. Let's face it, the blogosphere isn't the most diverse group of people on the planet.

DOWNDATE: Yea, ok, so its a parody. That just further highlights the blogosphere's paucity of diversity.


Great Googly Moogly

Here are today' interesting Google referrers:

"ladies wanting to have sex in Kolkata" -- Fortunately, I was #16, behind Pejman and Andrea.

"whoopi goldberg Wellesley" -- And I came in #2, though I doubt my comments where what they had in mind.

"The Lighter Side Gay Sex + Dave Berg" -- Why me Lord, why me?


Life in the Food Chain

I am a large mammal.

I think this is a good thing.

DOWNDATE: I was a large mammal. I am now merely an adorable rodent. If I continue to devolve, I'll become a flappy bird, then a slithering reptile, next a lowly insect, and finally an insignificant microbe. I can hardly wait!



Like journalism, only better.


I Have a Stalker



The Blame Game

I wondered back on May 22 when someone would blame the US and Bush for the war between Pakistan and India. Well, Mort Kondracke is our winner!

We are the world's only superpower, and through inattention we will have allowed two allied nations to fall into an abyss on our watch - that is, President Bush's watch.

Yea, sure Mort. I like the "we will have allowed". Say, Mort wasn't on the "unilateralism is bad bandwagon, was he? But then again, we don't get to read too many cases of past pluperfect in our political prose. (I sure hope I got that right. I'll ask Dr. Weevil.)

Instead of leading the world toward democracy and stability, the United States would be seen as having failed to lead at all.

Sorry, I missed all those nations looking to follow US leadership on much of anything.

So, it behooves Bush and his administration to intervene - not just to prevent a war between India and Pakistan, but to point the way toward a settlement. Everything rides on it.

Everything? No, really, everything?

Link courtesy of the fabled Mr. Green.

Sunday, June 02, 2002




Media is the official source for pomp and circumstance, like the court. The court thinks it sets the tone and controls events, like the media. Media has ready access to power, though power holds them in some contempt -- like the king does the court. The members of the court have the greatest disparity between their real value to society and their purported worth -- think Rather, Jennings, and Brokaw (or Cohen, Dowd, and Krugman). Nobody in the court would want to be only a jester. The blogs say things the media cannot -- like jesters about the king and his court. Without the court, the jester would run out of material a lot sooner -- as would most blogs. The jesters are smarter than the court, even while playing the fool -- for bloggers think Den Beste, Dr. Weevil, Dr. Byron and Dr. Hlatky (amongst so many!).



Missing the Forest

Is it just me, or did the potential nuclear conflict between Pakistan and India generate less media buzz than the Israeli "massacre" in Jenin?

Assuming either eventually happens, which one is more likely to have a meaningful impact on your life?

And for what its worth, I'm still worried about a nuclear exchange there. Why? Well here's my top ten reasons to dump your equities now:

1. The safeguards for the use of the weapons probably aren't as strong as we are accustomed to their being in the big 5.

2. The ISI has been led by some seriously loony people and probably has more rogue agents than the CIA ever did in its worst days.

3. Ever read The Guns of August by Barbara Tuchman? As Elvis once sang, accidents will happen.

4. India is talking like they are ready to absorb a Pakistan nuke and dish it back out.

5. There is no peaceful solution this millenuim for Kashmir short of one side or the other being killed off.

6. Spend some quality time at the Kolkata Libertarian and see if you think there's a happy ending in sight.

7. If anyone in Al Qaeda is half as imaginative as Tom Clancy, then using Pakistan as a proxy to get its jihad on might be right up their alley.

8. Jack Straw is visiting on a peace keeping mission. Ooh, that's a little harsh in't it?

9. Conventional wisdom has already dismissed the likelihood of a nuclear exchange.

10. I'm a pessimist, and I've read a lot of history. But, perhaps that's redundant.


I've Got Mail!

Reader Richard (no, not that Richard) writes:

Once again you managed to survive a trip through the logic free zone of Richard Cohen. Aren't you worried that if your logic lifeline should fail, that you will be forever trapped in Richard Cohen's fantasyland, surrounded by an army of strawmen?

Speaking of strawmen, what never ceases to amaze me is how Richard Cohen will take an almost zero probability event (that the use of cloning will cure all genetic based illnesses, not just in the far future, but tomorrow) and use it to justify a policy he favors (cloning research). How can anyone be against this research when it will benefit so many people immediately? Does he not know how unlikely any particular type of medical research will lead to a cure? Does he care? Haven't we been trying to cure cancer for at least the last sixty years? Why is this research the one that will succeed as opposed to the last 20 research programs that failed, even though the media assured us that those research projects were on the verge of succeeding?

I am not arguing against research, but rather I am arguing for taking a realistic view as to the success of any research program. Thus, we should always look at the moral implications of any research we do and weigh it against the potential good that it may bring. For example, why don't we implement a policy that mandates organ donation so that we will have enough organs to meet demand? Think, of all of the good that it will do. When you go into a hospital either you will be cured or your organs will be be used to cure many people. Would Richard Cohen argue for the latter choice because it will benefit a greater number of people? (Why should Richard Cohen be the only one who is allowed to make strawmen?) :-) Actually, I would not be surprised if he were to favor such an argument.

I'm not amazed that Richard Cohen does these things, but I am incredulous that he is able to maintain such a prominent perch to keep spewing his silliness. As to the dangers, I'll keep braving the risks as long as my friends are willing to throw a syllogism to a drowning man.

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