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Thursday, July 11, 2002

For the Last Time, I Hope

Here's one more e-mail I received regarding the left-inspired violence (name withheld):

All labeling is getting too difficult to follow. What exactly do Jose Bove and mainstream liberals have in common? Almost nothing. As for those on the left being wimps, who won the second world war? Who dropped the bomb on the Japs? Who avoided Vietnam as young men only to reincarnate themselves later in life as rightwing hawks? Dubya, Chaney, Armey, Delay. Why is it that the right can only see weakness in the left and yet be so blind to the same hypocrisy when it comes to their conservative comrades?

I only mentioned Jose Bove in relation to the anti-globalisation protestors, and he is definitely one of those. The anti-globos are unquestionably from the loony left side of the political spectrum, whether they are called liberals or whatever else. I think I tried to indicate that none of these whack jobs have anything to do with mainstream Republicans or Democrats.

WW II was won by Americans (and all the allies), neither liberals nor conservatives. The comment about wimps has to do with those who instigate violent acts by others from safely behind the barricades. I never said that mainstream liberals were doing this.

America dropped the bomb on Japan, and rightly so. Not that it matters, but my mother-in-law was a Japanese teenager when that happened. She's moved on, why can't you? Would you have preferred another 10,000,000 dead Japanese and 1,000,000 dead Americans from an invasion of the main islands? This often repeated, yet still pathetic, argument reflects an extrememly poor understanding of the world at the end of WW II.

I wholly concur that these guys avoided the draft, although the President did serve in the Air National Guard (if I remember correctly), the Vice President's name is Cheney and the Majority Whip's name is DeLay. It is not a proud moment for them and I cannot remember ever writing anything defending their choices. But it would be better if you respond to what I write instead of constructing straw men on my behalf. Say your real name isn't Richard Cohen is it?. Bring back the draft, without deferments. And really, it's got very little to do with being hawks.

As to the blindness of the right, they probably suffer from the same beam in the eye malady that the left does for its heroes.


The Scourge of Richard Cohen, Vol. XXXIX

(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.)

Come to think of it, maybe content free Richard Cohen columns are preferable to today’s offering. But Richard really is quite skilled at what he does. It takes real talent to slip in an accusation that John Ashcroft wants to issue the death penalty to Bill Clinton while ostensibly writing about your distaste for President George W. Bush’s opinions on corporate malfeasance. But then again, maybe talent isn't really the issue in Speechifying In His Sleep:

Newsweek reports this week that "as many as 70 million of us" have troubling sleeping. It mentions several remedies, including avoiding coffee after noon and, it seems, becoming rich so as not to have any money problems.

Oh, that’s a good one. But as someone once told me, money would not solve my problems -- but I am willing to give it a try.

As a public service, I now add a remedy of my own: Watch a tape of George Bush's speech on cleaning up corporate America. You will be asleep in no time.

May I offer that if you really need to stay awake, reading a Richard Cohen column is an excellent palliative, since it is guaranteed to raise your blood pressure and get you to thinking about how unfair life is that he gets paid for recycling DNC talking points.

A day earlier, Bush mentioned the word "confidence" nine times during a news conference. His proposals in a speech Tuesday, trumpeted by the White House as cosmically important, were designed to restore confidence to a badly shaken stock market.

Cosmically important? I missed that part of Ari Fleischer’s text. And Richard still doesn’t get this whole free market thing. The market is doing just fine, falling stock prices mean that the market is reacting to bad news. Would he prefer that the market bubble continue in the face of Enron and Global Crossing?

For some reason -- Enron? Tyco? WorldCom? –

Say, what happened to Global Crossing? Richard wouldn’t be ignoring it because Terry McAuliffe walked away with a fortune while their employees and stockholders were screwed, would he?

… many Americans had gotten the weird idea that they were getting scammed.

Many? I’m sure some of my mutual funds took a hit on one or more of these companies, but it hasn’t caused me to give up on capitalism.

Unsophisticated in the intricacies of the nearly perfect free-market system, they could not understand how, for instance, a CEO could get rich for wrecking a company and sending widows and orphans to the poor house.

Straw man alert. What advocate of capitalism ever said the free market was “perfect” whatever the hell that is supposed to mean. And show me one example where a CEO was hired explicitly to wreck a company. I’m not questioning that some CEOs have been overpaid for underperforming, but this is not the same thing -- and it sure as hell isn't a crime. I didn’t realize there were any CEOs rounding up all the men and killing them. Otherwise, where are all these widows and orphans coming from?

Richard, your unsophistication is showing. Or is that his simplisme?

So on CNN before the speech …, the astute political analyst Bill Schneider mentioned Teddy Roosevelt, the great trust buster, and the business reporter Lou Dobbs mentioned Franklin Roosevelt because, you see, both Roosevelts tried to restore confidence in a faltering economic system.

Apparently, Richard keeps trying for an economic variant of, “it’s Selma all over again.” And you did notice that people who agree with Richard Cohen are astute, didn’t you?

What's more, like Bush, they were American patricians, rich men themselves.

So, damnitalltohell, why won’t President George W. Bush act like Richard Cohen wants him to? All rich men should feel the same guilt that Richard Cohen feels.

But unlike any of the Roosevelts -- or John Kennedy facing down the steel tycoons -- Bush could not turn on his own.

I never knew about the Kennedy steel tycoons.

This is not a surprise. After all, his own career in business was launched and nurtured by friends of his father's, and he himself benefited greatly from selling stock in Harken Energy Corp. shortly before it tanked.

Check Harken item off of the DNC talking point memo. And shortly before it doubled in value as well, but that doesn’t help Richard’s argument.

(For this, Bill Clinton would already be facing a special prosecutor and, at the insistence of John Ashcroft, the death penalty.)

For crimes much worse than this, the Democrat Party stood in lock step to prevent the slimeball from being disgraced. The disgrace still happened, but it was spread more thinly across all of them instead of being applied where it belonged. I guess we should expect to see a reference to John Ashcroft wanting to apply the death penalty every week now, regardless of the topics Richard Cohen chooses to write about.

But if it was confidence Bush wanted to restore, he failed utterly.

Uh huh. Just curious, but what could he say that would have gotten Richard Cohen’s approval?

He spoke like a hostage with a gun to his head.

A poor choice of words.

Here was a man simply trying to get ahead of an issue, going through the prescribed political paces. The only confidence he instilled has to do with what will happen to his initiatives if the Democrats turn their backs for a second. They will be abandoned. It's not that the words were not there -- Bush has good speechwriters -- it's just that this time the ventriloquists were failed by the dummy.

Oh yeah, Bush is dumb. Gee, we haven’t heard that one for weeks now. And no, that’s not a particularly clever way to slide that one in, or the implication that Bush is controlled by others behind the scenes pulling the strings. Perhaps Richard Cohen should read Jonah Goldberg’s column about cliché’s.

As it is, Bush didn't say much.

OK by me. As Juan Gato noted, the irony of the Government jumping in with more regulations to fix the free market is lost on a lot of people.

Calling for longer jail terms for corporate thieves sounds good, but what will be its real effect?

Another trick question? Longer jail terms?

Would a CEO risk ripping off his company for five years in jail, but hesitate at 10?

My God, these straw men get tiresome. But this must be why I haven’t advanced faster in my company, because considering these options just doesn’t occur to me. I have a meeting with the President of my company next week. Maybe I should ask him if he would be less likely to rip off our company if the potential penalty for doing so was 10 years in jail instead of 5. Nah, I think I’ll keep my job instead.

As for the additional $100 million Bush proposed for the Securities and Exchange Commission, it is not nearly enough.

Let’s face it, there is no amount of additional Government spending that would ever be enough for Richard Cohen.

It is the same with the other measures. They have either been proposed by others or they are tepid, half-hearted attempts to appear as if something's being done. The proof of their ineffectiveness is that they were hailed by corporate America.

Sure Richard. The Captains of corporate America are all thieves and scoundrels. Not a one of them really has any ideals or a shred of decency. It's all about screwing the little guy, just like Tom, Dick and Terry keep saying.

Now we get to the heart of the matter.


In a way, I agree with Bush. Enron, WorldCom, Global Crossing and all the rest are exceptions if only because of some teeny-weeny accounting errors in which billions of expenses were reported as profits. Bush, though, thinks the rest of corporate America is just hunky-dory while I think it just stinks.

Really? I never would have guessed. But I will give Richard credit for mentioning Global Crossing this time. Must have been an oversight.

It is, after all, the average top CEO who gets about $10 million a year while his average employee gets $25,466.

In Richard’s illiberal utopia, we are all “average,” hence no variance in wage is justified. And I could be wrong, but I’ll bet that “average” figure of $24,466 is not representative of the named companies but of a much broader spectrum across America. Richard will not be happy until he can set CEO salaries. With respect to this one issue, would I be a heartless bastard to say that I hope he dies in misery?

It is the average CEO who has seen his compensation zoom from 70 times the average worker's in 1985 to 410 times today.

Yes, but why? Damn free market! Damn post-industrial age! Damn stock market tripling in value the last 10 years! And the difference between the quality of life between an “average” American and an “average” Afghan has grown substantially as well over the last 200 years. Is this our fault too?

It's these figures that drive home the point that relatively few people have benefited from the system that Bush lauds, while a whole lot of people are getting almost nothing.

Wrong! Richard is being a willful fool here. I assume that the “system” Bush is lauding is the free market. Does Richard think that $25,466 would be nothing to the “average” resident of Tanzania or Jordan, who lack this “system” that Bush lauds? And I don’t have the time to go into the questions of morality surrounding the “system” that Richard prefers.

The system may be wonderful, but it is truly wonderful for CEOs and other corporate officers. Like feudal barons, they can pillage their companies, leaving the serfs to starve.

Serfs. Yea, whatever, Dick.

A Roosevelt -- either Roosevelt -- would have said something about those figures.

Perhaps, “The average American now makes a salary of $25,466!”

A Roosevelt would have spoken with true passion and true indignation -- as Bush himself has done when the subject was terrorism or some moral issue.

This is a moral issue too. But Richard’s hatred and dung-colored glasses keep him from seeing it as such.

But Bush, really, is not alarmed at what has happened, only at the political ramifications of it.

Wake up Richard. Bill Clinton is no longer President.

His speech was a snore -- useful to those 70 million sleep-deprived Americans but not to the president himself. On Tuesday, he was already asleep.

I wonder what the “average” salary of those sleep deprived coffee achievers is, especially when compared to the “average” salary of all those who sleep comfortably because they are convinced they have all the answers.


The Co-PM Speaks Out Again

According to The Scotsman:

Cherie Booth re-entered the political arena last night, criticising judges for sending too many offenders to prison. Following a tour of Britain’s more overcrowded jails, the Prime Minister’s wife said in a speech that many inmates should not be in prison at all.

No discussion of morality or justice, just numbers. Is Ms. Booth taking a page out of Marion Berry's playbook, trying to lock up the ex-offender vote? Perhaps the answer is more jails, rather than more criminals on the streets.

Does Mrs. Blair have a not-so-secret desire for Tony to give up his day job?

Just because it out of The Scotsman, it doesn't mean it isn't crap.


Straight Outta Berlin, Circa 1933

A petition has been started by some European academics to boycott Israel:

Hundreds of European academics have called a boycott of Israeli universities to protest treatment of the Palestinians – a move that has led to the firing of two Israelis from British publications and prompted allegations of discrimination and intellectual censorship.

Like Otto, these people have apparently read political science tracts, they just don't understand them:

Steven Rose, a professor at Britain's Open University who helped start the campaign, likens it to the cultural and sporting sanctions imposed on apartheid South Africa. "We are concerned with boycotting or refusing to collaborate with Israeli institutions," Rose told British Broadcasting Corp. radio. "Unfortunately institutions are expressed through individuals ... That means that some of our friends are actually going to suffer for it."

With friends like these...

These "learned" men and women would have more credibility if they had first signed petitions boycotting Iraq, Iran, Syria, the Sudan, Libya, China, Zimbabwe, and a host of other countries whose human rights records are orders of magnitude worse than Israel's. While legitimate arguments (that I generally do not agree with) can be made against Israeli policies, this one doesn't pass the anti-semitism smell test. This petition has already led to the firing of two scholars because they are Jews (technically, because they work for an Israeli University, though I doubt if they were Palestinian holders of an Israeli passport they would have been dismissed):

Last month, Shlesinger was asked to step down from the editorial board of The Translator, a semiannual journal, by owner and editor Mona Baker. Baker, a professor at the University of Manchester Institute of Science and Technology, signed the Internet petition. Baker also asked Tel Aviv University professor Gideon Toury to resign from the advisory board of another journal she owns, Translation Studies Abstracts. When Shlesinger and Toury refused, Baker fired them. "It has nothing to do with our views," Shlesinger told The Associated Press. "We were dismissed because we have the wrong passports." Baker's husband said she was unwilling to speak to the media Wednesday. Ken Baker – who is managing director of St. Jerome, the journals' publisher – said Toury and Shlesinger were fired not because they are Israeli, but because they work for Israeli universities. "This is a boycott of Israeli academic institutions, " Baker said. "If an Israeli happened to be working for an American institution, or a British institution, or a Swedish institution, we'd have no problem with that whatsoever." Baker was quoted by The Guardian newspaper as saying she fired the two academics based on "my interpretation of the boycott statement that I've signed."

At least everyone hasn't lost their moral bearings:

Efraim Inbar, a professor of political science at Bar-Ilan University, criticized the boycott, saying: "I think between academics to boycott someone because of their government policies which they have no control over is disgraceful." Britain's National Union of Students also condemned the boycott. "To exclude people because of their nationality is abhorrent and nothing short of racism, and should be universally condemned," the union's anti-racism campaigner, Daniel Rose, was quoted as saying by The Guardian. The boycott also has been condemned by Jewish groups such as the anti-Defamation League and the Simon Wiesenthal Center, and petitions denouncing it have sprouted on the Internet. One, based at Hebrew University in Jerusalem, claims to have received 13,000 signatures, while another, set up in the United States and signed by more than 1,000 academics, calls the boycott an "alarming and non-constructive development."

Here's the petition to register your feelings against the boycott.

I am looking forward to Charles Johnson's take on this.

Wednesday, July 10, 2002

Your Time Is Up

Wow! 2050 and it's all over. I'll be 90, or maybe 91, depending on when the earth expires in 2050. I'd like to plan my retirement out as much as possible so that I run out of money just before I die. Do you think the folks at the WWF could be a little more specific as to exactly when the world is going to end. I figure if they can fix the date to 2050 they should be able to tell me the month, day, hour and minute as well.

I wonder what the time will be on the Doomsday Clock then.


Where Have You Gone Joe DiMaggio

I read a story once about a golfer on the PGA Tour, who was talking with one of his friends about the rules for the round of golf they were getting ready to play. Since it was still early in the year, should they play winter rules and allow each player to pick up his ball and place it on ground more amenable to a good swing? About this time, Harvey Penick came by and suggested that they could play this other game with their own rules or they could play golf.

Reading this morning that Bud Selig cancelled the All-Star game after the bottom of the 11th, that summarizes pretty much how I now feel about Major League Baseball. I grew up playing baseball to the virtual exclusion of all other sports and developed a deep and abiding love for the subtleties of the game. I was so much of a fan that I would calculate batting averages for Bill Madlock after every at bat when he has winning batting titles for the Cubs. I devoured BIll James' Baseball Abstracts. But as I grew older, I changed and the game changed. MLB has effectively been rudderless with weak an/or incompetent commisioners since Fay Vincent left. Having human slugs like Wayne Huizenga or human slug trails like Peter Angelos as owners hasn't helped. The players used to strive to make the post-season because the money meant something too them, but no more. (Do these guys have any idea how much I would have given to have their ability? I had the mental part down much better than most of the major leaguers I've seen, but lacked the physical tools to ever play beyond my teen years.) Expansion, designated hitters, interleague play -- all just gimmicks that have turned MLB into something I cannot identify with.

Mr. Selig and Mr. Fehr, if you're reading this, you can keep playing whatever it is you choose to call it today, or you can play baseball. If you choose to ever start playing baseball again then maybe I'll come back. But you should realize that I have no interest in the game you're playing now. And neither do my kids.


Point - Counterpoint

Mac Thomason, whom I’ve never met, but respect for his intelligent and honest approach towards topics from the left, has written something that I feel I should respond to:

When the American "left" (defined, it seems, as anyone from Bill Clinton on) produces a Rudolph or a McVeigh (and no, the Unabomber was not a leftist) then we'll talk.

Well, how about the Black Panthers, the Weathermen, the Symbionese Liberation Army, the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, or the Earth Liberation Front?

All violent.

All from the left. Left of Bill Clinton.

And let's not forget the violence being perpetrated across campuses against Jewish organizations. Is this coming from the right or the left?

As Mac noted to me in an e-mail, it's true that most of those groups I named are more or less out of existence now. But, I expect I will still be hearing about Rudolph and McVeigh 30 years from now even if no further anti-abortion motivated crimes occur. The implication that we should measure evil by body count seems a bit off as well. Isn’t this just a variant of the Marc Herold/John Pilger-like commentary that condemns the US because we have allegedly killed more people than Al Qaeda? While ELF and PETA may not have killed as many people directly as Rudolph or McVeigh, can we lay the agony and death of people deprived of medical advances or genetically improved rice at the feet of the Luddites? If you want to argue on these terms, the number of people adversely affected by the actions of the Luddites has to be much greater than the impact of Rudolph's and McVeigh's actions.

I’m really not interested in getting into a flame war with Mac or anyone else, but if I take any offense, it would be from the attempt at guilt by association by tagging people like me with Rudolph or McVeigh because we are all from the "right." Rudolph and McVeigh are loons and criminals, wherever they got their ideas or motivation. Their actions don't make anything I write more or less correct. But the implication is that this is some disease of the right, when it is in fact just a disease.

DOWNDATE: I got mail after this one. Let's see if I can hit the high points. As a general note, I'm not trying to make any point other than what I said at the end, that these sorts of criminal acts aren't the exclusive domain of the "right," or by extension, the "left." Criminals are criminals whatever their motivation and should be treated as such. There are no mitigating circumstances such as an economically deprived childhood nor should they be considered more heinous because they constitute some thought crime. I also don't have to defend anybody or try to measure the crimes of the "right" against the crimes of the "left." Who cares what Eric Rudolph's or Timothy McVeigh's or Ted Kaczinski's politics are? That is pointless, they are not rational actors who respect the opinions of others or their persons. None of these guys is really "right" or "left" as I understand the terms, although they pick and choose bits of those ideologies as it suits their purposes. I've heard that David Duke likes vanilla ice cream. Does that mean that liking vanilla ice cream is racist?

In response to reader Nick, the attacks on Jews across our campuses is not inherently a "left" problem, but the "left" has certainly stepped up to offer excuses and rationales for "understanding" this behavior. Imagine the uproar if Columbia had properly fired Edward Said for his rock throwing escpade, compared to the case in the UK of two Jews who were fired for being Jews. Reader Brian offered that PETA isn't violent and sent an excellent link to the violent tendencies of the animal rights movement, but I still think PETA is a violent group, throwing blood on people and encouraging lawless activity. Porphyrogenitus sent me the link to his post that the pistol packin' prof mentioned. Reader Andrew is absolutely correct that I must have been brain dead to have forgotten all the extremely violent anti-globalization protestors the last few years. I remember thinking about Jose Bove when composing the post, but then it slipped my mind. Sorry. Reader Richard has an astute observation that many on the "left" are really wimps and do their best to outsource their violence, getting others to do their dirty work for them and face the boys wearing the baby blue helmets.

Mac has also responded. If I'm going to take any further issue with Mac, it would be over his willingness to see things in an "us" and "them" manner. I'll just finish here by noting that none of these lunatics come out of anything we would recognize from a keynote speaker at an RNC or DNC convention, though a few of the people hanging out in some of the committee meetings probably knew one or more of these bastards.

Thanks to everyone for their comments.

Tuesday, July 09, 2002

The ICC, Again

Every time I read someone advocating the US signing on to the ICC, glorifying the utopian ideals of how its very existence will stop genocide, prevent halitosis and rescue cats stuck in trees, I wonder about the enforcement of its edicts and decisions -- and the only thought that comes to mind is:

You and what army?


I've Got Mail!

Reader Kevin writes in response to I'm Sorry, Did the EU Say Something?

In his column of 6 July 2002, Matthew Parris makes the argument

"The answer to the question ‘Why do US presidents throw their weight around?’ is the same as the answer to the question ‘Why do dogs lick their balls?’ Because they can. British journalists and politicians are just going to have to get used to that."

He goes on at some length to expand, albeit less crudely, on the same theme: The US can do whatever it wants because no other nation has more than a tiny fraction of its power. He is right, of course, and it is clear that this fact galls him deeply (though one wonders if he would be less galled if Britain were in this position).

Stripped of ennui and malaise, Mr. Parris' prolix complaint is that the US won't do everything the EU and UN want it to do. He spends a lot of time bemoaning this fact. The tenor of his complaint lays bare the fundamental philosophical divide between his beliefs about the proper principles of government, versus those that actually do govern the US. He advocates the centralization of authority and the incremental increase of its coercive powers over time, while the US is a republic, dedicated to decentralized government according to the will of the people. There is no way to paper over this divide, which irks Mr. Parris greatly. It would probably irk him less if the US were less powerful, but it does not seem to occur to him that the power of the US has grown to its current stature because of its governing principles, while the decline of other nations stems from those he advocates.

Aside from the US, virtually every dominant nation in history that cared about the world outside its boundaries exercised its might to take as much of the world as it could hold. Yet the US, which now has more power than any nation in history, does nothing of the sort. While it refuses to be ruled, it shows no desire to be ruler. This fact is the moose in the newsroom that Mr. Parris and his colleagues refuse to see. He ought to spend more of his attention on understanding why the US limits its own exercise of power, and less on Lilliputian fulminations over his own powerlessness. Or, to put it in terms Mr. Parris is more likely to understand, why has the Big Dog allowed him to keep his balls?

I wish I could write this clearly and succinctly.


The Scourge of Richard Cohen, Vol. XXXVIII

(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.)

This is probably one of the most content free columns Richard Cohen has ever written. Let’s see if it’s worth the effort in Pious Pledgers All:

To plagiarize a plagiarist, I cite Pete Seeger, the venerable folk singer, who said his father once told him that plagiarism was essential to creativity.

Well, at least we have some insight into Pete’s political beliefs concerning private property.

It is in that vein that I borrow the observation of someone -- I can't remember who –

Well, that certainly helps when you want to be a plagiarist!

… who pointed out that right after a federal court ruled that the phrase "under God" amounted to a coercive attempt to establish religion, the entire Congress rose as one and, insisting otherwise, recited the pledge.

Except for Senator Byrd who rose and forgot the words.

Not a single member had the guts to dissent.

So, even Senator Byrd’s instincts for political survival remain intact. Adults are such phonies, right Mr. Caulfield, uh …, I mean Mr. Cohen? I mean, the Congress just keeps on pretending that it ain’t necessary to solve the impending demise of Social Security. They spend all our money like a sailor on shore leave and then spend all their time bemoaning the burgeoning federal deficit. Like, who do they think they’re fooling?

Now, I admit right off that I really don't care about that phrase. It could stay or go and it would not mean a thing to me. It is a trivial and mostly innocuous governmental affirmation of religious belief, which I think of as I do the coins in my pocket. "In God We Trust," they say -- and, as the old joke goes, "all others pay cash."

I think Richard is about to write a check his column can’t cash.

But Mike Newdow, an atheist, did care.

Yes. Mr. Newdow desperately cared about something that Richard acknowledges is trivial and mostly innocuous. So desperately that it was necessary to go to court about it. More than once, apparently.

And he did not want his 8-year-old daughter saying the pledge with that phrase in it.

Remember this, because Richard gets a little confused about it a couple times later.

The words, as we all know, were added in 1954 to emphasize the difference between the United States and the Soviet Union. We believed in God and the communists did not. It was a simplistic formulation.

If you think this was simplistic, just wait for Richard’s next argument.

Osama bin Laden believes in God. So do the Serbs who fought a vicious war in the Balkans with the enthusiastic support of the Orthodox Church. And so do the Hindus who retaliated against Muslim extremists in India by burning innocent Muslims in their homes. All over the world, some people are willing to kill other people in the name of God.

So, the Communists weren’t bad? Or at least not as bad as those belief-doers? Is this a non in search of a sequitur?

Nonetheless, the words were inserted in the pledge.

And Soviet-style communism was eventually defeated and discredited in everyone’s eyes. Well, almost everyone’s.

We didn't need it to fight the Nazis, but for some reason we did to fight the commies.

Or maybe we didn’t need it at all, but at a symbolic level, it helped to reinforce an understanding of one of the primary differences between people that love freedom (including freedom of religion) and the ultimate illiberal utopian statists.

I was 12 or 13 when the phrase became law and I recognized it for what it was: a governmental effort to establish religion.

No doubt the Establishment Clause was something on the mind of every 12 year-old or 13 year-old boy in Brooklyn. This explains an awful lot.

That religion, I knew, was not my own. It was the majority's religion -- the president's and Congress's and, of course, that of the teacher at the head of the classroom.

And fortunately, the Establishment Clause was, and is, still respected; thereby protecting Richard from the puritanical straw men he had already started building as a pre-teen.

She and they wanted me to say those words.

Uh-huh. They are called rules and order. You are expected to learn those things when you’d rather be playing Lord of the Flies.

I refused to say them then, and I still won't.

Gosh, that's brave. So Richard’s been a Dick for a really long time.

I love my country and will gladly pledge my allegiance to it. I honor the flag and proudly fly it from the porch of my house.

Me too.

But those words about God are unnecessary.


Still, I would never challenge the phrase in court. It is boilerplate, of no consequence. I do not feel threatened.

Wait a second. In the last paragraph, Richard feared the impending imposition of Cromwell's Puritanism, or Torquemada’s Inquisition in the person of his teacher, if not the Congress and the president.

So, it's okay with me if the 9th U.S. Circuit Court's ruling gets overturned on appeal, which it surely will. (Scalia must already be working on the decision.)

A gratuitous cheap shot that says an awful lot about Richard Cohen. I don’t think this is going to ever get to the Supreme Court, and if it does, Justice Scalia will almost certainly agree with Mr. Newdow, because he is a man of principle. I guess Richard missed the article that noted the three justices who have the highest scores protecting freedom of speech are, … wait for it …, Justice Scalia, Justice Thomas, and Chief Justice Rehnquist.

Still, someone should pause and note the reaction of both the House and Senate to the ruling and how not a single member had the courage to suggest -- just to suggest -- that the court had a point.

This is hard to believe. Let’s face it, Cynthia McKinney can suggest that Osama bin Laden had a point, and she faces seemingly no retribution for it, and what criticism she legitimately gets is thrown back as being anti-American suppression of dissent. I wonder why all those Senators who are so worried about vouchers taking money out of the pockets of the NEA, uh …, I mean using tax money to fund religious education suddenly got feet of clay when it came to this invocation of a deity? Can Senator Ted Kennedy really believe he is going to have to stand before God one day and answer for his sins? Are there no senators in their last term that don’t have to pander to the idiot prols? Is it possible that maybe, just maybe, they actually believe it is best that the words “under God” stay in the pledge?

After a lifetime in journalism, I can tell you that some members of Congress are religious skeptics. Some are even agnostics or atheists. That's true of society in general and it is no less true of our national leaders.

After a lifetime as a non-journalist, I have come to much the same conclusion. Does Richard really believe that a lifetime as a journalist gives him some special insight that us mere non-journalists cannot possibly possess.

Yet, not one questioned the consensus.

99-0 is more than a consensus.

Not one stood up for that school kid in California -- not one.

As Richard noted above, but now chooses to ignore, this had nothing to do with what the little girl wanted or didn’t want. It had everything to do with Michael Newdow being an ass, aided and abetted by more asses on the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals.

If these men and women, adults with immense influence, were cowed into acting like 8-year-olds in the classroom, then how can we expect real 8-year-olds to assert their constitutional right to delete the phrase or not recite the pledge at all?

I thought it was a little precocious of Richard to be thinking about the Establishment Clause at the age of 12, but now we have an 8 year-old trying to assert her constitutional rights. Boy do I look stupid now for doubting President Carter when he told us about little Amy’s concerns over nuclear proliferation oh so many years ago. I guess we were all just slow where I grew up. Thank goodness we have people like Richard to help us see the past the simplicity of our world views.

What kid can stand up to that kind of pressure? Certainly, no member of Congress could.

Yep, that’s what we vote for these days. Spineless legislators beholden to polls and peer pressure instead of courage and conviction. Hmm, I wonder what Al Gore thinks about this?

Those of us who are more skeptical than religious are constantly being told how godless this country has become.

Or at least, people like Richard imagine that they are constantly being told how godless this country has become. It makes it much easier to make a bold stand when there really isn’t anybody standing against you.

Yet, the California decision was unanimously denounced (99-0 in the Senate) in the most vituperative terms.

Get ready for the vilest vituperative vitriol imaginable, including such horribly harsh words as “ridiculous,” “nuts,” and “stupid.”

George Bush called it "ridiculous," Tom Daschle, truly the majority leader (the minority be damned), called it "nuts" and Robert Byrd, usually a man of comical grandiloquence, turned uncharacteristically terse. He said the judges were "stupid."

Senator Robert Byrd was perhaps comically grandiloquent when Richard was 12 or 13, but in all my memory of him, which goes back about 25 years, he has been a doddering old time pol who believes he is best serving the country who serves himself.

America is a famously religious nation. That is a fact. Religion really needs no help from the government -- and that is a fact also.

Careful Richard, after all, facts are sacred.

Those who need the government's protection are kids, like the one in California, who choose to assert their Americanism in a secular but no less ardent way.

My experience as a parent has led me to conclude that 8 year-olds make a lot of assertions, but ardently expressing their Americanism in a secular way seems to be a bit of a stretch.

A court understood her plight -- and then Congress, virtually to a person, stood as one and effectively declared that she should, as the law allows, make a stand on principle by staying silent. They covered their hearts -- but they were really covering something else instead.

Wrong again. The little girl had no plight, other than having a father whose a first rate ass. And no doubt some members of Congress are being outright hypocritical to stand and demand that “under God” be put back into the Pledge of Allegiance. But don’t some members of Congress believe that “under God” is, in fact, quite appropriate in the Pledge of Allegiance? Is it fair to slander all those on either side of the aisle that are devout Christians, observant Jews, Muslims, Zoroastrians, Buddhists, or Hindus, because some members of Congress are hypocrites on this issue? If Richard were a Senator, then perhaps the vote would have been 99-1. But when you find yourself standing alone because you think everyone else is crazy or a coward, perhaps it is a good time to rethink your assumptions.

Maybe Richard would like this politically correct pledge better: I pledge allegiance to the PFLAG of illiberal utopian statism, and to the DNC which for it stands, one Nation edited by Katrina vanden Heuvel, with strawpeople and a nanny state for all.


He's Back

He's tanned, rested and ready to blog. And it's his 40th Birthday!

Welcome to the other side Terry. Why are we working so hard when we are supposed to be able to coast downhill?


All The Colors In The Rainbow

I heard Senator Christopher Dodd this morning on NPR complaining about President George W. Bush's comments about the latest corporate scandals:

Blah blah blah blah blah blah blah zeeble bop fickle fackle bush Bush BUSH! blah blah blah. Blah blah blah blah blah zeeble bop fickle fackle bush Bush BUSH! blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah. Blah blah zeeble bop fickle fackle bush Bush BUSH! blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah. Blah blah blah blah blah blah blah. Blah blah zeeble bop fickle fackle bush Bush BUSH! blah blah blah blah. Blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah zeeble bop fickle fackle bush Bush BUSH!

Let's face it, if President George Bush says the sky is blue, then Senator Christopher Dodd can be counted on to say that Bush is wrong, it's green like the money Bush's friend Ken Lay made destroying Enron; and Paul Begala can be counted on to say that Bush is wrong, the sky is red like the states that voted for Bush where James Byrd was dragged to his death and Matthew Sheppard was the victim of a hate crime; and Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney can be counted on to say that Bush is wrong, the sky is black like the skin of the all the voters disenfrachised by Bush in the last presidential election; and Congressman Dick Gephardt can be counted on to say that Bush is wrong, the sky is full of dark clouds growing like those over the economy that Bush is destroying; and Senator Tom Daschle can be counted on to say that Bush is wrong, the sky is gray like the hair on those denied their presciption drug benefits by the heartless Bush; and Senator Joe Lieberman can be counted on to say that Bush is wrong, that the sky is yellow like Bush because he's not going after Osama bin Laden fast enough; and Senator Hillary Clinton can be counted on to say that Bush is wrong, that the sky is vast and endless like the federal budget deficit because of Bush's tax breaks given to the wealthy; and loser Al Gore can be counted on to say that Bush is wrong, the sky is falling because Bush will not ratify the Kyoto Accords.

And NPR can be counted on to get someone to spout some metaphor for every color on the palette ... except blue.

Meanwhile I am going to keep dropping in hints about aubergines radiating in visible and invisible wavelengths (in a hyperspectral sense), until either the GoogleBomb works or Stephen Green gives us all a recipe for the humble eggplant.


Now This Is a Peace Process

According to the World Tribune:

Arab leaders have told Palestinian Authority Chairman Yasser Arafat that neither the United States nor Israel will agree to deal with him again.

Peace in our lifetime, even if it's not in Arafat's lifetime?


Shouting Makes Your Argument Better, Right?

If you are going to treat people who are trying to help like this, don't be surprised if your future requests are ignored and they don't try so hard to help next time.

Can we please dispense with the idea that Secretary Tommy Thompson and President George W. Bush really want people to die of AIDS because they don't yield to every demand by "activists" who haven't got an effing clue?


Not for Profit

I understand that you can get to NPR with But is it appropriate that will take you to the same page?


My Bad

I passed an e-mail earlier to Mac Thomason informing him that the stadium that the Portland Beavers play in is owned by PG&E, which is a subsidiary of Enron. This seemed fitting, since they are running a promotion for people named "Arthur" or "Anderson" or "Arthur Anderson" today.

I was wrong. PGE is actually Portland General Electric, not Pacific Gas & Electric. Must be the heat, or the heat of the moment, or the indigestion caused by snarfing down the leftover hyperspectral eggplants. I heard something on the radio at lunch (was it Limbaugh? - don't recall) and relayed it without checking. Just got home, went to validate it after seeing Mac's comment, but I can't. Jeez, I'm not even sure that PG&E is a subsidiary of Enron. It would be funny if it were true, but it apparently isn't. Heck, maybe it is true, but I cannot verify it. Either way, I shouldn't have made such a statement.

My humble apologies to Mac and all his loyal readers. Consider my ass fact-checked. This is really embarrassing. I will certainly endeavor to be more accurate in the future.


With Apologies to Josef Stalin...

Jesse Jackson is a useless idiot:

The Rev. Jesse Jackson yesterday called President Bush and Attorney General John Ashcroft "the most threatening combination in our lifetime," at the 93rd annual convention of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. Mr. Jackson also called the president's comparison of a recent Supreme Court ruling favoring school vouchers in Cleveland to the 1954 desegregation order in Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka, Kansas "unliterate" and "fuzzy history."

Jesse's painful imbicility now serves no one's purpose, no matter how ignoble or nefarious.

But that Washington Times headline: Jackson raps Bush, Ashcroft really had me glad I wasn't there to hear something sampled from Cornel West's magnum opus, or was that his magnificent octopus?

And did I really write "With Apologies to Josef Stalin"? Must be the hallucinatory effects of eating those hyperspectral eggplants.

Sunday, July 07, 2002


Here's my GoogleBomb entry that returned no results this evening: Hyperspectral Eggplants.

Please use it freely for fun and profit!


Zimbabwe Hits Bottom

The opportunity of a lifetime that shows up from Nigeria every month or so is now coming from Zimbabwe.

From;Mr.Daniel Kargbo and Family, Johannesburg,South Africa.

My Dear ,

Good day.This very confidential request should not come as a surprise to you.But it is because of the nature of what is happening to me and my family urged me to contact you, and I quite understand that this is not the best way to contact you because of the nature of my request and the attention it requires.I got your contact information from your country's information directory at the external affairs ministry,here in johannesburg,during my desperate search for someone who can assist me secretly and confidentially in relocating and managing some family fortunes.

My name is Mr.Daniel Kargbo,the second son of Mr.Smith Thabo Kargbo,of Beithbridge Zimbabwe.At the height of the present political crises in our country,in which the white farmers in our country are being slained and ripped off their belongings by the supporters of our president,Mr.Robert G.Mugabe,in their efforts to reclaim all the white owned farms in our country,my father and my elder brother were brutally slained to a painful death on the 13th of february,2002, in their struggle to protect some white farmers who ran to take refuge in our house.My father,during his life on earth was a prominent business man who trades on diamond and gold from some foreign countries .He publicly opposes the crude policies and crime against humanity on the white farmers by Mr.Robert Mugabe and his followers,which they enforced media law restrictions to protect their wicked acts.That not being enough,the president and his followers after winning the last undemocratic elections decided to block and confiscate all accounts and assets of our black indigenes[that included my fathers assets and accounts] who oppose his policies and render support to these white farmers,along with the assets of these white farmers themselves,that are being presently confiscated.I therefore decided to move my mother and younger sister to the Republic of South Africa,where we presently live without anything and without any source of livelyhood.

During my fathers life on earth,he had deposited the sum of Twelve Million United States Dollars[$]in a Trunk box with a Finance and Security Company in the Republic of Togo for a cash and carry Diamond and Gold business with some foreign business customers, awaiting instructions to be moved to its destination,which he never completed before he met his untimely death on that faithful day.In view of this and as the only surviving son of my father,and with the present clamp down,killing and confiscation of his assets as one of those who render support to the white farmers in our country,I therefore humbly wish to inform you of my intentions to use your name and adress in making sure that this fund is lifted out of Africa finally,to the Europe office of the finance company and also seek for your honest and trustworthy assistance to help me clear and accommodate this money over there before it is dictated out and blocked by the present Mugabe's regime.My mother is presently with the valid document covering this deposit.

Myself and my mother have agreed to give you 25% of this money for assisting us in the areas I pleaded above,while the remaining 75% will be for me and my family for our future investments,tax and other expenses that might be incured in the course of this,which will depend on your assistance.

Please,I hope you will grant and view this very request with favour and much understanding of our situation now,and will be a very honest and reliable person to deal with.And also bearing in mind the confidential nature of this my request,I emphasize please that you keep every bit of it to yourself so as to protect my familys future and yourself rendering this help.Thanking you in anticipation of your urgent response as soon as you read this very request.

Best Regards,
Mr.Daniel Kargbo and family.

I suppose it would be more effective if they actually adressed the e-mail, but in fairness, Mr. Kargbo has just started whereas the Sese Seko family have had a lot of iterations to perfect their scams, uh, I mean syntax and spelling.

I blame Robert Mugabe.

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