Sine Qua Non Pundit
And what is good, Phaedrus, And what is not good -- Need we ask anyone to tell us these things? ------ ------ ------ ------ E-mail: email@example.com
Wednesday, October 30, 2002
A few more thoughts on last night's disgraceful performance...
They booed people who came to show their respects for no reason other than the fact that they were elected Republicans.
Wouldn't you feel awkward if people started cheering your presence at a memorial service?
I can come closer to forgiving Mr. Kahn than I can any of the elected officials who not only stayed, but participated in the cheering and pushed the crowd ever downward. Yea, I'm referring to the usual suspects and Mr. Mondale as well. Is winning that damn important? And before you say yes, may I suggest that you get a grip, or maybe a life?
Does Norm Coleman get three hours of free TV across the board in Minnesota for his campaign now? Wouldn't that be, well, fair?
In all aspects of life in which there is competition, anything that is successful is replicated mercilessly by those wishing to acheive the same level of success. It happens in sports, television, and even politics. Running for the Senate as a Democrat must now be one of the most hazardous occupations the actuarials track. Since this technique may have worked for two elections in a row, should we start a dead pool contest now on who will have to die before the next general election to help Tom Daschle hold on to the Senate?
Isn't it weird that Democratic catastrophes result in clear benefits to the Democrats?
I really enjoy reading people like Ted Rall who think George Bush ordered Senator Wellstone killed, just like, well, some Republican (it must have been John Ashcroft!), must have ordered Governor Carnahan killed. And why would they do this? It is all part of their master plan to lose control of the Senate and, of course, to get John Ashcroft in as Attorney General. Brilliant!
What would the mass media have done if it had been a Republican Senator who had died tragically and this had happened? Their silence now is deafening and the rationalizations offered by those who want a Democrat to win no matter what are just so sleazy.
One can only hope that this costs Tom Daschle the Senate and that it will force the Democratic Party to toss aside the soulless thugs and creeps that have taken it over. There is a proud, honorable tradition within the DNC that is being tossed aside for temporary gains. If there are any Democrats that read this, take back your party before it is too late.
St. Louis, Blog Central
Patrick Ruffini is coming to St. Louis to help Jim Talent win the Missouri Senate seat currently held by "selected" Jean Carnahan. Mr. Talent was my congressman when I moved to St. Louis. Let's hope he is able to win this election for all the right reasons.
First Tim Blair, now Patrick Ruffini -- all in one week!. Y'all better get here before all the good quotes are gone.
So What Has Changed?
Buried in this post on Salon by Andrew Sullivan, in his accusation that President George W. Bush had Senator Wellstone killed, Ted Rall is quoted as saying:
Did government gangsters murder the United States' most liberal legislator? ... Ronald Reagan may have been a hard-line conservative, but had Wellstone died during his watch you wouldn't have heard liberals asking whether the Gipper had had him offed.
Considering the disgraceful behavior last night in Minnesota, maybe the left just needs a mirror. And a trip to the proverbial woodshed.
Just In Case Anyone Had Any Remaining Doubts
The most intensely personal has become political:
Wellstone's friend and former student Rick Kahn whipped up the crowd before Harkin took the stage by adopting the late senator's fiery speaking style. He chopped the air with his hands, as Wellstone often did, and exhorted the crowd to keep Wellstone's dream alive. Kahn's comments, which came more than an hour into the planned two-hour tribute shocked media outlets across the state which were carrying the event live. Viewers and listeners were outraged.
I wonder what Norm Coleman has to do now to get equal time?
The crowd erupted with cheers as Walter Mondale entered Williams Arena. Only former President Bill Clinton rivaled the applause for Mondale. Other Democratic luminaries who received large ovations included former Vice President Al Gore, Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle, Massachusetts Senator Edward Kennedy and the Reverend Jesse Jackson.
Cheers? At a memorial service? Well, as long as it is all still about him.
The congressional delegation was led by former president Bill Clinton and his wife, Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton. The Clintons received a standing ovation.
Something about being the bride at every wedding and the corpse at every funeral.
But by the end of his remarks, [Senator] Harkin had shed his jacket and was imploring the crowd of about to work on Wellstone's behalf. That likely means backing Walter Mondale, who is expected to take Wellstone's ballot spot after a Democratic party meeting Wednesday evening. "Paul never meant it to be a solo voyage. He wanted us all on board. Now we must continue Paul's journey for justice. So tonight, I ask you: Will you stand up and join together and board that bus?"
Two years ago, I thought the Missouri Democratic Party was a little tacky in trying to benefit from someone's death, but it will be a long time before anyone tops this.
Tuesday, October 29, 2002
The Scourge of Richard Cohen, Vol. LXI*
(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.)
In 1961 Roger Maris hit 61* home runs. An amazing feat denigrated by Commissioner Ford Frick’s decision that an asterisk would be appended to it in the record books to maintain Babe Ruth’s name at the top of the list.
1961. The combination of the Nation of Islam’s mystical 19 and 61 - which is an inverted mirror image of 19!
19. There were 19 hijackers on 9/11/2001; 9/11 which can be rewritten as 19 and 1 for the 19 martyrs and the one God they killed for. And 2001, which is a combination of 20 and 01, gives 20 – 01 = 19!
61. 61 home runs in 1961! 61 Scourges in 2002 – a numeric palindrome! – on 10/29/02, and 29 – 10 – 2 = 19!
In 1961, Roger Maris was #1 and he wore uniform number 9, which gives us 19!
How can anyone who gazes upon this cosmic received wisdom doubt the authenticity of the Creator?
But I digress. I mean, I seriously digress.
Poor Roger never could catch a break. What with the record book asterisk, the lawsuit against Anheuser Busch by his family, his record broken by Mark McGwire and then shattered by McGwire, Sammy Sosa and Barry Bonds, and to top it all off, that movie by Billy Crystal. Poor Roger. Sigh.
But you came here to read about Richard Cohen. Or more correctly to gaze at the flayed carcass that is left when I have finished with yet another column. Richard has made my job much tougher than it would seem as he tries to Scourge himself today. But as usual, this is a job best left to the amateurs.
After another in a string of abysmal losses for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ expansion franchise, head coach John McKay was asked by a reporter what he thought of his team’s execution, and he replied, “I’m all for it.” John McKay was obviously not an opponent of the death penalty. Or if he was, at least he had a sense of humor.
Unlike Richard Cohen. My goodness, has it really been six months since the last Richard Cohen column on the great shame of our civilization – the death penalty – and the glee with which the Lord High Executioner, uh, I mean, the Attorney General seeks to have it imposed? My mission, and I have chosen to accept it, is to keep Dick’s head spinning over his Axis of Execution:
To: The Attorney General
From: Deputy A.G. Richard Cohen III
Re: The Snipers
How very clever. The open letter, uh, memo, which allows one to construct the most elaborate straw men and then torch them with the greatest of ease. Oh, but it gets worse. You see, this isn’t really Richard Cohen, but Richard Cohen’s evil cousin who does the bidding of the Dark Lord of Justice. This device allows Richard to have his own ideas and feelings presented humbly by a “neutral” observer. Well, let’s see how this works, shall we?
As per your request, I have looked into whether the federal government could manage and take advantage of the competition among law enforcement authorities in three states to try and then …
Yes. This is how the Justice Department operates under John Ashcroft. What with the shortage of federal judges these days, they have to find something to keep their idle hands from doing the devil’s work. But, isn’t carrying out the death penalty performing the devil’s handiwork?
-- God willing –
… execute John Allen Muhammad and, with any luck, John Lee Malvo.
Richard has a tough dilemma. This is about as hard as it gets for the opponents of the death penalty. Let’s see if he can pull it off.
I have checked with various foreign automakers (BMW, Mercedes, Honda, etc.) to see whether we could learn anything from the way they played one state against another for tax breaks, subsidies and the like, but I could find no easily applicable precedent.
Capitalism. Death penalty. It’s all the same.
I also called Jay Kriegel, the head of the New York City Olympic Committee, but for some reason he hung up on me.
And guilt by association. Such a class act, this Dick is.
I foresee some (minor) difficulties in this case from opponents of capital punishment.
Oh my. He really is going to try to keep these murderers from frying. I thought maybe we’d have a lifebed conversion, but noooooo.
I predict that my namesake and cousin, the columnist Richard Cohen, will point out that the alleged snipers traveled from Maryland, a state that does not execute minors (Malvo is 17), to Virginia, which not only does so but does it with a certain commendable enthusiasm.
Yea, them yokels in Virginny are just linin’ up to throw the sweeitch. But they may have a problem if them boys from ‘Bama get their hands on ‘em first. After all, the killed a woman there first.
But what does this “fact” have to do with anything? Their latest killing spree was predominantly in Maryland and Virginia, but they have apparently also killed in Alabama, Washington State, and Washington, DC. Is Richard advising any future sniper wannabees to make sure you kill someone in a state that doesn’t execute minors before you wander into one of those medieval states that have no compunction about killing The Children™?
In addition, both men went from Maryland, which has had only three executions since the death penalty was reinstated in 1976, to Virginia, which has had 86. These factors could be seen as proof that the death penalty is no deterrent.
Conversely, it could be cited as proof that gun control doesn’t work, since more Marylander’s were killed by these two murderers than Virginians, even though Maryland is a much smaller state than Virginia and has much stricter gun control laws. But, I wonder, does Richard think Muhammad and Malvo gave a damn one way or the other about whether or not the states they were murdering in had declared a moratorium on the death penalty? Should I be worried here in Missouri since we are right next to Illinois, where all death penalty sentences have been held up by Governor George Ryan, since the next sniper and son might decide to use Illinois as a base camp? Of course, Governor Ryan’s little publicity stunt seems to have backfired as the details of all the horrendous crimes committed by those on death row have made the populace even more anxious to pull the switch on these bastards.
I expect Cohen and others of his ilk to hit this trivial fact hard.
Hitting trivial facts hard is a Richard Cohen specialty.
What's more, sir, the behavior of the two men -- contacting the police, boasting about a killing in Alabama, calling themselves "God" -- suggests a certain lack of rationality.
There’s no question that these two murderers aren’t exactly paragons of reason. But perhaps a simpler explanation is that they are just psychopaths and, well, stupid. Richard is apparently going to start tossing every conceivable objection up against the wall, hoping that at least one of them will stick.
Indeed, Muhammad may have had a psychotic break, and Malvo, maybe because of his youth, was psychologically dependent on the older man.
That sound you just heard was Richard Cohen hitting bottom.
This suggests a Leopold and Loeb scenario.
Oh my Lord, he’s still digging.
Please see the attached reading or, if you wish, view the movie "Compulsion."
Did Barbra recommend this?
Don't bother with that stuff about how Leopold got out of jail and redeemed himself by becoming a medical researcher.
Except that the kid he murdered was still dead. I think the world would have got on just fine without whatever contributions Leopold gave us.
At this point, I have to consciously close my mouth. My jaw has dropped so far it is painful as Richard suggests that we should try to rehabilitate these two murderers, that we should spend, perhaps $5M of tax money over their natural lifetimes to try them, go through all their appeals, counsel and educate them, build their self esteem, teach them discipline and self respect, and give them new job skills they can utilize when they are free men again.
Sir, we must ignore clear evidence of psychotic breakdowns, malleable youth, etc., and emphasize that capital punishment is God's preferred punishment.
Or we can just ignore every hypothetical that Richard Cohen offers without evidence. But, now it’s God’s fault? Well, the Pentecostal God at least.
Cite the Bible -- an eye for an eye, blah, blah.
So respectful, that Dick.
This raises the troubling question of why the Roman Catholic Church in the United States, reading the same Bible, is opposed to capital punishment …
Uh, okely dokely. Does that mean that Richard will also accept the Roman Catholic Church’s teachings on abortion as well? No, I didn’t think so. Richard Cohen would make a perfect Cafeteria Catholic. I guess he didn’t get the memo that the Church sets policy, not the parishioners.
… but we can point out that it is also wishy-washy about going to war with Iraq. That ought to do it.
Clearly, sir, the public is on our side.
“Damn prols,” Richard mutters under his breath. “Hand me some more absentee ballots.”
The snipers killed innocent people in cold blood and there is no sympathy for them.
Nor should there be.
Note, sir, that Maryland Gov. Parris Glendening said his moratorium on the death penalty would not apply in this case. Frank Lautenberg, running for the Senate in New Jersey, said pretty much the same thing -- even though he is a longtime opponent of capital punishment.
What? Democrat politicians sacrificing principles for popular approval? Well, I never!
Whatever can be said of us, sir, at least we are consistent.
See, Richard knows that we know that we really don’t believe any of that stuff we go on about all the time. We know it’s wrong, but damnitalltohell, how are we going to continue to keep up the oppression if unless we lie, cheat, and steal?
Our critics, including my idiot cousin …
He said it, not me. Oh, what the hell, I’ll say it too: Richard Cohen is an idiot.
… (Oh, what a burden I carry!) …
The road is long, with many a winding turn
That leads us to who knows where, who knows where
But I'm strong, strong enough to carry him
He ain't heavy - he's my cousin
So on we go, his welfare is my concern
No burden is he to bare, we'll get there
For I know he would not encumber me
He ain't heavy - he's my cousin
If I'm laden at all, I'm laden with sadness
That everyone's heart isn't filled with gladness of love for one another
It's a long, long road from which there is no return
While we're on our way to there, why not share
And the load, it doesn't weigh me down at all
He ain't heavy - he's my cousin
He ain't heavy - he's my cousin, sure he’s an idiot, but he’s my cousin
… will cite other cases that were originally thought to be open-and-shut and later turned out to be anything but.
The illiberal utopian statist in all his glory! Ask Governor Ryan about his second thoughts right now.
For instance, New York is now agonizing over the Central Park jogger case, in which new evidence may contradict confessions supposedly volunteered by the persons later convicted.
Had the victim died -- she nearly did -- and had New York then been a death penalty state, those young men might now be dead.
I’m not terribly familiar with the case, but somehow, I doubt that these young men are innocent.
In other states -- Illinois is a prime example -- DNA evidence has been used to exonerate convicted and confessed criminals.
Yes, well, I have carried out a preemptive strike against raising Illinois in this column as an argument. Have mistakes been made in capital cases. Absolutely, so let’s get better. It doesn’t mean we throw the baby out with the bath water. Perhaps a somewhat higher standard than “beyond a reasonable doubt” should be exercised in capital cases. I won’t rehash all these arguments again here, but they have been covered in past Scourges if anyone wants to do the research.
Some can only shudder at what may be happening in the vast majority of crimes where DNA is not a factor.
Is Richard arguing for a Saddam-like general amnesty? Or is he arguing for changing the standard for all criminal convictions from “beyond a reasonable doubt” to “a virtual certainty?” Poor illiberal utopian.
Sir, be prepared to rebut the fact that the U.N. Convention on the Rights of the Child forbids the execution of anyone under the age of 18.
The UN can sell them as sex slaves, but whatever you do, don’t execute them.
As with the international criminal court, we won't ratify it.
Incidentally, I believe the UN is now dead. The fact that the US has delivered the threat of acting without UN approval has formally killed it. The UN cannot function under the threat of the US, or any other permanent Security Council member, to do as it wishes or we’ll take our 25% of their funding and go on in contradiction to their wishes. If the UNSC does not pass the resolution the US wants and the US goes on anyway, then the UN is de jure kaput because the US has said so. If the UNSC does pass the resolution the US wants, then it is de facto kaput since it will henceforth be susceptible to extortion by every permanent member of the Security Council. Either way, the UN has ceased to work. It has been brought to this sorry state because it has steadfastly refused to act in a responsible manner and now the chickens have come home to roost.
UN – 1945 -2002. Good riddance.
In addition, sir, some 105 countries -- including every one in Europe -- have abolished the death penalty.
How many of those countries have a Bill of Rights? Just curious.
If it weren’t so late, I’d list some of the things regarded as acceptable in some of these 105 countries. This is probably the lamest argument put forward. The US should do it because all the cool countries are doing it!
We are now in the company of Iran, Iraq and North Korea -- an axis of execution, some wiseguy is going to say.
I understand that David Duke likes vanilla ice cream. Does that mean that everyone who likes vanilla ice cream is a racist?
Sir, as the horror of the snipers' crimes fades …
In about 150,000 years.
… pressure will build on you to be reasonable, humane -- even civilized -- and not seek the death penalty.
I can just picture John Ashcroft saying, “Silly young cousin of Richard Cohen, I’d rather be unreasonable, inhumane, and uncivilized.” Can’t you?
While it is true that death will not bring the 10 victims back to life, and life in prison is, really, an awful punishment…
Having to read Richard Cohen columns is an awful punishment. Depriving these two murdering bastards of their next breath is justice.
I recommend, sir, that you merely stick to your guns …
No doubt, Dick just cracks himself up. The long winter evenings at those A-list parties must just fly.
… an unfortunate turn of phrase, maybe…
… but one that sums up our entire position.
Or at least, the caricature of John Ashcroft’s position that Richard has so nobly built for him. But I still can’t assume Richard’s position that we should try and rehabilitate these two and hope that they will be able to do some good for humanity in the future.
All three of them.
Sunday, October 27, 2002
Guerillas in the Mist
Wouldn't that be an appropriate headline for this Reuters story?
President Vladimir Putin leads Russians in a day of mourning on Monday with his people asking how more than 100 hostages were killed by mystery gas used to knock out Chechen guerrillas holding them in a Moscow theater.
Today's St. Louis Post Dispatch
My favorite (read: only) local paper has maintained their firm grasp of the obvious:
Wellstone's death, like Carnahan's, disrupts campaign
Only in St. Louis:
Former Fredbird gets probation for break-in at Busch Stadium
For those not in the know, the Rams had the week off:
How did the Rams improve? By having fun
If this were a Reuter's dispatch, I'd be extremely worried:
Gephardt's challenger is waging "guerrilla campaign"
Apparently no one ever did anything bad in the market B.E. (before Enron):
Don't "pull an Enron" by craving instant stock-market gain
The NY Times has endorsed a Republican for statewide office. In this case, George Pataki for Governor of New York.
The means the NY Times has jumped out in front of the St. Louis Post Dispatch in endorsing Republicans for statewide or national office with what is probably an insurmountable 1-0 lead. I expect this lead to hold up for the rest of my natural life.
DOWNDATE: Fortunately, my life is not forfeit because of my hasty assumptions regarding my local paper. I must apologize to the publishers of the St. Louis Post Dispatch. They have endorsed Jim Ryan for Governor of Illinois. Even though it's in an adjacent state and we all know that Jim Ryan is going to lose big because he shares the same surname as the current governor who is a disgrace, this still counts. So the score is now 1-1 between the NY Times and the St. Louis Post Dispatch when it comes to endorsing Republicans for statewide of national office. I wonder if this is in response to the NY Times endorsing Pataki? Anybody want to place a bet on when the tie will be broken?