Sine Qua Non Pundit

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Friday, July 11, 2003
The Last Post

As you read this, top men and women are working feverishly to get the new site operational. Who you ask? Top men and women. I'll downdate this post when it's ready with the new URL. Until then, let me just say that y'all continue to impress the hell out of me, pinging away in the apparent hope that I have posted something else. Martin has it pegged.

Oh, here's the real reason I have to move.

DOWNDATE: 1 August 2002, 1852 CDT


Sine Qua Non Pundit has moved. Adjust your bookmarks accordingly or I shall be forced to use one of these hats on you!


Thursday, July 03, 2003
The Scourge of Richard Cohen, Vol. XC

(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.)

Note, I am leaving Blogspot, but I had to get this in first. Despite all the things I want to write about, I am stepping away to enjoy our Independence Day and it will be a few days before I return. But this is my penultimate post on Blogspot.

Looks like I jumped the gun by a couple of days with my danse macabre reference in the last Scourge. But then again, Richard Cohen usually gives us more than a couple weeks between his death penalty screeds, and I couldn’t just let a obscure reference lapse into obscurity through my forgetfullness. But the music has started, so put on your dancin’ shoes and let’s join Dick in the Death Penalty Tap Dance:

By now you have probably heard of Howard Dean's recent appearance on "Meet the Press," in which he may have set a record for saying, "I can't answer that question."

Why, it rivals, “I don’t remember,” and "I can't recall," in the annals of Democratic responses to straightforward questions.

The question that got the most attention involved the number of troops on active duty.

Did we mention that John Kerry served in Vietnam?

But there was a question that Dean did answer -- and answered extensively -- that deserved as much attention.

Boxers or briefs?

It involved why he switched his position on capital punishment. He said he changed his mind.

As John Maynard Keynes once said, “When the facts change, I change my mind – what do you do, sir?”

A review of his remarks, however, suggests he actually lost it.

First Ann Coulter, now Howard Dean. Apparently disagreeing with Richard Cohen is a one-way ticket to the looney bin. Let’s see, who else can I remember that classified dissidents as insane? Hmm, talk about crushing dissent!

The issue is important because Dean is the self-proclaimed truth-teller on the campaign trail. "I'm going to say what I think," he told Tim Russert.

But, maybe, just maybe, Howard was telling the truth. If so, then the only reason this is important is because it deviates for the received wisdom of Richard Cohen!

This splendid candor has vaulted Dean into the top tier of Democratic candidates; he raised $7.5 million in the most recent reporting period.

Correlation equals causation in Richard’s dystopia.


He’s not half the man he used to be.

… the once-obscure former governor of Vermont is a contender.

As long is the race is for second place.

So let us contend with capital punishment.

Do we have to? Again?

I am not going to argue its pros or cons, because you probably believe what you believe -- and that's all there is to it.

Oh? Can’t we just stop here then? Or perhaps cut the number of anti-death penalty rants by Richard Cohen down to say, six more for the rest of the year?

But as a political issue, it's a salient one, because opposition to the death penalty brings a presidential candidate nothing but trouble.

That must be why only those not running for office stand up on their soap boxes to denounce it so voluminously.

The American people overwhelmingly support executions…

Stupid proles!

… and that is especially true in the South, the so-called Death Belt, where most executions -- as well as the early South Carolina primary -- take place.

The so-called “Death Belt”? Yes, I can see why Richard has abandoned trying to convince anyone, since that’s all there is to it.

Dean once opposed the death penalty, citing "two reasons. One you might have the wrong guy, and, two, the state is like a parent" -- it ought to set an example.

One, this isn’t utopia. We do our best and live (or die) with the consequences. Two, the state as parent is much more troubling to me than any concern Richard Cohen has about the viability of capital punishment. Take your village and shove it, Dick.

He also said, "I truly don't believe it's a deterrent."

Next, he’ll have Cardinal Biggles bring out the comfy chair.

That's three reasons, but never mind.

And don’t worry Mr. Cohen, I haven’t minded for a long, long time.

Then, on account of two horrific crimes, Dean's thinking underwent an evolution. "I came to realize because of the Polly Klaas case and because of similar other cases that sometimes the state inadvertently has a hand in killing innocent people because they let people out [of prison] who ought never to have been let out."

Well, duh.

Granted, that was the case with Klaas, the 12-year-old California girl who was abducted, sexually attacked and murdered back in 1993. Her killer, Richard Allen Davis, had a long criminal record and was out on parole when he committed the crime. But none of his previous crimes were for death penalty offenses.

And therefore, applying the law of induction, Richard apparently feels none of his subsequent crimes should involve the death penalty. Or did I miss something?

Dean could argue that Davis should never have been free and deserved to die because of what he did to Klaas, but not for anything he did before. Davis didn't slip the noose. There was no noose for what he had done.

Until he killed Polly Klaas. But, of course, Richard doesn’t believe that merits the noose either.

The second case Dean cited apparently took place in Vermont. "We had a case where a guy who was a rapist, a serial sex offender, was convicted, then was let out on . . . a technicality, a new trial was ordered and the victim wouldn't . . . go through the second trial. And so the guy basically got time served, and he was the man who murdered a 15-year-old girl and raped her and then left her for dead. . . . So life without parole doesn't work, either."

He murdered her, raped her, and then left her for dead?

Neither does Dean's logic.

Criticism from the master.

According to Dean's own account, the sex offender had never been convicted of a previous capital crime. And, in the eyes of the law, he wasn't even convicted of one of them -- one man's "technicality" being another's constitutional abuse.

Ah yes, those fighting the death penalty never engage in constitutional abuse. Only the evil advocates of the death penalty do that. Well, evil advocates of the death penalty and O.J. Simpson’s attorneys.

Whatever the case, the death penalty played no role.

Until he murdered a girl, raped her and then left her for dead.

It's not that Russert wasn't persistent. He went after Dean time and time again, finding only a bowl of fudge sitting opposite him -- a man so desperately in search of a rationale that ultimately he stood American jurisprudence on its head.

And yet, somehow, he’ll do a better job of picking Supreme Court nominees than President George W. Bush, right Dick?

Going on about felons getting out of jail and then killing, say, "15- and 12-year-old girls," he added, "That is every bit as heinous as putting to death someone who didn't commit the crime."

Perhaps Howard has a point.

In all my years writing about the death penalty, I have never heard any politician admit that he would countenance the death of an innocent person in order to ensure that the guilty die.

Now I’m having to defend Howard Dean! Oh what a tangled blogging urge, when first we practice Cohen Scourge. Really now Dick, that’s not what Howard Dean said. But it is a recognition that even though we don’t live in a utopia that we must still make crucial judgments regarding right and wrong, and that those decisions have consequences.

Dean is maybe the first to acknowledge the unacknowledgeable.

Iraq’s liberation was a good thing?

But by equating the murder of one individual by another with the murder of an innocent person by the government -- the unpreventable with the preventable -- he has casually trashed several hundred years of legal safeguards.

Oh bloody hell, I’m fed up with this nonsense. I could write another thousand words explaining the casual leaps of faith required to get from point A to point Z in Richard argument, but who would read it? But I wonder what Richard Cohen thought of the several hundred years of legal safeguards tossed aside by the recent Supreme Court rulings?

I know that nothing a politician can say in favor of capital punishment can possibly hurt him.

Death to jaywalkers is ok now?

But Dean is supposed to be different.

But we know better, don’t we. Just between you and me...

His supporters say so and so, repeatedly, does he.

Keep telling that lie, and drinking that Kool-Aid.

When it comes to the death penalty, however, he's as craven as they come. The straight-shooter aimed at South Carolina -- but shot himself in the foot.

And so the first shot in our current uncivil war is also fired in South Carolina. I suppose I could mention the cravenness of some Democratic presidential aspirants concerning what some call the “death penalty of the unborn”, but those are tactics I’ll leave to Richard Cohen.

Wednesday, July 02, 2003
That's It!

I tried to fix a typo in the last Scourge and the new, improved BloggerPro has of it's own volition made wholesale substituions to the whole post that I don't have time to fix right now. Yea, I can cut and paste in and out of MS Word, but I shouldn't have to.

Buh bye.

Tuesday, July 01, 2003
Damn Straight

This is a good thing:

The United States has cut military aid to 35 countries over their refusal to exempt US troops from prosecution by the new International Criminal Court (ICC).

The US, which is not a signatory to the ICC, has asked nations that recognise the court to exempt Americans from its provisions over fears they could be subject to politically-motivated prosecution by the court.

US officials says the suspension affects US allies like Brazil, Colombia and South Africa, the Baltic states as well as NATO hopefuls such as Bulgaria, Croatia, Slovakia and Slovenia.

White House spokesman Ari Fleischer says the US government will never accept the court.

And now for some spin:

Our Washington correspondent John Shovelan says the decision to punish countries that have refused to exempt US troops from prosecution is the latest in a series of attacks on the court by the Bush administration.

Aw, the poor defenseless ICC. But maybe it would be a good thing is the good folks at the Australia Broadcasting Corporation learned something about how the US works:

The US initially signed on to the court but later rescinded the agreement.

No. Bill Clinton signed it, but international treaties have to be approved by the US Senate, and that ain't ever going to happen for the ICC. Bill Clinton knew this when he signed the Treaty of Rome, but he signed it anyway. Eh, whatayagonnado?

Maybe Ann Is Right After All

I just heard the BBC repeat the lie that President George W. Bush declared the war over two months ago.

The Scourge of Richard Cohen, Vol. LXXXIX

(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.)

I don’t read columns by Ann Coulter. I’ve certainly never read a book written by Ann Coulter. It’s not that Ann Coulter is reliably wrong, like, oh, I don’t know, Richard Cohen? -- or that she’s a bad writer or that she doesn’t have any good ideas. It’s just that I’ve grown weary of the type of over-the-top partisanship that she displays. There’s no question it’s red meat for the choir, but there’s nothing there that is going to convince since anyone not already agreeing with her isn’t going to make past the first few sentences. I don't read Ann Coulter for the same reason I don't read Molly Ivins. It's all a little too simplisme for my tastes. The few times I remember seeing Ann Coulter on talk shows, she was generally too focused on scoring debating points rather than engaging in the type of conversation that is going to draw me in. But I will admit to enjoying watching her spar with perky Katie, in what may be the only time I have ever watched Ms. Couric on television. Now there has to be some irony in that it was Ann Coulter that got me to watch Katie Couric. I don’t begrudge Ms. Coulter any success she may have, but her work just doesn’t appeal to me. Maybe I’m just too familiar with the arguments. Who knows?

But if, as Francois de La Rochefoucald once wrote, hypocrisy is the homage that vice pays to virtue, then what, I wonder, are the excesses of Ann Coulter when compared to those of Sidney Blumenthal? I suppose I could write a better Scourge if I could find the motivation to read some of Sid’s works, but that ain’t gonna happen. Life is far, far too short, and so, alas, this will not be a far, far better thing I do than I have ever done before. Strangely enough, doesn’t have a single reference to Ronald Coleman, but I digress.

As you read the following, keep in mind that one week ago today, Richard Cohen was singing the praises of that paragon of partisan propriety, Sid Blumenthal. But now, instead of lavish lauding of liberal looniness we have a cacophony of caustic commentary about Crackpot Conservatism:

I am happy to report that Ann Coulter has lost her mind.

Happy! How the wine must have flowed in the Cohen household when Charlton Heston announced he had Alzheimer’s. Why there probably hadn’t been that much joy in Dick’s abode since the press release announcing that Ronald Reagan has Alzheimer’s. Such a nice man, rejoicing in the misfortune of others. Not that Ann has lost her mind of course. But should Richard Cohen ever be in charge, I could see Ann being second in line for compulsory re-education at the mental health center – after me of course.

The evidence for this is her most recent book, "Treason," a nearly unreadable slog through every silly thing anyone on the left has ever said.

As if every silly thing anyone on the left has ever said would fit into one tome.

Coulter conflates dissent with treason, opposition with treason, being wrong with treason, being right with treason and just about anything she doesn't like with treason.

Treason? Nah. But neither does she conflate dissent or opposition with patriotism. But being right with treason? Come on. If I've told you once, I've told you a million times, do not exaggerate! I just hope Ann Coulter likes chocolate ice cream. I'd hate to think that eating it makes me a traitor.

If the book were a Rorschach test, she would be institutionalized.

The authors of Rorshach tests are institutionalized?

My glee in reporting that Coulter is daft is predicated on the prediction that her book, like her previous one, will be a bestseller.

And speaking of unreadable slogs, this would mean what exactly for Living History? Which, incidentally, can be had for a sizeable discount already at

This is invariably the case with rants from the right.

Perhaps there’s just a great demand for documentation of the left’s looniness. Something to counteract the "official" version of events with, as Paul Harvey might say, the rest of the story.

They tell the majority (non-liberals) that they are being controlled by the minority (liberals) -- and that most of the country's important institutions, particularly the press, are in the hands of leftists.

And now Eric Alterman’s contentious thesis is dragged into the paranoid delusion. Of course, to deny that most of the country’s important institutions, not just the press, but the courts, colleges and universities, and even that most supposedly Republican of institutions – big business – are not under the control of a left-wing ideology is to be exceptionally blind to reality. The left-wing bias of all those institutions is demonstrable in the reporting, advocacy, and results of GRUTTER v. BOLLINGER et al. Just imagine the horror of being a captain of industry accustomed to being pilloried by Richard Cohen and his pinko wisp of a grandfather for being rich and successful and suddenly finding yourself in bed with Dick, filing amicus briefs and making common cause with all those who wish to institutionalize and codify racism into the national fabric, all in the name of the goals of the politically correct left.

Coulter has now taken this argument one step further. This wee minority is not merely wrong. It is traitorous.

Traitors? Nah. But I will grant that the loons are in a minority, but they are an important minority, comprising an elite that controls a slice of public life for exceeding their actual numbers.

She says the New York Times "issues traitorous editorials." She says, "Liberals relentlessly attack their own country, but we can't call them traitors, which they manifestly are."

Traitors? Nah. But there’s certainly something of a Vast Left Wing Conspiracy that puts the Vast Right Wing Conspiracy to shame.

"Free speech," which those canny liberals often cite to justify their wacko ideas, "is a one-way ratchet for traitors," and "liberals have a preternatural gift for striking a position on the side of treason."

Treason? Nah. But I can see why someone whose knee-jerk response is always that America is wrong might be seen as an enemy of America. It can be confusing for us "simple people" when the positions taken by the leading lights of the left are virtually indistinguishable from those of America's avowed enemies.

The book is a hoot.

With all these hot and bothered wings about, I was starting to think we were at Hooters.

It is also good news for liberals. It suggests that the right, at least the hard right, has finally dumbed out.

Illiberals, Dick, illiberals. I am a proud liberal in the sense of that word throughout most of recorded history since the Renaissance. Perhaps the greatest sin of the left has been the abuse and misuse of our common language, helping to further the postmodern deconstruction of everything we hold dear to apocalyptic struggles over power and meaninglessness.

This is the predictable cycle for all movements.

And when, pray tell, did the left dumb out?

They start with a genuine grievance and proceed from there to the totally ridiculous -- or, in some cases, to the downright macabre.

A danse macabre. How Gaul-ling.

In some ways, the nutso American brand of archconservatism mirrors traditional anti-Semitism.

Now there’s a sentence that is meant to draw the reader into intelligent discourse and thoughtful contemplation. Or not. If you can’t beat ‘em, Slander ‘em, eh Dick?

Jew-haters proclaim that Jews control the media, international finance and almost everything else of importance -- but, somehow, Jews have accumulated a 2,000-year history of expulsions, pogroms and, finally, the mass murder of the Holocaust. It is the same with American liberals.

2000 years of American liberals?

They control everything, and yet, somehow, the White House, both houses of Congress and, with the exception of several delis in New York, the entire business community are in the hands of conservatives.

The entire business community is in the hands of conservatives? Ha! If only it were true!

It's hard to figure.

Hence the general paucity of reasoned argument in Richard Cohen’s columns.

Now Coulter has gone from the mythical to the absurd.

Which myth would that be? High Crimes and Misdemeanors: The Case Against Bill Clinton?

Nonconservatives are traitors.

Nah. But we aren’t going to get into some boring argument about nonconservatives, neoconservatives, paleoconservatives, crunchy conservatives, and neocrunchypaleoconservatives are we?

In another country and in another age …

We’d be in another country and in another age.

… the remedy would be apparent: expulsion or something like it.

Tarring and feathering, being ridden out of town on a rail, etc.

As this is America, the best she can muster is scorn, ad hominem arguments (Bill Clinton's face is a "fat, oleaginous mug"; Jimmy Carter is "often maligned for his stupidity," etc.) and the shrapnel of quotes she accumulates after she has exploded their context.

Let he who is without absence of context cast the first stone. I’m sure that Donald Rumsfeld, Paul Wolfowitz, Antonin Scalia, Vice president Dick Cheney and President George W. Bush can appreciate quotes being mangled or taken out of context. And that’s just in the last week! But is Richard suggesting that we haven't often suffered from Jimmy Carter’s painful imbecility? On the other hand, maybe Jimmy’s being dumb as a bag of hammers helped inspire him to start Habitat for Humanity.

Sometimes she's oblivious to her own contradictions.

As are we all, especially when it is convenient.

The trouble with liberals, she says, is that they "believe they're God." This would come as news to the pious -- but stupid -- Jimmy Carter.

That’s prima facie evidence of Jimmy’s stupidity. Modern illiberals have set themselves up as little Jacobite Gods on Earth, imagining that they can through their all-encompassing wisdom and the piety of their goodwill alone establish a utopia here on earth through the power of the state.

But in a book that rehashes the McCarthy years, the Alger Hiss case, the House Un-American Activities Committee imbroglio, the Hollywood blacklist and everything but "I Love Lucy," Coulter finally heaves herself into the present and the war with Iraq.

A pox on all your houses. The fact that there were communists throughout the government doesn’t excuse the tactics Senator Joseph McCarthy used. I cannot condone Ann Coulter’s defense of Senator McCarthy, though I must admit that since I haven’t read the book, I must rely on Richard Cohen’s representation of whatever it is she wrote about him. On the other hand, since when has the left acknowledged that Alger Hiss was in fact guilty?

Mockingly, she excoriates the traitorous New York Times, which she cleverly calls "the Baghdad Times," for having said that there was "no reliable evidence" that "Saddam Hussein is connected to the Sept. 11 attack or to al Qaeda."

Traitorous? Nah. Duplicitous and partisan? Yep.

She goes on and on in this vein -- actually, she goes on and on in every vein -- dumbly confident as she typed that such a link would be proved.

Nice to see Richard staying above the fray, avoiding the ad hominem attacks he so deplores.

It has not -- and Coulter, as she herself must now recognize, is nothing more than the Bush administration's useful idiot.

No, I think the left has a monopoly as the subject of the term “useful idiots.” Or perhaps Richard Cohen has forgotten from whence that term came. Perhaps Mona Charen can help remind him.

Fairness compels me to say that Coulter scores some points. Parts of the left -- not all of it, dearie -- were unaccountably naive about communism, and as recently as the run-up to the Iraq war some of these same people again manifested an almost compulsive need to blame America for everything wrong in the world.

Well, duh. That’s quite an admission for someone who has lost her mind, is dumb, dumber, dumberer, and a useful idiot – according to Dickie-dearest.

Coulter's book contains the usual name-calling, the usual spinning of the facts, the occasional racial insult -- McCarthy, for instance, "took enemy fire from savage Oriental beasts" in World War II -- and it revives the charge from the 1950s that the Democratic Party is the party of traitors.

Traitors? Nah. But woefully ignorant of history and lacking a respect for the constitutional nature of our Republic? Well, maybe.

"The inevitable logic of the liberal position is to be for treason," Coulter says in the last sentence of her book.

Like I wrote earlier, this kind of hyperbole plays well to the crowd, but I don’t buy it. As it happens, I also don’t buy Sid Blumenthal either, so I got that one going for me.

When it reaches the bestseller list, as it almost surely will, we will know that the conservative movement has finally cracked up.

So, while earlier it was the nutso brand of American Conservatism, now it’s just plain conservatism that is crazy.

Happy days are here again.

Richard’s self delusion is complete. Why, the more books conservatives sell, the greater their defeat will be in the next election. The logic remains, well, by his own admission, figuring is hard for Richard Cohen.

The Perfect Storm

Our office building has limited parking, so we all park in the Busch Stadium West parking lot, which is about two blocks from our office. When I left this evening, I was rather surprised when I was hit by a couple of raindrops and then a couple more. I lifted my head slightly and saw nothing but blue skies. I turned my head left, then right and still saw nothing but blue skies. I strained my neck and looked straight up and I saw it. A small, dark gray cloud that appeared to be only four or five square blocks in size. And it was directly over my head raining on me. I don't think I could come up with a better metaphor for how I feel right now.

I tried to be clever and include an HTML tag indicating a closure for self pity, but I couldn't make that work right either.


Mean What You Say, Say What You Mean

Somebody better get ahold of North Korea by the shoulders and let them know what's going to happen as soon as we start taking them at their word:

North Korea threatened today to abandon the 1953 armistice that ended the Korean War, and warned that it will take ``merciless retaliatory measures'' in response to any economic blockade.

U.S. efforts to pressure the communist state to abandon its suspected nuclear weapons program have pushed Korea to ``the crossroads of war or peace,'' said the North Korean military's representative at Panmunjom, a truce village where the U.N. Command and the North's military meet to oversee the armistice.

Apparently North Korea hasn't quite caught on to the simplisme approach to diplomacy and international affairs that the US , the UK, and Australia have taken to heart.

Monday, June 30, 2003
Bill Clinton Is An Illiberal Utopian Statist

But you already knew that. The latest example provided comes from an Op-Ed he wrote for the Daily News. Yea, I know how "smart" he's supposed to be, but how do you explain this?

"It's your money," says President Bush when he promotes tax cuts. I disagree with his tax policy but admire his spin. The same argument applies with greater force to whether big media conglomerates should be allowed to control more television and radio stations: "It's your airwaves."

This is wrong on so many levels. Well Billy boy, let me help you out here. The airwaves are the spectrum of radio frequencies that are, in fact, limited by nature (or the laws of physics, if you prefer). The government allocates the frequencies based upon any number of criteria, but the key points are that the frequencies are quite limited and that the government decides on the basis of utility and some measure of value who gets the rights to what frequencies where and for how long. The allocation of frequencies is a political decision made about scarce resources.

The money in my pocket is not limited by nature (or the laws of physics) but by my own wits and effort. Nominally, I agree that some portion of the money in my pocket will be taken by our representative government to fund its activities, but how much money and for what purposes is quite subjective and amongst the most fundamental of political questions. To think that the money in my pocket is of the same nature as the spectrum of radio frequencies and hence completely subject to the control of an appointed bureaucracy like the FCC is more than a little scary. But apparently, Bill Clinton really does believe that the money in my pocket somehow belongs to the government, and to think otherwise is just "spin." While it may be true that the money in my pocket may be scarce to some degree, that does not mean that it is now up to the government to allocate it all based upon some subjective measure of utility for "us."

The fact that crucial misunderstandings (or are they intentional misrepresentations?) like this aren't picked up by the "serious" people is profoundly depressing for me. The illiberal utopian statists continue to put forth arguments about how intelligent and wonderful their ideas for a planned society are, when it is clear to me that they haven't the slightest clue what they are talking about most of the time.

Given the fundamental errors in Bill Clinton's logic in his opening paragraph, I didn't even bother to read the rest of his opinion piece. What's the point, really?

Was Howard Dean a Nucular Engineer?

The reason I'm asking is that the similarities to Jimmy Carter circa 1975 are getting eerier by the day.

Wednesday, June 25, 2003
What the ?

The New! Improved! BloggerPro is acting up at the wrong time while I'm experimenting with MT.

Tuesday, June 24, 2003
Don't Forget!

I'm not really here this week, but I'm hanging out over at Ipse Dixit.

The Scourge of Richard Cohen, Vol. LXXXVIII

(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.)

A short time ago, in a beltway far, far away, there was an epic struggle between two camps. One of these camps relied upon the dark and sinister force of popularity and united solidly behind their poster boy, who they chose to defend at all costs to their honor and integrity. The opposing camp, though not completely without fault, followed an arduous trail towards what they believed to be the their duty to enforce the law and fight against the darkening and coarsening of the body politic and public service.

What I find fascinating is that those who insisted on dragging everyone through the mud instead of taking the honorable way out still insist on resurrecting the mud fights of the past every chance they get. I have become convinced that this is due to their belief that by coating everyone with mud it becomes impossible to distinguish between those who are quite comfortable wallowing in the mud and those who feel it necessary to carry on the good fight even if it is in the mud. We have seen this diseased mindset at work over and over when it comes to the presidency of Bill Clinton and the sycophants defending him beyond all rhyme or reason. Every breach of the public trust was always countered with an attempt to drag others into the mud, even to the point of casting aspersions upon those long dead whose reputations mattered not a whit when placed up against the necessity of maintaining their place at the public trough.

Richard Cohen uses the occasion of Sid Blumenthal’s book The Clinton Wars to sling mud freely, refusing to allow anyone to wipe the filth from his or her countenance. Dick’s feeble attempt at cleverness using the tired illiberal perjorative of warmonger forces me to climb down into the filth with him and do battle in what I’m calling The Clinton Whoremongers versus The Clinton Warmongers:

Sidney Blumenthal titles his account of his White House days "The Clinton Wars," but it could just as easily be called "The Blumenthal Wars."

Or maybe the War of the Poseurs, or The War Against Republican Aggression, or the War of Clinton’s Gear, or even Gulp War I. It’s funny that the his opponents are accused of warmongering, and yet Dick and the other defenders of Slick Willie are the ones resorting to the warlike verbiage.

Reviewers have called him a Clinton "courtier," "Sid Vicious," a "lady-in-waiting" and, by the strongest of implications, a liar.

And those are the nice reviews.

Yet to actually read the book brings another term to mind: "mad." This is what Washington was during the Clinton years.

And alas, there seems to be no cure for those afflicted by this malady. Time wounds all heels.

I do not mean all of Washington. After all, many Democrats fought valiantly for Bill Clinton -- or, if not for him, then against Ken Starr, the moralistic prig of a special prosecutor.

The noble Democrats! So valiantly self-deceived and spinning on Bill Clinton’s behalf, and then undertaking no penance when their mendacity was revealed.

Ditto some members of the press, who realized that no matter what Clinton did, what was being done to him -- and the presidency -- was far, far worse.

And yet, no mention of what brought all this on or of the shameful acts that followed while Bill Clinton should have been just a little contrite about the abuse of the public trust. While Richard Cohen laments that the poor boy, whose heart was so pure, was more sinned against than sinning, methinks the boy president was more akin to King Richard III than King Lear. Was ever the public in this humour wooed? Was ever the public in this humour won?

But you would get little of that from most of the reviews. Barely mentioned are the censorious comments of Samuel Dash, Starr's ethics counselor, who, in the book, characterizes the special prosecutor as a morally obsessed inquisitor. "He lacked a lot of judgment," Dash told Blumenthal.

Even assuming that not every arrow of outrageous fortune slung at Bill Clinton was merited, how does this justify what he actually did? Are there any arguments here other than to attack the messenger, or to deflect attention away from the true crimes and misdemeanors by dragging others even deeper into the muck?

"Starr didn't see the difference between a sin and a crime."

And yet, isn’t Sid’s camp the one that maintained that what is legal is moral?

Dash says that Starr could have ended his investigation much earlier than he did. He had, really, nothing.

Nothing? Nothing? Nothing comes from nothing. Except of course, Bill Clinton’s impeachment and disbarment.

The same has to be said about Filegate, Travelgate and all the other scandals, including the overriding influence China supposedly exercised over the Democratic Party.

Oh? Someone must have spiked the red Kool-Aid.

In each and every case, there was a nugget, an infraction, something suspicious.

Apparently, something other than nothing then, eh Dick?

But now, all these years later, it is hard to recall just what these scandals were about.

What an amazing statement! I’ll retract my earlier allusion over at Ipse Dixit to Alzheimer’s setting in. The disease afflicting Dick and all the other red Kool-Aid drinkers is much more insidious, somehow wiping the slate clean of any stains left by Bill Clinton, while keeping alive the most detailed memory imaginable of all that was done by those attempting to hold him to account for his crimes and misdemeanors.

That's hardly the case, say, with Watergate.

Hey, at least he didn’t compare it to Vietnam.

To this day I can tell you it was about abuse of power by the Nixon White House -- and White House aides went to jail.

So, since no Clinton aides have gone to jail (yet), there was no abuse of power by Bill Clinton? The illogic is impeccable.

None of Clinton's White House aides was even indicted.

See! See! Legal equals moral!

It certainly wasn't for lack of trying. Starr was preceded by Robert Fiske, who was removed from office by Republican judges on account of a disabling conflict of interest -- experience as a prosecutor, fair-mindedness and estimable professionalism.

It must be so wonderful to live in such a black and white world, where everyone who agrees with you is pure and chaste and everyone opposed have hearts as black as coal. I better retract that chaste part though. If we have learned anything, it is that purity of purpose does not require chastity for an illiberal.

Starr, in turn, was succeeded by a third prosecutor, Robert Ray, another pro.

Perhaps Mr. Ray’s professionalism was tempered by the realization that there was no point in pursuing indictments when confronted by the stonewalling possible by the Clinton White House and all their enablers in Congress and the media.

The FBI was in the hands of Louis Freeh, who loathed Clinton.

Imagine! But wasn’t Mr. Freeh appointed by Clinton?

Various congressional committees were run by the likes of Al D'Amato, who -- in the manner of naming a nunnery after Hugh Hefner -- just got his name put on a Long Island courthouse.

Far be it from me to defend Al D’Amato, but is this any worse than naming the home of the Justice Department after Robert Kennedy?

As for the news media, they went after both Bill and Hillary Clinton full time.

Uh huh. You know, if Richard Cohen and the Clinton Whoremongers can’t be honest with themselves, how can we expect them to be honest with us? And anyway, how dare they investigate those whose motives are above reproach?

The result? Zip.

Except for Bill Clinton’s impeachment and disbarment, the absolution of Billy Dale and the prosecutor’s statement that Hillary was probably behind it, the still unexplained FBI files in the White House, and the magical reappearance of the Rose billing records in Hillary’s quarters in the White House. And we haven’t even started on the last minute pardons or Hilary’s questionable book deal.

I know Blumenthal.

And I don't know Dick.

He was my Post colleague.

So was Janet Cooke.

But I also know most of the people who have criticized his book.

Most? Really?

They are honorable people…

Watch out for Dick’s but…

…but many of them use the book to pick up where they left off. They have no second thoughts, no backward glance to see the mess they made or to wonder how investigative reporting and commentary went right off a cliff and into a sewer.

Cliffs have sewers? Just following the slime trail. Not that Dick would ever actually acknowledge that there was in fact a slime trail.

The real scandal for the news media is that no scandal ever materialized.

No scandal? None? Zero? Zip? Zilch? Nada? Nyet? Nein? Perhaps it is Alzheimer’s after all.

So we get accusations that Blumenthal spun this or that event.

Mere accusations!

What's missing is not just an overview but a sense of astonishment.

Oh no, there’s plenty of astonishment to go around.

Isn't it just plain mysterious that Newt Gingrich continues to get respectful media attention when, really, on a given day he is half-mad and almost always blowing smoke?

Half-mad? Wow! I mean, aren’t there any editors left at the Washington Post?

The same could be asked of Tom DeLay, who revived impeachment when the effort flagged for lack of compelling evidence and was determined to smash Clinton -- never mind what else he would destroy in the process.

Yes, when not dreaming of exterminating poor people, ol’ Tom’s out implementin’ his scorched earth policy to destroy Bill Clinton and everything that he has touched. Such nice people in your camp, Dick.

Yet he and other Clinton-haters wander the streets of Washington, unscarred, uncensored but, nonetheless, unhinged.

Unlike the Clinton-lovers, who wander the streets of Washington, scarred, censored, but nonetheless, hinged. Is Mr. Cohen seriously advocating censorship here of ideas or commentary he doesn’t like or approve of? My oh my, Dick’s really going off the deep end now.

The virtue of Blumenthal's book…

Think about that phrase for a while. Let it roll around in your conscience. Now go scrub out your brain with some bleach.

… is that it assembles in one place what happened in Washington during the Clinton years.

A pure and objective account courtesy of the blessed pen of the one whom Andrew Sullivan called Saint Sid.

If you are not already convinced that Clinton was guilty of multiple crimes, then Blumenthal will make you wonder all over again about how partisan politics, even cultural disagreements, got so out of hand that the government wound up in the pornography business. The Starr Report. Wrap it in plain paper, please.

And yet, still no mention of the source of the pornography? Was it all fiction?

There's much to criticize in Blumenthal's book -- a detail, an omission, a partisan spin on events.

But Dick’s at the end of his column, so you won’t read about it here.

But the book's reception reminds me of the events it chronicles -- a warped obsession with this or that tree when Ken Starr and his Republican allies were clear-cutting much of the forest.

The clichés fall with a mighty thud.

Blumenthal's book, describing what a madhouse Washington became back then, has for some reason been given to the inmates to review.

Given? No, if you want it, it’s going to cost you $21.00 plus shipping and handling.

In all seriousness, for a moment, I’m beginning to worry about Richard Cohen. This column is so jaw-droppingly selective in its memory and over the top in its partisanship that I am shocked it got past the editors. Presumably, it won’t take many columns like this and Dick’s going to be out of work. Maybe it has already been suggested that he retire, and so he’s dropping the gloves and relinquishing the last filters between his columns and what he really thinks. If you read Dick’s column, did you ever sense that perhaps, just maybe, Bill Clinton wasn’t exactly the most upstanding citizen ever to hold the highest office in the land? Or was it all the fault of the “evildoers” who were out to destroy him and his noble plans.

I’ve never felt more depressed finishing a Scourge or more contemptuous of Richard Cohen. Maybe it’s time to quit.

Saturday, June 21, 2003
I'm Not Really a Lawyer

But I'll be playing one all week over at Ipse Dixit while Dodd saunters off to Belize.

Hmm, let's see if I can rig the Caption Contest for this week...

Friday, June 20, 2003
Remember, Bloggers Aren't Journalists

Seems to me we can keep reading journalists and pundits pontificate on the relationship between blogging a capital-J-journalism, or we can keep doing what we do and let the chips fall where they may. I am again reminded of a quip in the book The Soul of a New Machine by Tracy Kidder, where the head of Data General made a commercial (never aired) where he said something to the effect of, "Some say that IBM's entry into the microcomputer market legitimizes it. The bastards say, 'welcome'." No, we aren't journalists, but I don't regard that as a bad thing.

Way to go Mr. Simon.

Thursday, June 19, 2003
The Scourge of Richard Cohen, Vol. LXXXVII

(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.)

Fifty years ago today Julius and Ethel Rosenberg were executed for espionage. On the way home from work, I listened while NPR did a bit of a puff piece on them with their son Robert Meeropol. He acknowledged that at least one of them were probably engaged in espionage, though he was quite elusive about which one, bouncing back and forth at times implying it was one or then the other. But he was quite certain that they were not guilty of passing the secrets of the atomic bomb to the Soviet Union. I don’t recall the word TRAITOR coming up at all in the discussion, though Michele Norris couldn’t quite keep her leftist sympathies from coming through. She wondered whether Mr. Meeropol was catching any grief from some folks about even admitting that perhaps his parents were anything less than completely innocent. Well, duh. Only the red Kool-Aid drinkers can ignore evidence from the Soviet Archives that leave little doubt as to the Rosenberg’s guilt. Problems associated with the trial don’t lessen their guilt or absolve them of their crimes. They deserved to die and they did. Some of the responsibility for the blood of so many throughout Europe, Africa, and Asia for 35 years after their executions also falls on their souls.

I’m not going to give Mr. Meeropol a hard time. I have no doubt that he has had a hard life through no fault of his own, and he’s probably been exposed to nothing but propaganda for most it. I really do feel for him. As for the hard-nosed journalists of NPR, that’s another matter. They have no excuse for pandering to the disgraced martyrs of the left. As a result, I’m swearing off NPR for a month. A puff piece on the Rosenbergs is just too much to swallow. The daily commute goes back to CDs for a while. And, of course, any expectation they had of getting any more money is gone.

Which brings us to Richard Cohen. I’m sure it was just a coincidence that he picked today of all days to open another can of whiny ass about the death penalty in Case of Conscience in New York:


Ah, another place Richard goes, but I cannot. Richard must be homesick.

Here on the shores of Lake Como, Mario Cuomo is attending an international conference.

I guess Mario has a lot of free time to search for Perry and Luigi since the demise of his syndicated radio gig. I guess the competition is pretty tough when the same message is available on all the over-the-air television news stations, most daily newspapers, and taxpayer-funded NPR. I can’t wait for GoreTV!

I sought out Cuomo because of something that just happened back in his home state. Three men were freed on bond after serving 18 years in jail for a rape and murder they probably did not commit.

Probably. Richard and I have to hedge a bit here. I’ll hedge because if these men are innocent then it’s another tragedy that we need to rectify as best we can and try to see that it doesn’t happen again. Don’t hold your breath waiting for Dick to suggest that perhaps they are guilty.

Cuomo long opposed the death penalty.

As is his prerogative as a free citizen of this country.

The New York case is an example of why.

We’ll see.

The crime, back in 1984, was just the sort that often draws the death penalty. A 16-year-old girl, Theresa Fusco, was found raped and murdered. The previous year another girl, Kelly Morrissey, 15, had disappeared while heading for a video-game parlor. She had been a friend of Fusco's. Some months later, a third young woman, Jacqueline Martarella, 19, also disappeared in the same Long Island area as the other two. Her body was later found.

Sounds like the death penalty is warranted if the perpetrators are apprehended and convicted.

The police arrested three men, and after a lengthy interrogation (18 hours) one of them confessed. He said he and the two other men had picked up Fusco at a roller rink and driven her to a nearby cemetery. There, two raped her and a third -- the one who confessed -- strangled her. They then dumped the body. They were sentenced to more than 30 years in prison.

I thought this was about the death penalty? Jeez, if Dick's going to rant and rave about the injustice of the death penalty, could't he at least find a case where it applied?

What followed has become depressingly familiar. The confession was recanted. The three men insisted on their innocence and spurned plea bargains. After their convictions, their case was joined by sympathetic lawyers and organizations, including the Centurion Ministries and the indefatigable Barry Scheck of the Innocence Project. Altogether, four DNA tests were conducted on semen found in the dead woman. The last, conducted about two years ago and using more advanced techniques, eliminated all three men. None of them had raped Fusco.

But I’m still a little hazy on whether or not they murdered her. I’m sure there was more evidence than this, but who knows? Richard Cohen won’t bother to tell us, although he did give a hint earlier when he would only go so far as to say that they “probably” didn’t kill her.

This was precisely the sort of crime -- the rape and murder of a young woman -- that, in another state at another time, might have resulted in the death penalty. But Cuomo, who was governor at the time, opposed capital punishment.

And how many murderers of whom they is absolutely no doubt as to their guilt were let live due to the principled magnaminence of Governor Cuomo?

Seven times over the course of his three terms he vetoed death penalty bills.

This almost sounds biblical. I can picture Charlton Heston as Moses saying this dramatically as he stares off into the distance.

He was pilloried for that, and it was used against him by George Pataki in Pataki's winning 1994 campaign.

How dare Governor Cuomo be criticized for a good illiberal position! Damn the proles and what they want!

It's hard to say that he lost on account of it -- and Cuomo does not claim as much -- but it helped his adversaries paint him as a hopeless liberal, soft on crime and all of that.

Seven coats of hopeless liberalism were applied during three terms of softness on crime.

Here in Europe, the death penalty has been almost repealed.

Except for the innocent victims of murderers and genocidal maniacs.

There are many explanations for that, including the fact that in recent history it has been abused for political reasons -- Nazis, communists, etc.

Et cetera? In recent history?

But when it was eliminated, it still was supported by majorities in most countries -- although that is not the case today.

But I thought popular will was bad. Isn’t that what got Governor Cuomo thrown out on his ear?

The difference between America and Europe is that politicians -- protected somewhat by a parliamentary system -- did what they are supposed to do: lead.

Oh yes. And which European leadership are we admiring today? Blair and Berlusconi? Or Chirac and Schroeder?

In America, politicians have followed the polls, the money, the talk-show bombasters -- anything but their own consciences.

You see, if you disagree with Richard Cohen, you cannot be wrong, you must be evil.

Cuomo understands. He was a politician himself.

As long as Socrates was mortal, I think Dick thinks Mario was evil.

Still, he points out that political conservatives, who don't think the government can do anything right, trust it to take a life.

If political conservatives don’t think the government can do anything right, why is federal spending rising 9% this year? But are we a government of the people or not? Jeez, if they can't be honest with themselves, how do we expect them to be honest with us?

Only when it comes to capital punishment does the system operate perfectly.

I dare anyone to find me an instance of any elected conservative saying the justice system works perfectly. What an illiberal utopian statist ass.

Such is the thinking, if it can be called that, of George Bush himself.

Such are the straw men of Richard Cohen.

No one has presided over as many executions as he did as governor of Texas -- and with as little doubt about guilt and as much faith in his own righteousness.

Texas – bad. Executions – bad. Faith – bad. Righteousness – bad. Did I miss anything?

DNA testing proves, as Cuomo has long maintained, that capital punishment is nothing less than "a willingness to take innocent life."

Proves? Proves?

Any politician knows that -- or by now ought to.

So any politician who opposes the death penalty is stupid, or evil, or both. But we already knew that.

About 130 former prisoners -- many of them once on death row -- have been freed by DNA testing.

Good! Sounds like we are doing what we can to make our system of justice as good as we can. Dick prefers to ignore the non-utopian standard of guilt of beyond a reasonable doubt, where mistakes can sometimes be made.

Some of them confessed. Some were fingered by witnesses. Yet none of them committed the crime for which he was convicted.

That statement is a little too bold. With the mistakes that have been found in the DNA labs of the FBI that led to false positives, isn’t it possible that there have been mistakes in other labs that led to false negatives? Especially where there might be an incentive to find a negative result? I’m not saying this is what happened, only that a DNA mismatch is not necessarily evidence of innocence.

The case of the three New York men is complicated, and Cuomo cautioned me not to jump to any conclusions.

But why stop now?

Yet it is a fact that none of them raped Fusco, and what once seemed so certain is now a muddle.

Maybe they didn’t rape her. or perhaps it was these three men and some others. And clearly there must be some other damning evidence here, or Richard would be jumping to more conclusions quicker than this.

Who knows what happened?

So let’s just give up on the justice system shall we?

I asked Cuomo whether he felt he had saved lives. He demurred.

Perhaps Mario is more familiar with George Ryan’s acts than Richard Cohen seems to be. Even Illinois' new Democratic Governor was appalled.

But the fact remains that he set a standard for political courage that most American politicians cannot even begin to meet.


Some of them, of course, genuinely favor capital punishment -- I am convinced of Bush's sincerity, for instance.

Oh? Surely Dick hasn’t already forgot these words: Only when it comes to capital punishment does the system operate perfectly. Such is the thinking, if it can be called that, of George Bush himself. No one has presided over as many executions as he did as governor of Texas -- and with as little doubt about guilt and as much faith in his own righteousness.

But when faced with the choice, they would prefer the death of the occasional innocent person to that of their own careers.

Or maybe, they believe their “careers” are best helped by honoring the oaths of office each took to uphold and enforce the law – even if they don’t agree with it. To equate that with self promotion over the corpses of innocents is reprehensible.

They are not soft on crime. They are hard in the heart.

And Dick’s not hard on crime. He’s soft in the head.

Wednesday, June 18, 2003
Insert Meta-Corruption Joke Here

God, it's going to be fun to watch the EU Constitution take shape over the coming years. Vee have vays of making you not talk:

A Paris court last night halted publication of a book by a former investigating magistrate that claims France is institutionally corrupt.

I Want My GoreTV

Now look at them yo-yo's,
That's the way you do it.
You spin the public on the GoreTV.
Aw that ain't workin',
That's the way you do it.
Not knowin' nothin'
And your lunch for free.
Naw, that ain't workin,
That's the way you do it.
Let me tell you,
These guys are dumb.
Maybe put Al Franken up against Rush Limbaugh.
Maybe bore the audiences numb.

We gotta keep Estrada and Owens
From Supreme Court vacancies
We gotta win back the House and Senate
We gotta beat Bush and Cheney

Some little maggot just a shriekin' with a Snakehead.
Yea, buddy, that's his own forehead.
That little maggot just a railin' 'gainst the rich folks.
That little maggot, he's a millionaire.

We gotta keep Estrada and Owens
From Supreme Court vacancies
We gotta win back the House and Senate
We gotta beat Bush and Cheney

I shoulda learned to respect freedom.
I shoulda learned there's nothing wrong with guns.
Look at that Hillary,
She got it stickin' in the camera.
Man, we could have some fun.
And who's up there, what's that?
French-looking hoser?
He's banging on the Pres'dent
Like a chimpanzee.
Aw, that ain't workin,
That's the way you do it.
Not knowin' nothin',
And your lunch for free.

We gotta keep Estrada and Owens
From Supreme Court vacancies
We gotta win back the House and Senate
We gotta beat Bush and Cheney

DOWNDATE: My muse finished. Any chance we could get Mark Knopfler and Sting to re-record this classic?

Smell the Desperation

Times are getting hard for single-digit candidates:

Kerry says Bush misled Americans on war

Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry said Wednesday that President Bush broke his promise to build an international coalition against Iraq's Saddam Hussein and then waged a war based on questionable intelligence.

Is he calling President Bush stupid again? Seems to me we did have an international coalition, unless the French-looking Senator requires French participation to merit an "internationale" label. As to the questionable intelligence, has everyone at the UNSCOM been lying all these years? Keep talking, big-hair man. When the bad stuff shows up, you're going to look stupid. Sorry, I mean even more stupid. But how "presidential" is this?

Kerry said it is too early to conclude whether or not war with Iraq was justified.

Stunning, isn't it. Makes you wonder how bad it would have to be to be clearly justified in Senator Kerry's eyes. But he still wants it both ways:

Kerry supported the war and said Wednesday, ''I'm glad Saddam Hussein is gone.''

Such a bold stand. Even if it isn't justified.

DOWNDATE: I think what the haughty French-looking Senator from Massachussetts, who incidentally served in Vietnam, is trying to say is that it is a good thing that Saddam Hussein has been deposed but that he wouldn't have done it based upon the evidence he's seen, his vote in the Senate on the resolution authorizing the use of force in Iraq to depose Saddam Hussein notwithstanding. Nor were the mass graves, children's jails, snuff films, torture chambers, and other miscellaneous evils of Saddam and the Baathist regime of Iraq sufficient justification for their removal, even though he's glad there gone. I thought it was Vermont Governor Howard Dean's schtick to say he guesse it is a good thing that Saddam is gone. I assume we could count on a haughty French-looking President Kerry, who incidentally served in Vietnam, to wait for another attack on US soil before responding since it is apparently beyond his feeble grasp of of logic and WMD technology to imagine that an attack could be planned and executed in a matter of months, if not weeks, if we allowed insane dictators to operate without intereference. So, what exactly is the apporach of the haughty French-looking Senator from Massachussetts, who incidentally served in Vietnam, toward disarming North Korea before they do something insane? I'm not worried about Iran. That problem will be solved long before I wake up in a cold sweat from a nightmare that the haughty French-looking Senator, who incidentally served in Vietnam, has managed to win a majority of the electoral college votes.

Moose Pinched

No, this one isn't about puerile management fads at the NY Times.

But the Inspectors Only Needed a Couple More Months...

Anybody remember that argument? Here's why it didn't hold water:

In the back of a Bradley fighting vehicle, the still air soars to 130 degrees and sweat stains the soldiers' desert camouflage uniforms as they patrol central Iraq, hunting for insurgents. When the ramp door drops, the soldiers scramble into the blinding sun and a hot wind fails to cool them through body armor and helmets.

Keep in mind that our soldiers' fear of chemical or biological attacks is much, much lower now than it would have been if we had waited a couple more months. The impracticality of wearing the HazMat suits in this weather wasn't overlooked by anybody. The duplicitous (to use a felicitous phrase of Alexander Haig's) French and their Axis of Weasel allies still piss me off.

Don't forget our troops who are still doing the right thing under harsh conditions a long way from home.

We'll Always Have Paris...

Chris Johnson went into irony overload when he read this from Reuters (where else?):

20 percent of Germans said they would be more likely to visit France due to its anti-war position

Perhaps the other 80% aren't exactly worried about a bellicose France anyway.

Submit your best riposte to this snippet of non-news in the comment section.

What a Maroon

If Orrin Hatch got his way and the government sanctioned the destruction of your computer for downloading music after two warnings to cease and desist, how long would it be before we saw a virus whose sole "evil" act was to download music to your computer to trigger the government sanctioned destruction of your computer? And couldn't this virus then be used in an information warfare scenario to cripple the Internet and disable the computers of civil governments, businesses, and even the defense infrastructure which is dependent on the Internet these days?

Maybe Orrin needs to retire to the House of Lords where he can discuss the unwanted proliferation of potted meat in his mailbox with other "learned" men ignorant of the technology they wish to control.

Monday, June 16, 2003

Woo Hoo!

I won again, though it was a weak effort in a weak week. But this week's contest ought to bring forth some inspired entries.



The anniversary is over, though the kids are staying with my parents for a week, so maybe the party's not over for another week!

We started by dropping the kids off with my parents who live about 10 miles outside of Jackson, TN -- where the tornadoes hit about 5 weeks ago. The tornadoes hit some of the same areas hit about three years ago and some of the same homes that had been previously destroyed and rebuilt then were hit hard again this time. But this group of tornadoes did even more damage, devastating an old part of town and wiping out a large section of low-income housing. Seeing it 5 weeks on, it is truly amazing that larger numbers of people weren't killed, over and above the 13 that did perish. I've seen the aftermath of tornadoes many times, but this was as wide a path of devastation as I've ever seen. Striking as it did in the evening, the commercial enterprises that were demolished had few, if any, employees there or the casualty figures would also have been much, much worse. A heavily-wooded golf course I had played on many times was also destroyed, with over 1,800 trees felled and most of the rest severely damaged. I only mention the golf course because it was shocking how badly the tornado mangled a "natural" area. Kind of puts a damper on thoughts of a celebration when you see how many houses are still missing roofs or significant parts after more than a month and knowing how many families have been hurt. I have to put in a nice word for FEMA as well, with what they are doing and how they are helping out in Jackson and the surrounding areas. Even so, this small town in Tennessee and the surrounding rural areas are going to be a long time recovering from this tragedy. Just something to remember as you watch the next set of tornadoes somewhere in the US on the Weather Channel this week or next.

Anyway, we were going to have a subdued anniversary, having planned a family vacation to San Diego later this summer, so we just took a few days in Memphis to eat, drink, and relax. I've been to Memphis several times before, though I've never really spent much time there. The last time I remember going there was for Bear Bryant's last game when Alabama played Illinois (my alma mater) in the Liberty Bowl back in 1982. I won't digress this time, though I am tempted...

I'm sure I might get an argument from some folks, but we couldn't find any reason to stay in Memphis for more than about two days. Get your ribs at Rendezvous or the Blues City Cafe, hang out on Beale Street (or is it Beale Block now?), visit a couple small museums -- Brooks Museum of Art in Overton Park and the Civil Rights Museum at the Lorraine Motel, drive over the bridge into Arkansas and come back to see the Memphis skyline, tour Mud Island if you like -- we didn't, watch the duck walk at the Peabody Hotel, and take the tour through the Elmwood Cemetery. Deeply repressed longings that I have for my roots, we weren't going to pay $50 to see Graceland either. Shoot, all I have to do is attend a family reunion to see Elvis impersonators, clothes and cars from the 60's, and other related memorabilia.

Beale Street was a major letdown after spending time in the blues bars in Chicago, New Orleans, and even St. Louis. I'm sure it was great at one time, but now it's maybe 2-1/2 blocks that don't draw name acts, much less locals or tourists. We saw Ruby Wilson, the Queen of Beale Street, at B. B. King's Blues Club, and it was fun, but without enough other quality acts up and down the street to warrant the reputation Beale Street has managed to keep. But what really disturbed me were the 14 parked police cars and literally dozens of police officers patrolling a three block area. There must have been 1 policeman for every 10-15 non-policeman there at the busiest times on Friday. This is not an inspiring thing, and I doubt that the civic cost to the community is worth it for the limited tourist dollars it brings in. Memphis can't even do sleaze real well, squandering the best thing it had (outside of Graceland) for tourism.

There was a lot of renovation going on in the area, so maybe Memphis will have a lot more to do and see in 10-15 years. They'll at least have a new arena for the Memphis Grizzlies -- who now have an oxymoron of a name to rival the Utah Jazz -- with the construction of FedExForum scheduled for 2004. Linda thought that they are really wasting the riverfront, though perhaps the Mississippi is just a little too volatile to try to make too much out of it.

It was still good to get away and as time permits I should be able to get a little more blogging in this week. I'll also take a whack at all the e-mail that's been piling up and try to respond to the folks that were kind enough to leave comments and pleasantries.



The Real Reason Gephardt Stepped Down As House Minority Leader

U.S. stocks end sharply higher on recovery hopes

Of course, why's he's still running for president with the stock market booming is a mystery.

DOWNDATE: Especially considering this:

Missouri Republicans are taking delight in a statewide poll by Research 2000 of Rockville, Maryland. The survey, conducted for KOMU-TV in Columbia, shows President Bush would emerge the winner in the state in a head-to-head presidential match-up with native son Richard Gephardt of St. Louis. According to the poll, Bush has the support of 52-percent of those surveyed, compared to 38-percent for the Congressman. What particularly satisfies Republicans is the demographic breakdown. Bush leads 49-percent to 40-percent against Gephardt among women. Bush also leads Gephardt in St. Louis - 48-percent to 41-percent.

Those last two sentences are stunners and are beginning to make me wonder if we aren't about to witness a huge sea change in the makeup of Congress in the next election.


US To World: "Bite Me"

Poll suggests world hostile to US

The funny thing is that they still think we care what they think.

Tuesday, June 10, 2003

20 Years Ago Today...

... I had my bachelor party. The next day I married a wonderful woman who has kept the faith, mothered two bright girls, and made me a better person.

See y'all next week.

Sunday, June 08, 2003

Pathos, Thy Name is Hillary

Being married to Bill Clinton is apparently like being held as a political prisoner in a South African jail:

"It was a challenge to forgive Bill . . . [but] if Mandela could forgive, I would try," she writes.

This is seriously pathetic.

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