the talking dog
FEBRUARY 2002 POSTINGS
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The Left-Leaning Dog Says:
The Rabid Dog Says:
February 26, 2002. Well,
it has been nine years since the FIRST World Trade
Center attack, and nearly 6 months since the second.
The walk I took around Ground Zero today shows
that, for the most part, Church Street is open for
pedestrians near Ground Zero.
The work proceeds at an amazing pace. Sure,
the Texas Ghoul Tourists are still there with their
cameras, but less so.
February 24, 2002. For
a well thought out piece on the issues of school
vouchers, a case taken up by the Supreme Court last
week, we refer you to our featured link, The Economist.
Your LLD concurs with their conclusion:
public elementary and secondary schools, like
public universities, do BETTER under the competition of
well funded private schools.
They have to:
they are dependent on students showing up and
pros of vouchers: less
affluent people will have a CHOICE about where the send
their children now enjoyed only by the more affluent,
and the public school systems will have to either
improve to draw students, or lose students.
The cons of vouchers:
public school teachers unions fear that their
featherbedding days will be over, their incomes and
ranks potentially reduced, and their political influence
would wane (recall that nearly 1 in 5 delegates to the
Democratic conventions that nominated Bill Clinton were
teachers union members).
The LEGITIMATE problem with vouchers is that in
the areas they are most likely to be used -- big cities,
like Cleveland, Milwaukee, or God help us, New York --
tend to have a private school base that is
overwhelmingly parochial schools (and that
it legitimate under our constitutional system to
"aid religion" by using public voucher money
to send kids to parochial school?
the answer is yes.
We have a similar arrangement associated with the
Catholic Church's OTHER main area of worldly
interaction, i.e. health care.
Catholic hospitals are able to operate with a
huge influx of public funds (Medicare, Medicaid,
governmental workers' health insurance), while still not
crossing the Church-State line (don't try to get an
abortion in one, of course).
A similar arrangement can be reached with
Catholic schools receiving voucher money (which becomes
the PARENTS’ money once in their hands): kids
can "opt out" of any mandatory religious
participation, for example...
Vouchers would accelerate school improvement in
this country in a way that plans espoused by the
Kennedys and Jeffordses and Bushes just won't. The
Supreme Court will soon tell us its opinion.
Now, y'all know mine.
Plains, February 21, 2002. Is
anyone reacting the way I am to the "chamber of
horrors" associated with the crematorium debacle
down in Georgia? The
way I'm reacting is -- so what?
It SOUNDS horrible – but let's face it, not
only were the subjects of the horror already dead, they
were EXPECTED to be cremated.
Yes- their remains were treated with disrespect,
and the proprietors took money for services not
performed (is that THAT major a crime anymore?), and
most significantly, probably created a monumental health
hazard -- but honestly -- remains were sent to a
crematorium so that they would disappear.
And they did disappear!
To me, this is another case of monumental
sentiment getting in the way of a reasoned reaction. Frankly, WHAT IF IT WAS someone near and dear to me?
I'd be annoyed, sure.
But the grieving already happened.
Plains, NY, February 19, 2002. Well,
to paraphrase the recent State of the Union address, the
country is still at war (and both Mullah Omar and the
head evil-doer Osama remain at large);
the rhetorical drumbeat seems to be increasing in
volume in the general direction of...Baghdad(?);
"campaign finance reform", or at least what is
called such, passed both houses of Congress; Argentina
is in financial ruins; JAPAN may be not long from
following it (which would do for the ENTIRE American
economy what September 11th did for the economy of
downtown Manhattan) -- and all anyone wants to talk
about is...Enron! (I
guess the President was right:
we ARE stronger than ever!)
That's right: ENRON! Honestly,
that's why your LLD (aside from an exhausting workload,
and baby LLD's refusal to let him sleep) has been
somewhat reticent recently! I don't want to talk about Enron!
let's face it: what
is fascinating to most people about Enron?
The fact that its principal was our current
president's NUMBER ONE financial underwriter -- and as
such, got to name his own regulators?
That Enron (and its "non-profit"
political minions) got to dictate our "national
energy" policy? That Enron and its accounting firm minions got to rewrite
various financial reporting rules for their own benefit?
the principals of the corporation -- surprise, surprise
-- were a bunch of self-interested thieves who traded on
their own accounts and made HUNDREDS OF MILLIONS while
costing shareholders (and creditors) HUNDREDS OF
like any other crime, really: the third-party
consequences wildly out of proportion to the underlying
gain by the perps.
So, is this Enron thing on everybody's tongues
and minds because it is, well, an extraordinarily huge
crime (or at least, a huge debacle), at least in
A lot of people lost a fortune on paper: most of the Enron 401K holders actually bought in for a tiny fraction of what their Enron was trading at during the "lockout" period last year, or, more likely, were holding Enron stock as an "employer match". In short: Monopoly money. THAT'S why everyone is so interested: because in the case of Enron, its MILLIONS OF PEOPLE'S Monopoly money that went to hell. NOT because widows and orphans lost money (Penn Central, anyone?), or a national icon (K-mart, anyone?) went to hell in a hand-basket. Remember the scene in Albert Brooks' Lost in America where Albert begs the casino owner for the money his wife lost back? NOW, you understand people's fascinations with Enron. Many people -- your LLD included -- thought that September 11th would change attitudes for a LONG TIME. That was about 3 months. Enron proves that the national health -- or at least our national oblivion that prompts our fearless president and vice president to urge us to go on wasting petroleum even as our absurd dependence on Saudi Arabia leads us to have airlines crash into our cities -- continues to be best stated as fat, happy, and oblivious.
February 16, 2002. Well, while
your LLD is modestly disappointed that our new mayor
declined to scuttle our former mayor's blatantly illegal
grab of public records for his personal profit, at least
he lifted the most galling aspect of that deal, by
placing veto power on document release in the hands of
the City's corporation counsel (the same official who
would decide if the papers remained in public custody)
rather than the Duce Emeritus himself.
far, at least, your LLD is as impressed by Mayor Mike's
seemingly low profile: after a smash-mouth,
always-in-your-face leader, it seems to be what the
doctor ordered. Especially
when painful choices are required.
NY February 14, 2002. Happy
Valentine's Day. Your
LLD was amazed at the New York Post's recent
coverage of Mayor Bloomberg's rather sensible fiscal
responsibility plan: i.e.,
some borrowing, and heavy personnel cuts through
attrition -- which were greeted by some level of
a refreshing change from Mayor Duce, even the police and
fire departments -- heroes that they are -- remain
nonetheless within the realm of the overall budget, and
subject to staff reductions.
Plains, NY, February 12, 2002. Happy
Lincoln's natural birthday:
his 192nd, I believe.
Also, today marks another unspecified terrorist
it is just that- and our law enforcement's heightened
alert status will avert yet further loss of innocent life.
of loss of innocent life, today ALSO marks the opening
of the Slobodan Milosevic trial in Der Hagen, Nederlands
(ok, ok- the Hague). Your LLD is fascinated that the special war crimes tribunal
is, in essence, a creature of the United Nations, and is
itself, of course, located in the Netherlands.
I cringingly recall the accounts of Dutch peace
keepers standing idly by, supposedly charged with
protecting the Bosnian occupants of U.N. "safe
haven" Srebrenica, but in the appropriately callous
attitude of UN peacekeepers of the time, (the head of
ALL UN peacekeeping missions at the time was a
bureaucrat named Kofi Annan -- that seems a familiar
name) resulting in, well, the slaughter of nearly all of
the male inhabitants of the "safe haven".
contends he does not recognize the
"legitimacy" of the court before which he
appears; he doubtless will not recognize the
"legitimacy" of the Dutch prison in which he
will, almost certainly, live out the remainder of his
life (unless he is transferred to a Yugoslav one). Just one second though:
Slobo actually has a point.
We now acknowledge that Yugoslavia is welcome
back to the family of nations (having kicked out Slobo!)
and that its courts are probably open and operating, and
at least probably reliable.
Generally, the United States, which perpetually
opposes creation, for example, of a standing
international criminal court, usually asserts that where
possible, criminals -- even war criminals-- should be
tried in their own country (we acknowledge cases like
Cambodia or Rwanda where this is probably NOT possible,
and there, international courts are cricket).
Hence, we were extremely uncomfortable with the
assertion that General Pinochet be tried anywhere other
than Chile, or (God help us) that Henry Kissinger be
tried, well, anywhere at all, or well, other shit like
"universal jurisdiction" concocted by those
crazy effete elitist Europeans -- who may someday insist
on imposing their version of elitist justice on
So, while the Slobo thing will be precedent-setting (head of state tried by international tribunal for crimes under his command), we may want to consider the ultimate big picture implications of supporting "international justice" for Slobo (when Yugoslav -- not to mention Bosnian and Croatian -- courts are open and functioning), while we remain even unable to decide how and if our Camp X-Ray detainees get tried at all, or for what.
Brooklyn, February 9, 2002.
As I walked by local multiplex, I couldn't help
noticing that now, just 5 months after "the
day", and just about a mile (as the crow or soot
flies) from Ground Zero, the films playing included Collateral
Damage -- a Schwarzenegger vehicle about a terrorist
attack on the United States (held off until now, for
obvious reasons) and what we have all needed: a remake
of the cult classic, and crappy movie, frankly, Rollerball.
("Jon- a - than!
Jon- a- than!”) Sure it’s my middle name, but I can still not like the
one movie just too close to reality, the other, in a
sick way, a world that may be an idealistic target:
a world, as ours, overrun by mega-corporations,
but apparently, the violence, for the most part, has
been contained into the form of an extremely violent
sport, rather than, well,
see "Collateral Damage" above.
Still, seeing Rollerball (JO- NA- THAN!)
playing, and then going home to see (what, admittedly,
in my own opinion) are jingoistic chants of
"U-S-A" "U-S-A" at the Olympic
opening ceremonies was bothersome.
(As an aside, I liked the idea of Dubya sitting
in the middle of the athletes.
Bill just wouldn't do it.
On a personal level, I just can't help liking
Dubya, even though, I think we will ALL be calling for
his impeachment, 99% approval rating and all, when this Enron shit all comes out.)
I kind of wanted to punch out a reporter at the start of the
NYC marathon who asked the assembled runners for a chant
of "U-S-A, U-S-A"
for her "money shot".
"N-Y-C" would have been fine.
I proudly wore an American flag pin AND an “I
Love New York” pin. No matter what anyone says: 9/11 was primarily New York's
tragedy -- the rest of this smug country -- well, read
This is a great country, frankly, the greatest country in its
physical, economic, military, and MORAL might ever to
exist, but we don't serve ourselves well with the
jingoism and arrogance. You see, the spontaneous U-S-A chant started in Lake Placid
in 1980, in support of the unbelievable upset by the
amateur American hockey team against the better
professional Soviet and Czech teams and the, while still
amateur, BETTER Canadian, Swedish, and Finnish teams. Then, times were different.
We needed the rallying cry.
Then, as a nation, you will recall, James Earl Carter, Jr.
was in the White House, and we were paralyzed by a bunch
of Iranian students who had rendered the mightiest
country in the world utterly impotent by holding about
52 of our diplomatic personnel hostage.
We were also reeling from Watergate, an energy
crisis, stagflation, the fact that Jimmy Carter was
president, the recent Vietnam War, and, finally,
the Soviet Union looked like, well, IT might be
winning the Cold War.
It certainly ALWAYS kicked our ass at ice hockey.
So, under those circumstances, when the United States WAS NOT
the smug nation that we have become, especially after 8
years of illusory "peace and prosperity" under
the smuggest of the smug (Bill and Hill, that is), and
before, (thanks in large part, not exclusively, but in
large part to the much maligned -- now 91 years old
(happy birthday, Mr. President) Ronald Reagan, we won
the Cold War, and gotten (temporarily) the luxury to be
smug and self-satisfied -- STOP WITH THE FUCKING
JINGOISTIC CHANT! Especially
when, as a nation, we have the need to fight proxy wars
in our own self-defense! (Note: Afghanistan
didn't get to send a team, largely because of the sins
of the Taliban.)
White Plains, February 6, 2002.
As the Enron scandal seems to be breaking down
all over (even a deposition witness today said he'd
rather talk about Enron than his own case, even though
he stood to make a lot of money on his own case!), we
turn now to the Bush Administration's mania over secrecy
that has led to the unprecedented step of Congressional
watchdog the General Accounting Office (full disclosure:
I worked for a summer for that agency, and even have a
picture of myself, among others, with former Comptroller
General, and now head of the accounting profession's
oversight board, Charles Bowsher) suing Dick Cheney over
Energy Task Force records.
Obviously, its no big deal to meet with Enron,
then one of the nation's largest energy companies, in a
discussion of energy policy.
So what's the big deal?
Your LLD can only guess that the cagey Vice
President has a reason.
And it can't be a harmless one.
Brooklyn, New York, 02/02/2002. I love that date: perhaps
Osama bin Laden, or some less vindictive terrorist, can
use all the zeros and twos for some sort of massive
computer sabotage -- which will result in massive
additional capital outlays to cure our current recession
(akin to the bullshit expenditures on "Y2K"
that artificially propped up the dot-com and tech driven
bubble for an extra year -- part of the Clinton legacy,
I suppose). Oh,
and happy Groundhog Day.
Kudos to the Rabid Dog -- he has outflanked your LLD yet
again -- and amazingly (when he is most effective) to
the left! To
accuse the current president of a Clintonian
misdirection (by prolonging the war on terrorism to
permanent status to deflect his Enron connection!):
what can I say?
Hey, your LLD actually suspects that the Bush
family had something to do with Janet Reno's recent
mean, Poppy Bush is so intertwined with the Saudis, it
wouldn't surprise me if HE had some heads up on
September 11th (could
we write a better novel?
Former CIA director becomes Veep; his son Neil
meets with potential assassin's brother, or at least is
supposed to, the night before his boss suffers attempted
assassination by apparent mad man; later becomes Prez;
starts war in region to benefit buddies in robes and
kaftans; fucks up economy, gets son elected Prez, by
hook or crook, with help of other son Florida
wait, this is ALL TRUE)...
Crying Wolff? Good
article by Michael Wolff of New York Magazine
about the Enron affair. I may have overreacted to
the Enron business a few days ago out of my visceral
dislike of Bush and what he represents. Unlike the
doggie in the window to the left, I could care less
whether he's a "nice" guy (Anyway, do you
think John McCain would privately agree with that
assessment of his "niceness"?). A
President needs to be a good leader. Yes,
sometimes that means being a good cheerleader,
but more often it means being bold and decisive.
Being led around by the nose by his handlers doesn't
inspire me in the least (I'm sure there wasn't the
unseen hand of a media consultant involved in where he
was situated during the opening ceremonies of the Winter
Olympics -- he thought of it all himself, just like the
stuff about the "Axis of Evil.")
Moreover, who really gives a hoot if we're nationalistic at the Winter Olympics? Does anyone really care about these Olympics beyond the participants and their families? Sure, people tuned into the spectacle on opening night. But I hardly imagine very many people caring about curling!
Gray Lady Goo-Goo Eyes. The New York Times has always had an up-and-down relationship with Bill Clinton. He's the kind of guy the paper tends to love: a moderate-left Democrat with Ivy credentials representing the very best of America's meritocracy, i.e., the notion that anyone with the talent and will to be President of the United States can pull it off. Still, the Times has often been disappointed and angry with Mr. Clinton -- Marc Rich and the 1996 welfare reform constitute two such times -- though it has always run back to him in the end, especially when a nasty, ole Republican has threatened their own moderate-left worldview. Well, George Bush, with his conservative Republican ideas, noblesse oblige, country club/preppy background and sky high popularity represents just such a threat these days. The upshot:
Bill Clinton gets a better blow job than anything Monica L. could ever have given him...
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