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The Left-Leaning Dog Says:

The Rabid Dog Says:

Brooklyn, 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.

On the whole, while the site is rapidly physically sanitized, the whole thing remains, certainly to this LLD, mind boggling.


Brooklyn, 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 using them.

The 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 overwhelmingly Catholic).  So:  is it legitimate under our constitutional system to "aid religion" by using public voucher money to send kids to parochial school?

Clearly, 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.


White 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.

This is a little different from another matter: a friend of your LLD’s reports that his cousin just passed away, a young man who was a victim of the psychopath who recently decided to treat Manhattan to his sidewalk version of road rage and run down dozens of pedestrians in his vehicle because he was apparently mad at this girlfriend - who he also tried to kill (certainly now outdoing Lizzie Grubman, since at least one of his victims has now died).  THAT bothers me infinitely more than something associated with people who were ALREADY DEAD.  And don't get me started on the Koreans and their eating of (non-talking) dogs.


White 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!

Because 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?


Well, 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 BILLIONS.  Just 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 financial terms?


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.


Brooklyn, 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.

So 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.

Speaking of painful choices, shifting to your LLD's favorite hobby horse (the Middle East) -- it seems that the Bush Administration -- despite Colin's urgings to the contrary -- has more or less ratified Sharon's position that the aging weapons-buying hopelessly corrupt Yasser is "irrelevant".  Hell, not even the effete Europeans are clamoring that loudly for him to be released from his Ramallah house arrest.  Actually, the Prez has gone further still -- asserting that Hezbollah and Hamas are now enemies of the UNITED STATES -- as well as merely "the Jews" -- thus finally (seemingly at least) ending the bizarre dichotomy between "bad terrorists" (Al Qaeda) and "acceptable terrorists" (see above).  Obscene fiscal and general environmental irresponsibility aside (and by the way -- Christie Todd Whitman is REALLY trying to do a good job -- despite what the Prez and his Texas cronies would prefer), the guy is earning his ridiculously high approval ratings.


Brooklyn, 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 derision.  In 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.

Of course, the Post would also have been derisive had our new mayor proposed tax increases.  Let's see, Rupert, we have a $4 BILLION budget shortfall -- but we can't cut spending or raise taxes...  Oh yeah.  I know, we can rely on that $20 billion promised by President Bush.  (For those of you cognizant of the on-line lingo, LOL!)


White Plains, NY, February 12, 2002.  Happy Lincoln's natural birthday:  his 192nd, I believe.  Also, today marks another unspecified terrorist threat.  Hopefully, it is just that- and our law enforcement's heightened alert status will avert yet further loss of innocent life.

Speaking 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".  Go figure.

Slobo 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 Americans.

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 movie.  Anyway, 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 on.

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.)

We can afford to be good sports now.  No one ever accused the Norwegians (fellow NATO members with their own fighting men and women in Afghanistan now), a country with, despite having  3% of our population, more medals than us at the winter Olympics- of being poor sports.   A little modesty would serve US well here in the "U - S- A".    Especially now, as we hunker down to our current reality.


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.

Similarly, let's hear it for ex-mayor Giuliani and his plan to turn his mayoral PUBLIC records into a private archival foundation.  I guess if you think the outside of buses are your personal property, why not public records?  How's the Halo fitting, Rudy?


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 collapse!  I 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 governor...  No wait, this is ALL TRUE)...

Well, one way or another, the world is a fucked up place; if the current Prez helps straighten it out, Enron or no Enron, he will get the support of THIS left leaning dog.  If he doesn't, well, 2 years, 11 months, 19 days...


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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