the talking dog
JULY 2002 POSTINGS
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"Reform As In Reform School"
don't have to not believe in God to believe that the
coming bankruptcy law is, well, wrong.
31, 2002, New York, NY. More fun with
Saudi friends seem to be the big loggers-on to putative
Al Qaeda web sites, as set forth in this
interview with Jon David, who hacked into the Al
Qaeda home page (with thanks to Instapundit for spotting
this story). Your
TD is shocked, SHOCKED, I tell you, to read about this.
of Saudi-financed handiwork, your TD was afraid that the
other shoe (or desert sandal, anyway) would drop after
the Gaza missile strike.
Well, two more suicide bombings in Israel,
including one today at Jerusalem's Hebrew University
cafeteria as it was packed with students taking exams
that left at least six dead and scores injured.
What can I say? How can any one of these attacks be any more craven than any
blowing up bat mitzvah parties or Passover Seders or
discos or pizza parlors or school buses or city parks --
what is so different about blowing up a college campus
during exams? What,
in substance, is different from the other brazen
are killed and maimed for the crime of leaving their
house, because OTHER people are pissed off that their
great-grandparents may have been kicked off of the
"best property" BY JEWS.
Israel, of course, the enemy does not draw a distinction
between "military" targets and anything else.
Human beings are targeted (and
not just Jews; foreign workers and Palestinian
Arabs have also been victims of Hamas/Fatah/Hezbollah
bombings as well).
in mind that, while there are some loosenings here and
there, Gaza has more or less always been, and the West
Bank is now, effectively under total IDF reoccupation;
progress is steady on "the fence".
And yet, the suicide bombers get through.
Israel impose MORE punitive measures of collective
have no doubt about that.
the merry-go-round of this issue comes back:
what good will such collective punishment of the
Palestinians (who are already under curfews and military
reoccupation) do? Your TD sincerely believes that Hamas and company are
COUNTING on punitive measures -- the more punitive the
better. They thrive on irrationality -- on both sides of the Green
your TD is afraid, that this ALSO plays into the hands
of PM Sharon's hardliner friends, who ALSO thrive on
irrationality, and they work each other into a feedback
loop from hell.
the only resolution is, like it or not, resumption of
peace talks, including the involvement of, I'm afraid,
the terrorist elements themselves.
And if the Hamas and Hezbollah people REFUSE TO
PARTICIPATE in peace talks, then their known leadership
and members should be arrested (by Israel -- not by
their confederate Yasir) because they are irredeemable
criminals and the world will be better off with them
other way besides resumption of "peace" talks
(I prefer the term "settlement discussions" --
its not just legal, but it reflects the ACTUAL
discussion of substance, i.e., what to do with the
settlements!) and month in, month out, nothing will
change over there except the body count.
11th should have taught us all that the Saudis play
rough. We have also established that when it comes to the Saudi
Royal family, its not just "friends" (such as,
ahem, the people of the United States) that have to
watch their asses:
itís obviously family too.
The Saudi-Prince (say it really fast so it sounds
like...that phone company) "Friends and Family
seems a better bet.
President signed a "get tough" bill on
corporate fraud, as
reported by The Washington Post.
the overwhelming votes in both houses, one can sense
that "reasoned debate" is not something that
took place on these matters.
Will Rogers said that no citizen is safe while
Congress is in session.
I can't say it better.
read in conjunction with your TD's current favorite bÍte
noir, the bankruptcy reform bill, we see that the new
law means that failure is now no longer welcome in
America (except on the part of our political and
military leaders, where it is encouraged).
For corporate types, who, I suppose, fail to meet
their stated "certified" earnings reports (now
ďpersonallyĒ certified by the CEO -- all such
"certifications" due by August 13th),
potential criminal sanctions await (which, in the
standard political prosecution realm, can be meted out
in the discretion of that champion of equity, reason and
fair dealing, AG Ashcroft); ordinary failure, resulting
in bankruptcy, is, of course, punished by civil
servitude to one's creditors (criminalization presumably
ex-Congressman Traficant can ponder his friendship with
soon-to-be-ex-Congressman Condit, for around 8 years, at
does your TD not think that former Bush pal Kenny-boy
Lay will be joining him anytime soon?
29, 2002, New York, NY.
Well, in the follow-up department, thanks to our friends at
Offerings for their follow-up to a lead picked up by
the TD (after it was brought to his attention by alert
loyal reader Bob from Long Island) concerning the
sudden, unusually large number of deaths of Saudi
princes in their 40's; apparently, England's Guardian has
picked up a strand of this.
those interested, UO also offers
a rosier version of the future (or at least how we
get there) starting in Kurdistan.
This is a FAR ROSIER view than is laid bare by N.
Z. Bear of Truth Laid Bear in
this chilling future-vision.
in the news, Jesse Jackson is meeting with Yasir Arafat. Well, one of them is a fat, Jew-baiting, opportunistic shake down
artist and hatemonger who has been little but a fat-cat
parasite, pocketing millions largely at the expense of
his "people", and also disingenuously claims
to have been right there at the birth of his people's
The other one is Yasir Arafat.
Pope asks forgiveness of the faithful for the Church's
YOU ARE NOT DYSLEXIC.
Armstrong wins his 4th consecutive Tour De France.
No, you jealous French bastards, he is NOT doping
Ė itís called chemotherapy.
Lance proves that, notwithstanding Dubya and
Dick, Lance shows us all that there ARE people from
Texas who are on top because THEY EARNED IT.
(Sorry, I didn't mean to mess with Texas -- just
with the White House).
[TD Department of Corrections. I
would be remiss if I did not acknowledge this
possibility regarding Lance Armstrong.
I suppose I deserve this, since the underlying
joke was stolen from Robin Williams.]
finally, the market is up (as I write this) with the Dow
Jones Industrial Average up over 300 points.
(With thanks to the White House personal trainers
for keeping the President in front of the Stairmaster
and AWAY from the microphones).
28, 2002, East Hampton, New York. Well,
your TD is delighted to pass on a
major story involving men in danger (in this case
from a workplace accident in Pennsylvania) with a HAPPY
nine trapped miners were rescued, alive.
the United States, our all out national attention span
and efforts instinctively turn to this type of story and
of human life is a big deal here. Saving husbands and fathers is, to our hokey American-ness,
as important a task as exists, or CAN exist.
It is no coincidence that the nation was gripped
for days after 9-11 in the odd hope that SOMEONE might
be pulled out of that maelstrom alive.
Though our friend The
Raving Atheist would quibble, these are times when
many of us "turn to God", for comfort, and for
that no less a figure than Cherie Blair (wife of PM
Tony, and frankly, for our purposes, a "typical
European") can "understand the despair"
of a Palestinian suicide bomber (or bomber-ess) plotting
(besides their own glorious meeting with Allah) the
MURDER of other human beings.
I CAN'T understand it (or if I can, I do so
simply under the one-word heading of "EVIL").
But then, I'm just a stupid American, now, aren't
I, lacking the sophistication of our European friends.
Bankruptcy Code Changes Extra
the highly esteemed law firm of Davis Polk &
line by line exposition of the soon to be enacted
changes to the federal bankruptcy laws (at least, before
reconciliation by conference committee). See
Bankrate.com has to say about the proposed bill.
See also what Bankrate.com has to say about the proposed bill.
TD will, from time to time, point out some of his
favorite "fuck the people" portions of the
bill, in both detail and in the aggregate.
By the way: the bill is not merely a bank-driven
attempt to screw consumers (though it is clearly that).
It ALSO will have the effect of forcing many
companies that might have had a chance at reorganization
into liquidation by tightening business reorganization
what the economic doctor ordered NOT TO DO as we
struggle to get the economy on track.
27, 2002, East Hampton, New York. Loyal
reader Brian from Las Vegas writes in on your TD's
thoughts of the recent lawsuit (brought in the Bronx no
less -- for details, see this on www.overlawyered.com).
Your TD thanks Brian, as he actually wasn't aware
at one level, it is the equivalent of suing the gasoline
station that sold you the fuel you used to pour over
yourself and light yourself on fire.
America in the 21st century is based on the
proposition that nothing is your own fault, no matter
who you are. Whether
it was the Clintonian mutilation of language to evade
civil responsibility for infidelity, or the Bushian
mutilation of language to express, well, anything. or
the tendency of the public to believe that there is no
problem (of an individual's own making) that can't be
solved with a lawsuit:
all you need is a lawyer and a dream!
in a while, the stupid lawsuit hits (the famous hot
coffee case from New Mexico, resulting in a verdict of
millions, though actually settled later for far less
after an appellate court imposed some reality). Or of course, the ULTIMATE stupid lawsuit, the tobacco
litigation, where a group of states have the balls to
sue for the consequences of the use of a LEGAL product
that in the case of many states, was their LEADING
PRODUCER OF TAX REVENUE.
In "settling", of course,
"victim" smokers got, well, a high tax on
got revenues, and a few connected lawyers got legal fees
(See yesterday's TD extra re: Justice Ramos, on
wait, itís the tobacco litigation that may lead us
into a possibly meritorious attack on fast foods.
Although smoking, to those that do, may provide
some level of pleasure from the ingested nicotine (and
will cause some irritating consequences if suddenly
cut-off, which keeps the addiction there), one STARTING
the habit tends to get sick from it.
Why do it then? To be cool, of course. And
NOTHING is more important to the target market.
The evidence is unassailable that tobacco
companies DELIBERATELY targeted under-age children and
adolescents for the use of their product.
A legal product FOR ADULTS -- not to those
targeted by the industry, however.
guess what? That's
who fast food in this country is marketed to. Heck, fast
food is marketed to an even younger group than is
the TOYS in the United States are distributed not by
Toys R Us or even Wal-Mart -- but by McDonalds, Burger
King and the other fast food concerns.
Amazingly, there is an argument that with nearly
a third of our population in the overweight to obese
category, that industry is killing FAR MORE PEOPLE than
the tobacco industry, and imposing far more stress on
our health delivery system.
Of course, there is also an argument that our
government is complicit in this killing, as our
so-called national nutritional standards (eat lots of
healthy carbohydrates and stay a way from that awful
fat!) may have it EXACTLY BACKWARDS (and the fast food
industry jumped in providing the worst possible mix of
if that lawsuit lasts a while, some of this can come
out, which will be helpful in a public health sense
(even if the suit seems a long shot, because, since we
are what we eat, the plaintiff may one day see that he
was not without complicity).
the subject of "health" (segues are a
specialty here!) your TD introduces "blogger
your TD took an early 9 or 10 mile jog around East
Hampton and Amagansett, and noticed for the SECOND time
in his life that, at that hour, the massive movement of
Mexican grounds-keeping workers, who are generally
unseen in the Hamptons most of the time.
TD-mother-in-law confirms that this is a
relatively new development here in the Hamptons;
certainly, the area has always had minority members and
the "less affluent" (SOMEONE has to really
live here, right?).
But this appears to be a large group that wasn't
here before. Mrs.
TD's analysis: the
growth of the "Hollywood" set has now become
so entrenched that there is a need for an entire service
class all the time, whereas a combination of locals and
temporarily imported workers could do this before.
The last time I saw this phenomenon of Mexican
domestics and grounds-keeping workers on every corner?
Yup: Los Angeles.
Hollywood really HAS been brought east.
observations of Los Angeles over the course of time have
convinced me that it is far more of an
"American" city (of the kind real Americans
like those who voted for George Bush live in, like they
got down in Texas) than is New York.
(As a self-professed Northern liberal
pointy-head, even if no one believes I am, I consider
this not LA's advantage, but its loss.)
York belongs to the world; people (from all over the
world, of course) that the ruling class would like to
ignore are, alas, perpetually in your face, be it on the
subway, driving your cab, hanging where you shop,
standing in the elevator or just about wherever else you
are. It is
a city where all are welcome.
That is why the Arabs hate it so much, and want
to destroy it (that and the million or so Jews who live
in it.) Not
so Los Angeles (even if it too has lots of Jews) where
one can drive from a gated community in air conditioned
car to underground garage, and hang with one's own
homies at the country club.
of the non-ruling class may legitimately feel more
alienated in LA than in NYC because they are, without
doubt, certainly physically separated than they are in
the Big Apple. Obviously,
the bucolic, spread out (and now traffic choked)
Hamptons were always going to be more like LA than New
York (even though they are populated by weekending
I guess the Angeleno set was sufficiently homesick to
have seen the need to finally import their own Mexican
underclass to their new summer playground. They certainly seem to have the money to do it.
can your Hablando Perro say?
Bienvenidos a los Hamptons, amigos!
Judicial Hero Extra
kudos to Justice Charles Ramos of New York County
Supreme Court, for having the judicial integrity and
independence (read: cojones) to challenge the whopping
legal fee paid to some of New York's (and the nation's)
most politically connected personal injury lawyers, who
were paid a combined fee in excess of $600 MILLION
(which came out to $13,000 per hour worked) arising from
New York State's share of the national tobacco
New York Law Journal reports about an extremely
contentious argument before Justice Ramos.
TD had always thought highly of Justice Ramos before; we
are in an age and culture where we foolishly consider
athletes and movie stars "heroes".
The last twelve months have shown that New York
is a place where REAL heroes still exist.
Your TD asserts Justice Ramos is one of them.
answer to your question is a simple YES:
if the bill is good for banks and credit card
companies, it IS bad for consumers.
in the bill limits banks' abilities to charge outrageous
interest rates, or to use predatory credit marketing
techniques, such as to college students (or even nursery
school students or pets).
And yet, despite this, our previously liberal
bankruptcy system will now resemble that of the
less-forgiving (and less creative, less dynamic, and
economically slower-growing) Europeans.
Too bad your spouse contracted a horrible illness
or had an accident and you had to stay home and take
care of them, too bad you lost your job in a massive
economic downturn, too bad about that divorce -- TOO
BAD, TOO BAD, TOO BAD -- we're banks, and 22% annual
interest doesn't BEGIN to cover our 4-5% write-off rate
(AND YES, THAT WAS OUR NEWEST CREDIT CARD OFFER YOU GOT
IN THE MAIL YESTERDAY.)
bankruptcy was a mainstay of your TD's practice for a
long, long time. And
yes, your TD did see OCCASIONS where the system was
those occasions, in the course of THOUSANDS of cases,
may be measured perhaps on one or both hands.
Most people do NOT enter bankruptcy lightly, or
as a dodge, but simply because on top of outrageously
regressive taxes, high rents, increasing prices for
everything and stagnating wages, crushing debt (which
banks were free not to issue if they did an appropriate
credit analysis in the first place, instead of pursuing
"market share at all costs") is just one thing
fact, I'll go further.
The current "reform" is somewhere
between bad and disastrous for an economy that thrives
on Schumpeterian creative destruction: the spectacular successes we see in our economy are based on
how Edison invented the light bulbs (thousands of
unsuccessful tries before the one spectacular success).
It was said in Silicon Valley that you hadn't
paid your dues and your education wasn't complete until
you had at least one bankruptcy behind you.
LIBERAL BANKRUPTCY LAWS ENCOURAGE THE ECONOMIC
RISK TAKING THAT IS THE BACKBONE OF THIS COUNTRY'S
and democracy are nice; lots of countries, however, have
is uniquely American, though, that leads to our economic
encouragement of risk-taking with the knowledge that an
early failure will not necessarily become a life
sentence of debt repayment.
Does this mean that lending here is a tad riskier
than other places? Yup: this is reflected in interest rates, or the decision not
to lend at all. Our
economy is built on this.
I guess it wonít be for very much longer (the
full brunt of the bill hits in a few months).
let's take a meta-step backward and look what's going
on. In his
finest hour, Bill Clinton vetoed (or on occasion
threatened veto thereby effectively killing) prior
Although one could argue he was somehow in thrall
to the trial lawyers' lobby, keep in mind two things:
(1) Hillary voted FOR the current bankruptcy reforms (as
a Senator, we can thus conclude that bank money is more
important than trial lawyer money, whereas for a
President, reverse that), and/or (2) love him or hate
him, unlike the current administration that consists of
a bunch of guys who have had privilege handed to them,
Bill Clinton was a self-made man, who probably grew up
with people of the kind who were likely to go bankrupt: absurd
as it sounds, he probably DID feel their pain .
(The answer to your next question is YES, I AM
telling you that I think Bill Clinton took a principled
stand on something. That and the trial lawyers' thing.) Senator Wellstone promises a fight on this.
God be with you, Senator, though I think His
support will not be enough.
current president has vowed to SIGN this
"reform" bill within nanoseconds of its
arrival on his desk.
pain do Dubya and Dick feel?
The pain of potential multi-millionaire victims
of that awful, AWFUL death tax.
explanation (one that can't be ruled out) is that
Israel's attack on the Hamas leader in Gaza was a
preemptive strike; Israel's Defense Minister (and Labor
Party leader) Ben Eliezer reported that the target was
planning a massive strike involving a truck with a ton
of explosives. The Jerusalem Post reports;
Moussaoui Circus Extra
TD has just learned that Zaccarias Moussaoui has now
evidently withdrawn his previous attempts at pleading
accurately, his efforts to plead guilty to 4 of the 6
conspiracy charges were rejected by Judge Brinkema, as CNN
as guilty pleas go, easy come, easy go.
Again, we need to look very carefully at
everything Moussaoui is doing.
Once again, he has not "allocuted", or
given an open court confession as to the specific acts
constituting guilt of a crime; partially, this is
because Judge Brinkema won't let him.
TD is convinced that in the course of his 100 or so
filings, Moussaoui has not exactly laid out what it is
he thinks he is guilty of, and as this sample shows,
some of his motions appear to be off the wall, while
others do not (TD comments noted below):
by Zacarias Moussaoui |to Stop Leonie Brinkema to
Undermine My Chance to Live by Her Smearing Campaign|
Additional attachment(s) added on 7/17/2002 (rtra, ).
332 MOTION by Zacarias Moussaoui |to Have the Right to
Get all Motion Filed in My Case and to Stop Standby
Lawyer Interfereing in My Pro Se Defense| Additional
attachment(s) added on 7/17/2002 (rtra, ). (Entered:
granted based on his right to privacy)
331 MOTION by Zacarias Moussaoui |to Force Leonie
Brinkema to Accept Bro Freeman Motion| Additional
attachment(s) added on 7/17/2002 (rtra, ). (Entered:
330 MOTION by Zacarias Moussaoui |to Stop the FBI to
Temper With Evidence and to Have Hussein Al Attas and
Ali Mukhram Called as Witness Immediate Hearing|
Additional attachment(s) added on 7/17/2002 (rtra, ).
apparently denied, though as to witnesses, possibly on
329 MOTION by Zacarias Moussaoui |to Stipulate My Right
and Duty to Live on this Earth a Long and Happy Life
(with four wives) and to Stop this Judge Misrepresenting
My Fight For Life| Additional attachment(s) added on
7/17/2002 (rtra, ). (Entered: 07/15/2002)
328 MOTION by Zacarias Moussaoui |to Have a Fair Trial
Free of Islamphobia and Discrimination| Additional
attachment(s) added on 7/17/2002 (rtra, ). (Entered:
327 MOTION by Zacarias Moussaoui |to Be Given Printout
of the Visa Application of Ramzi and the Western Union
Money Transfer of Ahad Sabet| Additional attachment(s)
added on 7/17/2002 (rtra, ). (Entered: 07/15/2002)
unknown, though this seems a reasonable defense request)
326 MOTION by Zacarias Moussaoui |Already 3 Weeks that I
Ask You Leonie Brinkema to Order the FBI to Release My
Letter to Europe| Additional attachment(s) added on
7/17/2002 (rtra, ). (Entered: 07/15/2002)
325 MOTION by Zacarias Moussaoui |Leonie Brinkema
Embargo on Bro Freeman Legal Assistance Services to Me,
Must Stop Now| Additional attachment(s) added on
7/17/2002 (rtra, ). (Entered: 07/15/2002)
324 MOTION by Zacarias Moussaoui |for Justice|
Additional attachment(s) added on 7/17/2002 (rtra, ).
unknown, though justice delayed in this case may not be
323 MOTION by Zacarias Moussaoui |to Stop Zacarias
Moussaoui State Murder and Have the Right to Contact the
French Embassy and National Assembly| Additional
attachment(s) added on 7/17/2002 (rtra, ). (Entered:
unknown, though under international law, as a French
national, he is absolutely entitled to be given access
to French diplomatic personnel.)
322 MOTION by Zacarias Moussaoui |to Stop the Liars and
Freedom of Information and Security for Zacarias
Moussaoui| Additional attachment(s)
on 7/17/2002 (rtra, ). (Entered: 07/15/2002)
TD's money is still on the "crazy like a fox"
theory. The government should seriously consider taking this guy up
on a plea, because when the smoke and mirrors clear, he
was in federal custody on 9-11 (and for a month before),
and I don't see this guy admitting his way into a
25, 2002, New York, NY. The market
appears to be in a holding pattern (around even as I
write this). No
would be a good thing.
Let the public realize that most companies
probably ARE NOT run by the type of corporate scoundrels
we have been reading about, such as Kenny Boy Lay of
Enron, Bernie Boy Ebbers of Worldcom, or apparently,
Vice President Dick Cheney of Halliburton (hope springs
eternal that he may be yet be cleared; the markets will
REALLY be spooked if he is not), and that more people
lost money in perfectly clean (though heinously
overvalued) Cisco Systems (which at its peak had a
market capitalization in excess of 6% of the United
States Gross Domestic Product) than in most of these
other corporate meltdowns, combined.
As long as we can KEEP the President from making
more statements designed to calm the markets, we should
today is another chapter in the Moussaoui Circus; your
TD will endeavor to report on it as soon as events
become public... For
some details, CNN
reports here. (By
the way, I understand that Judge Brinkema has ruled that
Mr. Moussaoui IS mentally competent to plead guilty.
Your TD calls on Attorney General Ashcroft to
immediately bring the same force to bear against Judge
Brinkema that he did against the State of Oregon when
THAT STATE tried to permit assisted suicide.
Again, more to follow.)
although it is noted in our Talking Dog Point, now
ex-Congressman James Traficant is just a gift who keeps
on giving; aside
from having the loyal support of soon-to-be
ex-Congressman Condit, Traficant is just one of those
characters you can't make up.
Your TD's favorite part of the 4 days of House
Ethics Committee hearings was Traficant's questioning of
"friendly witness" Sandra Ferrante:
you and I sex partners?
if he IS a convicted felon, your TD will miss
your TD acknowledges that, having not volunteered to
serve in our military himself, he has to be sensitive to
the dangers imposed on those fellow citizens who HAVE
Notwithstanding such dangers, a larger American
man-hunt should have been undertaken way back, when we
had pretty good confirmation that Osama bin Laden was in
failure to catch the one-man poster child for the war on
terrorism is a propaganda disaster (though, we suspect,
probably less of a disaster in other ways; as I write
this, around noon on July 24th, the Dow Jones Industrial
Average is up over 200 points.
Most likely a foolsí rally, but we can still be
optimistic itís not.)
a massive effort is underway in California to prevent
forest fires from damaging or destroying sequoia redwood
trees, some of the world's oldest and tallest trees (I
suppose a simultaneous manhunt is underway for any
firefighters employed by the federal government who were
in the vicinity of the initial reported fire...)
America's "forest management" has gone
through various cycles, such as "do nothing",
"fight every fire tooth and nail" and
"controlled burns" (such as the one near Los
Alamos, New Mexico that threatened the national
laboratory there after the "controlled burn"
went out of control.)
serious thought has to go into reviewing the historical
records and seeing what brands of forest management
seemed to work best; what we are doing now seems NOT to
be working, but against historical review, the current
"forest management" may be just fine.
Your TD doesn't profess to know...
on the subject of conflagrations, back to Israel and
Gaza, where the recriminations keep coming; here
is a Jerusalem Post analysis of the IDF's statements
that it is "terribly sorry" about the killing
of civilians. Israeli
Foreign Minister Shimon Peres made the same statement
that he was terribly saddened at the loss of innocent
life. I think it is agreed that the "if we only knew other
people were there we wouldn't have done this"
argument is not credible when coming from an IDF capable
of blowing up the anteroom and guest room (but not
bedroom, bathroom or kitchen!) of Yasir Arafat's
Jerusalem Post analysis makes a similar point to TD's: this is very well a turning point. Which way, we don't know.
It could be that now that terrorist leaders know
that not just they, but THEIR FAMILIES will become
legitimate IDF targets, maybe THEY will be forced to
measure their actions accordingly.
If so, the unfortunate killing of children here
will save thousands upon thousands of children later,
Israeli and Palestinian both. On the other hand, if this breaks up a seeming period of
quiet as Israeli re-occupation progresses to do what
Yasir could not or would not do (rein in the
terrorists), and responsive terror increases, then all
but the most cynical could conclude that this is EXACTLY
what Sharon intended by launching this strike.
And despite protestations of the Bush
Administration, is it likely Sharon would have done this
Gaza attack without consultation?
note that the Saudi Prince owner of the Kentucky Derby
winning horse died of a "heart attack" at 46;
his brother (another Saudi Prince) kicked off of a
"heart attack" at 49 a few months ago; and yet
another Saudi Prince, their cousin, died at 41 in a car
accident on the way to the funeral. Could
we be watching the Saudi version of a succession
struggle, as three nephews of King Faud, all in their
40's, die more or less simultaneously?
Or maybe they just all got a batch of bad hummus.
23, 2002, New York, NY. As we take a
moment's attention away from a stabilizing stock market
(boy, is the President hoping that sticks!), let us
consider an Israeli attack on a Hamas leader in Gaza as
reported in the Jerusalem Post.
was obviously a really bad guy -- a master of getting
others to kill themselves and Israeli women, children
and grandmothers. This
time, Israel didn't do what it often does -- i.e.,
risking its own military personnel on a daring mission
to minimize "collateral damage".
This time it simply pushed a button a fired a
missile at its target, an apartment house.
Obviously, it COULD have done something like that
to Yasir Arafat a long time ago, but despite the
inflammatory rhetoric, Mr. Sharon wants Yasir around.
Sharon regards this as a success (though regret was
expressed regarding the other victims).
Certainly, it was a military success:
the target was hit, the bad guy killed (and some
other people, regrettably including children).
TD is of two minds: perhaps
future Hamas/Hizbollah/Fatah officials will consider
their actions a bit more carefully, knowing that Israel
may no longer be squeamish about taking out THEIR OWN
course, this may also be a perverse political success of
another kind: amidst the relative quiet (no suicide bombings or other
attacks for, well, days), there might be pressure to
resume peace talks.
Now, given the likely very nasty Hamas responsive
measure (in the form of a suicide bombing), that quiet
will likely come to an end (and with it, possibly,
pressure to continue talks, which Sharon opposes
22, 2002, New York, New York (just after market close).
Well, the markets closed as they opened:
DOWN, DOWN and DOWN some more.
On a positive note, now that WorldCom
shareholders need no longer worry about a possible
bankruptcy, its stock went up a few pennies!
The rest of the market went down, with the Dow
Jones Industrials off around 3% to just under 7800, and
the NASDAQ Index down around the same percentage to just
TD is kicking himself for not being able to have landed
the WorldCom bankruptcy case (we can be certain that it
will be lucrative for the attorneys involved, if not for
creditors or shareholders), but then, that's the way it
continue my philosophical musings on capitalism raised
earlier, note that some of the major reforms (audit
reform, expensing options) being championed today by
friend of the people (Please run for president as a
Democrat! PRETTY PLEASE!) Senator
John McCain were, previously, suggested by Arthur
Levitt, former SEC Apparatchik in the Clinton
and Dubya are in a tough one, and the "war" is
not likely to get them out of this, particularly as more
and more of the country wonders "where's Osama --
why can't we be certain he's dead".
When Dick's Halliburton-related fortune and
Dubya's ENTIRE fortune rests on the same sort of happy
fictions that Ken Lay's and Bernie Ebbers' fortunes rest
on, their moral authority on stock-market issues is,
from soccer parlance, nil.
And if they don't watch it...
22, 2002, New York, New York. Well,
as I write this, WorldCom has filed for bankruptcy, and
the Dow crashed through 8000, and then through 7900...
friends at The Economist note that the
telecoms bubble is perhaps 10 times the size of the dot-coms
Worldcom is now the largest bankruptcy ever (twice the
size of Enron).
even as earnings are restated (and will be signed off as
accurate by CEOs starting August 14th -- though that
will not likely restore shaken investor confidence), the
"price earnings ratio" (meaning, literally,
what the price of the stock is compared with a company's
annual earnings -- preferably actual earnings) is
currently 21 for the S&P 500 largest public
companies; historically, it is 15.
Alas, this means there's plenty more room for a
are witnessing what Schumpeter called capitalism's
"creative destruction"; cars
"destroyed" wagons, lightbulbs
"destroyed" candles, petroleum destroyed the
whale oil industry, and of course, the Bush family (when
in power) destroys honest productive capacity (though
they and their friends do quite nicely, thanks).
we are witnessing the logical consequence of
without inflation, the market CAN'T give 20%
returns every year, because that level of increased
productivity has NEVER historically been sustainable for
very long. And
sure enough, it wasn't.
The continuing high returns were based not on
technological efficiencies, but on accounting
legerdemain and an investor community willing to
overlook anything except missing an earnings target
(which was punished viciously).
earnings targets were made (even if, as it turns
out, they were either fudged a little, or else
the most part, we've seen the enemy:
he was us (and anyone who seriously thought that
"everything is different" for companies with
no discernable way of making money which were still
showered with billions in market valuations).
Even your TD thought the market was rigged to go
up (he is certainly still sure it is rigged...)
who sold houses or stable income investments to
"get in the game" got what they bargained for.
Many got the dark side of the risk-reward
so did a lot of people whose only offense was choosing
to work for the wrong horse; as Talking
Points Memo notes, these people (your TD included)
have a whole group of people we can now resent:
people like our President, just handed business
opportunity just because they were connected, who never
had a tough decision to make in their lives.
the market is intrinsically self-correcting:
the rules didn't change (and hence, prices take a
question is: what will our crony capitalist government do about it?
Your TD fears that as dismal as the market news
is, the Bush Administration prefers it to discussing the
even more dismal progress of the "war on
back Rabid Dog! We
are proud to add Ravingatheist.com
to the already inexplicable list of perma-links in the
Dog Run. (We also now say goodbye to Smartertimes, given that the
creation of the New York Sun has superceded it, and it
hasn't posted in months.)
newest blog is the creation of that canine you already
know as the Rabid Dog, who now takes as his new nom de
plume (or in his case, nom de guerre), The Raving
we welcome ravingatheist.com to the family of active
RA will hate us for saying it, God bless your new blog!
21, 2002, East Hampton, NY. Well,
your TD observes the news media's current obsession with
the stock market collapse; we'll see what happens on the
Street tomorrow! Meanwhile,
your TD wonders, hey guys!
There's, like this major story about Angelina and
Billy-Bob -- why aren't you covering it? For those of you who want a frank discussion of love and sex
as it was meant to be discussed -- by a recent Yale
graduate with her own blog -- check out Eve
suspected, while glancing at the Sunday New York
Times, the Gray Lady took its criticism of the WTC
reconstruction off of the editorial page, where it might
be confused with "opinion" (itís a FACT that
it would be WRONG to replace all of the square feet of
office space lost) and moved
its criticism to the FRONT PAGE, where it can
rightly be construed as "news" (in this case,
of a public hearing where criticism of the project was
TD's limited experience in the vagaries of "public
hearings" on zoning matters consisted of once
representing a client that wanted to open an indoor
baseball batting cage (how freaking American is that?)
in HOBOKEN, NEW JERSEY -- widely considered the
birthplace of baseball! (I mean, could it get any better?) The planned usage was approved by the City, of course, but
then there was a public hearing where neighbors of the
proposed business just showed up and expressed objection
"because kids might hang out there".
In short, "Not In My Back Yard" (NIMBY)
objections were raised to an indoor batting cage (which
also served hot dogs and ran kidsí birthday parties)
for no other reason than people were given the
opportunity to do so (damned freedom and democracy!).
point is that the various insistences that "we will
listen to the public" and especially "we will
listen to THE FAMILIES" (a rather amorphous group,
making political accountability to them harder still)
CAN ONLY GO SO FAR.
Let's be honest:
NO ONE speaks for the general public interest,
because no one can.
Everyone has some sort of overarching private or
personal interests, even if it is the personal desire
for an appropriate memorial for lost loved ones, or the
personal desire for a really nice new park in their own
neighborhood (the two interests the Times think are more
important than jobs and economic renewal).
Such personal interests could be, but ARE NOT
NECESSARILY the public interest at all (unless you
insist, as does the Times, that your personal preference
for public space defines "the public
government's JOB is to "speak for the public
interest", but we all know that short of a Platonic
Republic run by a supremely benevolent despot, it
doesn't do that. The
government TRIES to fulfill a wide enough variety of
private concerns and needs (such as satisfying my
PERSONAL need for highways to travel on, or police to
protect me from potential acts of violence, or
anti-trust laws to make sure that successful companies
are punished for being successful -- well, we'll think
about that one a minute) to convince a wide enough
portion of the public that it is satisfying these needs
sufficiently to warrant reelecting that government (you
it or not, large swaths of New York were built by
semi-benevolent semi-despots, be it the Robert Moses
highway system, or Nelson Rockefeller's final erection,
the original World Trade Center, or the mandarins who
gave us the subway system, most of which was built in
just a few years before World War I.
These people did not feel the need to heed the
concern of every resident who was upset by construction
noise out their window, or had their own notions of
is my point? Oh
damned thing has to be rebuilt.
Yes, it would be nice if it satisfied the
concerns of every single "constituent". But it
probably can't even satisfy the concerns of most people.
Your TD is of the opinion that anyone who is THAT
interested can buy the leasehold from Larry Silverstein
and do what he or she wants with it (subject to the
vagaries of the leasehold being on state land, of
it is nice that people have an opportunity to express
concerns, some of which SHOULD be considered (and
doubtless WILL be).
a camel is an elephant designed by committee (or
something); someone will have to sort this WTC thing out
and get it done. Time
was estimated that New York lost office space equivalent
to all of that in downtown Atlanta.
It has to be replaced.
People who are alive in 50-100 years may have
beautiful skyline elements and a lovely park based on
the decisions made now, but people alive RIGHT NOW need
to work, run their businesses, and go for their dreams.
Failing to provide that opportunity -- rather
than some elitist aesthetic concern -- will mean that
the terrorists will have won.
20, 2002, East Hampton, NY. Well,
it has been 33 years to the day since Neil Armstrong
took that fateful first step on the moon (ironically
only six months after Star Trek was cancelled).
Space-travel obsessed Instapundit wonders
why we were closer to colonization of space THEN
than we are NOW. Well,
in fairness, we probably are a little closer now (we
have better rockets, and computers, though one still
wonders whether we'd want to send a MANNED mission run
by engineers who forget whether they programmed in feet
one wonders (your TD now reverts to New York pinko
liberal form, while sitting in a beachfront bungalow in
the midst of some of the most expensive real estate in
the world), perhaps we should be concentrating on
solving the problems of THIS planet, such as billions of
people facing imminent death from starvation and curable
(or at least controllable) diseases.
Just a thought...
our friends at Unqualified Offerings continue their
timely and well documented observations, this time of
answer to a query raised by UO as to whether your TD is
really a lawyer, or a big fat liar, your TD ponders why
this is raised as an "or". Actually, your TD is, in fact, a lawyer.
As a lawyer, would I lie?)
in the Hamptons, your TD had an opportunity to scan The
New York Times editorial page.
The Gray Lady asserts that the stock market's
rapid collapse is evidence that Dubya is failing as a
a rapid increase in stock prices would ALSO be proof
that Dubya is failing as a president.
(The correct answer is that the failure to
account for the whereabouts of Osama bin Laden and to
mount a removal of Saddam Hussein make him -- so far--
off to a bad start; he has some time to turn this
DID note a sort of vague criticism of the unveiled WTC
redevelopment plans administered by the Beyer Blinder
Belle architecture firm (disclosure: I once met one the
principals at a deposition (see I really AM a lawyer); I
think they're really good architects, and I like the
plans, but what do I know?).
What exactly is the problem?
That the site won't be made into a sixteen acre
nature preserve? The
original WTC site was scary, and ugly:
all six proposals are improvements.
We have to redevelop the site into offices and
retail because New Yorkers need jobsóthat is, jobs
besides serving cappuccino to the Times editorial staff.
a massive beef recall.
Although your TD has refrained from beef and all
red meat for five years on cockamamie ethical grounds (I
still eat chicken and fish, and Mrs. TD and Baby TD eat
red meat), there IS trouble in America's slaughterhouses
and packing plants.
When meat inspectors seem to give the same level
of concern for the integrity of their jobs as Andersen
19, 2002, New York, New York. Well,
in the "life imitates art (if you can call sitcoms
art)" department, we get the feeling that Zaccarias
Moussouai ("the 20th hijacker") has watched a
few too many episodes of Night Court. We give you this
CNN account of his attempt at pleading guilty.
reading between the lines shows that Mr. Moussaoui may
actually be crazy like a fox (and we don't mean the Fox
carefully at what he admitted:
being a follower of bin Laden and a loyal al
Qaeda member ARE NOT ACTUALLY CRIMES!
Mr. Moussaoui also claims to have information
about the conspiracy, though he does not admit that he
was part of it. Of
course, much as your TD would probably smile at the
thought of Mr. Moussaoui being slowly lowered into a vat
of boiling Saudi oil, the fact is, the government has a
very questionable case against him.
All of the links to the 9-11 crimes are
attenuated; sure, he acted very strangely at his flight
school in Minnesota ("No!
Stop with the take-offs and landings!
Just show me how to steer!") and had quite a
Rogues' Gallery on his Rolodex.
But, while indicative of something very
troubling, by themselves, THESE ARE NOT CRIMES!
On 9-11, he was already in federal custody on
immigration charges (and of these, he's most assuredly
the guy just seems to WANT to plead guilty; he's already
tried to plead "no contest", and now outright
"guilty". The government should very seriously consider hearing him
out, and letting him plead guilty to something
(preferably something that allows his incarceration
forever, although your TD will accept something with at
least 30 years). As
with Mr. Lindh, the last thing the government needs is
for its carefully orchestrated show trial to end in an
acquittal because the jury actually made a determination
based on the EVIDENCE.
I write this, the stock market resumes its freefall, as
most of the most active disasters are in your TD's
What else is new? Not to worry: this will be old news by the end of the trading
18, 2002, New York, New York. Well,
your TD will now weigh in the issue of whether he feels
that the abuse of stock options, widely cited as one of
the causes of the current market overvaluation
bubble-followed-by-the-current-market-freefall, is, in
fact, a really bad thing.
background from our friends at The Economist
who in turn link us to this
(insanely long) article to be published soon in the
University of Chicago Law Review.
phrasing the question that way (the way, say the biased
pollsters always ask "In these dangerous times of
war when we have to rally around our national
leadership, do you approve of the President's job
performance?"), your TD has already ANSWERED the
stock options were abused, and abused royally.
Senator McCain's recently shot-down proposal
(many thanks, though not exclusively of course, to
"Enron" Phil Gramm of Texas) to force
companies to account for such option grants as
"current expenses" makes perfect sense:
if a company were paying CASH as compensation, it
would expense it. Ditto
shareholders will get to see EXACTLY what management is
paying itself, not some convoluted accounting scenario
that deliberately obfuscates it.
In the end, is Derek Jeter worth more to his
company (the NY Yankees) than, say, Michael Eisner is
his (Disney)? Well,
although Derek has, so far, been paid but a miniscule
fraction of what Mike is, the answer remains a
resounding YES. Derek
NEGOTIATED a salary, based on his ability to put fans in
the seats at the Stadium and in front of their
television sets. Mike
more or less paid himself (and in some cases, his
friends) what he thought he could get away with.
A level of stock option reform will help lessen
this problem. Capitalism
is intrinsically creative:
more means of screwing shareholders can always be
obvious ones, however, which intrinsically smack of
fraud and self-dealing (regardless of the fact that
"crony capitalism" was the principal means of
wealth-building for our nation's current leadership),
should be curbed, or the public's outrage will be
notwithstanding, in the "Red states", this
issue may prove disastrous for the current regime.
That said, we go back to the Middle East, where
yet another suicide bomber (two actually) have
killed at least five and wounded dozens in Tel Aviv.
your TD notes that, in the end, the Israelis can slow
down, but they can't STOP, the wave of terrorism against
their citizenry, be it with occupation, curfew, or
IDF can exile, or even kill, Yasir Arafat, and the pace
of the terror will proceed mostly unabated.
Israelis have exactly four options, the first two of
which are extremely unlikely: (1) join the United
States, with or without Palestine also joining, or (2)
pull up stakes, just walk out of the West Bank as Barak
did from South Lebanon, and make plans to walk out of
the rest of Israel while they're at it; the other two
are (3) do what they're already doing, and absorb the
terrorism; or (4) negotiate a settlement, including
money (and/or fully equipped 'settlements" in lieu
of "right of return" and territorial transfer
with self- and US- enforced security guarantees).
While your TD favors (1) as the cleanest and
fastest (the US of A will get tremendous benefits,
especially if Palestine DOES NOT also join the Union),
(4) is the only sensible solution (Jews hate the word
solution of course, because of its Teutonic
course, internal Israeli politics will almost certainly
mean that (3) is what is practiced, at least for the
Your TD, alas, will have to put that trip to the
Holy Land on hold for a while...
TD believes that all appear to be workable, and hopes
that the redevelopment process can move along sooner
rather than later.
in the "We've got to give up some -- hell, a huge
number -- of our cherished freedoms to maintain our
American way of life" department, we give you the
White House's bold
new "Homeland Security" initiatives. (Disclaimer: Your TD has not thoroughly reviewed this
himself; he just makes the usual assumptions about the
Bush-Cheney Administration that any other knee-jerk, New
York City liberal would make).
will today mark the end of the stock market slide?
Your guess is as good as mine...
16, 2002, New York, New York. This
morning (things proceeding apace), the day after the
"closing ceremony" at Fresh Kills landfill, comes
the unveiling of six proposed redevelopment plans of the
World Trade Center site.
all six proposals encompass memorials, four even leaving
the twin towers "footprints" without
structures on them, and all six more or less replacing
the lost square footage so that the site can, again,
become an economic engine for the City, the Nation, and
the civilized world.
your TD is, periodically, reminded of laments he made
last September and October (back when he was the
"Left Leaning Dog"; we're hoping for great
things soon from our friend the Rabid Dog, by the way).
Specifically, your TD believed that the nation's
retaliatory and purportedly preemptive war on
Afghanistan would be fought in a way intended more for
public consumption than for strategic purpose:
(From October 8, 2001)
On the contrary:
your LLD believes that the allegedly tough right
wing government that placed itself in charge of our
nation last winter will not go FAR ENOUGH in conducting
its current campaign against terror, despite the
assure you that deep inside our national security
apparatus, ten times the effort that is going into
finding perpetrators and stopping the next wave of
terrorism is going into the cover up of responsibility
for the last wave, of which our national security
apparatus almost certainly had some level of foreknowledge of the events of September 11th.
Your LLD won't accept the
"incompetence" argument from the son of the
former president AND CIA DIRECTOR -- even if it seems to
said, your LLD believes that the current government will
perform EXACTLY the way it did in the Gulf War:
a series of showy explosions (the terrorists
liked showy explosions, too, of course -- though we tend
to go to extremes to avoid "collateral damage"
-- while that is their aim).
Notice the reversion to an official secrets act
as pertains to war correspondents?
Its always "officially" about
"national security" -- but its actually about
a psychosis for secrecy that has permeated through Bush
and Cheney about everything -- even the release of
Ronald Reagan's NON-CLASSIFIED presidential papers!
Well, I guess that's what America's about -- that
and watching what you say!
Suffice it to say, the showy explosions will NOT
end with the removal of Saddam Hussein (necessary if we
actually want to end terrorism -- even if we only want
to end the "bad" kind against the United
States and not the "good" kind directed
against Israel) from power, violently and viciously, and
leaving his country in flaming ruins, as the only sort
of message the Arab world (you know, the people who
merrily crashed our planes into our cities) will
I have said it privately, and now I'll say it publicly: if Saddam Hussein is dead
(I'll even take natural causes) or out of power
within 180 days, I will vote for, hell, I'll CAMPAIGN
for, George W. Bush to be reelected.
I'm not worried about having to pay off that bet.
Prove me wrong, Mr. President.
For America's sake, prove me wrong.
of course, your TD's then-concern:
what he perceived (and still perceives) as the
actual return address (Baghdad) for the various terror
attacks (to recap, 9-11, anthrax, Flight 587) to have
befallen our country in the past ten months.
What he didn't anticipate was that we, the United
States, in "alliance" with, well, the entire
planet, would be unable to get ONE GUY.
I mean, as Robin Williams put it, how hard IS IT
to find a 6'5" Arab on dialysis? And not only have Osama (and his friend and enabler, the
blind and daft Mullah Omar) apparently escaped alive,
but as far as we can tell, as a result of half-assed
inadequate "mopping up" operations, Al Qaeda
is now dispersed, and potentially even more dangerous
assessment on the "war" comes to us from
our friends at Unqualified Offerings who note how
merrily the Warblogger set went along with "the
war", despite what looks objectively as, well, less
than achieving our stated aims.
(Scroll down a bit for some
intelligent observations on the new TIPS proposal to
in the "more things change..." department, another
bus attack in Israel.
At least seven dead, two dozen wounded.
This WITH the "Wild West" Bank
effectively under reoccupation.
the only viable solutions continue to be either (1) both
Israel and the Palestinians set aside their differences
by joining the United States, or (2) they negotiate some
sort of final arrangement with each other. By
the way, your TD does not believe the
"settlements" are an obstacle to peace. Far from, they are a bargaining chip. Israel has spent a fortune developing them, and can use that
monetary value to offset the compensation for
"right of return" that will ultimately be part
of the final negotiated arrangement.
plea bargain will save both sides a great deal of
trouble. Lindh need not sit through a trial where the entire brunt of
Western civilization will fall upon him, and he would be
facing an almost certain life sentence (the plea bargain
maxes him at 20 years, and he'll doubtless do even
better) for what amounts to simply an act of
renunciation of citizenship.
Lindh's actions -- joining what was then the
legitimate army of a foreign nation -- so legitimate
that General Franks in his infinite wisdom thought
Mullah Omar was a legitimate head of state (as did his
JAG adviser) -- usually are not construed per se as
criminal acts. Further,
Lindh himself apparently refused to participate in
"operations" intended against American
territory; his actions could be construed as defending
the territory of his adopted country, Afghanistan.
Properly, Lindh SHOULD have been stripped of his
American citizenship (based on his de facto
renunciation by joining a foreign army) and shipped to
Guantanamo to await legal limbo with the rest of the
our government, as in need of a legal scapegoat as a
military victory, was delighted to nab him, and try him
as a criminal.
course, the government should be EVEN HAPPIER about this
plea bargain. Alas,
Lindh was not properly "Mirandized", nor
afforded a right to counsel (despite his parents
retaining attorneys for him), nor afforded other
niceties (or, as AG Ashcroft would doubtless think of
them, annoying inconveniences) of our legal system.
Lindh was battle-field interrogated, a process
not normally intended to aid in later criminal
prosecution (which is why battlefield combatants are not
normally subject to ordinary criminal prosecution).
Now, troubling issues concerning his post-capture
treatment, and the admissibility of statements he gave
to the military, the CIA, and to reporters, can be
your TD sees this as a "win-win", he thinks
the Government fared better:
Mr. Lindh will go to jail, and for longer than he
likely would as a POW (even if the "war on
terror" starts to look as endless as the "war
on drugs" or "war on poverty"); although
Lindh need no longer risk a life sentence, the
government need not risk a troubling acquittal.
Further, given the current regime's mania for
secrecy, a public trial spilling certain details of our
military operations in Afghanistan could hardly be
distance and time in Pakistan, four
perpetrators were convicted in the Daniel Pearl murder
and one of them, sentenced to hang; he promptly called
for an Islamic uprising.
Honestly, what more can we say about this crime?
Pearl, brutally abducted, blindfolded, forced to
recite his background and when he mentioned that his
mother was Jewish, his throat slashed --
ALL CAPTURED ON VIDEOTAPE!
For those of us who still believe in good and
evil, this act was the definition of evil.
Much as our President has been accused of being
too simplistic in thus assessing the world, the brutal
murder of one gentle man (thereby rendering his pregnant
wife a widow and his now infant child fatherless) was
to the prevailing liberal dogma, we do not have to
understand the motives of the perpetrators:
they committed an act of evil, and at this point,
for better or worse, have succumbed to evil.
What does that make their hate and jihad-based
Wahabbi-inspired (and financed) belief system?
Correct again: evil.
this make ISLAM evil, per se?
Of course not.
The vast (I suspect overwhelming) majority of the
Islamic world doesn't believe that it is their RELIGIOUS
DUTY to go out and murder Americans and Jews.
Alas, your TD DOES believe that a huge number of
Saudis and others inspired by them, however, DO believe
this (though, thankfully, they haven't been as effective
in carrying out their hatred as they have in expressing
this mean that we as Americans have to understand and
deal with this hatred?
Yes it does.
What can we do about it?
point out to our fellow homo sapiens who
believe in this form of neo-Nazism/Stalinism-in-a-kaftan-or-turban
that such hatred is futile and hopeless against an
economically, militarily and morally superior West.
(We can start by declaring war on an unrepentant
and uncooperative Saudi Arabia, and promptly leveling
worry, your TD is not in charge of our nation's foreign
policy, and this won't happen, nor will Israel be
joining the union, even if both would be good things.)
least one Arab journalist reports
that Osama is still alive.
Well, if so, your TD very much requests the honor
his presence at an Afghan wedding...
we can all lament moneys lost in this or that financial
debacle (or scandal), or the Prez or Veep's involvement
in their own financial irregularities, today marks the
somber end (and accompanying ceremony) to the sifting of
World Trade Center debris in Staten Island to search for
remains or possessions of those killed on September
passing of ten months has done little to lessen the
emotional impact. A couple of weeks ago, your TD was at a ceremony where the
Boy Scouts' highest award for valor was awarded.
Then 18-year old Richie Pearlman, working as a
messenger in a law firm, found himself at Police Plaza
in lower Manhattan when he heard the call of a heart
attack victim on the morning of September 11, 2001.
Pearlman immediately ran into the South Tower of
the World Trade Center (with the paramedic badge he
earned working as a volunteer with a Forest Hills
volunteer ambulance company) to give aid.
Your TD's eyes are tearing as he writes this,
just as all eyes present teared over as Mrs. Pearlman
was presented the award for her son's bravery,
12, 2002, New York, New York.
In the "either confess or shut up"
department, we give you this
development in the Elizabeth Smart disappearance
that suspect Ricci is represented by a civil lawyer who
may soon be turning it over to a criminal attorney.
The criminal attorney would doubtless advise the
suspect of his right to remain silent, and tell him to
Afghanistan, we give you this
development, as U.S. Special Forces apparently have
come under fire from pissed off Afghans near the
location of the wedding bombing (perhaps THEY were
pissed that Osama and Omar didn't come -- AND didn't
RSVP), it appears that "without admitting liability
of any kind", the US of A will be providing some
form of cash compensation to victims of the bombing.
in the "the more things change, the more they stay
the same" department, we give you this
report showing that the ONLY person still in jail in
LA County a week after the video-taped apparent police
beating of a black suspect in Inglewood, California
is...the guy who took the videotape: from O.J.-trial maven Jeffrey Toobin (as told to Connie
Kaus seems to have moderated his criticism of MWO
rhetoric somewhat, and now characterizes it as merely
"determinedly dumb and ad hominem,"
rather than dangerous and liable to incite violence.
protests our use of the term "whores" and asks
why "everyone who disagrees"
with our point of view is labeled one.
Of course that isn't true.
We reserve the term for members of the media we
believe have sold out their journalistic principles for
financial profit or exposure.
There are many on the right whose views we
believe are insane but who cannot, in fairness, be
common definition of "whore" that is known or
should be known to anyone who calls himself a writer is
"an unscrupulous or venal person."
Does anybody really believe Kaus has never heard
the term used in this way to describe failed
he never seen "Network"?
did raise an important point, however, when he brought
up the original issue of dangerous rhetoric.
Even if his "worry" about MWO as an
instigator of violence was ridiculous and roundly
criticized as such, that does not mean there is never a
danger of certain kinds of rhetoric leading to violence.
For instance, when the rhetoric involves
suggestions that Americans should be harmed or put to
death for expressing their political or religious
beliefs, a line has clearly been crossed.
appreciate Kaus's bringing violence concerns to the
fore, but we would encourage him to go a step further.
He should review those websites he promotes, such
and determine whether he and Slate are acting
responsibly by linking to them.
he continues to promote sites MWO has demonstrated
feature precisely the kind of content he attempted to
criticize MWO for without substantiation - or refuses
to, at the very least, acknowledge that they feature it
- who could really blame anyone for concluding he's just
another one full of hot air who claims to get the vapors
at the mention of an uncomplimentary but non-obscene
word like "whore," yet has no problem with
genuinely dangerous rhetoric or lousy journalism?
as we have said (I think more than once) on this blog: in these explosive times of potential terrorists in our
midst, at a time of war and national tragedy, the LAST
thing we need is freedom of speech -- and ESPECIALLY
freedom of the press (unless its the right-minded press,
such as The New York Times editorial page).
in deference to MWO, which we believe should be properly
called "NDWA" (New Democrats With Attitudes),
we have examined OUR OWN links, and have decided to add
BOTH MWO AND Lucianne.Com to the Dog Run (at least until
such time as one or the other pisses us off).
New York, New York. Welcome
to ANOTHER "11" day, this the 10th since, you
know, that thing. This
being 7-11, we hope its a lucky one for everyone out
the "get a clue department", we give you
Attorney General Ashcroft and his
statement of 5,000 Al Qaeda operatives and untold
"Sleepers" within the US of A.
course, we know that NONE of them had anything to do
with the July 4th El AL shooting.
we give you the incredible shrinking stock market. Your TD hates it when Wall Street reacts to something (in
this case, the President's "corporate
responsibility speech") exactly the way HE would,
but he failed to take the appropriate action and buy
10, 2002, New York, New York. One
of your TD's acquaintances was fond of saying that
baseball's All Star game was, well, just too darned
important for the fans, players, or even managers to
decide who should be on the roster Ė he suggested that
only the Supreme Court was truly up to the task (as with
choosing the President, I guess).
Your TD is of the opinion that the game, which
has made it a habit of always squandering whatever
goodwill it manages to acquire, as well as hiring the
most loathsome commissioners (Bowie Kuhn and Bud Selig
come immediately to mind) may as well listen to this
advice, because WHO CARES what the damned fans want
for a report of the second called tie in All-Star Game
the basis for this was that the managers "ran out
of pitchers"; of course, the rationale for
"contraction" is that there are TOO MANY
talent pool is spread too thin.
Hey, we can't suspend the rules and let some
pitchers come back in the game, or worse yet, do what
they'd do in a real game and make the position players
pitch until a winner was decided.
Nooooooooo!!!! Too much money at stake
(let's ignore what the stupid -- and they
probably ARE stupid for paying so much -- fans want!)
baseball may no longer truly be the "national
pastime" (a phrase coined when the game consisted
of White men only playing on 16 teams in only 11 cities
stretching from Boston to St. Louis), and pretty much
the youngest fans even marginally interested in the game
anymore are probably in their mid-30's.
After perpetual "labor-management"
squabbles between dueling groups of multi-millionaires,
it looks like just as the '94 season fiasco is fading,
so its time for...ANOTHER STRIKE!
Good going, guys!
When the Arizona Diamondbacks payroll almost
certainly exceeds the GDP of Botswana: WE'RE ALL SYMPATHETIC TO YOU, GUYS! THAT GOES FOR BOTH SIDES!
the game of baseball may not be the national pastime,
but is a pretty good national paradigm.
Essentially, a privileged few manage to suck ever
greater amounts of money from an ever-widening public in
return for ever more questionable performances. This was going on at Enron AND at Enron Field, Qualcomm and
Bank One and Bank One Ballpark...you get the idea.
could be more fitting, of course, than that the man in
charge of the free world has, as his GREATEST ambition,
not the job he currently has, which seems to bore the
crap out of him when he's not on the Air Force One
treadmill or in the White House weight room, but the
Commissariat of Baseball! Lest we forget the rave review of his Presidency contained in
brilliant Alexander Cockburn piece: in which it is noted that our President reached his maximum
level of competence as greeter at the Ballpark at
9, 2002, New York, New York. Well,
kudos to President Bush for his speech to Wall Street on
business ethics, reminiscent perhaps of Bill Clinton
giving a speech on the virtues of marital fidelity while
at the Playboy Mansion.
For details, see this
it to say, your TD really has very little to add on
this, other than to note that Dubya and Clinton liked
(and I suppose still like) each other at a personal
easy to see why: Dubya has more or less co-opted the
agenda of corporate responsibility starting with
accounting and auditing reform that his Administration
had been so desperately fighting against behind the scenes
for months! You
sly devil, Mr. President, you must have learned this
technique from running:
duck in behind the frontrunner, and then take off
like a bat out of hell with the finish line in site!
TD uses this technique in his OWN road-racing,
frequently passing the obese and elderly runners that
manage to be just ahead of HIM near races' end).
in Durban, South Africa, in another international
gathering striving not to become a fiasco, African heads
of State are seeking to replace the now-defunct
"Organization of African Unity" (four words)
with the much pithier "African Union" (two
Thabo "HIV does not cause AIDS" Mbeki told
the gathering that it is about time to stop
"senseless wars" and, I suppose, limit
themselves to sensible ones.
Well, guys, you all can start with Zimbabwe: Mugabe is an awful dictator who has turned one of Africa's
most promising nations into a shithole (complete with
North Korean-type famine conditions).
it has been a while since we noted a suicide bombing
over in Israel (now attacks against Israeli civilians
have to be leveled from places not under dawn-to-dusk,
shoot-to-kill curfews, such as Los Angeles...of course,
given LA's "new" videotaped "excessive
police force" case, maybe LA will soon be under
such a curfew itself!)
Still, your TD is pleased to note that Israeli
and Palestinian officials are
at least talking.
I have stated more times than I care to, there is
nothing inconsistent with negotiating AND taking
necessary security precautions at the same time.
If nothing else, not having suicide bombs go off
in the background will mean you don't have to shout as
much while negotiating.
8, 2002, New York, New York. Well,
your TD is pleased to be back in action after a long and
not particularly restful Fourth of July respite.
My, my, my, what
a long weekend.
of the theories are "terrorism" (unsupported
thus far by the evidence), or a dispute over a car
service charge (El Al WOULD be slow payers, now wouldn't
they?) or the all encompassing "who the hell knows
Keep in mind we have been told that the Arab
world (and NO, you cannot, at this point, distinguish
between the 99+% of the Arab world that just wants to be
left alone and the rather large and growing miscreant
class that seems hell-bent on the destruction of
anything good or beautiful in the world) has singled out
"American and Jewish" interests for acts of
me that shooting up the El Al counter at LAX on July 4th
(and in a suicide mission at that) constitutes an attack
on both. Instapundit
notes that the Israeli paper Ha'aretz reports
a possible Al Qaeda connection.
TD recalls that (besides the wildly exaggerated dangers
of the Y2K computer bug) around the time of the
millennium turning (end of '99) America's security
forces were concerned that our Arab friends had three
simultaneous plots going:
the World Trade Center (a follow up from '93: we
know the rest); the Space Needle (foiled at the border,
apparently) and...destroy LAX.
So, what can I say?
I guess to some people (Neanderthals living in
the Arab world) the Space Needle, like the WTC, was
somehow a symbol of American power.
there ARE an awful lot of Jews living in Los Angeles.
And LAX is a MAJOR passenger and freight hub: it
really would cause big-time economic disruption to the
United States if it were damaged or destroyed...so,
scorecard, Trade Center:
down; LAX: shot up...I think I'd be especially
concerned if I were an air-traffic controller at
in Afghanistan, President Karzai has called for
international help in solving the murder of one of
Afghanís few Pashtun government officials, its Vice
President Abdul Qadir, as this
course, Afghanistan is so screwed up, this could be drug
related, or a standard tribal "thing", as well
as possibly geo-political (or Al Qaeda related?).
investigation continues" into the wedding-day
bombing. Your TD wants to know if the investigation will include why
Mullah Omar and Osama bin Laden weren't invited?
legend Ted Williams passed away over the July 4th
weekend, somewhat befitting the greatest hitter of all
time, who would doubtless have passed Babe Ruth's home
run record and held EVERY record had it not been for his
patriotic service as a fighter pilot in both World War
II and Korea during the prime of his baseball career.
Nonetheless, in the uniquely Red Sox tradition of
personal disagreeableness ("25 men, 25 cabs"),
the Williams family seems to be having
a dispute as to the disposition of his remains!
our President will be giving a speech tomorrow on
"corporate responsibility", indicating that
corporate misdeeds will now be punishable with jail
TD was under the impression that making fraudulent
statements to dupe investors and mislead regulators was
ALREADY a crime.) I
defer to the
Bull Moose on this one.
an almost-related aside, the Worldcom scandal is
peculiarly fascinating to your TD.
In his relatively brief sojourn with the U.S.
Justice Department's Tax Division, the usual shtick with
a large write-off (of the $3.8 billion variety that
Worldcom attempted -- and succeeded for over a year --
to list on its books as a "capital expense")
are that such write-offs are ORDINARILY BENEFICIAL to
the company when taken AS CURRENT EXPENSES.
they reduce, or eliminate, corporate income subject to
tax. It is
often the IRS seeking to reclassify such expenses as
capital, to reduce the current "loss", so that
there will BE income susceptible to tax!
Amazingly, your TD has seen NO analysis thus far
of the fact that Worldcom's maneuverings may have cost
the company and shareholders in terms of additional tax
liabilities, or the fact that the tactic they chose was
(for tax reasons) so anomalous in ordinary practice, but
because of the insane overvaluation of stock prices,
seemed like a sensible business move at the time! (Editorís
you might want to look at this
we're counting on more window dressing from the
President. Mr. President, they say that the Canadian forest fires are
making exercise conditions outdoors a little hairy; slow
down if you feel any tightness, Sir.
3, 2002, New York, New York. Well,
we are not pleased to see that Swiss precision required
the turning off of automatic collision warning devices
over airspace within their jurisdiction, that coupled
with poor command of English by Russian pilots,
apparently led to an air disaster over Germany.
Of course, while your TD could rap on Russian
aviation with its longstanding reputation for being,
well, dangerous (although your TD once survived an
Aeroflot roundtrip within the former Soviet Union), the
whole friggin' world has been chock full o' aviation
disasters in the past year, with calamities in Taiwan,
Ukraine (oops, the Russians again!), Italy, and lest we
forget, the United States.
Hey, fear of flying is RATIONAL.
It takes a leap of faith to get on those
airplanes...we'll see; your TD still hasn't flown since
9-11, but perhaps soon...
reports regarding the bombing of the Afghan wedding
reveal that wedding guests were apparently shooting guns
in the air "in joy", which may have been
interpreted as anti-aircraft fire by our military's
sophisticated equipment from, say, 5 or 6 miles in the
only someone had thought ahead and invited Mullah Omar
and Osama to the festivities...
itís warm out -- REALLY WARM -- so a young tabloid
reporter's fancies turn to thoughts of...Lizzie
the penultimate paragraph, which coyly asserts:
that Martha Stewart seems to be the reigning celebrity
villainess, Seitel thinks Grubman will probably take her
lumps in court, settle the civil lawsuits and try to
move on with her life and career as best she can.
of our loyal readers, Brian from Las Vegas, writes in to
ask your TD's thoughts on Martha S. (she being only a
couple of degrees of separation from both of us, and
all) and her troubles.
Well, Brian, what can I say?
Martha, alas, despite being a media superstar and
denizen of decor, is also a kazillionaire, and in
addition to at one time being a caterer, was also a
she knows what insider trading is.
On the other hand, I am more inclined to believe
that she also knows what insider trading is NOT.
When her friend the Chairman and her friend the
stockbroker (who, as an aside,
apparently attended the then-all male Columbia
College at the same time as your TD, though I did not
know him) called to tell her to dump the stock, I am
SURE Martha was smart enough NOT to ask why she should
do so, but simply, said "go ahead and do it".
To be honest, really rich people have really rich
friends who do each other favors like this all the time,
no questions asked, no particularly insidious motives
either, for the most part.
we are witnessing is what your TD will call the "Cruella
De Vil Syndrome", engendered all too often in films
put out by the Disney film studio, and later seemingly
incorporated as societal norms.
Walt's movies all too often feature an evil
female character, inavriably older, be it the Wicked
Queen of Snow White, Cruella herself, the Wicked
Stepmother of Cinderella, or even the sea-witch in the
Little Mermaid. Somehow
women who are pinnacles of virtue when young and
beautiful just seem to turn, well, REALLY EVIL later.
Martha, who, over the years, having acquired a
reputation for being strong-willed (your TD recalls, for
example, an incident involving her neighbor's gardener
and Martha's vehicle -- YEARS before Lizzie, although
only a few hundred yards away from Lizzie's father's
summer place in East Hampton), has earned, at least in
the popular tabloid world, the same universal acclaim
and stature as that OTHER universally beloved figure,
Leona Helmsley. Martha,
obviously, has a ways to go to earn Leona's UNIVERSAL
adulation, but let's just say that in a world where
Bernie Ebbers (now ex-CEO of Worldcom, you see, he gets
scant coverage!) may be on the hook for hundreds of
millions of dollars and his certainly cost shareholders
BILLIONS and BILLIONS and employees tens of thousands of
jobs, with questionable management (even if you excuse
the "blatant, unmitigated fraud"), let alone
Kenny-boy Lay and the Enron guys, Tyco, Global Crossing
and all the other financial fiascos out there, it amazes
your TD that MARTHA and her crappy 2 or 3 hundred
thousand dollar stock trade gets the press coverage!
your TD COULD say we are a silly, celebrity-driven
culture, who even as Osama, Saddam and company plot our
very extinction, remain obsessed with Winona's
shoplifting and Martha's stock trading and Britney's
belly button. But
our readers don't deserve this sort of unwelcome PBS
type scolding! We'd
rather talk about Florida Secretary of State Katherine
Harris potentially losing in a primary to a dog, as
reported by Matt Drudge picking up this St. Petersburg
Makes you think who JEB Bush might lose to?
Oh yeah, former AG Janet Reno.
2, 2002, New York, New York. Well,
is an unfortunate report, on the story de jour (at
least of yesterday) of a successful American bombing
raid on... an
Afghan wedding party (around 40 dead).
is, alas, the second time American air power has been
used against an Afghan wedding party, the earlier
incident occurred sometime last March.
course, we now finally know why General Tommy Franks
elected to seek legal counsel, rather than pushing the
button on Mullah Omar and potentially eliminating the
Taliban leader early in the war:
Mullah Omar was NOT in a WEDDING party at the
TD does not mean to make light of an incredible tragedy,
and we hope at least that THIS is an accident
Often, our military's "field
intelligence" consists of the local ally warlord,
who figures that he can get help in his local pissing
contest by having the American air force blow up his
local rival (simply by telling the American intelligence
officer that his local rival is an Al Qaeda or Taliban
this incident tells us is that the United States is
currently waging a MAJOR war in Afghanistan, at least on
THEIR terms, that continues to get virtually no media
play here, despite doing impressive damage to
we are conducting the war from 30,000 feet up, for the
troubling of all is the very serious question of how
much this military action is actually accomplishing in
terms of diminishing the prospect of further terror
attacks on the United States, as ably discussed by
Michael Wolff in this
New York Magazine article.
the end, we all hope to God (both the divinity and the
figure of secular speech) that our leaders are at least
one step ahead of our enemies -- and are prepared to act
July 1, 2002, New York, New York. Welcome to a new month, and Happy Canada Day (its like #135, or something, eh?).
Mrs. TD and I took Baby TD to the movies this weekend
for the first time.
Any guesses as to which of Hollywood's summer
Scooby Doo, a movie about a talking dog!
Next up, The Power Puff Girls, a movie
which, I understand, has a character called "the
Coincidence or conspiracy?
the United States vetoed extension of aid to Bosnia at
the UN Security Council (international peace-monger
Syria is now a member of that august body, we
understand), unless and until appropriate safeguards can
be put in place with the brand new permanent
International Criminal Court at the Hague. The most obvious is simply a Security Council veto of
prosecutions (the USA, having such a veto, would not let
its own nationals become subject to such prosecutions);
of course, this could also get unnecessarily
the other hand, Israel does NOT have a veto... Another
possible safeguard might be consent of the country of
nationality of the "war criminal".
yet, safeguards might include the indictment (for
"facilitation of genocide") of the commander
of DUTCH "peacekeepers" at the
Srebrenica "UN safe haven" and of the FRENCH
and BELGIAN officers in Rwanda who supervised the
extrication of their nationals from that country while
turning a blind eye toward the Hutu massacre of Tutsi's.
The Belgians (who set up the lunatic
stratification system in Rwanda as its Colonial masters)
are, of course, the country that made up "universal
jurisdiction", and whose most prominent indictee is
Israeli PM Sharon (based on the sworn out complaints of
a couple of Palestinians arising from the Palestinian
refugee camp massacres -- by Christian militias -- in
Lebanon in the early '80's).
Your TD opines that if Western Europeans thought
THEIR OWN nationals would be subject to the vagaries of
their own version of a special prosecutor running amok,
they wouldn't be so gung ho about the whole thing.
Heck, while we're at it, since Kofi Annan
supervised "UN peacekeeping" at the time of
both Srebrenica and Rwanda: let's
indict him too.
short, your TD believes that American fears that a
permanent international criminal court could quickly
become a political showpiece for less savory governments
(such as those of Western Europe) appear to be
well-grounded. The usual standards for "war crime" tribunals
"traditionally" included a "home"
government without functioning courts (or at least,
courts not up to this type of prosecution), such as post
WWII Germany and Japan, and modern day Rwanda, Cambodia,
or Milosevic-led Yugoslavia.
As your TD once said on the subject, Milosevic
kind of had a point in arguing that the proper venue for
trial of his crimes was in Yugoslavia itself (especially
since it had a functioning government, post-him!)
USA, alas, may find itself whip-sawed, having pushed
Yugoslavia so hard to turn Slobo over to the Hague for
"international justice" (at a time when
Belgrade would have been DELIGHTED to try him.
Now, we see that maybe the whole International
Criminal Court isn't such a good thing after all.
Fortunately, the Bush Administration HAS a quick
retort on this one: as
with many things, blame it on Bill Clinton!
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