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The Talking Dog Sunday Extra, June 30, 2002, Brooklyn, NY.  Well, weblog superstar Instapundit has acknowledged your TD's keen understanding of domestic policy, particularly with respect to Western wildfires (and, we suppose, all land-use management issues)...


June 30, 2002, Brooklyn, NY.  Well, it pains us that this will be our final entry for the month of June and first half of '02; June, with mentions on Eve Tushnet and Unqualified Offerings (and we loved your sites BEFORE you were astute enough to recognize your TD's contributions to the web) marked the first time (we are aware of, anyway) when our readership has expanded beyond Mr. & Mrs. TD's friends (many of whom log in just to look at the picture of Baby TD!) and friends of Rabid Dog and Unseen Editor.  Now our readership includes friends and fans of Eve and Jim too – we love you guys!  All sarcasm aside (as if we were capable of that- even for a minute!), we believe our featured regular links, incorporating mainstream news organizations as well as what we consider to be THE BEST (whether the most widely read or not) in blogging, are, simply the BEST of what the web has to offer.  Your TD will continue to flatter himself that he is worthy of being in such company...

And so...

Brazil beats Germany in the World Cup final (2 nil).  Go back to sleep.  Actually, back in '89, when thanks to an obscenely good frequent flier deal offered by Eastern Airlines, the then-future Mrs. TD and I visited Brazil for a week or so.  Aside from getting mugged 5 minutes after setting out for a walk near the Copacabana Beach (in which the group of 4 or 5 youths abandoned the effort to take anything when they discovered that all I was carrying at that moment was near-worthless Brazilian cruzeiros, as opposed to green backs), the one thing most noticeable on the beaches of Rio (at that time, the super-teeny mini thongs were not in abundance) was a game of volleyball being played entirely with feet and heads (NO HANDS).  I just thought at the time (and still do), that we just can't compete with these guys in soccer.  Let's face it:  the Brazilians are better at this game, and even their B-team -- maybe even their C-team -- can kick the ass of anyone else at crunch time (even the ruthlessly efficient, and boring, Germans).  Of course, thanks to more IMF brilliance and Secretary O'Neil's brilliant command of the interconnectedness of world affairs, Brazil is facing an Argentina-type financial melt-down (which your TD desperately hopes can be staved off, and fast; he notes that in response to same, his bank, behemoth Chase Manhattan, has already imposed "2-day clearance" on payroll checks to compensate for the extra liquidity it will need to cover its Latin American exposures).

Meanwhile, in Arizona, a Bureau of Indian Affairs firefighter is arrested and charged with... starting the fire that burned down a large portion of Arizona!  Throw this in with the arrest in Colorado, and you begin to think that the West would be perfectly safe from these massive fires if it weren't for these damned firefighters!

Finally, in the sentiment is nice but jobs are better department, we give you this from New York's (running for reelection) governor.

Hey lookit:  this is incredibly valuable real estate.  A memorial is necessary -- and will inevitably be included in PART of the site.  But what makes New York New York is its ability to absorb ANYTHING, stop, say its prayers and acknowledge its remembrances, and then do what needs to be done.  What needs to be done now is to rebuild downtown, and bring the jobs and economic vitality lost.  Politically motivated pandering is NOT what needs to be done.


The Talking Dog Self-Congratulatory Extra.

June 29, 2002.  Well, continued thanks to our friends at Unqualified Offerings for yet another mention of this site, and our continued wisdom over Middle Eastern affairs.  Of course, as you know, we are also all-knowing on domestic affairs as well.

We would be remiss if we did not point out the excellent work UO is performing following leads involving the anthrax case all the way to Salisbury -- Harare.  Keep it up, as Special Agent Rowley will tell you (from her new assignment at the FBI), "the truth is out there".


June 29, 2002, Brooklyn, New York.  Well, our best wishes for a speedy recovery to the President, whose phenomenally good physical condition seems to have enabled him to fly through his colonoscopy; Dick, you can relax now.

Well, perhaps the IDF has read our link to Pravda: it solved its stand-off over a Hebron PA police station by leveling it.

Meanwhile, about half a dozen dead as North and South Koreans exchange fire.  Hey, wait a minute!  I thought the South Koreans were really pissed when we called Kim Jong Il and his Stalinist holdover shithole (in which nearly 10% of the population has DIED OF STARVATION in recent years) part of the Axis of EvilTM.  And I thought they were happy to tie our national soccer team because of some speed skating thing...  And didn't North and South Korea in marching together at the Sydney Olympics solve everything?  Man, I must be missing something...


A Reader Bites Back:
Those who have been reading this blog for some time may remember that we used to have a sort of point-counterpoint two-column format in which the view expressed in this column was dissected and then generally dismissed in a column on the right designated "The Rabid Dog".  Alas, a few months ago its writer decided he no longer had the time to contribute.  That is, until he was inspired by Wednesday's U.S. 9th Circuit Court decision striking down the recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance in the school room because the use of the phrase "under God", added in 1954, violated the Establishment Clause of the Constitution.
More accurately, our friend was inspired to write by the craven and demagogic reaction to the decision by virtually every politician in the country:

Bill Clinton was universally mocked for suggesting that whether one “is” having a sexual affair depends on what the meaning of “is” is.  Of course, he was technically correct:  once an affair is over, one can’t truthfully say one “is” having it.  Attorney General John Ashcroft, however, won’t have even a technical defense to perjury when he tries to peddle the lie to the Supreme Court, in the Pledge of Allegiance case, that “God” doesn’t really mean “God.”

And that will be the heart of his ridiculous defense.  He will argue that the word “God” in the Pledge is mere “ceremonial deism,” devoid of religious content.  That, in fact, the term “God” is actually a secular one, no more an expression of faith than the preposition “under” which precedes it.  He will chide the plaintiff, atheist Michael Newdow, for twisting the obvious meaning, the meaning of God that “everyone knows.”

I can only judge whatever everyone knows from what everyone says.  And what everybody says is that “God” means “God.”  President Bush made it quite clear that the “God” of the Pledge was that Supreme Being from whom “all of our rights are derived.”  Hillary Clinton explained that God must remain in the Pledge because “we should never forget the blessings of divine providence that undergird our nation.”  Mayor Bloomberg concurred that we are “a nation under God.”  Senator Lieberman declared that the decision “offends our national morality.”

Indeed, the sole basis for the public outcry against the Pledge ruling is that it is suppresses an expression of a passionate and literal belief in a living, breathing, all-powerful deity.  The anger is not that Mr. Newdow has made much out of something trivial or meaningless, but that he has refused to acknowledge the truth of a very important belief that the majority of Americans hold dear.  The outrage is all the more acute, as so many politicians have observed, because we are living in a post-9/11 era in which belief in God has become so much more passionate and literal.  Rest assured that the 416 Congressmen and 99 Senators (Jesse Helms was hospitalized) who rushed out their resolutions this week did not do so in defense of some abstract secular artifact.  And when they later gathered in session to recite the Pledge they shouted out the words “under god” lest one mistake the exercise for something other than prayer.

It is that prayer that Mr. Newdow does not want his daughter subjected to.  He does not believe in that “God” any more than President Bush believes in Zeus, any more than Ashcroft believes in Vishnu, any more than Senator Lieberman believes in Jesus, or any more than Senator Clinton believes in, well, anything.  As Judge Goodwin implied, the public outrage would be the same if the name of any one of those gods were substituted in the Pledge, and no parent would stand for their child having to listen to praises being sung to some other deity.  The fact that “God” is the generic, wildcard expression that is acceptable to theists of most stripes does not make it innocuous or secular.

Although I agree with most of what The Talking Dog has said on this subject, I will quibble with his characterization of Mr. Newdow as “rabid.”  Rabies is a disease which infects the brain and makes one mad, destroys one’s perception of reality.  The term “rabid” would be better applied to those Jewish, Christian and Islamic litigants who sue to enforce the commands of some false, delusional, nonsensical baby-talk sky-god and pressure their elected representatives to enact laws imposing those commands upon the rest of society.  “Rabid” would better describe New York Attorney General Elliot Spitzer, who devoted four years to a legal battle to compel New Yorkers to continue, as they had for the past eighty years, to pay Orthodox Rabbis to determine what foods God deemed fit to eat.

“Rabid” would also describe those politicians who are use public funds to facilitate the worship of a three-ton metal cross at the site of the World Trade Center wreckage which some imaginary god apparently used to splatter helpless, screaming burning humans as they attempted to flee from a burning skyscraper that was demolished by madmen in hopes of being rewarded by their own imaginary god with an eternal virgin-fucking spree.  In this connection, it worth noting that Mr. Newdow is also is also Dr. Newdow – an emergency room physician who has written medical research articles for JAMA, one of which was cited in “A Study of Civilian Victims of Terrorist Attacks.”  Accordingly, he spends most of his time outside of the courtroom, saving lives.  And there is very little chance that you will ever see him foaming at the mouth – one of his articles dealt with the treatment of rabies.  Whether he will also discover a legal cure for the disease remains to be seen.


June 28, 2002, The Talking Dog Extra.  Here's a creative solution to Middle East peace that comes to us from our old friends at Pravda.

Your TD thought HE was a hard-ass.


June 28, 2002, New York, New York.  Well, my God (in whom we are under, and in whom we trust) hasn't June just flown by (for those of us not killed, maimed or losers of loved ones, during this past month)?  I know that my new perch high atop mid-town Manhattan is a welcome change for me (and I'm even really happy at my new job to  boot!)

Well, although you all know my feelings (oy, do you know my feelings) on "Middle-East peace", another well-thought out take on our President's recent Middle East policy speech comes from Istanblog, which, we believe is somewhere in

Actually, Kausfiles links to this Washington Post gem in which it notes (down a bit) that a peculiarly opportunistic senator from Connecticut is calling for a constitutional amendment to place "under God" in the Pledge of Allegiance, even as the Ninth Circuit itself stands ready (perhaps) to reverse its own decision!  Well, you all know what I think of this issue... so...

Kudos to the G-8, and I'm quite sincere on this, for pledging more money to clean up nuclear and chemical warfare detritus lying around the former Soviet Union.  I think this is a critical task, and, frankly, even after the increased funding, we still don't spend nearly enough to solve this particular problem, which, if allowed to fester, could quite literally result in the likes of Osama bin Laden having the means to wipe out humanity.  It looks like the mountain air has done you good, Mr. President.  Perhaps it will even improve your running times when you return to sea-level, like it does for the Kenyans.

Finally, on to the Supreme Court's school voucher decision.  Although I have personally ALWAYS supported the idea of school vouchers since I heard free-market maven Milton Friedman espouse them nearly 25 years ago on the incredibly important "Free To Choose" series of the late 1970's, they seem to be one of those liberal-conservative flashpoints (note the 5-4 vote), largely because of the blank check that teacher's unions have written to the Democratic party.  This is too bad, because the principal supporters of school vouchers, at least in the inner city context, are parents of color who want a shot at improving their children's lives, and don't see the public school systems as providing that shot.  Hey, the Cleveland voucher of, perhaps $2,000 will not be enough to send an inner city kid to Andover or Choate (or, I suppose Hawken, the only decent prep school in the Cleveland area I know of), but it has enabled many parents to bridge the gap and send their kids to Catholic schools, which rightly or wrongly, they see as an educational improvement.

Are there good arguments against school vouchers?  Well, the blogosphere is awash by noting that now radical Islamic madrassas may receive voucher funding, or perhaps the next litigation round will involve the issue of public school systems that exempt religious schools from voucher programs.  The basic argument (although, it is espoused in general by largely entrenched teacher's unions with a vested arguments) is that it will divert money away from public schools, and potentially make them even worse, and in the end, most students will remain in the even worse off public schools (which, after all, are also forced to bear the costs of special education, disciplinary problems, etc. that private schools can slough off).  The counter-argument, of course, is that faced with competition, the public schools will improve, and improve fast, or they will go out of business and ALL public education will be delivered by voucher (yes – private enterprise – and more competent private enterprise than Chris Whittle and the Edison Project, would step in to fill this need).

All I can say is that I find the ideological line-ups on this issue to be the most amazing part:  liberals (yes, I'm one of them, even if the rest of you don't believe it!) ordinarily want to have an income transfer scheme for EVERYTHING, be it health care, prescription drugs for the elderly, public housing, food, transportation, or of course, income itself, you name it.  In education, the ONE AREA which such a scheme might actually result in allowing poorer people to better their opportunities, through a relatively small INCOME TRANSFER (in the form of private school vouchers), liberals cry foul!  Perhaps they are fearful that, properly and adequately educated, poorer people may actually end up IMPROVING their economic and social lots ON THEIR OWN, and not NEED the rest of the governmentally mandated income transfers?  Hmmmmmmm...


The Talking Dog Extra EXTRA. 
June 27, 2002.
  The Supreme Court, in a 5-4 decision, has upheld the constitutionality of the Cleveland school voucher program that a lower court found unconstitutional because it tended to support parochial schools.

Any guesses as to what the highest court in the land will do to the Pledge of Allegiance case, when and if it reaches them?


June 27, 2002, Talking Dog Extra.  Again, continuing kudos to web-log powerhouse Unqualified Offerings for once again recognizing the wisdom of your Talking Dog's suggestion to make Israel our 52nd state, by brilliantly suggesting that we make, as our 53rd state, the new Palestinian State (which, I guess, we can call "Palestine", and its license plates might say: "the Palestinian State" -- or if that's too boring, "Land of 10,000 Suicide Bombers" or "First in Terror").


June 27, 2002, New York, New York.  Kudos to the United States Senate for its 99-0 rushed resolution condemning the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals for its ruling finding that the Congressional addition of the prepositional phrase "under God" to the Pledge of Allegiance is unconstitutional in the context of making a second grade girl have to sit through the recitation of this pledge (causing her rabid atheist father to sue over it).  We appreciate the Senate's choice of things to single out for unanimous condemnation (and by the way, we note a comparable chorus of condemnation from President Bush, Governor Pataki and Mayor Bloomberg, among others), and note that of ALL the issues currently affecting the United States, disallowance of the "under God" portion of the Pledge of Allegiance is BY FAR the most compelling.  [Editor’s Note:  Interesting that the Senate didn’t have time to condemn the nation’s Catholic priests from raping young children with a similar unanimous vote.]

Actually, the Ninth Circuit made a legally correct ruling:  our courts have, when it suits them, usually ruled that under the Constitution's Establishment Clause, our national religion is effectively atheism.  The problem is, of course, not the legality, but the political implication of an unstated social compact, what your TD and the Unseen Editor often describe as "You can keep your guns and we can keep our porn" -- or a trade-off of the First Amendment's freedoms of speech and religion and political dissent (demanded by the "Blue States") versus the right to bear arms, including assault weapons (demanded by the "Red States").  The best constitutional argument about the pledge is that, YES – it’s the establishment of some level of religion (theistic as opposed to atheistic) – BUT, the burden of reciting the Pledge is REALLY SMALL and keeping quiet about this is part of the Guns for Porn deal.  We Northern liberal pointy-heads just have to suck it up on certain things, such as “In God We Trust” in our courtrooms and on our money, for what is mostly a good deal for us (generally, constitutionally protected personal freedoms).

So now, of course, our blowhard politicians at all levels have something they can seize on and divert attention from, say, governing the country.  Way to go, Ninth Circuit.

Meanwhile, protestors of the G-8 meeting continued knitting, and otherwise, seemed unusually polite for one of these shindigs (despite being allowed nowhere near the world leaders).  Mr. President, be careful of the high altitude -- stop your workout if you have any lightheadedness, and as always, drink lots of water.

Finally, Yasser says he's running in the Palestinian elections in January.  Think he might win?


June 26, 2002, New York, NY.  Well, apparently, it’s not just "dot coms" that are devastating the stock market (and crushing even the memory of the "prosperity" part of the "peace and prosperity" that was supposed to constitute the "Clinton legacy"; the peace part seems to have gone to hell sometime around September...), the disaster is associated with ANYTHING with "Com" in it; today, as shown by this CNN report -- it is WORLDCOM that is placing downward pressure on the stock market.

Of course, some Bush Administration official (was it Secretary O'Neil?) described this sort of thing as capitalism in action (sorry for the paraphrasing -- but you all remember that quip about Enron).  Of course, all but the most doctrinaire of libertarians (or, perhaps, members of the Bush Administration or their immediate beneficiaries and dependents, such as "victims of the death tax") would acknowledge that even libertarian paradises have laws against private use of force, and against fraud.  And this is, simply put, fraud in its most basic sense.  WorldCom simply misstated its revenues and expenses to generate a massive profit disclosure (and, ergo, run up its stock price) when it should have generated a massive loss disclosure (such as were generated by AOL and JDSUniphase, the two companies that have the distinction of having the largest write-offs in financial history, and, of course, both being represented in the TD's personal stock portfolio...  Of course, this ISN'T a financial advice column, although I note that WorldCom, Global Crossing and Enron somehow didn't make it into my stock collection!)

Oh, one more thing:  WorldCom's auditors were, of course, none other than the soon to be defunct Arthur Andersen.  Makes you wonder if, perhaps, while "everyone bent the rules", and there are clearly improprieties that can be attributed to the Big Four standing -- maybe the government's de facto corporate death sentence of Andersen is less of a bad thing than first meets the eye (notwithstanding that Andersen's "conviction" in Texas appeared to be the result of deliberately relying on juror confusion, and as such, is probably subject to reversal).  Still and all, so far THE REALLY BIG accounting fiascos (Enron, Global Crossing, now WorldCom) all seem to involve Andersen.  Either Andersen is either unlucky, really dirty, or it has a really lousy press agent.

Meanwhile, when it is not locking up American citizens to keep them from disclosing Iraq's and al Qaeda's potential role in hitherto believed to be "domestic" terrorism (see this also), the Bush Administration continues to quietly scuttle any meaningful efforts at accounting reform, and continues to try to "make permanent" the tax cuts that have already transformed our 12-digit budget "surplus" into a 12-digit budget "deficit" (including that oh so troublesome death tax, that will make 5 or 6,000 multi-millionaires EXTREMELY unhappy if it is not repealed!)  Oh, and the President has demanded that the Palestinians embrace democracy, unless of course, that democracy involves the guy most likely to actually be elected.

Your TD continues to beg the President to drink lots of water and to take it a bit easier on those workouts at this time of year (early mornings are coolest, sir.)


Talking Dog Extra

June 25, 2002, New York, New York.  Well, kudos to Unqualified Offerings for, again, recognizing your TD's wisdom on Middle East issues.  Perhaps now policy makers will pay attention to the consistently brilliant level of discourse you have all come to expect from this site?  (A Talking Dog can dream...)


June 25, 2002, New York, NY.  Well, your TD is still trying to figure out the implications of the President's "major Middle East policy statement", the sort of thing one would have expected from Bill Clinton (you know:  I have to do SOMETHING to keep my name in the headlines, damn the implications to those actually affected).

Well, my understanding from National Palestine Radio (NPR) is that Yasser believes the President's statement is "constructive".  Does Yasser have secret retirement plans?  It sounded anything BUT constructive to me, if you're Yasser.  It said the corrupt kleptocracy he has created has to go, before anything further can happen.  It is CONSTRUCTIVE if Yasser believes, or knows, that the President's statement is but a rhetorical flourish, and that substantively, nothing changes (oh yeah).  So here we go again.

At the behest of my dear friend the Unseen Editor, I will now vent my spleen at what I consider the primary problem in American foreign policy:  41.

The evidence is mounting (check out the best of the conspiracy on Junkyard Blog) that Jose Padilla is linked to the Oklahoma City bombings, perhaps as John Doe II, and there are troubling links between Messrs. McVeigh and Nichols and potential al Qaeda operatives AND IRAQ.  As a whole, the evidence is extremely compelling.

But what is can we conclude from this (other than I should probably join the fray myself and start regularly linking to this conspiracy stuff!)?  I mean, where do we go from here with this?  We can conclude that our own government WANTS to keep Padilla quiet.  That it wanted to keep McVeigh quiet, by rushing his execution?  But why?

I'LL TELL YOU WHY.  What we are witnessing is the greatest catastrophic Presidential failure in the foreign policy realm in American history (which pretty much triggered a depression, though for definitional purposes we called it a "recession") played out at the expense of the rest of us.  The failure is 41:  he failed to take out Saddam, after embarking on a mission that should never have been started in the first place, for the benefit of ingrate "allies" who have only turned on us; honestly, would we be so much worse off if Saddam HAD taken over Saudi Arabia as opposed to the Wahhabi *&^%s who run it now?  Hell, they're the best of friends as it is!

So, Saddam, ever keeping us off balance lest we actually organize and take him out, keeps coming at us, not ever with a direct assault, but with death by a thousand cuts and a couple of airplanes and car bombs and powdered envelopes.

Clinton COULD have reversed this, but that would have involved "risk" to his legacy and high approval ratings caused by the go-go NASDAQ, not to mention interfering with getting head from interns and whoever else was available.  It’s not clear to me what Gore would have done differently, but at least he would have done it without the ulterior motives of Clinton!

But God help us all, the frigging Supreme Court installs ANOTHER BUSH -- son of failure.  And the Stupid son at that!  So Saddam steps it up.  And even after assault after assault after assault, (9-11, anthrax, Flt. 587, attacks in Pakistan, etc.)  all of which seem to have "Baghdad" written as their return address, WE ARE STILL UTTERLY HAMSTRUNG!  Oh, it’s TOO HARD to take him out!  Oh, smart sanctions will work!  Oh, we need to solve Israel-PLO first!  Oh, we need a coalition!


So, in the interest of preserving the Bush family legacy, whatever that is, and making sure the rest of us don't ever learn just HOW big of a screw-up 41 was,  the full scope of the Iraqi involvement in this round of terrorism must be suppressed, at all costs.  Even if it means scrapping the Constitution, and messing up investigations that might foil future attacks.

Great, huh?


Talking Dog Middle East Extra

June 24, 2002, New York, New York.  President Bush calls for the ouster of Yasser & Co.

Of course, what exactly does this mean?  Is it OK now for the IDF to forcibly remove him (say, to Tunis or Tripoli?  Or perhaps Elba or St. Helena.)  Because he ain't leaving on his own; by making this statement, our Prez  (I TOLD you to drink lots of water, Mr. President!  Its hot out there!) may have forgotten something basic:  being an "honest broker" means pretending to listen to BOTH sides.  One of those sides happens to be Yasser.  I'm not sure HE will be happy about this (and I'm pretty sure he ain't going, absent overwhelming force).


New York, New York, June 24, 2002.  Well, another weekend's "fun and sun" in those wild and crazy Hamptons.  Actually, after a four-hour-plus drive out there, your TD actually spent a good deal of the weekend collapsed.  This is fun?  (Only to be met with a four-hour-plus drive BACK on Sunday night!)  Mrs. TD and I will need to seriously discuss our weekend travel schedules!

Well, speaking of wild and crazy, it looks like our President plans on giving his "major Middle East policy statement", which I understand according to Karl Rove will take place at some point between the step class and the lap swim.  The problem with this, as noted by the opportunistic but not wrong Senator Joe Lieberman of Connecticut is "what exactly IS an interim state?"  While I have said many, many times, your TD favors a "Palestinian state" -- which I will stipulate as consisting of some contiguous linkage of Gaza and the West Bank on roughly the size of the territories held by Israel since 1967 with its capital in some part of Jerusalem -- he is not exactly sure what an "interim state" is.  In fact, the failings of the Oslo accords are now legendary.  We have all had nine or ten years of experience showing that "interim" anything is a bad idea. "Trust building measures" mean little to people who have been weaned on mistrust of the other side.  Amazingly, Colin Powell still believes in "Tenet to Mitchell to Oslo", as if the last ten years (let alone the last nine or eighteen months) didn't happen.

In fact, to your TD, the whole term "peace process" seems absurd; what the parties need is more akin to an "armistice" or a "permanent truce".  They can agree to hate each other, in fact, for the rest of time, as long as they agree to stop killing each other for the foreseeable future.

Further, the United States' role as "honest broker" is improved if it is not seen as favoring EITHER SIDE.  What can be perceived as rewarding the Palestinians for stepping up the intifada with "interim statehood" (whatever it is) will, justifiably, not make the Israelis happy.  And of course, it is a not so subtle message to Osama and company that "terror pays" and "terror against the United States pays best".  My advice to you, Mr. President, drink lots of water during your workouts: Washington is very hot and humid this time of year.  And scrap the "interim state" thing.


New York, New York, June 21, 2002.  Well, we must all bid sayonara to the overachieving United States national soccer team, who lost to the mighty Germans (in the only sphere in which the Europeans can any longer claim supremacy).  For the boring details, see this.

Meanwhile, in a troubling REAL sort of game, the Palestinian terror has led to the inevitable counter-violence, see The Jerusalem Post report.

Unfortunately, your TD believes that, while this Israeli action is unfortunate and horrible, it was obviously not the intention of the tank crew to go out and kill civilians (unlike the intention of your usual terrorists) and thereby bring further international scorn on their already pariah nation.  Naturally, your TD predicts that this sort of thing tends to be good for Hamas recruitment.  Further, this will escalate, and no matter how many Israelis are massacred at cafes, Palestinians will suffer more (also, good for Hamas recruitment).  In the end, while I understand the Israeli's response based on feeling personally victimized by terror (your TD was certainly pretty darned angry at the Arab world in the first few weeks, or months, after 9-11 -- hell, he still is!).  Unfortunately, the issue is:  what can we do to stop getting our people killed, or at least to get fewer of our people killed.  And your TD has only two thoughts:  join the United States (as one of them), or suck it up and negotiate.

Meanwhile, we understand that the President had no comment on his major Mid-East policy statements in between rounds of calisthenics and Pilates.


New York, New York, June 20, 2002.  Well, let's start putting some names to these tragedies, as reported in The Jerusalem Post, as opposed to numbers (although those are here too).

So, Ariel and the Cabinet have come up with a "new" strategy:  strategic reoccupation of the West Bank until the violence ends.  That's going to make this a long, painful game, and your TD doesn't think for a minute that the vagaries of short-term politics (in Israel or here) will allow it to play out to its logical conclusion (i.e., a strategic noose around the Palestinians forcing THEM to come to the negotiating table; it'll end up working the other way 'round).

For a very thoughtful analysis refer to our new featured link Instapundit (our other new featured link is Unqualified Offerings).

Meanwhile, our President's agenda has apparently been diverted away from a "major policy statement on the Middle East" to a "national campaign for physical fitness".  Your TD, of course, notes that the president, now in his 50s, can run around a 6 minute mile, and can cruise at a 6 1/2 to 7 minute mile and has a personal best marathon of around 3 1/2 hours; your TD is 39, but unfortunately, constrained by having to actually work for a living, barely has the time to maintain ANY fitness level at all, and can barely run an 8 minute mile or cruise at 9.  The President's best marathon is over 40+ minutes better than your TD's personal best in that event and an hour and a half better than his best time since he was 19.  In short:  your TD resents the President, and the fact that while worthier men were denied the office, he, who obtained it (and in a controversial manner at that) uses it primarily as an opportunity to exercise at government expense -- hours and hours each day -- while the far less physically fit Dick Cheney actually administers the country.

Finally, by a 6-3 vote, the Supreme Court has ruled that it constitutes cruel and unusual punishment to execute the retarded, a stance that numerous states have already enacted on their own.  As always, Justices Scalia and Thomas and Chief Justice Rehnquist thought that executing the severely retarded is just fine.  But then, what else would we do with them?


June 19, 2002, New York, New York.  Take a good look:  here we go again.  Yet another suicide bomber, as reported in the Jerusalem Post.

And when it keeps happening to YOU, as it does to the writers of The Jerusalem Post, you don't use stupid hackneyed phrases like "Homicide Bomber" (and I daresay, I am sure that lapel pins with the Israeli flag are not in fashion in the Jerusalem Post newsroom).  So, nothing changes, as this fiasco shows.

Obviously, with a re-occupation (note that word:  it means that for 98% of the Palestinians who were under PLO control, they were not PREVIOUSLY under Israeli occupation, at least since implementation of the Oslo accords) of the West Bank, or parts of it, a certain level of violence in retaliation for THAT would be inevitable.

Your TD, alas, is of the view that Bibi and Ariel's "we won't negotiate under fire" stance has proven ultimately counter-productive, making one question whether these guys are as clueless as Dubya.  By all means, negotiate, and simultaneously do what is necessary for security (be it incursions and arrests, or fences and lockdowns).  Negotiating in and of itself is not a sign of weakness; refusing to protect oneself during negotiation, THAT is a sign of weakness.  But convincing the average Palestinian that there is nothing to be gained by talking (the Bibi/Ariel way) will only help with Hamas recruitment.  Demonizing Arafat, while accurate, short of having the balls to actually kill him (and accept the really nasty consequences that would follow from that), accomplishes nothing.  So negotiate with him; just don't expect too much.

Right now, under Ariel, the violence is escalating unabated; maybe the fence and re-occupation will help; maybe not.  Meanwhile our fearless leader in the big white house is supposed to be making a "major Middle East policy statement" any day now (and it probably won't include adding a 51st or 52nd star on our flag to include Israel).  We're still waiting.


June 18, 2002, New York, New York.  Well, as I feared, the Palestinians are up to their usual game of bait and switch:  pretend to talk about continuing negotiations, while plotting more murder.  (And let's all stop pretending that Arafat, Fatah and the PA are somehow a different group from Hamas and the "Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigade".  Sharon and company will dither about removing Arafat.  Not to worry:  they won't.)

Twenty more dead in Jerusalem:  ostensibly, blowing up a school bus full of 10-12 year olds.

And yet, these murderous bastards are the darlings of Europe.  Can anyone figure out why?  Right!  Because their victims are JEWS -- who the Europeans have ALWAYS thought of as someone who wasn't them!  (Its actually NOT anti-Semitism in the conventional sense of wanting to see Jews persecuted.  It’s somehow even MORE contemptible -- of the "thank God its not us" variety.  But guess what Jean and Fritz:  it’s coming to a mall or a bus or an office tower near you, soon, if this particular brand of murder-of-children-as-warfare isn't scotched, and scotched fast.)

Well, from your TD's point of view, the proposed fence on the "green line" can't go up fast enough.  Note that Gaza, which is more or less hermetically sealed, despite headquartering Hamas, manages to send very few suicide bombers into Israel proper.  The West Bank, by contrast, particularly the northern part, including Jenin and Ramallah, being largely open (except for the irritating, and somewhat less than fully effective, checkpoints) seem to send the overwhelming majority.  A fence will stop a lot of this (obviously not all).  Who will suffer most from a fence?  Correct again:  Palestinians looking for work inside Israel, and their dependents.  (Honestly, though, have we ever heard of another instance where those seeking to overthrow a nation complained about the fact that they weren't able to work inside the country they were trying to overthrow?)

Well, we can soon expect a "major" speech by President Bush (whose nickname for Russia's leader is "Pooty Poot" and for his advisor Karl Rove is "Turdblossom" -- with thanks to The New Yorker) on Middle East policy.  Your TD can't wait.  (By the way, note that the apparent presidential instruction to overthrow or assassinate Saddam Hussein only permits such action in "self-defense":  “Look, Saddam has picked up a grenade launcher, according to my executive order handbook, we can open fire!!!)


June 17, 2002, New York, New York.  Well, happy day after Father's Day, out there, for those of you inclined to celebrate it.  Your TD's Father's Day was spent driving tremendous distances to the northern suburbs, where we saw Mrs. TD's father, and then, later, TD's father.  Thankfully, nasty holiday traffic was pretty much confined to the borough of Manhattan.

Here is one more reason why soccer won't catch on here, no matter how well our national team does (i.e., even assuming an extremely unlikely victory against Germany on Friday -- for God's sake, this is a stupid game, and not a world war!).  Why?  Forget the low scoring and really arbitrary ending (penalty kicks?  Why not rock, paper, scissors -- or a coin flip?).  I am talking about game statistics -- the most compelling characteristic of baseball and football, and recently basketball (triple doubles, anyone?).  Here's all the stats generated by the US-Mexico match.

Pretty dishwater dull, no?  Like the game itself.  Let's face it:  name a kick-ass country.  The United States.  Our national sport is baseball.  Name ANOTHER kick-ass country.  There aren't any others.  TRY.  OK, OK:  Japan (now co-hosting the soccer World Cup).  Japan's national game:  baseball.  I rest my case.  (Don't get me wrong:  its a great game to play -- Baby TD is getting pretty good -- for a 2 1/2 year old; but to watch?  BORRRRRING.)

Meanwhile, some encouraging news as reported by The Jerusalem Post re:  an apparent sudden softening of Palestinian negotiating demands.  Could it be that less reticence with respect to overt on-the-ground IDF retaliation (coupled with President George W. Bush's remarkable hesitance to criticize Israel for doing so, given that the United States purports to ALSO be in a war on terrorism) has finally convinced THE PALESTINIANS that it’s time to start negotiating again because the violence is NOT going to win the game for them?  Maybe.  Otherwise, Israel will have to become an American state.

Meanwhile, I say we throw the book at the poor idiot Forest Service employee in Colorado who seems to have inadvertently burned down most of the state while burning a letter from her estranged husband.

Well, we now have a documented "snail mail" version of a flame, I suppose.  Once the smoke has literally cleared, I would anticipate that the charges would be reduced against this idiot (particularly, dereliction of duty as HER JOB was to discourage the very type of fire she set). Right now, this all sounds kind of like charging Mrs. O'Leary's cow for the Chicago fire (which KILLED an awful lot of people).  As always, the interesting question about Western forest fires is why so many homes are built in areas where they are so vulnerable to forest fires in the first place.  (Of course, the developer WANTS to build a house in the woods; the environmentalist already owns one...)

And in the Dogs' world, CNN reports that the San Francisco dog mauling case judge has overturned the murder conviction, but sustained the manslaughter charges.

Which takes us back to the interesting question:  why do we allow people to keep really vicious dogs in densely populated cities in the first place?  (Unfortunately, I am reminded of a doctrine learned in law school called the "one bite rule" -- i.e., a dog owner is given the benefit of the doubt that their dog is not vicious until it bites someone; the unfortunate tenor of the judge's ruling above seems to be "make that bite count".)


Talking Dog Extra

June 14, 2002.  Once again kudos to blogmistress Eve Tushnet for once again, wisely picking up on your TD's wisdom, with respect to the TD's ultimate Middle East peace initiative...

Though we wonder – what does “permalinkless” mean?


June 14, 2002, New York, New York.  Happy Flag Day.  These long forgotten patriotic holidays suddenly seem less hokey this year.

Well, we're sorry to hear about the utter horror of a suicide bomber outside the American consulate in Karachi.  Proving however, that your average suicide bomber is as likely to be as stupid as he (or she) is crazy, we understand that among the dead and injured were included no Americans, largely because most personnel had been moved out of Pakistan (because of that -- you know-- nuclear thing, between India and Pakistan).  So the murderous thug bastards that thought this one up will have to be content with killing Pakistani policemen and a Pakistani ladies' drivers' ed class.  Charming.

Perhaps al Qaeda just needed to do something to quell its boredom, now that tensions seem to be easing (however slightly) over Kashmir (where, we are assured, they are not operating; except for the times we are advised they ARE there.)


The Talking Dog Israel Extra

June 13, 2002.  All right already, with this issue, I'm even  making myself sick.  Finally, I have a proposal that will give just about everyone what they want in the region in one fell swoop:  the Palestinians will get what polls show they want: Israel as a sovereign, independent state will come to an end.  But, Jews, will ALSO get what they want: a secure homeland, located on their traditional Biblical homeland (indeed, EXTREMELY RELIGIOUS Jews already believe that the Jewish state is improper, because the Messiah has not arrived; they can finally be satisfied).  America will get what it wants:  the end to the troublesome problems of its international pariah client state; indeed, under my plan, Israel's citizens will now send money to Washington, instead of vice versa.

How do we accomplish all of this at once?

Precisely:  Israel will become our 52nd State (in order to appease Republicans, fearing that the Jews will always supply 2 Democratic senators -- and they will -- Texas will be split into 2 states as well, so "South Texas" will be our 51st state; in the alternative, Massachusetts can merge with, say, Vermont, and Israel will be our 50th state).  Jews will be safe there -- certainly as safe as in the rest of the United States, because they will BE IN the United States.  A suicide bomber (and his Hamas handlers) needn't worry about retaliation against his town or refugee camp by an Israeli army worried about world opinion and limited by fear of the American response; he would worry about a retaliatory attack by the AMERICAN Air Force:  carpet bombing from 45,000 feet (to ensure a minimum of casualties) from bombers based in Missouri.

And no one will (very loudly) complain about "massacres" or brutal occupation -- because the occupation will also end -- IMMEDIATELY.  Egypt will get Gaza back; it has billions in American aid riding on keeping the maniacs there in order; I am sure Hosni can keep order there.   Ditto Jordan and the West Bank.  (Indeed, Egypt and Jordan each move up one on our list of client states, to numbers 1 and 2!!!)  And what about Yasser?  Go ahead, TAKE ON THE UNITED STATES -- WE DARE YOU!!!

Borders that are preposterous for Israel to defend are JUST FINE for the United States to defend!  Israel's enemies needn't fear a tacit nuclear response from a clandestine arsenal; they need fear a VERY REAL American response from a VERY REAL American nuclear arsenal.  Saddam wants to launch some Scuds at Tel Aviv?  Try it!  The American people would tar and feather any president who does not immediately respond against Baghdad with nuclear weapons if he dared attack THE UNITED STATES (i.e., our homeland).  In short, regional stability -- and the safety of our oil transit --  will be accomplished in one fell swoop.  And we need never again worry about where to base our fleets in that region:  we would do so in our own bases, in our own country.

Israel has a well-educated, middle class population, a large proportion of whom already speak English (and at the rate we're going, a large percentage of whom will be emigrating to the United States in the next couple of years as it is! I'm sure a referendum for American statehood would pass there overwhelmingly -- if nothing else, their income taxes would probably go DOWN!).

Israel can retain the Star of David as its State flag; it can remain the State of Israel; its nickname can be "the Jewish State"  (like the Sunshine State, or the Garden State).  The Knesset can simply become American's second unicameral state legislature (joining Nebraska).  Church-State issues can be worked out; Israel is mostly a secular state as it is.  As solutions go, this is far less preposterous than thinking that lifelong criminal (and hence darling of Europe) Yasser Arafat could become a statesman.

Your Talking Dog believes that, finally, he may have an answer to the conundrum that is otherwise known as the Middle East.  And it's high time the world's only superpower made it happen, and ended this bullshit, once and for all.

Shalom, y'all.


June 13, 2002, New York, New York.  It appears that our esteemed Lord Mayor has received the "control" of the City's schools that his predecessor (Mayor Duce) had so diligently, yet unsuccessfully, tried for over the 8 year course of his tenure.  Newsday reports on it here.

Well, good luck with it, Mayor Bloomberg.  At this point, while your TD and Mrs. TD have not yet decided on the details of Baby TD's schooling, we are pleased and hopeful that the once mighty City public school system can, now that it is politically accountable to someone we can actually vote for, improve accordingly.

Your TD's favorite part of the legislation, as he understands it, is the "sunset" provision, which more or less sets this provision up for only seven years, after which it would require legislative reenactment.  Why would our legislature do such a thing?

Because of the 800 lb. gorilla (in all fairness, I think he's only like a 170-180 lb. gorilla), former Mayor Giuliani, who has every legal right to run for Mayor again in 2005.  That means this education control provision will (unless extended by the legislature) go OUT OF effect in 2009 (assuming, I guess, that Mr. Giuliani decides to run against Mr. Bloomberg, stepping down from his post as Homeland Security Secretary to do it!), when Baby TD will be in 5th or 6th grade...  If we can only coordinate all of this with the phase-ins and outs of the Bush tax cuts...


June 12, 2002, New York, New York.  I suppose this should be obvious, but the Jerusalem Post picks up this AP report indicating that the majority of Palestinians support, as the goal of their Intifada, the destruction of the State of Israel.  You think?  (Today's news:  a suicide bomber in a falafel stand in Herzilyah kills a 15-year-old-girl and wounds over a dozen.  A wonderful moral basis on which to found the new state built where the to-be-abandoned-Jewish-State was.)

Actually, there is cause for hope, because a sizeable minority of Palestinians see the goal of their Intifada as creation of a state in the West Bank and Gaza, a goal espoused by both President Bush and The Talking Dog.

Well, enough of that!  Onto more pressing things, like how to make a dirty bomb.  First, get some fissionable material -- or even modestly radioactive material.  Then, put it in a conventional bomb.  Presto.  Apparently, Mr. Padilla was trained to do this, or so John Ashcroft says.  By the way, other than the damage from the explosion itself, in terms of damage, most experts believe that one's clothes that encountered such material should probably be discarded, and one should wash thoroughly, in Ivory Soap.  I'm not kidding:  these are cable pundit experts talking.  The real damage  (again, aside from that caused by the underlying explosion, which as we know, can be considerable) is psychological and economic (contaminated buildings would probably have to be destroyed, for example).

Is this to make light of an extremely serious problem?  No, I shudder to think about an all out attack like that.  When I returned home on September 11th, for example, a neighbor started reciting the symptoms of anthrax exposure (he had hazmat training).  While I pointed out that a fiery airplane seemed to be a lousy delivery vehicle for anthrax, he said "yeah, but..."

However, just note that your TD gets the feeling that given the Bush Administration's mimicry of the Clinton Administration's "perpetual campaign" mode, there is no reason to think that not only is the capture of Mr. Padilla primarily a publicity stunt (even if he is guilty as accused, since he has not yet been charged), but also that it is intended to divert attention from something far more troubling (such as, perhaps, imminent plans involving REAL nuclear weapons, such as are being developed in, well, the Axis of Evil -- including in North Korea under partial American sponsorship!)  Perhaps an independent commission of inquiry might find out this sort of thing, too?


June 11, 2002, New York, New York.  Well, its now 9 months to the day know, that thing.  Your TD confesses that he found himself a bit freaked out as he exited the subway this morning in prime target Grand Central Station, which he left immediately (and only felt better when he emerged in the relative security of his 43rd floor office!)

Well, in the "extra-constitutional detention" department, we give you one Jose Padilla.  You know, right now, Mr. Padilla (or his Arabic nom de guerre, Abdullah al Muhajir) was detained by the FBI in Chicago on May 8, when he arrived from Pakistan.  After President Bush declared him an "enemy combatant" on Sunday he was transferred to a naval prison in South Carolina.

I will just let the AP report quote of our president follow:

"We will run down every lead, every hint," Bush told reporters after a meeting with Congressional leaders at the White House. "This guy, Padilla, is a bad guy.  He is where he needs to be -- detained... And there's just a full-scale manhunt on."  Bush sidestepped a question on whether any of Muhajir's co-conspirators were in custody, saying:  "As we run down these, you know, killers or would-be killers, we'll let you know."  "The coalition we put together has hauled in over 2,400 people, and you can call it 2,401 now," he said.

Do you feel better-- now that this dastardly plot has been foiled?  Not only does our president (as usual) sound like an idiot (and of course, his attorney general IS an idiot), he (as usual) forgets that the principal reason this country is better than everybody else is because we have a Constitution, and we follow it -- even when its inconvenient to do so.  Mr. Padilla has been in extrajudicial, in camera custody, unable, for the most part, to have counsel, or many other rights usually afforded prisoners, such as an arraignment.  If he is guilty of that which he is accused, by all means, charge him, try him, and if convicted, punish him, to the full extent permitted by EXISTING law.  Unfortunately, our enemies (and all too frequently, our friends and allies) accuse us of arrogant disregard of, well, everything, in the pursuit of our self-interest based objectives.  The ad hoc treatment of foreign detainees (so ad hoc that no one actually has any idea of what it is!), and now, of citizens (albeit arguably miscreant, treasonous ones), is not in the best traditions of our nation.


June 10, 2002, New York, New York.  Its now a given in sophisticated circles, of course, that somehow there is something WRONG with the United States and its people because we're not "in" to soccer.  Of course, I suppose we could be as "into" it as, say Russia.  Or I remember fondly, our friends in Central America, where a war between El Salvador and -- was it Honduras? -- over a qualifying match.  Or, of course, the Colombian player who, after inadvertently committing an "auto-goal" allowing the United States team to win an upset match in 1994, was duly murdered by one of his angered countrymen.

Did we in the USA riot after the Olympic hockey win in '80, or the controversial basketball loss in '72?  Nope.  It strikes me as unlikely that ANYTHING our national team did in any sport (with the exception of "military operations") would get anyone here all that upset enough to riot; here in America, like all politics, our sports rioting is local, be it the U. of Maryland basketball team, or the Detroit Tigers.

Here in America, the only sport of recent vintage to get people that upset is played on a court:  trials.  Thus, the "Over the Rhine" rioting in Cincinnati, or the Rodney King riots in Los Angeles.  Does this make us a better country, than the rest of the world?  In a word, YES.


Brooklyn, June 9, 2002.  After a 3+ hour return drive fro the Hamptons, your TD is REALLY pleased he didn't waste 4 hours watching the schlockumentary of the same name last weekend.  Although, based on the reviews in the Hamptons papers, such as Dan’s Papers, or The East Hampton Star, it sounds like I might have enjoyed it after all.

Lizzie Grubman took her Benz,
And Ran Over 14 of her Friends.
And Just to Show Her Panache,
She called out " Fuck You, White Trash".

Well, who cares what the insecure, self-absorbed poseurs have to say!  Anyway:  more about ME!!!  Your TD had a very pleasant weekend in the sun with Mrs. TD and Baby TD.  So there.


June 7, 2002, New York, NY.  Well, the President gave a speech last night; I'll just make the same juxtaposition as many commentators, between the President's noting that the nation and the world have a "titanic struggle" against terrorism, and the statements by Democratic Senators Kennedy and Byrd that the president's proposals amounted to rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic.  It is, of course, absolutely no coincidence that Special Agent Rowley testified to a Congressional Committee about FBI bureaucratic failures earlier in the day.  I note that Agent Rowley was promised that there would be no retaliation against her for her whistle-blowing and internal criticism of the bureau (FBI Director Mueller made the same promise to Congress).  Your TD is pleased to report that, effective next week, Special Agent Rowley has been given a substantial promotion, and will be reassigned to FBI headquarters where she will be the new agent in charge of the X-files.

Meanwhile, at least one of our featured links (Josh Marshall) argues that, as politically motivated as the new "Department of Homeland Security" obviously is, if it is to be a serious endeavor, Tom Ridge is not the man for the job.

We agree; go to Chartreuse Alert, Mr. Sulu.


June 6, 2002, New York, NY.  Happy D-Day.  Let us take a moment to reflect upon -- and to thank -- this nation's fighting men and women, now preposterously few in number in proportion to the rest of us -- who valiantly agree to risk their lives so the rest of us can live in freedom and material prosperity.

Speaking of freedom and material prosperity, your TD looks forward to a nice quiet weekend at the beach (perhaps this blog will have a date line from there this weekend; don't hold your collective breaths, however).  Mrs. TD's mother -- whose beach house it is-- will be away this weekend, so this looks like a fine opportunity for some R&R with Mrs. TD and Baby TD. Not that your TD is complaining (when would I ever do that?), but he has actually worked more  or less continuously since early October, following his involuntary 3-week furlough last September (because of that, you know, thing.)

Your TD will also report on whether the Hamptons crowd is taking the puff piece mini-series made in their name with appropriate aplomb(though I understand only Lizzie Grubman was indicted ).  The chief joy of the Hamptons is that, despite being over 100 miles to Manhattan's east and containing no tall buildings, one does not get homesick for Manhattan.  Indeed, one is pleased that most Manhattanites don't drive for the most part while in Manhattan, choosing to export their road rage to the once bucolic Hamptons (and all points in between).  But I digress; smile: it’s the summer.

We can stop thinking about Yasir for a few minutes.


The Talking Dog

June 5, 2002.  Your very own TD, by his other name, is featured prominently in fellow blogger Eve Tushnet's literary parody contest.

So, enjoy your TD's "other" contribution to the net.


June 5, 2002, New York, New York.  Take a look at Kausfiles (his blog now being the property of Slate, a/k/a The Microsoft Corporation, notwithstanding), to see that he has picked up the slack where Smartertimes has left off (since its principals are now occupied running The New York Sun), to wit, debunking the myth of "All the News that's Fit to Print".  YES!  Today, anyway (by which I mean June 5, 2002, and not "the present era") it seems all the blogging rage to tear apart the left leaning bias of the paper of record, our fair city's own The New York Times.  Your TD only has one thing to say on this subject:  too easy!  (Not that this stops me -- see below!)  The only people who lack the sophistication to understand that The Times is, while in no sense Pravda or Izvestia (yet), ultimately striving for that same level of ideological purity, are not likely to be READING The Times in the first place.  Your TD appreciates that The Times is but one of a spectrum of information outlets, and that other than this blog, of course, NO ONE is truly objective, and EVERYONE (INCLUDING this Blog) must be examined in light of its appropriate place on the spectrum of ideological baggage.

That said, your TD will turn, for today's discussion of the news, to the front page of the Gray Lady herself.  There is a Naderite discussion of the 2000 census, headlined "Gains of 90's Did Not Lift All, Census Shows" (recall Ralph Nader's campaign slogan that under Clinton-Gore, a rising tide lifts all yachts).  The Times' conclusion is that the "poor remained entrenched", noting that men's incomes declined slightly, and women's incomes went up around 7% (but wait -- aren't many poor families headed by women – oh, I forgot that we draw the conclusion first, and report the facts second!).  There is a celeb puff piece:  "Curse of the Jaded Audience:  Woody Allen, in Art and Life", noting that even Woody's fans don’t give a shit about him anymore.  THIS I believe.  There is a biz piece, on Edison Schools getting $40 million in loans, enabling it to operate in the Philadelphia school system (one can sense disappointment that this exercise in private operation of public schools -- which, to be sure, has plenty of problems in its own right-- has not utterly imploded, as the editorial writers would doubtless have preferred).

Then there are articles that current holder of the title of 9/11 mastermind Khalid Mohammed is related to Ramzi Youssef, WTC 1993 bombing suspect (probably false -- Youssef was mostly likely an Iraqi agent, as set forth in an article by former CIA Director Woolsey buried deep in our archives, but here again for the fun of it, a panel of Catholic Bishops is recommending dismissal from the priesthood in "new" sex abuse cases (apparently, to forgive is truly divine for "old" such cases), the Red Cross will open its books, Congress will look back as far as 1986 in its 9/11 inquiries (that should enable it to include all of Whitewater as well as Iran-Contra), and finally, and of relevance here, that the Justice Department will fingerprint holders of certain visas from certain countries (you know: Muslims).

This takes us to my general peeve of the day:  personal security.  Obviously, whatever Israel is doing is not enough:  but at least it’s making the terrorists have to jump through a lot more hoops.  Why are we not arming commercial pilots (3/4 or so of whom were trained to fly in the nation's military)?  Perhaps because this will be a concession that, under certain circumstances, guns in private hands are good.  Better to risk another 9/11.  But at least no 72-year-old grandmother will ever again be able to sneak a toe-nail clipper onto a plane again.  Interrogate, say, 20-40 year old Middle Eastern males with origins from countries likely to produce terrorists?  No -- that would be "racial profiling" -- which is bad this year.  So go ahead and fingerprint the suspect foreigners upon entry.  Given the competence with which our national security has been handled to date, we can be sure that we will achieve a large measure of inconvenience for a questionable amount of "security".


Brooklyn, June 4, 2002.  Well, our "intelligence" services (which will doubtless soon be merged with the D.C. Police Department so that, at least, we can all feel a bit better because not only won't we be able to interpret meaningful data, we’ll no longer even be able to gather it).  Now, an American "intelligence" test:  first, has the 9/11 mastermind been identified as (1) an Iraqi (?); (2) an Iranian (?); (3) a Libyan (?); (4) a Syrian (?); (5) a Lebanese (?); (6) an Afghan (?).  Wrong, wrong, wrong, wrong. wrong and wrong.  Not even a North Korean.

No, one Khalid Mohammed is a KUWAITI.  You know:  a national of that MODERATE Arab regime, for which we went to war, oh 11 or 12 years ago (and destroyed our own economy in the process, as well as destroying that of Iraq and giving Saddam the best profiteering opportunity in human history; surely, someone who would use mustard gas on his own people wouldn't mind a little profiteering at their expense, 80,000 or so dead Iraqi children notwithstanding!)

That means that the perpetrators of 9/11 were, in order of their complicity, nationals of (1) Saudi Arabia; (2) Egypt; and (3) Kuwait.  What do these countries have in common?  All are purported ALLIES OF THE UNITED STATES.  Oh wait, they are three of the most reactionary, regressive dictatorships on the planet.  Oh, and by the way, except for Egypt, they have this oil thing going for them.  Which explains why, forget leveling these places (a policy your TD has advocated for months) we won't even ADMONISH them.  Hell, their leaders are personally welcomed to the president's hobby ranch.

It sure makes you happy that our Supreme Court elevated our present oilman government, doesn't it?


June 3, 2002, New York, New York.  Well, there it is.  The New York dateline.  Your TD has finally written and sent these words from Manhattan, which had, of course, been the original plan when this blog was conceived last summer, before that thing in September moved things around a bit.

Relevant to that thing in September, it now seems (much sooner than your TD would have predicted) that news is breaking out on all sides of catastrophic intelligence failures by our FBI and CIA (though, so far, the President remains relatively unscathed by all this, this is all doubtless part of his master plan!).  We continue to be at Code Yellow (I think!), despite more unsubstantiated reports of ongoing disasters (?).  Well, no matter.  Since I am not driving to work these days, in the solipsistic haze that defines my birthright as an American, I am less concerned with the bridges blowing up (until I have to cross them, of course).  I do note that there is NO building of sufficient height between where I now sit and the Empire State Building or the Pan Am Building (OK, Met Life Building) -- but, I can ago blissfully back to sleep, because airline cockpit doors must now be locked, so nothing bad can possibly happen.

Similarly, we needn't worry ourselves over that "nuclear thing" going on between India and Pakistan:  (1) they're really far away, (2) Putin will probably talk them out of it, and if he doesn't, since our entire cabinet is on the way over, one of them will, and (3) they're really far away.


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