the talking dog

 

MARCH 2002 POSTINGS

 

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The Left-Leaning Dog Says:

The Rabid Dog Says:

White Plains, New York. March 28, 2002.  As we hear about the Passover massacre in Jerusalem, and your LLD comes off of his own Seder, I shudder at the thought that the closing line of every Passover Holiday Seder Meal is traditionally "Next Year in Jerusalem".  Well, for over 400 Israelis (and for many more that number of Palestinians) since the latest round of the intifada, there won't be a next year, in Jerusalem or anywhere else.

Perhaps the focus of analysis of this nightmare should finally shift from Chairman-of-the-Board Arafat (who, let's face it, has been consistent in his actions since the founding to the Keystone Kops apparently running Israel, as pointed out in two recent articles in The Weekly Standard here and here.

Turning to the home front, (or Homeland front, with apologies to Apartheid era South Africa for expropriating their term) Dick Cheney's rewarding Arafat for terror by offering him to meet with him, aside from not helping Israel, is not helping the United States prosecute the "war on terrorism".  In the end, if we choose to attack and invade Iraq, it will be conducted largely in the manner of the Afghan campaign:  with some local help, and primarily, alone.  We can expect the same level of support from our strong friends and allies Saudi Arabia and Egypt that we got in the war on terrorism, i.e., to the extent they do anything at all, they will supply and fund the terrorists.

 

March 26, 2002, White Plains, New York.  Say, weren't the Academy Awards presented in an unusually  warm and tasteful manner this year?  There were no stupid self-indulgent dance numbers, a minimum of montages (sure, there was a Woody Allen montage of New York SANS WORLD TRADE CENTER -- but in a 5 hour show, some things will go wrong, right?)  I mean, the honorees were, for the most part, eminently likeable.  Sure, SOMEONE can find something nasty to say about Sidney Poitier or Robert Redford, but who wants to hear it?  And itís nice to see 2 actors of color win best actor and best actress, especially considering that both probably deserved the award [Editorís Note:  You saw the movies?  Or is this just affirmative action in punditry?  Perhaps you should read John Podhoretz on this.].  Of course, let's leave it at that.  Hollywood is a business: one of America's most successful export businesses at that.  It knows what it has to do.  Audiences want to see certain things and certain people, and Hollywood responds accordingly.  Audiences like black actors and actresses, especially the inconceivably attractive Halle Berry and Denzel Washington, and Hollywood must recognize this.  Nothing larger or earth shaking is going on.

Which takes us to the next sentence I heard on a major radio network's newscast (OK, it was NPR):  after announcing that for the first time, there was an "African American sweep of the best actor-actress awards", the next sentence concerned the filing of a suite for slavery reparations by a "historical researcher".

Well, that's just it, isn't it?  Its a matter of history.  Sure, when your LLD was born in 1962, there were doubtless people alive, in the United States, who were born as slaves.  There were CERTAINLY many people who were children of people who were born as slaves (though, frankly, I doubt there are many of THESE left either).  Now, of course, slavery has been illegal in the United States for 137 years.  (If someone wants to draw an immediate distinction between "reparations" litigation and the recent spate of Holocaust survivor's litigation, it is just that:  in the Holocaust case, many of the victims, and many of the perpetrators, are still alive and able to assert their claims directly.  That's all I'll say).  [Editorís Note:  So, the fact that the actual victims are dead makes their ancestorsí claims illegitimate?]

I guess there are people who are jealous of Jesse Jackson's brand of celebrity-based "fear of threatened boycott" type shakedowns, and have concocted the "reparations" suit to spread the fruits of this particular shakedown of corporate America.  Not to worry, in the event that any such suits prove successful, corporate America will doubtless lobby for a tax credit to offset any such reparations payments, which will doubtless come at disproportionate expense to those least able to negotiate their own private tax holidays:  African-Americans.  And win, lose or draw, litigation is good for, well, the legal profession.  So keep the frivolous lawsuits coming.

 

March 21, 2002, White Plains, NY.  It is unfortunate that we live in a world of ever decreasing attention spans, shorter memories, and insularity.  It has now been six months and 10 days, and yet, September 11, 2001 may now be, to the average American -- hell, to the average DOWNTOWN NEW YORKER -- as or less relevant than November 22, 1963, or December 7, 1941, or for that matter, July 4, 1776.

Thus, a group of parents of Stuyvesant High School students (and other nearby residents and rabble-rousers) now believe that enough time has passed to use their affluence and political pull for an effort to "NIMBY" (not in my back yard) protest the use of a pier behind Stuyvesant, just a few hundred yards from the World Trade Center site, for the garbage barges that remove Ground Zero debris to Fresh Kills landfill on Staten Island.  To be fair, this group has also questioned the rather optimistic air quality assessments for both Stuyvesant and Downtown, which were, to be honest, largely the product of the Saint Rudy Spin Machine (living less than 2 miles downwind in Brooklyn as the crow flies, lemme tell ya:  the air quality sucked for a long time, and if it wasn't toxic to boot, the burden is on public health agencies to demonstrate that!)  But the present protest (which, presumably will include the obligatory lawsuits) smacks of the efforts of last year to try to stall re-commissioning of a power plant in Brooklyn (full disclosure:  I signed that petition, and gave money to NYPIRG at the same time, I AM a left-leaning dog, after all!) on environmental grounds.  This, of course, is a luxury of affluence and of leisure:  a luxury we had last summer when I signed that petition, and frankly, a luxury we no longer really have.  While better air quality monitoring is certainly a reasonable request (and indeed, a less fascistic prior mayoral administration probably would have been more forthcoming with this a long time ago), stopping the Ground Zero barges is not.  The WTC site has to be cleaned and rebuilt as soon as possible.  But, NIMBY may be thicker than blood (or something like that).

Note, of course, that the press is now obsessing over (1) a crazy woman in Texas that even a Texas jury wouldn't condemn to death; and (2) child sex abuse involving Catholic priests; this issue comes up from time to time, and while infinitely more serious (and usually less covered) than political sex scandals, somehow, this does not seem to be the time.

Which brings us back to where we started:  September 11th occurred just after the LLD and the RD and the UE had finally undertaken to commence this web-site.  Despite the fact that 9-11 ended up being our "raison d'etre", the fact is, the events of that 90 minute stretch on that Tuesday morning in September which transpired one city block from where I stood (and, in retrospect, FOOLISHLY, watched) was the defining moment of the lives of every American alive and sentient at the time.  While, frankly, the president and Congress could have asked for, and gotten, the reinstatement of the draft, gas rationing, a massive tax increase to pay for necessary military spending -- or just about any similar measure that President Roosevelt asked for, and got, to fight World War II, a war which DID NOT MAKE ITS WAY TO THE MAINLAND UNITED STATES -- we were told instead to rely on a few professional specialists, to guzzle as much gas as ever, and to shop more.

Well, this is a tragic loss, if you ask me  (no, I'm not talking about the draft part -- and frankly, itís a GOOD thing that our technology has evolved to the point were a tiny sliver of our population can capably defend the rest of us).  What I'm talking about is that President "Prosperity With A Purpose" has fecklessly squandered this opportunity to give every American what we need now more than anything:  a national purpose that every one of us can participate in.  Instead, its back to Britney and Russell Crowe's latest outbursts, I suppose.

 

Brooklyn, March 18, 2002.  Operation Candy Man?  Obviously, your (father of a 2-year-old-girl) LLD is not going to stand here and laud child pornographers, especially when among the arrested include members of the Catholic clergy, who seem to be the subject de jour in the area of child sexual abuse.  One wonders, of course, why now?  These stories, representing an unfortunate flip side of a bizarre puritanical streak, that ends up, unfortunately, in inappropriate THOUGHTS being driven underground, and often ending up in inappropriate ACTIONS.

As American citizens are being targeted for murder in places like our friend Pakistan, the REAL question should be: what exactly has ISLAM contributed to humanity, other than, apparently, hatred, subjugation of women, poverty, corruption, more hatred, and lately, violent terrorism?  As we live in an absurd politically correct world where we must "accept other points of view", so the question comes back:  as important as the issue of protecting children from sexual abuse is (and itís important), why exactly has our law enforcement hierarchy decided that the best use of its resources is this area, right now, when the PHYSICAL SURVIVAL OF EVERYONE appears to be at stake?

Just asking.

 

White Plains, March 13, 2002.  Starting as little more than a diatribe between a couple of garrulous (and querulous) canines which first aired literally as the fires of Ground Zero burned their nostrils, we at The Talking Dog are pleased that we have passed yet another milestone (or millstone):  our 3,000th hit!  Many a major leaguer would be jealous of that statistic -- the mark of a truly distinguished "blog" ("web log") considering that we are not (probably because we have refused to pay any bribes) picked up yet by any major search engine (we encourage our readers to gleefully talk us up in web newsgroups or other similar blather -- we love shills -- and, short of taking any effort on our own part -- welcome any means of increasing readership!)

Well, moving right along...  In the bad taste department, we refer you to The Onion for the best take on the unfortunate Andrea Yates situation.

Things seem to be going well for our troops in Afghanistan (we hope); Robert Mugabe claims victory in Zimbabwe (one man, one vote, one time...), "life" goes on in the really troubled Middle East...  more casualties to follow.  If its going on somewhere, it'll probably make its way to the mouth of The Talking Dog!!!  Woof!!!

 

Brooklyn, March 10, 2002
Talking dog comment and analysis on Bush's New Steel Tariffs

Frankly, until World War I (other than a brief foray with income taxes in the Civil War), the ONLY source of revenue for the federal government, albeit the pre-New Deal Federal government, was tariff revenue.  At minor levels, a 1 or 2% tariff increase, actually would be a tax increase, because it probably wouldn't deter economic activity, and WOULD increase revenue.  Actually, a BRILLIANT plan would have been that: a 2-3% non-punitive steel import duty, with proceeds going for, say, job re-training, pension and health care for affected steel workers...the Euro-fags, and more importantly, the Koreans, would have little complaint, because it would not be INTENDED as a trade barrier, but as a revenue raiser  (of course, itís a tax increase, but one that could easily be absorbed).  Brilliant and the Bush Administration are not, however, words that are often heard in the same sentence.

The other thing about our tax system and international free trade is that we have OUTRAGEOUS transfer price arrangements with our offshore possessions that let the Fortune 500 get away with murder at the expense of the rest of us -- and apparently, at the expense of our trading partners (who, by EU rules, CAN'T dump tax free profits to their far off colonies, if they have any!)

Classic case was the case I worked on involving Storage Technology, which the government challenged them on (and lost in court, of course:  the law is INTENDED to cost the Treasury money, as long as only the Fortune 500 can benefit, that is).  Storage Tech would, obviously, have industrial operations to make its mainframe peripherals all over the world (chips in Taiwan/Malaysia, boxes in Latin America, electronics in Japan, lots of inputs in the United States, etc.)  It used subsidiaries that would sell the next layer of completion up the line, until the final product was sold outside the company, to say, GM for use with a mainframe.  BUT, the company would LOSE MONEY on all of the internal transfers (and hence, avoid US taxation) EXCEPT on an input performed by its Puerto Rican subsidiary, which had 19 employees out of a company with 4,000 worldwide!  Part of the blackmail we pay to keep our colonial territories, like Puerto Rico, is that to encourage investment, subsidiaries can take profit FREE OF US TAXATION -- so LOTS of companies structure these internal transfer pricing systems so that ALL WORLDWIDE PROFIT is generated in these offshore subsidiaries.  We could probably lower personal income taxes by 5% if this ONE LOOPHOLE were closed.  Its not going to be closed, though, and certainly not by this Administration.

 

Brooklyn, March 7, 2002.  Well, let's just say, its good to see the RD keeping up a regular writing schedule.  Itís good to hear the barks from both sides of the kennel, as we say here at The Talking Dog.  Even from the quarantine cages.

That said, and speaking of Rabid Dogs, we are immensely pleased to hear that Secretary Rumsfeld predicts total victory in a few days.  Quietly, American forces have been greatly augmented as the battle royal progresses (as we realize that a kirya royal -- the Afghan tribal council of leadership -- will probably go nowhere, and thousands of foreign troops will be required to keep order in that sovereign insane asylum for the foreseeable future).  Obviously, it is tragic that brave American troops are dying.  On the other hand, their supreme sacrifice may, literally, end up helping in the saving of our entire nation, if not human civilization, if this war progresses to the ultimate elimination of rogue nations that dare to develop weapons of mass destruction and intend to supply them to terrorists.

 

Brooklyn, March 6, 2002.  Well, congratulations to Dennis Cardoza.  The Levy family couldn't end Gary Condit's political career.  Governor Gray Davis and the California legislature's redistricting plan couldn't end it, either.  September 11th, notwithstanding our earlier prediction, apparently granted the embattled Congressman from Modesto, California only a temporary extension of his career.  Apparently, only his home county gave him a majority.  The rest of his district said that they would rather not have a homicide suspect as their representative to Congress.

Meanwhile, of course, the rather substantial Al Qaeda "pockets of resistance" (the Al Qaeda leadership, including Chief Evildoer Osama bin Laden and Chief Taliban Mullah Omar having been spirited to Pakistan in an airlift several months ago which was tacitly endorsed by the United States as a gesture to ally of convenience Pakistan while fuming American Special Forces could only stand around and watch) are proving to be rather nasty, making us rethink this "humane treatment" stuff.  Of course, the decision to bring these human time bombs to an American base in the Western hemisphere is what we will politely call a "bad idea".  Best to lock them all up in Afghanistan, and set up special international tribunals to deal with this unique kind of international criminal, IN AFGHANISTAN.  Of course, then our old fears of international tribunals calling for Kissinger might resurface...   Oh yeah.

 

Brooklyn, March 4, 2002.  Contrary to the ravings of the RD, I do not relish the deaths of patriotic men and women who are willing to make the ultimate sacrifice in the service of our nation and its military.  I have simply said that, unfortunately, the recoiling in horror at even a single casualty (official Clinton Administration policy) only served to embolden our enemies and put MORE American lives at risk.  Indeed, I am not pleased to be vindicated by the fact that notwithstanding the prior willingness to rely on proxies -- proxies whose enthusiasm for doing American dirty work has waned now that their country has apparently been liberated so it can go back to its usual internecine fighting unencumbered by the Taliban's bizarre reactionary social policies -- may have left us less prepared for the work at hand, and parenthetically, allowed bin Laden and Omar to escape into Pakistan.

But as I have said many times, the current Administration, while neither headed nor staffed by the brightest bulbs in the Christmas tree, has shown remarkable flexibility and adaptability, as tactics require, certainly in their own political meanderings (now deficit generating tax cuts are patriotic!), as well as, of course, the conduct of the war.

Still, the most troubling aspect remains the Strategic Misinformation Office.  Your LLD had assumed this office was headed by Karen Hughes with the official spokesman Ari Fleisher.  It turns out, of course, that this was less of a joke than feared.  The maniacal secrecy -- which is anathema to a free press-loving open liberal Democrat -- is nonetheless, Bush FAMILY, and hence Bush ADMINISTRATION, policy.  Be it the usual denial of war correspondents to theatres of operation (remember the Gulf War?) to PUBLIC documents of the Reagan administration (which might embarrass Poppy), or Dick and the Energy Task Force.  Once again, 9/11 or not, free and open access to our government and information it generates may be another casualty of the "war".

 

Brooklyn, March 3, 2002.  Well, the RD and I are in agreement on at least one point:  the current Sharon strategy is not working.  Over the weekend, the carnage continues to mount.  It is so constant and routine that it is often not reported here anymore.

Nonetheless, for another thoughtful point as far as a possible settlement in the Middle East, I refer you to The Jerusalem Post.  Just a brief look at our featured link the Jerusalem Post, and you see endless stories of mutual carnage.  The Israelis are "winning" in numbers of casualties, in a gruesome calculus that's going nowhere.  It really doesn't even matter whoís right after a while.  This just has to stop.

March 10, 2002.  Our Unseen Editor has asked that I apologize to the Great State (now second in population, having finally passed us, the  Empire State) of Texas for calling its populace "Neanderthals".  I humbly do so (in a rare fit of clarity not undermined by the rabidity).

Texas hosts some of our most dynamic companies (Dell, Texas Instruments), and medical facilities (the DeBakey Institute), and, of course, is the home of Willie Nelson.  Of course, Texas STILL ranks near last in infant health care access, pretty down there in literacy, its state services are down there, its legislature (which, until LESS THAN FIVE YEARS AGO) took money from lobbyists ON THE FLOOR OF THE LEGISLATURE during its THREE MONTHS EVERY TWO YEARS sessions, leads the nation in executions (whether or not the condemned are retarded or mentally ill).

 

March 7, 2002.  Well the Andrea Yates trial seems to be proceeding apace.  I wonder where the LLD comes down given that Ms. Yates seems to have become as much a poster child for American feminists as suicide bombers have for Palestinian "feminists";  I guess mainstream, institutional feminism is now synonymous with dead children (the choice of Andrea Yates as poster child is all the more troubling, since the principle issue holding American feminism together these days is abortion on demand).

Ms. Yates seems desperate to cling to an insanity defense.  She drowned her own five children:  I'm convinced of her insanity.  Unfortunately, try telling that to the Neanderthals that inhabit that backwater sticking out of the Southern part of United States called Texas.  The Texas attitude (best exemplified by former governor Bush)  being "kill 'em all and let God sort 'em out".  Of course, we all know that there is no God, and therefore, the policy is ultimately untenable.

 

March 5, 2002.  Well, let's hear it for ABC:  David Letterman, a man who, whether he is or not, at least comes off as a mean-spirited prick (who, not coincidentally, costs a fortune):  IN.  Ted Koppel and Nightline -- one of the most respected institutions in television journalism:  OUT.

Michael Eisner is showing the same genius in this regard he previously showed with Jeff Katzenberg and Mike Ovitz.  The man TRULY knows how to spot, reward and preserve talent (while taking home half a BILLION -- that's right, that was a B -- a year to do it).  All while Disney stock continues to tank on his watch.  Again, way to go, ABC.

 

March 4, 2002.  Well, it looks like the LLD has finally gotten one of his fondest wishes:  Americans apparently dead in combat in Afghanistan.  It appears, unbeknownst to anyone, the Department of Defense has greatly increased troop levels, and is now fighting the most intense battles of the Afghan campaign (which may soon rise to the level of "war").  Unlike the usual NPR listening left, the president notes that most patriotic Americans will accept casualties as an unwelcome but  necessary part of our mission (though only the LLD welcomes casualties for their own sake, as long as they are Americans, or perhaps, Palestinians).

In a sad way, this is a foreshadowing of bloodletting to come, when the rest of the Evil Axis, especially Iraq, is taken on once and for all.  It appears the President and his team, to their credit, are, while mopping up residual elements of Taliban/Al Qaeda (they are, despite legalisms insisted upon by our effete "allies", the same bunch of bloodthirsty medieval terrorists) -- preparing for the greater battle to come.

Perhaps in the end, Enduring Freedom may actually be imposed on a part of the world that sorely needs it.

 

March 3, 2002.  Well, its been -- what?  A week since the LLD last chimed in on his latest breakthrough for Middle East peace?

Unfortunately, the issue becomes relevant to the United States because bin Laden has latched on to "the Palestinian cause", greatly increasing the critical need to resolve the Middle East situation once and for all.  Of course, the longer this issue festers, the more suicide bombers get recruited, who may be turned against American interests directly.  Current Israeli policy is, to put it politely, untenable (if not insane).  The Palestinians have about 3 1/2 million potential suicide bombers -- now that women's liberation has finally arrived there in the form of female suicide bombers, we can presume that any Palestinian man woman or child capable of strapping themselves with explosives and wandering into Israel is a potential bomb.  And the Sharon government, rather than defusing them, is hell-bent on pouring more combustible fuel on the situation.

The latest initiative of Crown Prince Abdullah (unleashed on the world via Thomas Friedman of the New York Times) makes about as much sense as anything else that's ever been proposed:  a straight exchange -- recognition from the 21 or so Arab governments of Israel (and its "right to exist") in exchange for a pullback to the pre-Six Day War borders.  Gaza and West Bank to Fatah and minions, Golan Heights to Syria, half of Jerusalem to God knows who.

Of course, the principle immediate difficulty will be the hard-ass right wing religious nuts in Israel and their concept of Greater (meaning Biblical) Israel, which compels them to hold on to the untenable settlements, for which Israel continues to pay in prestige and blood.  Invariably, of course, many of these people are the same ones whose "beliefs" prevent them from military service.  Perhaps the recent detachment of Israeli officers refusing to serve in the occupied territories will finally tilt the seesaw to Israel's recognizing the uncomfortable reality, and they will have to accept (and the United States will have to assist in imposing it) some version of Abdullah's current peace plan.

 

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