Friday, May 31, 2002
Debbie Schlussel Doesn’t Get Off on the WNBA
Among the greatest threats to Western civilization and life as we now know it, the Women’s National Basketball Association (WNBA) would not likely turn up our on list of American culture’s first, say, 500 enemies. Nor, do we believe, would the league be viewed in this manner by the typical American. But life on the far right is an entirely different realm, and in that realm one can present that very viewpoint -- or at least try to -- and still be taken seriously.
Over the past ten years, the conservative end of the Punditboro has been hijacked by a lunatic right-wing fringe composed of literally dozens of bizarre characters with uncivilized, indecent, and reprehensible opinions. Readers no doubt are familiar with the “movement’s” so-called leading lights, but may not yet have taken notice of one Debbie Schlussel.
Schlussel’s biography at TownHall.com, in which we suspect she had at least some hand, notes that she is an attorney, as well as president and founder of Schlussel Entertainment Group. She possesses “unique expertise” on, among other subjects, radical Islam and professional sports.
Schlussel is also “a longtime member of Mensa (the high IQ society)” Wow! She was a National Merit Scholarship Finalist. Wow! And she apparently had several internships when she was in college and high school. Wow! (General rule: Look not kindly upon grown adults who add high-school-era accomplishments to their biographies.)
This week, Schlussel, the radical Islam expertess, is up in arms, so to speak, over the WNBA, or, more specifically the alleged lack of sex appeal of the league’s players. Now, what, exactly, this has to do with the validity of the league itself, or gives cause to the compulsion to attack it with such demented venom, she doesn’t make clear.
Needless to say, if you’re expecting a thoughtful discourse on women and athletics, look elsewhere. Schlussel’s rant can be summed up in this way: they’re ugly, tall, masculine, and some of them are lesbians, to boot.
Schlussel’s harsh descriptions of the women in the WNBA might lead a reader to assume that Schlussel is, herself, quite a babe.
Wrong! When you have a minute, take a gander at Schlussel’s photograph.
Now, tell us Schlussel doesn’t epitomize that classic look, that timeless style known as “the biker bitch.”
Yes, Schlussel may try to clean herself up with excessive make-up, tacky blonde streaks, and a cheesy mixed-color three-dollar Wal-Mart synthetic top, but she’s not fooling us.
Schlussel -- not unlike Lucianne Goldberg in this respect -- looks like one of those raspy-voiced bar hags, her face drained of whatever life it may have once had by years of chain-smoking and shots of liquor, neat.
Schlussel is so ugly we can’t help but wonder whether having been passed around for so long among so many bikers, even they lost interest.
In fact, the article under discussion here -- “WNBA: Sports’ Bearded Lady Sideshow Re-infests” -- reads like an agitated tantrum produced during the last tweaking moments of a three-day speed binge, amphetamines being a substance with which the Hell’s Angels and their women long have been intimately familiar. (The article's title doesn't even make sense!)
Schlussel’s diatribe has all the familiar, shopworn, thoroughly unsurprising elements one would expect from a biker bitch who shares her girls’-night-out dollar drafts with the likes of Ann Coulter, Laura Ingraham, and Matt Drudge.
Herewith a few snippets of Schlussel’s stupidity:
“But whether or not you want to watch, that Waste of National Broadcast Airtime, the WNBA, is baaaack for yet another season, it’s sickest-I mean, sixth.
There is at work here a level of hostility, rage, fear, desperation, and, yes, sickness, that we find difficult to fathom. Of greater interest is why this woman is taken seriously by anyone at all. We’ll let Schlussel’s facilitators, who apparently include Bill Maher, Bill O’Reilly, and the National Rifle Association, explain that.
Or perhaps we’ll leave it to Debbie Schlussel’s Fan Club.The Rittenhouse Review | Copyright 2002-2006 | PERMALINK |
Thursday, May 30, 2002
Myles Kantor Harkens Back to Grenada
Earlier this week at FrontPageMag.com, the mouthpiece for the astonishingly ineffective sixties radical and now highly successful pain-in-the-ass David Horowitz, serves up “It’s Grenada Time, Mr. President,” by one Myles Kantor. Kantor, for those not familiar, is the director of something called the Center for Free Emigration (CFE), an apparently virtual group described as “a human rights organization dedicated to the abolition of state enslavement.”
As for what the CFE is, we welcome readers to visit the organization's skimpy web site, though we can't promise anything resembling enlightenment.
The object of Kantor’s ire -- and everyone who writes for Horowitz, including Horowitz, is massively irked about something -- is U.S. foreign policy with respect to Cuba. With this, Kantor is clearly unhappy, a condition not improved by President George W. Bush’s May 20 Miami speech recognizing the centennial of Cuba’s independence.
Kantor gives the speech a failing grade: “It was a momentous occasion with a mediocre message.” (Sounds disloyal to us. Kantor should hope Andrew Sullivan, the British writer and publisher, American extraordinaire, and fifth-column monitor of "The Daily Dish," doesn’t read it.)
In his recent speech, President Bush, like virtually every U.S. President since Dwight D. Eisenhower, acknowledged “the Cuban people’s love of liberty,” American support for “the Cuban people’s aspirations for freedom,” and our desire (President Bush called it a “plan”) “to accelerate freedom in Cuba in every way possible.”
“We hurt for the people in Cuba,” President Bush said, in a more sensitive moment. “We long for a day when they realize the same freedoms we have here in America.” The President challenged Fidel Castro to hold free elections and promised to enforce economic sanctions, including the longstanding ban on travel to Cuba by most Americans.
Sounds to us like standard State Department boilerplate dating back to around 1959.
Unacceptable, maintains Kantor:
“If President Bush hurts so much for Cubans, why does the Coast Guard continue to ‘repatriate’ (re-enslave) Cubans fleeing totalitarianism? Is that a compassionate policy?
Kantor has a better idea, or at least it sounds better to him: “If President Bush is serious about hastening Cuba’s emancipation from Castro, he should follow Ronald Reagan’s example vis-à-vis another island: Grenada.”
Thereafter follows a 620-word history of Grenada -- in a 950-word essay -- covering the period from March 1979 to October 1983, a history with which we assume our readers already are sufficiently familiar and therefore need not repeat here.
After the history lesson, Kantor offers an abysmally simplistic assessment of the prevailing geo-political situation in the Caribbean. “What Grenada would have been is what Cuba has been and continues to be,” he maintains in a sentence so fraught with the kind of unspoken speculation that typifies such rants but that is certain to have most of FrontPageMag.com’s readers nodding in unthinking agreement.
As it turns out, Kantor’s history of Grenada in the early 1980s is nothing more than filler. For what his article gains (at least in word count) from relaying events that occurred 20 years ago serves as compensation for what it lacks in argument.
“Hemispherically, strategically, and morally, there is an imperative to rectify this situation,” Kantor writes, sounding the alarm and referring to Castro’s seemingly endless status as Cuban dictator. But, he explains, “rhetoric alone won’t free Cuba, just as rhetoric didn’t abolish the Taliban.”
Well, then. What to do? Kantor urges President Bush: “Go to Congress, Mr. President, and ask it to authorize Operation Cuba Libre. Many Americans including this one are ready to enlist.” [Ed.: Emphasis added.] (Apparently every military excursion lacking congressional authorization under the War Powers Act is to be rewarded with a catchy quasi code name beginning with the word, “Operation.”)
Kantor’s political ideology is virtually indeterminable, his collections of sentences and other fragments having been published in such disparate outlets at Anti-State.com, LewRockwell.com, Patriotist.com, and LewRockwell.com. And as best we can determine, Kantor is beyond the age of conscription, but nonetheless, in his own words, “ready to enlist.” Thanks, Myles, for making this a part of the public record. We plan to hold you to it. (There's a cheap shot at President Bush lying in wait here if anyone wants it.)
Bona fides, or lack thereof aside, Kantor’s remarks about Cuba are truly irresponsible. Readers know that The Rittenhouse Review is no fan of generalissimo-for-life Fidel Castro, a point we have made in at least two articles, “Castro Interminable” (April 29) and “Planning a Trip? Make a Political Statement” (April 4).
However, Kantor’s ill-considered, and more to the point, reckless, essay, is remarkable for nothing more than its simplicity, a trait that, when it comes to assessments of the state of the world, is found precious only at high-school commencement exercises.
Kantor includes absolutely no analysis of the military requirements and risks of such an operation, the potential for massive casualties, not an invasion's political repercussions in the Caribbean, Central America, South America, Europe or elsewhere. Kantor’s “argument” is merely an exhortation. It’s sad that such a thin essay, likely to earn a “D” at the local community college, found an outlet at all.
All the more fascinating is that Kantor and his editor, the increasingly agitated and, based on his previous history, possibly dangerous, David Horowitz fail to recognize the embarrassment they have brought upon themselves.The Rittenhouse Review | Copyright 2002-2006 | PERMALINK |
Sunday, May 26, 2002
Just Don't Bring Coins
This really happened.
It's the transcript of a telephone conversation between a J.P Morgan Chase & Co. customer service representative (CSR) and our venerable editor:
Editor: “What would a branch be able to do for me if I were to bring in a significant amount of coins?”
CSR: “I’m not sure what you’re asking. Could you be more specific?”
Editor: “Would the teller be able to have it counted for me before depositing it into my account?”
CSR: “Count it? No, we don’t count coins.”
Editor: “You don’t count coins. Then how would I deposit coins?”
CSR: “If you’re just bringing in coins they have to be wrapped.”
Editor: “What if I wrap the coins and there are some left over?”
CSR: “Well, you can deposit the excess along with the wrapped coins.”
Editor: “What if I wanted to deposit paper currency along with a few coins?”
CSR: “You could do that.”
Editor: “How many coins are allowed?”
CSR: “I’m not sure what you’re asking.”
Editor: “Is there an upper limit on the number of coins the average J.P. Morgan teller can count?”
CSR: “I don’t think that matters. The tellers have a machine that counts coins.”
Editor: “A machine! Oh, so could I bring in all of my spare change, have the teller count it by running the coins through the machine, and deposit the money into my checking account?”
CSR: “Oh no, you couldn’t do that. We don’t accept coins that haven’t been wrapped.”
Editor: “But you just said I could deposit coins along with paper money.”
CSR: “Yes, as part of a deposit.”
Editor: “What if I wanted to deposit all of my spare change and just a one-dollar bill? Could the teller count the coins then?”
CSR: “Sir, we don’t accept coins that haven’t been wrapped by the customer.”
Editor: “Why not? There’s a machine created for just this purpose.”
CSR: “The teller can’t use it if you’re just bringing in a lot of spare change.”
Editor: “I understand that. I said I would be depositing a one-dollar bill and my spare change.”
CSR: “Look, sir, you can’t just bring walk into a bank with all your loose change.”
Editor: “Why not?”
CSR: “We just can’t handle that.”
Editor: “Logistically or emotionally?”
CSR: “I’m sorry?”
Editor: “Nothing. Can I use the teller’s machine to count the coins myself?”
Editor: “Why not?”
CSR: “It’s against our policy.”
Editor: “So what should I do?”
CSR: “Stop by any J.P. Morgan branch and ask the teller for coin wrappers and then return them -- filled -- to the branch and then we will deposit the money into your checking account.”
Editor: “But how will you know if I counted the coins correctly?”
CSR: “I’m not sure what you’re asking.”
Editor: “I might make mistakes when I wrap them up.”
CSR: “Well, the teller will run the coins through the machine.”
Editor: “With the wrappers on?”
CSR: “No, of course not.”
Editor: “So the teller will take the coins out of the wrappers and run them through the machine to make sure the value of the deposit is correct?”
Editor: “Then why can’t we just skip the wrapping part?”
CSR: “Sir, it’s against our policy. You have to bring your coins in wrapped.”
Editor: “Well . . . okay.”
CSR: “Is there anything else I can help you with today?”
Editor: “Yes, I’d like to open a $100,000 certificate of deposit.”
CSR: “Okay. For that you’ll need to stop by a branch . . . “
Editor: “Lady, I just told you I’m counting my spare change. Why would I be doing that if I had $100,000?”
CSR: “Sir, I’m sure people with large CDs have change too.”
Editor: “Yeah, but I’ll bet they came up with the $100,000 first.”
CSR: “Yes, they probably did.”
Editor: “What if I wanted to open a CD with my spare change?”
CSR: “Sir . . . please.”
Editor: Click!The Rittenhouse Review | Copyright 2002-2006 | PERMALINK |
The Daniel Pearl Video
In response to numerous inquiries from readers, we say, yes, we have seen the Daniel Pearl video and we know where to find it on the web.
We have decided, however, not to link to any of the sites that have published the video.
It truly is as despicable and gruesome as it has been described. It is not for the faint of heart. It is barely tolerable for the cold of heart, i.e., our esteemed editor.
After much consideration and debate we have concluded that showing the tape contributes virtually nothing to the discussion about the current conflict regarding the West Bank and even less to the personal tragedy of the Pearl family.The Rittenhouse Review | Copyright 2002-2006 | PERMALINK |
They Have Help
Make no mistake. We believe Martha Stewart is one of America’s best chief executive officers (not one of the best “women CEOs,” simply one of the best CEOs). The chairman and CEO of Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia Inc., she is intelligent, shrewd, ambitious, aggressive, talented, and hard working. Stewart is also, to the dismay of her many critics, extremely successful, success that, as best we can tell, is well deserved.
Much light has been made of Stewart’s legendary schedule, perfectionism, and alleged obsessive-compulsive behavior. Normally a private person, Stewart recently opened up to Stacy Perman, who contributed “At the Desk of Martha Stewart” to the June 2002 issue of Business 2.0.
“The multimedia goddess of perfect gardens and handmade soap has a workload that would crush lesser mortals,” writes Perman. “In her own words, here’s how she carries it off.”
Let’s listen in:
“I don’t have any typical daily schedule -- well, I do have TV days and other days. Tuesdays and Thursdays we tape Martha Stewart Living either at the studio in Connecticut or on location.
Impressive, particularly considering that Stewart did not mention her other obligations, including, among others, Martha Stewart Living magazine, the web site, MarthaStewartLiving.com, her nationally syndicated radio program, and her television specials.
So, how does she do it? Well, it’s not easy. Maintaining this schedule entails the use -- at the very least -- of a beeper, a cell phone, and three laptop computers. Stewart says she always travels with two laptops “in case one breaks.”
As for the aforementioned “property manager,” Stewart obviously needs one. Last we knew, she owned five properties -- Turkey Hill Farm in Westport, Conn.; an apartment in New York; a beach house in East Hampton, N.Y.; Skylands, a 61-acre estate in Maine; and a farm in Bedford, N.Y. -- along with what we have heard described as “a 36-foot picnic boat.”
Stewart, whose day begins anywhere from 4:00 a.m. to 5:30 a.m., is not only organized, her organization process is organized:
“I have laminated lists of all my personal and business phone numbers, which I keep by every phone. You don’t want to know how many phones I have. I also have lists in my car and in my purses. I carry them with me instead of a Palm. I find it infinitely faster. My assistants [Ed.: Note plural.] update and laminate new sheets once every three months.”
How to keep up with everyone in her life?
“I stay in touch, but on my schedule. E-mail is the last thing I do at night and the first thing I do in the morning. Today I have 357 unanswered e-mails. I am a very fast reader and I answer everything that’s appropriate.”
We draw your attention to what Stewart does not mention as elements of her daily schedule, namely: grocery shopping (including the 20-minute wait at the register), doing the laundry, taking out the garbage, mowing the lawns, raking the leaves, vacuuming the floors, cleaning the windows, taking the car in to the shop, scrubbing toilets, and paying bills, the tedious humdrum that occupies the daily lives of lesser mortals.
William F. Buckley Jr., one also known for maintaining a peripatetic lifestyle, literally wrote the book -- Overdrive -- on how to fill a day with meetings, lectures, sailing, dining out, editing a magazine, hosting a television show, and engaging in phone conversations and correspondence with the rich, powerful, and famous.
In the 272 pages of Overdrive (which sadly is out of print, but in the library here at The Rittenhouse Review) Buckley made only passing mention of what, in an earlier day, we called “the help.”
Indeed, Buckley had precious little to say about how said help enabled him to devote 14, 16, 18 hours a day to his greatest loves -- writing, editing, speaking, sailing, and lunching in Sharon, Conn., over half-bottles of Côte du Rhône.
We put this forward, less as a criticism and more as a reality check. So many people have trouble discerning the difference between reality and the images presented in the media, and in magazines in particular, that it becomes necessary to remind these sensitive souls that there is much going on behind the scenes.
This is not to begrudge either Stewart or Buckley of the fruits of their labor. It is only to emphasize that one’s accomplishments can become all the greater when one has the advantage of paying a posse of hired hands to take care of all of life's annoying details.The Rittenhouse Review | Copyright 2002-2006 | PERMALINK |
One Helluva Relationship
President George W. Bush explains the importance of the arms treaty signed in Moscow this week and the new spirit of trust between the U.S. and Russia:
“That’s good. It’s good for the people of Russia; it’s good for the people of the United States. . . . For decades, Russia and NATO were adversaries. Those days are gone, and that’s good. And that’s good for the Russian people, it’s good for the people of my country, it’s good for the people of Europe, and it’s good for the people of the world.”
Thanks to Maureen Dowd and the New York Times for the quote.The Rittenhouse Review | Copyright 2002-2006 | PERMALINK |
Brought to You by VH1
From the VH1 web site we picked up this description of the show:
“In VH1’s new series, volunteers from America’s armed forces were given video cameras to tell their stories, discuss their hopes and dreams, and describe the role of music in their lives. Thanks to unprecedented access granted by the Pentagon, ‘Military Diaries’ offers a powerful first-hand look at our heroes, their stories, and the music that gets them through.” [Ed.: Emphasis added.]
VH1 put video cameras into the hands of U.S. servicemen and women -- the diarists -- in Afghanistan, Kuwait, Camp Pendleton, and on the U.S.S. Stennis, giving us an intimate look into their daily lives.
“Military Diaries” gets the complete multi-media treatment. The show has its own section on VH1’s web site that includes biographies of the diarists, a photo gallery, a message board, polls, a play list of the troops’ favorite tunes, and a link to the Pentagon.
Crude, juvenile, disrespectful, and banal, all at the same time.
Call it a documentary, done in 21st-century style.The Rittenhouse Review | Copyright 2002-2006 | PERMALINK |
Friday, May 24, 2002
Ghoulish Agent Continues to Censor Posts
Last night we paid a visit to Lucianne.com, with the intent of sharing a thoughtful and thought-provoking article from the Christian Science Monitor, “How Israel Builds its Fifth Column,” with the community of voracious readers who gather there.
We posted a link to the article and the first two paragraphs, which we reprint below:
“Hani knew it was wrong.
In the article, author Catherine Taylor discusses in considerable details the methods by which Israeli security forces recruit and deploy Palestinian informants.
The article is interesting, fair, and balanced.
But to Lucianne, that’s unacceptable.
We posted the article at 11:21 p.m. Upon returning to the site this morning the article is nowhere to be found. We wonder if Lucianne goes through the posts herself or has a peon doing the work for her. Fils Jonah, perhaps? And to what within this particular article does she object?The Rittenhouse Review | Copyright 2002-2006 | PERMALINK |
Martin Peretz Bashes Scholars
As Eric Alterman Undermines Credibility
Talk about embarrassing. Humiliating, even.
Not long after Eric Alterman posted his critique of Martin Peretz, the New Republic’s part owner and resident demagogue, Peretz himself was preparing a screed for TNR in which he -- predictably -- trashes anyone who has the temerity to disagree with his delusional and paranoid more-Zionist-than-thou views.
Although we’ve already discussed Alterman’s devastating critique, we herewith submit a brief quote to bring our readers up to speed.
At his new web site, Altercation, Alterman on Tuesday (May 21) wrote:
”[T]he key thing to know about Peretz is that his entire position in the world of politics is due to the fact that he purchased TNR with money his wife inherited from her Singer Sewing [M]achine fortune. Peretz is always viciously attacking people who have earned their intellectual or journalistic credentials, rather than purchased them, and I wonder if his own precarious position is this world is the key to the frequent slander to which he subjects those with more genuine literary accomplishments. (Peretz has never written a book, or any other significant work of scholarship or reportage).”
There is not a person on earth who could convince us that these words don’t sting even the selectively heartless Peretz.
With his typical arrogance and contempt, Peretz in his article lambastes the professors from Princeton University, Harvard University, and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology who have signed petitions urging their respective universities to sell their investments in companies doing business in Israel -- a position that, by the way, The Rittenhouse Review does not support.
Peretz begins by dismissing those who signed the position with a characteristically vague and nasty broadside: “[T]he signatories (most of whom oppose capitalism itself and are therefore presumably in favor of divestment almost anywhere) tell you just about everything you need to know about this laughable venture.”
An odd statement, that, given that the signatories are expressing their opposition to the militaristic policies of one of the most socialistic economies in the world. But who cares about facts? Certainly not Peretz.
The publishing world’s arch Zionist proceeds to demolish -- at least in his eyes -- the faculty members at each of the three institutions who have joined the call for divestment.
“At Princeton the most well known [signatories] are the manicured, exquisitely tailored Luxembourgeois [sic ?] neo-Marxist historian Arno Mayer, whose published preference for Lenin over Wilson and Stalin over Churchill may explain his current affection for Yasir Arafat; the philosopher Peter Singer, who usually cares more for animals than for people (his solicitude for the Palestinians is in that sense a great moral improvement) [sic !]; and the international lawyer Richard Falk, once an enthusiast for the Ayatollah Khomeini and a defender of the Khmer Rouge.”
What, exactly, the wardrobe of Mayer has to do with Middle-Eastern politics and military conflict is not clear. We suppose this swipe is intended to lead the reader to believe that Peretz, whose greatest accomplishment in life has been marrying money, is a paragon of restraint with respect to his attire. Now, we have seen the mighty Peretz in person on several occasions and we would be dishonest if we said he was not well turned out.
MASSACHUSETTS INSTITUTE OF TECHNOLOGY:
“At MIT there is, predictably, Noam Chomsky (another old Khmer Rouge fan), plus 14 linguists, and 38 others not known for thinking much about politics at all.”
How has Peretz determined that the 38 signatories he singles out for criticism do not give a second thought to politics “at all”? Does he know each individually? Has he spoken with their families, friends, and colleagues? Or does a professorship in anthropology automatically exclude one from having political opinions?
When discussing the signatories at Harvard, where Peretz briefly toiled as a lecturer, i.e., an instructor who works without the possibility of tenure and from whom no substantial scholarship is expected (nor, in this case, produced), the jefe-in-chief is particularly nasty:
“The Harvard list is equally uninteresting, sporting one distinguished classicist, one unusually undistinguished political scientist, a physicist who works for oil companies, several Arabists [sic -- Is there such as thing as an Israelist?], a few theologians, and the French art historian Henri Zerner -- who, I am afraid, can't tell the difference between the Left Bank and the West Bank.” [Ed.: Emphasis added.]
“One unusually undistinguished political scientist,” writes Peretz, whom no one in academia would consider a “political scientist” of any sort, let alone one of distinction. In fact, Peretz here could just as easily have been speaking about himself. We’ve seen the Harvard list, and given Peretz’s cowardly ambiguity we cannot readily determine to whom he is referring. It’s no surprise that this scoundrel isn’t brave enough, pace Victor Navasky, to name names -- perhaps the intent was to smear all five? And is that the sound of an axe grinding that we hear in the background?
But looking at the list of signatories, we can narrow things down a bit. Peretz is most likely chastising one of five people: Martin Kilson, emeritus professor of government; Kim Williams, assistant professor of public policy at the Kennedy School of Government; or one of three lecturers in the department of social studies (coincidentally, the same position Peretz held during his unextended stay at Harvard): Phineas Baxandall, Jane Bestor, or Christopher J. Sturr.
A one-year subscription to Tikkun will be given to the reader who makes the most convincing case identifying the subject of Peretz’s thinly shrouded venom.
Send your entry to RittenReview@earthlink.net by Wednesday, May 29, noon EDT.The Rittenhouse Review | Copyright 2002-2006 | PERMALINK |
Thursday, May 23, 2002
Seeing Terror Where There is No Terror
Today’s “Daily Dish” at AndrewSullivan.com carries this item, which we publish in its entirety at the risk of a copyright-related law suit:
”WHAT ARE THE ODDS: In today’s climate in France that the burning down of the Israeli embassy was the result of an accident? About as likely as president Chirac’s suggestion that there are no anti-Semites in France.”
Indeed, what are the odds?
The article to which Sullivan links, a Reuters report entitled, “Israeli Embassy in Paris Destroyed by Fire,” makes it perfectly clear -- at least to anyone who bothered to read the article -- that the Israeli ambassador himself believes the fire most likely resulted from “an electrical short circuit.”
In fact, this quote is included in the first paragraph of the article Sullivan cites.
The unnamed author of the article, moving deeper into the subject than the lede paragraph allows, then adds in the third paragraph: “Ambassador Elie Barnavi told reporters he could not rule out terrorism…but said an accident seemed the most likely cause.”
In the fifth paragraph we hear from the spokeswoman for the Parisian police force: “Initial indications from our investigation indicate it appears to be accidental in origin, perhaps a short circuit.”
Then, in the sixth paragraph, we again hear from Ambassador Barnavi: “It’s most probably an accident. The most probable theory is that it was a short circuit.” Barnavi further noted that the embassy’s ground floor was undergoing renovations.
Each day Sullivan sounds more and more like a mini Martin Peretz, which is truly a shame. We would have thought Sullivan’s disassociation from the New Republic would have led to a more independent frame of mind. But no.
Moreover, why have we not yet seen a thoughtful exposition on French anti-Semitism from Sullivan? Indeed, why is this subject virtually taboo in the American media? Are the French committing hundreds of anti-Semitic acts or are its Arab immigrants doing so? As far as we can tell, only Taki, of all people, has had the temerity to state the obvious: “The fact that every anti-Semitic act has been perpetrated by young Arab thugs does not seem to bother various Jewish groups over here. They’re screaming bloody murder over European anti-Semitism, where there’s nothing of the kind.” If Taki is correct, then “French anti-Semitism” is a misnomer at best, a slander at worst.
Uh-oh. Daniel Goldhagen, please call your office.The Rittenhouse Review | Copyright 2002-2006 | PERMALINK |
Toronto Globe & Mail: Threats Not Urgent,
Motivated by Political Objectives
Granted, we’re late with this one as the story was published two days ago, but the Toronto Globe & Mail carried an interesting piece on May 21, “U.S. Issues New Warnings on Terror,” along with the “dek,” as it’s called in publishing: “White House tries to counter Bush’s critics.”
The Globe & Mail’s report casts at least some doubt on the latest warnings of possible terrorist attacks by the Bush administration, those that indicated the Statue of Liberty, the Brooklyn Bridge, and “large apartment complexes” were potential targets.
“As U.S. officials continued to issue warnings yesterday about the possibility of attacks by suicide bombers and terrorists, the White House quietly acknowledged that the threats are not urgent and that they are partly motivated by political objectives,” wrote Doug Saunders. [Ed.: Emphasis added.]
According to the report, unnamed administration officials said the warnings issued on May 19 and May 20 “do not reflect a dramatic increase in threatening information but rather a desire to fend off criticism from the Democrats.”
Saunders writes that “[a] top White House aide said that last week’s criticism [of President George Bush] prompted a two-pronged political response: Mr. Bush accused Democrats of playing politics with the issue while his advisers reminded voters that the United States is still a target.”
So, we ask, who is most actively and most cynically politicizing this issue? Rep. Cynthia McKinney (D-Ga.)? Congressional Democrats as a group? The “liberal” media? Or the Bush administration itself?The Rittenhouse Review | Copyright 2002-2006 | PERMALINK |
FOR 9/11 COMMISSION
Calls Bush Administration "Surly," "Defensive"
George F. Will’s recent essay, “The Way Out,” (Washington Post, May 21) makes a strong case -- one Republicans and conservatives would do well to heed -- in favor of creating a commission to examine the nature and extent of any intelligence failures preceding the September 11 attacks on the U.S.
“There is only one way out of the growing -- tardily growing; by no means grown too large -- controversy about investigating intelligence inadequacies prior to Sept. 11. The way out for the administration is to go through an investigation, and not one conducted by itself,” argues Will.
Will points out that more than 250 days have passed since the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. By comparison, Will adds, President Franklin D. Roosevelt took just 11 days to appoint a commission “to examine what was known, and what should have been, prior to Dec. 7, 1941,” the date of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor.
“Last week, one of the most dispiriting in recent Washington history, the administration seemed surly and defensive regarding the inevitably rising tide of questions about governmental intelligence operations before the terrorist attacks,” Will writes, in a refreshingly honest assessment of the administration’s attitude from the conservative end of the political spectrum.
Will questions the administration’s “surly and defensive” posture, but adds that a full-scale inquiry “almost certainly would vindicate President Bush.” No partisan politics there.
Will’s proposed commission would be comprised of an equal number of Democrats and Republicans and would be “of sufficient prestige…[to] overwhelm the institutional rivalries that can make national security a hostage to jurisdictional jealousies.”
Will goes so far as to propose the commission’s membership. Co-chairmen: former secretary of state George Shultz (R) and former senator Sam Nunn (D-Ga.). Republican members: Sen. Richard Lugar (R-Ind.), former senator Jack Danforth (R-Mo.), and Yale history professor Donald Kagan. Democratic members: Sen. Bob Graham (D-Fla.), former representative Lee Hamilton (D-Ind.), and former senator Pat Moynihan (D-N.Y.)
Will is correct in concluding that “[s]ecrecy renders societies susceptible to epidemics of suspicion. A blue-ribbon commission would be immunization against such an epidemic and preventive medicine against future failures. The administration and the nation need to go through it.”
In our opinion, it’s time for the Bush administration to admit the inevitable and join Congress in taking the steps needed to create a fact-finding and recommendation-making commission as soon as possible. Were such a panel to be created with President Bush kicking and screaming -- or worse, outright objecting -- would irreparably damage his political standing and place in history -- and most important -- our national security. Thus, the administration's unwillingness to countenance an investigation is not only short-sighted and suspicious, it is simply dangerous.The Rittenhouse Review | Copyright 2002-2006 | PERMALINK |
Answering Questions That Nobody Has Asked
One of the most remarkable ways in which the Bush administration and congressional Republicans have deflected questions about the treatment of possible terrorist threats and other disturbing reports by the White House, as well as U.S. defense, intelligence, and security agencies, has been to set up a hedge row of straw men and then topple them with a degree of animosity and hostility not seen in Washington since, oh, around 1973.
Joe Conason, writing in the New York Observer (White House Tries to Evade Questions,” May 23), hits the target: “[T]he Bush administration keeps answering questions that haven’t been asked -- and avoiding questions that must be answered if the nation is to avoid an even worse catastrophe than that of Sept. 11, 2001.”
For all the talk about Rep. Cynthia McKinney (D-Ga.) having said this or that, Conason -- correctly -- argues:
“No serious person has asked whether George W. Bush or his aides knew in advance that terrorists were planning to seize civilian airliners and crash them into the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. And no serious person has suggested that Mr. Bush himself ought to have predicted those specific plans and events.
The reasons for the administration’s adamant opposition to establishing such a commission are numerous and unclear. According to Conason, they include the alleged politicization of national security matters by the Democrats, the potential for intelligence leaks, and the possibility that an inquiry would compromise the government’s ability to prevent another attack.
Of primary interest to many who favor an investigation is the August 6, 2001 Presidential Daily Briefing memo that President Bush read while vacationing in Texas. Vice-President Dick Cheney opposes showing the memo to Congress, which is odd since Cheney, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, National Security Advisor Condoleeza Rice, and White House Press Secretary Ari Fleischer, among others, have described the memo in terms that cast doubt about its probative value.
As Conason puts it, the administration’s position has been that the memo contains nothing other than “vague, nonspecific ‘chatter’” and, according to Vice President Cheney, “old news.”
Conason continues: “It isn’t easy to make sense of the administration’s argument. If that memo was [sic] so inconsequential, then what harm would be done by its release -- with redactions, if necessary? It would only prove that Mr. Bush and Mr. Cheney have been truthful. If it wasn’t inconsequential and vague, then the public needs to know why it was not acted upon.”
As to what the Bush administration fears, if anything, remains conjecture. Conason, citing a recent report in Newsweek (“What Went Wrong” by Michael Hirsh and Michael Isikoff) asserts that “[d]espite repeated warnings from Clinton appointees that dated back to the very first day of the Bush administration, the new President and his super-competent team were simply not terribly interested in that topic until much too late.”
Attorney General John Ashcroft, Newsweek reports, reported denied a request from the F.B.I. to hire hundreds of additional counterintelligence agents, focusing instead of drug-related crimes and pornography. Secretary Rumsfeld was working hardest on a national missile defense system and reportedly denied a request to move $800 million out of that program and into counter-terrorism activities.
“In fact, it was two officials held over from the previous administration – counter-terror chief Richard Clarke and C.I.A. director George Tenet -- who tried to direct the government’s attention to the looming threat from Al Qaeda in the weeks and months before Sept. 11,” writes Conason.
The administration’s rush to question the motives of anyone who asks for an explanation of what may -- or may not be -- the most stunning intelligence failure in American history is unconscionable. And that failure, we believe, will prove to be collective in nature, likely to include members of the Bush and Clinton administrations, high-level appointees, and mid-level careerists from numerous federal agencies.The Rittenhouse Review | Copyright 2002-2006 | PERMALINK |
Sullivan Has a Field Day
“The Daily Dish” at AndrewSullivan.com today serves up what we suppose is intended to be a withering critique of Eric Alterman’s new weblog, Altercation.
Here’s Sullivan from “The Daily Dish” on Alterman:
“The day after a blogger boasts that, unlike the other blogspotters out there, he has editors, he should probably avoid using spellings like ‘incumbant.’ I’d forgive a lone blogger, and I make some spelling errors and typos myself. But then I’m not edited. Can’t the mighty editors at Newsweek or MSNBC spell-check Alterman?”
Yes, that’s Sullivan’s primary critique of Alterman, that he misspelled the word incumbent.
Well, there goes Alterman’s credibility! We’ll have to consider deleting our link to Alterman’s site.
Sullivan’s critique is all the more hilarious given the errors he has made at “The Daily Dish,” many of which have been far more serious than mere misspellings. In fact, there’s a veritable cottage industry of Sullivan-error-spotting; see, for example, MediaWhoresOnline.com, which has taken “The Daily Dish” to task for a multitude of blunders.
Readers may recall that TRR recently caught a glaring error in “The Daily Dish.” (We know we’re being repetitive, we just like saying that: “The Daily Dish,” “The Daily Dish.”)
On May 15 (see archives) we noted that Sullivan mistakenly placed the six-week Israeli siege on one of the holiest shrines of Christianity at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem, rather than the actual location, the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem.
Readers may further recall that after we (and perhaps others) drew Sullivan’s attention to this mistake, the stunted pundit corrected the error without mentioning the incident to his readers.
Thus, while Alterman would have been wise to have deployed better software or a more astute copy editor, Sullivan would do himself a favor by hiring a fact-checker.The Rittenhouse Review | Copyright 2002-2006 | PERMALINK |
Wednesday, May 22, 2002
Michelangelo Signorile Asks, "Why?"
We have been intending to post a link to Michelangelo Signorile’s latest article in the May 20 edition of the New York Press, “Canonizing Pim Fortuyn,” for several days now. Reviewing Signorile's essay again today, we believe it remains among the most considered and insightful we have encountered -- this side of the Atlantic -- since Fortuyn’s assassination.
Signorile’s focus is not on Fortuyn himself, but the lofty status to which he climbed after his death. Signorile is appropriately mystified by the affection shown to Fortuyn by the conservative side of the American media. Suspicious, as he rightly should be, Signorile writes, “The posthumous accolades by some American conservatives have been couched in high-minded concern for civil rights. But underneath, there’s something rotten in Holland.”
Something may be rotten in Holland, but we would add that there’s something rotten in New York as well.
Signorile continues with a prescient analysis of the hypocritical lauds coming from American conservatives for a gay man with an active sex life who advocated the continuation of relaxed laws regarding recreational drugs in the Netherlands.
Our only disappointment with Signorile’s essay is that he failed to bring in the ridiculous -- and altogether too numerous -- comments about Fortuyn made by Andrew Sullivan. But no matter, Signorile gives us much to think about anyway.
“The Wall Street Journal editorial page has taken center stage in the bizarre canonization of the esoteric (to Americans) albeit tragic politician, running several editorials and commentaries about him, all fawning attempts to portray Fortuyn as not so right-wing at all -- and using the fact that Fortuyn was openly gay to prove that point,” writes Signorile.
Next up for well-deserved criticism, recent Catholic convert and aspiring saint Rod Dreher.
“National Review Online’s Rod Dreher…took a break from his intense focus on the crisis in the American Catholic Church to write two columns (!) about the goings-on in the tiny country on the other side of the Atlantic, a nation whose political and cultural demographics are far different from that of the U.S.,” observes Signorile.
With a degree of honesty heretofore unseen in the observations of Dutch politics by American pundits and editorialists, Signorile adds, “I’m not going to split hairs about how Fortuyn should be labeled, nor pretend -- as some of these American conservative writers have -- that I am an expert on Dutch politics.” (On this point TRR would ask why no one pontificating about this issue bothered to: (a) speak with Dutch politicians or political scientists; and/or (b) read any articles in the Dutch press. There are plenty of translation services available on and off the web that, with the help of a desk-side dictionary, can help anyone navigate through a newspaper or magazine article in almost any language.)
Rather, Signorile writes: “[T]he American definitions of right and left do not apply in the Netherlands, and these American conservative pundits know that, though they are playing fast and loose with the terms….In America, right-wing after all usually means antiabortion, antigay and having ‘zero tolerance on drugs.’ But in a country where there isn’t any considerable religious right -- where gay marriage is legal, abortion is not an issue and you can buy weed at the counter in a café -- left and right mean very different things.”
Neither The Wall Street Journal nor National Review have reputations for publishing even the most moderate views on any subject relating to homosexuality. Oddly enough, both outlets have gone so far as to bask in the glow of Fortuyn’s sexuality, a posture thoroughly unwarranted, as Signorile explains:
“[T]rotting out Fortuyn’s homosexuality as proof of anything is relatively meaningless. But it is intensely interesting that American conservatives are doing just that. How weird is it that The Wall Street Journal and…National Review Online -- no bastions of gay rights and libertine sexuality -- would suddenly hold up a slain homosexual politician who reveled in tales about his promiscuous bathhouse jaunts, celebrating precisely that aspect of him?”
NR’s Dreher comes in for substantial -- and well-deserved -- criticism. “It is beyond peculiar that columnist Dreher, who has in recent weeks railed against the ‘lavender mafia’ in the American priesthood and claimed that seminaries have turned into ‘gay brothels,’ is now sanctifying as a ‘martyr’ a man who has flaunted his boyhood gay sex encounters,” writes Signorile. Strange indeed, particularly since Dreher so readily fits the prevailing culture at National Review, one that shivers at the very notion of homosexuality, while carefully neglecting to condemn the most common sins of heterosexuals, namely, infidelity, onanism, and fornication.
According to Signorile, the only way in which the American conservatives’ posthumous devotion to Fortuyn can be explained is by examining the main plank in his party platform, namely, bringing to an end any additional immigration by Muslims.
And he is quite correct on this point. “It seems to me that the conservatives’ interest in legitimizing Fortuyn…is in the service of elevating the entire issue of regulating and barring Arabs and other Muslims, and perhaps even rounding up such people here,” Signorile asserts.
“[S]uddenly, the hyperconservative Wall Street Journal editorial page is holding up someone who, as the editors describe him, wanted ‘to preserve Holland’s liberal traditions’? The Wall Street Journal editorial page is lauding a gay man who took on religious extremists? Gee, quite a few gay men, pundits and politicians alike, have been doing just that for quite some time when it comes to Christian fundamentalists, but they’ve curiously not been lauded by the WSJ editorial page. In fact, the editors have often given their pages over to the religious extremists themselves to do their bashing.
We probably would not have taken the argument as far as Signorile did, but we do believe he has made a critical point, one for which there simply exists no answer. As such, don’t look for a reasonable response to Signorile’s essay in any conservative outlet anytime soon.The Rittenhouse Review | Copyright 2002-2006 | PERMALINK |
Steady Increases, New Record
We are pleased to report that traffic at The Rittenhouse Review continues to grow, with the number of visits, unique visitors, and page views showing a steady uptrend since we began publishing on April 14.
This week, however, we have experienced a surge in visitors and we recorded a record high number of visitors yesterday, May 21.
Now, if Google would stop dropping TRR from its search engine and directory, we could stage a major break-out.
We thank you for your support.The Rittenhouse Review | Copyright 2002-2006 | PERMALINK |
Tuesday, May 21, 2002
TAKES ON SUVs
The Mini is “Cute” and “Cool”
We’re not sure who, if anyone, is falling for Norah Vincent’s latest incarnation as an expert on terrorism and a defender of democracies. We most assuredly are not.
Vincent's new-found conservative (and we suspect disingenuous) positions on abortion, feminism, and the “liberal media bias” have led to a cushy job at the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies (FDD), a right-wing Washington think tank -- though evidence that significant cogitation occurs at the FDD is scant indeed -- and a nationally syndicated column, one we most frequently encounter while reading the Los Angeles Times.
(Note: The FDD was created in the aftermath of the September 11 terrorist attacks on the U.S. The organization, according to its Mission Statement, “conducts research and education on international terrorism -- the most serious security threat to the United States and other free, democratic nations.”)
Vincent’s subject today in defense of democracy and in opposition to global terrorism? Sport Utility Vehicles. Yes, SUVs, a minor matter to which Vincent has attached the weighty title, “A Small Idea Whose Time has Come Again.”
The focus of Vincent’s treatise on SUVs is a vehicle known as the “Mini Cooper,” produced by Bayerische Motoren Werke (BMW) and modeled after the Morris Mini Minor, a British vehicle that found a small following in the 1960s.
The connection between the Mini and terrorism, let alone defending democracies, according to Vincent, is that the original version was developed in response to a minor energy “crisis” in Great Britain following the 1956 Suez War. Thus, and we're on our own here, since the U.S. is facing or may face in the future face another energy crisis in this country -- a point about which Vincent is characteristically vague -- it would behoove Americans to trade down to the Mini, which requires less fuel than the typical SUV. Now, we may be getting this all wrong, since Vincent nowhere connects U.S. national security with the country's consumption of foreign oil, but we’re pretty sure this is where she meant to go with this argument.
Beyond the vague geo-political ramifications of the Mini, we learn from Vincent that the vehicle is “cute” and “cool.” Write the senior fellow at the FDD: “[T]his jazzed-up version of the classic is so, well, cute[.] Now, you may ask yourself how something that costs $16,850 can be considered cute. Remember, we are talking about the funny-looking car British comedian Rowan Atkinson drove as the dorky Mr. Bean. Yes, Minis are comic. But cool? Even Volkswagen’s retro-chic New Beetle, which is cute enough to hug, never quite made it to cool.”
But according to Vincent, the Mini is “cool.” By way of evidence, she reports that a prospective buyer of the S series of the vehicle will have to wait anywhere from six to eight months. And it looks nice. “When you [sic] look at the vaguely Barbarella interior -- all-leather with a few bulbous thingamajigs [Ed.: Huh?] -- you [sic] feel sure that an absurdly gadgeted version of this toaster will be featured in the next James Bond film,” Vincent asserts. “Or maybe Austin Powers,” she adds, presumably for yuks.
What’s behind the alleged popularity of the Mini? Vincent responds -- with some of the most tortured syntax we have encountered since, well, the seventh grade -- as such: “Well, first off, Minis did used to be hip among a certain crowd. John Lennon, Peter Sellers and Twiggy all drove them, and Mary Quant named her famous skirt after them[.]” A major selling point, this, particularly among the coveted 21-35-year-old set, of which we would guess something less than 10 percent could identify all four of the “cool” Brits Vincent cites.
Taking the matter a step further -- by which we mean, far, far off the deep end -- Vincent adds, “[W]e’ve always been slaves to Anglophilic fashion. Think of it as British invasion redux.”
Speak for yourself, Miss Vincent. “Anglophilic fashion” is a phrase that is not only ungrammatical but, were it corrected, also an oxymoron, and an obvious one at that. Moreover, we had hoped the last of the British cultural invasions -- that which brought to American shores the allegedly brilliant editorial talents of, among others, Tina Brown, Harold Evans, James Truman, Anna Wintour, John O’Sullivan, Mark Steyn, Andrew Sullivan, and the late Liz Tilberis -- was behind us. (We list Tilberis only for purposes of illustration. Among the lot, Tilberis by far was the most gifted, the most elegant, the classiest, and the most praiseworthy.)
Vincent is under the impression that aging baby boomers will take to the Mini, an opinion that betrays complete ignorance of the auto-buying habits of Americans. “The boomers are squarely in the midst of their midlife crises,” offers Vincent, arriving at this remarkable conclusion about six or seven years after the fact. “What could be more appropriate?”
Well, now that the baby-boomers are moving beyond the mid-life crises into which Vincent has ignorantly placed them, we think a large four-door sedan with a smooth ride would be more appropriate, this being the preferred mode of transportation of the 50-plus and, even more so, the 60-plus crowd of mature drivers.
“You [sic] can imagine enviro-friendly [sic] Bill Clinton driving one of these with Buddy II in the passenger seat, head thrust ecstatically out the window, canine cheeks flapping in the breeze,” adds Vincent. “Now just pipe in the Moody Blues and you’ve [sic] got yourself [sic] a multimillion-dollar ad campaign for the Democratic National Committee,” she concludes, in a stream of consciousness for which we would welcome clarification.
Like most of Vincent’s essays, this latest endeavor is an embarrassment. An embarrassment to Vincent herself, the Jewish World Review (the web site of which is carrying the article), the Los Angeles Times, which runs Vincent’s copy with astonishing frequency, and whatever other outlets have been duped into accepting her junk.
Judith Lewis, writing in the LA Weekly in early March of this year, beat us to this perfectly adept observation: “Vincent writes…with all the depth and originality of a high school newspaper’s gossip column. And yet she commands frequent space in one of the nation’s largest urban daily newspapers, the Los Angeles Times.”
We will not rest until this absurdity is corrected.The Rittenhouse Review | Copyright 2002-2006 | PERMALINK |
"I can figure out what I should be thinking
about the Church scandal myself."
This evening we received a letter from a reader in response to our posting earlier today, "Thinking About the Challenges Facing the Catholic Church." We greatly appreciate the reader having taken the time to share her opinions with us. [Ed.: The letter has been edited for clarity.]
To The Rittenhouse Review:
I came to your web site after reading your comments at AntiWar.com. I decided to take a look at The Rittenhouse Review, and I must say that I am quite concerned by what you deem to be appropriate and inappropriate thinking with respect to the current scandal facing the Catholic church.
The two articles that were posted as examples of appropriate ways to think about the crisis were very short, made no reference to the details about the alleged criminal acts, and were mainstream, politically correct, and liberally pacifistic. While the two articles that questioned the crimes and those who perpetrated them were very well written, detailed, and questioned why the mainstream media did not identify the sexual orientation of those who allegedly perpetrated the crimes.
The first two articles didn't challenge my way of thinking and didn't include any supporting evidence to believe that homosexuals and those who committed the sexual abuses were not one and the same men. The second set of articles, however, gave a lot more evidence that the homosexuals in the Church were indeed those that perpetrated sexual crimes against young men, and not against young women.
That you would have people take the liberal view without supporting documentation is very disturbing in that you provide no information about what actually occurred in the Boston parishes. As a reasonably intelligent person, the first question I would pose is, "Who are these people that would commit these crimes?" and I want to know more than just "Catholic priests."
Your answers are "Oh it could be anyone but not the gay priests because everyone knows the majority of pederasts are not gay but only heterosexuals that commit power crimes." Yet I have seen more than enough news stories (parental concerns, etc.) that hint at the homosexual orientation of these priests to glimpse an understanding that the majority of the priests committing these crimes were homosexually oriented committing crimes on adolescent boys and not girls.
Please focus more on the facts and less on the editorials of these stories. I would be more interested to know exactly who were the people accused and what was their sexual orientation, then I can figure out what I should be thinking about the Church scandal myself without you having to tell me "think this way and not that way."
The Rittenhouse Review responds:
We appreciate your taking the time to share your views with The Rittenhouse Review.
First, we would point out that the two articles we noted approvingly were published on the op-ed pages of the Philadelphia Inquirer, a major metropolitan daily newspaper. As such, the space available for the authors was constrained by the lack of space available. We are certain that Colbert (whose essay ran 642 words), as well as Dubé and Rostain (whose jointly authored articled ran to 705 words) have a great deal more to say about the subjects they discussed in today's paper.
By contrast, Dreher and Kurtz wrote their essays for a National Review, a combination web site-magazine that takes advantage of two media that permit considerably greater exposition on the subject at hand. For the record, Dreher's article was 1,037 words, while Kurtz went on -- and on and on -- for 2,525 words. Had the Inquirer been able to provide its contributors with similar space and latitude, we suspect your reaction would have been at least somewhat different from that which you present in your letter.
Your letter takes issue with the fact that we referred our readers to editorials rather than news stories that would contain the necessary facts to help readers make their own decisions about the challenges facing the Catholic church today
We emphasize that TRR is a journal of opinion and that we believe the major metropolitan dailies, in particular the Boston Herald, the Boston Globe, the New York Times, the Philadelphia Inquirer, the Chicago Tribune, and the Los Angeles Times, together with such outlets as the National Catholic Reporter and numerous diocesan publications, have done an admirable job of keeping readers very well informed about the facts of the matter at hand.
This simply is not our task. We assume our readers are familiar with at least some of the facts surrounding any issue that we discuss and therefore are inclined to move straight to commentary, critique, and analysis.
To be honest, we are not surprised to learn that the essays in today's Inquirer didn't challenge your "way of thinking." In fact, your letter indicates that you possess deeply ingrained opinions about the issues under discussion, leading us to wonder what, if anything, might "challenge," let alone change, your "way of thinking." That is, by the way, perfectly fine with us.
Your assertion that "the media" has ignored the issue of the actual and presumed sexual orientation of the members of the clergy accused or convicted of molestation is ludicrous on its face. There is not a single national or regional newspaper in this country that we have reviewed on this matter -- and we can assure you we check dozens of papers each day -- has avoided the issue of sexual orientation. The same holds true of magazines, newsletters, and journals, whether of a conservative, moderate, liberal, or indeterminate orientation.
Indeed, the two articles to which we linked from National Review devote considerable attention to the issue of priestly sexual orientation, thereby belying your assertion. Now, we cannot know what newspapers, if any, you read on a regular basis, but if you haven't read "gay this" or "gay that" with respect to this controversy we suggest you expand your reading list.
In fact, we can't help but wonder whether you actually read the Inquirer essays. You maintain that the authors of those pieces "didn't include any supporting evidence to believe that homosexuals and those who committed the sexual abuses were not one and the same men."
This is an odd statement given that the article by Dubé and Rostain states specifically that "there is no link between same-sex sexual orientation (homosexuality), and sexual gratification with young children;" that individuals afflicted by pedophilia and ephebophilia "are generally heterosexual men -- sexual predators who seek out vulnerable victims, usually young girls, for the satisfaction of their own needs;" and that "[t]ypically, abusers of children and adolescents are not gay men. In fact, gay men and lesbian women are involved in fewer than one percent of all reported sexual abuse cases. Both the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatrists and the American Psychiatric Association have issued policy statements to that effect."
We are, frankly, amused to hear ourselves chastised for encouraging communicants to "take the liberal view." Just to clue you in, the editor's Catholicism is of a very orthodox and traditional variety, albeit with the eccentricities expected of any thinking person.
He would be willing to go one-on-one with you -- or with National Review's Dreher, who has been a Catholic for all of nine years, or NR's Kurtz, who is not Catholic, but Jewish -- regarding the intricacies of the catechism, the history of the church, the biographies of saints, the magisterium, and the devotions and other traditions that previously formed the basis of this once-great church.
Finally, we feel compelled to mention that our use of the phrases "How to think" and "How not to think" were not intended to be authoritarian diktats, but rather reflections of our own positions on the challenges facing the church today. Naturally, readers are free to draw their own conclusions.The Rittenhouse Review | Copyright 2002-2006 | PERMALINK |
Here's how to think about the challenges currently facing the Catholic church:
"Why [the] Church's Hard Words?"
"Pedophilia, Gays, and the Church"
Here's how not to think about the challenges currently facing the Catholic church:
"Gay Priests and Gay Marriage"
"Andrew Sullivan's Gay Problem. And Mine."
DOESN'T WANT YOU TO READ
Three News Articles Deleted at Lucianne.com
If there is anyone out there naive enough to think -- as we did -- that Lucianne.com provides an open forum for discussing the issues of the day, they are sorely mistaken.
Lucianne.com is a web site operated by, or at the very least operated under the aegis of, Lucianne Goldberg. If readers don't recall the name, we remind you that Goldberg is the close buddy of wire-tapper and world's-worst-friend Linda Tripp, and easily the most horrid woman on the Upper West Side -- at least since Midge Decter, along with husband and fellow neoconservative crank Norman Podhoretz, moved to the East Side.
Now, Lucianne.com has rules regarding what news articles can and cannot be posted, which we reprint below:
"Lucianne.com is a NEWS site. Please post news articles, columns and comment from legitimate on-line newspapers, magazines or news sites only. We prefer articles no older than one day unless an older article would serve as vital background or inform a current posted article.
The banishment of AntiWar.com strikes us as more than a little strange, and indeed, inexplicable, but we digress.
This morning we posted three bona fide news stories at Lucianne.com. Within 10 minutes, each of the stories was deleted from the vanity site of the literary agent provacateur and mumeleh to National Review Online "editor" Jonah Goldberg.
Since Goldberg has suppressed these articles, we share them with you here.
"I sniff some politics," by Howard Fineman in Newsweek.
"Hiding Behind a Veil of Executive Privilege," by Robert Scheer in the Los Angeles Times.
And "Ashcroft drawn into row over September 11," by Julian Borger in The Guardian."
If readers can determine which of Luci's rules these articles violated, we would welcome the edification. Otherwise we will be left with the impression that Goldberg capriciously refuses to allow posts that violate the party line.The Rittenhouse Review | Copyright 2002-2006 | PERMALINK |
Eric Alterman Launching Weblog at MSNBC.com
"Blog; Blogorrhea. Blogosphere. Blogistan. Blogdex. Blogrolling. Warblogging; Where it will all end, knows God! I wish someone had gotten to the naming committee before this whole movement got rolling," writes Eric Alterman in the introduction to Altercation, the weblog he is launching with the support of MSNBC.com.
Alterman appears to be moving to the new medium with a mixture of eagerness and trepidation, a combination of sentiments with which we emphathize.
The endeavor is, in some respects, surprising, given Alterman's past criticism of weblogs. In self-defense, however, he writes:
"[M]y alleged anti-blog comments have gotten a bad rap. Norah Vincent, writing in the LA Times, and my friend Judith Shulevitz, writing in the New York Times Book Review, along with approximately a zillion other people, have seized on my criticism of the 'narcissistic egocentricity' of andrewsullivan.com as a knock on all blogs. It is not.
What to expect from Altercation:
"[A]ll I can promise you is that it will reflect my obsessions: with the actually conservative leanings of the so-called 'liberal media'; with the self-satisfied stupidity of the so much of the punditocracy; with the appalling lack of historical, economic, and sociological context of even the best U.S. reporting; with the never-ending wimpiness of the Democrats, with the perennially self-defeating obsession with holier-than-thou moral purity of so much of the Left; with the amazingly insane views regularly put forth by the Congressional Republican leadership and certain members of the Bush Administration (Thanks, Ralph); with the musical greatness of Bruce Springsteen; and with lots of movies, music, plays, etc, so I can keep up the flow of free stuff."
What not to expect from Altercation:
"As God is my witness, however, I promise never to write about anything that happens my bathroom, my dinners with 'Hitch,' and in the extremely unlikely event they ever happen, my car dates with Drudge."
And with that vow not to mime the onanistic discharges for which Andrew Sullivan has become notorious, we eagerly anticipate the full roll-out of Altercation. Alterman's is a much needed voice on the web.The Rittenhouse Review | Copyright 2002-2006 | PERMALINK |
The Authoritarian Censorship at Lucianne.com
We alert our readers to a developing story, namely the authoritarian -- or more aptly, totalitarian -- censorship that occurs on an ongoing basis at the web site of chain-smoking, perpetually kvetching, political operative and Misskayt, Lucianne Goldberg.
Die Goldberg's site, www.lucianne.com, which she refers to as "lucianne.com" -- Can you just picture the precious heart this dreadful hag uses in place of the dot over the "i"? -- appears to have banned any postings of articles or comments from The Rittenhouse Review or anyone associated with this highly regarded journal.
For someone who asserts to be using the Internet as a way to promote the free interchange of ideas -- despite her reputation as a Shtinker extraordinaire -- this is indeed a strange position in which to find die Goldberg. Then again, her previous notoriety -- despite her alleged profession as a "literary agent" -- was limited to encouraging the illegal taping of interstate telephone conversations and producing slimy progeny such as her politically incentuous and nebbische Sohn, Jonah, little known outside a few very small circles as the Shlemiel who "edits" the web site of William F. Buckley Jr.'s National Review.
For those not in the know -- and you should count yourselves fortunate -- Jonah, die Goldberg's Boytchik, is a Schmuck and Pisher of the nudick persuasion, a Jungend who would fit in better at a comic-book convention than any political dinner party we have attended. This is, after all, a man who saw both "Spider Man" and the latest "Star Wars" flick at the earliest available opportunity. We refrain from relaying the details of our latest weekend activities, but we can assure you they were far more interesting than those of this former Audio-Visual Club president.
For reasons unclear to us, Messrs. Buckley and Rich Lowry, the latter the latest editor of NR, the magazine, overlooking Jonah's bona fides as a certifiable Zhlub, are, by any reasonable account, leaving the web site, which assuredly reaches more readers than the insufferable magazine to which they are attached, in the hands of a rank amateur. Whether Buckley, as he approaches old age, realizes this or not, the magazine he created some 50 years has placed its most important outlet under the direction of a schlumpy dork who is more interested in Tinker Toys and Erector sets than the tinkering and dickering that preoccupies the typical American man of Goldberg's age.
We mention here that this is a story in progress. We have asked die Goldberg to explain her site's capricious whims, but we have yet to hear from the Paskudnyak, the very sight of whom drives us to reach for the double-strength Maalox stashed in our bottom drawer.
In the meantime, we ask that readers continue to post articles from The Rittenhouse Review at lucianne.com and, if their postings are not published or are deleted after publishing, to ask die Bubele what purpose her web site is intended to serve.The Rittenhouse Review | Copyright 2002-2006 | PERMALINK |
Monday, May 20, 2002
Is it a List or a Party?
The Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung is carrying on its web site an excellent essay, dated May 17, about the fall-out from the success at the polls of List Pim Fortuyn, the Dutch political organization created by Pim Fortuyn, the reportedly charismatic politican who was assassinated, allegedly by an extreme "animal rights" activist, on May 6.
Not without reason, author Ernst Levy expresses some skepticism about the viability of the List in his essay, entitled, "Soldiers of Fortuyn."
Although Levy makes no reference to the reaction of American political commentators to the success of the List and Fortuyn's assassination, his comments warrant notice, if only because those in the U.S. who have been most vocal (and fawning in their praise) about the Fortuyn phenomenon, including The Wall Street Journal, NationalReviewOnline.com, and Andrew Sullivan (by way of something called "The Daily Dish" at andrewsullivan.com), so painfully and embarrassingly display scant knowledge of Dutch culture and politics. We would add, however, that such ignorance in the past has not stopped this same right-wing trioika -- under the leadership of Robert Bartley, Jonah Golberg (son of the notorious Lucianne Goldberg, this time with help from newly Catholic obsessive Rod Dreher), and Sullivan, respectively -- from wielding verbal bats and bricks against a wide variety of political opponents.
"Fortuyn's talent for rhetoric, his bearing and his charisma made him attractive to many voters and to the media," writes Levy, without mentioning the fawning treatment he received here in the U.S. "The issues he addressed, and the language he used, gave many people the impression that someone was finally listening to their primary concerns. And what Fortuyn offered as a quick fix to these problems did not seem fully implausible," asserts Levy, stopping short of calling Fortuyn a manipulative demagogue.
In a not uncommon phenomenon, Fortuyn has grown since his untimely and tragic demise: "After his death, Fortuyn became a cult figure in the Netherlands, a political saint and a powerful symbol of freedom of speech," writes Levy.
One can only wonder what the election's outcome would signify had Fortuyn not been assassinated. Without the eponymous leader, the List appears to be adrift, to say the least.
"Even his followers and supporters were surprised at the strength of the final vote tally. The party that promised to continue its founder's strategies and work for change now faces enormous challenges -- as does the Dutch political establishment for that matter. Now that List Pim Fortuyn is the second strongest party in parliament, the actual winners of the election -- the Christian Democratic Appeal with its leader Jan Peter Balkenende -- will hardly be able to avoid taking the new political constellation into account when putting together a government coalition. The success of List Pim Fortuyn was above all a signal to the political establishment. Excluding List Pim Fortuyn from government would mean ignoring voters' desire for change, which contributed to the success of the Christian Democrats."
We believe the List faces enormous challenges in transforming itself from a movement into a viable and enduring political party in the absence of Fortuyn. In fact, we are willing to wager that the organization will fade into the background within a year at best.
"List Pim Fortuyn, for its part, needs to clarify what is meant when its members say they are committed to Fortuyn's ideas or agenda. To participate in a governing coalition, the party must establish genuine political goals and prove itself capable of assuming political responsibility." says Levy.
That's an enormous task, one the List couldn't pull off while Fortuyn was among the quick. We're not optimistic the List will find its way without Pim.The Rittenhouse Review | Copyright 2002-2006 | PERMALINK |
Prime Minister Sharon Has a Better Grasp on Reality
It’s interesting that we find some of the most thoughtful and provocative discussions of Middle East politics not in America’s leading metropolitan newspapers but in this country’s preeminent Jewish publications and in the Israel press. Ideas are presented and debated in these outlets that are anathema to most pundits writing about the conflict today. The narrow range of views expressed on the op-ed pages and political talk shows, along with the stifling of constructive debate in Congress, continue to inflict damage on American foreign policy.
And so we turn to the latest issue of the Forward, which has a thoughtful essay by Eric Yoffie, president of the Union of American Hebrew Congregations, “Undermining Israel, With No Alternatives.”
Yoffie takes Benjamin Netanyahu to task for his recent address to the Likud Party’s Central Committee, the speech in which he asked the party to affirm that a Palestinian state would never be established west of the Jordan River.
“[Netanyahu] declared that it was not his intention to undermine Prime Minister Sharon, but he was fully aware that if the resolution passed -- and it did -- the result would be not only to humiliate Sharon and advance Netanyahu’s own candidacy for party leadership, but also to cause significant damage to Israel’s diplomatic standing. At a critical moment in Israel’s history, with its citizenry reeling from continuous terrorism, Netanyahu chose opportunism over leadership and personal ambition over the well-being of the Jewish state. [Ed.: Emphasis added.]
Yoffie clearly is pained by the present state of political discourse in Israel, which he asserts is characterized as “a bizarre dissonance.” It could hardly be otherwise given the security dilemmas Israel faces, and on this we sympathize, conceding that even after the attacks of September 11, we can barely comprehend the fear, distrust, and insecurity that prevails through the region.
Yoffie’s analysis of the divergent views held by Israelis is intelligent and nuanced. A majority, he writes, support forcibly transferring the Palestinians out of greater Israel, but a majority also support dismantling the West Bank settlements should that be required to reach a peace agreement. “They demand a strong hand against Palestinian terrorism while expressing sympathy for the Saudi peace plan,” he adds.
“Weary of the killing, Israelis seem intent on getting tough with the murderers while searching for any means possible to be rid of their presence,” Yoffie continues.
“In this atmosphere, demagogues might easily exploit popular ambivalence to offer simplistic solutions that compromise Israel’s fundamental values. Fortunately, Israel’s political leadership has largely avoided such temptations -- until now,” he observes, referring to Netanyahu’s central committee speech.
According to Yoffie, neither Sharon nor Netanyahu has ever been an enthusiastic advocate of a Palestinian state, but to his credit, Sharon understands that adopting a position against such an entity would be “disastrous for Israel.”
“Confronted by the Netanyahu challenge, Sharon passed an important test of leadership: He was prepared to stand by his convictions even if it meant paying a significant political price,” Yoffie writes. “But not only Sharon has paid a price; Israel has as well.”
Yoffie points out that the committee vote “has raised legitimate questions about the government’s intentions” and that the Palestinians have been given a public relations gift. “More important, it has embarrassed the Bush administration, which is firmly committed to a two-state solution....Netanyahu, who knows the United States well, is well aware that his resolution has the potential to distance Israel from its most important ally,” maintains Yoffie.
Netanyahu’s failure of leadership is most evident in his failure to put forth an alternative to a sovereign Palestinian state. Yoffie also reminds us that former Prime Minister Menachem Begin’s position -- “an autonomy plan that fell short of statehood” -- was accompanied by the recognition that his stance would require that Palestinians be offered Israeli citizenship. One can only imagine the reaction if Begin were alive and put forward this plan today.
“If the possibility of a Palestinian state is to be excluded, as Netanyahu proposed, the only option that remains is some form of permanent occupation,” argues Yoffie. “In short, rejecting a Palestinian state means rejecting the democratic values that are the foundation of Zionism.”
“By trying to outflank the prime minister on the right and promote his own candidacy at all costs, Netanyahu has exploited Israel’s vulnerability, compromised her message and weakened her position in the United States and the world,” concludes Yoffie.
One can’t help be feel sad, frustrated, and angered by this blatant display of short-sighted intransigence.The Rittenhouse Review | Copyright 2002-2006 | PERMALINK |
Sunday, May 19, 2002
Alien Lacks Basic Grasp of American Democracy
As we approach Monday morning, May 20, we wait with great anticipation the words and wisdom of Andrew Sullivan, the Bush administration toady who has yet to lift himself from the servile crouching position into which he placed himself on or about September 11, 2001.
As of Sullivan's latest postings on "The Daily Dish" (Are we the only people who find this title trite, hackneyed, and pedestrian?) at andrewsullivan.com, which date back to Friday, May 17 (The weekend off...Demands of the theatre, don't you know?), this soi-disant critic was acting more like the President's press secretary than anything resembling a journalist.
The sycophantic Sullivan was last seen brushing off any questions about the failure of the Bush administration and its appointees at the National Security Council, the Central Intelligence Agency, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the National Security Agency, the National Intelligence Council, the President's Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board, and others with a dismissive tsk-tsk.
Under the heading "What Did Bush Know??" [Ed.: The double question marks are Sullivan's.], Sullivan had this to say:
"Several of you have written me asking why I haven't jumped on the story that president Bush was told of threats of al Qaeda hijackings before September 11. The reason is simple: it's not a story. So far as I can tell, there were no specific threats, no suggestion of commandeering planes to use as missiles, nothng [sic] that could be differentiated from any number of such warnings before or since....The real story here is the press's (and the Democrats') need for a story about the war to change the climate of support for the [P]resident." [Ed.: Emphasis added.]
Well, that puts the matter to rest, doesn't it?
Not in our opinion. And there's more, but it doesn't get any better.
"But I defer to Rummy [Ed.: Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld] on Rush [Ed.: Blowhard radio hack Rush Limbaugh] yesterday: 'Limbaugh: You've got a limited amount of time. Let me just get into a couple of things real quick. Could you first give us your take on the controversy that erupted last night with this leak to CBS over the lack of information, or the information that came in, the supposedly lack of action following it concerning the terrorist attack September 11th?'
We can barely make heads or tails of "Rummy"'s remarks and yet Sullivan takes them at face value. His knee-jerk acceptance of the party line out of the Pentagon is as sad as it is desperate:
"Ah, they say, but if this had been [P]resident Clinton, you would have jumped on it. Nu-huh. My point about Clinton was his record of eight years of not taking al Qaeda seriously as a real threat to this country and the world. Bush deserves criticism on this score as well, except that he ordered a real review of our efforts and was on the verge of transforming our policies against terror on the eve of September 11. [Ed.: Emphasis added.]
In response to this outrageous statement we ask: Details, please? What, exactly, was the Bush administration planning to do on September 10 or September 11 or September 12 that would have dramatically changed American foreign, defense, and anti-terrorist policy in response to the apparently non-existent threat from Al-Queda and the merely general possibility of a hijacking asserted by "Rummy"?
Sullivan, displaying an extraordinary degree of vapidity, defends Bush et al. with these supposedly rhetorical, yet easily answerable, questions:
"What exactly should Bush have done with this vague information at the time? Shut down the airports? Even then, the use of mere box-cutters to use as hijacking weapons was not anticipated. This is a non-story. It's being used by some to try and [sic] get some leverage against the massive support this [P]resident rightly has [sic] for his conduct of the war so far. It's pathetic." [Ed.: Emphasis added.]
A "non-story," says Sullivan.
If ever there were doubts that Sullivan has the journalistic instincts of a gerbil, this truly settles the matter.
Is it pathetic for American citizens to question whether the federal government -- the Bush administration -- had prior warning of the possibility of a terrorist attack resembling that which occurred on September 11?
To dare ask whether the federal government -- the Bush administration -- did everything it could to prevent such an attack?
To inquire as to what the federal government -- the Bush administration -- knew and when members thereof knew it?
Now, we know that Sullivan is an alien of some sort or another. And we know that the country from which the stunted commentator hails has no Bill of Rights. But we would have thought that his hanging around and leeching off the American media and the gullible American public for the last, oh, 15 or 20 years, might have sparked at least a modicum of appreciation for the founding principles of American democracy.
Alas, on this score, we were wrong.
We eagerly await Sullivan's spin.
[Ed.: This article was edited on Monday, May 20, to correct several typos and an error in diction.]The Rittenhouse Review | Copyright 2002-2006 | PERMALINK |
"TRR" From TRR
Below are links to several recent articles on the web that The Reading Room recommends to readers of The Rittenhouse Review.
"A Bad Call"
"Bush Knew of Terrorist Plot to Hijack U.S. Planes"
"Clues Pointed to Changing Terrorist Tactics"
"A Surge in Al Qaeda Messages"
"FBI Memo's Details Raise New Questions"
"An Unholy Alliance in Support of Israel"
"I Criticize Israel Because I Am Jewish"
"Time for an Investigation"
"Crisis for American Jews"
"Hitler is Dead: Against Ethnic Panic"
Saturday, May 18, 2002
Larry Kudlow, Jim Cramer Chat Up Ted Nugent
There truly is nothing sadder than watching aging baby-boomers trying to prove they're still cool by interviewing, well, aging baby-boomer rock stars.
Nugent, for those not aware, is, in Cramer's words, "a rock-and-roll legend, "[a] maverick," "the music world's most controversial and contradictory performer," "an outdoorsman," "an avid hunter," "a master marksman," "a writer," "a publisher," "a director of the National Rifle Association," "an anti-drug activist," and "an outspoken advocate for personal freedom."
Amazing. We thought Nugent was just another has-been.
The transcript is a painful read, almost an all-male version of "The View," with the guys chatting about such pressing issues as gun control, hunting, President Bush, Ozzy Osbourne, Janet Reno, and Nugent's new cookbook, Kill It and Grill It.
You've been warned.The Rittenhouse Review | Copyright 2002-2006 | PERMALINK |