Tuesday, September 30, 2003
Andrew Sullivan, the Bears, and the Village Idiot
You know, if I wrote a 2,100-word essay extolling the virtues of a predominantly blue-collar gay subculture, including a paean of praise to hairy backs, beer guts, and televised sports -- along with the obligatory quotes from Philadelphia’s very own village idiot, Camille Paglia -- and soon thereafter saw an article in the New York Times addressing the sudden appreciation of hipster-wannabes for low-down white trash culture, I might be pretty embarrassed too.The Rittenhouse Review | Copyright 2002-2006 | PERMALINK |
President Bush and Whoopee Cushion Humor
Thanks to Beth Gillin and her “Newsmakers” round-up in today’s Philadelphia Inquirer for the reminder that Lloyd Grove, former gossip columnist for the Washington Post and an old favorite with the Rittenhouse set, made his New York debut in the Daily News yesterday.
Advance word in the Sunday New York Times (“For New Gossip in Town, Buzz and Drawn Daggers”) was mixed. Reporter Jacques Steinberg wrote, “The knives are already out for Lloyd Grove.” And while Steinberg’s story included a favorable quote from Cindy Adams, a somewhat grudging welcome from fellow Daily News gossip George Rush, and a valiant attempt to assign a smidge of wit in Grove’s persona, he added a barb or two from MSNBC’s Jeannette Walls and a subtle jab from Liz Smith.
Grove’s debut column, entitled “The Bush Family Laff Riot,” begins with a story about Jonathan J. Bush -- uncle of Bush II, brother of Bush I -- and his penchant for “remote-control fart machines.”
Ever the consummate professional, Grove nabbed this juicy morsel about the president of the U.S. and leader of the free world from first cousin Jonathan S. Bush: “George was a great one for whoopee cushions when he was a drinking man and a cutup, but I’d be surprised if he was into that sort of thing anymore.”
Wonder what he’s talking about. The whoopee cushions or the drinking?
And from there, readers, it’s all down hill.The Rittenhouse Review | Copyright 2002-2006 | PERMALINK |
Together With Miscellany
It’s official. The Justice Department this morning launched a full-scale criminal investigation into the Bush White House’s involvement in the exposure of a CIA officer . . . CNN’s Tucker Carlson calls the gang at Fox News “a mean, sick group of people.” [Post-publication insertion: Read a reminiscence about Carlson from Charles Pierce, posted today at Eric Alterman’s Altercation] . . . Richard Cohen wonders about Arnold Schwarzenegger’s self-respect (Pull quote: “Either he did what he said, which is disgusting and unmanly, or he made it up, which is disgusting and unmanly.” Bonus celebrity references: “Nowadays we have the pathetic examples of Ben Affleck, who is often dressed like a homeless person, and his on-and-off-again fiancée, the tawdry Jennifer Lopez.”) . . . California Republicans endorse Schwarzenegger . . . Are you better off than you were two years ago? . . . Are your family and neighbors and the strangers across town? . . . Sen. Robert Graham (D-Fla.) goes on the offensive in his presidential campaign . . . Cashing in: “A group of businessmen linked by their close ties to President Bush, his family and his administration have set up a consulting firm to advise companies that want to do business in Iraq, including those seeking pieces of taxpayer-financed reconstruction projects.” Just one group? . . . Joe Queenan gets all snotty and stuff about how great New York is.The Rittenhouse Review | Copyright 2002-2006 | PERMALINK |
The Michael Savage of Football Gets Hammered in Philly
Just wondering . . . How’s this story playing outside of Philadelphia?
Rush Limbaugh, ESPN, Sunday, September 28, assessing the talents of Philadelphia Eagles starting quarterback Donovan McNabb:
I think the sum total of what you’re all saying is that Donovan McNabb is regressing, he’s going backwards. And . . . I’m sorry to say this, I don’t think he’s been that good from the get-go.
I think what we’ve had here is a little social concern in the NFL. I think the media has been very desirous that a black quarterback do well. They’re interested in black coaches and black quarterbacks doing well; I think there is a little hope invested in McNabb, and he got a lot of credit for the performance of his team that he really didn’t deserve. The defense carried this team.
I think he got a lot of credit for the defensive side of the ball winning games for this team.
McNabb responds (“McNabb Disregards Rush’s Idiocy,” Philadelphia Daily News):
It’s sad that you’ve got to go to skin color. I thought we were through with that whole deal.
Eagles coach Andy Reid declines to respond directly to Limbaugh’s remarks, and says (same article):
I trust Donovan’s talents and his contributions to Philadelphia.
Former Eagles receiver, now a radio analyst, Mike Quick, responds (same article):
When “Jimmy the Greek” had his comments that got him ousted, I think this comment is even worse than that. I think we’ve progressed. . . . Rush Limbaugh is a right-wing bigot who shouldn’t even be doing football.
Les Bowen of the Philadelphia Daily News responds (same article):
The world must look a whole lot different, when you have your head firmly lodged in your hindquarters. That’s the only explanation I can figure for Rush Limbaugh’s ugly insinuations during Sunday’s pregame show on ESPN, when Limbaugh blithely smeared the accomplishments of Eagles quarterback Donovan McNabb, suggesting that McNabb gets more credit than he deserves because he is black.
Rich Hoffmann of the Philadelphia Daily News responds (“So Now He’s a Color Analyst, Too”):
A short argument ensued on the ESPN set -- that’s why Limbaugh is there, to start short arguments -- but it was a football argument and nothing more. Limbaugh’s black-quarterback comments were ignored. His easy dismissal of everything that McNabb has accomplished was not challenged. His cavalier, hurtful words were left to sit there and sting. On the central issue, nobody took the bully on.
And so, on national television, McNabb was allowed to be reduced to a stereotype once again. He lives, he breathes, he quarterbacks -- but it has never been that simple for Donovan McNabb and you wonder if it ever will be. […]
If you took 5 minutes to look at the statistics and to study the history of the game, you would see that McNabb is for real. After 2 years as a starter . . . McNabb’s numbers absolutely blew away the early numbers put up by guys to whom he is often compared, guys like Brett Favre and John Elway. The stats aren’t even close. […]
[T]he notion that the media somehow had to invent McNabb’s excellence because it needed a black quarterback to portray as successful just mocks the reality of the NFL in 2003. […]
At one point Sunday, ESPN’s Tom Jackson said that the Eagles have made their big-money investment in McNabb and have to stick with him. Limbaugh replied, “I’m saying that it’s a good investment. Don’t misunderstand. I just don’t think he’s as good as everybody said he has been.” But if you disagree, if you think McNabb is a better player than Limbaugh does, he says it must be because you are somehow blinded by the color of McNabb’s skin.
With that, you can only wonder about what’s sadder: that Rush Limbaugh insists on living in such a world, or that he insists on dragging Donovan McNabb into it with him.
Phil Sheridan of the Philadelphia Inquirer responds (“Penalize Rush for Illegal Use of the Mouth”):
The sick thing is, this is exactly what ESPN had in mind when the all-sports network hired veteran provocateur Rush Limbaugh for its Sunday NFL pregame show. You can imagine the meeting. The ESPN bigwigs must have needed drool cups to handle the runoff when they discussed the controversy Limbaugh would generate.
Well, here it is. Just be advised, ESPN, that you’re not fooling anyone. You brought this tired act out of his radio closet, where he rants to people who already agree with him, to stir things up. Prepare to get spattered. […]
Here’s your mistake, Rush. You stepped out of your radio comfort zone, where “Dittoheads” either echo your twisted view of America or you can cut them off. You stepped into a place where your bluff -- and that’s all it ever has been -- is easily called.
The only thing tough about this is deciding where to begin. How about with “the media”?
Conservative sleight-of-hand artists like Limbaugh love to use the label “the media" (alternately “the liberal media”) as a kind of blanket insult. Well, guess what, Rush? You’ve got a nationally syndicated radio show. You have your own Web site. You had a national TV show. Now you’re on ESPN every Sunday morning.
Was that slow enough for you to grasp? You are the media. […]
As you can see, the story’s not playing so well here in Philadelphia.The Rittenhouse Review | Copyright 2002-2006 | PERMALINK |
“Victory is in Sight”
When the going gets tough, the Republican faithful can always count on a morale-boosting missive from the party’s most loyal columnist, Fred Barnes. In today’s Wall Street Journal Barnes dismisses any talk that President George W. Bush is “vulnerable” because of his recent slide in public opinion polls. (“Who’s Vulnerable?” [Subscription required.])
“A more accurate word for President Bush's political condition is ‘normal,’” Barnes writes. “Mr. Bush has slumped in his third year in office just as most recent presidents have. A slump is the rule, not the exception.” About this Barnes is correct, particularly with respect to recent history, but in his zeal to promote the Republicans’ retention of the White House, he offers leaps of faith so wide and long as to make the parting of the Red Sea look like a card trick.
“For President Bush,” Barnes explains, “the glow from enacting his major initiatives (tax cuts, education reform) has faded.” Education reform? Must have missed that one. “The economy is soft. His foreign policy, especially in postwar Iraq, has become controversial,” Barnes adds. Yes, to say nothing of criminal. “And complaints about his presidency from Capitol Hill, even from Republicans, have grown.”
Not to worry. “Still, there’s far more reason than not to expect him to recover and win re-election, perhaps easily. His slump, assuming it’s hit bottom, has been milder than the slumps other presidents faced and his prospects are brighter,” Barnes says, reassuringly. [Emphasis added.] Note the italicized clause as it’s an important one, more important than Barnes would like readers to believe at the moment, and important because it’s a debater’s friend, providing Barnes safe distance in the future should his conclusions prove incorrect.
Stating the obvious and missing the obvious, Barnes continues:
Iraq is not Vietnam. In 1967, 10,000 Americans were killed in Vietnam and victory was nowhere in sight. Johnson abandoned his re-election bid in March 1968. America’s enemy then was a powerful military of well over one million troops -- not only Viet Cong guerrillas but a North Vietnamese army backed by the Soviet Union.
Compared to [sic] that force, the enemy in Iraq is minuscule: a few thousand Baathist diehards allied with Islamic terrorists. They are capable of nothing more than hit-and-run attacks.
That’s true in a sense, but two years ago we saw the ultimate hit-and-run (in) terrorist attacks here in the U.S. and that single highly coordinated assault “changed America” in a single day, didn’t it?
As a good Republican, Barnes knows that when logic fails, it’s time to blame the “liberal” media. “And though press reports stress the negative, only 70 Americans have been killed in the past four months,” he stresses, dismissing the deaths that preceded those 70 casualties and already having forgotten about the media’s fawning “embedded” coverage of the war, its unquestioning treatment of the “rescue” of PFC Jessica Lynch, and its by-the-script coverage of the president’s ridiculous aircraft landing.
Those inclined toward skepticism will read with amazement the sunny-side-of-the-street assessment Barnes offers of Iraq today. “It’s possible Iraq could deteriorate. Administration officials are more confident about an improved economy than they are about a safe and secure Iraq,” he writes. “But given the forces at play, particularly a growing contingent of American-trained Iraqi police, soldiers and government officials, continued progress in Iraq is likely. And Mr. Bush won’t face LBJ’s plight. In Iraq, victory is in sight.”
Victory is in sight. Sleep well, America.
As if cribbing from text provided by White House political operative Karl Rove, Barnes says, “President Bush’s recession, handed to him by the outgoing Clinton administration, ended in late 2001.” But again, not to worry. “The recovery has been slow in coming and often has seemed non-existent. But now it’s arrived for sure. Economists, Wall Street, the businessmen [sic] -- there’s near-universal agreement among them that the economy will roar in the closing months of this year and continue growing swiftly in 2004.” Seeing as we are, right now, in “the closing months of the year,” Barnes’s recovery should be evident and plain to all. The problem is, it’s not, and Barnes ignores completely the long-term effects, which many voters can foresee, having been led down this road in the 1980s, of the Bush administration’s reckless fiscal policy.
According to Barnes, all Bush need do is wait it out, until mid-2004 at the latest, by which time all will be well and good. “At some point, probably late this year or early next, the economy should begin producing jobs,” Barnes argues, on September 30. (Hey, Fred, it’s already “late this year”!) “Productivity gains require faster growth than before for job creation to kick in, but 4% to 6% growth would suffice,” he adds, with an offhanded vagueness that might remind his audience of pretend economist Lawrence Kudlow (Hey, Fred, is that four to six percent growth in productivity or GDP?)
“The last step is for the public to perceive a revived economy. The public’s view is a lagging indicator,” Barnes adds, even though it isn’t always. “For the purpose of his re-election, President Bush has until mid-2004 for the public to sense the improved trajectory of the economy. That’s plenty of time.” It’s also enough time for Americans to file their taxes and realize the benefits of the Bush administration’s largesse were intended not for the middle class but for the truly suffering wealthy.
One can only hope Barnes’s misplaced confidence and displaced assessment of the state of the nation and the world reflect the current mindset of the White House and the Republican National Committee -- and if Barnes writes it, it probably does -- for then Democrats truly do have a solid shot at the presidency.The Rittenhouse Review | Copyright 2002-2006 | PERMALINK |
Monday, September 29, 2003
Together With Miscellany
White House spokesman Scott McClellan says Karl Rove wasn’t the source of the leak to Robert Novak . . . Speaking of Novak, the columnist says the Republicans are starting to worry about the election . . . Remember when you were a kid and you saw Arnold Schwarzenegger posing in a thong or a Speedo or something and it really creeped you out? Enter the strange mind and bizarre world of the former bodybuilder running for governor of California . . . Vice President Dick Cheney continues to peddle the lie linking Saddam Hussein and the September 11 terrorist attacks. . . Have a job for a diplomat? Send a former librarian . . . File under: “Big Surprise.” New Criterion theater critic Mark Steyn didn’t much care for Professor Edward Said . . . Charles Krauthammer thinks Sen. Edward M. Kennedy (D-Mass.) is “unhinged.” Well he ought to know (“Is there no balm in Gilead? Is there no physician there?” -- Jeremiah 8:22) . . . Wonder who thought it was a good idea for Walter Cronkite to write a regular column. Although Rittenhouse agrees with the premise of Cronkite’s latest piece, the former anchorman’s “don’t mind me, I’m just a wizened old geezer” shtick is really lame . . . Radio hostess Laura Ingraham’s new book, Shut Up & Sing, hit the New York Times bestsellers list, with, of course, as the paper notes, a little help from the requisite “bulk purchases.” How long before Ingraham complains bookstore owners and managers are hiding her little tome from eager buyers? Hey, any footnotes in that thing?The Rittenhouse Review | Copyright 2002-2006 | PERMALINK |
SEC Asks Court to Compel Documents from Enron’s Lay
The Securities and Exchange Commission today found itself forced to go to federal court to get fromer Enron Corp. Chairman Kenneth Lay to provide the agency with documents it has requested in the still ongoing investigation of the collapse of the now-bankrupt Houston energy firm, according to a report from the Houston Chronicle (“SEC Seeks Papers From ex-Enron CEO Kenneth Lay,” by David Ivanovich).
As you might expect, Lay is being slimy about it. The Chronicle reports:
Lay has refused to turn over the records, citing his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination.
The Securities and Exchange Commission, trying to determine whether Lay engaged in any fraudulent activities at Enron, has subpoenaed documents from Lay’s tenure at the one-time Houston energy giant.
In a filing today with the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, SEC officials argued the documents they want to review are corporate records that Lay has no right to withhold.
“It is well settled that a corporation has no Fifth Amendment rights and an individual cannot resist the production of corporate records based on the Fifth Amendment, even where the records might tend to incriminate the individual personally,” the SEC argued.
Lay’s attorneys had tried to extract a promise that any personal information that might be revealed when producing the documents could not later be used to try to incriminate him, SEC officials said.
SEC officials contended that if they were to agree to such an arrangement, and Lay was later charged with a criminal offense, he “could argue such records were used, or furnished a link in a chain of evidence, by the government in violation of his Fifth Amendment rights.”
Oh, okay, maybe he’s just acting like any defendant would when his entire fortune and reputation are on the line.
Sorry, no word on how Mrs. Kenneth Lay’s thrift shop is doing these days.The Rittenhouse Review | Copyright 2002-2006 | PERMALINK |
Tony Blair Borrows a Page From The Master’s Playbook
All is not well for U.K. Prime Minister Tony Blair. In a poll conducted late last week, 64 percent of respondents said they do not trust him and nearly half, 48 percent, said he should resign. Most of the public’s displeasure is apparently the result of Prime Minister Blair’s eager insistence upon participating in the U.S. war on Iraq and continued concerns that intelligence reports were “sexed up” to justify the invasion.
Speaking with the BBC prior to the opening of the Labour Party’s annual convention, which began today, Prime Minister Blair continued to defend his decision. “I don’t accept it was wrong at all. We know perfectly well he had these weapons, he had these programs,” Blair said. “I think we did the right thing in removing Saddam Hussein.” He added, “I’m proud of what we have done. We were getting rid of one of the most terrible, repressive regimes in the world’s history.”
Prime Minister Blair’s Labour Party critics were reported to be ready to pounce on the issue during the Bournemouth gathering. But in a surprise move, borrowed from the Bush administration’s dog-eared playbook, Britain’s participation in the war, and the decisions leading up to that point, are unlikely to be debated or voted upon at the party conference. Working in tandem with four large unions, Prime Minister Blair succeeded in stifling the party debate, limiting the official polling of conferees to four issues -- manufacturing, pensions, employment rights, and health -- according to a report in The Guardian. Union pressure on party members left the matter of Iraq as the fifth, and thus not-to-be-attended-to, item on the agenda. There are things we musn’t talk about, dear.
Needless to say, anti-war Labourites are displeased. The Guardian reports:
To the dismay of anti-war critics, who blame Mr. Blair’s mishandling of the crisis for the collapse of public support for his government, that means there will be no vote on Iraq this week.
It will guarantee the trade unions their chance to inflict defeats on the government over domestic issues, but embarrassing as this will be, Blair aides know that a resounding defeat on Iraq would have echoed round the world.
Anti-war protesters claimed the system was fixed to exclude the concerns of ordinary members.
Mrs. Mahon [Alice Mahon, M.P., Halifax] said: “It is quite outrageous that they have managed conference in this way, the fact that they have manipulated and manoeuvred [sic] the agenda so they are not going to give us a formal debate.”
Veteran ex-Labour M.P. Tony Benn called the decision a “major scandal.”
Christine Shawcroft, a member of Labour’s ruling National Executive Council, said that while the subject of Iraq received the backing of only 21.5% of the conference, that did not reflect the strength of feeling in local constituencies.
A spokesman for the Rail Maritime and Transport Union, which wanted the conference to discuss the justification for the war, said: “Iraq is . . . a defining moment in history yet the Labour party managers have so far managed to keep it off the agenda, which is absolutely absurd.” […]
[T]he former health secretary, Frank Dobson, spoke for many when he said that Mr. Blair’s main asset, his ability to speak to the wider public, has gone. “We are about as popular as the Tory party led by Iain Duncan Smith and you can’t get much worse than that.”
Oh yes you can. Trust me, you really can. From way over here this looks pretty bad, and worse for Prime Minister Blair than for the Labour Party itself, given that the Conservative Party continues to act like the Keystone Kops of European politics. With the prognosis for the occupation forces in Iraq getting worse or certainly no better with each passing day, it’s hard to see how Prime Minister Blair can remain in office much longer. Such a shame.The Rittenhouse Review | Copyright 2002-2006 | PERMALINK |
Too Friggin’ Bad
It’s official. The second-stage of the primary season has begun. The season in which the punditocracy decries the opposition party for making things, well, just too darn confusing. And who else to initiate this recurrence but the thoroughly estimable “media critic” Howard Kurtz of the Washington Post?
In today’s “Media Notes” (“Wake Up and Pay Attention!”), which, as it is so often, is actually about politics, with a precious soupçon of quasi-blogging, Kurtz tells us the Democratic presidential debates are “a snooze,” “about as exciting as sitting through a long college seminar on patent law” -- Quick! Where did Howie attend law school? -- and crowded with “wannabes.”
Poor Howie! It’s all just too much for his “Where’s Waldo?” brain. “The crowded field muddies the story line for reporters, who lust for a one-on-one shootout,” the “media critic” with a show on CNN complains. “But until someone has the guts to stage a debate without the likes of [former senator and ambassador Carol Moseley-]Braun and [Rep. Dennis] Kucinich, that’s not going to change.”
God forbid Democrats -- no, all Americans -- have a chance to hear from each declared candidate and to consider the relative merits and flaws of each presidential prospect, let alone to actually be able to vote for their choice once the early caucus and primary states have had their say. There’s no time for that! Simplify it! Streamline it! Gosh, this is too much work for Howie and his pals.
Worse, there’s not a proverbial dime’s worth of difference between `em, at least in Howie’s world. “The larger reason is that there aren’t many real policy differences among the Gang of 10,” writes Kurtz. “With the exception of the more left-wing bottom tier, the top candidates spend their time bashing Bush and reciting the broad principles of Democratic orthodoxy.”
And to top it off, Kurtz goes on to mock his very stock-in-trade, the kind of “analysis” that has defined his entire career: “Since the ideological differences are slight, we're often left with theater criticism: Did Dean lose his cool? Did Clark appear presidential? Was Kerry crisp enough, Gephardt feisty enough, Lieberman contrarian enough?”
Come on, Howie. Can’t you try to pretend to earn your living? At least until Iowa?The Rittenhouse Review | Copyright 2002-2006 | PERMALINK |
A Legion of Suspects
By now most readers are probably aware that the Central Intelligence Agency has asked the Justice Department to investigate a leak by “senior White House officials,” namely, the revelation, publicly, through right-wing columnist Robert Novak, of the name of an undercover intelligence operative working in the field of weapons of mass destruction, who, as it happens, is married to former ambassador Joseph C. Wilson IV, a prominent critic of the administration’s use of intelligence to justify the war on Iraq.
This is serious stuff. A vengeful White House decides to undermine American foreign policy and intelligence gathering in an area considered crucial to national security and the fight against terrorism by placing at risk of life and limb, the identity of an experienced undercover agent and each and every one of her foreign contacts. This isn’t politics. This is a crime.
And while the matter is being discussed as “an allegation,” there’s no doubt it happened. Two top White House officials called six Washington reporters trying to get the operative’s name in print. Unless, of course, but perish the thought, Bob Novak is a liar and was given the leak not from the White House but from another source, and then maliciously attached it to top administration officials.
Will Novak be the fall guy? The second George Tenet of Yellowcake-gate? Not likely, as he’s sticking with his story, and more than that, downplaying his role by asserting the administration officials with whom he spoke didn’t make clear how sensitive was the information provided.
Who cares anyway? Not President George W. Bush. The Washington Post today reports (“Bush Aides Say They’ll Cooperate With Probe Into Intelligence Leak,” by Mike Allen): “White House officials said they would turn over phone logs if the Justice Department asked them to. But the aides said Bush has no plans to ask his staff members whether they played a role in revealing the name of [the] undercover officer.”
That’s right. President Bush doesn’t care who on his staff is, in his father’s words, “the most insidious of traitors.”
Top Democrats rightly are calling for a special prosecutor to investigate the matter. It’s plain that a political appointee like Attorney General John Ashcroft, the Edwin Meese of the 21st century, should not be involved, nor should anyone who reports to him. Further disqualifying Attorney General Ashcroft is his role as a self-styled point man on matters of national security.
Apparently the Vegas line is narrowing the suspects down to Senior Adviser Karl Rove, Chief of Staff Andrew Card, and National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice, though Rice has declined any knowledge of the matter, for what that’s worth.
But with this administration, who knows? The Bush White House is a veritable rogues’ gallery of dishonest, deceitful, and vengeful political hacks. The number of suspects is truly legion.
[Post-publication addendum: By the way, don’t miss Get Your War On’s take on this latest Bush administration scandal.]The Rittenhouse Review | Copyright 2002-2006 | PERMALINK |
Requiescat in Pacem
Elia Kazan: 1909-2003.
The New York Times web site already has posted an outstanding obituary of Kazan written by Mervyn Rothstein.
Wait. Didn’t I just post this? Yeah, I thought so.The Rittenhouse Review | Copyright 2002-2006 | PERMALINK |
Sunday, September 28, 2003
No, This is Not About Baseball
Pope John Paul II today elevated 31 Catholic archbishops and bishops to the rank of cardinal, including the incoming leader of the Philadelphia archdiocese, Archbishop Justin Rigali.
As the New York Times reports (“Pope Appoints 31 Cardinals to Group That Will Name Successor,” by Frank Bruni), the elevations occurred several months earlier than expected, fueling speculation about the pope’s health and anticipated longevity.
Somewhat surprising: Boston Archbishop Sean O’Malley was not on the list, though the Boston archdiocese is usually a cardinalatial see. Intriguingly, the pope elevated one archbishop in pectore, i.e., “close to the heart,” and who thus not named publicly, a move that Bruni notes “usually signals that the man is in a country where Roman Catholics are oppressed.”
The Philadelphia Inquirer reports (“Pope Names Rigali a Cardinal,” by David O’Reilly) there is speculation the in pectore appointment was that of the pope’s longtime secretary, Bishop Stanislaw Dziwisz.
The pope and his advisors clearly made the move to enhance his already strong legacy on the Catholic Church. According to Bruni, Pope John Paul II has elevated 104 of the 109 cardinals that are eligible to vote for his successor. It doesn’t take much of a leap to assume that we’re in for more of the same on matters of doctrine and dogma upon John Paul II’s passing.
What may be more interesting, then, is to see whether the next pope can reign in some of the Vatican’s loose cannons, including Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, Joaquin Navarro-Valls, and Opus Dei, that many assert have taken advantage of Pope John Paul II’s deteriorating health and vigor to pursue their hard-line agenda. Their profiles may be reduced -- a welcome change no doubt -- though it may turn out those cannons aren’t so loose after all.The Rittenhouse Review | Copyright 2002-2006 | PERMALINK |
Requiescat in Pacem
Althea Gibson: 1927-2003.
The New York Times web site already has posted an outstanding obituary of Gibson written by Robert McG. Thomas Jr.The Rittenhouse Review | Copyright 2002-2006 | PERMALINK |
Friday, September 19, 2003
The President’s Resumé
[Post-publication note (September 24): Giving credit where credit is due, I’ve been informed that the piece below was written by Kelley Kramer for BuzzFlash. You can find Kramer’s piece here.]
Looks like Rittenhouse has an anonymous guest commentator today. The post below apparently is making the rounds around the internet today. I didn’t write it and I don’t know who did, but, hey, thanks. And thanks to Professor Pinkerton for sending it along.
The White House
ACCOMPLISHMENTS AS PRESIDENT:
1. I attacked and took over two countries, both of which remain in shambles.
RECORDS AND RECORD-KEEPING:
I have at least one conviction for drunk driving in Maine (my Texas driving record has been erased and is not available).
For personal references, please speak to my dad, former President George H.W. Bush, or Uncle James Baker. (They can be reached in their offices at the Carlyle Group where they are helping to divide up the spoils of the U.S.-Iraq war and plan for the next one.)The Rittenhouse Review | Copyright 2002-2006 | PERMALINK |
Calls Case for War “A Fraud”
Tough words from Sen. Edward M. Kennedy (D-Mass.) yesterday in an interview with the Associated Press (“Kennedy Says Case for War Built on ‘Fraud’,” by Steve LeBlanc, as published in the Washington Post):
The case for going to war against Iraq was a fraud “made up in Texas” to give Republicans a political boost, Sen. Edward M. Kennedy (D-Mass.) said today. […]
He called the Bush administration’s Iraq policy “adrift.”
Kennedy expressed doubts about how serious a threat Saddam Hussein posed to the United States. He said administration officials relied on “distortion, misrepresentation, a selection of intelligence” to make their case for war.
“There was no imminent threat. This was made up in Texas, announced in January to the Republican leadership that war was going to take place and was going to be good politically. This whole thing was a fraud,” Kennedy said.
You know, Sen. Kennedy would make a pretty good blogger, I think.The Rittenhouse Review | Copyright 2002-2006 | PERMALINK |
Sunday, September 14, 2003
It’s Time to Demand Some Answers
There was a fascinating article in Thursday’s edition of the Philadelphia Daily News, “Why Don’t We Have Answers to These 9/11 Questions?” by William Bunch.
If you’re not scared and angry, or at least scratching your head in amazement, when you have finished reading Bunch’s article, from which I’ve extracted the reporter’s 20 questions, you really ought to be.
Bunch’s questions are listed below, but read the article to get the chilling background to each of these inquiries:
1. What did National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice tell President Bush about al Qaeda threats against the United States in a still-secret briefing on Aug. 6, 2001?
2. Why did Attorney General John Ashcroft and some Pentagon officials cancel commercial-airline trips before Sept. 11?
3. Who made a small fortune “shorting” airline and insurance stocks before Sept. 11?
4. Are all 19 people identified by the government as participants in the Sept. 11 attacks really the hijackers?
5. Did any of the hijackers smuggle guns on board as reported in calls from both Flight 11 and Flight 93?
6. Why did the NORAD air defense network fail to intercept the four hijacked jets?
7. Why did President Bush continue reading a story to Florida grade-schoolers for nearly a half-hour during the worst attack on America in its history?
8. How did Flight 93 crash in western Pennsylvania?
9. Was Zacarias Moussaoui really “the 20th hijacker”?
10. Where are the planes’ “black boxes”?
11. Why were Donald Rumsfeld and other U.S. officials so quick to link Saddam Hussein to the attacks?
12. Why did 7 World Trade Center collapse?
13. Why did the Bush administration lie about dangerously high levels of toxins and hazardous particles after the WTC collapse?
14. Where is Dick Cheney’s undisclosed location?
15. What happened to the more than $1 billion that Americans donated after the attack?
16. What was the role of Pakistan’s spy agency in the Sept. 11 attacks and the subsequent murder of U.S. journalist Daniel Pearl?
17. Who killed five Americans with anthrax?
18. What happened to the probe into C-4 explosives found in a Philadelphia bus terminal in fall 2001?
19. What is in the 28 blacked-out pages of the congressional Sept. 11 report?
20. Where is Osama bin Laden?The Rittenhouse Review | Copyright 2002-2006 | PERMALINK |
Friday, September 12, 2003
“They Say It’s My Birthday!”
Figures an astrological nut like my good friend Susan Madrak of Suburban Guerrilla would let the cat out of the bag.
Yes, tomorrow, Saturday, September 13, is my birthday.
I’m turning 40.
Deal with that.
And on this special day, do you know what I’m thinking about doing?
Registering, as in heading to my favorite stores and setting up lists of wonderful gifts my family and friends might think to send me, for no better reason than that I simply exist.
Sure, I didn’t get married. I’m pretty sure I never will. But I know many people who have been married, people to whom I have given amazing, tasteful, and sometimes perfectly chosen, gifts.
Some of these people, by the way, are now divorced. You won’t be surprised to learn, though, that they kept the gifts.
Look, I’ve been handing out wedding gifts and, thanks to the new politically correct and oh-so-not-sexist regime that demands men, along with women, be invited to that unbearable tradition known as a “shower,” shower gifts up and down the friggin’ East Coast for the last 20 years.
And what do I have to show for it? Precious little. A few -- and I mean that -- thank-you notes stowed away in what I call my “time capsules,” but nothing more.
And so I will register. (I’m pleased to report that my unmarried cousin J.S. is with me on this.)
(Oh, and here’s a tip for couples to be, from no less an authority than Judith Martin, a/k/a “Miss Manners”: No, dear bride and groom, you do not have “a year” to send your thank-you notes. Who on earth told you that lie? The guests at your wedding, from none of whom, by the way, you have any right whatsoever to expect a gift at all, have up to one year to send you a gift, if, and only if, they choose to do so. However, your thank-you note, upon receipt of each and every gift, must be posted -- i.e., your gratitude written on paper and sent to the giver through the U.S. mail -- within no more than seven days. Look, someone just spent money on you. It wouldn’t and won’t kill you to stay up an hour later each night to write a little form-letter kind of thank-you note. Okay?)
Hey, don’t get me wrong. I really love visiting a sibling or friend and eating a nice meal prepared in the couple’s fully stocked kitchen, served on china and crystal that I myself bought and paid for, at least in part, while my everyday experience is to eat from pedestrian plates and glasses that I purchased at Strawbridge’s of all places, with funds obtained through the grand family tradition known as “The 40th Birthday Gift From Your Siblings That You’re Supposed to Spend on Something You Wouldn’t Otherwise Buy for Yourself.”
Well, it didn’t work out that way. But that, my friends, is the story of my life.The Rittenhouse Review | Copyright 2002-2006 | PERMALINK |
With a Multitude of Errors, No Less
Hey, I got mail from Senator Zero! Sen. Arlen Specter (R-Pa.), that is. (Sen. Specter’s colleague, Sen. Rick Santorum [R-Pa.], is known around here as “Senator Less Than Zero.”)
Subject: Greetings from Senator Specter
Thank you for taking the time to contact me.
I receive a large volume of E-mails [sic], phone calls, faxes[,] and letters every week from concerned citizens like yourself [sic]. By following these simple steps, you will help me respond to your concerns in a more prompt and efficient manner.
For information on my legislative initiatives and press releases, please visit http://specter.senate.gov. I look forward to hearing from you.
— IMMEDIATE ACTION ITEMS: To respond to your time sensitive concerns, please contact the Washington office or the state office in your area.
— Scheduling Matters: Please contact our Washington office by faxing your request to our fax line (202) 228-1229.
— Constituent Services: i.e. D[.]C[.] Tourism, Internships, Flag Requests, and Academy Nominations. Please access my website [sic]. You may also submit your tour request to our tour line[:] (202) 224-4258.
— Casework: (Passport/Visa issue, Social Security claims, etc.). Please contact the state office in your area.
– Philadelphia (215) 597-7200
– Pittsburgh (412) 644-3400
– Harrisburg (717) 782-3951
– Scranton (540) 346-2006
– Allentown (610) 434-1444
– Erie (814) 453-3010
– Wilkes[-]Barre (570) 826-6265
To better serve the citizens of Pennsylvania, I have updated my website to better inform you of my activities in the Senate. The website will provide insight on the activities we’re undertaking on major issue areas in the Senate and my position on these matters, a travel itinerary of my upcoming visits around the State of Pennsylvania, and contact information with regard to constituent concerns that need to be addressed.
In the very near future, you will be able to sign up in our constituent data base [sic] created especially for you, and receive an on line [sic] copy of “Arlen Specter Speaks.” This newsletter will provide the most current and up-to-date information of my work in the Senate relative [sic] to the State [sic] of Pennsylvania.
Thursday, September 11, 2003
Things Look a Little Different in This Light
A friend of mine, a prominent American neoconservative intellectual no less, is, as I write this, spending some time in Israel, there to attend the wedding of one of his two precious daughters to an Israeli citizen, a couple that intends to live permanently, and raise a family, in that country.
Before he left I wished my friend well, but not without expressing my concerns about the ongoing violence, terrorist attacks and otherwise, in that great country. And I, a Catholic, shared with him, a Jew, part of a favorite Psalm that seemed appropriate under the circumstances.
I asked him if it would be okay for me, as a Catholic, to pray for the safety of him, his family, and, as I normally do, for of all Israel, during his trip. He assured me that was not only acceptable, but much appreciated.
And so I did, and so I have continued, not really thinking much at first about how badly needed my prayers would turn out to be.
I was disgusted, but, sad to say, not entirely surprised, to read the latest news out of the region: here, here, here, and here, the ongoing situation offering plenty of opportunities for blame all around: Blame against Israelis, the Palestinians, the U.S., and the obscenely wide variety of “interested” parties around the world.
These stories always disappoint and sadden me, even when, by their very familiarity, tragic in and of itself, they lose their ability to shock
I’ll say this, though, my friend’s visit to Israel, this week and at this particular moment, and for this special occasion, casts a new light on such stories.
This is -- this should be -- a moment of joy for my friend and his family. It is a private celebration, I grant you, one that strangers need know nothing more about. And yet it is a moment of expected normalcy, if you will, a time when a loving family shouldn’t need to concern itself about anything so heinous as terrorism, whether it is random and/or indiscriminately and maliciously directed violence or the accumulation of hate from centuries past and present.
For me, though, Israel is now suddenly not such a far-away place. It’s somehow nearer now. My friend is there. With his family. I haven’t had that experience, nor do I “get” that feeling every day. And now the sudden proximity of the intractable mess we call the “Middle East Situation” has afforded me an opportunity to understand the intensity of the feelings of many Americans about the foolishly incessant fighting that occurs in the region -- and the ample blame that only God can dispense there.
I haven’t posted much about the Jewish-Palestinian conflict here for many months, in large part because I had grown tired of the thoughtless, ignorant, and inconsiderate hate mail I have received no matter what I wrote on the subject.
Jews and Zionists called me an apologist for terrorism. Palestinians and those in sympathy with their cause have called me a racist colonialist. I had had enough, and so I gave up.
I guess with this I’m trying again; peeking my head out, as it were. This is but a modest little post. There are no great thoughts or ponderous conclusions here. Just a bit of what I’m thinking today. Have at it, if you want, all my enemies on any side. Rake me over the coals for saying whatever I’ve said or failed to say, or for in the past saying nothing at all. I don’t care anymore.
Sadly, though, I’m anticipating the usual response.
Odd, isn’t it, how the nastiest, meanest, and most thoughtless voices are those that are the loudest, most ignorant, and most hateful, just when a rational, mature, and meaningful dialogue is most needed?The Rittenhouse Review | Copyright 2002-2006 | PERMALINK |
“The New Republic is not What it Used to Be”
Is Martin Peretz Finally Getting It?
In today’s mail I received a subscription solicitation from the New Republic.
I didn’t open it. I know enough not to. But I couldn’t help being struck by the tag line that appeared on the envelope above my name and address:
The New Republic is not what it used to be . . .
I’ll say. Is that the understatement of the year, or what?
Not since Michael Kinsley edited the magazine, anyway.
Sorry, Marty, while the latter may be dead, a million apologies won’t make up for the disaster you made of your wife’s dowry by employing the likes of Andrew Sullivan and Michael Kelly.The Rittenhouse Review | Copyright 2002-2006 | PERMALINK |
No Mourning Here
Say, whatever happened to Norah Vincent?
Last I knew, the soi-disant “pro-life libertarian lesbian,” three terms that constitute the most mildly interesting, yet oh-so-affectively contradictory, things about this incredibly untalented writer, was submitting a weekly op-ed column to the Los Angeles Times, normally published, after what was no doubt the briefest of checks by “editor” Mary Arno, on Thursdays.
Actually, Vincent’s column was in syndication, but I never saw it published anywhere else. Truth be told, I didn’t look very hard.
And now, all of a sudden, Vincent, who is based in frighteningly nearby Yardley, Pa., seemingly has disappeared from the pages of the Times.
The last time Vincent’s doodlings appeared in the Times was on August 11, one full month ago.
An extended vacation?
Perhaps. One never knows. Vincent could be back any day now, though from what she might be resting is a question for the ages.
And yet I wonder.
Could it be that the self-righteously, self-described “fiercely independent” Vincent couldn’t find an audience even within the massive distribution provided her by the Los Angeles Times?
Could it be that I was right?The Rittenhouse Review | Copyright 2002-2006 | PERMALINK |
Joe Hoeffel For Senate 2004
Okay, so the tip box over on the sidebar at right isn’t exactly ringing off the hook.
That’s fine, but in the absence of additional “ka-chings,” I may soon find myself throwing an Andrew Sullivan-like fit, threatening to take all my marbles (or what remain thereof) and go home, and pout, and stomp my feet, and fuss, and cry, and dream about hairy bears and stuff.
Ah . . . and to make things worse, I may even write about such things.
Hell, like Sullivan, I may even throw my own self-pitying Jerry Lewis-style “telethon,” begging for contributions to fix up the seaside condo that, in my case, I don’t own, or perhaps the in-town pied-à-terre that, again in my case, I also don’t own.
Listen, this is a guy, Sullivan I mean, who collects well over $100,000 in two separate pleas for donations and still claims not to be taking “a salary.”
Yeah, right. I hope you’re not buying that crap.
Anyway . . . If you don’t want to hit the tip box, and that’s perfectly fine, please give at least some thought to making a contribution to the campaign of Rep. Joseph M. Hoeffel (D-Pa.).
Hoeffel has stepped up to the plate and is challenging the despicable Sen. Arlen Specter (R-Pa.) in the latter’s unspeakably undeserving re-election campaign.
Call: (215) 884-2100.
Or write: Hoeffel for Senate Committee, 610 Harper Ave., Jenkintown, Pa. 19046.
You’ll be glad you did.The Rittenhouse Review | Copyright 2002-2006 | PERMALINK |
Today we remember the horrific terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001.
Today we pray, or at least we hope, for peace.The Rittenhouse Review | Copyright 2002-2006 | PERMALINK |
The Deserving and the Undeserving
Two famous, or at least well known, European women died this week.| PERMALINK |
Bush-Cheney Re-election Campaign Slogans
It seems the headquarters of the Republican National Committee is leaking like a sieve. Someone apparently got their hands on the slogans under consideration for the 2004 re-election campaign, and the list is making the rounds on the internet.
Actually, I don’t know where this list originated, but thanks to Professor Pinkerton for sending it along.
Bush/Cheney `04: Apocalypse Now!
Wednesday, September 10, 2003
Not Exactly a Technology Specialist Here
It’s obvious from the e-mail I received overnight that I know even less about computers, the internet, the web, and technology in general than I thought.
So, rather than viewing the post below as a general admonition, think of it as merely a rant about an annoying problem that doesn’t seem to be getting better.
Let me ask you this, then: Will this e-mail onslaught correct itself, or die off, eventually? Or should I just get a new Yahoo e-mail address?The Rittenhouse Review | Copyright 2002-2006 | PERMALINK |
Tuesday, September 09, 2003
Clean Up Your Act, Folks
Look, people, we’ve all heard about this “worm” virus and the havoc it has wreaked, and continues to wreak, on the e-mail systems of internet users throughout the world, for what, like three weeks or something?
So why do I continue to receive massive amounts of worm-generated e-mail in the Rittenhouse account?
If you’re so clueless that you haven’t yet figured out your P.C. has been infected, you don’t belong on the internet. Take that for what it’s worth, and in the meantime, get the damn thing off your computer. It takes, like, two minutes.
It’s interesting, though, some of the people from whom I’ve received worm-generated e-mails in recent weeks.
I’m not going to name any names or anything, but . . . Oh, what the hell. I’ll tell you that Los Angeles Times “editor” Mary Arno and pseudo-and-not-recently-seen columnist Norah Vincent come quickest to mind on this score. As you might expect, I’m not surprised.The Rittenhouse Review | Copyright 2002-2006 | PERMALINK |
Having Left It a Better Place
As most of you already know, Dwight Meredith has decided to cease publication of his superb weblog, P.L.A.: A Journal of Politics, Law and Autism
This is, of course, cause for disappointment, but I was pleased to read Dwight say: “I want to make an effort at writing longer pieces requiring more research and analysis than the pace of daily posting permits. I do not know if, when or where such writings may be published.”
Dwight, allow me to say, as an obscure former editor, that you should have no trouble finding many outlets for your consistently fine work.
Dwight also writes, with undue yet typically gracious, modesty in his final post:
Thanks to the many people who have found PLA of sufficient interest to provide a link or a comment. Most of all, thanks to the people who have given me your time and attention over the last year. It was a lot of fun and I am the better for it. I hope you do not feel that I wasted your time.
Hardly. Yours will be a voice much missed, Dwight, and I join the many others in thanking you for your efforts, as well as for you support during some difficult times. You performed an invaluable service with P.L.A., one that will not soon be forgotten.
All the best, my friend.The Rittenhouse Review | Copyright 2002-2006 | PERMALINK |