The Rittenhouse Review

A Philadelphia Journal of Politics, Finance, Ethics, and Culture

Monday, September 30, 2002  

Who Could Ever Replace Patsy Mink?

We note with sadness the passing of Rep. Patsy Mink (D-Hawaii), age 74, on Saturday, Sept. 28, of viral pneumonia arising from a case of the chicken pox.

A member of the House of Representatives for 24 years, Rep. Mink, known to her crudest opponents as “Patsy Pink” because of her determined liberalism, had just recently won the Democratic primary -- again -- in preparation for running for another term in the House of Representatives in November.

Rep. Mink’s unfortunate demise has important implications for the upcoming elections: She died two days after the deadline that would have had her name taken off the November ballot. As a result, when Hawaii voters go to the polls on Nov. 5, Rep. Mink’s name will be on the ballot, in opposition to Republican Bob McDermott, a state legislator.

“If she is reelected posthumously, the seat will be declared vacant and a special election will be held to choose a successor,” according to Ron Staten of the Associated Press. Given the predominance of Democrats over Republicans in the great -- very great -- state of Hawaii, a seat for the party of reason would be virtually assured.

Just as the very dead Gov. Mel Carnahan (D-Mo.) defeated the loathsome and apparently alive John Ashcroft -- who is now, astonishingly, the attorney general of the U.S. -- in the Missouri Senate race in 2000, leading his wife, Jean Carnahan, to take the seat in contention, something quite similar, though most likely less unusual, could happen in Hawaii.

The message to Hawaiians: Vote for the dead candidate.

The Rittenhouse Review | Copyright 2002-2006 | PERMALINK |


Be Nice to the Garden State

It’s time to lay off New Jersey, a state that has been the butt of far more jokes than it deserves.

Please . . . Have these “comedians” never been to Montana or Alabama? (I think I just lost four readers. Or four visitors, I might say.)

The Daily Kos has the scoop on Sen. Robert Toricelli (D-N.J.) and how his departure from the political scene improves the chances of the Democrats retaining control of the U.S. Senate.

I’ll bet Christine Whitman (R) is wishing she hadn’t taken that see-nothing, hear-nothing, say-nothing, do-nothing job as the Bush administration’s “administrator” of the Environmental Protection Agency.

Well, except for the fact that as governor Mrs. Whitman was a disaster, worse, a catastrophe, something that has become all too plain as New Jersey residents cope with the fallout from the complete and utter stupidity, short-sightedness, and fiscal irresponsibility that characterized her stewardship of the Garden State.

Hell, even a dead person could outpoll her at this point.

The Rittenhouse Review | Copyright 2002-2006 | PERMALINK |

Saturday, September 28, 2002  

More Jottings From The Reading Room

Public Speaking: Write a speech for the president. [Link via TBogg.]

Poetry: Mullet haiku. [Also from TBogg.]

Painting: David Ehrenstein on Robert Rauschenberg. Bonus: Norah Vincent cameo!

Photography: The ultimate McMansion.

Politics: Posters from Micah Wright.

Psychiatry: UggaBugga on obsessive-compulsive disorder. At least the victim doesn’t suffer alone.

Public Safety: Last year alone: 547 dead and more than 111,000 seriously injured, at least a third of them children. Violence in the Middle East? An earthquake in China? No.

The Rittenhouse Review | Copyright 2002-2006 | PERMALINK |


Eli Lehrer on James Q. Wilson

To: The Rittenhouse Review
Subject: James Q. Wilson
Sent: Sept. 27, 2002

To the Editor:

Thanks for your praise of my article in the Weekly Standard.

One thing worth noting: I think that James Q. Wilson would probably approve of most of what I mention in the article.

Here’s an interview I did with him where he explicitly endorses a lot of the ideas I mention, thought it might interest you: “Live With TAE.”

Read through your blog . . . very interesting.


Eli Lehrer
Senior Editor
The American Enterprise
Washington, D.C.


Mr. Lehrer:

Point taken.

TAE: 1, TRR: 0.

Thank you for visiting the site and for writing to The Rittenhouse Review.

Yours truly,
James M. Capozzola, Editor

The Rittenhouse Review | Copyright 2002-2006 | PERMALINK |

Friday, September 27, 2002  

Just Sit There and Think About This For a While

There’s no doubt his hatred is mainly directed at us. There’s no doubt he can’t stand us. After all, this is a guy that tried to kill my dad at one time.” -- President George W. Bush.

(Thank you, Professor Pinkerton.)

The Rittenhouse Review | Copyright 2002-2006 | PERMALINK |


An Urgent E-Mail Blast from NBC

We just received an urgent e-mail message from NBC News:

NBC Meet The Press



“Meet the Press with Tim Russert” will be pre-empted in ALL markets across the country this Sunday, September 29th, 2002, due to The Ryder Cup on NBC.

“Meet the Press” will air at its regularly scheduled time a week from Sunday on October 6th, 2002. “Meet the Press” airs live at 9:00 a.m. and is seen in New York and Washington, D.C. at 10:30 a.m. Please check your local listings.

NBC News New York, September 27th, 2002

Good. Now Tim Russert will only bore his wife on Sunday morning.

The Rittenhouse Review | Copyright 2002-2006 | PERMALINK |

Thursday, September 26, 2002  

Inge Probstein: Professor of Literature

Once again, and with all due respect to Esquire and the women they love, The Rittenhouse Review presents the latest installment in a continuing series, “The Women We Admire.”

Today’s honoree is Inge Probstein, a literature professor to students of all ages, brought to my attention by Michael Vitez of the Philadelphia Inquirer, and his article in today’s paper, “Teaching Literature’s Classics, She Created More Than a Class.”

Herewith a few excerpts:

In 1984, a former literature professor agreed to teach a small class to other retirees in Radnor.

Eighteen years later -- after 60 works of great literature, field trips, dinner parties, seders, and funerals -- they are still together, and the Tuesday morning class at the Creutzburg Center for Adult Education has become so important that they plan their lives around it.

What started as a class has become a community.

“My week revolves around this,” said Judy Zalesne, 65, of Bryn Mawr, who always sits in the same seat -- next to the teacher. “This class comes first. I try to plan vacations to leave Tuesday afternoon and come back Monday night.”

Inge Probstein has been their professor, the glue that kept them together. A refugee from Hitler, she came to America at 11. Her mother worked as a cook for the Dorrance family of Campbell Soup. Inge herself evolved from servant to scholar, from making beds to earning a Ph.D. in literature from Yale.

Her class started out in a back room but quickly expanded to 25 people, with a perennial waiting list, and moved to the “Big Room” -- the largest room in the onetime mansion. . . .

There they read the greats: Goethe, Dante, Balzac, Eliot, Tolstoy, Woolf, Twain, Marquez, Swift . . . Inge always let the class vote on books for the next semester.

Except one year, after the students continually rejected Chaucer, Inge decreed: “This is no longer a democracy. Next session we are reading Chaucer.” [Ed.: Emphasis added, probably unnecessarily.]

“She did her Ph.D. on Chaucer,” Zalesne said. “It was the best. Nobody dropped out.”

The retirees took this class because they’d never read these classics, or they wanted to read them again, after a lifetime of experience, and find new meaning.

Their exuberance spread beyond the class. When they were reading Thomas Mann’s The Magic Mountain, Zalesne’s daughter got so tired of hearing about it at the dinner table, she told her mother: “You’re a Mann-iac!” . . .

Inge never married. She cared for her mother and her brother until they died. This class became her family.

One Monday in May, for the first time, Inge called her students and told them she wasn’t feeling well. There’d be no class on Cervantes on Tuesday.

Several students called to check on her, but Inge didn’t answer the phone. On Tuesday night, Thelma and Irwin Bessen, longtime students from Rose Valley, went to Inge’s home in Lansdowne. They found her on the floor.

She’d had a stroke. . . .

The stroke was so severe that Inge could not teach again. The class held an emergency meeting at Zalesne’s house during the summer. “We could never replace Inge,” Zalesne said. “But despite the tragedy, we didn’t want the class to disband. We’ve been together too long, and we’re kind of addicted to sharing insights.”

They recruited two retired professors to split the class, six weeks each. . . .

After class, Zalesne went to visit Inge at the Belmont Center for Comprehensive Treatment. The two sat outside in a gazebo in the early-autumn sun. Inge was frail. When talking about her class, she became sharp and passionate.

“Such an amazing life,” Zalesne said, reflecting later, “shouldn’t end this way.”


The Rittenhouse Review | Copyright 2002-2006 | PERMALINK |


In 21st Century America

The excerpt below comes from an incredible story on page one of today’s Philadelphia Inquirer: “Teen Dies, Starved and Alone,” by Marc Schogol. I’m speechless.

Abused and starving, Chester Lee Miller, 18, was forced sometime this month to make a desperate 1,000-mile bus journey from the home of his mother and stepfather in Hazleton, Pa., to the Florida Panhandle, a place from which his natural father had earlier sent him packing.

Aboard the bus, in terminal after terminal, town after town, Miller said, he cried and begged strangers for help.

No one listened.

Weighing little more than 60 pounds, the famished teenager with sunken eyes finally arrived in Milton, Fla., about 20 miles north of Pensacola, only to be rejected again. There, authorities said, his relatives shut him out of their trailer home on Saturday and literally dumped him at an apartment complex.

“He looked like a Holocaust victim,” said Janice Goodman, at whose door Miller knocked, pleading again for help. “I never would have thought something like this would be in Florida or the United States.”

Goodman tried to help Miller, but he was by then beyond help.

Severely malnourished and succumbing to extensive organ failure, the youth died alone yesterday in a Florida hospital room.

His mother and stepfather, Lyda Miller, 37, and Paul Hoffman Sr., 38, who were charged earlier this week with aggravated assault and reckless endangerment, face additional charges, police said last night: homicide.

And in Milton, population 7,400, the stranger who took in the dying boy nobody wanted said her family is trying to raise money for a funeral.

“We’re trying to at least let him have a decent burial,” Goodman said. “It’s the least we can do.” A relative of her family has donated a burial plot.

Believe it or not, there’s more. Read the full story.


From the Pensacola News Journal, “Starved Teen Dies Seeking His Dad”:

Goodman said Miller stayed at her home about an hour, taking a shower and a nap. She said she tried to feed him a sandwich and a Sprite, but he couldn’t take it.

Goodman called her mother, Norma Douglas, who contacted the Milton Police Department. In turn, Emergency Medical Services was notified, and Miller was taken to Santa Rosa Medical Center.

While the case plays out in court about 1,000 miles away, Goodman is trying to arrange a proper burial for Chester Miller.

“Since there are no blood relatives, we’re going to try to bury him,” she said. “We want to raise money for funeral costs. We have a family plot we are willing to put him in.”

Goodman’s mother said the family is trying to help.

“He was handicapped, and we are trying to be his family,” Douglas said. “He has no family. The family he did have killed him. We want him buried with our family.”


Three articles from the Hazleton (Pa.) Standard-Speaker:

Couple Facing Murder Charges

In a Neighborhood of Eateries, Boy Starved

Grandmother: ‘He Could Be Nasty’

The Rittenhouse Review | Copyright 2002-2006 | PERMALINK |

Wednesday, September 25, 2002  

New Sites Added to The Roll

I figured out when we’ll know that webloggers have overtaken the traditional media: when the number of links to weblogs in the column to the right exceeds those to newspapers, magazines, journals, and broadcasters.

In the meantime, here are the latest additions:

Alas, a Blog

Beyond Corporate


Making Light

Nasty Riffraff

Room Sixteen


There are more on the way . . .

[Note: The title of this post is an unintentional homage to Spike Lee and his film “Mo’ Better Blues.”]

The Rittenhouse Review | Copyright 2002-2006 | PERMALINK |


DON’T MISS . . .
A Recurring Feature

Don’t miss . . . “Brit’s Faux Report” by Hesiod Theogeny of Counterspin Central.

H.T. has the goods on one of the most outrageously and blatantly biased news outlets and news readers in America: Fox News and its top liar, Brit Hume.

Hume titled his smear, “Former VP Al Gore Says One Thing and Then Says Another.” A better title might have been, “Brit Hume Writes One Thing and History Says Another.”

Let’s make this clear, clear enough even for the dittoheads: Brit Hume lied.

And again: Brit Hume is a liar.

You know, there was a time when people lost their jobs for crap like this. Now they get promotions, raises, and book deals.

The Rittenhouse Review | Copyright 2002-2006 | PERMALINK |


Enron Artifacts Up For Bid

In the market for a shredder? An air-hockey or foosball table? A portable basketball hoop? Golf tees? Mints? A giant stainless steel “E”?

“E” is in “Greed” -- Twice!

Artifacts, mementoes, souvenirs, and office equipment of all sorts from Enron Corp., the financially and morally bankrupt energy company and Bush administration farm team, are being auctioned beginning today at a site called DoveBid.

Current and former Enron employees from the “rank-and-file” may bid, but corporate officers, directors, and outside consultants -- a group that presumably includes Vice President Dick Cheney -- are barred from participating.

The Rittenhouse Review | Copyright 2002-2006 | PERMALINK |

Tuesday, September 24, 2002  

DON’T MISS . . .
A Recurring Feature

Don’t miss . . . “The Lefty Interview” with Jeanne D’Arc of Body and Soul, now online at the Lefty Directory. (Mlle. D’Arc was interviewed by Brian Linse of AintNoBadDude.)

The interview reveals Jeanne D’Arc to be as interesting as she is talented. Accomplished despite adversity, generous amid a culture of greed, a spiritually inclined intellectual amid soulless secularism, and I’m willing to bet, one of the best mothers in America.

Body and Soul is consistently well written, thought-provoking, even provocative, and ranks high among my daily, ever-increasing, list of “must reads.”

Okay, so I’m a little disappointed not to be invited to the desert island, but I don’t like hot weather anyway. What if we all went to the Falklands/Malvinas? In July.

The Rittenhouse Review | Copyright 2002-2006 | PERMALINK |

Monday, September 23, 2002  

DON’T MISS . . .
A Recurring Feature

Don’t miss . . . Teresa Nielsen Hayden of Making Light, who linked to the Review’s recent piece on the adoption of Finnish by East Timor, expanded upon it, added enlightened and informative commentary, and, happily, arrived at the same conclusion I did.

Be sure to read the comments section as well. Making Light has the kind of readership about which most bloggers can only dream.

The Rittenhouse Review | Copyright 2002-2006 | PERMALINK |


The Limitless Ego of a Has-Been Hack

This man once edited the New Republic? This man once wrote for the New York Times?

This man has a boyfriend? This man has friends? This man is not institutionalized?

It’s no wonder his fan club’s charter member is a Noonanesque “columnist” and bogus think-tank trough-feeder who coos over his every lying slimy word and then pines for more.

It’s no wonder his most vocal cheerleader is a fire-breathing art-school teacher with what might appear to be an amphetamine addiction who slurps up his drool and washes his butt on command.

The verdict is in: Andrew Sullivan is beyond the pale.

We’re done. Through. Moving on. Not worth the time.

The Rittenhouse Review | Copyright 2002-2006 | PERMALINK |

Sunday, September 22, 2002  

A Voting Machine Even the President Can Understand

Today I happened upon a site called Anger Management Course that has a photograph of a newfangled voting machine for the good state of Florida that even President George W. Bush, his almost equally dimwitted brother Gov. Jeb Bush (R-Fla.), and the Supreme Court could operate.

Hell, even Noelle Bush, high on crack (or “a rock-like substance that tested positive for cocaine”), could work this thing. As for Poppy Bush, well, I don’t know.

Gordon Baskin of Anger Management Course tells me the image comes from The British Club by way of the incomparable UggaBugga.

The Rittenhouse Review | Copyright 2002-2006 | PERMALINK |


For Real?

To: Rittenhouse Review
Subject: East Timor
Sent: Sunday, September 22, 2002

To The Rittenhouse Review:

Are you sure your article about Finnish becoming East Timor's language isn't from The Onion? It sounds remarkably like the scene in “Bananas” where the revolution has succeeded and the leader announces that Swedish will now be the national language.

Yours truly,
Zanesville, Ohio


Dear Ron:

Thank you for reminding me of “Bananas,” one of director Woody Allen’s earlier, somewhat funnier films. Although Allen is one of my many muses of late, I can assure you that the story indeed comes not from The Onion but from Helsingin Sanomat.

Now, it’s possible, given my limited grasp of Finnish, that Sanomat is a satirical publication, though the paper’s articles on domestic and international news generally appear to me to be well grounded in reality. However, with the Finns being such an outgoing, gregarious, talkative, boisterous, and rowdy people (Not!), I’ll admit I may have been completely taken in by their wry sense of humor. I’ll keep you posted.

Thank you for visiting the site and for writing to The Rittenhouse Review.

Yours truly,
James M. Capozzola, Editor

The Rittenhouse Review | Copyright 2002-2006 | PERMALINK |


Arafat’s Purported Wealth

The Mossad, Israeli’s vast intelligence agency, known to employ Americans in its efforts to know everything about anything, and to sell secrets thus obtained to our country’s enemies, says, in one of its periodic allegations along this vein, that Yasir Arafat is one of the wealthiest men in the world, purportedly having amassed a fortune estimated at $1.3 billion.

Hmmm . . . Now, may I ask, what good would this purported fortune be to Arafat, who currently is holed up in his Ramallah compound, lacking water and electricity, surrounded by ditches and fences, with his nemesis, the demented Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, obviously intent upon killing him one way or another.

I guess I should also ask why Arafat escaped the vast hordes of Forbes researchers who assembled the magazine’s list of the world’s 500 richest people, a list on which Arafat’s name, once again, does not appear.

The Rittenhouse Review | Copyright 2002-2006 | PERMALINK |


DON’T MISS . . .
A Recurring Feature

Don’t miss . . . Michelangelo Signorile on Peggy Noonan.

Don’t miss . . . Noonan being Noonan.

Don’t miss . . . Neal Pollack hijacking Daniel Pipes’s web site.

Don’t miss . . . Alas, a blog on the red and blue states.

Don’t miss . . . “The Fictional 15” from Forbes.

Don’t miss . . . Nicholas Confessore on pundits who know nothing about journalism.

Don’t miss . . . Arianna Huffington on Noelle Bush, father Gov. Jeb Bush (R-Fla.), and drug-related crimes.

Don’t miss . . . Joe Conason on the “Napoleonic Neocons.”

Don’t miss . . . Michael Kinsley, the best editor the New Republic ever had, on Iraq and evil.

Don’t miss . . . The Decade Boxes from Great for gifts, but order early: at least two weeks in advance.

The Rittenhouse Review | Copyright 2002-2006 | PERMALINK |

Saturday, September 21, 2002  

Gore Vidal is Gay

Guess what?

I hate Gore Vidal.

But like him or not, here’s a news flash for you, courtesy of the Claremont Review of Books: Gore Vidal is -- hold your breath -- GAY.

The Claremont Review doesn’t say so outright, in part, I’m sure, because Vidal’s sexuality has been well known for some 50 years at least.

Of course, why bother saying Vidal is gay when you can print statements like these:

“Gore Vidal has always liked to be a naughty boy, but it is hard for him to keep it up at 77.”

“His perverse passions are beyond the wane.”

“He comes across as an aging scold, desperately applying the rouge.”

“To give him his due, he can still pretend to be aroused by a remarkable variety of objects.”

The author of this pathetic, utterly humorless set of sneers? The presumably heterosexual, perpetually chaste, eternally youthful, and persistently priapic yet utterly unarousable Christopher Flannery, associate editor of the Claremont Review, senior fellow at the Claremont Institute, and professor of political science at a place called Azusa Pacific University (located in Azusa, Calif., for those, like myself, who are unfamiliar with the school, no offense intended).

I look forward to some day welcoming Flannery into the 21st century. Hell, even the 20th century.

The Rittenhouse Review | Copyright 2002-2006 | PERMALINK |


East Timor is “Finnished” with Colonialism

East Timor, the Southeast Asian nation wracked by violence for more than twenty years, has been looking for a national language and now appears to have found one in the most unlikely of places.

Considering East Timor’s location, one might assume its residents might, out of practicality, choose Indonesian, English, Malaysian, Thai, Vietnamese, or even Chinese. Instead, East Timor appears to be on the way toward adopting Finnish as its new language, according to a recent article in a Helsinki newspaper, Helsingin Sanomat, by Inkeri Koskela. [Ed.: Linked article has been translated into English.]

Why not stick with what they know?

Well, there’s the fly in the proverbial ointment: not everyone in East Timor speaks the same language. The country previously was a Portuguese colony and its older citizens still speak Portuguese, while most of the young speak a dialect known as Bahasa Indonesian. Moreover, according to Sanomat, “The original East Timorese language, Tetum, has a fairly primitive grammar and thanks to eight or nine different tribal dialects, even this language does not unite the population.”

Quite a conundrum.

“The language question surfaced when East Timor, together with the United Nations and the World Bank, started rebuilding the country’s educational infrastructure,” Koskela reports. “What would be the language of tutoring? Which language would be suitable for the schoolbooks?”

Early in 2000, the United Nations Transitional Administration for East Timor (UNTAET), established in October 1999 to administer the territory, began searching for a textbook series to educate the nation’s schoolchildren, their schools largely decimated by Indonesian, uh, militias.

The World Bank hired Nigel Billany, chief executive officer of Opifer Ltd., an education consulting firm owned by Tammi Publishers, which sent 30 different book series to East Timor for evaluation. “The evaluation team, which consisted of local teachers, finally came down in favour [sic] of the Finnish book series,” Sanomat reports.

“The fact that they wanted the books in a politically neutral language definitely contributed to the selection outcome. Portuguese, Bahasa Indonesian, English, and French are all associated with colonialism,” Billany told Sanomat.

“We did offer to translate the books into some other language, but they insisted on having them in Finnish,” said Tammi’s managing director, Pentti Molander.

In response to the local agency’s request, Tammi Publishers sent 220,000 copies of Opin Itse, or I’m Learning, a book intended for first and second graders, to East Timor, a country with a population of nearly 800,000. “There’s a book for every fourth East Timorese,” Koskela reports. “After the first year the feedback on the Finnish books has been good, report UN officials,” the reporter continues. “Local teachers have been satisfied with the material they chose.”

Why, oh why, Finnish?

Frankly, I can’t quite decide what to think of this.

As one who has been dabbling in self-instruction of the Finnish language, part of me wants to shout “HURRAY!” while the other part of me wants to catch the first flight down to East Timor and scream, “STOP BEFORE IT’S TOO LATE!”

As I understand it, children can pick up one language as easy as another, and more quickly than even the most linguistically oriented of adults, so everything will likely work out in the end. But Finnish? Finnish?

Finnish is, without a doubt, the most complicated and difficult language I ever have encountered. It shares almost nothing with almost anything.

Although Finnish and Hungarian are distantly related languages, they have little in common in their current forms. Finnish shares some similarities with Estonian and various regional and ethnic-minority dialects in northern Russia. And while Finnish has borrowed a little from Swedish and Russian, and a bit from German, and more, inevitably, from English, it stands on its own, reflecting the uniqueness of the people we call Finns.

Knowing a language other than English, even knowing any language at all, is of no help in learning Finnish. One who knows English and German, for example, can quickly pick up Dutch and will recognize at least some words in Danish, Swedish, and Norwegian, even Icelandic. A person who speaks, say, English and Italian is well prepared to study French, Spanish, Portuguese, and even Romanian. Such is not the case with Finnish.

Yet Finnish, after considerable study, is incomparably logical, almost mathematical in its precision. And Finnish is a beautiful language, rhythmic and rather musical, with fewer consonants than English and other Western European languages, a preponderance of vowels and vowel combinations, and spoken with a slight Scandinavian-style lilt, though the Finns themselves are not Scandinavians.

Those who have studied Latin will remember the ancient Romans’ six cases in the declension of nouns and adjectives: nominative, vocative, genitive, dative, accusative, and ablative.

Too much to handle? Try Finnish. It has 15 basic cases: nominative, genitive, accusative, partitive, essive, translative, inessive, elative, illative, adessive, ablative, allative, abessive, comitative, and instructive.

And if that’s not enough, there are 12 adverbial cases: superessive, delative, sublative, lative, temporal, causative, multiplicative, distributive, temporal distributive, prolative, situative, and oppositive.

Children can pick up one language as easily as another when it is an integral part of their environment, but I worry about the parents and teachers in East Timor who must quickly learn this unusual language in order to communicate effectively with their children and students, respectively.

Why would the authorities in East Timor choose a language so maddening in its complexity? Why choose a language spoken by so few outside of its home country? Why not jump head first into global commerce? Is this perhaps a nefarious plot by Nokia Corp. to establish a new low-wage manufacturing center?

Regardless, have these people not suffered enough already?

The Rittenhouse Review | Copyright 2002-2006 | PERMALINK |

Friday, September 20, 2002  

Martin Peretz, Peter Beinart . . . Meet Ted Barlow

The latest issue, dated Sept. 23, of the New Republic is out. And right there, on page 10, is a contribution to “The Notebook” that could only have come from contributing editor Andrew Sullivan, who is in the same issue, inexplicably, with “Provincetown Diarist.”

Entitled “Their Man in Harare,” it begins:

“Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe has cracked down on his country’s press, harassing[,] and arresting journalists who have dared to expose his thuggish and corrupt land-redistribution policy. But Mugabe wouldn’t have to resort to such measures if Zimbabwean journalists were as pliable as [t]he New York TimesRachel L. Swarns.” [Ed.: The piece apparently is not, or not yet, online.]

Sound a bit familiar? I thought so too.

It rambles on in an attempt to smear Swarns (whom Sullivan criticized at his own site for writing a “puff piece” about the kleptocrat) and the Times as “Soft on Mugabe” and dupes of the dictator’s propaganda campaign, only to arrive at the predictable conclusion: “Actually, the propaganda machine misleading the Western world is our paper of record.”

As weblogger Ted Barlow has demonstrated, this charge is a tissue of lies.

On Sept. 6 Barlow wrote, “Sullivan can’t be bothered to research the woman he’s smearing, so I guess I’ll have to do it. Who is this Mugabe apologist, Rachel Swarns? A little Googling tells me that Rachel Swarns is the Johannesburg bureau chief of the New York Times. She was the co-winner of a first-place award for Best International Coverage (150,000+ readers) from the National Association of Black Journalists. . . . I don’t have NEXIS. So I just went to the New York Times [web] page and searched for stories by Rachel Swarns. Let’s look at some of the titles of some of the other ‘puff pieces’ she’s written to prop up Mugabe[.]”

Barlow proceeds to list twenty-six (26!) stories Swarns wrote about Mugabe in the Times just since late February. “[Y]ou’d almost think that Rachel Swarns has been a tireless critic of Mugabe. You’d almost think that the Times has done a great public service, publishing highly critical stories about his murderous regime several times a week,” he writes. “You’d almost think that Andrew Sullivan owes somebody a big apology.”

Now add the New Republic and editors Martin Peretz and Peter Beinart to the list of those who should be asking Swarns for forgiveness.

[Note: “After the Smear” is an unintentional homage to “After the Storm,” lyrics by Carly Simon, the words of which came into my conscious mind from my subconscious, by way of my unconscious, while I was writing this piece and listening to “After the Storm” on the stereo.]

The Rittenhouse Review | Copyright 2002-2006 | PERMALINK |


DON’T MISS . . .
A Recurring Feature

Don’t miss . . . Hesiod Theogeny of Counterspin Central, an invaluable resource as we move into the campaign for Florida’s governorship between Bill McBride (D) and Gov. Jeb Bush (R).

Hesiod has the goods on everything you never wanted to know about Florida politics and were afraid to ask.*

Most of them are in the Archives, but here are a few to get you started: This one, this one, this one, this one, this one, this one, this one, this one, this one, this one, this one, and this one.

* Unintentional homage to Woody Allen from my unconscious subconscious.

The Rittenhouse Review | Copyright 2002-2006 | PERMALINK |


A Napoleonic (Complex) Ditty

Courtesy of Media Whores Online today:

“i’m sorry but i pay for those soldiers to fight in a volunteer army. they are servants of people like me who will never fight. yes, servants of civil masters. and they will do what they are told by people who would never go to war. that’s called a democracy.”
-- andrew [[s]ullivan]

Well, that just got me humming today and eventually the words came . . .

It’s my war and you’ll die if I want to,
Die if I want to,
Die if I want to.
You will die too,
If I want you to do.

Note: The words of this ditty are an unintentional homage to performer Lesley Gore and Wally Gold, Herb Wiener, and John Gluck, writers of the original version, “It’s My Party and I’ll Cry if I Want To.” The words came into my conscious mind from my subconscious, by way of my unconscious, while I was writing this piece and listening to the song on the stereo. [Reminder: Delete “unconscious” later and hope nobody notices.]

The Rittenhouse Review | Copyright 2002-2006 | PERMALINK |

Thursday, September 19, 2002  

DON’T MISS . . .
A Recurring Feature

Don’t miss . . . In Arguendo on the appalling Tucker Carlson twisting “facts,” Judy Woodruff missing the whole point, and the New York Post ignoring an attempt by reclusive right-wing billionaire Richard Mellon Scaife to dip into the Department of Justice budget for reimbursement of dubious legal expenses.

The Rittenhouse Review | Copyright 2002-2006 | PERMALINK |


Another New York Judge Under Scrutiny

What is it with New York judges? Shades of Sol Wachtler here . . .

Acting New York Supreme Court Justice Marylin Diamond might be in some serious trouble.

According to a report in today’s Daily News (New York), “Hate-Mail Judge’s Hit List” by Michele McPhee, unnamed law enforcement sources believe Diamond is herself the author of numerous “bizarre messages that threatened her life” during the past three years.

Diamond, working with police on the case, identified some 20 litigants from her court who she thought might be sending the threatening letters. In response to the initial messages, the judge was provided with a 24-hour security detail that has been in place almost continually for the past three years, an expensive and highly unusual measure that could ultimately prove to be a total waste of time and money.

According to the Daily News, Ray Pierce, an FBI profiler and a retired detective with the New York Police Department, analyzed 48 letters sent to Diamond’s home and office over a period of three years and “concluded that the author of the deadly letters was the judge herself.”

“Pierce based his findings on a number of factors, including the fact the threats intensified when her security detail was about to be discontinued,” McPhee reports. “He told cops the only one with anything to gain by the letters was Diamond, sources said.”

Despite this conclusion, the police “have no hard evidence linking Diamond to the letters,” and New York Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly said yesterday that the investigation continues.

Each person named by Diamond has been checked out, and cleared, by the police. Among those questioned was Tom Snowdon, ex-husband of fashion designer Cathy Hardwick, who criticized Diamond after his 1998 divorce, a case heard in her court. Also fingered by Diamond: billionaire Alec Wildenstein, whom the judge ordered pay $200,000 a month in alimony to his ex-wife.

Whoever sent the letters is clearly disturbed. “One letter contained what looked to be a piece of ‘skin from a person’s nose’ that turned out to be plastic, and another was filled with purported anthrax that was really biscuit mix,” writes McPhee. “In some letters, the writer called Diamond a pig. Others were anti-Semitic. All threatened her life.”

It appears that Diamond slipped up at least once and may have implicated herself in the twisted scheme. “At one point, [Diamond] turned over a letter with white powder during the anthrax scare, but the substance was found to be biscuit mix,” according to the report. “The same week the letter arrived, investigators found an empty box of biscuit mix in the garbage at Diamond’s East Side townhouse, sources said.”

Last week Diamond lost her round-the-clock security detail after the Daily News spoke with her about Pierce’s potentially devastating conclusions, which she termed “totally incorrect and grossly irresponsible.” The security force was reinstated, however, after a Sept. 15 report in the same paper sparked concerns in the Office of Court Administration.

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Wednesday, September 18, 2002  

Before It’s Too Late

Herewith the opening lines of Ann Coulter’s latest column, “So Three Arabs Walk Into A Bar. . .”:

“An American Citizen overheard three Muslims at a Shoney’s restaurant laughing about Sept. 11 over breakfast. ‘If people thought Sept. 11 was something, wait till Sept. 13.’ ‘Do you think that will bring it down?’ ‘Well, if that won't bring it down, I have contacts. I'll get enough to bring it down.’ Patriot Eunice Stone [Ed.: Mrs. Stone plays professional football?] took down their license plate numbers and called the police as the mirthful Muslims left.”

Now, here is Coulter’s punch line, so to speak: “I’d give you the names, but they’re too complicated. There’s a reason they use numbers at Guantanamo.”

Hilarious. RAOTFLMAO, as they say.

We would have thought Coulter’s expensive education -- Cornell, then Michigan, the latter resulting in a law degree the tuition toward which she paid at out-of-state rates all three years, we’re sure -- would have prepared her for the transliteration of Arabic names, but, alas, we have upon us yet another failure who nonetheless emerged bestowed with highly marketable, yet ultimately meaningless, degrees from two of our nation’s “elite” institutions.

Coulter continues: “According to accounts in [t]he New York Times, the men were uncooperative, refused to answer basic questions, gave false information and told contradictory stories. A bomb-sniffing dog reacted to the presence of explosives in both vehicles. After a careful search, however, no explosives were found and the men were released.”

Coulter citing the Times? And without a footnote, no less? What gives? Is this the same Ann Coulter who wished a horrible death on everyone working at the paper? Maybe she’s being sly, thinking something along the lines of, “That stupid Times, reporting about dogs finding explosives where there were none. Can’t liberals get anything right?”

Here’s another gem from the New Canaan sophisticate, her words dripping with racist and xenophobic condescension and contempt: “Who knew the Religion of Peace [Ed.: Coulter is referring, derogatorily in the article’s context, to Islam.] was so darn funny? Did you hear the one about the release of VX gas in Disneyland?” [Ed.: Emphasis in original.]

It goes on, as is always the case with Coulter: “By my count, the Muslims have given at least five versions of what happened,” she writes, with no substantiation of that count whatsoever. “Eunice Stone has given one consistent story. She has been interrogated by law enforcement officials and is corroborated by another witness,” adds Coulter, blissfully -- or deceitfully -- unaware that Stone’s account of the events at Shoney’s has not been called into question, only her interpretation thereof.

And still more: “According to the Boston Globe, the Three Stooges first told law enforcement officers they did it on purpose.” What was that about conservatives never calling anyone names?

And: “[T]hey tried out the hysterical-woman defense -- used to great effect by Democrats in the Clinton era. One of the Muslims tauntingly demanded to know ‘how many other people witnessed this event that supposedly took place, first of all?’ Well, at least one other person. Stone’s son was there and he heard the conversation exactly the same way. He just thought the men were playing his mother and him for suckers.”

How, Miss Coulter, could Stone’s son have heard the conversation “exactly the same way” when he, unlike his mother, was sufficiently astute to conclude that, in your own words, “the men were playing his mother and him for suckers,” which is exactly the point of confusion at the heart of the matter?

Our advice to Miss Coulter: Stop. Now. Take a breather. Take a vacation. Take a powder. You’re embarrassing yourself.

[Post-publication addendum: Don’t miss Pandagon’s take on Coulter’s column.]

The Rittenhouse Review | Copyright 2002-2006 | PERMALINK |


Watching the Professorate One Enemy At a Time

Say! There’s a new kid on the block: Campus Watch.

Campus Watch, following in the noble tradition of the groundbreaking but crude Accuracy in Academia and the more learned and refined National Association of Scholars, has taken as its task “Monitoring Middle East Studies on Campus.”

It will come as no surprise that Campus Watch is a project of the Philadelphia-based Middle East Forum, of which Daniel Pipes is the director. The Middle East Forum publishes Middle East Quarterly and Middle East Intelligence Bulletin.

Let’s take a look.

“THE PROBLEM,” as defined by Campus Watch:

“American scholars of the Middle East, to varying degrees, reject the views of most Americans and the enduring policies of the U.S. government about the Middle East over a dozen administrations. Lest this characterization appear exaggerated, consider that, with only one exception, every American president since 1948 has spoken forcefully about the benefits to the United States from strong and deep relations with Israel. In contrast, American scholars often propagate a view of Middle Eastern affairs that, among other things, sees Zionism as a racist offshoot of imperialism, blames Israel alone for the origin and persistence of the Palestinian refugee problem, and holds Israel responsible for such problems as terrorism and fundamentalist Islam.”

“THE CAUSES,” according to Campus Watch:

“This bias results from two main causes. First, academics seem generally to dislike their own country and think even less of American allies abroad. They portray U.S. policy in an unfriendly light and disparage allies. The closer those allies are (first Israel, followed by Turkey, then at some distance Egypt and Saudi Arabia), the more hostile their analysis. In contrast, they apologize for the Islamic Republic of Iran, the Syrian Ba’th regime, and other rogue states. . . .

“Second, Middle East studies in the United States has become the preserve of Middle Eastern Arabs, who have brought their views with them. Membership in the Middle East Studies Association (MESA), the main scholarly association, is now 50 percent of Middle Eastern origin. [Ed.: Does this include or exclude Israelis?] Though American citizens, many of these scholars actively disassociate themselves from the United States, sometimes even in public.”

“WHAT WE DO,” according to Campus Watch:

“Campus Watch will henceforth monitor and gather information on professors who fan the flames of disinformation, incitement and ignorance. Campus Watch will critique these specialists, and make available its findings on the internet and in the media. Our main goals are to: Identify key faculty who teach and write about contemporary affairs at university Middle East Studies departments in order to analyze and critique the work of these specialists for errors or biases; [d]evelop a network of concerned students and faculty members interested in promoting American interests on campus; [k]eep the public apprised of course syllabi, memos, debates over appointments and funding, etc.; [k]eep the public informed of relevant university events; and [c]ontinuously post the results of our project on, including articles, reports from campus and other relevant information.”

That’s one hell of an agenda. Presumably handsome financial support is on its way from the usual sources? (Mr. Scaife, please call your office.)

We are not unsympathetic to the oft-spoken complaint of conservatives that academia leans left; it is, in fact, a rather well documented phenomenon. One would think the grip of conservatives on “think tanks” and large swathes of the media would more than compensate for the disparity, but that, and the cause of the disparity itself, are topics for another day. We might point out, however, that advocates of divestment from Israel by university endowments have been overwhelmed by opposition from, well, other academicians.

Meanwhile, back at the Campus Watch web site, visitors will find an array of useful tools for countering the purported bias, inaccuracies, and failures of Middle East scholarship in American universities.

In what we can only assume is a list in progress, we find “Dossiers on Professors,” a dramatic appellation for what appears to be something of an enemies list.

Thus far, “Dossiers” have been posted at Campus Watch on the following professors: M. Shahid Alam, Northeastern University; Juan Cole, University of Michigan; Hamid Dabashi, Columbia University; John Esposito, Georgetown University; Rashid Khalidi, University of Chicago; Joseph Massad, Columbia University; Ali A. Mazrui, State University of New York at Binghamton; and Snehal Shingavi, University of California at Berkeley.

Where’s Edward Said? Neutralized already?

There are even “Dossiers on Institutions,” with the list of offenders to this point including Colorado College, Columbia University, Concordia University, Harvard University, New York University, Northeastern University, San Francisco State University, Stanford University, the State University of New York, the University of California at Berkeley, the University of Chicago, the University of North Carolina, the University of South Florida, and the University of Toronto.

Go ahead and read them, there are not yet in place “need to know” restrictions on readership.

To counter the nefarious influence of the household names on which Campus Watch has assembled its “Dossiers,” the group provides a list of preferred or approved experts on Islam, Islamism, and the Middle East, including Ziad Abdelnour, Patrick Clawson, Khalid Durán, John Eibner, Joseph Farah [Ed.:!], Gary Gambill, Martin Kramer, William Kristol [Ed.: !], Habib Malik, Judith Miller, Michael Rubin, Robert Satloff, Jonathan Schanzer, Meyrav Wurmser, and the aforementioned Mr. Pipes.

Not Debbie Schlussel? Not Norman Liebman?

The site also includes a section called “Keep Us Informed,” which includes a helpful form for professors, students, and others to report campus misbehavior; “Reports From Campus,” sure to be packed with riveting accounts from the front line; and, of course, the requisite donation box.

One would think that academicians of any persuasion would have ample opportunity, through conferences, seminars, symposia, lectures, journals, and books, to criticize one another’s views without resorting to the establishment of a Watch group. After all, isn’t this -- the search for truth, new knowledge, countering falsehoods, and inaccuracies -- what scholarship is about? Does the professorate not engage in this activity on a daily basis, as a matter of course?

Organizations like Campus Watch are just another variant of the ongoing, indeed incessant, politicization of academia that their members profess to oppose and despise. Aside from on-campus agitation and irritation, their true purpose is to inflame passions among a wider audience, the intelligentsia, opinion makers, politicians, and the media. Sadly, at a time when rising tensions are the last thing needed, Daniel Pipes and Campus Watch have elected to throw gasoline on the fire.

The Rittenhouse Review | Copyright 2002-2006 | PERMALINK |


Dry Paint

Sent: Tuesday, September 17, 2002
To: RittenReview *
Subject: A thought that might cheer you up

Dear Mr. Capozzola,

All right, so you missed out on Smarter Andrew Sullivan and Norah Vincent Watch. But there's still Drying Paint Watch -- and that is bound to be more interesting.

Michael Quinn


Dear Mr. Quinn:

You're correct. Drying Paint Watch is still available for hosting on Blogspot, as is Watching Paint Dry, which would make a great name if any readers are seeking a title for a new blog.

Thank you for visiting the site and for writing to The Rittenhouse Review.

Yours truly,
James M. Capozzola

The Rittenhouse Review | Copyright 2002-2006 | PERMALINK |


Jottings From The Reading Room

Neal Pollack is some kind of genius. (Not appropriate for the children.)

My Irish mother will like this essay from the Boston Globe: It includes a smack at Frank McCourt. (Penance for the Pollack link, which I trust she won't click through.)

Three minutes is a long time. Sorry, Mrs. Beamer.

Does the mere existence of the Meretz Party in Israel drive Marty Peretz crazy? Did they choose the name Meretz just to get on his nerves? (Do you see it? The mirror image? Switch the initial letters?)

For the more scholarly types: Read Frances FitzGerald in the New York Review of Books.

Whacking Day cleans a pipsqueak's clock but good.

What kind of writer uses words and phrases like “characteristic inanity,” “umpteen,” “[d]on't get me wrong,” and “knee-jerk left,” and expects to be taken seriously? And what kind of "magazine" pays the writer to publish it?

The Rittenhouse Review | Copyright 2002-2006 | PERMALINK |


American History 101

Yesterday's history question was "What tragic event in American history occurred on this date 140 years ago?"

The answer, of course, is the Battle of Antietam, also known as the Battle of Sharpsburg, a pivotal clash in the Civil War, fought in and around the town of Sharpsburg and Antietam Creek in western Maryland.

More than 23,000 men were killed, wounded, or classified as missing in action. The death toll, estimated at between 3,600 and 3,700, makes Sept. 17, 1862 the deadliest day in American history.

For a brief but comprehensive account of the Battle of Antietam, along with several helpful links for further reading, hop over to the “American Memory” section of the Library of Congress web site.

The Rittenhouse Review | Copyright 2002-2006 | PERMALINK |

Tuesday, September 17, 2002  

Bill McBride for Governor

Aside from the ASPCA and the Humane Society, there is no other more worthy cause at the moment than the campaign of Bill McBride, the Democratic candidate for governor of Florida, running against the predictably incompetent and corrupt Gov. Jeb Bush (R).

Give until it hurts.

The Rittenhouse Review | Copyright 2002-2006 | PERMALINK |


Another History Test

President George W. Bush today decried the widespread ignorance of American high school and college students about key events in U.S. history.

With that chastisement in mind -- disturbing, given its source -- we ask, What tragic event in American history occurred on this date 140 years ago?

The Rittenhouse Review | Copyright 2002-2006 | PERMALINK |


The Forgotten Massacre

For those who may have forgotten or whose memory was not jogged yesterday due to the dearth of media coverage marking the events of Sept. 16, 1982, two words: Sabra and Shatila.

Collective amnesia, indeed.

This is as good as place as any to start your own research.

The Rittenhouse Review | Copyright 2002-2006 | PERMALINK |

Monday, September 16, 2002  

The Media Has Forgotten or Wished It Forgotten

What happened 20 years ago today in Lebanon that this country's major newspapers uniformly have decided -- determined -- to ignore?

The Rittenhouse Review | Copyright 2002-2006 | PERMALINK |


Mapping Out the Future

We'll admit it, we're nerds, or at least our editor can be at times. Underneath that handsome, suave, sophisticated, and very well dressed exterior lies a little slice of a geek, one who likes maps, flow charts, and Power Point presentations.

For that reason, but not that reason alone, we draw your attention to UggaBugga's map, "Exploring the Possibilities."

Original, creative, fascinating, comprehensive, and thought-provoking.

The Rittenhouse Review | Copyright 2002-2006 | PERMALINK |

Friday, September 13, 2002  

THIS IS . . .
More Jottings From The Reading Room

This is . . . sad.

This is . . . hilarious.

This is . . . fascinating.

This is . . . self-humiliation. (That Anglo-American Magic II)

This is . . . just plain stupid.

The Rittenhouse Review | Copyright 2002-2006 | PERMALINK |


Or Read SullyWatch Instead

Eschaton, the only blog I check more than once a day, offers this to the embattled Los Angeles Times columnist:

"Oh, and for the record Norah, I'm not trolling for your hits -- you should be trolling for mine. But I'll return the favor and not link to you."


Instead I'll send readers to SullyWatch for its take on the matter. SullyWatch, after all, generates a good portion of the traffic at the seething columnist's web site.

The Rittenhouse Review | Copyright 2002-2006 | PERMALINK |


Why Bother?

U.S. News & World Report is out with its latest ranking of the nation's top finishing business schools.

In the top 10 -- actually the top 12 because of ties -- are all of the usual suspects: Stanford, Harvard, Pennsylvania, MIT, Northwestern, Duke, Chicago, Columbia, Dartmouth, California-Berkeley, Michigan, and Virginia.

I would probably be more interested in and impressed by this list had I not worked with so many MBAs who couldn't even read an income statement.

The Rittenhouse Review | Copyright 2002-2006 | PERMALINK |

Thursday, September 12, 2002  

New Sites Added to "Better Blogs"

This week five sites were added to the Review's honor roll, that section of the links categorized as "Better Blogs":


Neal Pollack

Poor Man

Sisyphus Shrugged


The Rittenhouse Review | Copyright 2002-2006 | PERMALINK |


Hershey's Scuttled Mega-Merger

Hershey Foods Corp., as many readers know by now, is for sale, or at least sort of for sale.

The Milton Hershey School Trust, which controls Hershey Foods by virtue of its ownership of 77 percent of the outstanding voting stock in the company, recently began soliciting bids from interested suitors. At least until a Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court, spurred by a complaint from Pennsylvania Attorney General Mike Fisher -- who argues that selling Hershey "would result in immediate and irreparable harm to the community" -- intervened and issued a temporary injunction barring the sale of the company.

A hearing on Hershey Foods' appeal of the restraining order ended today without the court issuing a decision.

The trust's attempt to sell Hershey to the highest bidder is not an unreasonable strategy. After all, shares of Hershey account for roughly half of the school trust's assets, and while Hershey, over time, generally has been a solid investment, this obviously is an unbalanced portfolio. According to media reports, interested parties include Nestlé S.A., Cadbury-Schweppes PLC, and, 73 years later, a reconfigured Kraft Foods Inc.

The Original Hershey Bar

What's interesting is that according to a Sept. 11 Associated Press report, company founder Milton S. Hershey at one point considered merging Hershey Foods with two other companies: Kraft Phenix Cheese Corp. and Colgate-Palmolive-Peet Co., now Colgate-Palmolive Co. The deal, struck in October 1929, collapsed when the stock market crashed four days later.

This information, presented in court documents by the Hershey School trustees, is intended to buttress their argument that the candy-maker's founder never intended that the trustees' management of the assets under their control be restricted in the manner suggested by those opposed to the sale of Hershey Foods.

Kraft Phenix Cheese was itself the product of a 1928 merger between J.L. Kraft & Bros. Co. and The Phenix Cheese Corp., the latter best known at the time for an enduring product, now made by Kraft Foods, that is still called "Philadelphia Cream Cheese." And Kraft, as we know it today, resulted from the 1988 acquisition of Kraft Inc. by Philip Morris Cos. and its subsequent merger with General Foods Corp., which had been acquired by P-M in 1985.

Perhaps this isn't exactly fascinating, but the notion of these three firms joining to form a corporation that might have been called Colgate-Palmolive-Kraft-Hershey Corp., Colgate-Palmolive -- obviously not averse to excessive hyphenation at that point in its history -- would have changed the course of history in the American consumer products business in the 20th century.

And the likelihood of this three-way merger being approved today is a question best left for economists, but it is unlikely given the concentrated nature of the laundry detergent business.

Certainly, the 1967 rejection of Procter & Gamble Co.'s 1957 acquisition of Clorox Chemical Co. (Think the courts move slowly today?) now known as The Clorox Co., on the grounds that the deal, opposed by the Federal Trade Commission and ultimately determined by the Supreme Court as presenting a "reasonable probability of a substantial increase in barriers to entry and of enhancement in pricing power in the liquid bleach industry," could present at least a few problems.

The larger point, of course, is that fears that an acquisition of Hershey would adversely affect the greater Hershey, Pa., area are almost without doubt misplaced. Hershey has survived well on its own since 1929, as have its 1929 would-be merger partners, Colgate Palmolive and Kraft. The wisdom of a deal with Nestlé, Cadbury, or Kraft would fall in the hands of management, the verdict ultimately to be issued by shareholders of the combined company.

In the end, seems a matter for the market, not the courts, to decide.

The Rittenhouse Review | Copyright 2002-2006 | PERMALINK |

Tuesday, September 10, 2002  

With a Little Help from the Times

It’s a shame that it took the New York Times to introduce Andrew Sullivan to the concept, the very existence even, of gay football fans.

When I was living in Washington, D.C., one of the best and most eagerly anticipated parties of the year was Norm and Dave’s Annual Super Bowl Party, a reliable blast attended by several hundred mostly gay men and a party so large it usually was held at adjoining suites in the Watergate Hotel.

It’s too bad Sullivan missed out. Those were great days.

-- J.M.C.

The Rittenhouse Review | Copyright 2002-2006 | PERMALINK |


The Professor Ducks the Question

Alan Dershowitz is in the paper again today, this time Canada's National Post, with an essay, "Is an Attack on Iraq Justified?"

Credit goes to the Post's headline writers for their dead-on deck: "In this exclusive essay, lawyer Alan Dershowitz examines the legality of pre-emptive strikes against rogue states."

And that, indeed, he does, but aside from a few hints that yes, or maybe, the U.S. probably has the right to preemptively strike Iraq, the question lies unanswered.

In fact, the entire essay builds up to this concluding sentence, which actually takes the form of a question:

"The real question is, would it be worse to err on the side of action that turns out to be unnecessary, or of inaction that exposes us to preventable devastation?"

Well, which is it, professor?

Perhaps Dershowitz is hoping to prod the Post into paying for a follow-up essay.

The Rittenhouse Review | Copyright 2002-2006 | PERMALINK |


"Fear is No Guide to the Constitution"

The New York Times editorial page today leads off with an excellent essay, "The War on Civil Liberties."

"There is also no denying that the need for effective law enforcement is greater than ever. The Constitution, Justice Arthur Goldberg once noted, is not a suicide pact.

"And yet to curtail individual rights, as the Bush administration has done, is to draw exactly the wrong lessons from history. Every time the country has felt threatened and tightened the screws on civil liberties, it later wished it had not done so. In each case -- whether the barring of government criticism under the Sedition Act of 1798 and the Espionage Act of 1918, the internment of Japanese-Americans in World War II or the McCarthyite witch hunts of the cold war -- profound regrets set in later.

"When we are afraid, as we have all been this year, civil liberties can seem abstract. But they are at the core of what separates this country from nearly all others; they are what we are defending when we go to war. To slash away at liberty in order to defend it is not only illogical, it has proved to be a failure. Yet that is what has been happening."

Happening over and over, in fact: Indefinite imprisonments, undisclosed counts of detainees, American citizens held without due process, secret arrests, secret trials, closed deportation hearings, military tribunals (albeit scuttled), the TIPs program, and more.

The Times quite rightly notes that Congress cannot be relied upon at a time of conflict to challenge a sitting president's attempt to expand his power, leaving that challenge in the hands of the courts and the citizens themselves.

Fortunately, some judges are taking the appropriate response: applying the rule of law. The Times points to Judge Gladys Kessler of the Federal District Court in Washington, D.C., who characterized secret arrests a "odious to a democratic society" and Judge Robert Doumar of the Federal District Court in Norfolk, Va., presiding over an "enemy combatant" case, who directed prosecutors to submit documents that would enable him to determine the defendant's status. "The Justice Department, disgracefully, defied his order," the Times reports.

"As the Bush administration continues down its path, the American people need to make clear that they have learned from history and will not allow their rights to be rolled back. The world has changed since Sept. 11, but the values this country was founded on have not. Fear is no guide to the Constitution. We must fight the enemies of freedom abroad without yielding to those at home," the editors write in closing.

Brace yourselves for the inevitable charge: The New York Times is soft on terrorism.

The Rittenhouse Review | Copyright 2002-2006 | PERMALINK |


Florida Follies

More voting problems in Florida today.

What's the deal? Is it the heat?

Are U.N. observers needed?

Is it time to reconsider Florida's claim to statehood?

The Rittenhouse Review | Copyright 2002-2006 | PERMALINK |


FBI Interviews Guantanamo Prisoners

The anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks looms large in the minds of all Americans, and most intently, of course, among those working in the agencies charged with protecting the country from additional attacks including any that may be timed to coincide with the one-year anniversary.

Thus, it's to be expected and is appreciated that the FBI, among other agencies, is operating in a state of heightened alert.

Indeed, just moments ago, the Office of Homeland Security raised the threat level from "elevated" to "high," or more directly, from "yellow" to "orange," the first increase since March.

According to CNN's broadcast, the increase was sparked by a specific threat to a target overseas, but that target has not been disclosed.

The administration, through the FBI, has indicated that intelligence gathering activities have picked up a substantial increase in ominous "chatter" in recent days.

"A large volume of threats of undetermined reliability continues to be received and investigated by the FBI," according to a bulletin posted on the agency's web site.

"Several of these threats make reference to the events of Sept. 11, 2001, and to New York City and Washington, D.C."

A report this morning from the Associated Press indicates that multiple sources are being pursued by federal authorities.

"The warnings are based on information from all U.S. intelligence sources, from telephone calls to interviews with detainees at the U.S. Naval Base in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, according to a senior law enforcement official," writes the A.P.'s Christopher Newton.

"Information from detainees, most of whom have been out of circulation for months, has proven [sic] false before. U.S. officials have said they act on it only when corroborated through multiple sources, but believe advising caution still is necessary," according to the A.P.

It's surprising to see plainly out-of-the-loop Guantanamo detainees listed as sources regarding potential threats, given that they have yet to provide information leading to the capture of even a single Al Queda operative for involvement in terrorist attacks that already have occurred.

A cynic might say that "interviews with detainees," to the extent they are deemed part of a credible strategy by the public, lend an element of support to the Bush administration's grossly expanded powers to arrest, imprison, and confine incommunicado pretty much anyone, including American citizens, on suspicion of, well, pretty much anything.

The Rittenhouse Review | Copyright 2002-2006 | PERMALINK |

Monday, September 09, 2002  

Back to Dade County Again

Tomorrow, Sept. 10, 2002, residents of Miami, Dade Country, Fla., will be asked yet again to vote on the question of whether gay men and lesbians are entitled to the full rights of citizenship enjoyed by their fellow residents and taxpayers who happen to be heterosexuals.

For reasons not entirely clear, the result is not expected to be a landslide in favor of common decency. Indeed, according to a recent Knight-Ridder report by Manuel Roig-Franzia, our collective entry into the 21st century has had little if any effect on the extremists opposing equal rights for gay men and lesbians.

Anthony Verdugo, a member of the board of an organization known as Take Back Miami-Dade, writes Roig-Franzia, said "the central theme of the campaign focuses on not extending privileges to gays and lesbians that might not be afforded to others."

"The real issue is special rights and special powers that some people in our community want," says Verdugo, head of the Miami-Dade Christian Coalition.

"Take Back Miami-Dade also contends that gays and lesbians are not the victims of discrimination," reports Roig-Franzia.

Oh, okay, it's not about equal rights and equal protection, it's now once again about that deceitful myth "special privileges," here known as "extending privileges . . . not . . . afforded to others."

The "privileges" enjoyed by gays in Miami-Dade? Massive tax breaks? Subsidized housing? Free health care? Affirmative action hiring quotas? The best spots on the beach? Discounts on gym memberships and sun screen?

No, but let's check in with Take Back Miami-Dade to see what they have to say.

"They have gay clubs; they have gay nights at clubs that are not gay; they have gay restaurants. Instead of discrimination, you see special treatment," says Rosa Armesto de Gonzalez, a lawyer and volunteer with Take Back Miami-Dade volunteer.

So that's how it works! A "straight" bar sets aside one night a week for gay men, a night also likely to play host to substantial numbers of straight women tired of harassment at the usual clubs and, believe it or not, an increasing number of straight men, not a few of whom dance among friends, male and female, straight and gay, with their shirts off among that decadent and similarly clad subset of the socially active population often referred to as the "homos."

Amazing. Gay men open bars, nightclubs, restaurants, and hotels, and refurbish countless architectural gems in run down neighborhoods from coast to coast, and are told that should settle the matter -- they should sit back, be happy, and return to their show tunes. Gays should recognize -- nay, admit, concede -- that the achievements of their friends -- their own community -- are special set-asides for their enjoyment only, as if virtually 98 percent of the American straight population hadn't already eaten at -- and enjoyed their time at -- a "gay" restaurant.

But aren't the nightclubs and restaurants enough? What are these faggots complaining about?

Hell, as long as the queers have a place to drink and dance, what difference does it make if discrimination in employment, housing, personal privacy, and parental rights are thrown out the window?

Go back to your drinks and your drugs, boys, and since you're all so rich, be sure to cast your votes in the next election for the Republicans who so thoroughly despise you.

Michael Kopper and Andrew Sullivan, please call your offices. Oh, wait -- neither of you has an office to call anymore!

Sorry about that, fellas.

The Rittenhouse Review | Copyright 2002-2006 | PERMALINK |

Sunday, September 08, 2002  

The Misdirected and the Misbegotten

Herewith another of our once-in-a-while round-up of interesting and unusual Google searches that brought new readers to The Rittenhouse Review.

email + list + of + meat + dealers + guest + book + in + Korea
What to make of this? A butchers' convention?

Philadelphia + golf + course + review + rank
No golfers here, sorry. Still waiting for that invitation to join the Philadelphia Cricket Club, though.

Ann + Coulter + mini + skirt + photos
No mini-skirt photos here, either of Ann Coulter or Laura Ingraham, the subject of another popular mini-skirt search, though typically with "leopard print" included among the search criteria.

St. + Rita + of + Cascia + Shrine
Yep, we're a linker. This and similar searches became popular during the summer after the release of that movie that I didn't see and the name of which I can't remember.

price + fixing + security + Dresser + Baker + Hughes
Dick Cheney, please call your office.

"Tucker Carlson" + "Reader's Digest" + cheating
I'm not even going to touch that one.

"Tucker Carlson" + "Rush Limbaugh" + pictures
I'm absolutely not going to touch that one.

biker + bitch
Good one. And yes, we used it, in reference to Debbie Schlussel.

what + happened + to + Debbie + Schlussel
Not sure. A well deserved slide back to obscurity?

riding humiliation galleries
Whoa! This is a family site.

Carlton + Bush + Waco + hotel + average

Australian + right + wing + politics
Not my area of expertise.

Seventh + Day + Adventist + crazy + religion
This user must have meant that other crazy religion: Catholicism.

children + manipulative + daddy's + girl + spoiled
Sounds like someone just ticked someone off.

underage + girl + Costa + Rica + vacation + account
Sounds like someone is in big trouble.

James + M. + Capozzola
About as close as one can get. Is that you, mom?

The + Rittenhouse + Review
Home sweet home (page).

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Lawyer to the Stars Led Astray by Israeli Militarism

Alan Dershowitz, defense attorney to the stars, or at least the most reprehensible, highest-paying, and most attention-getting thereof, apparently took advantage of the recent drought of high-publicity criminals to dash off a few thoughts about terrorism, the result being Why Terrorism Works: Understanding the Threat, Responding to the Challenge.

The book gets a light once over in today's Washington Post as one of several books on the broader subject of terrorism reviewed by James Bamford, the author of Body of Secrets: Anatomy of the Ultra-Secret National Security Agency, yet an even briefer treatment would still have revealed a mindset veering off the deep end.

Dershowitz, generally considered a champion of civil liberties, seems to be breaking new ground in the definition of that lofty concept, courtesy of instruction from Israeli civilian and military officials, including that old softie, Ariel Sharon.

Among the arsenal of tools and techniques the Harvard Law School professor advocates for use in this country are "torture warrants," collective punishment, and national identification cards. Dershowitz's stance on national ID cards is widely known and his case in favor of a limited identification and tracking system is not without its merits. But Dershowitz's advocacy of torture and collective punishment is a relatively new phenomenon, and one that deserves greater attention than it is has received so far.

Collective punishment is a concept Dershowitz learned from Israel, but he would ratchet up the intensity a notch or two. After all, its use by Israel against the Palestinians by Israel has been insufficient, even timid, he believes. "On one of his many visits to Israel, Dershowitz analyzed the Israeli government's program of collective punishment against the Palestinians -- demolishing the homes of innocent relatives of those involved in suicide bombing. It is a practice outlawed under international law," writes Bamford.

"Nevertheless, Dershowitz decided to recommend a more effective policy -- leveling the buildings in entire villages. 'The next time the terrorists attack,' he said, 'the village's residents would be given twenty-four hours to leave, and then Israeli troops would bulldoze the houses.'"

Here's Bamford on Dershowitz's unusual stance on torture, a position that requires a not inconsiderable about of hopscotching around the Constitution for its justification:

"Dershowitz also came up with the idea of torture while on a visit to Israel. He discovered that the Israeli government regularly used the technique, also long outlawed under international statutes, against Palestinians in custody and thought it might be useful in the United States. After all, he argues, law enforcement does it anyway, so why not legalize it and allow judges to issue 'torture warrants'? 'I think there would be less torture with a warrant requirement than without one,' he argues. Thus if a person still refuses to talk, or tell where a bomb is hidden, after the 'torture warrant' has been issued, says Dershowitz, 'he would be subjected to judicially monitored physical measures designed to cause excruciating pain without leaving any lasting damage.' One form of torture recommended by Dershowitz -- 'the sterilized needle being shoved under the fingernails' -- is chillingly Nazi-like."

Law enforcement "does it anyway." Less torture would occur if warrants were issued to permit it. "Judicially monitored physical measures." "Excruciating pain without leaving any lasting damage." "Sterilized needle[s]." [Emphasis added. Thanks for that, Al.] The mind reels.

Making matters worse, for all the liberal pieties, compassionate grandstanding, and self-righteous indignation that have defined his career, Dershowitz shows nothing but contempt for the Palestinians, his concern with justice obviously coming to a screeching halt at the border. Dershowitz "chastises those who seek to understand the 'root causes' of the Middle East violence, arguing that it merely plays into the hands of the terrorists," according to Bamford.

The reviewer adds, "Dershowitz, who has little sympathy for the Palestinians who struggle to survive in the squalid refugee camps and devastated villages of the Israeli occupied territories, does not believe the numerous reports of 'desperation' in those areas. 'There are reasons to be skeptical of this claim,' he warns, although he gives no indication of ever having bothered to pay a visit."

One would expect otherwise intelligent people, a group that until now would presumably include the famous professor, to apply greater critical judgment regarding these issues and to restrain from the kind of hysterical overreaction that advocates the importation and implementation of techniques of interrogation and retribution that are completely alien not only to our culture but to our Constitution. But then again, calm and rational thought doesn't sell as many books as do hysteria and panic, and that's just not the Dershowitz style.

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Saturday, September 07, 2002  

Jottings From The Reading Room

Ted Barlow dissects the Sullivan obsession, masterfully.

Sue Mladenik, a private widow, the anti-Lisa Beamer, from the Christian Science Monitor.

TalkLeft on the conviction of Michael Skakel in what this non-lawyer, yet longtime student of real-life crime, believes is among the weakest prosecution cases ever presented, successfully or not, in modern American history.

The St. Petersburg Times trashes Ann Coulter -- with the help of prominent webloggers.

The continuing relevance of Madame Bovary, by Gustave Flaubert, from The Guardian.

LA Weekly on the pathetic sexual snobbery of former American Scholar editor, Joseph Epstein.

The Rittenhouse Review | Copyright 2002-2006 | PERMALINK |


Pimples on Ledeen's Ass

To: The Rittenhouse Review
From: Greg Hartman -
Sent: Thursday, 09/05/2002 12:50 PM
Subject: Michael Ledeen

To the Editor:

You left-wing [sic] commie [sic] pinko [sic] liberals [sic] wouldn't make a pimple on Ledeens [sic] ass.

Believe it.

The sooner we root out these islamokazies [sic] and the rest of that ilk -- the world will be a better place.

Greg Hartman

The Rittenhouse Review | Copyright 2002-2006 | PERMALINK |

Friday, September 06, 2002  

Ann Coulter: The Missing Years

Imagine our surprise this morning upon seeing the usually dutiful and obsequiously loyal Lloyd "Amy, what's the party line on this?" Grove mustering up the temerity to challenge footnote-fetishist Ann Coulter on something so fundamental as her honesty!

Could it be that conservatives really do eat their young? Or in this case, their not-so-young?

The Rittenhouse Review | Copyright 2002-2006 | PERMALINK |

Thursday, September 05, 2002  

Thesaurus Abuser Joins the "Blogosphere"

She who earlier this week brought Jackson Browne's "The Pretender" into the Canon of Western Literature has issued a lovely greeting to her fellow webloggers:

"But, I must say that the so-called blogosphere, liberating as it can be, is -- as I have had the misfortune of discovering in recent days -- also full of nasty riffraff and wannabe pundits who because they haven’t an earnest, original idea in their heads, fill their empty existences sniping impotently at legitimate targets. By legitimate targets I mean people who have actually had some measure of success in their professional lives, people who get published regularly in the mainstream press because, yes, they have a certain degree of talent, but moreso [sic] because they have something more to say on a weekly basis than 'boo hoo' or 'look ma, no hands.'

"Sadly, as one friend of mine put it recently, the internet is something of an 'echo chamber,' and this means that even the flimsiest vitriol gets posted and reposted, annotated and updated ad nauseam until the accumulated pettifogging becomes a kind of beslobbered palimpsest that looks and reads like a snot rag." -- Norah Vincent

Hmmm . . .

The lady doth protest too much, methinks. (William Shakespeare, Hamlet, Act III, Scene 2.)

The Rittenhouse Review | Copyright 2002-2006 | PERMALINK |

Wednesday, September 04, 2002  

The Ghosts of Mr. & Mrs. Henry R. Luce

Today's quote of the day comes from Skippy the Bush Kangaroo, a thoughtful and dooged blogger despite the handicap associated with his apparently permanently broken "shift" key.

"although time magazine offers a tasteful look at 11 people whose lives were changed by the events of a year ago, wouldn't you know, one of those people is george w. bush. what a coincidence! we're lucky it wasn't clare booth luce!"

The Rittenhouse Review | Copyright 2002-2006 | PERMALINK |


The World's Most Dangerous Man

If there were any doubt before today, there can be no longer: Michael Ledeen is the most dangerous man in the world, or at the very least, the man with the most dangerous ideas in the world.

Just in time for the Cliff Notes types in Andrew Sullivan's book club, The Wall Street Journal today carries an encapsulation of Ledeen's latest work, The War Against the Terror Masters, entitled "The War on Terror Won't End in Baghdad." [Subscription required.]

Ledeen says that the debate over invading or attacking Iraq, such as it is, is misplaced and misguided. The über-hawk advocates not just one war but four wars, or more accurately, one gigantic, almost simultaneous war against Iran, Iraq, Syria, and Saudi Arabia, in that order. (Not Libya?)

Not surprisingly, Ledeen's contribution to the national debate includes some of the most dubious propositions and questionable assertions currently in circulation, all presented with an arrogant certaintude that displays a complete disregard for history, politics, religion, and, indeed, humanity.

Take it away, Mike:

"We should instead be talking about using all our political, moral and military genius to support a vast democratic revolution to liberate all the peoples of the Middle East from tyranny. That is our real mission, the essence of the war in which we are engaged, and the proper subject of our national debate."

"Despite all the talk about growing anti-Americanism in the Middle East, we inspire their people."

"If we come to Baghdad, Damascus and Tehran as liberators, we can expect overwhelming popular support."

"Of the four terrorist tyrannies, Iran seems the easiest to liberate. . . . We know how to do it: broadcasting the truth and funding others who do the same, denouncing the oppression, defending the political prisoners by name, encouraging private American and international organizations to provide money, communications and guidance to the people on the ground."

"With a triumph in Iran, the democratic revolution would quickly gain allies in Syria and Iraq, and transform our war against Saddam Hussein from a primarily military operation to a war of national liberation against a hated regime."

"[A] successful democratic revolution in Iran would inspire the Iraqis to join us to remove Saddam, it is impossible to imagine that the Iranian people would tolerate tyranny in their own country once freedom had come to Iraq. Syria would follow in short order." [A similar argument follows with respect to Saudi Arabia.]

"This war cannot be limited to national theaters; we face a regional challenge and must respond accordingly. But it is both a just war and one for which we are marvelously well suited."

"God willing, our national debate will drive home the true dimensions of this mission, and strengthen our resolve to see it through to victory."

The Rittenhouse Review | Copyright 2002-2006 | PERMALINK |

Tuesday, September 03, 2002  

Apparently, Anything Less Than Perfection

"Secretary of State Colin Powell has been a good soldier in public, even as he has had to fight for every small victory against Administration hawks like Vice President Dick Cheney and Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld," writes Massimo Calabresi in Time magazine ("Colin Powell: Planning for an Exit," carried on's web site).

However "sources close to Powell," Calabresi reports, say his departure plans are firm: "[H]e will step down at the end of President [George] Bush's current term."

According to these sources, Powell will remain on the job at Foggy Bottom until such time even if the U.S. pursues a military invasion into or attack on Iraq, a strategy the secretary is widely reported to oppose.

And yet, Time reports, an odd caveat is attached to Powell's "firm" departure plans: "If Bush wins a second term, only the imminence of a major diplomatic victory -- in the Middle East, for example -- could induce him to stay a short while longer." [Emphasis added.]

That must mean the prospects for anything less -- ranging from an imminent though minor diplomatic victory to an looming geo-political meltdown -- as of January 2005 will be insufficient reason for Powell to finish the tasks before him and instead will send the Secretary of State fleeing for safer and saner pastures.

What does this say about President Bush and his administration?

It's just par for the course, one would suspect. This is, after all, the modus operandi of the Bush family: As long as things work according to the grand plan, hang around and pick up the spoils, but make a mess and someone else -- daddy, mommy, the maid, Jimmy Baker, Karen Hughes, Jack Welch, who have you -- will eventually clean it up. It's okay, just run along and play, boys.

More important, what does this say about Powell?

Those Americans, no matter their political inclinations, who were expecting something just a little bit better from the Secretary of State have good reason to be very disappointed.

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