The Rittenhouse Review

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

Friday, January 31, 2003  

Trying Something New

It probably will come as no surprise to regular readers that within my browser I have what may well be the most extensive collection of links, or “favorites,” known to mankind.

I’ve decided to try something new with these links.

Going forward, I will be swapping out the regular links, until now grouped, below the blogroll, under the headings “U.S. News,” “World News,” “Organizations,” and “Philadelphia,” with a selection of links from my permanent collection, for lack of a better term.

I hope to rotate the links on a weekly basis. During transitional periods, the regular links may return from time to time.

Today I begin with Art Museums - Northeast and Mid-Atlantic U.S.

If you have any links in this category I have missed, please send them along.

The Rittenhouse Review | Copyright 2002-2006 | PERMALINK |


Questions and Exclamations
TRR’s Version of “Slacker Friday”

What Liberal Media?

A Nation of Enablers?


Londonderry or Derry?

Film Review or Political Tract?

Pentagon Mouthpiece?

U.N. Rules!

Damn Communists!



Anti War!

Getting War!

Free Martha!



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Thursday, January 30, 2003  

Hanging With the Right Wingers

“THE LOONS! THE LOONS!”: Here’s the mad dolphin aficionado and single-for-too-long Peggy Noonan on the president’s latest speech:

You always hope a State of the Union address will be a sleek and handsome ocean liner cutting through the sea. Often they start that way and then turn, inevitably, into a greasy old barge riding low in the water, weighed down by policy cargo. It blows its horn proudly but the sound is more impressive than the ship; in fact it highlights the ship’s inadequacy.

No, Peggy, not often, only when you’re writing them.

Oh, and by the way, Dr. Freud, please call your office.


CROCKED & DEFROCKED: All this is rather new to me, but some visitors to the pretend news service that has adopted the grandiose name “World Net Daily” may wonder why that outfit expresses so much hostility toward the Episcopal Church.

Just today, in fact, the nuts at “WND” published a piece, “Episcopal Bureaucrat Threatens WND,” which while lacking a byline, betrays all of the fingerprints of the infamous Lester Kinsolving, a WND hanger-on and former Episcopal priest who was suspended of his priestly duties in July 1978 and ultimately deposed by his bishop in January 1979.

A little bitter are we, Mr. Kinsolving?


A DRUDGE MATCH: What is it about other people’s personal lives that gets Matt Drudge into such a lather?


IT’S ALL JUST MAKE BELIEVE: Here’s Michael Kelly, the laziest columnist in America (No mean feat, that!), writing about writing about the war he can’t wait to begin:

I spent half an hour or so on Monday interviewing, with some others, a “senior administration official,” as the White House ground rules dictate the nomenclature.

Okay, so, like, no one really believes this, right? I mean, a whole half hour?! Thirty minutes?!


CREDIT WHERE CREDIT IS DUE: Norah Vincent breaks with her right-wing colleagues and other Bush apologists on the issue of legacy admissions preferences (“Affirmative Action for Bluebloods”):

Defending legacy admissions is a mistake, not just because it is inconsistent with opposition to affirmative action but also because legacy admissions are indefensible.

They make a mockery of merit, granting special status to the applicant whose only virtue is an accident of birth and whose achievements, as in the case of our C-student commander in chief . . . are modest at best.

They further privilege the already privileged, turning college admissions into a loathsome, nepotistic enterprise that, according to one admissions director, admits children of alumni at “up to twice the rate of the general pool.”

Worst of all, they do all this not in the name of noble ideals like diversity or social justice -- as affirmative action purports to do -- but for the simple reason that money has changed hands. . . .

It’s the most detestable kind of unabashed corruption -- quid pro quo -- and it has no rightful place in any admissions office. Conservatives who defend it while opposing affirmative action are properly charged as self-deluding racists and elitists.

I have reason to suspect Vincent hates my guts and the feeling is well, the feeling. But it’s important to give credit where credit is due.

The Rittenhouse Review | Copyright 2002-2006 | PERMALINK |

Wednesday, January 29, 2003  

They Let Anyone Into the White House These Days

It turns out the “Lester” to whom I referred and about whom I asked on January 24, is one Lester Kinsolving, and as it happens, he’s quite widely known for his, shall we say, eccentric views and bizarre personality profile.

Kinsolving is affiliated with wing-nut Joseph Farah’s “WorldNetDaily,” an ersatz news outfit that lately has taken on among its many unworthy causes the promotion of just-plain-old-nut Joan Peters and her thoroughly discredited book, From Time Immemorial. (See, “The Rehabilitation of Joan Peters,” The Rittenhouse Review, June 19, 2002.)

How is it, I wonder, that this little cretin -- Kinsolving, I mean, at least in this instance -- has not appeared on my radar before now?

Anyway, my thanks and appreciation for enlightenment go out to: Roger Ailes (see below), Atrios (see below), Les Dabney, Lisa English (see below), Tim Francis-Wright, Jeff Scott Heebner, J., A.K., J.K., Julia, Terry Krepel (see below), Will McAveney, Matt Meltzer, Tom Powers, Matthew Thomas, Thomas Tunney, the Watchful Babbler (see below), and possibly one or two others I may have overlooked.

A few comments from readers:

A Reader (who concedes borrowing from various sites to draft his comments):

It’s Lester Kinsolving, a Baltimore radio personality known for his wacky questions. Normally, Les, as he’s known, stands on the sidelines and waits until the end of the briefing to ask his peculiar, and often entertaining, questions. But with the switcheroo, he’s started to claim seats up front. Yesterday he was sitting in the seat designated for the New York Times. When the rightful occupant came in a few minutes late and tried to reclaim his seat, Les told him: “It’s not your seat if you’re late.”

Chief press wrangler Reed Dickens had to go over and tell Les to move, which he did -- directly in front of the podium to another empty seat in Row 2. Because the White House has committed to calling on reporters in order, Les got his questions on Gary Hart and the U.S. Postal Service in even before USA Today and Bloomberg. . . .

I looked longingly at my old seat in the third row only to find that it was filled not by the New York Daily News reporter but rather by a reporter for something called Audio Visual News. The Daily News reporter didn’t cause a stink. “I’m half French-Canadian so I’m going to sit in the AFP seat,” he said. Agence France-Presse, that is. There must be something about that seat: He even asked a question about France’s position on the coalition against Saddam Hussein.

Attendance was sparse. That’s no indictment of Deputy Press Secretary Scott McClellan, who is briefing us this week while Fleischer is on his honeymoon; there are always empty seats. The last of the eight rows is usually filled with guests and cameramen reading the newspaper. Newspaper reading, however, is not limited to the rows out of the camera’s easy view. I spied one reporter doing a crossword puzzle and another reading the funnies in the third and fourth rows yesterday.

The untold secret of the White House briefings is this: Reporters never ask a question that they really want to know the answer to. Perennial Power Rower herself, Helen Thomas, will tell underlings that. (The octogenarian Thomas, who works for Hearst newspapers these days, is the only reporter who has her name instead of the name of her organization on the little brass plaque affixed to the seat.) The reason is that if you get a real answer rather than spin, you’ll have to share it with the whole press corps, but mostly it’s because you’ll never get a real answer.

Ever since the briefings became televised under former President Bill Clinton, they have morphed into made-for-TV events. “We do not comment on intelligence matters from this podium,” McClellan said today, as if reading from a rulebook. But sometimes, away from the klieg lights, they will. In the briefings, the questions and answers are often less substance than semantics. Reporters try to trick the press secretary into committing news, and he tries to make reporters look badgering and biased. Fleischer recently told the New York Times that reporters do a lot of “peacocking” at the briefings to impress their bosses. Conan O’Brien, no doubt, will be tuning in for more material.

Roger Ailes:

I’m sure I’m not the first, but Lester is Les Kingsolving. According to his bio at WorldNetDaily, “Les Kinsolving hosts a daily talk show for WCBM in Baltimore. His radio commentaries are syndicated nationally. He is White House correspondent for Talk Radio Network and WorldNetDaily. He has been selected by Talkers Magazine as one of the top 100 radio hosts for the last six years. Before going into broadcasting, Kinsolving was a newspaper reporter and columnist -- twice nominated for the Pulitzer Prize for his commentary.”

I didn’t realize you could nominate yourself.


Lester is Lester Kinsolving, resident insane wing-nut of the White House press corps.

Lisa English:

Who is Lester? It’s none other than Les Kinsolving, that noodly Baltimore radio personality on WCBM. Was that wild, or what? Crazy questions are his specialty.

Terry Krepel:

In case nobody’s won the contest, “Lester” is Les Kinsolving, a Baltimore radio talk-show host who, for some reason, has a White House press pass and is essentially the conservatives’ White House press corps’ answer to Helen Thomas. He has a deal with the conservative “news” site WorldNetDaily in which he asks Ari Fleischer questions submitted by WND readers. His “bug-chasing” question is already immortalized there.

The Watchful Babbler:

I’m not sure if you knew this already, but “Lester” would be Lester (“Les”) Kinsolving, who does a radio show in Baltimore and is infamous amongst the White House press corps for both his constant grandstanding and often-bizarre lines of questioning -- Friday’s conference being a case in point -- while respected (a wary respect, to be sure) for his tenacity. In some ways, he’s a right-wing Sarah McClendon, a comparison that I suspect she would have found apt.

Thank you all.

The Rittenhouse Review | Copyright 2002-2006 | PERMALINK |


But Taking No Names

Zander, the young blogger (and not my nephew of the same name) to whom I referred readers on January 22, reports his school project is going quite well, thank you very much.

If you haven’t yet voted in Zander’s poll -- and you’re only supposed to vote once and on one side of the page -- stop by and do so now.

The kid’s kicking butt, but since the poll is confidential, he’s taking no names.

The Rittenhouse Review | Copyright 2002-2006 | PERMALINK |


This is Just for the Archaeological Record

I’ve said here before that I miss a lot, due in part, I think, to the fact that I work alone and from home, and because I watch very little television. (Latest example: When -- and why? -- did Matt Lauer cut his hair off?) One would think, though, that given the volume of e-mail I receive and the number of web sites I visit on a regular basis, certain interesting, provocative, and humorous items circulating the world would reach me, or my consciousness, sooner.

Such is the case with the “song,” “If You’re Happy and You Know It, Bomb Iraq,” which arrived here just this week. I don’t know, maybe I ran across it before, maybe not. But before you send a message telling me this protest has been around for weeks, or post something on your warblog saying what a dork Capozzola is for publishing “old news,” I’m saying up front: It’s new to me and I think it’s terrific. And it’s my blog and I’ll do what I want to.

I’m posting it here, in its entirety, because I like it and because I think it deserves to be part of the cyber-archaeological record of our time. Besides, the more places the song is posted, the less likely it is that the powers that be (See Attorney General Short Stick, below.) can expunge it from our collective conscience when their counterrevolution arrives in full.

As best I can determine, the words to “If You’re Happy and You Know It, Bomb Iraq,” which is sung to the tune of summer-camp favorite, “If You’re Happy and You Know, Clap Your Hands,” were written by John Robbins, about whom I confess to knowing nothing whatsoever until today.

If you’re unfamiliar with it, enjoy. If you’ve already heard it, enjoy.

“If You’re Happy And You Know It Bomb Iraq”
by John Robbins

If you cannot find Osama, bomb Iraq.
If the markets are a drama, bomb Iraq.
If the terrorists are Saudi,
And your alibi is shoddy,
And your tastes remain quite gaudy,
Bomb Iraq.

If you never were elected, bomb Iraq.
If your mood is quite dejected, bomb Iraq.
If you think that SUVs,
Are the best thing since sliced cheese,
And your father you must please,
Bomb Iraq.

If the globe is quickly warming, bomb Iraq.
If the poor will soon be storming, bomb Iraq.
We assert that might makes right,
Burning oil is a delight,
For the empire we will fight,
Bomb Iraq.

If we have no allies with us, bomb Iraq.
If we think that someone’s dissed us, bomb Iraq.
So to hell with the inspections,
Let’s look tough for the elections,
Close your mind and take directions,
Bomb Iraq.

If corporate fraud is growin’, bomb Iraq.
If your ties to it are showin’, bomb Iraq.
If your politics are sleazy,
And hiding that ain’t easy,
And your manhood’s getting queasy,
Bomb Iraq.

Fall in line and follow orders, bomb Iraq.
For our might now knows no borders, bomb Iraq.
Disagree? We’ll call it treason,
It’s the make war not love season,
Even if we have no reason,
Bomb Iraq.

The Rittenhouse Review | Copyright 2002-2006 | PERMALINK |


MUST . . . NOT . . . PRESS . . . KEY . . .
Must . . . find . . . new . . . words . . .

I’ve been thinking in the few minutes before I sat down to write how to temper my admiration for the speech I just heard. -- Andrew Sullivan.

That’s the grammatically challenged Sullivan at his blog today, trying desperately to keep himself from pressing the F8 key on his Mac, the key that’s pre-programmed to spit out the words, “Once again President Bush gets it exactly right.”

[Post-publication addendum: With homage to Ted Barlow.]

The Rittenhouse Review | Copyright 2002-2006 | PERMALINK |


The Bush Administration’s Reckless Disregard

From now on, let’s just call him Attorney General Short Stick:

Attorney General John Ashcroft was selected as the cabinet officer who did not attend the speech, so that he might head the government in case of catastrophe at the Capitol.

I suppose threatening the world with an Ashcroft presidency is part of the administration’s well established strategy designed to prevent terrorist attacks while also sticking it to the American people.

The Rittenhouse Review | Copyright 2002-2006 | PERMALINK |

Tuesday, January 28, 2003  

Regarding Tina Brown and Talk Magazine

Yesterday I posted brief remarks [Second item: “Here, Kitty”] about Tina Brown, the mysteriously enduring former editor of Vanity Fair, the New Yorker, Talk, and some British magazine that nobody cares about.

Doing so sparked some interest on my part in writing a longer piece about Brown, relating specifically to her tenure at the deservedly defunct Talk magazine.

Although I am an incorrigible collector of, among other things, the unusual, worthless, and strange -- a category in which Talk would certainly fall -- and while I subscribed to said periodical for a year or so, I neglected to save my copies of the magazine.

If any of the Review’s readers have a complete or nearly complete collection of Talk, I would appreciate hearing from them. I am particularly interested in gathering a record of the person or persons who appeared on the front cover of each issue.

Thank you in advance for your assistance.

The Rittenhouse Review | Copyright 2002-2006 | PERMALINK |

Monday, January 27, 2003  

Just a Few Things Today

BLAME IT ON BUENOS AIRES: Go ahead, cry for Argentina. The country just can’t seem to live up to its potential. This comes from the Washington Post:

Argentina was among the world’s 10 richest countries at the turn of the last century. A succession of military dictatorships and corrupt civilian governments ate away at the country’s productivity and development, but Argentina remained Latin America’s richest country. Its standard of living rivaled that of many European nations, and it was seemingly insulated from the poverty and yawning chasm between rich and poor that characterize countries such as Brazil and Mexico.

Argentina undertook a free-market restructuring in the early and mid-1990s, but was then swept by the global financial crisis that began in East Asia in 1997. It sank into recession and has not fully recovered. Profligate public spending, financed with debt, led Argentina to default on loan repayments to international lenders and forced it to devalue its currency in 2001. Nearly one-quarter of the workforce is now unemployed. [Note: Emphasis added.]

One in four unemployed? Sounds like a typical week for the Bush dynasty.


HERE, KITTY: Tina Brown is special. Very special. God or the media has granted Brown nine lives or something, each seemingly destined to be less interesting -- and less successful -- than the last. Soon to come: a new show, hosted by Brown, on CNBC.

The Associated Press reports:

The first edition of “Topic A with Tina Brown,” on March 20 to coincide with the Oscars three days later, will be about Hollywood, hype, and the wars between art and commerce.

Imagine that! Tina Brown talking about Hollywood and hype -- during Oscars week no less. Brown, though, I’m certain, will insist we call it not “hype,” but “buzz.” And no doubt her party’s going to be great. Just really great -- with its own buzz.

There’s more:

Brown, the former editor in chief of Vanity Fair, [t]he New Yorker[,] and her own defunct magazine, Talk, has been writing for The Times [(London)] and since her magazine went under.

“Topic A” will invite viewers to drop in on conversations that explore unexpected perspectives on business, politics[,] and media,” Brown said. “CNBC has a great demographic and that means I can cover complex and intriguing topics in depth.”

Well, if true, that would be a first for Brown.


THE GUY FROM WHEN TNR WAS GOOD: Yes, I know, everyone else already has linked to it, but if you missed Michael Kinsley’s piece, “How Affirmative Action Helped George W.,” go read it now.

Why is it that so many conservatives, reacting to various proposals regarding government spending and taxation, reply with wails of, “Nobody ever said life was fair!” only to go ballistic about the “unfairness” of affirmative action? “Merit! Merit! Merit!” they scream. Yeah, right. Go read Kinsley.


NEXT!: And when you’re done with Kinsley, go read Bob Somerby at the Daily Howler. He’s on a roll lately, with great articles about the vile Sean Hannity, the inexplicable Howard Kurtz, and lightly regarded “Beta Girl” Richard Cohen.


KIDS TODAY: Welcome -- yet again -- to the age of selfishness.

We are raising a nation of spoiled brats and no one seems to notice, least of all the parents of said spoiled brats, and that’s because they’re too busy making sure their kids are brattier than the Jones’s kids.

The Rittenhouse Review | Copyright 2002-2006 | PERMALINK |


The New York Times Book Review on David Frum

It’s helpful when a good book review saves one the time and expense of a trip to the bookstore. Such is the case with Jeff Shesol’s review of The Right Man: The Surprise Presidency of George W. Bush, by former speechwriter David Frum. “‘The Right Man’: The ‘Axis of Evil’ Guy,’” January 26. Note: Shesol was deputy chief speechwriter to former President Bill Clinton.)

A few brief excerpts:

For Washington gossips, there is precious little dish here: no court astrologers; no powers behind the throne; no stories that truly surprise. More disappointing, for the rest of us, there are few insights that enhance our understanding of Bush or his presidency. Of all the candid comments that Frum attributes to Bush, only six appear to have been collected firsthand. . . . Frum, the author of three other books and innumerable essays, has an instinct for the telling anecdote and clever simile: “The Enron news,” he writes, “hit the Bush White House like a death in the family.”

That’s pretty strong language, and I’ll admit to being at least slightly interested in Frum’s elaboration on this point, if there is any. What about the demise of Enron was so painful: The lost jobs, the rampant criminality, the enrichment of a few at the hands of the many, the disgrace of Kenneth Lay & Co., or something deeper than that?

Frum’s previous books have been praised -- rightly -- for their nuanced and unconventional outlook. So it is surprising that his analysis here is often glib and ungratifying. “The Right Man” frequently resorts to the type of cant one encounters on talk radio: according to Frum, global agreements like the Kyoto Accords and the international convention on land mines are simply the schemings of “ill wishers”‘ -- some of them our fellow citizens -- who “oppose American power.” Not much nuance there.

Perhaps that’s because nuance isn’t valued particularly highly by this administration.

The evolution of “axis of evil” is one of the book’s highlights. What’s missing, unfortunately, is much discussion of what such explosive pronouncements mean in practice. Bush’s mention of North Korea -- ‘‘added to the axis last’’ -- merits only a few sentences here, mostly concerning Frum’s pleasure at Pyongyang’s pique. North Korea’s near absence from this book makes its inclusion in the dishonor roll seem what some critics have feared: a provocative afterthought with profound consequences.

Consequences that, to this day, appear not to be taken seriously by the White House and the Defense Department.

The Rittenhouse Review | Copyright 2002-2006 | PERMALINK |

Friday, January 24, 2003  

More About “Bug Chasers”
Andrew Sullivan, Please Call Your Office

Ari Fleischer was in rare form today. Below is a portion of today’s media briefing. Massive public recognition to the first reader who can identify “Lester.”

Q: In view of recent wire service reports of an increase -- startling increase in cases of AIDS, HIV and syphilis in New York and California, as well as this morning’s Washington Times page[-]one story, does the President believe there are no such things as "bug chasers"?

Fleischer: I’m not aware of what you’re talking about, Lester.

Q: Page one. These are people in the homosexual community that feel it’s erotic to contract AIDS. And this is what is reported --

Fleischer: I’ve no idea what you’re talking about, Lester.

Q: You don’t read the Washington Times?

Fleischer: Of course, I do. [sic]

Q: You do? Well, then what about it? You must have read the story?

Fleischer: Lester, I expressed yesterday the President’s thoughts about AIDS and people who have AIDS. And the President’s thoughts are that people who have AIDS deserve to be treated with care and with compassion [sic] --

Q: The ones that went after it to get it?

Fleischer: -- that people need to be treated with care and compassion. He is very proud of the fact that his budget has unparalleled amounts of money, both foreign and domestic, to help people with AIDS. [sic]

Q: Yes, but what about the ones that go after it?

Fleischer: You only get two, Lester, and you’ve sure have [sic] had them.

The Rittenhouse Review | Copyright 2002-2006 | PERMALINK |


Oh, The People You’ll Meet!

Andrew Sullivan today writes, “About ‘bug-chasing.’ I’d like to reiterate the point I made in Salon: I’m not saying that this issue shouldn’t be looked into thoroughly. And I’m not saying we shouldn’t be concerned about rates of HIV infection among gay men. I’m just saying we need to do so factually and responsibly.”

That’s an interesting choice of words: “responsibly.”

I wonder how many “bug chasers” Sullivan has met along the way.

The Rittenhouse Review | Copyright 2002-2006 | PERMALINK |


And a Bunch of Stuff That Doesn’t

A HORSE IS A HORSE: I’m so glad Media Whores Online is back.


HE WAS A MERE ANAL CYST THEN: It wasn’t so very long ago that I found myself asking a colleague, “Who’s Rush Limbaugh?” Ah, those were the days. Before it was discovered he needed prescription drug rehab for popping pills more than he was popping off at the mouth.


TOADIES HERE, TOADIES THERE: It seems Bush Toadies aren’t restricted to the Washington Post and No. 10 Downing Street. Canberra has its own. [Thanks to faithful reader H.F. for this one.]


CHEERLEAD THIS: The money quotes -- God, I hate that phrase -- from Nicholas Kristof (“A Boy and His Benefits”):
Instead of mocking Mr. Bush for hypocrisy, though, we should focus on something else: The affirmative action succeeded. If [sic] he was in part a diversity candidate, so what? He flourished at Andover, and classmates remember that he enlivened the academy by teaching them about drawls, scorpions[,] and exuberance. Eventually he returned to his roots, cross-fertilizing both New England and west Texas.
I wonder how many middle-aged Andover graduates are looking back fondly upon those days of old, when they first learned of Texas accents, arthropods, and the best way to go all rah-rah and stuff.
And “cross-fertilizing.” I suppose that’s as good a term as any to explain the President’s life post-Andover.
There’s more:
A few years later, in gaining admission to Yale, Mr. Bush also enjoyed special preferences. He had never made honor roll at Andover (unlike 110 others in his class, according to his high school yearbook), and his SAT’s of 566 verbal and 640 math were far below the median scores for students in his Yale class: 668 verbal and 718 math. But in the end, having a Yale pedigree, a grandfather on the Yale board and a Texas background bounced him into the entering class.
Wait a second. I thought you said Bush “flourished at Andover.” Now you say he “never made honor roll”?
From Merriam-Webster: “flour-ish vi: 1 thrive, prosper; 2 to be in a state of activity or production; 3 to reach a height of development or influence; 4 to make bold and sweeping gestures; 5 brandish.”
I guess Kristof is relying on entry number four, what with the cheerleading and all.


TAKE A POWDER: Even when she’s not writing about politics, foreign policy, or blogging Norah Vincent hasn’t got a clue.
Here’s a tip, Norah: If your anti-depressant is causing you to pick fights, proposition strangers, betray friends, lie to your family, steal, cheat, or engage in road rage, you’re taking the wrong pill.
And you switching anti-depressants is far better than you discouraging people who need such medications from getting the help they so desperately need.
By the way, next time you’re in Philadelphia, the drinks are on me. And invite Lisa, too. She sounds like a blast.


NEW TIMES: In These Times has redesigned its web site. Hopefully the magazine itself is next.


WHO VOTED FOR THIS GUY?: Here’s Sen. Rick “Dork” Santorum (R-Pa.) almost -- almost -- calling Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.) a traitor.


THE SLAUGHTER OF INNOCENTS: Slaughtering sea lions. That’s just lovely. I contacted the Humane Society and have been assured the right people already are on this.


GIMME, GIMME, GIMME: I see New York has its hand out again. That on the very same day we learn New York City Comptroller Alan Hevesi estimated year-end Wall Street bonuses -- normally paid in January -- at $7.9 billion -- down from $12.6 billion in 2001 (paid in January 2002 and thus subject to taxes due April 15, 2003).

The Rittenhouse Review | Copyright 2002-2006 | PERMALINK |


Enough With Harvey Pitt Already

Securities and Exchange Commission Chairman Harvey Pitt submitted his resignation, under cover of darkness, more than two months ago.

And yet, there he sits, in all his sliminess, still on the commission, still casting votes, and, presumably, still influencing the agenda.

Can the Bush administration not find someone -- anyone -- from the previous Bush administration, or the Ford administration, or the Nixon administration, to take his place?

I think Carla Hills is still living.


William H. Donaldson has been named Pitt’s successor by the Bush administration but he has not yet been nominated. What’s going on?

The Rittenhouse Review | Copyright 2002-2006 | PERMALINK |

Thursday, January 23, 2003  

Charles Pierce -- Not the Crossdresser -- Speaks. Or Writes.

Charles Pierce was filling in for Eric Alterman at Altercation yesterday.

Don’t miss it. Him. Charles. Pierce. Mr. Charles Pierce.

The Rittenhouse Review | Copyright 2002-2006 | PERMALINK |

Wednesday, January 22, 2003  

NOW PLAYING AT |||trr|||
The Lighter Side of The Rittenhouse Review

It’s probably time for readers to pay another visit to |||trr|||, my sibling web site featuring the lighter side of The Rittenhouse Review. It’s where I try to be humorous, offering a slice of life and a smidgen of Philadelphia culture, just for the helluvit.

Now playing . . .

Four Great Inventions

Philadelphia’s Samurai Warrior


How Cheap Can You Get?


Free Chestnut Street!

Talk About the Weather, Then

Just Asking: Fabric Stores

Great Big -- Real Thin -- Fun

Another Bulldog Owner

Join Us in Our Joy

Make It a Band-Aid®, Damn It!

And, as always, much more! Be sure to visit the archives. I was pretty funny back in November, or so people say.

The Rittenhouse Review | Copyright 2002-2006 | PERMALINK |


The President is Throwing Stones Again

“This looks to me like a re-run of a bad movie and I’m not interested in watching it,” said President Bush in reference to U.N.-sponsored weapons inspections in Iraq, failing to grasp the irony of his own words.

The Rittenhouse Review | Copyright 2002-2006 | PERMALINK |


It Will Only Take a Moment

I’m normally not this fixated by polls, but via Jane Finch of the Daily Rant I learned of Zander’s school project: a poll seeking to measure, to some degree, public opinion about the possible inevitable war on Iraq.

Zander is concerned he doesn’t get enough traffic at his blog to get enough data to work with, so please take a moment to help him out by clicking through the link provided above.

And please, vote only once and in only one poll. The explanation is provided in the center of the page.

The Rittenhouse Review | Copyright 2002-2006 | PERMALINK |


The Good Side Is Winning Again

I can’t find the official, final results, but the last time I checked those responding to yesterday’s Wolf Blitzer poll, “Whose views are most like yours when it comes to the Iraqi Crisis?” opted for Sen. Edward M. Kennedy (D-Mass.) over President Bush by a margin of 76 percent to 24 percent.

Perhaps Blitzer was surprised by the result: today’s poll is even more slanted toward the desired outcome:

“Would you support a war with Iraq without France and Germany’s support?”

What the hell kind of question is that?

What if the reader wouldn’t support a war regardless of the stance taken by France and Germany?

No matter. The better of the available options, “No,” is currently leading with 72 percent of the vote.

And, yes, I know these are totally unscientific polls, but when the results so dramatically vary from the policy being crammed down our throats, I can’t help but find a little satisfaction.

The Rittenhouse Review | Copyright 2002-2006 | PERMALINK |

Tuesday, January 21, 2003  

We Must Pray For All of Our Soldiers

I can forgive Jay Caruso of the Daily Rant for not understanding the meaning of the term “bleeding dick.”

I came up with that term myself earlier today as a response to the all-too-typical conservative “insult” of “bleeding heart.” However, I recognize that I may not be the first to claim this phrase as my own, and would be surprised to learn that I am the first to use it. If someone else derived this term -- “bleeding dick” -- before me, I would be happy to assign credit accordingly.

Jay’s reminder, and that’s really the only word for it since I should have known better, that his nephew Russell is being sent to Kuwait is cause on my part for considerable embarrassment -- and respect, admiration, and prayers for said nephew. (And Jay, through Jane Finch should know that sentiment, about prayer and stuff, is heartfelt.)

I oppose a unilateral and preemptive war on Iraq, but I hope and pray that not one life -- and I’m not ashamed to say, even more so, not one American life -- is lost is this misguided endeavor.

Regardless, those who treat the prospect of war upon Iraq so lightly ought to be more careful to avoid the flippant language that earns ignorant kudos from the brain-dead right.

The Rittenhouse Review | Copyright 2002-2006 | PERMALINK |


A Mobilization Effort

The despicable and aptly named Wolf Blitzer -- as in, “Wolf in Sheep’s Clothes” -- whom I despise ideologically and journalistically, is running a poll this evening.

Wofly’s question of the day:

“Whose views are most like yours when it comes to the Iraqi crisis?”

Your choices: President Bush or Sen. Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.)

Please visit CNN’s site and cast your vote -- NOW! The poll is located on the upper-left-hand side of the page, under Blitz's “portrait.” (Multiple votes will not be recorded.)

I think the answer is obvious, but readers are free to vote as they see fit.

The Rittenhouse Review | Copyright 2002-2006 | PERMALINK |


Hangin’ With the Bleeding Dicks

Bleeding dick Jay Caruso of The Daily Rant, whom I genuinely respect, is planning a “We Want War!” party.

Gosh, sounds like a blast. I hope I’m invited.

To the all-too-reasonable Jane Finch: Would you please rein the little boy in? Tell him we’re not playing “army men” anymore? Remind Jay that real lives -- American, Iraqi, and other, but most assuredly not his or any of his relatives -- are at risk? That his inevitable ecstatic ejaculation will not prove permanently satisfying?

Thanks, Jane.

The Rittenhouse Review | Copyright 2002-2006 | PERMALINK |


Please Tune In To Your Local Emergency Response System

Vaara, noted liberal blogger, admitted umlaut lover, distinguished linguist, and no doubt handsome -- though, alas, taken -- gent, is back!

Back where?

Where else? At his highly commendable, must-read blog, Silt.

I knew it wouldn’t be long!

Go now!

The Rittenhouse Review | Copyright 2002-2006 | PERMALINK |


A Sampling of the Best from the New & Old Media

It appears Eschaton, a/k/a Atrios, has adopted’s technology. Need I say more?


If you have a moment or two, and if this kind of thing -- the Legion of Christ and Regnum Christi -- is of interest to you, pay a visit to what I believe is a new web site, that of the Religious Groups Awareness International Network, or Regain.

And I’m not just saying that because Regain’s articles page links to a May 2002 piece by The Rittenhouse Review, but because theirs is a worthy and noble cause.


Whodunnit? A real-life murder mystery.


Readers know I’m not crazy about the Ariel Sharon regime currently in place in Israel, but Gretta Duisenberg is really some kind of ahistorical nut.


I’m too old, but my nieces and nephews aren’t: How to Win a Rhodes Scholarship.


Will someone please explain to me why Lisa English of Ruminate This hasn’t run for -- and been elected to -- some kind of public office? (Prompted by this post.)


So I guess September 11 is all Germany’s fault. [Ed.: Link requires subscription. If you would like a copy of the article, please e-mail me.]

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The Importance of Original Sources
A Case Study

Kevin Drum of CalPundit recently reaffirmed the importance of clicking through hyperlinks provided by webloggers to ensure the accuracy of the transfer of ideas from the original article back to the blog.

Drum’s point is a valid one, one I have made myself, but I would like to take it a step further and suggest that, whenever possible, and particularly when there is a discrepancy between the blogger’s comments and the original published article or essay, that the reader search for and review the original source documents. Naturally, this method is neither appropriate nor feasible in all situations, but when called for, it can be very illuminating.

Such is the case with a recent post at

In a January 12 post, Andrew Sullivan said, “In advance of what I predict will be a purging of all gay priests and seminarians from the Catholic church, the men who now control the Vatican (it’s not clear if John Paul II is one of them) are now moving toward a tighter control of the Catholic press.”

How so?

“No Catholic publication will henceforth be allowed to publish a variety of viewpoints on such critical matters as church governance, women priests, clerical celibacy[,] or gay priests,” Sullivan writes. “Equally, no Catholic politician will be allowed to deviate from Vatican orthodoxy.”


“At least that’s the clear inference of this latest 17-page document from Cardinal Ratzinger’s department,” Sullivan avers, referring to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF), headed by Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, and linking not to “this latest 17-page document” but to a brief Reuters news story about it.

The document itself, heavily footnoted and carrying the weighty title, “Doctrinal Note on some questions regarding the Participation of Catholics in Political Life,” written by the CDF, can be found in its entirety here, in English, no less, at the Vatican’s web site.

The Reuters piece, aiming for brevity and as much clarity as can be provided given the news wire’s general audience, got several aspects of the Doctrinal Note wrong, most notably, casting the document as a shift in Vatican doctrine or emphasis when it is instead a summary of past statements from the Catholic Church with additional clarity on a few points of confusion -- not a bad idea considering the number of Catholics in the world today.

The reiterative nature of the Doctrinal Note would be obvious to a Catholic or to anyone else with a solid understanding -- and not a mere passing familiarity -- with such documents as Christifideles laici (1989), Centesimus annus (1991), Evangelium vitae (1995), Fides et ratio (1999), and the Catechism of the Roman Catholic Church, among others.

The Note itself says exactly this, reading in the fourth paragraph:

The present Note does not seek to set out the entire teaching of the Church on this matter, which is summarized in its essentials in the Catechism of the Catholic Church, but intends only to recall some principles proper to the Christian conscience, which inspire the social and political involvement of Catholics in democratic societies. The emergence of ambiguities or questionable positions in recent times, often because of the pressure of world events, has made it necessary to clarify some important elements of Church teaching in this area.

And taking a bit more of the edge off the Doctrinal Note -- though the theocrats will have my head for this -- as is customary in Vatican documents, once the hard line doctrine has been stated, there is just a bit of backsliding, to wit:

By its interventions in this area, the Church’s Magisterium does not wish to exercise political power or eliminate the freedom of opinion of Catholics regarding contingent questions. Instead, it intends -- as is its proper function -- to instruct and illuminate the consciences of the faithful, particularly those involved in political life, so that their actions may always serve the integral promotion of the human person and the common good. The social doctrine of the Church is not an intrusion into the government of individual countries. It is a question of the lay Catholic’s duty to be morally coherent, found within one’s conscience, which is one and indivisible.

Having studied the Doctrinal Note in its entirety, I can say with confidence that there is virtually no connection between its issuance and what may or may not become Vatican policy on the ordination of gay men as priests and brothers. The only relevant reference to gays, no mention being made of gay religious, is this:

[T]he family needs to be safeguarded and promoted, based on monogamous marriage between a man and a woman, and protected in its unity and stability in the face of modern laws on divorce: in no way can other forms of cohabitation be placed on the same level as marriage, nor can they receive legal recognition as such.

Like it or not, and there is much not to like, this is nothing new.

The Reuters story cited by Sullivan asserts, “The document . . . also turned the screws on Catholic publications, saying they could not put forward different views for the sake of pluralism.”

Not exactly. The Doctrinal Note states:

[S]ome Catholic periodicals in certain countries have expressed perspectives on political choices that have been ambiguous or incorrect, by misinterpreting the idea of the political autonomy enjoyed by Catholics and by not taking into consideration the principles mentioned above.

In context one could narrowly presume this is a reference to liberal periodicals directed at Catholic audiences that provide space for views that are not entirely in compatible with Vatican teaching but reflect the modern practice of the faith and the consciences of contemporary Catholics, particularly in advanced Western societies. However, given that most such periodicals make it quite clear that they are disagreeing with Rome, and even if not, it’s safe to assume their readers are aware of the disagreement, one might equally presume the CDF’s comments are aimed at so-called traditionalist Catholic publications, not a few of which are managed or supervised by clergymen already excommunicated by Rome. In Sullivan’s self-referential world there apparently is no deviancy on the right.

Nowhere -- I repeat, nowhere -- in the Doctrinal Note is it stated or implied that, in Sullivan’s words, “[n]o Catholic publication will henceforth be allowed to publish a variety of viewpoints on such critical matters as church governance, women priests, clerical celibacy[,] or gay priests.” Nor is it stated or implied that, again in Sullivan’s words, “[n]o Catholic politician will be allowed to deviate from Vatican orthodoxy.” Is it surprising that Reuters got it wrong? Not really. This stuff is pretty tough going.

Instead, the Doctrinal Note is best considered a chastisement, a remonstration, and a call to orthodoxy, a call not unlike dozens issued by the Vatican in the last 40 years. There is no mention of, nor hint at, excommunication or the closing of publications. That does not in any way detract from the importance of the message contained therein, or the moral compulsion upon Catholics to adhere to its message. But it would do us all well not to find a new message where there is none and not to create a new controversy out of thin air.

I can’t help but mention that not studying the document itself allowed Andrew “Let the Missiles Fly” Sullivan miss this directive:

Finally, the question of peace must be mentioned. Certain pacifistic and ideological visions tend at times to secularize the value of peace, while, in other cases, there is the problem of summary ethical judgments which forget the complexity of the issues involved. Peace is always “the work of justice and the effect of charity.” [Catechism, No. 2304.] It demands the absolute and radical rejection of violence and terrorism and requires a constant and vigilant commitment on the part of all political leaders. [Ed.: Emphasis in original.]

On a broader level, this modest exercise reveals that it is imperative not only to click through the links, as CalPundit recommended, but also to go directly to the source documents to ensure there has been no misinterpretation. One would think Sullivan’s jihad against the great infidel, Howell Raines, would have taught him as much.


In the same post Sullivan writes, “I wonder if this is in part a response to the Jesuit magazine America’s recent special issue defending the dignity and worth of homosexual [sic] priests,” Sullivan writes.

I doubt it.

Pope John Paul II approved the Doctrinal Note on November 21, 2002. The issue of America to which Sullivan refers was dated December 16, 2002.

Of course, Sullivan couldn’t be expected to learn that from reading the Reuters story. He would actually have to have consulted the source document, a task he obviously neglected.

The Rittenhouse Review | Copyright 2002-2006 | PERMALINK |


Georgia Governor Wavers on Campaign Flag Pledge

One would think, or would like to think, that in Georgia, the state in which high-school students earn the lowest scores in the nation on the Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT), education would be a higher priority -- during and after gubernatorial campaigns -- than the design of the state flag.

A symbol of valor, heritage, and history? In the 21st century? I don’t think so. There are too many people still speaking in code.

The Rittenhouse Review | Copyright 2002-2006 | PERMALINK |

Monday, January 20, 2003  

Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. (1929-1968)

The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.

-- Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., 1963

The Rittenhouse Review | Copyright 2002-2006 | PERMALINK |

Saturday, January 18, 2003  

Recent Additions to the Blogroll

Please welcome -- and then visit -- these sites, recently added to the blogroll in the sidebar at right under the heading, Better Blogs & Such:

Ascription in an Anathema to Any Enthusiasm (Ben Hyde)

Best of the Blogs (Jerry Bowles)

Beyond the Wasteland (Kevin Batcho)

Cornfield Commentary (David Hogberg)

The Daily Review

Head Heeb (Jonathan Edelstein)

The Liquid List

Lying Media Bastards (Jake Sexton)


Notes From Atlanta

Orcinus (David Neiwert)

Political Parrhesia (Craig Cheslog)

The Yes/No Interlude

The Rittenhouse Review | Copyright 2002-2006 | PERMALINK |

Thursday, January 16, 2003  

Don’t Get Any Ideas

Uh-oh. It looks like another bout of hiatus fever is emerging among the bloggers.

First AintNoBadDude, then Smarter Andrew Sullivan, and now Pandagon.

Say it ain’t so!

Aw, what the hell, if they come back as forcefully as Ted Barlow did after his break, more power to them.

And us.

(By the way, if you’re not reading Barlow’s running light bulb commentary, you’re really missing something.)

[Post-publication addendum (January 21): During Smarter Andrew Sullivan’s hiatus, be sure to visit SullyWatch if you aren’t already.]

The Rittenhouse Review | Copyright 2002-2006 | PERMALINK |


The Passing of Marlene Dietrich -- And of Richard Silbert

I now live in Philadelphia, but I lived in Washington, D.C., for 11 years, and I am very particular about who, if anyone, cuts my hair. And so it was with considerable pleasure that after living in Washington for a few years I found myself regularly visiting the late Richard Silbert, a stylist who was an artist in every sense of the term.

The salon for which Richard then worked, Axis, on Connecticut Ave. just north of Dupont Circle, was, well, quite chic and fashionable, and a place where a very nice glass of wine was included in the session’s tab.

To be honest, if I weren’t as good-looking as I am, I might have felt intimidated entering said salon, but such is the concern of lesser mortals, and I can understand the emotions of those who found Axis forbidding or intimidating.

In those days, I was very fastidious about my hair. I remember once arriving for an appointment and being greeted by one of the “shampoo girls,” rather than the regular maîtresse d’hôtel, who was convinced I was there to set up an appointment and not to have my hair cut. “But your hair looks perfect,” she said incredulously, delivering a compliment that I am pleased to say I have become used to over the years, passing the age of 39 just recently with all of the hair on my head intact and not a gray hair in sight.

Regardless, Richard knew what to do, and despite the fact that my already fairly short hair was cut by this artist every three weeks, he would spend an hour -- an entire hour! -- fussing over my head. Richard even once told me I was his favorite cut

I attended Richard’s memorial service after he died, a service at which they asked everyone who felt inclined to say a few words about Richard and what he meant to them. I said nothing, as is my custom when there are strangers in the room, but so many mourners said the same words I would have said that I felt well and good and healed. Some even relayed that Richard regularly told them he was his or her favorite cut. I was not offended.

I have so many stories about Richard, but my favorite is one that pertains to Marlene Dietrich.

You see, while Richard was working at Axis, the salon put up an exhibit of Hollywood memorabilia that included a large, prominently displayed, black-and-white framed photograph of Dietrich that Richard borrowed from a friend.

After this theme was swapped out for another, the subject of which I can no longer recall, it became incumbent upon Richard to take the framed Dietrich photograph home in order to return it to its rightful owner.

Of all days, Richard chose May 6, 1992, to carry the portrait from Axis, in Dupont Circle, to his home in Logan Circle.

The significance? Dietrich died on May 6, 1992.

So there’s Richard, walking east on Q Street, N.W., carrying a massive framed photograph of Miss Dietrich under his arm and toward his home just six blocks away.

Despite having been busy at work all day and being behind the curve on the day’s headlines, Richard, when confronted by a pedestrian walking in the other direction who said, “You know, she died today,” quickly gathered his wits and said, “I know, isn’t that sad?” Of course, Richard had no clue at that point of Miss Dietrich’s demise and, it is no surprise, was devastated by the news.

It was probably two weeks later when Richard and I discussed this event, at which point I suggested he would have been better off holding Miss Dietrich’s portrait high above his head, all in an effort to lead a spontaneous funereal procession in her honor through the gay ghetto known as Dupont Circle, replicating the custom of small villages in Guatemala and Honduras, among other Third-World locales.

Alas, it was not to be. And, alas, there is all too much that, with Richard’s passing, will not be.

I miss you, my friend. You have no idea how much. Or maybe you do.

The Rittenhouse Review | Copyright 2002-2006 | PERMALINK |

Tuesday, January 14, 2003  

A New Blog is Up and Running

There’s a new blog on the block: The Infant of Prague Blog.

Okay, so it's only cool if you're into the IofP, but who isn't?

The Rittenhouse Review | Copyright 2002-2006 | PERMALINK |


Ann Coulter Reads

For nearly a year now I have enjoyed the benefits of a “premium subscription” to, an online retailer of audio books.

One of my most recent purchases was Ann Coulter’s quasi-eponymous work, Slander. (Actually, it was part of the two-picks-per-month subscription, so I’m not sure I really bought it.)

Happily, the version sold by is narrated by the author herself!

What a blast!

Listening to Coulter read Slander is like listening to your crotchety racist old uncle or neighbor yammering on about the lib’ruls, pinkos, lefties, homos, and ath’ists.

Except Ann’s voice is deeper.

Much deeper.

And she doesn’t look nearly as good in a black vinyl mini-skirt as your crotchety racist old uncle or neighbor.

[Post-publication addendum (January 16): Tbogg has some funny -- naturally -- comments about this.]

The Rittenhouse Review | Copyright 2002-2006 | PERMALINK |


Melvin the Clown or the Shah of Iran?

He grew up as Gary Zarcone, the adopted son of Bart Zarcone, a man who, according to the Orlando Sentinel “for 20 years performed as Melvin the Clown for Armed Forces Television.”

But a Circuit Court last year granted the younger Zarcone’s request to change his name to Cyrus Nowia-Pahlavi, the name coming from the founder of the Persian Empire (Cyrus), the name Zarcone had at the orphanage in Tehran where he was adopted (Nowia), and the former shah of Iran, Shah Mohammed Reza Pahlavi (Pahlavi).

Why the former shah?

Because Zarcone/Nowia-Pahlavi believes he is the shah’s son by way of “an indiscretion” on the former ruler’s part.

Nice choice. Almost convenient, one might say, given the Pahlavi family’s still-considerable wealth.

But you know, he kind of looks like the shah. He really does.

The Rittenhouse Review | Copyright 2002-2006 | PERMALINK |

Monday, January 13, 2003  

There’s A Movie on You Should Be Watching

Earlier today I intended to post a “Cheesy Lifetime TV Movie Alert” at the Review’s secondary site, |||trr|||, but I didn’t.

The post would have mocked, in advance, “Hunger Point,” airing at this very moment on Lifetime TV.

I would have said something snarky like, “The only thing Lifetime likes more than battered women is starving teenaged girls.”

I’m glad I didn’t. Twenty minutes into the movie and I am in a rush to say it’s terrific: Excellent cinematography, an amazing script, and great performances by Barbara Hershey (though her lips are shrinking) and the outstanding and deserving of far more recognition Susan May Pratt and Christina Hendricks.

So stop reading this, turn on your television set, and tune in to Lifetime.


The Rittenhouse Review | Copyright 2002-2006 | PERMALINK |


Some Stuff That Doesn’t Really Fit Together

William Safire today engages in some much-needed damage control for his pal Ariel Sharon. Funny, though, that Safire drops his customary use of the endearment “Arik” in his partisan defense of the Israeli Prime Minister.


For a dose of reality on the subject of Ariel Sharon and the Labor Party, I recommend turning a deaf ear to Safire and instead reading “Grave Question Marks,” an editorial in today’s edition of Ha’aretz.


Look who’s writing for The Nation: Bill Gates Sr. with “Long Live the Estate Tax” (with Chuck Collins).

Hear, hear.

A few snippets:

Also at the top of the domestic agenda is the push to make repeal of the federal estate tax permanent. Such a step will not have any short-term or long-term economic stimulus effect. But cutting $850 billion in revenue in the decade after the tax is phased out -- money that would have been collected from the heirs of multimillionaires -- will prolong the current fiscal crisis.

Today, the estate tax affects less than 2 percent of the richest households, those with wealth exceeding $1 million. A reformed estate tax, with wealth exemptions boosted to $3.5 million, would still generate tens of billions of dollars of revenue a year. Under such a reform, an estimated 6,000 estates a year, averaging $17 million each, would pay the tax. In Maine, Montana, Alaska and Mississippi -- states where both senators have voted to completely eliminate the tax -- the estimated number of estates paying the tax every year would be fewer than twenty-five.

Proposals to reform the tax have been blocked since 2000 by the “all or nothing” repeal lobby, which understands the peril of not having smaller estates as camouflage. Once exemptions rise above $3 million, it becomes impossible to find a credible and photogenic farmer or restaurant owner who will complain about what opponents call the “death tax.” It’s hard enough to find them now. The pro-repeal American Farm Bureau was asked to produce an example of a farmer who had lost a farm because of the estate tax. It could not identify a single one. [Emphasis added.]


The Bush Tax Sham,” by Roger Hickey in the same issue of The Nation, is also a must-read.


Don’t miss the analysis of the Bush administration’s “stimulus package” prepared by the National Priorities Project.


The New Republic’s editors is oppose enacting any stimulus package at all:

Of the many dishonesties surrounding Bush's latest economic stimulus plan, undoubtedly the most important is the notion that it is, in any meaningful sense, an economic stimulus plan. . . .

Bush's economic advisers maintain that the centerpiece of their plan, eliminating the tax on dividend income, will boost the stock market and therefore boost consumer spending. But, in the long run -- after the downturn ends -- the bigger economic problem will be the nation's low savings rate. Instituting a permanent change that encourages people to spend more and save less will be utterly counterproductive. . . .

The danger now is a repeat of 2002, with enough Democrats and moderate Republicans convinced of the need for economic stimulus that they agree to a "compromise" plan with the White House. Right now, with growth expected to turn up next year, it's unclear whether or not any stimulus is needed at all. . . .

Eventually, those who care about fiscal responsibility are going to have to deny Bush his tax cuts. Now is as good a time to start as any.

You know, they sometimes get it right over there.


That reminds me that TNR editor Peter Beinart’s TRB columns have been pretty good lately, especially “African Art,” from the January 13 issue. Here Beinart justly chastises Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist for his lame inaction on the Sudan crisis and AIDS in Africa during the senator’s tenure as chairman of the Senate Subcommittee on African Affairs.

[Post-publication addendum (January 14): Sen. Frist cares so much about Africa that if you visit his web site and wish to send him an e-mail to express your opinion, Africa isn’t listed among the categories provided for the topic of your message. Africa -- an afterthought, even for the noble Sen. Bill “First Harm the Children” Frist. What a surprise.]


The MacArthur Foundation is about a lot more than just the genius grants -- and they would like you to know that.


Gee whiz, it’s about time.


Fortune is out with its annual list of the 100 Best Companies to Work For. (Their grammar, not mine.)


This piece from Sunday’s New York Times -- “The Baby Ivies” -- helps explain why Jack Grubman, the disgraced former Salomon Smith Barney telecommunications industry analyst, was so hell-bent on getting his kids into the right pre-school.


“Of all the famous American designers, past or present, none is as challenging, fascinating and tempting to write about as Ralph Lauren,” says Cathy Horyn of the New York Times. I disagree, but it’s an interesting article anyway.


The Australian Open Tennis Championships began today in Melbourne.


Visit Warren Zevon’s web site. I barely have a clue who Zevon is, but the sabbaticalling film auteur and pioneering weblogger Brian Linse of AintNoBadDude will appreciate your paying homage.

The Rittenhouse Review | Copyright 2002-2006 | PERMALINK |

Thursday, January 09, 2003  

The Good, the Lame, and The Ugly

I’m pleased to see that Bertram Online joins me in my ongoing disappointment with James Lileks, though Bertram and I may have approached this shared stance from different angles.

Lileks once was cool and interesting. Now, he’s just insufferable.

[Post-publication addendum (January 10): I’m proud to say that the wise-beyond-his-years Jesse Taylor of Pandagon is with us on this.]

[Post-publication addendum (January 12): Michael Finley has some personal observations about Lileks.]

[Post-publication addendum (January 18): Also on Lileks, Jerry Bowles of the Best of the Blogs (seen entries from January 16):

James Lileks at The Bleat pees some mighty holes in the snow around John Le Carre’s “America Has Gone Mashugana” rant but fails to rub out the substance of Le Carre’s arguments. Lileks is obviously as large-bladdered as he is long-winded but nowhere in his leisurely dribblings on what Stephen King would do (about as relevant as the "South Park" lads’ moral dependence on Brian Boitano) to his amazing discovery that Le Carre is, shudder, pro-ecology but apparently never said anything when Hussein drained the great marsh that once stretched between the Tigris and Euphrates rivers and renamed it the Saddam River.

And elsewhere:

Can’t we, please, ever do something, somewhere without insisting that God is on our side?

Welcome to the fray, Mr. Bowles.]


I think Jane Finch, who along with Jay Caruso produces the Daily Rant, rocks. Especially since she has joined those clamoring for Washington to take some reasonable and humane action in response to the despicable protection Senate Majority Leader Bill “First Harm the Children” Frist (R-Tenn.) provided to Eli Lilly & Co. in the Homeland Security Act.


Gee whiz, does freedom and democracy and a responsive presidency now depend solely upon the persistence of the nearly retired Helen Thomas? Thoughts on the Eve of the Apocalypse has the transcript.


I can’t say I’m particularly pleased with what the Bush administration is calling a “stimulus package” -- We know the economy will need stimulating 10 years from now? -- and it appears Max Sawicky and Brad DeLong aren’t either. Nor is Nathan Newman, who raises some interesting points. That’s good enough for me, at least as a starting point.


I’ve wasted far too many bytes on the sanctimonious son-of-some-big-donor that goes by the name of Ben Shapiro, so I’ll let the Slacktivist take it from here. (Odd, isn’t it, that even after seeing “The Twin Towers” three times, with a different date on each viewing no doubt, the brilliant and precocious under-undergrad still doesn’t get the plot?)

Oh, and what the hell, check in on The Daily Review for that site’s observations, posted here and, later, here.

And since the guys from the Audio-Visual Club have yet to be heard from here, be sure to visit the Amish Athletic Supporter, wherever the hell that outfit is hosted these days.


By the way, The Slacktivist also has a few comments about God-knows-whose favorite senator from Pennsylvania, the chimpish dork, Rick Santorum (R).

Sad, I think, that those of us living in Pennsylvania constantly must be shamed by our representation in the U.S. Senate by Santorum and the equally disgraceful Sen. Arlen “Trent’s Okay by Me!” Specter (R).

On this topic -- Santorum, I mean -- go back and read The Flick Filosopher’s review of “Bob Roberts.”


As Israel approaches election day and Prime Minister Ariel Sharon -- “Arik” if you’re still indulged with a weekly op-ed column in the New York Times -- moves into what may be a well deserved meltdown, I’m going to be visiting Yuval Rubinstein’s Groupthink Central for updates, including his latest, which can be found here.


Wherefore art thou, Kim Osterwalder of Free Pie?

The Rittenhouse Review | Copyright 2002-2006 | PERMALINK |


Out There in the So-Called Real World

How about that? It turns out the Bush administration’s proposed “stimulus package” includes yet another reduction in the capital gains tax.

Between that and the elimination of “double taxation” on corporate dividend payments, I’ll bet millions of working- and middle-class families are going nuts this week.


Here’s another surprise: The Washington (Moonie) Times published an article by someone named Bruce Bartlett -- “Breaking the Mold With Blogs” -- praising the emergence and growing influence of weblogs, and awarded huzzahs to right-wingers Andrew Sullivan -- whose blog, not coincidentally, is rehashed in the Times each Friday -- and Mickey Kaus.

But what about the great Professor InstaLinker?



Joan Didion, the world’s second-best long-sentence writer (after me, of course), has a new essay in the latest issue of the New York Review of Books, this -- “Fixed Opinions, or The Hinge of History” -- based on a lecture given last November at the New York Public Library -- about terrorism, New York, the death of irony, the Pledge of Allegiance, NATO, Iraq, those dying off old white liberal guys from the 1960s, and, of course, California, written during a period of reflection after, actually long after, but within reminiscence of, a two-week-long book-promotion tour, and extending, albeit in Didion’s signature gripping, nay, fascinating, manner, for all of 11 pages.


I thought my 1997.5 Infiniti J30 -- in black, naturally -- had a great engine for its time and size, but now I learn General Motors is said to be developing a 1,000-horsepower, V-16 engine for the Cadillac line. Incredible.

After remarking upon this, a sibling informed me that my grandfather once owned a 1932 Marmon, a vehicle of great beauty built in the early 1930s with one of automotive history’s most celebrated V-16 engines.

You can view photos of the Marmon 16 -- of which only 500 were manufactured -- here and here.


Is there a newspaper in America with a web site that launches more pop-up windows than the Los Angeles Times? If so, I haven’t found it.

The Rittenhouse Review | Copyright 2002-2006 | PERMALINK |

Wednesday, January 08, 2003  

Time for a Little Cocooning

MATTERS FOREIGN & DOMESTIC:The tag line for this site used to be “A Review of Foreign Policy, Finance, Ethics, and Culture,” but I recently swapped in “Politics” in place of “Foreign Policy,” for the fairly obvious reason that I have devoted less time, space, and attention to matters overseas than I previously had anticipated. I’m not abandoning the material, but for now I’m content to read the likes of Sean-Paul Kelley at The Agonist.


SCOOBIE’S SAVAGERY: Scoobie Davis is all over the latest freak talk-radio phenom, Michael Savage. I have to hand it to Davis for even being able to listen to those programs. Whenever I try that I feel like a stranger in my own country. (Note to self: Watch e-mail in-box for rabid and illiterate accusations of red-state -- Or is it blue-state? I always mix them up. -- liberal elitism.)


THERE’S STILL TIME FOR A MAKE-UP EXAM: I should have linked to this last week, but in case you missed it, Mad Kane has the Dubya Quote Quiz to test your knowledge of our linguistically challenged president.


DON’T JUST COMPLAIN, CALL YOUR REPORTER: Take Back the Media tells you how to contact your friendly neighborhood media whores. (Via Atrios.)


IS SLATE PUTTING US ON?: I knew there was a reason I stopped reading Slate a while back -- besides the furrowed-brow-and-welfare-mothers-obsessed Mickey Kaus, that is. David Ehrenstein reminds me what it was: sloppy editorial controls in the post-Michael Kinsley era.

Vanessa Gatsch of Plucky Punk’s Happy Land also takes Slate out to the woodshed for some well-deserved slapping around.


BLOGROLLING NOT ROLLING: I have no idea what’s been going on with, the service I use to maintain the blogroll published in the sidebar at right. It worked flawlessly for weeks and now suddenly it has become unreliable.

The Rittenhouse Review | Copyright 2002-2006 | PERMALINK |

Monday, January 06, 2003  

The Virgin Ben Goes All Judeo-Fascist and Stuff

Young Ben, a/k/a the Virgin Ben, the first human being to earn this vaunted status since the Virgin Mary, today looks in the mirror and then posts a few scribbles under the title Useless Idiot,” in which he proposes Palestinian-rein for Israel:

The only hope for an end to violence is that the Israeli populace becomes so polarized that they start voting Moledet, or pushing Likud far-right. Why? Because the only solution to this problem is transfer of Palestinians from Judea and Samaria, and Israeli Arabs from Israel proper.

I guess that’s better than Mr. Steven “Clueless” Den Beste’s advocation that we “Kill ‘Em All!” (If you care to, you may read the aptly named Clueless’s full post here, but I warn you, in this doodle he is on this topic as long-winded and boring as ever -- zzzzzzzzzzzz.), but the Virgin Ben further adds, “the Israeli Arabs in general hate the state of Israel,” a revealing comment, since for decades I’ve been reading Israeli propaganda telling me that Arab Israelis are oh so grateful to be living in -- and participating in -- the region’s “only genuine democracy.”

Lies, all lies, I suppose.

Calm down, Virgin Ben. Take in yet another showing of “The Two Towers” (This would mark your fourth, I believe.), seek relief under the sheets, and then tell us how you feel.

[Post-publication addendum (January 7): I’m not sure where the diminutive Ben Shapiro found the word “Nazi” in my post, but he’s right about my German. I should have written Palestinian-rein not Palestinian-rat, and so I have corrected my error, which does not for a moment alter his status as a Kahanite fascist.]

[Post-publication addendum (January 7): Steven “Final Solution” Den Beste apparently doesn’t know the difference between a permanent blogroll link and a fleeting link used to refer readers to some of the most miserable dreck on the web.]

[Post-publication addendum (January 7): Writes young Ben: “Jimmy Cap, the personality behind Rittenhouse, has a simple strategy -- attack a right-wing blogger bigger than he is, and then wait for them to link back, riding the wave of their hits.” Believe me, Benny Shap, I don’t need your traffic. And since you’re bigger than me, I’m sure you don’t need mine.]

[Post-publication addendum (January 10): No surprise, the brilliant Jesse Taylor of Pandagon sees through Benny Shap’s lame tactics.]

[Post-publication addendum (January 17): I just noticed today that Bruce Garrett of The Story So Far commented on Benny Shap’s tortured psyche last week.]

The Rittenhouse Review | Copyright 2002-2006 | PERMALINK |

Sunday, January 05, 2003  

Ben Takes Out His Frustrations

Apparently the Virgin Ben thinks The Rittenhouse Review is "obsessed" with his "sexual status." (Interesting choice of words, that.)


And further, the Virgin Ben says the Review "are [sic] oversexed whores [sic] who enjoy the bedtime company of pigs," whatever the hell that's supposed to mean.

For more about the Virgin Ben's frustrations, stop by the Goblin Queen.

[Post-publication addendum (January 6): TBogg, who coined the term, “the Virgin Ben,” weighs in with a proposed deal.]

The Rittenhouse Review | Copyright 2002-2006 | PERMALINK |

Saturday, January 04, 2003  

The Horse Has Returned

I'm pleased to note that Media Whores Online has returned from its temporary hiatus into the spotlight the site so well deserves.

Be sure to stop by and cast your vote for Whore of the Year. There are many worthy nominees: Margaret Carlson, Bob Woodward, Frank Luntz, Tim Russert, Dick Morris, Michael Beschloss, Mickey Kaus, Howard Fineman, Chris Matthews, and Ron Rosenbaum.

Sorry, there is no procedure provided for voting for any the dozens of candidates worthy of a write-in vote.

The Rittenhouse Review | Copyright 2002-2006 | PERMALINK |


Recent Additions to the Blogroll

The Rittenhouse Review's blogroll, posted in the sidebar at right under the heading, "Better Blogs and Such," now numbers almost 200 sites. It may be getting out of control but there are so many great sites out there that I decided, at least for the time being, to load up and let readers find their own preferred sites.

Among the recent additions are the following:

At Wit's End (Bob Witkowski)

Barry Crimmins

Bitter Shack of Resentment (Brooke Biggs)


Byrd's Brain (Robert Byrd)

Daily Weasel

Deep Language (Pam Mack)

Eve Tushnet


Goblin Queen

Greg's Opinion (Greg Wythe)

High Water (George Partington)

Hit & Run (Reason magazine)

Hronkomatic (Jason McCullough)


In Between Naps (Amy Welborn)

Interesting Times (Chris Andersen)

Iraq Journal

Kieran Healy's Weblog

Letter to Slugger O'Toole (Mick Fealty)

Liberal Mind (A.E. Stein)

London Chimes (Malcolm Friend)

Long Story; Short Pier (Kip Manley)

Must-See HTTP:// (Brad L. Graham)

No More Mister Nice Blog

Nobody Knows Anything (Diane Patterson)

Objectionable Content

Planet Swank (Gregory Harris)

Plucky Punk (Vanessa Gatsch)

Reveries of the Solitary Blogger

Rubber Nun (Amy Carlton)

Ruthless People (Morgan Pillsbury)

Things I Know I Know

Wood's Lot (Mark Woods)

Please visit these worthy sites early and often. And tell your friends and family about them.

The Rittenhouse Review | Copyright 2002-2006 | PERMALINK |


Blogging Smart and Simple


Michael Finley has published an interesting essay about fathers, sons, and growing up Catholic that hit pretty close to home.


Jeanne d'Arc of Body & Soul writes intelligently (Yes, I realize I'm being redundant.) about Barbie and the aspirations of young girls: "As long as there have been Barbies, those dolls have led more interesting, heroic lives, and shaped girls' values in more eccentric ways, than most people realize."


Skippy has a few words worth reading about conservatives, liberals, and talk radio.


Yuval Rubinstein of Groupthink Central is back and blogging.


Watchful Babbler, one of the very best conservative bloggers, is back and writing at his site, Doxagora, and for HorowitzWatch.


If Kevin Drum of CalPundit isn't an accountant, he might as well be.



The Virgin Ben has issues, so to speak, with the Pope's opposition the U.S. and Britain waging war on Iraq: "Pacifism seems to be a running gag at the Vatican," the bepimpled 18-year-old pipsqueak says, as if it were all some kind of joke.

"What ever happened to moral backbone?", he further asks.

You're looking at it, you stupid dork.


The Virgin Ben also apparently has never had a really great Saturday night, at least none so great as to spark the old, but now abandoned, preventive cure known as "Tylenol before passing out."


The Virgin Ben is "not a cursing man." Big surprise . . . on both counts.

The Rittenhouse Review | Copyright 2002-2006 | PERMALINK |

Thursday, January 02, 2003  

The Best from the World Beyond. Or Just Lazy Blogging.

FILE UNDER "YOU MUST BE JOKING": American Airlines, Delta Airlines, and America West Airlines are considering charging passengers for airline food.


FILE UNDER "STILL LIVING": Art Buchwald. Go figure.


GO GREEK: I just know Hollywood will take this story -- about a priest who teaches Greek at Philadelphia's LaSalle University and North Catholic High School to a rabid core following of students that consists largely of punkish slouchers -- and ruin the whole thing.


CURIOUS GEORGE: I was blown over by shock and disbelief when this guy won his first four-year term, and now he's embarking upon his third. At least he's better than Hugh Carey was, though I should add that's not exactly a very high bar.


BYE-BYE 20th CENTURY: This week I finally said good-bye and good riddance to both dial-up modem access to the web and that miserable jumble of code known as "Windows 98."

I also had digital cable installed earlier this week: hundreds of channels and still nothing worth watching.


MERCIFUL RAIN DELAY: The annual Philadelphia Mummers New Year’s Day Parade was postponed until Saturday, January 4, due to rainy weather, for those who care about that kind of thing.

The Rittenhouse Review | Copyright 2002-2006 | PERMALINK |