The Rittenhouse Review

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

Friday, April 30, 2004  

Two Horsey Stories in One Week

An interesting juxtaposition in the Philadelphia news this week: Smarty Jones and the Philadelphia police.

The city of Philadelphia, for budgetary reasons I believe to be both real and imagined, and savings I consider both real and imagined, has decided, for the second time in 50 years, to disband its mounted police force. (See “The End of the Trail for Mounted Cops,” by Scott Flander.)

Big mistake. Minimal -- and undisclosed -- savings.

Yeah, “big mistake.” But how many times do Philadelphians have to say or think that -- “big mistake” -- before real governance takes hold of this city?

To ask the question is to (not) answer it.

Meanwhile, Smarty Jones, a Philadelphia-trained horse that is one of 20 running in Saturday’s Kentucky Derby, is grabbing headlines and more.

For more information, see the Philadelphia Daily News: “No Kiss of Death Here,” “Unbeaten Colt in Good Position to Run for Roses,” and “Smarty Jones Ready for Servis,” all by Dick Jerardi; plus “Hanging Out with a Fast Crowd,” by Bill Fleischman, “The Smarty Jones Story,” and “Tips for Enjoying and Wagering on Smarty’s Derby Day.”

And in the Philadelphia Inquirer: “Spotlight Shines on Smarty’s Camp,” “Smarty Jones Installed as the Second Favorite,” and “Smarty Jones Runs Smoothly in Tune-up,” all by Mike Jensen.

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Teamsters Local Settles with Local Bottler

The last few days were scary, painful even, but I’m feeling better now, thank you.

I’m feeling better because Teamsters Local 830, which represents some 500 employees, yesterday reached a new four-year contract with the Philadelphia Coca-Cola Bottling Co., that following a 10-day strike. (See “Coca-Cola Bottling Workers End Strike,” by Jane M. Von Bergen, Philadelphia Inquirer.)

It was a strike that left store shelves throughout the city completely bereft of Coca-Cola products.

I was more than willing to support the union, but gee whiz, Pepsi is a poor substitute for the real thing, and as a Coca-Cola addict beyond redemption (though down to at most two cans a day), I was really hurting.

The union did okay, I think, gaining a 35-cent-per-hour raise, increased pension benefits, and a bonus of up to $900, according to the Inquirer, a package better than the company’s initial offers.

I’m hoping regular deliveries will resume tomorrow.

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An Excuse, a Contest, and a Poll

I meant to blog today, but obviously I didn’t. I was up late last night, and besides, some days you have it, some days you don’t. Today I just didn’t. My apologies.

As for last night, it wasn’t anything particularly exciting. I’ll give you a hint, though, and the first reader with the correct answer will win . . . will win . . . I don’t know, I’ll think of something, so here goes:

“Miss Burns, what are you doing in Dr. Bannister’s room? Don’t you know the meaning of the word propriety?”

On a final note, today I received an e-mail from a reader who cast a vote for “Other” in this week’s Rittenhouse poll -- “Which Democratic senator do you admire most?” -- to let me know who her “other” is. It would be interesting to hear the same from other “other” voters.

The poll so far reveals a virtual tie for first place among (in alphabetical order): Sens. Robert Byrd (W.Va.), Russ Feingold (Wisc.), and Ted Kennedy (Mass.). Be sure to vote before the Tuesday evening deadline -- and tell your friends and family to do the same.

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Thursday, April 29, 2004  

Against All Enemies

Earlier today I finished reading Against All Enemies, the best-selling book by former National Coordinator for Security, Infrastructure Protection, and Counterrorism Richard A. Clarke.

As you’ve heard by now, Against All Enemies is a powerful and compelling account of this country’s all too haphazard approach to terrorism at home and abroad. Moreover, it’s the most authoritative first-hand book on the subject ever published. For Vice President Dick Cheney to claim Clarke was “out of the loop” is beyond dishonest: Clarke not only was in the loop, for years he was the loop.

And Clarke makes it abundantly clear that the Clinton administration had a far better grasp on the terrorist threat -- and did much more to counter it than most people are aware -- than does the Bush administration.

By the way, Clarke is speaking tomorrow night at the Philadelphia Free Library, 1901 Vine Street, to a sold-out audience (though simulcast tickets are available for eight dollars).

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ABC Backtracks on “20/20” Ads

“We were just kidding.”

That about sums up the latest word from Barbara Walters of ABC’s “20/20” regarding tonight’s show, a program that will include a feature in which a pregnant 16-year-old girl will decide which of five couples can adopt her child.

According to today’s Philadelphia Inquirer, “Walters Apologizes for ‘20/20’ Ads,” by Alfred Lubrano, Walters “apologized for the promos yesterday on ‘The View’ and in her regular weekly e-mail. ‘Promos sometimes get a little heated, and we made a mistake,’ she said.”

Lubrano quotes Jeffrey Schneider, vice president of ABC News: “The problem with the promo was that it contained the language of reality television. It left people with a severely wrong impression with what the documentary is about. We heard from a lot of people, and we changed our promo.”

It would appear that “impression” was the intention from the start. Lubrano reports:

Walters and her 20/20 cohost, John Stossel, fueled the controversy about the show, which will air during the May sweeps.

Promoting the report last Friday, Stossel said, “Barbara will bring you what might be called the ultimate reality show. As you watch, a pregnant teenager will decide which of five couples gets her baby.”

Borrowing a line from one of the prospective parents, Walters said, “We were joking about the fact that it’s like ‘The Bachelor’ or ‘The Bachelorette.’ You are in or out tonight.”

In an advance-screening copy of the show, which airs locally at 10 p.m. on WPVI-TV (Channel 6), Walters talks about an “extraordinary competition.” She labels the parents who want to adopt the baby “finalists,” and borrows from game-show parlance by referring to a “lightning round” of questions that the birth mother will ask the prospective parents.

Hype. Sweeps. Bad taste. Another day in TV land.

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Wednesday, April 28, 2004  

April 28 - May 4
The Democratic Party’s Senators

The new weekly poll is up.

This week Rittenhouse readers are asked to choose which of nine pre-selected Democratic senators they admire most.

The poll runs from now through May 4.

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Party Loyalty or Ideological Purity?

It turned out to be a very close race after all: Incumbent Sen. Arlen Specter defeated Rep. Pat Toomey in the Pennsylvania Republican senatorial primary yesterday by fewer than 17,000 votes, with the latest tally (99 percent of precincts reporting) putting Sen. Specter at 527,365 votes, 51 percent, and Toomey at 510,724, 49 percent.

Conventional wisdom, such as it is -- Who thought even six months ago that Sen. Specter would have to spend $14 million to eke out so small a victory? -- holds that the campaign of the Democratic Party’s candidate, Rep. Joe Hoeffel preferred a race against Rep. Toomey in November. Such wisdom contends that voters heading to the polls to support President George W. Bush in this critical “swing” state would be more likely to cast their ballots for the right-wing Sen. Specter than the far right-wing Rep. Toomey.

I’m not so sure.

Half a million Pennsylvania voters -- primary voters, the serious kind -- yesterday expressed their dislike (contempt?) for Sen. Specter. Assuming all of these voters return to the polls in November to support President Bush, what will they do when faced with Hoeffel v. Specter, two men who, among hard conservatives at least, there’s not a dime’s worth of difference? Which is more important to this voting bloc: party loyalty or ideological purity?

I’m betting a decent proportion of Rep. Toomey’s supporters will put ideological purity at the fore and won’t pull the lever (or push the button) for Sen. Specter, providing a modest boost to Rep. Hoeffel.

I hope so, anyway.

Local coverage:

From the Philadelphia Inquirer: “Specter Edges Toomey in Tight Senate Battle,” by Carrie Budoff, Thomas Fitzgerald, and Patrick Kerkstra, and “Senator Weaker; Hoeffel Still Underdog,” analysis by Steve Goldstein.

From the Philadelphia Daily News: “Specter Narrowly Defeats Toomey,” by Chris Brennan, and “Specter, the Warrior, Survives,” by columnist John Baer.

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Republican Catholics and the Media

Essential reading: “Kerry’s a Bad Catholic,” in the April 26-May 4 issue of the New York Press.

Michelangelo Signorile at his best.

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Tuesday, April 27, 2004  

Worst Actress

The polls closed at 8:00 p.m., Eastern time, and below are the official results of the Rittenhouse readers’ poll on the question “Who is the worst actress in the world?”

As with the previous poll, soliciting readers’ opinion on the most dishonest member of the Bush administration, in this poll the winner, or rather, loser, was the frontrunner from the start.

Madonna Ciccone: 122 votes, or 29%
Melanie Griffith: 68 votes, 16%
Andie MacDowell: 49 votes, 12%
Demi Moore: 46 votes, 11%
Anne Heche: 31 votes, 7%
Julia Roberts: 31 votes, 7%
Other: 30 votes, 7%
Sandra Bullock: 29 votes, 7%
Candace Bergen: 12 votes, 3%
Jane Fonda: 4 votes, 1%

I voted for Fonda, based, as noted in the past, on her dismal performances in “Julia” and “On Golden Pond.” I don’t know, maybe Fonda is more overrated than bad, and Ciccone, a/k/a “Madonna,” is an excellent choice.

A new poll will be posted tomorrow.

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Monday, April 26, 2004  

Barbara Walters Joins In the Fun

A new low has been set for “reality television,” and it comes from ABC’s “20/20.”

The “news magazine” on Friday night will feature a spot narrated by Barbara Walters, “Be My Baby,” in which five couples are pitted against each other to adopt a precious little infant girl.


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Not Ours

It’s a rare event when an article in Foreign Policy causes my jaw to drop, but the cover story in the magazine’s March/April issue was a startling, almost unbelievable, essay by Harvard University political scientist Samuel P. Huntington entitled “The Hispanic Challenge.”

The cover of the issue teased: “José, Can You See? Samuel Huntington on how Hispanic immigrants threaten America’s identity, values, and way of life.”

And yes, the article is as offensive as it sounds.

I never got around to blogging about the article. I suppose I was overcome by shock, or perhaps nausea. And I was surprised to see little reaction to Huntington’s doodlings in the blogosphere or the major media, though I admit I may have missed it.

Now, the May/June issue has reached subscribers and it’s reassuring to see that Huntington’s strange theses, dubious assumptions, and alarmist conclusions did not escape the attention of people more expert on this matter than I.

Although the letters, and Huntington’s half-hearted response to his critics, are not yet online, the professor gets an earful from, among others: Raul Yzaguirre, National Council of La Raza; Roberto Suro, Pew Hispanic Center; Tamar Jacoby, Manhattan Institute; Daniel T. Griswold, Cato Institute; Ricardo Hausmann, Harvard University; Roger Daniels, University of Cincinnati; Bruce E. Wright, California State University, Fullerton; and Wayne Cornelius, University of California, San Diego.

Oh, plus kind words from Patrick Buchanan.

Congrats, Sam.

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Coming to a Weapons Plant Near You

The Republicans have launched a two-week “Winning the War on Terror Tour.”

A worldwide military campaign with stops in North Korea, Iran, Syria, and Saudi Arabia?

No, not exactly.

According to the Washington Post, “Republican officials and decorated veterans will appear at plants that make weapons Sen. John F. Kerry has opposed.”

Cool. I’ll bet they’re going to have really great t-shirts, like the kind fans buy at rock concerts, except on the back, instead of a list of cities visited (New York, Philadelphia, Boston, Chicago . . . ), the shirts will read: Lockheed-Martin, Boeing, Northrop-Grumman, Raytheon, General Dynamics, General Electric . . .

[Post-publication addendum: While you’re over at the Washington Post web site, try the Veep-o-Matic. It’s neat.]

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The Pennsylvania Senate Race

Unless every poll and every political analyst from State College to Washington is wrong, it appears tomorrow’s Republican senatorial primary in Pennsylvania is shaping up to be a cliffhanger, with incumbent Sen. Arlen Specter still fending off a tougher-than-expected challenge from Rep. Pat Toomey.

For recent coverage in the Philadelphia papers, see: “Specter, Toomey Make Last-Minute Appeals,” by Patrick Kerkstra, Philadelphia Inquirer; “Toomey and Specter Push for Last Votes,” by Carrie Budoff, Philadelphia Inquirer (Sunday); and “Specter-Toomey Race Has Wide Implications, by John Baer, Philadelphia Daily News.

The winner will face Democrat Rep. Joe Hoeffel in November. (Contributions to Hoeffel’s campaign can be made by clicking here.)

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Sunday, April 25, 2004  

At Least in Louisiana

Reader J.C., a genuine if, I suspect, irregular, or better, erratic, reader of The Rittenhouse Review, alerts me to the following news coming out of Baton Rouge, La., courtesy of the Associated Press:

People who wear low-slung pants that expose skin or “intimate clothing” would face a fine of up to $500 and possible jail time under a bill filed by a Jefferson Parish lawmaker.

State Rep. Derrick Shepherd said he filed the bill because he was tired of catching glimpses of boxer shorts and G-strings over the lowered belt lines of young adults.

The bill would punish anyone caught wearing low-riding pants with a fine of as much as $500 or as many as six months in jail, or both.

“I’m sick of seeing it,” said Shepherd, a first-term legislator. “The community’s outraged. And if parents can’t do their job, if parents can’t regulate what their children wear, then there should be a law.”

I swear, I have nothing to do with Rep. Shepherd’s legislation, that despite the fact that seven months ago I bemoaned the public proliferation of butt-crackage at TRR: The Lighter Side of Rittenhouse, my secondary and now defunct no long updated weblog. (See “Observed: Center City Philadelphia,” September 11, 2003.)

I’m not saying I would support Rep. Shepherd’s bill.

But neither am I saying I would oppose it.

(Note: J.C., by the way, is a real person, and not me pretending to be one -- a real person, I mean -- nor me pretending to be another J.C. J.C. is, in fact, a former boss of mine. Back in the good old days. Before the best of my days, but preparing me therefor.)

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Saturday, April 24, 2004  

Requiescat in Pacem

Mary McGrory, journalist: 1920-2004.

See the New York Times obituary, by Robin Toner; “The Pointed Pen of Mary McGrory,” by David Von Drehle, in the Washington Post; and “Perfect Words and Principle,” by the Post’s E.J. Dionne

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Friday, April 23, 2004  

“No Mind” Branches Out

No Mind, the creator of the political cartoon “Fighting Words,” is branching out, extending his talents to a second series of cartoons, this one called “1,984 Reasons Orwell Was Only 20 Years Off.”

See history in the making by checking out the first edition of “1,984 Reasons Orwell Was Only 20 Years Off,” fresh off the drawing board today, and published at Comics Sherpa (Your Guide to Undiscovered Comics), an affiliate of

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Requiescat in Pacem

Pat Tillman, Army Ranger, professional football player: 1977-2004.

Reuters has the latest report.

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Hurry, Or You’ll Miss It

On the front page of today’s Philadelphia Inquirer there is a very large photograph of something the Bush administration doesn’t want you to see: twenty flag-draped coffins at Dover Air Force Base.

(Since the Inquirer doesn’t normally publish at its web site the photographs accompanying its news articles, the photo is unlikely to be visible after today.)

[Post-publication addendum (April 23): More information about the unauthorized release of the photographs from Dover may be found in “Pentagon Ban on Pictures of Dead Troops is Broken,” by Bill Carter (New York Times), among many other fine accounts of an “incident” that should have begun occurring regularly a year ago.]

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Thursday, April 22, 2004  

Glenn Rehnolds

How odd, Glenn Rehnolds [sic], and how odd Glenn Rehnolds?

Odd as in odd odd, and odd as in odd funny or surprising.

A more astute and thoughtful, a less careless and reckless, blogger might have noticed that Wonkette links to The Rittenhouse Review and The Rittenhouse Review links to Wonkette.

I'm sure she has her reasons, just as I have mine.

Odd, Glenn Rehnolds, and odd Glenn Rehnolds, missed that.

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Something a Little Different

I thought today I might try short-form blogging, something I’ve not done much of in the past, probably adding to this post as the day passes. We’ll see how it goes.

QUEEN MARY 2 ARRIVES IN NEW YORK: The Queen Mary 2, the world’s largest cruise ship arrived in New York today, successfully crossing the Atlantic Ocean, again, since the ship made the trip already, having docked in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., in January. At least twice, now. Not like that other big ship way back when.

Hey, want to entertain a favorite four-year-old? Learn the words to the little ditty that begins, “O they built the ship Titanic to sail the ocean blue . . .” The line, “Uncles and aunts, little children wet their pants,” gets a big laugh every time, though sometimes just from me.

MISSION ACCOMPLISHED?: The New York Times reports General Electric Co. and Siemans A.G., citing security concerns, are pulling out of Iraq, thus dropping out of the reconstruction effort. More business for Halliburton Co., I suppose.

TINA BROWN THURSDAY: In “Bucks Without the Buzz,” former magazine editor Tina Brown offers Washington Post “Style” section readers nearly 1,000 words of, well, who knows what.

Here’s a stellar T.B. insight: “In the city of Seinfeld, Letterman[,] and Bette Midler [Ed.: Brown is referring here to New York.] they [Ed.: The Kerry campaign and the Democratic National Committee.] choose [sic] “Body Heat” sex bomb retiree Kathleen Turner to introduce Teresa Heinz Kerry, and the dryly cerebral former Treasury secretary Bob Rubin to introduce the candidate.”

Worse, Brown says: “Kerry’s hair seems to be a problem again.” Not to worry, though, as Brown adds, parenthetically: “(The CEO of an advertising company tells me he is going to advise the senator to get a buzz cut.)”

Keep at it, Tina. One of the days you’ll get it right. Or at least close.

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Wednesday, April 21, 2004  

A Slice of Philadelphia

I am fortunate enough to live in Philadelphia’s nicest neighborhood, namely Society Hill, and in a beautiful house that abuts a “way,” a “way” being something more than a path but something short of a street, a “way” that, for the sake of privacy, I will not name.

Just moments ago I went out to our private garden to smoke a cigarette -- smoking being disallowed in the house (it’s a two-two tie).

While relaxing in the wonderful surroundings and “taking in the air,” as they used to say, a familiar sound rang in my ears.

The sound of someone peeing.

I was certain said urination was not occurring within our property limits, but I took a quick check nonetheless. It wasn’t.

Rather, the urination, the peeing, the leaking, the taking of a piss, was taking place in the “way,” that which I’ve explained above is something more than a path but not quite a street.

No surprise, the perpetrator was a man.

No surprise given that women, what with their differing anatomy, and the overall paucity of alternatives presented to them by society at large, having devised more civilized alternatives when the need arises, when “nature calls,” being disinclined to relieving themselves in dark -- and not-so-dark -- “alleys” or “ways,” are the last suspects in such infractions.

Every urban dweller knows -- and therefore the following advice is for those otherwise residing -- yelling, “What the hell are you doing?! Don’t piss there! I’m calling the police!”, does little -- very little -- to discourage the wanton pissor.

Meanwhile, in seeking the deviant urinator, I ruined the garden’s fountain. I think it can be repaired.

I’ll work on that tomorrow.

[Post-publication addendum (April 22): The fountain has been reassembled.]

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Rittenhouse Responds

One of my favorite readers, M.P., writes, in response to an e-mail from me about the current weekly poll in which I wrote, “tempting as it is, you may vote only once”:

Tempting, hah! I am so behind on movies. I like Jane Fonda, what is she doing on that list!?

People used to tell me I looked like her (I had sort of a “Klute” haircut), but that was 20 years ago. I don’t get that anymore, lol.

Now, it’s not clear, to me at least, whether M.P. no longer “gets,” as in receives, remarks telling her she looks like Fonda, or, instead, whether she longer “gets” the Klute-type hair cut.

Either way, Fonda is on the list for at least three spectacularly horrific performances. In reverse chronological order, they include: “Agnes of God” (1985), “On Golden Pond” (1981), and “Julia” (1977), and particularly for “Julia.”

Twenty-five years after the fact I remain mystified by Fonda’s “best supporting actress” nomination for her performance in “Julia,” a film based on just one of the many lying memoirs of one of the 20th century’s most overrated playwrights and dishonest writers (thank you, Mary McCarthy), Lillian Hellman.

If you’re not a Fonda fan, or if you doubt truly great actors, like Redgrave, for example, know real crap when they see it, rent “Julia,” an otherwise fine film.

But watch for the scene in which Fonda, as Hellman, and Redgrave, as “Julia,” meet in a café to exchange the hat.

Throughout the scene, the look on Redgrave’s face is remarkable.

It says everything.

It says, “What the hell am I doing sharing a sound stage with this incompetent community-theater wannabe? Who is this woman? Did she sleep with someone? Is she somebody’s daughter?”

[Correction (April 23): Reader D.E. writes to remind me Fonda was nominated for Best Actress, not Best Supporting Actress, for her role in “Julia.” She lost to Diane Keaton for “Annie Hall.” Redgrave was nominated, and won the award, for Best Supporting Actress for her performance in “Julia.”]

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Health-Care and Campaign-Finance Reform

Two public policy issues guaranteed to cause me to leave the room or at least to let my eyes glaze over -- out of boredom, not hostility -- are health-care and campaign-finance reform.

As boring as both topics appear on the surface, or at least have appeared to me, I’m starting to think I’ve been mistaken.

On health-care reform: See Sunday’s New York Times Magazine, which devotes dozens of fascinating pages to the subject, including the lead article, “Now Can We Talk About Health Care?” by Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.). For me, however, the scariest article was “Singled Out,” by Jody Miller and Matt Miller, two entrepreneurial, energetic, independent-minded members of the intelligentsia, not unlike me and similar, though older, in age to me, who were totally screwed by what passes these days for our nation’s health insurance fraudulent, criminal enterprise, unregulated and rampant conspiratorial monopoly system.

And no less scary because Mr. and Mrs. Miller are almost unbearably more healthy than I.

As for campaign-finance reform . . . Well, if you think financing for federal offices is a mess, take a look sometime at Pennsylvania.

Today’s Philadelphia Inquirer reports, in “Big Gift to Castor Ruffles Pa. GOP,” by Jeff Shields, that Drew Lewis (R), secretary of transportation during the Reagan administration, has donated, within just the past several weeks, $602,500 to the campaign of Bruce L. Castor Jr. (R), a candidate in Tuesday’s Republican primary for Pennsylvania attorney general. (The Pennsylvania Republican party establishment is supporting Castor’s opponent, former Pittsburgh U.S. Attorney Tom Corbett.)

Lewis’s donations constitute a full 79 percent of the funds raised by Castor in the two-month period ended April 12.

Lewis, by the way, despite an apparently severe problem with alcohol and the law, one the Inquirer notes, with justification, has been, uh, enabled by Castor, has settled into a rather wonderful place in life these days.

As the Inquirer quotes Lewis: “You can’t stop the flow of money. So I just keep giving it away.”

Makes me wonder.

If I simply switch my party registration to Republican, will my life go as swimmingly for me as it has for Mr. Lewis and his friends?

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Worst Actress in the World

The new weekly poll of Rittenhouse readers has been posted.

We’re going with a subject a little less serious this week: “Who is the worst actress in the world?” (I know the question properly should read, “Who is the worst actress in the English-speaking world,” but I hope readers will forgive, or at least overlook, the ethnocentrism.)

Since so many names were submitted, and since many people have visceral feelings on this and similar subjects, I offered “other” as a choice, an opportunity for readers to cast a protest vote.

At the conclusion of the poll, Tuesday April 27, Rittenhouse will publish results with and without the votes cast for “other.”

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Sorry for the Delay

Below are the official results of the Rittenhouse readers’ poll on the question “Who is the most dishonest member of the Bush administration?”

(I apologize for the delay in closing the polls and securing the official count, but Rep. Katherine Harris (R-Fla.) called late last night, made some vague talk of going to court, subpoenas, you know, that kind of thing.)

The winner was the front-runner from the very beginning: Vice President Dick Cheney, with 37 percent of the vote, with 835 readers having voted.

Dick Cheney -- 312 votes -- 37%
George Bush -- 228 -- 27%
John Ascroft -- 95 --11%
Condoleezza Rice -- 65 -- 8%
Donald Rumsfeld -- 62 --7%
Colin Powell -- 34 -- 4%
Scott McClellan -- 30 -- 4%
Elaine Chao -- 9 -- 1%

I vote for Condoleezza Rice because I’ve long thought there’s more there -- or should I say less -- than is generally believed, but upon further reflection I think readers made the right choice in a difficult contest.

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Tuesday, April 20, 2004  

Is There No Dissent?

One would think, even hope, that Philadelphia Inquirer reporter Julie Stoiber, in writing “Author Challenges Views of Holocaust,” an article purportedly about Philadelphia’s annual, and admirable, Holocaust Remembrance Day, would undertake an endeavor more noble than promoting the dubious endorsement of the controversial work of the controversial associate professor of history at Harvard College going by the name of Daniel Jonah Goldhagen.

Alas, no.

Instead, Stoiber joins Goldhagen’s local audience in superficially celebrating his work, Hitler’s Willing Executioners, a book published seven years ago, and one since then, as any idiot, including any newspaper reporter or editor, knows, or should know, has been subject to considerable negative scrutiny and criticism from dozens of Goldhagen’s fellow historians.

It’s a book I’ve read, but one I doubt either Stoiber or the majority of the attendees at the Remembrance Day events even have skimmed or worked their way past page, oh, 60 or so.

One would assume, reading Stoiber’s piece, that Goldhagen’s book has had no critics.

This is not so, even excluding the crazy Holocaust deniers.

But I’ll give credit where credit is due: Goldhagen cuts a fine figure in a photo. The thoughtful little wire-framed glasses are a nice touch. (Sorry, the Inquirer rarely reproduces its photographs at its web site.) Great stuff for the speakers’ circuit. Good photo. Nice shot in the Inquirer, Jonah.

Nonetheless, Goldhagen continues to face hundreds of unanswered questions about his scholarship and methodology.

But that’s not my problem.

That problem belongs to Goldhagen himself and to those who fawned over -- and continue to bow to -- his screeching polemic, those who showered upon Goldhagen leis of praise not unlike those bestowed upon the completely discredited Joan Peters for her unabashedly dishonest book From Time Immemorial.

“Part and parcel,” as they say.

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Old Enough For Around Here

Two recent events, completely isolated, have me wondering whether, despite the increasing longevity of Americans, the age of 40, my age, is now generally accepted as “middle age.”

Situation No. 1: A few months ago I went to Mass on a Sunday evening, and not at my parish church. Before the service began a kindly woman, one I recognized as a nun though she was not wearing a habit, put her hand on my shoulder and whispered in my ear, “You know, this is a special mass we hold monthly for young adults in Philadelphia.”

In response, I simply nodded and smiled.

But the more I thought about her comment, the more I wondered.

Was she telling me this because, not recognizing me, she knew it was my first appearance at this particular Mass, and therefore she was extending me a warm welcome and encouraging me to return in the future?

Or was she telling me this because, well, she thought I was too old to be there at all, and thus was discouraging me from showing up again?

I still don’t know.

Situation No. 2: As regular readers know, not long ago I moved to the Society Hill neighborhood of Philadelphia.

One of the very first things I noticed after settling in is how often, compared with my old Washington West neighborhood, possibly better described as Washington West West, people on the sidewalk (oops, excuse me, this is Philadelphia, I meant not to say “the sidewalk,” but “the pavement”) would offer an unprompted greeting such as “Good morning,” “Hello,” “Good afternoon,” or “Good evening.”

That rarely happened in Washington West West, except when it came from those incredibly and suspiciously friendly guys on Spruce between 10th and Broad, but that’s another story entirely.

I have enjoyed the neighborly greetings in Society Hill. I still do. But now that I’ve been here some six weeks, I’ve noticed that the cheerful good wishes from my neighbors come almost solely from those who would be described, under any reasonable standard, as middle-aged people or as senior citizens.

Younger people, twenty- and thirty-somethings, particularly women, do not say “Good morning,” “Hello,” “Good afternoon,” or “Good evening.” At least to me they don’t.

At first I thought it was fear. I mean, a handsome guy like me can be very intimidating to a younger person, female or male.

But then I thought, wait, they’re not saying “Good morning,” “Hello,” “Good afternoon,” or “Good evening,” at least not to me, not because they’re afraid of me, nor in awe of my good looks, but because I’m old. Or if not old, because, at 40, I’m now middle-aged.

And so maybe that’s why Society Hill-area residents who are middle-aged or older greet me regularly: It’s because I’m one of them now.

I need to think about this.

The Rittenhouse Review | Copyright 2002-2006 | PERMALINK |

Monday, April 19, 2004  

Polling Ends Tuesday Evening

Remember the mock quiz show on “Saturday Night Live,” “¿Quién es Más Macho?” (possibly, “¿Quién es el Más Macho?”), meaning “Who is the Most Macho (Masculine)?”

If you don’t, you’re significantly younger than I am, and I’m only 40!

Well, this week’s reader’s poll, posted in the sidebar at right, varies little from that recurring skit, and might well be entitled, “¿Quién es el Más Deshonesto?”

All this to point you to the poll, “Who is the most dishonest member of the Bush administration?”, for which voting ends Tuesday evening, at a time as yet to be determined, a time set by the whim and whimsy of the Supreme Court of the United States of America me (see Bush v. Gore).

Your choices in the poll are, and I know this is a tough one: John Ashcroft, George W. Bush, Elaine Chao, Dick Cheney, Scott McClellan, Colin Powell, Condoleezza Rice, and Donald Rumsfeld.

When the poll results are posted, I’ll tell readers for whom I voted.

The Rittenhouse Review | Copyright 2002-2006 | PERMALINK |


For Me, Not for Mildred

Oh, man, is it going to be a long night around here.

The temperature in Philadelphia easily topped 80 degrees Fahrenheit (26.7 Celsius) today, that for the second day in a row.

For Mildred, for any English bulldog really, that’s a high temperature, a temperature that causes considerable discomfort, and, in some cases, gives rise to serious health risks. (Before you get too worried, let me assure you multiple veterinarians have told me the structure of Mildred’s face, nose, mouth, and throat render her less vulnerable than most others of the breed to such risks.)

The real problem is that Mildred hasn’t slept a wink today -- not since she awoke at the leisurely hour of 11:00 a.m., followed by a late lunch at around three-ish. (I feel like I’m living with Linda Evangelista. You know, when she, Linda, I mean, was somebody.)

And so, Mildred has been awake now for 12 consecutive hours, something approaching a personal best (from my perspective), or a personal worst (from her own), most of those hours spent panting heavily, annoying the behoosis out of me and seriously impairing my concentration.

I know she’ll fall asleep soon. The early signs already are evident.

So what’s the problem?

Mildred snores. Heavily. Unrelentingly. Enthusiastically, even. Her snoring is not unlike that of the proverbial drunken sailor, a proverb -- and a proverbial personage -- about which I unfortunately have no first-hand knowledge. (Now, about the proverbial drunken Marine, if there is such a proverbial thing, well, that’s another story.)

Meanwhile, I’m dealing with a (hopefully temporary) bout of persistent insomnia. Mildred’s going to keep me up for hours, I just know it.

But I’ll still love her in the morning.

Wait a minute.

Aww, already, as I conclude this post, Mildred’s sleeping.

And snoring.

The Rittenhouse Review | Copyright 2002-2006 | PERMALINK |


Still No Charges Filed

The case of Ashleigh Moore, Savannah, Ga., then 12, first reported missing on April 18 of last year and found dead nearly a month later, remains in limbo, that according to an update published in Sunday’s edition of the Savannah Morning News (“Ashleigh Moore: Still No Answers,” by Nate Reens). [Ed.: The Moore case has been discussed at Rittenhouse several times in the past.]

According to the SMN, the police continue to hold in custody their sole suspect, Bobby Lavon Buckner, the boyfriend of Miss Moore’s mother, as they have since last April, in part, no small part, but rather recent part, because, as Reens reports, “Buckner was ordered to serve 12 years in prison Thursday for multiple probation violations unrelated to the Moore case.”

Meanwhile, the SMN reports, David Lock of the Chatham County district attorney’s office “will not speculate on when -- or whether -- additional criminal charges may be forthcoming.” And, Reens writes, “Police are similarly silent on the status of the probe into Moore’s death. Detectives assigned to the case declined comment.”

Buckner’s attorney, Michael Schiavone, naturally, is skeptical, according to the paper: “Obviously they don’t have any evidence or they'd charge him. He’s being used as a scapegoat because they’ve got no case. They can’t prove he did anything to her.” Regarding the revocation of Buckner’s probation, Schiavone, according to Reens, believes it provides officials with the means to incarcerate him because they lack sufficient against against Bruckner in the Moore case.

The Rittenhouse Review | Copyright 2002-2006 | PERMALINK |

Sunday, April 18, 2004  

In the Republican Primary

In “Stick With Specter” in today’s paper, the editors of the Philadelphia Inquirer endorsed Sen. Arlen Specter in Pennsylvania’s April 27 Republican primary, an election in which Specter, 72, faces an increasingly strong challenge from conservative U.S. Rep. Pat Toomey.

A few excerpts:

To admirers, Specter is moderate, pragmatic and effective. He’ll seek allies wherever he can find them; one day he’ll cast a staunch conservative vote to cut taxes, and the next break with the party to support, say, funding for stem-cell research.

To critics, he’s unprincipled and unreliable. The sense among party conservatives that he’s strayed from the fold too often has fostered a serious primary challenge from . . . Toomey, 42, a former investment banker and restaurateur. […]

The state benefits from a well-positioned, senior senator who can drive federal dollars back home for vital purposes such as medical and biotech research in Philadelphia and Pittsburgh, and smart mass transit projects such as the Schuylkill Valley Metro. […]

Yes, Specter’s personality has some rough edges; his voting record includes flip-flops that are hard to explain. […]

Toomey would give the party a candidate who is an ideological clone (albeit a more amiable one) of junior Sen. Rick Santorum. Pennsylvanians deserve broader representation.

Specter is in a long, distinguished [Sic!] line of moderate GOP senators from Pennsylvania. The party’s voters can honor and continue that tradition by picking Arlen Specter.

That’s all fine, I suppose, for the primary, but I hope it’s not an omen for the November election. Then the clear choice, regardless of whether Sen. Specter or Rep. Toomey wins the Republican primary, and because as the Inquirer editors say, “Pennsylvanians deserve broader representation” -- much broader, in fact -- is Democrat Rep. Joe Hoeffel.

The Rittenhouse Review | Copyright 2002-2006 | PERMALINK |


. . . Strange E-mail Service

Google, the incomparable search engine, is heading in what seems to be a natural direction: The company is testing a free e-mail service, tentatively called “Gmail,” but a strange feature distinguishing the service from competitors is raising eyebrows among privacy experts.

Google E-mail: Room for Regret?” by Jeff Gelles, in Saturday’s Philadelphia Inquirer, spells out the creepy details:

Google’s Gmail, still in testing, offers a gigabyte [of storage] -- more than a billion bytes. That’s 500 times as much as Hotmail, and, in e-mail terms, an amazing chunk. […]

So what does Google get in return?

Nothing less than your permission to read your incoming e-mails, and target ads to you based on their content.

That’s right. You could be reading a friend’s paean to Norah Jones’s latest CD, and up pops an ad for the iPod. Or an e-mail from an airline, and suddenly see an ad for a car-rental company. […]

Beth Givens, executive director of Privacy Rights Clearinghouse[,][...] says that many descriptions about Gmail miss a key point: that Google’s scanning target is the e-mail you receive, not the e-mail you write.

“They’re now making some noises that there will be an opt-in” for Gmail subscribers, Givens says. “But they’re not talking about any sort of opt-in provision for those nonsubscribers who send you e-mail. That’s really the crux of the problem.”

If it’s any reassurance, Gmail’s privacy policy volunteers that your e-mails won’t actually be read by any prying human eyes. The scanning is “a completely automated process.”

There’s more:

Google says copies of your Gmail “may remain on our systems, even after you have deleted them from your mailbox or after the termination of your account.”

I’m normally not the paranoid type, but I think I’ll pass.

The Rittenhouse Review | Copyright 2002-2006 | PERMALINK |


How Fast a Year Goes By

Congratulations to my friend Mike Signorile on the one-year anniversary of his Sirius OutQ radio program, “The Michelangelo Signorile Show.” (Catchy, huh?)

And can you imagine there so many interesting people in the world that, one year later, Mike still hasn’t asked me to be on his show?

We apparently live in an eternally fascinating world.

The Rittenhouse Review | Copyright 2002-2006 | PERMALINK |

Saturday, April 17, 2004  

Arlen Specter and Patrick Toomey

Yes, I know, that headline, “Nasty Republicans,” is redundant, but I like the sound of it, particularly when it comes to a discussion of the Pennsylvania Republican primary election for the U.S. Senate seat currently held by Sen. Arlen “One Man, One Bullet” Specter, and his opponent, U.S. Rep. Patrick “One Man, One Major Donor” Toomey.

The primary is less than two weeks away, to be held on Tuesday, April 27, the very same day Pennsylvania Democrats will cast their votes in the Democratic presidential primary. (It’s okay; we’re really into history here. We’re used to this.)

And gee whiz, is this primary getting ugly. Or uglier, should I say. The Republican senatorial race, I mean, not the presidential primary. (Who cares about that anymore? Who cares what Pennsylvanians think about anything? Who other than me, of course.)

So little time, so many ads. TV ads. Radio ads. So many “mean” ads.

Many people get rankled about that, mean ads. I don’t. They’re fine by me. I say, “Bring ’em on,” as the President himself challenged not long ago. (Oh, wait, sorry, he was inviting terrorists, guerrillas, sociopaths, and juvenile delinquents to shoot at Americans at will. That’s another situation entirely.)

For the latest on the Specter-Toomey race from the Philadelphia Inquirer, see “Double Negative in Senate Race,” by Larry Fish, and, on the same topic, make sure you don’t miss “Specter Sport,” by Terence Samuel in the American Prospect.

The Rittenhouse Review | Copyright 2002-2006 | PERMALINK |

Friday, April 16, 2004  

World’s Worst Actress?
Have Your Say!

Wow! The nominations for my proposed weekly poll -- Who is the worst actress in the world? -- are just pouring in!

A sampling of the nominations thus far:

Barrymore, Drew
Bisset, Jacqueline
Bonham Carter, Helena
Bullock, Sandra
Ciccone, Madonna
Cox, Courtney
Danner, Blythe
Dern, Laura
Driver, Minnie
Flockhart, Calista
Fonda, Jane
Heche, Anne
Kidman, Nicole
Lopez, Jennifer
Messing, Debra
O’Donnell, Rosie
Paltrow, Gwyneth
Roberts, Julia
Ryder, Winona
Sorvino, Mira
Spelling, Tori
Thiessen, Tiffani Amber
Thompson, Emma
Thurman, Uma

Yikes! Hopefully some of my more, uh, mature readers might with their nominations provide us with a, what shall we call it, broader perspective.

(David: I await your missive.)

Be sure to submit your nomination(s) as soon as possible.

Warning: The software I use for polling allows for only 10 options.

[Post-publication addendum (April 17): More nominations from readers (in alphabetical order): Majel Barrett, Candace Bergen, Halle Berry, Cher [Ed.: I respectfully dissent.], Kim Delaney, Bo Derek, Joan Fontaine, Melanie Griffith, Susan Hayward, Paris Hilton, Ruby Keeler, Juliette Lewis [Ed.: I respectfully dissent.], Marsha Mason, Ali McGraw, Liza Minnelli, Ashley Olsen, Mary Kate Olsen, Molly Ringwald, Doris Roberts, Lana Turer, Virginia Weidler, Pia Zadora, and Renée Zellweger. And don’t worry, there eventually will be a similar poll for worst actor.]

[Post-publication addendum (April 17): Meanwhile, don’t forget to vote in this week’s poll, posted in the sidebar at right, “Who is the most dishonest member of the Bush administration?” I know it’s hard to choose, and you really can only vote once, but try to choose among the following (in alphabetical order): John Ashcroft, George W. Bush, Elaine Chao, Dick Cheney, Scott McClellan, Colin Powell, Condoleezza Rice, and Donald Rumsfeld. Voting in this poll runs through Tuesday, April 20.]

[Post-publication addendum (April 19): Additional nominations from readers: Sandra Bullock, Sarah Michelle Gellar, Andie MacDowell, Demi Moore, and Sarah Jessica Parker. Meanwhile, noted film historian -- and blogger -- David Ehrenstein, submits the following nominations (in alphabetical order): Elizabeth Berkley, Leslie Browne, Courtney Cox, Samantha Morton, Julia Ormond, Gloria Talbot, and Nia Vardalos.]

The Rittenhouse Review | Copyright 2002-2006 | PERMALINK |


Except to the Two People About Whom it is Written

She’s married now.

My best friend.

The one who answers the phone at 3:00 a.m.

The one who is honest about everything and anything.

And he, her husband, is amazing.

He’s truly wonderful.

I hope, I trust, he knows how fortunate he is.

And you know what? I know he knows it.

The Rittenhouse Review | Copyright 2002-2006 | PERMALINK |


It’s About CDs

Okay, I’m not much of a techno guy (i.e, I’m a geek; well, maybe not a geek, really, just a loser know-nothing.), but while placing a CD in my stereo today, I noticed this message imprinted upon the disc:

All rights of the producer and of the owner of the work [Ed.: The guy’s dead, if anyone cares.] [are] reproduced [and] reserved. Unauthorized copying, hiring, lending, public performance[,] and broadcasting of this record [are] prohibited.


I borrowed this four-CD set from one of my housemates.

Am I in trouble?

Over to you Jeralyn, Seth.

The Rittenhouse Review | Copyright 2002-2006 | PERMALINK |


I Know It’s a Tough One

Have you voted yet?

Voted in the first of many Rittenhouse Review weekly polls?

This week’s question, I’ll admit, is a tough one: “Who is the most dishonest member of the Bush administration?”

I provided eight choices (in alphabetical order) -- John Ashcroft, George W. Bush, Elaine Chao, Dick Cheney, Scott McClellan, Colin Powell, Condoleezza Rice, and Donald Rumsfeld -- though the software I use allowed for as many as 10 options, but let’s not go crazy, right?

Anyway, Cheney is way ahead in the latest tally, with the president not far behind. Ashcroft is a solid third.

If you haven’t yet voted, please do so and tell your friends to do the same.

The Rittenhouse Review | Copyright 2002-2006 | PERMALINK |


A Poll in the Making

Okay, so it’s, like, 2:20 p.m., and I’m doing some blogging, some writing, and some research, and also pulling together a list of questions for a woman made famous in a spectacular trial in the late ’80s, someone I hope to interview next week.

Meanwhile, for background noise, and I mean that, noise, the television is on, tuned to Lifetime, which, at the moment, is playing “Once You Meet a Stranger,” starring Jacqueline Bisset.

It’s awful. Even for Lifetime, this is junk.

Now, either here or at my now defunct second weblog, TRR, I’m not sure where, I once told readers that I thought Melissa Gilbert was, and is, the worst actress in the world.

But now now, as I’m barely watching “Once You Meet a Stranger,” I’m wondering if that title -- worst actress in the world -- truly belongs not to Gilbert, but to Bisset.

And so I ask you, my readers, for nominations for an upcoming weekly poll: Who is the worst actress is the world?

The Rittenhouse Review | Copyright 2002-2006 | PERMALINK |


Making a Living?

I don’t know the source of this top-10 list. I can only thank J.H.P.


You know you work in corporate America in 2004 if . . .

1. Your resume is on a diskette in your pocket at all times.
2. You get really excited about a 3 percent pay raise.
3. Your biggest loss from a system crash is that you lose your best jokes.
4. You sit in a cubicle smaller than your bedroom closet.
5. It’s dark when you drive to and from work.
6. You’re already late on the assignment you just got.
7. Art in the office involves a white board.
8. Your boss’s favorite lines are: “When you get a few minutes,” “In your spare time,” “When you’re freed up,” and “I have an opportunity for you.”
9. You wonder if the new hires are old enough to drive.
10. You’ve sat at the same desk for four years and worked for three different companies.

The Rittenhouse Review | Copyright 2002-2006 | PERMALINK |


So Many Channels, So Little Time

Until a month ago, I spent a year without television: no cable and, because of a broken antenna connection, no OTA (over the air) viewing either.

So now I’m getting back in to it. TV, I mean.

Funny, I’m still relying on my old favorites: A&E, Lifetime, the History Channel, and PBS.

Yeah, I know, I’m a TV geek.

Still, it’s nice to know what else is going on, and for that I rely upon, and recommend to you, Zap2it, for localized and individualized TV listings.

It’s informative, handy, even.

Thanks to Zap2it, last night I caught the beginning of “Queer Eye for the Straight Guy” for just the second time.

Call me unimpressed. (I’ve not seen an entire episode.)

That one guy -- the one with the really scary bleach-blond hair -- he gives advice about clothes, about one’s wardrobe?

He’s the worst dressed guy on the show, all the straight men included.

You want wardrobe advice? Call me. I have references.

The Rittenhouse Review | Copyright 2002-2006 | PERMALINK |


Is There Really Any Other Choice for Pennsylvania?

Who’s the better Republican?

Is it the sometimes, when it’s convenient, right-wing wannabe, or the purported and self-styled “moderate,” surprisingly taking the same quasi-human form that is sometimes known as Sen. Arlen Specter (R-Pa.)? Or is it the primary opponent of Sen. “Everything and Anything for Everyone and Anyone” Specter, the right-wing freak from Allentown, Rep. Patrick Toomey (R-Pa.)?

Or is it neither and someone else entirely?

Is it Sen. Rick Santorum (R-Pa.)?

Or President George W. Bush (R-Conn.)?

Or President George H.W. Bush (R-Conn.)?

Or Sen. Orrin “Ma Huang” Hatch (R-Utah)?

Or President Ronald Reagan (R-Calif.)?

Or First Lady Mrs. Ronald (Nancy Davis) Reagan (R-Calif.)?

Of former Sen. Barry Goldwater (R-Ariz.)?

This is not a quiz.

This is for real. This is real life.

And if any Pennsylvanian, Republican or Democrat, can figure out exactly where Sen. Specter stands on even this simple question, i.e., “Who is the better Republican?”, he or she is leaps and bounds ahead of the rest of us, the millions populating this great commonwealth, those who haven’t a clue how Sen. Specter might vote on virtually any piece of legislation that crosses his desk, our only hope depending upon whether or not, and from which direction, the Egotist from East Falls faces any opposition.

Come on, fellow Pennsylvanians!

Let’s get real.

It’s time to unite behind the candidate who can best represent all of us: Rep. Joseph M. “Joe” Hoeffel (D-Pa.).

Whether you live in state or out of state, and whether you care about my opinion or not, know this: My opinion is that Sen. Specter is vulnerable in 2004. Very vulnerable. Volunteer, donate, contribute, talk to your neighbors, put a sign in your yard. This year, 2004, is the year for Joe Hoeffel.

The Rittenhouse Review | Copyright 2002-2006 | PERMALINK |

Thursday, April 15, 2004  

“Maybe I’m Not as Quick on My Feet as I Should Be”

There’s a solid, smart editorial, “Happily Ever After,” in today’s Philadelphia Inquirer about President George W. Bush’s Tuesday night press conference.

A few excerpts:

Eleven weeks from now, the U.S.-led coalition intends to turn at least symbolic control of Iraq over to somebody or something there. But despite repeated questions from reporters, Bush could not say who or what that will be. The best he could muster was vaguely calling for United Nations special adviser Lakhdar Brahimi, who yesterday made a first round of recommendations, to find a solution.

Let’s hope Brahimi is successful, because the President could not or would not outline a specific plan for bringing stability and elections to Iraq.

That could mean one of three things, none of them good: 1) The June 30 date is just a political convenience aimed at presidential politics. 2) The administration is clinging to fanciful notions of dictating the makeup of the new Iraqi government no matter what’s happening on the ground. 3) This administration is stunned by recent events and has no new plan in response. […]

And another:

Bush, again, was loath to admit any miscalculation about post-invasion challenges or any other mistakes he has made in office.

When one reporter asked him what his biggest mistake was since the Sept. 11 attacks and what he had learned from it, he twitched more than a Texas tumbleweed. “I wish you’d have given me this written question ahead of time so I could plan for it,” he first said.

He finally replied: “I hope -- I don’t want to sound like I have made no mistakes. I’m confident I have. I just haven’t -- you just put me under the spot here, and maybe I’m not as quick on my feet as I should be in coming up with one.”

Quick on his feet? This shouldn’t have been the first time Bush thought about that question. Does he never reflect on what his team has done and how it could do better by learning from its mistakes? The same lack of reflection and accountability is visible in the administration’s reactions to the work of the 9/11 panel. [...]

And finally:

Press conferences aren’t supposed to be only an opportunity to bolster political support. Americans have a right to expect their president to demonstrate a mastery of the most urgent matters of the day.

The President can utter the phrase “stay the course” all he wants. It surely sounds resolute. But he is obliged to figure out and publicly explain exactly what that course is and what it requires of Americans.

The Rittenhouse Review | Copyright 2002-2006 | PERMALINK |

Wednesday, April 14, 2004  

And a Rehoboth Beach Memory

I received my annual Easter basket (actually, there have been many years when there was no basket whatsoever), this one a gift from my niece P., on Monday, the one-day delay meaning nothing to me since the cornucopia was replete with, among other things, chocolate malt eggs, one of my favorite seasonal treats.

Thank you, P., and thank you too, B. and A., P.’s mommies.

They’re almost all gone, the chocolate malt eggs, I mean, not P., nor B. nor A. The marshmallow peeps were devoured long beforehand. The jellybeans are next on my agenda.

All of this reminds me of my favorite ice cream sundae or concoction, one I first encountered in Rehoboth Beach, Del., some ten years ago.

Unfortunately, I cannot recall the name of the shop that served this item, which they called, appropriately, a “Dusty Road,” and maybe it’s not proprietary to this particular shop; regardless, I remember the ingredients.

It’s rather simple, really. Just three items: coffee ice cream, chocolate syrup, and malt powder.


The Rittenhouse Review | Copyright 2002-2006 | PERMALINK |


Be Sure to Vote!

The Rittenhouse Review, after a few fits and starts and bad coding and the typical nonsense, will now feature a weekly poll of readers.

The poll, in which I encourage you to vote, but only once, because “stuffing” won’t work, can be found on the sidebar at right.

This week’s poll may have readers staying up nights trying to figure out exactly which is the best of available responses:

Question: Who is the most dishonest member of the Bush administration?

Possible answers (in alphabetical order): John Ashcroft, George W. Bush, Elaine Chao, Dick Cheney, Scott McClellan, Colin Powell, Condoleezza Rice, and Donald Rumsfeld.

Have fun! Fun, even though the poll points to what can only be characterized as an organized conspiracy or a conspiratorial enterprise, from top to bottom and bottom to top.

[Post-publication addendum: When the week is out, I'll reveal for whom I voted.]

The Rittenhouse Review | Copyright 2002-2006 | PERMALINK |


WD-40, Two Dogs, and a Complete Psycho-Idiot

Readers know I’m no “Peta”-type freak when it comes to animals generally. As a committed, dedicated omnivore, I never could be (though I no longer eat veal or foi grois). When it comes to mistreatment of domesticated animals, however, I’m a crazed zealot.

If you’re like me on this, there’s some good news in the case of Ronald Fredricks, Seaside Heights, N.J., as reported in today’s Philadelphia Inquirer (“Bail for Owner of Burned Dogs is Up to $50,000,” by Sam Wood).

Fredricks’s two dogs, Shadow, a 6-month-old Shepherd mix, and Poppy, a two-year-old Pekingese, badly burned by the defendant, are now in the custody of the Popcorn Park Zoo, Lacey, N.J.

Better: “Fredricks . . . will never see the dogs again, said Scott Watkins, an investigator with the New Jersey Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. ‘They have been officially confiscated,’ he said yesterday. ‘There’s absolutely no way he’s getting those animals back.”

Shadow and Poppy will need a new home. According to the Inquirer, “[Z]oo officials and humane-society workers will try to place them with a loving family. ‘They’re going to try to adopt them out together,’ he said. ‘And obviously they’ll seek the best home.”

If you’re in the area and are interested in adopting these dogs, call the Popcorn Park Zoo at (609) 693-1900.

The Rittenhouse Review | Copyright 2002-2006 | PERMALINK |


Courtroom Drama

From today’s Philadelphia Inquirer (“Defendant Shot in Courtroom Fracas,” by Thomas J. Gibbons Jr.):

A city deputy sheriff shot and critically wounded a defendant yesterday in the Criminal Justice Center after the man tried to attack the judge during a sentencing procedure.

Pandemonium broke out in Courtroom 1102 as Shawn Frazier, 24, of the 800 block of North Warnock Place in North Philadelphia, went after Common Pleas Court Judge Gary S. Glazer, who was escorted to a door by an aide.

During a struggle with Frazier, Deputy Sheriff Thomas E. Clark fired a shot from his Glock semiautomatic, hitting Frazier in the back. Frazier was taken by Fire Department paramedics to Thomas Jefferson University Hospital, where he was admitted in critical but stable condition under heavy police guard. Glazer and Clark were not injured. […]

And the article gets still more interesting from there:

The shooting was the fourth security-related incident sparked by a defendant at the Criminal Justice Center since Feb. 3, when a prisoner attempted to escape through a ceiling above a holding room. […]

In the other security incidents, [Sheriff John D.] Green noted that during a murder trial in March, defendant Abdul Malik El-Shabazz jumped up and punched his public defender. Then, while a jury debated his murder sentence, El-Shabazz smuggled a knife, hidden in his rectum, into the Criminal Justice Center. A deputy sheriff found the weapon during a strip-search. [Emphasis added.]

What a town.

The Rittenhouse Review | Copyright 2002-2006 | PERMALINK |


An Important Day for Rittenhouse

Today, April 14, marks the second anniversary of The Rittenhouse Review.

Two years.

And here I go into trite mode: hard to believe, can’t believe it, seems like yesterday that I started this venture, thanks for everything, blah, blah, blah.

Beyond that, hey, isn’t this is grand occasion upon which to hit the Rittenhouse PayPal tip box at right?

The Rittenhouse Review | Copyright 2002-2006 | PERMALINK |

Tuesday, April 13, 2004  

Too Much Chicken Soup

I’m convinced getting filthy and undeservedly rich, at least as a writer, takes but one simple idea, one promoted to the extremes, one then diluted to nothingness, and one in the end licensed to hell.

Case in point: the phenomenon begun by the little (and I mean that) book, Chicken Soup for the Soul, by Jack Canfield. Promotion? Plenty of that way back when, especially after the book gained traction.

The dilution of the original “Chicken Soup” idea to nothIngness is and has been, as best I can presume, a coordinated effort between Canfield and his publisher. The entire parade, or charade, has become something far beyond tiresome. Several of Canfield’s most recent volumes approach what may only be called “reader abuse.”

Speaking now just of diluting a single idea’s value in the field of “literature,” Canfield already has produced five subsequent general servings of his dime-store psychology.

Worse, Canfield has supplemented -- i.e., diluted and cheapened, -- his original “idea” by publishing as astonishing range of little add-ons to his first work: chicken-soup supplements including those for parents, mothers (at least four separate volumes), mothers and daughters, fathers, couples, grandparents, women (at least three separate volumes), working women, senior citizens, singles, teenagers (at least seven separate volumes, including one for Christian teenagers), pre-teenagers, “kids,” brides, volunteers, veterans, gardeners, travelers, horse lovers, writers, nurses, college students, sports fans generally, Nascar fans, golfers, fishermen, cancer survivors, prisoners, teachers (two separate volumes), sisters, pet lovers, baseball fans, expectant mothers, romantics, the “unsinkable,” office workers, caregivers, Christian families, Christian women, Jews, “country folk,” Americans, and Canadians [Ed.: Canadians?!].

I could go on and on.

Incredible and offensive as that unending series of crap might be, Canfield continues to reach for the stars, “stars” here meaning the very last almighty dollar. If you think it’s all over, think again.

It’s getting worse, believe it or not.

You see, and I admit these products probably have been on the market for a while, unbeknownst to me, but I am no less disgusted. What the hell am I talking about?

Specifically this: Perhaps the stupidest idea in food (human or pet) processing since purple catsup, namely, Chicken Soup for the Pet Lover’s Soul, food for domesticated dogs and cats, produced for Canfield by Diamond Pet Foods, St. Louis, Mo., kibble for the perpetually insecure. (Insecure humans, not pets.)

You know, if you all just stop buying this crap, Canfield just might stop writing it. And licensing it.

[Post-publication addendum (April 15): For another critical take on Chicken Soup for This or That, see "Chicken Soup for the Wallet," by John Carroll, San Francisco Chronicle, Nov. 11, 1999. (Thanks to a reader for the link.)]

The Rittenhouse Review | Copyright 2002-2006 | PERMALINK |

Monday, April 12, 2004  


Several weeks ago I published a post expressing my thanks and appreciation after having learned several items from my “Wish List” were on their way to me.

I spoke too soon.

Unfortunately, because of my recent move, which really isn’t so recent anymore (six weeks), it appears some items shipped to my former address haven’t yet been, and may not be, forwarded to my new address.

As a result, and much to my dismay, I have not been able to express personally my appreciation to the specific donors because their gifts haven’t arrived.

I have been in contact with customer service, such as it is, and they are aware I have not received this merchandise. Despite a good start, from a “May I help you?” perspective, I as yet have received no response to my last message to Amazon.

It may help, I think, for Amazon to hear from the buyers/senders of the following items:

Books: The Working Poor, by David K. Shipler; Nickel and Dimed, by Barbara Ehrenreich; Birth Order Blues, by Meri Wallace; Christian Science on Trial, by Rennie B. Schoepflin; and Prayers in Stone: Christian Science Architecture in the U.S., by Paul Eli Ivey.

DVDs: “What’s Up, Doc?” and “Mildred Pierce.”

I apologize for this situation and thank you in advance for your kindness and consideration.

[Post-publication addendum (April 14): Just to be clear on one point: If your kindness and generosity impel you to send me something from my wish list, please know that used books are gratefully received.]

The Rittenhouse Review | Copyright 2002-2006 | PERMALINK |


Another Slap in the Face for Philadelphia

The original and still primary area code for Philadelphia is 215. Yes, one of those old-fashioned area codes with a “1” or a “0” in the middle, and neither a “1” nor a “0” on the end, and a code also comprised of very low numbers, signifying, if anything, that Philadelphia was a (very) major metropolitan center when the use of area codes first was introduced.

I suspect at that time Philadelphia, which was once the largest city in the U.S., was then the nation’s third-largest city, a standing that since has been lowered to fourth and then fifth, the latter downward movement fully classifiable as a degradation since Philadelphia gave up the number-four spot to a perennial candidate for the title “armpit of the universe,” namely, Houston. [Ed.: Note to self: You’re going to get mail.]

Worse, that horrible amalgamation of tract housing, tacky developments, “incorporations,” and the like that constitutes what is known as “Phoenix,” is now hot on our heels to assume the number-five position. [Ed.: Note to self: You’re going to get mail.]

Oh, the humanity!

But I digress. (As I often do.)

Anyway, like much of the county, Philadelphia some time ago was assigned a second area code, 267, to handle the demand for new phone lines given the proliferation of home and office PCs, cell phones, fax machines, and pagers.

Even before that, the suburbs, along with nearby smaller cities, including Reading, Allentown, Bethlehem, and Easton, were given their own area code, 610, which since has been expanded to include, at last check, 484 and 835.

Southern New Jersey, just across the Delaware River, which for decades was just 609, is now 609 and 856.

I can’t remember when (and yes, I know I could look it up), but at some recent point the powers that be assigned Philadelphia a third area code, 445. A third friggin’ area code. (Yet another one, that as “states” like North Dakota, South Dakota, and Wyoming, as desolate as some parts of North Philadelphia, still get to have their very own -- single -- area codes, because, I assume, they are, in fact, as desolate as some parts of North Philadelphia.) [Ed.: Note to self: You’re going to get mail. In this case, though, probably very little.]

Great, I thought: more numbers to write down.

Not a big deal, I know, three whole (and I mean that, whole) numbers. But to someone like me, born, as I’ve mentioned in the past, 40 years too early, someone who misses the days of a caller leaving a message that began with something like, “I’m at KLondike5-####” -- which some readers will remember from “I Love Lucy,” and note the exchange matches Hollywood’s still tried-and-true “555” -- a pining made all the more strange and inexplicable since the practice was abandoned before I was born. (I can barely express how pleased I was, upon first moving to New York, that I could tell people my phone number was UPper West 7-####.)

And so, as you can imagine, the proposed or intended introduction of the 445 area code to Philadelphia phone users was a significant life event for me.

That was then. This is now.

Now, I’m angry. I’m angry because my latest bill from Verizon Communications Corp. includes, among a billing detail that reveals several unusually long conversations with a certain Maine blogger, a page that reads, in relevant part:

Thanks to telephone number conservation measures, the proposed addition of new telephone area code 445 to the 215 and 267 Philadelphia codes has been postponed indefinitely.

Now I feel ripped off. What kind of a city are we? Just two area codes? Philadelphia is a two-area-code city? How lame is that? I know we’re modest people here, but really.

So, to all Philadelphians: Whatever the heck those “telephone number conservation measures” in which you are participating or toward which you are assisting: Knock it off!

Philadelphia needs that third area code.

No, not necessarily because we have so many phone lines, or will have so many phone lines, but because our pride is at stake!

The Rittenhouse Review | Copyright 2002-2006 | PERMALINK |

Sunday, April 11, 2004  

And a Happy Passover
It Doesn’t Feel Like Spring Here

Happy Easter and Happy Passover to all Rittenhouse readers.

I think my niece J.K. wins the prize this year for the best Easter Egg inscription: “Lent is Over!”

It was 45 degrees, drizzly, and cloudy in Philadelphia today.

Please, it’s mid-April. Enough already. Bring spring.

(Ed.: This message isn’t for everyone, but those it is, you know who you are: Of course you all know what next Sunday, April 18, is, right? Divine Mercy Sunday. It’s always the first Sunday after Easter Sunday. But you knew that because, this being Monday, you’re already on day four of the Divine Mercy Novena, which each day includes a recitation of the Divine Mercy Chaplet, which as you know, may and can be said on your usual Rosary, and you have at least one Rosary, don’t you? If you need help with all that, the Rosary and the Chaplet, I highly recommend you download the program, “Virtual Rosary,” which may be found here.)

The Rittenhouse Review | Copyright 2002-2006 | PERMALINK |

Friday, April 09, 2004  

A National Roundup of Editorial Reviews of
Condoleezza Rice’s Performance

Readers will find below links to responses of editors many of the nation’s leading daily newspapers to the performance, and that really is the only word for it, of national security adviser and professional prevaricator Condoleezza Rice gave to both the nation and the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States yesterday, Thursday, April 8. (Note: Some newspaper sites require registration.)

Albany Times-Union: “The Rice Testimony

Arizona Republic (Phoenix): “A Competent Witness

Austin American-Statesman: “Bush Should Release Pre-Sept. 11 Memo About bin Laden

Baltimore Sun: “Going Strategic

Boston Globe: “Condoleezza’s Contortions

Charlotte Observer: “Rice’s Recollections

Chicago Tribune: “Condi’s Counterattack

Cincinnati Enquirer: “Rice Testimony Helps Along the Process

Cleveland Plain Dealer: “Dangers Remain

Dallas Morning News: “Terrorism Neither Ignored nor at top of Agenda

Denver Post: “Still Seeking 9/11 Answers

Detroit Free Press: “Failed Intelligence

Hartford Courant: “Ms. Rice on the Stand

Indianapolis Star: “Rice Skillfully Defends Bush Policy

Kansas City Star: “Testimony Highlights Inaction by Rice

Los Angeles Times: “Is America Safer Now?

Madison State Journal: “Condi Rice Spins Out

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: “Rice’s Reluctant Testimony

Minneapolis Star-Tribune: “Connecting Dots/Bush’s Culpability for 9/11

New York Daily News: “What Exactly Was Condi Rice’s Job?

New York Post: “Condi’s Coup

New York Times: “The Rice Version

Orlando Sentinel: “No Smoking Gun

Philadelphia Daily News: “Depends What You Mean by ‘Mistake’: Condi Plays Some Old Word Games With Sept. 11 Commission

Philadelphia Inquirer: “Panel Huffed, Rice Puffed

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette: “No Contrition for Condi / Long-awaited Gestimony on 9/11 Disappoints

Providence Journal: “Staple of Life in D.C.

Rocky Mountain News (Denver): “Rice Provided Panel a Sound Accounting

St. Petersburg Times: “The Terror Bureauacracy

The Wall Street Journal: “Rice on the Record” [Ed.: Subscription required.]

The Oklahoman (Oklahoma City): “Rice: Little Chance of Thwarting 9/11

Washington Post: “Ms. Rice’s Account

Washington Times: “A Panel of Partisans

The Rittenhouse Review | Copyright 2002-2006 | PERMALINK |

Thursday, April 08, 2004  

My Friend Eric

My friend Eric Carra [] writes again today, and, believe it or not, he’s still not completely bugging me.

Mr. Capozzola:

Oddly enough, I DO have a fixed address (which I chose not to divulge; a wise decision considering you thought to post my e-mail address on your site ... maybe not the most adult thing you’ve ever done, but most of the spam and other such nonsense didn’t get past the SpamCam), I DID “attempt” to engage you in correspondence two times in the past, and, oddly, YOU did reply to me one of the previous times. A bland, pointless letter, I’ll admit, but you did reply.

Whether or not you believe I had anything of interest in the previous e-mails, believe me, I found it quite satisfying to point out your crying to you, on the off-chance [sic] that you might realize that you were behaving poorly [sic]. Whether or not you respond to this, or any other letter I choose to send[,] is, of course, entirely up to you; it’s not like I’m particularly concerned about your opinion of me.

Oh, and to clear up a point you might have been confused about (or your sense of humor is poor, one of the two): I’m not Norah Vincent. I can’t claim I even know who Norah Vincent is, actually.

Ta [sic],


The Rittenhouse Review responds:

With respect to Miss Vincent, consider yourself fortunate.

The Rittenhouse Review | Copyright 2002-2006 | PERMALINK |


Gee Whiz, Thanks

According to the latest research and number-crunching conducted by Right-Wing News, The Rittenhouse Review is the 29th most influential weblog in the world.

Number 29.

In the world.

I can live with that, particularly since RWN has every reason in the world, of its own, to push me and my weblog lower in the stats.

But, and since, they didn’t, push me lower, I mean, thank you.

Thank you very much.

The Rittenhouse Review | Copyright 2002-2006 | PERMALINK |


InstaLinker Lies Again

Let’s clear the record.

First, I don’t read the unbearably overrated and consistently uninteresting InstaLinker (“Indeed.” “Read the whole thing.”) at all, except, that is, when his dribblings are brought to my attention by one or more readers, as they were earlier this week.

As a result of my readers’ correspondence, I read at InstaLinker’s site the following, drooled in response a recent controversy in the blogosphere:

I find de-linking [sic] campaigns dumb, even when they’re not conducted by Jim Capozzolla [sic].

Now, assuming InstaLinker in this fragment is referring to me -- I know, those dago names are so hard to get a hold of! Capozzola! Nine letters! Rehnolds! Eight letters! But he, Capozzola, is just a wop, so why bother to look it up? -- let me be perfectly clear: I have never engaged in a delinking campaign of any kind whatsoever.

Yes, eons ago, I told readers that I would no longer add to my blogroll any weblog that linked to the happily ignorant, racist, and hateful site known as “Little Green Snotballs” (LGS).

Let me be perfectly clear again: I have never delinked to any weblog already on my blogroll because it links to LGS.

In fact, and I know that word, “fact,” is troublesome to the InstaLinker, there are, to this very day, bloggers on my blogroll who linked to Little Green Snotballs way back when and who continue to link to that site today. That’s fine with me.

What InstaLinker and other purveyors of such disinformation fail to explain in such slurs, through ignorance that is either deliberate or innate, is that I no longer will add to the blogroll any blog that, expressing or engaging in its own free will, already has established a link to LGS.

One might think InstaLinker, a purported scholar of the law, would be familiar with the concept of “grandfathering,” but, alas, he apparently is not.

I would add here that I know of at least one prominent blogger, one whose weblog was grandfathered during the LGS “controversy” (a contretemps generated and sustained elsewhere and not here, for I cared far less about the matter than LGS’s rabid fans), who subsequently, publicly, vociferously, and rather painfully, disassociated himself from LGS, a stand for which I again congratulate him.

Meanwhile, InstaLinker just might want to think about slowing down, calming down, and getting the facts straight.

The Rittenhouse Review | Copyright 2002-2006 | PERMALINK |


Please, No More Altar Boys

A few weeks ago, while attending Mass at my new Philadelphia parish, I saw something rather remarkable: I saw an altar server, someone otherwise, or in times past, known as an altar boy.

I was rather surprised, as I hadn’t seen one in years. Many years. Male or female, boy or girl. (This one was a young boy.)

The priest made a point of expressing his gratitude for the boy’s service.

All well and good, I suppose, and while I have no reason to think the boy is at any risk of any harm whatsoever -- since some 90-plus percent, I’m estimating, of the abuse cases about which we read on a nearly daily basis are a thing of the past, the Catholic Church receiving no credit whatsoever for its efforts over the past twenty years to rid its ranks of predators -- the question that ran through my mind was, “Why is he here?”

The Catholic Mass is “run” and “managed” by the priest (I’m being colloquial here.), who these days assisted by a variety of servants, including deacons, liturgical ministers, and Eucharistic ministers, lay and clergy, male and female, men and women.

Given the number of adult lay Catholics who desire greatly to serve the Church in such capacities, why are there today any altar servers at all?

For decades the deployment of altar boys was justified as an appropriate “occupation” for boys “discerning a vocation.” The Church, except in rare, odd, and in my opinion, unjustifiable, circumstances, no longer puts teenage boys into formation.

Likewise, it’s time to end the longstanding tradition of altar boys and with that the more recent emergence of altar servers. Their service, while appreciated, is no longer needed.

[Post-publication addendum (April 9): Reader M.C. writes:

[I take issue with your view that the Church should discontinue the practice of using young boys and girls as altar servers. I was a serverfor many years. I can't think of how many masses I served but there were many. To this day, I consider my time spent as an altar boy one of the proudest and rewarding of my life. The level of spirituality that is experienced by being a fundamental part in the consecration of the host is hard to surpass.

[More kids, not fewer, should be altar servers. My experiences with the priests was nothing but respectful and there was never any hint of any inappropriate conduct. Many of them took a strong interest in us and in our lives. I don't think solving the problem of child abuse by priests by abolishing the use of young boys and girls as altar servers is the solution. You would be penalizing the person(s) who did not commit the crime.

[The fact that many kids today willing serve as alter servers despite the abuse scandals is a strong testament to how enriching this experience can be. Just ask them.]

[Post-publication addendum (April 10):

[Reader and blogger Nichole Dulin of Passenger Pachyderms writes:

[I must respectfully disagree with your plea for an end to the institution of Altar Boys.

[In the United Methodist Church the equivalent to an altar boy is an acolyte. I am more familiar with the acolyte position, because I was one. My cousins, however, are all Irish-Catholic, and over the years we have compared notes, so I believe I can draw the comparison.

[The main purpose of involving children in the rituals of a Church mass/service is to interest children in the Church and encourage children to take a proud role in their church. Their presence adds consequence, even majesty, to the ritual that is a mass (or service, depending). Their relatively inconsequential aid to the priest or pastor is not intended to be for the officiates’ convenience.

[The position is one of responsibility for the children. They are placed in a situation where they have a set of well-defined duties and fairly simplistic tasks that must be performed efficiently, quietly, quickly, and in front of a large group of people. It is a test of their patience and fortitude.

[Younger children in the congregation look not just at the pastor, but at the older children, dressed in robes and participating in the mass. They look forward, as I did, to being trusted with the same responsibility.

[The position could also be seen as a kind of recruiting tool for future priests (a decreasingly popular vocation) or at the very least, a recruiting tool for active laypeople. Children who have the opportunity to interact with clergy will develop a better understanding of their relationship to, and with, the church.]

The Rittenhouse Review | Copyright 2002-2006 | PERMALINK |


I’m Not So Good at This Stuff

New Blogging Software is driving me crazier than I already am. I’m in the process of changing to an alternative that comes highly recommended from several of my favorite Bloggers. I hope the change will be both quick and painless, for me and for you.

Tracking Traffic

I wasn’t exactly thrilled with SiteMeter and its belligerent owner/manager, so I switched to Extreme Tracking, which doesn’t provide the necessary level of detail in its reports. Can anyone recommend an alternative?

Saving Documents on a CD

Did you know that if you want to pull a file from your hard drive and put it on a blank CD, you can’t just edit, copy, edit, paste? I didn’t know that. Not until last week, at least. What is it I need or need to know?

Heart This

Does anyone know how to create, in a format will accept, a letter “i” with a heart rather than a dot on top? (Hint: Another post about “Miss Thing” is in the offing.)

The Rittenhouse Review | Copyright 2002-2006 | PERMALINK |


This Time, For Condoleezza Rice

Twice in the past I’ve drawn readers’ attention to 20 smart unanswered questions about the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, posed by William Bunch of the Philadelphia Daily News.

Today Bunch is out with 10 sharp questions for National Security Adviser Condoleeza Rice, who testified before the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States this morning, in “Condi, We Need Some Answers.”

I wish the commissioners had seen Bunch’s questions beforehand, because by my count seven of the ten questions weren’t addressed either directly or indirectly, including my personal favorite, question number one: “Why were 140 Saudi citizens -- including two dozen members of the bin Laden family -- flown out of the United States on Sept. 13, 2001, when all other air traffic was still grounded?” [Italics mine.] Why is everyone so afraid to aggressively ask this question or pursue its answer?

I endured this morning’s session, and if anyone in the media dares call it a “grilling” he should be fired.

I would call Rice’s performance a let down were it not for the fact that it was as unimpressive as one would expect from such a B-grade policymaker and that the structure of the questioning prevented a sustained line of examination. Much appreciation, though, goes out to Richard Ben-Veniste, Robert Kerrey, and Buddy Roemer for their efforts. Under the circumstances -- We mustn’t be partisan, dontcha know? -- the gentlemen did the best they could.

And how sad to see Lee Hamilton is as dull and predictable and purposefully “congenial” as ever.

Hey, and how about those really, really tough questions from Republicans Jim Thompson and John Lehman? Wow, she was under so much stress you could practically see the pit stains emerging on Rice’s tasteful green suit.

As for former senator Slade Gorton, gee whiz, his questions weren’t even softballs, they were Nerf balls, Nerf balls with sideline coaching included free of charge when Rice didn’t get the gist of the rose-strewn path down which Gorton was so blatantly and helpfully leading her.

But that’s not partisanship, is it?

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