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September 30, 2002

Oh what a difference a pecan pie makes!

I’ve been hearing for years about Ginnie Prater, the wife half of a couple who are friends of my brother and his wife Traci. Ginnie is one of those women who makes up recipes, not as a trained chef or dietician, but a kitchen-piddler, and she’s had several printed in various women’s magazines. This year she entered the annual Southern Living magazine cooking contest, where you have to use products of the contest’s sponsors in a recipe. Ginnie made what has turned out to be a controversial move, using a Mrs. Smith’s frozen Southern pecan pie as a major part of her entry. And she won.

The whole thing



Can you believe? Totally amazing. Here’s the recipe. It actually looks great, but then I love pecans and I love pecan pie and I love cheesecake, so a cheesecake wrapped around a pecan pie is going to get my attention. If you go read the recipe, don’t miss the ratings comments – over 200 – which is where the controversy is. Some people are very hot about the fact that the Grand Prize Recipe included a pre-made pie. They’re very funny; I told my brother that they all needed to have blogs.

Obviously Ginnie is clever and a very good cook, but my brother and I had to analyze just what she did to win. He said she’s a very good student – was a National Merit Scholar when she graduated from high school – and what she’s done is, she studied the contest. My contribution to the analysis was that she used a prepared dish in a sort-of unprepared way – as a filling – which creativity won her the big bucks, and she also used a total of five ingredients from sponsors. Naturally inventiveness was key, but doing something difficult and spreading her net over several sponsors helped as well.

Now my brother and I are planning our own entries. After all, Ginnie won! Why can’t we? (We will totally ignore the possibility that Ginnie is just better at it than we are or ever will be.)

And no, Alan, I won’t cook when you’re here visiting – I don’t want you taking my great ideas.

Posted by susanna at 08:02 PM | Comments (6)

The Civil War - Part #1,238,381

Sgt. Stryker poked at the ashes of the Civil War yesterday, saying the South was irrefutably wrong about everything in that war. Mike at Cold Fury answered him today, beautifully.

Don't miss the comments on both sites.

I agree with Mike, in case you didn't figure that out.

Posted by susanna at 07:43 PM | Comments (0)

Torricelli is toast

UPDATE: Yes, I'm innovating here by putting my update at the top and changing the headline, but the situation warrants it. Torricelli is out! Yay! Woohoo! I need to get out and beat the streets for Forrester.

Naturally the Democrats are lining up replacements; Scott Ott has the scoop on an amazing sighting of one potential candidate in, of all places, Paramus.

Meanwhile, Dodd straightens me out in Comments regarding my wish to dump Kentucky's Paul Patton. Oops! Ok, I guess he can stay.

ORIGINAL POST: Life should be this good:

Sen. Robert Torricelli, a prolific fund-raiser whose re-election hopes were severely damaged by an ethics controversy, told colleagues Monday he will drop out of the race if a suitable replacement is found for the Nov. 5 ballot, two Democrats said. The sources, who spoke only on condition of anonymity, said Torricelli informed New Jersey Democratic leaders and Senate colleagues of his plan. The sources cautioned Torricelli had not finalized his decision as discussions about a replacement continued. The senator planned an afternoon news conference in New Jersey.

We shall see.

And if that happens, next we'll see if we can get KY Gov. Paul Patton to quit for the good of the party.

Posted by susanna at 01:47 PM | Comments (3)

Free speech or hate speech?

A pro-Palestinian group that is also vehemently anti-Israel (and one does not presuppose the other) is setting up shop for a conference in Michigan:

Coming soon to a college campus near you: A student workshop that expresses tacit support for terrorism and has as its mission the destruction of Israel.

In one sense, the Second National Student Conference on the Palestine Solidarity Movement, to be held at the University of Michigan in mid-October, is an affirmation of free speech. Campuses should be a place where ideas -- even ignorant ideas -- are debated.

But should forums that espouse hate and push to the very edge of inciting violence find a warm spot at a public university to grow their detestable ideals?

The goal of the conference is to prod universities and corporations to pull their money out of Israel. The divestment strategy mirrors tactics used to end apartheid in South Africa, and the organizers liberally compare Israel to the Afrikaner regime...

You have to wonder two things: How would the university react had the Klan or some other extremist group spouting racist, sexist or homophopic hate speech asked for a platform on campus? And when did anti-Semitism lose its seat on the bus of political correctness?

A thoughtful column by Nolan Finley, editorial page editor of The Detroit News. Maybe I should check in there more often.

One clever phrase I found interesting: "outsourcing of morality" - a very modern term for "ignoring the sins on your own side". And I would also like to know how the university would react if all the behaviors stayed the same, but "Palestine" was switched with "Israel". Puts a different spin on things.

[Link via Grasshoppa]

Posted by susanna at 12:30 PM | Comments (2)

Your country music update

I may make this a regular feature. I love music, especially country (both classic and some new), rockabilly, hard rock, 70s and 80s rock, Celtic, some New Age (Enya), bagpipes… you get the idea. But country music just seems to have the most real-people intrigue and fun. So I’ll see what I can dig up, periodically. Here’s today’s scoop:

Singer/songwriter Mickey Newbury died Saturday after a long illness; he was one of a group of songwriters including Kris Kristoferson that helped reshape Nashville music in the 1960s. This excerpt from his obituary in the Nashville Tennessean just about says it all about country music:

He told an interviewer almost 30 years ago that he spent his first real money, $8,000 from that song [Funny, Familiar, Forgotten Feelings, a hit as recorded by Don Gibson in 1966], on a new Cadillac.

''Since I knew I'd still be living in my car, I wanted something dependable,'' he said.

I love it. And it seems like trouble is following two current stars as well; first, Travis Tritt:

Marvin Droznek, of McGavock Pike, is accused of being a major drug distributor here, a loan shark and a man who arranges to have legs broken — or worse.

After Droznek, aka Marvin Drake, was arrested Friday, he led authorities to a man who he said told him that he wanted to arrange to have country music star Travis Tritt killed, court documents show.

Yesterday, Droznek and Perry Drew Hardman — the man accused of wanting Tritt dead — were ordered held without bail until trial at a detention hearing in federal court, Assistant U.S. Attorney Sunny Koshy said…

''Hardman asked that Tritt be killed based on some type of disagreement with a woman,'' Koshy said.

Hmmm… isn’t Tritt married? Maybe it’s not a romantic disagreement. At least he’s not the one out there, well, punching out cops on his birthday:

Doug Supernaw found himself cooling his heels in a jail cell after police say he attacked five officers during a scuffle outside a Brenham, Texas bar.

Supernaw was arrested early Thursday and held on charges of assaulting a police officer, public intoxication and resisting arrest. His bond was set at $11,150.

"He was supposedly causing a disturbance inside and supposedly he caused a problem with the bouncer and some other patrons," Brenham police detective Sgt. Daniel Gaskamp told The Banner-Press of Brenham.

Gaskamp said Supernaw attacked five officers, who suffered minor cuts and scrapes.

By the way, Supernaw celebrated his 42nd birthday Thursday.

Happy birthday, Doug! (You’ll have to scroll down to find the brief, but OTOH most of it’s pasted in above. Here's another take on it.)

And ladies, if you want something just to make your day, go take a look at Toby Keith. If you haven’t listened to his music, try some clips (yes, I know these are old): His greatest hits album for Getcha Some and If A Man Answers (here for lyrics); go here to find one of my current favorite driving songs (lyrics here) How Do You Like Me Now; You Shouldn’t Kiss Me just makes me…well, nevermind.

Mmmmmmm… Toby Keith.

Posted by susanna at 12:13 PM | Comments (4)

The Mideast Conflict - the NPR version

I listened this morning to the first segment of a seven-part series on National Public Radio on the conflict in the Middle East between Israel and Palestine. Today's segment focused on the beginnings of the modern Zionist movement, and was pretty interesting; I don't know enough about the history to say whether it was a good representation. However, the summaries of the other segments show a great reluctance to lay any blame at the feet of the Palestinians, and a tendency to paint the Israelis as the ones to blame. Should be worth following, to see how NPR manages this delicate task; I hope it doesn't live up to its preview.

The series continues tomorrow; here is the link, which includes a summary of each segment as well as a link to listen to today's installment. There are maps and other links as well.

Posted by susanna at 09:32 AM | Comments (1)

SFSU helps journalists assume full PC mode

I don't know if this is new, but it was highlighted today on PC Patrol. It's certainly good for a few Monday morning laughs. It's (wait for it) the San Francisco State University The News Watch Diversity Style Guide, from the university that brought you unpunished anti-Israeli attacks (until the pressure to respond somehow became too great). Some excerpts:

victim, victim of (afflicted with, stricken with, suffers from)

Avoid. Use neutral language when describing a person who has a disability. Not every person with a disability suffers, is victim of, or is stricken. Instead use: "He has muscular dystrophy" or "she acquired a spinal cord injury."

That's right, she searched the market, checked her options, and then "acquired" a spinal cord injury when the price was right. Go, girl!


Avoid. An inaccurate term sometimes used to describe gays, lesbians and bisexuals. There is no gay lifestyle, just as there is no heterosexual lifestyle.

Not that there is, say, a pattern of behavior that accompanies homosexuality. And actually there is a heterosexual lifestyle.

Chinese fire drill

Avoid. Racist phrase referring to chaotic situations. Also refers to a game that often takes place at a stoplight in which people in a vehicle get out, run around the vehicle and re-enter in a haphazard way before the traffic light turns green.

You know, I've always assumed this term was expressive of how those of Chinese descent actually behave. I'm glad to see the truth is coming out.


Jihad should not be confused with Holy War; the latter does not exist in Islam nor will Islam allow its followers to be involved in a Holy War. The latter refers to the Holy War of the Crusaders. It should never be interpreted as a way to force belief on others since there is an explicit verse in the Quran that says "There is no compulsion in religion," Al-Quran: Al Baqarah (2:256). Jihad is a war against any unjust regime. If such a regime exists, a war is to be waged against the leaders, but not against the people of that country. Other meanings include endeavor, strain, exertion and diligence.

No moral equivalence there, nor any effort to put forward an specific interpretation of Islam. Nope. Completely neutral.

I'm so glad SFSU put this together for us. With their record of tolerance and openness behind it, this guide should enjoy wide usage and success.

The sad part is - it probably will.

Posted by susanna at 09:03 AM | Comments (8)

Time becomes apologist for American Taliban

The latest issue of TIME magazine includes an article on John Walker Lindh, the American Taliban, which traces his path to Afghanistan with great sympathy - including his purported sexual affair with an Afghani businessman whom he first met in the United States. Near the close of the article is this passage:

Lindh has access to newspapers and rues the way he feels the media has demonized Islam. Says Abdelwahab Hassan, spiritual leader for Muslim inmates at the Alexandria Detention Center: "He said the America he is reading about is not like the America that he knew when he left here."

Could it be that the America he knew before was one where thousands of his fellow citizens had not died at the hands of his new friends? The arrogance and nauseating piety of this is just breathtaking - that Lindh would set himself up in moral judgment on the US, critical of a situation brought about by the country's reaction to behavior he supported. But it's also not surprising, either that it is said here, or that it is presented so baldly and without comment by TIME writers.

Need convincing that the TIME article is sympathetic? Check out these passages, first about the environment he grew up in:

Years later, after Lindh's arrest in Afghanistan, quiet, affluent San Anselmo would be described sneeringly as a place for overindulgent hot-tubbers who let their kids do whatever they want. Locals prefer to call themselves tolerant.

I'm sure they do. I don't. I'm one of those sneering. And how about this interpretation of one mosque's intent:

John's infatuation blossomed into a deep commitment when he met followers of Tablighi Jama'at, a group that performs missionary work and preaches a strict interpretation of the Koran. While nonpolitical, it looks forward to the rejuvenation of an Islamic caliphate.

I'm sorry, but any group that "looks forward" to the establishment of an earthly caliphate - worldwide domination by Islam, essentially - is by nature political.

And here is the telling of his contact with CIA agent Mike Spann:

The video is riveting. "do you know ..." CIA agent Johnny (Mike) Spann begins, addressing the bedraggled prisoner in front of him. "Do you know the people you're here to ... Hey, look at me. Do you know that the people you're here working with are terrorists? They killed other Muslims. There were several hundred Muslims killed in the bombing in New York City. Is that what the Koran teaches? I don't think so. Are you going to talk to us?" Lindh remains silent. Almost immediately afterward, the CIA officer was slain by other prisoners in an uprising that riveted the world, as allied control of northern Afghanistan seemed to hang in the balance. While his fellow Taliban prisoners set upon the Americans and their Northern Alliance allies, Lindh took off running. He sought safety in the basement of a fort from which several Taliban soldiers would sporadically fire upon the Northern Alliance. The Northern Alliance would use burning oil and then freezing water to roust the holdouts. After seven days Lindh and his fellow fighters surrendered.

This is about as stripped down as the telling can be, making absolutely no judgments about Lindh's behavior even though, as an American, he could have helped Spann, he could have run toward the Americans instead of the ones attacking them. No, he ran to hide with his al Qaeda compatriots. And we're supposed to have sympathy that they were rousted by burning oil? I don't think so. It is telling that the article says "Lindh and his fellow fighters" - acknowledging (probably inadvertently) that Lindh indeed was a fighter, which means he fought against his own country. Remind me, please, what the definition of a traitor is?

The TIME piece is a classic example of media framing, presenting the available information in such a way as to create the impression they want. In this instance, they highlight all of what they see as positive and sympathetic, and seriously underplay or place in unembellished prose the instances of negative activity. Compare this passage with the one about the fight where Spann was killed:

Marilyn and Frank are allowed to visit their son twice a week, approximately one hour at a time. There is always an fbi agent present. Frank says the agents are pleasant but every word uttered during their visits is recorded. Even so, Marilyn tries to fly across the continent to Washington every two weeks to see her son. They talk through Plexiglas. Neither parent has been able to embrace him. The closest they have come to physical contact was through a mesh screen when they saw him after he was first brought back to the U.S., 55 days after the world saw him on television. Lindh held his palms to the mesh, and each parent took turns holding their hands against his, palm to palm, mother to son, father to son. Frank says he could feel the "warmth" of Lindh's hands through the mesh. That was the last touch that his mother and father had from Lindh.

Notice the detail here, and the lack thereof in the Spann passage. I would offer this alternative to the Spann passage, with the kind of detail in the passage immediately above:

(my version) Mike Spann, a young father and devoted husband whose own Christian faith was of longer duration than Lindh's Muslim attachments, sought information from Lindh in trying to find those who killed 3,000 Americans. He questioned Lindh intensely, not aware that Lindh was an American, his own countryman, and countryman of those who had died. Lindh remained silent, either from fear or from attachment to his al Qaeda compatriots. When fighting broke out, Spann - doing the work of his country - was killed quickly, while Lindh abandoned his country again to run to momentary safety with his killing friends.

I like that better, don't you? Of course I framed it somewhat differently, but the information is the same. Gives a little more insight into just what TIME is doing, doesn't it?

The article is a flagrant effort at painting Walker sympathetically, and I'm sure the homosexual angle will be used by his attorneys to claim his journey to Afghanistan was partially confusion, partially love, as he found himself involved in a homosexual relationship with a married man not long after his own father left the family in the wake of revealing his own homosexuality. You just saw John Walker Lindh's criminal defense.

It doesn't work. Try again, TIME.

Edited for clarity

Posted by susanna at 07:47 AM | Comments (3)

I would hold his coat

Rudy Guiliani says in his new book that he wanted the best job for himself:

In the book, due in stores Tuesday, Giuliani wrote that he asked Bush three days after the terrorist attacks if he could personally execute Usama bin Laden if U.S. forces captured him.

"I am sure he thought I was just speaking rhetorically," Giuliani wrote. "But I was serious. Bin Laden had attacked my city, and as its mayor I had the strong feeling that I was the most appropriate person to do it."

Any of the family members from those lost on 9/11 would have been appropriate, but Rudy would have done in proxy. Fortunately it didn't come to that.

And even though many believe bin Laden dead, the search continues anyway.

UPDATE: Scrappleface has the latest on David Bonior's book, a bit different from Rudy's.

Posted by susanna at 06:53 AM | Comments (0)


As you can see, cut on the bias has a new look! We're not all done yet, but this is it for now. Page of The Last Page spent many hours coding it for me - all I did is say "I want this!" and "Change it to that!". She's a patient and kind woman.

And as soon as I get some sleep, posting will resume.

UPDATE: Andrea and Emily have slipped into new dresses as well (as The Group Captain helpfully pointed out). It's a party!

UPDATE: And Media Minded has a new suit - very patriotic!

Posted by susanna at 01:27 AM | Comments (6)

September 29, 2002

Yeah, baby!

Sometime yesterday evening while I was tooling about New Jersey in a 1994 Chevy van, the hit counter on cut on the bias slid past the 100,000 mark. Celebration time! Absolutely excellent - thank you, all ten of you! It's been an all-out effort, and a few of you went through more than a couple of ISPs in the process, but we did it! Yay! Free carpal-tunnel surgery for all!

Seriously, it's very exciting to top that in just seven months online. I know 100,000 is a bad week at Instapundit, but we in the shadow of The Big Guys luxuriate in our little victories when they hove on the horizon. We have a good time here, and I have the best commentors anywhere. Kevin, where are you? Stand up! Applause!

In honor of this occasion (well, actually it's a serendipitous juxtaposition, but we'll pretend) there will be A Big Change in the blog soon - if the HTML fairies cooperate, it will be tomorrow. So come back for The New, Improved cut on the bias - the same insight and inanity in a new blogskin!

Posted by susanna at 03:05 PM | Comments (6)

The Visit - Part III

Some observations:

It’s always disconcerting when your mother starts singing about your eggs. Friday night after we ate at Tony da Caneca’s, my mom said, “I had so much garlic, I feel like singing!” No, I didn’t get it either.

This morning I was driving my mom over to the dump station where my dad had taken the camper. I handed her the carton of eggs (organic! free-range! because they came from the farm, not because Mom and Dad are tree-huggers) they’d given me, so they wouldn’t get smushed. She started singing:

Who’s going to hold your eggs? Who’s going to hold your eggs? Your momma’s going south, Your daddy’s going south, Who’s going to hold your eggs? Your brother’s in Kentucky…

Me: (interrupting) What are you doing?

Mom: I’m singing about your eggs!

Me: So who put garlic on your cereal this morning?!

I love my mom.

The more things change… I remember camping in the Smokies when I was about 11, when a group of Boy Scouts set up camp right across from us. I spent a lot of time sighing over them until we had to leave that night in the middle of a huge thunderstorm. This weekend, the day after a huge storm, a group of Boy Scouts set up right across the road. I did some scoping this time too – but of the Scout leaders.

Mmmmm… Scout leaders.

It’s never a good time to say goodbye to your parents. And it doesn’t get a lot easier either. You just learn how not to think about it.

Be safe and godspeed, Mom and Dad. I miss you already.

Posted by susanna at 09:27 AM | Comments (2)

September 28, 2002

The Visit - Part II

Some observations:

It's fun to talk world affairs with old men while sitting on a bench at Wal-Mart, even when he thinks JFK had the definitive foreign policy (take care of our own back yard!) and that the reason we shouldn't fight in Iraq is because we lost so many good men in Korea. And they didn't have a chance - it was (too hot or cold, he said both and I got confused) for our boys, but the opposition didn't care because they were used to it and hopped up on drugs anyway. Whew.

It is very difficult to shower when the water goes off every five seconds, which I know because I counted them off. It's also very difficult to get clean while leaning on the water button with one hand.

Driving a full-size 1994 Chevy van around New Jersey is not my idea of the most fun thing ever. Not even in the top 20. Or 100. Or 1,000.

On the other hand, it's mighty nice to spend time with my parents, even when my dad puts his new camouflage suspenders from Wal-Mart on over his royal blue Kentucky Wildcat's t-shirt. I love my dad.

Posted by susanna at 04:16 PM | Comments (2)

September 27, 2002

The Visit - Part I

I drove out to Clinton, NJ, last night, in the rain, to stay with my parents in their camper. It was great to see them, and I fell asleep listening to the rain drum on the metal roof of the camper. Wonderful.

This morning my dad and I walked around the campsite, a gentle mist falling, and counted about 25 deer grazing in the unoccupied parts. I asked myself then why I was living in an urban area. Later, I asked myself that at much greater volume.

We drove to Liberty State Park, saw the NYC skyline sans WTC, then drove through the Holland Tunnel into Manhattan. That's when things started going, well, not so good. I was driving my dad's old Chevy van - read "bus" - and doing quite well, thank you. We drove down the Westside Highway, past the WTC. (I saw Century 21 Dept. Store across the yawning pit that was the towers - it was a startling reminder because I've shopped there, several times. How close it seemed, for there once to have been such huge buildings between where I was and where it is.) Then... I managed to inadvertently get on FDR Drive. Ack. But never fear, after putting the fear into about 20 cars, I made it off at the Houston exit, cut across the island, pushed my way through traffic into the Holland Tunnel and emerged TRIUMPHANT! in Jersey City.

If, that is, arriving in Jersey City could ever be triumphant.

I decided to take my parents to Tony da Caneca's restaurant in the Ironbound section of Newark, which I found without directions after having been there only once about 8 months ago (go me!). Enroute, I was trying to get this mongo van down a narrow one way street with cars parked on both sides and a stupid construction van double parked. Grrr. I squeezed past, almost in the passenger seat of the car parked on the left, only to kiss the side mirror of the construction van with my side mirror. Of course he yelled (although I think he was opening the door). So I stopped, he came over and said, "You hit my mirror!" I said, "You were double parked! I'm sorry!" He said, "You're SORRY?!" I said, "Is it damaged?"

Well, he didn't know. Dolt. He hadn't checked in his rush to yell at me for kissing his mirror when HE was double parked. Jerk. As it turned out, it wasn't damaged.

We made it to Tony's, the food was excellent although each of us was served enough for a family of four. All in the fridge now. And here I am, typing to you while my mom is saying, for the third time, getting ominous, "Susanna, we need to leave."

So no more free cheese, missy! (Or cookies either, Martin!)

Posted by susanna at 07:55 PM | Comments (1)

September 26, 2002

No more free cheese for you, missy!

My parents are visiting for a few days, so posts will be scarce until Sunday afternoon (and maybe then too, if I decide a nap is in order). I would have said, "there will be less free i** c**** c****", but someone put the kabosh on that saying. Hey, I don't want to come home to find my blog shivering out along the cyber highway, tossed from its warm cozy server. Instead, how about - no more free cheese for you, missy! Not even if you beg.

(I figure cheese is a good metaphor for my blog - sometimes sharp, sometimes bland, sometimes full of holes and often a bit soft around the edges. Easy to melt, and it's gouda for you.)

(sorry, couldn't resist)

Anyway, please visit occasionally to see if I've surfaced to post, and don't miss Monday - big changes on the way for cut on the bias!

Posted by susanna at 07:37 PM | Comments (2)

Surrealism, Babs and Democr*ps

You knew it was Mike at Cold Fury, didn't you? Take a walk through his aisle of beauty (nothin' sissy there), stop to snicker at Babs, then head on down to a Democr*p slapfest. Life is good.

Posted by susanna at 07:15 PM | Comments (0)

Go read Tony

Any post that includes the phrase "European sissy-man poses" deserves your immediate attention.

Posted by susanna at 07:07 PM | Comments (1)

So why do we blog?

The Last Page begins a thoughtful series of posts on bloggers and why they blog with this introduction. She follows it up with an interview with Dave Copeland and his self-named blog. Check it out.

Rumor has it that at some point I too will have an interview in the series. And I have the threats on my life to prove it.

Posted by susanna at 07:03 PM | Comments (1)

Just so you know...

I was driving home from church last night, and noticed as I headed down I-280 into Newark that the World Trade Towers still aren't standing tall in the distance. As I walked from my parked car down the block to my apartment building, an airplane flew over low, heading in for a landing at Newark International Airport, and I thought - will it hit something else? Will it fall from the sky? Did I hear the planes carrying the doomed on 9/11, banking low, on a trajectory with a death they didn't yet realize would be theirs? I have those thoughts, fleeting but there, nearly every day. And yesterday morning, as I walked up and down the street next to mine, I noticed that many of the houses and cars still have the American flag displayed. The one on my landlord's house is about 4' x 6'. And a somewhat smaller one covers an entire window in my apartment.

As I've mentioned before, there are little reminders constantly to those of us who live here. To me, it's comforting to see the flag all around me - a reminder that we're in this together. I live in a community where a majority of the population are fairly recent immigrants from Portugal, South America, and Asia, and those flags remind me that we are fellow citizens, united with a common purpose of freedom, independence and community. The flags are not decoration, or an afterthought, but a statement of unity, of support for this country's principles.

That's why I was glad to see this article. While I don't think someone must display the flag to be patriotic, I do think it is an important symbolism especially as we move toward a war possibly more virulent and deadly than the one we've waged since 9/11. Feel your heart pick up, the next time you see the flag, and take a moment to be thankful for it.

Posted by susanna at 04:01 PM | Comments (0)

A Daschle Diatribe (and I don't mean his)

Dodd unleashes a well-deserved tirade against Tom Daschle. Beautiful to see.

UPDATE: While you're over at Ipse Dixit, check out the Caption Contest - this week's photo is excellent.

Posted by susanna at 09:12 AM | Comments (1)

Dershowitz on Israel

I've had kind of a love-hate attitude toward Harvard law professor Alan Dershowitz since I first read his book The Best Defense almost 20 years ago. He's a very sharp lawyer who lands far to the left of me on virtually everything. But in his letter published Monday in Harvard's The Crimson student newspaper, he shines in his explanation of why Israel is the star in the firmament of Middle Eastern countries. The context is a challenge to one of the signers of the recent letter to Harvard President Larry Summers to divest Harvard assets from Israel:

In my 38 years of teaching at Harvard Law School, I don’t recall ever writing in praise of any action by a Harvard president, but this time I must congratulate President Lawrence H. Summers for his willingness to say out loud what many of us in the Harvard community have long believed: namely, that singling out Israel, among all the countries in the world, for divestment, is an action which is anti-Semitic in effect, if not in intent. A recent open letter by one of the signatories made it clear that he regards Israel as the “pariah” state, a word historically used by anti-Semites to characterize the Jewish people. As an advocate and practitioner of human rights throughout the world, I can confidently assert that Israel’s record on human rights is among the best, especially among nations that have confronted comparable threats. Though far from perfect, Israel has shown extraordinary concern for avoiding civilian casualties in its half-century effort to protect its civilians from terrorism. Jordan killed more Palestinians in a single month than Israel has between 1948 and the present.

Israel has the only independent judiciary in the entire Middle East. Its Supreme Court, one of the most highly regarded in the world, is the only court in the Middle East from which an Arab or a Muslim can expect justice, as many have found in winning dozens of victories against the Israeli government, the Israeli military and individual Israeli citizens. There is no more important component in the protection of human rights and civil liberties than an independent judiciary willing to stand up to its own government. I challenge the proponents of divestment to name a court in any Arab or Muslim country that is comparable to the Israeli Supreme Court.

Israel is the only country in the region that has virtually unlimited freedom of speech. Any person in Israel whether Jewish, Muslim or Christian can criticize the Israeli government and its leaders. No citizen of any other Middle Eastern or Muslim state can do that without fear of imprisonment or death.

Israel is the only country that has openly confronted the difficult issue of protecting the civil liberties of the ticking bomb terrorist. The Israeli Supreme Court recently ruled that despite the potential benefits of employing non-lethal torture to extract information, the tactic is illegal. Brutal torture, including lethal torture, is commonplace in nearly every other Middle Eastern and Muslim country. Indeed, American authorities sometimes send suspects to Egypt, Jordan and the Philippines precisely because they know that they will be tortured in those countries.

Nor is Israel the only country that is occupying lands claimed by others. China, Russia, Turkey, Iraq, Spain, France and numerous other countries control not only land, but people who seek independence. Indeed, among these countries Israel is the only one that has offered statehood, first in 1948 when the Palestinians rejected the UN partition which would have given them a large, independent state and chose instead to invade Israel. Again in the year 2000 Palestinians were offered a state, rejected it and employed terrorism.

There are, of course, difficult issues to be resolved in the Middle East. These include the future of the settlements, the establishment of Palestinian self-governance and the prevention of terrorism. These issues will require compromise on all sides. Members of the Harvard community must be free to criticize Israel when they disagree with its policies or actions, as they criticize any other country in the world whose record is not perfect. But to single out the Jewish state of Israel, as if it were the worst human rights offender, is bigotry pure and simple. It would be comparable to singling out a black nation for de-legitimation without mentioning worse abuses by white nations. Those who sign the divestment petition should be ashamed of themselves. If they are not, it is up to others to shame them...

Let me propose an alternative to singling out Israel for divestment: let Harvard choose nations for investment in the order of the human rights records. If that were done, investment in Israel would increase dramatically, while investments in Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Jordan, Philippines, Indonesia, the Palestinian Authority and most other countries of the world would decrease markedly.

And that answers just about any questions that anyone may have about why supporting Israel is important.

Thirty-nine Harvard professors urged divestment in the original petition May 6; by May 15, 300 professors had signed. Summers clearly identified their attitude as anti-Semitic last week. Now Dershowitz is seeking a debate with one of the signatories, Master Paul D. Hanson, which Winthrop House is considering. I hope it happens; I doubt it will. It's one thing to sign a petition; it's something different to air your anti-Semitism in public where it can be identified and so challenged by fact that the prejudice becomes isolated and thus very clear.

I don't know precisely what the internal Harvard politics are of challenging Hanson. Should be interesting to see how it all falls out, though.

[Link from Josh Kraushaar at All About Josh.]

Posted by susanna at 07:31 AM | Comments (7)

Why not vote for Cleland?

A few days ago I posted about the Senate races in the South that are possibly up for grabs by Republicans. One of those races is in Georgia, where Kevin McGehee lives. I said, what are you doing to get the job done, Kevin? Here is a letter he sent to his local newspaper making his case against the incumbent, Democrat Max Cleland:

As a lifelong Republican I can come up with reasons why Saxby Chambliss in the U.S. Senate would be better for Georgia than Max Cleland.

For instance, Cleland's voting record in the Senate more closely represents the views of Tom Daschle than of Cleland's own constituents. It's the Daschle connection, though, that argues for why Saxby Chambliss would be better not only for Georgia, but also for the Senate and for the country.

Did you see Daschle going ballistic last Wednesday, accusing President Bush of trying to politicize the war with Iraq? The man Max Cleland helped make Majority Leader in the United States Senate, the man Max Cleland would surely help keep in that position if the Democrats retain control of that body, has done more to politicize war and national security than anyone in Washington. In fact, Daschle's performance was part and parcel of his effort to keep his party in control of the Senate even as the news from the campaign trail gets bleaker and bleaker for the Democrats.

After Daschle's spittle-flecked tirade, Zell Miller took to the floor of the Senate and criticized Daschle and his fellow Democrats for playing politics with national security. Where was Max?

He was where he's always been -- in Tom Daschle's pocket.

Tom Daschle needs to be removed from his position of power over legislation, over the confirmation of judges and other federal officials, and over the terms of political debate in Washington. Although we voters have no direct say over who serves as Senate Majority Leader, we can help by reducing the number of Daschle supporters by one on November 5.

Go, Kevin! Keep it up!

Posted by susanna at 07:03 AM | Comments (3)

September 25, 2002

Lock him in a room with the Naudet video

A former Wall Street broker convicted of securities fraud asked a judge in NYC today not to send him to jail because of the trauma he suffered on 9/11.

Cary Cimino, the broker in question, claims he saw people jumping before he left his WTC area apartment, but escaped before either tower fell. Poor guy, it really traumatized him:

In letters to the sentencing judge, Cimino said he saw people jumping out of the towers - and was so emotionally overwhelmed that he couldn't possibly handle a single night in jail...

(H)e whine(d) to Manhattan Federal Judge William Pauley that because of his "already critical emotional ill health, these events [of Sept. 11] have had an especially 'shattering effect.'"

...Psychoanalyst Alvin Kulick said that Cimino suffered a dysfunctional childhood, was "traumatized" by incarceration after his original arrest and was pushed over the top by Sept. 11. Kulick said he was particularly worried about Cimino's dreams, which "took on a more nightmarish quality."

Kulick said Cimino "identified with the people who jumped. He was one of the doomed people jumping. He felt he was trapped in a deadly place, helpless, and could only escape by hurling himself out, even if it meant death."

Dr. Robert Goldstein wrote that Cimino was experiencing Sept. 11 "flashbacks.... Incarceration would be extremely traumatic."

I hope they lock him in a tower cell with the Naudet video on continuous loop. What a pathetic excuse for a human being.

He faced a maximum of 10 years. I'll let you know tomorrow what sentence he got.

Posted by susanna at 10:01 PM | Comments (1)


A friend sent me an essay his young teenage daughter wrote about friendship, the Grand Canyon and meeting a challenge you set yourself. I've posted it on my writings site; I think you'll enjoy it.

Posted by susanna at 09:20 PM | Comments (0)

The lefter I am, the better the media seem

R. Alex Whitlock at RAWbservations has a nice discussion of media bias based on his own political meanderings. Specifically, he's noticed that as some of his views have moved right, the media has seemed to get more biased in their coverage; in the areas where he's moved left, they seem to be performing quite well.

It is a good illustration of what I've talked about here before - that your perception of bias has a lot to do with your own biases, and if you hang out with people with your same worldview, you'll find it hard to see your bias. Journalists often function in a liberal vacuum, asking each other if they're biased and reassured when the answer is "no". Alex also skids past the issue of framing, the technique by which much bias is conveyed. Interesting read.

Alex is apparently submerged in a hellish work schedule, so he has two guest bloggers pinch-hitting at the top of his blog. Pretty funny.

Posted by susanna at 07:22 PM | Comments (2)

Putting it all together

There was this journalist, see, and she was all objective, see, and she started working for this partisan think tank too, ya know? Anyway, she's a really good writer, see, and she just won this big award, see, and ya know what? The people who finance the think tank gave her the award for her journalism writing. And the best part? She felt bad about the award because her writing hadn't done the good she meant for it to.

I'm so thankful for media objectivity, aren't you?

[Media Minded has the real scoop, and is far less annoying about it.]

Posted by susanna at 06:44 PM | Comments (1)

Republicans in the South have never liked Jews

This may come as a surprise to you - it sure did to me. But that's what comedian Dick Gregory said in this article (Edney, Hallway Buzz Focused on Recent Losses) about the recent House of Representative losses of Cynthia McKinney and Earl Hilliard.

...Gregory says he’s not buying reports that Republicans joined with the Jewish community to defeat McKinney because of her support for Palestine over Israel in the Middle Eastern war.

“Republicans in the South have never liked Jews,” Gregory says.

Actually Republicans and some former McKinney supporters are believed to have voted against her in retaliation for her accusations that the Bush administration officials had prior knowledge of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks and failed to act so that their associates could benefit financially.

"Believed" by whom? By the people who also believe that southern Republicans don't like Jews? How about, everyone piled on to vote against Cynthia McKinney because she's a hate-filled leftie racist, whose own race was immaterial?

I know this is old news (the lost races, not the racist article), but I was intrigued to see this "strategy session" article posted on The Black World Today; there's no date, but it's been posted in the past couple of weeks. Look at how one of the passages sounds when the race is changed:

With dozens of issues forums and brain trusts during the Congressional White Caucus’ annual legislative conference—from reparations to missing children to mandatory minimum sentences—among the most discussed issues outside the meeting rooms was how White America can block outside interests from controlling primary elections in predominately White districts.

The political chatter centered on the Democratic losses of Reps. Earl Hilliard of Alabama and Cynthia McKinney of Georgia...

Many of the delegates noted the roles Black contributors played in the defeats.

“They [Blacks] know how to form these large coalitions with these small contributions. We just don’t do that too well,” says Clyde Bailey, president-elect of the National Bar Association.

Wow. How quickly do you think any publication would be busted if that actually ran? But replace "white" with "black" and "black" with "Jew", and you've got the actually published view on The Black World Today.

And, since Hilliard's opponent, Artur Davis, is black, he had to find some reason other than race to blame for his loss - something besides his policies, of course:

Jackson’s opinion is not far from what Hilliard has said since losing the June primary to Artur Davis, a lawyer nearly half his age.

“African-Americans don’t have a political infrastructure that we can bring to any election,” Hilliard says. “We’ve got to concentrate on fund-raising. And we’ve got to set up a political infrastructure, which we don’t have. We don’t have sufficient political action committees. We don’t have sufficient communications that deal with political problems. And that’s because historically we’ve been dealing with so many social problems in African-American communities… We’ve been dealing with everything except our political future."

So obviously Davis was a put-up candidate because he was so much younger than Hilliard; if the black communities had just had the proper infrastructure in place...!

What's interesting to me is that there is all this anxiety about getting black candidates in office - and both the candidates who won those mentioned races were black! So it's very clear that it's not about race, it's about ideology wrapped in race - if there's not the right kind of cream in the Oreo, forget it.

And the open hostility toward Jews - a traditionally liberal base for the Democrats - is appalling as well. I know it's been commented on before, but it's a renewed horror each time I see it. How can true efforts to stamp out racism be effective when the ones who historically suffered the most are the ones perpetuating it on a daily basis - and not only not getting generally vilified for it, but encouraged?

I think getting out the vote in any setting is important, but I think we need to teach critical thinking skills along with it. These activists clearly want blacks to vote as a unified block, and don't accept that a debate of ideas will legitimately lead to blacks voting for other races over black candidates, or blacks running against each other because they represent differing ideals and values. They also don't seem to get it that they should be happy when the choice is between two black candidates. Isn't that a triumph to them? Apparently not.

Race only matters to me when it's used as a cloak of virtue to prevent debate on what I consider to be ugly, divisive and harmful policies. I would vote for Condileezza Rice for president without hesitation, if once I understood all her views I felt she would represent me well. I wouldn't vote for her because she's a woman, or because she's black, and I wouldn't vote against her for either reason.

I think it's time we called the black racists on their racism just as we do all others. Only when we're all held to the same standard will we get to where we need to be.

Posted by susanna at 06:19 PM | Comments (2)

Politics hit the Blogosphere! Will it be Laurence or Stephen?

As most of you likely know, FX is going to run a reality show – American Candidate – which will try to choose a candidate for the next presidential election the same way that the Survivor is chosen. They’re searching for nominees, and of course the Blogosphere must be represented.

Laurence Simon took an early lead (being the only bloggish candidate), even going so far as to propose his platform and promise an all-bloggish cabinet. While the biggest battle was over Secretary of Defense (with some movement toward calling it Secretary of War), Greg Hlatky nominated yours truly for White House Press Secretary (me as Ari Fleischer? Oy vey!) and Lynn Sislo suggested NZ Bear. So as not to annoy the bear (nice bear, nice bear!), I propose that should Mr. Simon win, NZ take the first four years and then leave to host a political show where he attempts to pass himself off as non-partisan. Then I will take over and begin each press conference by smacking Helen Thomas awake.

This bloggish presidential utopia had a rude awakening as another candidate entered the fray (or at least was nominated) this week – Stephen Green, the inestimable VodkaPundit. He has yet to accept the nomination, but efforts are afoot to bring him to the attention of American Candidate, and some cabinet posts have already been staked out.

While I hate to see strife develop amongst the peace-loving, low-key, have-you-hugged-your-AK-today warbloggers, I think this could be a good thing. We’ll all get the issues out in the open, and certainly Simon and Green (sounds like a law firm, doesn’t it?) would prove more entertaining than, well, any candidates ever. And we’ll surely have awesome debates – fresh bread and free-flowing alcohol for everyone! (Um, better make mine a nada-colada.)

(edited to correct spelling)

Posted by susanna at 10:17 AM | Comments (4)

I've always called it "Fred"

Bigwig asks the question:

Is blogging Art?

He's giving you a chance to decide for yourself, kicking off his Carnival of the Vanities regular feature today - a listing of blog posts submitted by their authors as their best recent work.

Check them out. And tell Fred I said hi.

Posted by susanna at 09:59 AM | Comments (1)

September 24, 2002

Pretty in Pink

Haydon and MK pretty in pink 9-02 edit.jpg

Haydon and Molly Katherine

(Two of the reasons I need to move back to Kentucky.)
Posted by susanna at 11:22 PM | Comments (7)

Harper's and the 2000 redux

Eric Lindstrom at Smarter Harper's Index deftly skewers the October Harper's Index.

If you've not taken the time to check out Eric's monthly feature, you really should go on over. It's classic bias debunking. Beautiful to see.

Posted by susanna at 11:08 PM | Comments (1)

Unabashed admiration

Our military doesn't always get it right. But you know, I'm so proud of them. My latest rush of admiration came when I read this:

U.S. troops were on their way to the Ivory Coast Tuesday to rescue 100 American schoolkids trapped amid violence in the isolated, rebel-held city of Bouake, a U.S. official said.

My first reaction was, Thank God our soldiers are going in. And my next thought was, we are so blessed to have our military. I know I'm gushing, but I don't care. Even those of us who support the military don't give them figurative standing-O's often enough. But I felt such a sense of safety for those children when I read our soldiers were going in; I knew that if it was possible to get them out, they'd get the job done. The security our military gives us forms the cradle of order our country needs to thrive. So, bravo. I'm so proud. And I don't mind saying so.

Posted by susanna at 09:29 PM | Comments (7)

The Oblivious Menace

Tony Woodlief finds driving through Kentucky brings unpleasant contemplative thoughts.

Well, the objects of the thoughts are unpleasant. Tony's post is most excellent, as always.

I suspect that I myself am A Deliberate Menace; most likely he'll post on them next.

Posted by susanna at 09:06 PM | Comments (1)

Press told to stay home

A private company that organizes conferences for various industries has told the press they're not welcome at an upcoming conference on stem cell research:

The two-day conference, organized by the Strategic Research Institute, will draw scientists, biotech executives, venture capitalists, patent attorneys, and a representative from the President's Council on Bioethics. Journalists, though, will have to wait outside.

"I instituted this years ago as some members of your profession have caused irreparable ... damage with speaker relationships and in some cases their companies over coverage," Strategic Research executive Mark Alexay wrote in an e-mail to The Associated Press. "Hence no coverage. Over and out."

Conference organizers said some speakers also may be discussing sensitive research data they do not want publicized yet.

Of course, as the article says, Strategic Research Institute doesn't have to let them in. But if they don't, the media will make sure it seems it's because the industry has something to hide - not because SRI's complaints about the media's past coverage has any validity:

Religious conservatives and biotechnology foes oppose human embryonic stem cell research as immoral because days-old embryos must be destroyed in the process. "It's likely they are trying to keep a low profile until they can announce something positive," said Daniel McConchie of the Christian-based Center for Bioethics and Human Dignity.

Joel Martin, a conference panelist and partner with the San Diego venture capital firm Forward Ventures, disputed that: "Restricting the press raises the impression that something improper is being discussed, and that's not going to be case." Martin and others said they believe media coverage would do more good than harm for a field facing significant scientific, financial, and legal obstacles.

That last line likely came about by a journalist saying, to several people, "Do you think media coverage would do more good than harm for a field facing significant scientific, financial, and legal obstacles?" Those people all said a version of "yes" ("Well, possibly"; "That could be true"; "Yeah"; etc.), so the journalist's wording was approved. That's a fairly common journalistic tool, and not necessarily a bad one. But it does tend to get the information framed in the way the journalist sees it.

I really don't care one way or another whether journalists are allowed in the conference, and I also don't think keeping them out means the conference participants have anything to hide. But keep an eye on the news the week of October 8, and see what leaks out of the conference - because you can bet the journalists will be hanging on like Entertainment Tonight investigating J-Lo's latest love affair. They just can't help themselves.

Posted by susanna at 08:27 PM | Comments (0)

Thanks - I needed a good laugh!

From Joanne of the anti-Israeli screed, in her most recent post:

My intention was to embarress and silence Susanna Cornett, and it was met. I have discredited Susanna Cornett. Her silence is deafening.

Yeehaw! Won't my family and friends be happy to hear that - they've been waiting for a deafening silence for decades! Awesome.

And here all this time I thought I was just, you know, giving her enough rope. I thought she did quite well with it, why should I give it any more yanks?

Posted by susanna at 01:16 PM | Comments (16)

More on Gore

I've added a few additional links to my earlier post on Gore. These are to other analyses of his speech, definitely worth reading. Check them out at the bottom of my original post.

UPDATE: And Scott Ott at Scrappleface reports that the test run of... well, it's a Gore thing. Go see.

Posted by susanna at 12:57 PM | Comments (1)

Blair says stop Saddam

Which is no surprise; we knew he would. But he made a good case. I have to get to work so can't really comment, but Mike at Cold Fury says what needs to be said anyway.

Posted by susanna at 08:40 AM | Comments (0)

It's about time!

Bush Stumps for N.J.'s Forrester in Potential Upset Race.

Forrester is running against Robert "The Torch" Torricelli, who was lightly smacked for ethics violations by the Senate - although the man who supposedly gave him gifts to buy influence is in jail for it. Hmmm.

Torricelli is considered the most vulnerable of the nation's Senate candidates, and his defeat could tip the one-seat Democratic control of the Senate to Republicans...

Torricelli is on the defensive, apologizing after being "severely admonished" by the Senate for accepting improper gifts from contributor businessman David Chang. Chang is in prison serving an 18-month sentence for illegal campaign contributions.

While Torricelli advertises that he did nothing illegal, he emphasizes that his relationship with Chang could have been better handled.

"Although I broke no laws, it's clear to me I did exercise poor judgement," Torricelli says in the ad.

I've seen that ad. Pffft. Sleazy.

Polls show that while Torricelli's numbers have remained stagnant at 44 percent, Forrester has pulled ahead by four points.

I'm glad to see that NJ isn't the abandoned child of the GOP this year. If we can't beat Torricelli, we need to just pack it up.

Anyone see any similarities between Torricelli and KY Gov. Paul Patton?

"I did not have inappropriate relations with (that woman, that woman, that Chang)".

Whether it's sex, improper influence or accepting funds illicitly, the Clinton Lexicon lives, in the Senate, in the governors' mansions and, yes, in the Clinton Legacy:

The Federal Election Commission disclosed Friday that it has imposed a record-setting $719,000 in fines against participants in the 1996 Democratic Party fund-raising scandals involving contributions from China, Korea and other foreign sources.

The FEC documents describe Democratic fund-raisers who set specific prices for foreign nationals to make illegal campaign contributions in return for meetings with then-President Clinton and Vice President Al Gore. A Democratic finance vice chair, for example, said organizers would have to contribute a total of $100,000 in return for Gore's appearance at a Buddhist temple in Los Angeles.

Incidentally, the LA Times article was buried on Page 23. Guess where it would have been if it'd been the RNC?

Posted by susanna at 08:21 AM | Comments (0)

September 23, 2002

Gore's speech: denigration, not diplomacy

Former vice-president Al Gore spoke today in San Francisco, detailing his vision regarding the security of the United States. While he said some things with which I agree, those things were largely the truths needed to set up his skewed view – as the old saying goes, the most insidious lies are half-truths.

I don’t have the time or space to dissect his speech point by point; however, I want to highlight his main points, and then address some of them briefly. Here is a transcript of the speech, on his campaign site.

The overall points were:

1) We aren’t done with the war on terror; we don’t need to be distracted by another war.

2) After defeating the Taliban, we abandoned Afghanistan, with negative consequences. If the US removes Saddam, the Bush administration plans to follow the same trajectory in Iraq. Congress must make the President detail his plans for nation-building before giving its go-ahead.

3) We have a right to attack pre-emptively if the danger to the US is imminent; there is not sufficient evidence to prove that Iraq is an eminent threat, and thus we do not have the right to attack.

4) This right is conferred by the UN and international law.

5) The Bush administration is pushing Congress toward this war for political advantage; in fact “the President is publicly taunting Democrats with the political consequences of a "no" vote”, Gore said.

6) Moving unilaterally will feed anger against the US internationally.

7) The Bush administration’s policies have squandered both international good will and the domestic budget surplus; a war on Iraq will deepen both problems.

8) The United States is gaining a reputation for seeking dominance, rather than being a leader among friends. This attitude of “empire building” only feeds international anger.

9) The new Bush “doctrine of pre-emption” sets a dangerous precedent that other countries can feed on, and use as an excuse for attacking countries they perceive as a threat for whatever reason. Without narrowing the focus, and bolstering the argument, the danger is unallayed.

10) The current Bush policies in response to the need to heighten homeland security are an open and serious threat to our Constitutional rights.

There are other points, but those stand out to me as the most important. So are these things true? I don’t believe, on the whole, that they are – at the very least, in each instance the spin cloaks truth in lies. Here are my thoughts.

In my view, going into Iraq is fighting the war on terror, on several levels. Iraq actively and openly supports terrorism in a variety of ways, most recently and obviously in its payment to the families of Palestinian suicide bombers, but in other ways as well. Much of the terror has been visited on Saddam’s own people, but he has proven his willingness to attack by his aggression toward Kuwait, and he has proven his unwillingness to attend to international law and disapproval by his deep and continued contempt for UN resolutions. The evidence for his efforts to amass weapons of mass destruction is well-documented from people who have escaped from his country, as well as intelligence sources. While it is definitely a broadening of the war on terror, it is not a distraction from it.

Another basic accusation is that the United States is not behaving as a responsible member of the world community, and is setting a bad example. The problem there is, the standards for “bad example” are being set by that same world community which is itself rife with aggressive, terroristic and empire-building governments. Our continued appeasement of this world community brought us the 1993 WTC bombing, Somalia, the USS Cole and finally 9/11. The UN, and the world governments as a whole, are not interested in right vs wrong, or moral clarity of any sort, but rather some type of balance that keeps the US chained while allowing the evil in other parts of the world to operate relatively freely. It appears to me that the purpose of the UN is not to work for world peace and advancement of its peoples, but specifically to neutralize the US as much as possible while making the US pay for the privilege of being neutralized. When the US finally acts with moral clarity and directness, the “leaders” of the world’s nations become very anxious because it threatens their dirty not-so-secret behaviors. And in this abyss of immorality, moral equivalence is the order of the day. Gore feeds that monster when he compares the US attacking Iraq with China attacking Taiwan – they are not in any way equivalent, but since the difference is a moral one, not a strategic one, it is dismissed by Gore and his UN buddies as an irrelevant difference. It is a sad and pathetic thing to see a former vice president who would be president of the greatest country in the world selling his country’s soul for a few crumbs of international condescension.

As for violating international law – we are not subject to it except as a courtesy. It is unconstitutional for us to be subject to it. I am amazed – although perhaps I shouldn’t be – that Gore hammers on what he sees as the unconstitutionality of Bush’s policies in homeland security, then turns around and suggests that we abrogate our greatest constitutional right – that of self-determination.

One of the most disturbing of Gore’s claims is that we’ve left Afghanistan behind. As I noted earlier today, we have troops throughout Afghanistan working hard to stabilize the country, in dangerous conditions, and doing so with dedication and humor. Gore’s statement is a slap in the face to those soldiers and their work. But he can get by with this, he can say it in a public forum without much fear of renunciation, because the media and Congress have turned their eyes from Afghanistan – not the American military.

And this bitter disclaiming about a failure to engage in intense nation-building sits oddly with Gore’s stated fears – and repetition of the world’s fears – that the United States is moving into an empire building stage. Correct me if I’m wrong, but I believe an empire in the British model is to go into a country and essentially take it over, bringing in a lot of physical improvements as well as changes in how the governments are run. It seems the only difference between nation-building as Gore envisions and building an empire, is how long the nation doing the building – and it’s always the US in his vision – is planning to stay. It’s only an empire if you don’t leave – yet Gore is criticizing the US for “leaving” Afghanistan. Which is it? Are we engaging in hit-and-run, or empire building? Or is it something else altogether: the Bush doctrine of removing a damaging regime and helping the people learn effective self-rule and self-sufficiency with the clearly stated goal of leaving them to it as quickly as possible? That isn’t empire-building; that’s responsible nation-to-nation assistance. If anything, we take on too much and run the risk of having a host of countries hanging off the US public teat like so many international career welfare recipients.

As for pushing Congress in a run up to an election, it’s a classic damned-if-you-do, damned-if-you-don’t scenario. If Bush waited, there would be accusations that he was waiting for political reasons. There is no scenario where this accusation would not be leveled. We all know it. In the face of that, it seems to me most likely that Bush is doing what he thinks is right for the country, and the timing is what it is.

Overall, Gore’s speech is an effort to pander to the left while reaching for the center who believe a war is the right thing. His allusions and accusations are targeted at bolstering his statesmanship, but do so only at the cost of denigrating his own country. If anyone is behaving in a calculatedly political manner, it would be Al Gore.

Here is coverage from the mainstream media: CNN, MSNBC, Washington Post, the San Francisco Chronicle and FoxNews. I encourage you to read all of Gore's speech first, then go read the coverage of it. I think you'll have a nice idea then of how the media frames coverage, and how it has an impact on how news is perceived.

UPDATE: Vodkapundit nails Gore. [Link via Instapundit]

UPDATE: Well, John Cole does it again - the definitive analysis of Gore's speech.

UPDATE: More from Vodkapundit; this time he says Gore stakes outa deliberate stance predicting American failure for political advantage - the more we fail in Iraq, the stronger Gore's position is. If we win, he's toast. Stephen says, no one wanting to be president should wish us to fail. It's a good post.

UPDATE: Sen. John McCain says Gore "is out of step with a majority of Democrats in the Senate. McCain specifically mentioned Joe Lieberman, John Edwards, and John Kerry as among those who support taking action against Saddam Hussein." Funny, that McCain would be the one to say that. Isn't he a Republican?

UPDATE: John Cole has another analysis, a long and very interesting look at the bigger picture surrounding Gore's speech.

UPDATE: And the beat goes on - Bryan Preston at JunkYardBlog adds his analysis, saying that Gore is personalizing the war to distract from bigger issues.

Posted by susanna at 07:49 PM | Comments (14)

You hate to see it, but...

This is very funny.

Posted by susanna at 05:35 PM | Comments (1)

So people can control themselves

Yesterday, almost half a million Brits marched on London to protest efforts to outlaw fox hunting. That kind of showing for a conservative issue is heartening, and I hope a sign of things to come for Great Britain. Glenn Reynolds links some information, and Samizdata folk were there too.

As always, the discussion in comments at Samizdata adds another twist that's worth thinking about itself. Two things stood out to me:

(From Donna V.) In reading about your march, this Yank is reminded once again of the difference between the anti-globo left and the rest of us. Let's continue to prove that you can hold a demo without throwing rocks through Starbuck's windows, getting tear-gassed, or beating up people who disagree with you.

(From Julian Morrison) I was there. Interesting situation. Thing that struck me: zero litter. 400K people walk down the road *and don't so much as drop a candy wrapper*. Interesting what that says about these folks.

It says a lot. These people had a point to make, and while they were plenty angry - as a read through the post will attest - they were also law-abiding and conscious of other people's property. Could it be because they themselves have property, that they are directing their anger in the proper channels, and aren't being incited to destruction by leaders promising all but impunity for even egregious acts of violence, damaging and looting? That's what happens in our society, too often. And who is protesting in those situations? Usually either people who have no jobs and think it all a wonderful lark, or people who are children of priviledge or of the state, and don't worry about what damage they cause - because, after all, they're oppressed, they're mad about it, and it's not their ox getting gored. What you saw in Britain was a lack of self-centered wantonness. Would that we had more of that here.

A second note:

(From Steven Chapman of Daddy Warblogs) "I can't recall Americans ever marching to say "let us alone," wrote Harry Eagar.

That's because you have a constitution which says that for you.

And we need to count our blessings about that every day.

Posted by susanna at 04:51 PM | Comments (1)

What to do about Moussaoui?

Seymour M. Hersh writes in The New Yorker today about Zacarias Moussaoui; the article is subtitled:

Has the Justice Department mishandled the case against Zacarias Moussaoui?

Take some time to read it. What do you think?

[Link via How Appealing]

Posted by susanna at 10:59 AM | Comments (0)

What needs to happen for peace?

Mike at Cold Fury rolls through the White House rhetoric about Israel to provide some moral clarity that he says they are lacking:

The bloody-minded Palestinians, and the other terrorist states along with them, must be defeated utterly. Their vision of the shape of our world must be annihilated and thoroughly delegitimized. Then and only then can there be hope for a peace worthy of the name.

Sounds about right to me.

UPDATE: Brent at The Ville is of a similar mind.

UPDATE: Mike at Cold Fury takes us to school (or away from school, more likely) about what it means to be a liberal today. I would excerpt it, but it's just too good. Go read it now, I'll wait.

Some days I feel like I'm holding my own in this blogosphere, but other times I realize I sit at the feet of giants. (And that's perfectly okay with me, since most of them seem to use this.)

You didn't think I could say that "giants" line with a completely straight face, did you? But Mike and a bunch of others are way awesome. I'm just glad I got to come to the party.

Posted by susanna at 10:29 AM | Comments (11)

Should professional journalists have weblogs?

Apparently, some companies think not. Certainly Steve Olafson, who lost his job at The Houston Chronicle when they discovered he was writing an anonymous weblog that included comments about people he covered and the newspaper itself, found that out the hard way. And the lawyers, well, see for yourself:

"You start getting into the question of, is this part of the paper or not?" said Jane E. Kirtley, a professor of media ethics and law at the University of Minnesota. "If I'm a lawyer advising a news organization, the idea of a Web log like this would just make me break out in hives."

I'm all for media weblogs maintained on the side; I think what a journalist does on his own time is his own business. However, I know that while I comment on issues dealing with my day job, I don't specifically talk about inside things I know only because of my job. There does have to be a separation. Maybe Olafson crossed the line; I don't know.

In my personal opinion, the kind of blog I like to see from a professional journalist is like the one, well, maintained by a professional journalist - Media Minded, where, incidentally, I got the link for this post. MM (or MMmmmmmmm as I like to call him) gives important insights into media, and strongly opines on issues dealing with media, all with grace and a professional reticence about matters to do with his own workplace. And he does it pseudonymously, which is not a detriment - when you follow a blog over time you learn whether or not to trust the blogger, regardless of what name is on it. And Media Minded is top of the line.

As the article notes, media types like Mickey Kaus and Eric Alterman both maintain weblogs connected to mainstream publications. Those are, it seems to me, hybrids - not quite news articles, but not the untrammeled openness of an unedited, wholly uncensored private blog. That's not a bad thing, it's just a different thing. I suspect we'll see a lot more anguishing in journalistic circles before this all shakes out.

Posted by susanna at 10:19 AM | Comments (1)

Successes in Afghanistan

As the nation focuses on Iraq, it's easy to be distracted from the important work still being done by our military in Afghanistan. For example, just last week a large cache of weapons was discovered:

U.S. special operations forces on Wednesday discovered Taliban documents that led the team to one of the largest weapons caches discovered to date in Afghanistan, U.S. military officials said...

Included in the cache were 51 107 mm rockets; 10,000 rounds of 14.5 mm ammunition; 8,000 rounds of 12.7 mm ammunition, 75 rocket-propelled grenades; 20 anti-tank rounds, 150 82 mm mortar rounds; and anti-aircraft weapons.

King called the discovery “a really significant haul.”

“It’s one of the larger [weapons caches] we’ve found,” he said. “Now they’re off the market.”

Some of the weapons recovered were WWII vintage, such as Panzerfaust anti-tank rounds, but others were much newer, King said.

King called the anti-aircraft weapons “particularly significant, because we move a lot by air.”

That highlights the danger our people over there are in daily. But they're doing great work - as the residents in the town where the cache was found are attesting:

ORGUN, Afghanistan - After pouring green tea and greeting their American guests as old friends, the Sarobi village council of elders got down to business. The community leaders despise their governor, an ex-Taliban holdover who has returned to power with the permission of the central government. Their solution: Elect one of the US Special Forces soldiers to replace him.

The Boston Globe article is from a correspondent who spent eight days with the 82nd Airborne Infantry in Orgun. Many of the soldiers aren't very happy to be there:

"The 82nd Airborne is not known for peacekeeping. We're known for jumping into Normandy and fighting battles," said Private Michael McIntyre, 21, a native of Millinocket, Maine. "All the missions we've been on have been searching for weapons caches, and no one ever fights us. People here tell us all the bad guys have gone to Pakistan, so I wish they'd let us go there."

But what they're doing is, in its own way, as important:

Their care in cultivating a "light footprint" in the Orgun-e-Kalan valley - abiding by local customs, eschewing obvious military uniforms, growing beards (until a recent Pentagon directive forced them to shave), and respecting the separation of women - has paid dividends in high levels of cooperation. The Special Forces-trained Orgun police have arrested dozens of suspected Taliban sympathizers whom they turned over to US forces. Locals visit the base nearly every day to report hidden weapons caches, leading to the seizure of more than seven truckloads of weapons and ammunition in the past two months.

Those are Taliban sympathizers who now can't work to reestablish the old regime; those are guns that can't be used to kill our soldiers. And the reason that they were found? Because our soldiers have built up trust with the locals.

Given the amount of weaponry recovered in Afghanistan - three truckloads - I looked for it in the NY Times and the Washington Post. Neither had anything about Orgun. The Washington Times had a brief blurb. It's unfortunate that the news media has mostly moved on to what they must see as more fertile pastures for drama and readership. The US military is still saving lives in Afghanistan, and laying the foundation for a more stable future in the country. They may not like their role right now, but they're doing it and doing it well. So I say, bravo. Good job. And God bless.

Posted by susanna at 09:55 AM | Comments (2)

And your first clue was...

The Society of Professional Journalists (SPJ) national convention was held weekend before last, and it sounds like it was a whine-fest. Among the things discussed:

Ed Offley, a former Seattle Post-Intelligencer reporter and a military writer for two decades, argued journalists are woefully unprepared to deal with the military and conflicts. The theme was the same in "Following the Money: How Everyone Missed the Warning Signs about Enron." Laura Goldberg, a Houston Chronicle business reporter, admitted that when handed the energy beat just weeks before the story of corporate fraud broke in her hometown, she was simply lost in a barrage of acronyms and bizarre terminology.

Is it any wonder we question our media's knowledge, when they question it themselves? Of course, few who actually are on the job were there to hear it:

All comments on the mark or worth pondering -- if only more industry captains were there to hear such pleas. Nearly half the attendees were students. Many others were from academia.

There were a total of 600 attendees out of a membership of 9,500. What has happened to this once-mighty professional organization?

Organizers blame the general membership decline on the emergence of more than 40 specialty media organizations nationwide in the past few decades.

Ahhh. It's because our "objective" media has broken off into special interest groups. Not to worry, though, I'm sure the personal views that caused them to fragment do not in any way flow over into their coverage. Really.

Posted by susanna at 09:22 AM | Comments (0)

The best story

CPO Sparkey on Sgt. Stryker's Daily Briefing tells the sweetest wartime story I've seen. The best part is... it still lives on, in him.

Start with the linked post and work your way down. You'll see what to do.

Posted by susanna at 07:04 AM | Comments (0)

September 22, 2002

Schröder appears to have won

German Chancellor Gerhard Schröder appears to have a narrow victory. However, the article in the Times isn't so lucky:

Buoyed by his refusal to support a war in Iraq, Mr. Schröder's Social Democrats were hurt in the last days of this bitter campaign by the reported remarks of his justice minister, comparing President George W. Bush's tactics on Iraq to those of Adolf Hitler.

This "buoyed" business appears from nowhere and disappears as quickly. The victory - if indeed it exists - is very narrow, which certainly rules out a mandate for him. And the article does not anywhere give evidence that his position on the war with Iraq helped push him past conservative opponent Edmund Stoiber - no exit polls, no surveys, no nothing. So whence the "buoyed"? Could it be NY Times editorializing, taking every opportunity to push forward the viewpoint that Schröder's anti-war stance is widely supported in Germany, is indeed the right position? Certainly they use the line in the caption of the photo of Schröder:

Mr. Schröder was buoyed in the election by his refusal to support a war in Iraq.

Really. A quote near the bottom of the article makes it seem not quite so good:

Josef Joffe, the editor of Die Zeit, said that Mr. Schröder has a lot of work to do to try to repair Germany's relationship with the United States. ``Schröder opened the sluice gates and realized how much hay he could make with careful anti-Americanism,'' Mr. Joffe said. ``He thought he could just slap George Bush on the shoulder afterwards like a local party honcho and say, `Let's forgive and forget.' But I think he's grievously miscalculated on that."

Ignore the mixed metaphor of "sluice gates" and "hay". Schröder's anti-Americanism will come back to, er, bite him in the butt. Did it push him past his opponent? We don't know; they don't make that case, they just say it. But it won't make any hay with Americans.

Posted by susanna at 07:45 PM | Comments (2)

More on exercise and spinal cord injuries

A few days ago I posted a bit of a rant about Christopher Reeve and his attitude, in the context of some recovery of motion that he has obtained. This article in the New York Times is a good discussion of the phenomenon from a scientific standpoint. No ranting will ensue; it's just a good, encouraging read.

Posted by susanna at 07:28 PM | Comments (3)

Why should we attack Iraq?

Martin Devon outdoes even his usual fine self in this comprehensive FAQ on why the war on Iraq is important. Read it, print it out, email it to your friends, carry around copies to distribute to naysayers.

[Link via Cold Fury]

Posted by susanna at 05:33 PM | Comments (0)

Reagonomics - the right thing to do

John Gebauer of Post Politics discusses an article by Prof. George Viksnins of Georgetown University:

Despite the hand-wringing and moral injunctions of many leftists at the time ("thou shalt not cut taxes" chief among them), Reaganomics has led to prosperity in the current era, for all US citizens.

A good read.

Posted by susanna at 05:32 PM | Comments (0)

Evil Israel?

Oh, my army, feast your eyes on this:

Is a death not a death? Rather than obfuscating the nature of war with rhetoric that dilineates "terrorists" or "soldiers," let facts be facts. Israel is a violent, hateful nation that is also the United States' dependent. Must we assume Palestines will submit to their ridiculous demands just because they cannot afford to fight "fairly"? Who wrote the rules on the book of war? Why must we expect Western style war-tactics from people who are not whoring themselves for billions of dollars from the US Government?

Palestine kills. Israel kills more. Let that not be forgotten.

Yes, Joanne my dear, please, let us not forget your facts. Which are... where? Nowhere? My goodness. Imagine. You may want to visit here or here for some help.

Oh, and just in case you missed that memo? One of the reasons the Palestinians haven't much money is because, well, (Arafat stole it). Oopsie!

Oh, there's more?

How can anyone with a brain trust the government? Believing that we really can't find Osama Bin Lauden, that Bush didn't know...when and where the attacks would happen months in advance, or that Israeli prostitutes are innocent victims of "terrorism."

Ah, yes. Thank you. So good of you to enlighten. And yes, actually, a lot of what's on my site is "indicating the kind of bias that Cornett and her army believe". Only at the base of our "bias" are a few little niggling things called "facts". You may want to check them out, sometime. Not familiar with the term? This may help. I realize you haven't been exposed to many before, to be able to recognize them.

And thank you for disabusing us of the thought that there are limits to your worldly wisdom:

I do not date libertarians. This isn't a matter of preference so much as it is a matter of principle. Of the qualities I find attractive, creativity and introspection rank highly. Almost as a rule, neither are exhibited by the average libertarian.

Hmmm... apparently you've not been around the average libertarians I know of. But then, your definitions of creativity and introspection might differ from mine. I would say "you should get out more, honey," but then you just did buy all those new books. Oh, well, enjoy. Maybe if we're lucky it'll take you longer than a week to finish them.

(Joanne's Don't be a Hero site doesn't have permalinks to individual posts. The one about COTB is from Saturday, 9/21; references are also made to other posts on her front page.)

UPDATE: Alina of Totalitarianism Today promises in comments to explain what Joanne meant. I'll link it when she posts. Meanwhile, your assignment is to read this article in CounterPunch, which Alina says was something like "what Joanne intended to point out" - How to Silence Pro-Palestinian Voices:

"This isn't Gaza." So quotes the Concordian, one of the weekly papers of my alma-mater, Montreal's great Concordia University. The quote comes from an irate suppoprter of Benjamin Netanyahu, angry that a glorious display of civil disobedience (with what some call a "diversity of tactics") prevented Bibi from demagoging at Concordia. To this person, I would say, you're damned right it isn't Gaza. It isn't Haifa either. Concordia is a fantastic progressive institution that--God Forbid--has a strong political milieu in which Jews and Arabs not only collaborate, but are friends, lovers and otherwise...

The official story is as follows, Netanyahu was invited by Hillel to give a speech, and the Arabs rioted, breaking windows, punching rabbis and, the kicker "intimidating Jewish students."

...It is indeed shameful that in the course of the day's events, despite calls from protest organizers from SPHR and Jewish Alliance Against the Occupation, that a few people--provacateurs perhaps, chose to engage in violence against people, as opposed to property. Any time a rabbi is violently attacked, it is something to be condemned in no uncertain terms. Chances are, however, that the person was not attackedb ecause he was a rabbi. Rather, in a situation in which police, goaded by JDL-influenced counterdemonstrators chanting anti-arab bigotry, attacked the thousands of peaceful Pro-Palestine demonstrators with tear gas and pepper spray, a few tempers flared and those who were identifying themselves as supporters of a legendary hate-speaker hated in his own country willingly allowed themselves to become targets, to make a point.

Emphasis mine.

There's just nothing I need to say. The article speaks, very clearly, for itself. I'll be interested to read what Alina has to say.

If you need more homework, go read the eyewitness account of the Concordia riot posted at Little Green Footballs. Compare and contrast.

UPDATE: Joanne has more to say, and is joined by her friend Alina.

UPDATE: Always nice to have a little humor injected, isn't it? In my post above, I noted that while Joanne finds libertarians uncreative and lacking in introspection, I haven't at all. I linked to Dodd Harris, a self-professed libertarian-Republican, as one of my examples. Just a quick stroll through his site is evidence enough - he's been maintaining it for years and has a lot of quite fascinating commentary and links. However, Alina, in her post, kind of... well... got a little hasty, and claims he is not just an anarchist but a confused one. Dodd, meticulous as he is, investigated her error and discovered the problem.

Posted by susanna at 04:02 PM | Comments (14)

Think you don't get no respect?

Bigwig at Silflay Hraka has had a good idea (yeah, I was surprised too*). As Glenn Reynolds mentioned recently, there's just so many new blogs, so much good stuff out there, that it's difficult to find them all. Bigwig has the answer: the Carnival of the Vanities.

Basically, Bigwig is asking all us bloggers (I'm assuming he won't exclude me, despite the comment above) to send him links to posts we think are just stellar but sit there without the attention they deserve (in our estimation). Every Friday, he'll post an index of the links. And you know what you got then? Yep, reading for those weekends when Glenn incomprehensibly tries to have a life and cuts back on blogging.

So, check it out.

*^ Just kidding, Bigwig. Btw, I can take a hint.

^ Yes, I know these astericks are getting annoying. It's just a phase, I promise.

Posted by susanna at 02:21 PM | Comments (1)

Beauty in the little things

I love photography, and as a former professional photographer* myself, I have some understanding of the skills involved.

Fred First is a first-rate photographer.

I meander over to his Fragments from Floyd every day or so to see what he's up to lately, reading his tales of life in the country. And almost every time, he has a new photograph up that just takes my breath. Here is one. And here is another, and here and here and here. His site is worth a daily visit if only to see what his camera eye has saved for us this time.

*When I was a journalist, I took photographs for the newspapers, often doing the darkroom work as well. I have a decent eye and a bit more than an average amateur's technical skill. Mostly what that gets me is the ability to appreciate work like Fred's.

Posted by susanna at 02:02 PM | Comments (1)

Woman falls for Nigerian money scam, embezzles $2 m

I keep wondering why I'm still getting those Nigerian scam letters. Don't they realize we're onto their game? The answer is - No, because, well, not everybody is:

He introduced himself as Dr. Mbuso Nelson.

He said he was an official with the Ministry of Mining in Pretoria, South Africa.

And he offered to pay a $4.5-million fee to a 59-year-old Rochester Hills woman if she would help him transfer $18 million from South Africa to a bank account in the United States.

But what Ann Marie Poet did next gave new meaning to the so-called Nigerian scam letter fraud, the FBI said.

The FBI said Poet, a bookkeeper for a small Berkley law firm, embezzled $2.1 million from the firm's accounts between February and August, after scam organizers persuaded her to wire huge amounts of money to bank accounts in South Africa and Taiwan to expedite the transfer of money to the United States.

All kinds of people, including the bank that let her literally drain her employers' bank accounts, are in trouble over this. But at least they're not dead:

The Nigerian scam letter scheme has been around since the mid-1980s and originated there.

People usually are approached through letters, faxes and, more recently, e-mail. Every month, hundreds of Americans fall victim to versions of the scam, federal authorities say.

In some cases, victims lured abroad to complete the transaction are kidnapped for ransom. The U.S. State Department has attributed 15 kidnappings or killings to the fraud.

Hundreds fall for it?



I'm stunned.

But then, a very smart friend of mine, a man who is a financial officer with a very large company, initially believed when someone from Africa contacted his church out of the blue wanting to donate almost a million dollars to their church building fund. I said, no. It won't happen. He said, well. We'll give them the benefit of a doubt. I didn't track it - I couldn't, without either laughing or yelling at him - but last I heard it had "fallen through".

Imagine that.

[Via Fark]

Posted by susanna at 01:54 PM | Comments (1)


Apparently I'm whiny.

(You'll have to scroll to his Saturday entry, his links don't work right.)

Posted by susanna at 09:28 AM | Comments (5)

La idea magnífica! ¿Por qué no pensé yo en eso? *

Bryan Preston says, forget Iraq - invade Mexico!

After all, it is just about oil.

* Great idea! Why didn't I think of that?

Posted by susanna at 09:26 AM | Comments (0)

Child abuse as scare of the week

As most of you know, a young mother was recently caught on a security tape slapping her young daughter as she put her in a car. I've not seen the tape, and don't want to. I have seen, however, how much of a furor the situation has caused - it became the latest OJ car chase.

Al Barger, who has watched the coverage on Fox News, thinks the attention is more of a problem than the slapping:

A department store surveillance video caught about a ten second clip of a mom in a parking lot in Mishawaka, Indiana slapping her four year old girl around as she put her in the car. It looks bad. It was obviously an unpleasant moment for the child.

Not nearly as unpleasant, however, as it will be for the child now that the media has gotten involved. They've taken a small unpleasant incident, and made it a nearly inescapable central trauma for the rest of the girl's life. After they have played and replayed the tape in real time then slow motion, then still screen grabs, then started over- this stupid little nothing incident has been hung like an albatross around this child's neck. Millions of people saw this tape- again and again- saw the names.

This little girl will never live it down. A mark of shame has been placed on her. Twenty years from now, some office co-worker will recognize her, and she'll be having to go through the story again. Then it'll be someone at her church, or her neighbor.

For what? Nothing but a few days bump that a couple of jacklegs at Fox News expect to get from people tuning back in to follow the story. Maybe it will give them a few thousand more viewers for a couple of days.

Since I've not seen the tape, I can't make a judgment on the severity of the mom's behavior, but I have to disagree with Al about the potential for damage. Whether or not mom's slapping was caught on camera, it was more than "unpleasant" for the child. If indeed the slapping was hard and repeated, then it's unlikely that this is an isolated incident in the child's life. Parents who do that kind of behavior are often harsh or inconsistent parents, and the physical harshness is not limited to occasional slap-fests in a parking lot. This is a serious problem.

That said, Al is right in his estimation of the the reasons for the coverage, and the relative impact it could have on the child's life. Not will, but could - it depends on who else the child has in her life, and how it all plays out. Certainly if Fox News was covering it for the benefit of The Children, they wouldn't have beat the drum so incessantly. But that's the nature of modern media and, sadly, it does bring up their audience ratings. When we complain about the entertainment focus of broadcast media, we have to realize that they do it because it works, so we are to some degree complicit in their behavior.

Something that concerns me as much as the impact on this little girl is the broader impact of this type of coverage on parents in general. Personally, I think that spanking a child is not just an appropriate mode of discipline, but a necessary one. However, the current "received wisdom" on this is that you should never "hit" your child, and many people don't distinguish between a disciplinary spanking and an abusive hitting. What that means practically is that in some states (Florida, anyone?) a good parent who uses spanking as one of his or her parenting tools has to constantly be on the lookout for social services. I mentioned Florida because I have friends who were "investigated" for child abuse after their daughter fell from a swing and had to be taken to the hospital. They were basically harrassed for months. This, in a state that apparently cannot keep track of foster kids in their own system (where is Rilya Wilson?).

This kind of coverage plays into the hands of the social engineers of our society. You are all familiar with the way that any coverage of gun violence morphs into a general diatribe on the ownership of guns in general. In a similar way, this type of coverage of child abuse tends to morph into diatribes on ever hitting a child, even in a controlled, carefully measured disciplinary way.

Based on what Al has said, I agree with him that the coverage by Fox News is irresponsible and for the purpose of raising ratings, not for protection of The Children. I disagree somewhat on precisely why that is so. I think, in situations like this child-slapping case, the networks need to exercise their much vaunted reputation for fairness and get some experts on there to explain how disciplining your child never involves beatings, and how spanking a child is not the same as repeatedly slapping her in the parking lot.

NOTE: I just talked to my mother about this, while I was writing it. She and my father are retired school teachers; he was an elementary school principal for many years. They both believe that spanking is a necessary disciplinary tool.

My mom said that the behavior in the video was completely out of line, and obviously not an isolated incident. She said that the mother possibly should do time in jail. I trust my mother's instincts on that.

On the other hand, my mother also pointed out that even she, a spanking advocate, gets edgy when she sees a parent spanking a child in public, something she herself would no longer do. If it makes her edgy, what's it going to do to someone who doesn't think spanking is appropriate? Nothing good.

Parents who spank need to be aware of context as well as severity of their disciplining. Just as it is not appropriate to thoroughly dress down a child in public, it rarely is appropriate to spank in public. We need to make clear distinctions between disciplinary spanking and abuse, both in severity and context, to preserve the one while punishing the other.

UPDATE: J Bowen adds another concern to the mix.

UPDATE: Lauren Coats (in comments) asked me to address the concern about whether the woman accused of abusing her daughter can get a fair trial, given how widespread and intense the coverage was.

I think she can. Her attorneys may ask for a change of venue, which may be granted but may not just because the coverage was so widespread. But I think most Americans take jury duty pretty seriously, and by the time the case actually comes up for trial much of the detail from the stories will be receding from their minds. In addition, in a courtroom they will have access to a lot of information we don't have, they will be subjected to a minute dissection of that tape by both prosecution and defense attorneys, and they will hear arguments for why it wasn't what it seemed to be - arguments that we don't get in the media. For all the hype about juries biased by the media, I think it's much less of a problem than we tend to think.

That said, I don't think it will go to trial. I think she'll plead out.

Posted by susanna at 08:27 AM | Comments (15)

September 21, 2002

A senatorial roundup - analysis of the fall's races in the South

I knew there were several Senate seats up this fall, and so was glad to see this analysis from UPI about which ones are likely to be competitive. Writer Peter Roff analyzes them by section of the country; the one on the South is here; I couldn't find the others, but this is part three.

According to Roff there are five seats in the South which could truly go either way - Georgia, Louisiana, North Carolina, South Carolina and Tennessee. Hmmm. So, Mike Hendrix, Kevin McGehee, what are you guys doing to take care of this problem? And who's going to see that South Carolina, Louisiana and Tennessee fly right?

I'm happy to see that, at least in Roff's mind, Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky has nothing to worry about. He's a tough competitor, and he's made a name for himself in Washington. I interviewed him once, during his first run for Senate in 1984, and what struck me most was how petite and urbane he was. Dynamic but not rough-edged at all, not very tall, quite slender, even slight in build. Gentlemanly, soft-spoken. Because I'd talked to him, I've taken a particular interest in his career. Impressive. Usually I agree with him. I'm glad he's probably going to make it another term.

He could use some jeans and a flannel shirt over a t-shirt, though. Maybe hiking boots and a day-old beard. Then I'd feel he was a little more Kentucky. But that's just me. I'm sure old Kentucky bourbon, fine tailors and handmade shoes go over just fine in the circles he usually moves in. And if that's what it takes to do what he's done, I'd almost buy him a bottle of Maker's Mark myself.

One with blue wax, instead of the red, of course. We don't want any University of Louisville fans getting any delusions of grandeur.

Posted by susanna at 04:11 PM | Comments (3)

Buzz Aldrin not charged; man he hit is still stupid

The LA District Attorney has decided not to bring misdemeanor charges against astronaut Buzz Aldrin for hitting a man who was aggressively trying to get Aldrin to say he lied about walking on the moon.

Bryan at Junkyardblog, where I found the link, is pretty irritated with the no-moon-landing conspiracy theorists who won't get over it already.

Posted by susanna at 03:36 PM | Comments (0)

Central Park Jogger updates

Tom at Just One Minute has been all over the new developments in the Central Park Jogger saga. It seems that another person has creditably confessed to beating up the young woman in the late 1980s, and now the debate is hot about the five men convicted of the crime and serving time for it. I've not followed this closely, but will be reading up on it this weekend. You can too - Tom has a great wrapup post, with lots of links to what others have said around the Net. Check it out - the weekend's a good time to get caught up on such a complex story.

Posted by susanna at 01:34 PM | Comments (0)

Update on media bias research

On Thursday I linked an article about a book by Dartmouth professor Jim Kuypers, who's new book - Press Bias and Politics: How the Media Frame Controversial Issues - says that the media cover news with a narrow liberal focus that excludes a wide range of perspectives, including conservative ones. This morning I received the following email from Kuypers:

Dear Susanna,

I wanted to take a moment to thank you for such a thoughtful posting about my work (Press Bias and Politics). Frankly, I'm very happy (thrilled!) to see honest and thoughtful discussion being sparked by my work.

One of your comments especially caught my eye: "The operational definitions used for the various political positions are crucial to clearly understanding the research's findings; just saying something is liberal or conservative isn't sufficient." You hit the nail on the head here. Truth is, I do not really define these terms (liberal/conservative) in the study. I used the terms instead in a very unacademic manner: common sense. I assumed that a general reader would have a general idea of what these terms mean and wrote accordingly.

I go one step further, though, by providing thousands of examples of what I call "liberal bias." The readers can then make up their own minds to the matter. Actually, even if one does not agree with my use of "liberal" or "conservative" labels, the study still stands. What I identify as a "narrow range of liberal bias," whether one calls it liberal or not, still exists as a range of discourse that is privileged by the press. Discourse that falls outside of this press privileged range is denigrated or ignored.

So, liberal or not, the press injects bias that helps certain positions, ideas, and the politicians who embrace those same ideas. Sounds anti-democratic to me. And that finding holds true regardless.

I wrote this book, especially the concluding chapter, to be read by anyone with an interest in media and politics. My idea was not only to advance my argument and conclusions, but to enable anyone reading the book to then go out and look for bias; in short, to enable anyone reading it to go out and do in a day to day fashion what I did as a major study. They can then draw their own conclusions--something I found the mainstream American press unwilling to let its audience do.

Anyway, thank you again for your interest in my work and I wish you well.

Sincerely yours,

Jim Kuypers

While I still think operational definitions of "liberal" and "conservative" would form a good basis for comparison, the lack apparently does not cause problems in his work because regardless of what you call the area of focus of the media, it's still narrow and exclusive in a field that sells itself as neutral and broad based. The most important aspect, as he notes, is that the average citizen with an interest in news be trained to identify bias, becoming a smart news consumer who always seeks multiple sources before coming to a final conclusion about an issue or event.

Thanks to Jim for the email, and like I said, I'll be reporting on the book itself when I've had a chance to read it; it won't be out until October.

Posted by susanna at 10:03 AM | Comments (1)

A father who knows his daughter

My parents are coming up from Kentucky to visit me next weekend. This morning, I was up at 5:30, cleaning. I called them at 7:30:

Dad: What are you doing up so early?

Me: Early?? EARLY? I've been up since 5:30, cleaning!

Dad: Well, I'm glad you got up before daylight to get at it, it'll sure take it!

I hate it when people know me too well.

UPDATE: Later, in the same conversation, telling my mom I blogged dad:

Mom: What about?

Me: (reading the entry, above)

Mom: You'd better get it clean, you know my standards. I'm bringing my white gloves.

Me: If I was going by your standards, I would have stayed in bed.

Mom: Oh.

Mom: That was mean.

I love my parents.

Posted by susanna at 08:00 AM | Comments (7)

Why I'm lovin' Scrappleface

Really, peoples, if you're not reading Scrappleface you're missing out. Scott Ott should get some Blogger of the Millenium award or something. Maybe he just hasn't hung out in the right restrooms yet.

And if you didn't get that, hang on.

I've gone digging in his archives to keep this overactive brain matter of mine occupied. For Your Reading Pleasure, here's some excerpts (see how good I am to you?):

Donahue's Viewer Loves the Show

(2002-08-29) -- The viewer of the new Donahue show on MSNBC apparently loves it.

Overnight ratings from Nielsen indicate that the viewer joined the program a bit late yesterday, but continued to watch throughout the entire show. A Nielsen spokesman said more detailed demographic and psychographic data about the Donahue viewer would be released in about a week.

MTV Denies it Named Newdow 'Atheist of Millenium'

(2002-08-30) -- A second episode of confusion rocked the MTV Music Awards when Michael Newdow mistakenly accepted the "Atheist of the Millennium Award." Earlier Michael Jackson thought that Britney Spears had presented him with the "Artist of the Millennium Award."
"I can't believe it," Newdow exclaimed, clapping his hand to his chest as his eyes welled with tears."This one's for you Madalyn Murray O'Hair."

The confusing incident apparently happened in the men's restroom after the MTV ceremony when Newdow thought he heard Ozzy Osbourne in the next stall calling him "the bleepin' atheist of the millennium". A spokesman for Mr. Osbourne said, "I can't confirm that. Nobody's ever really sure what Ozzy is saying. But he was probably talking to himself."

And you know I had to love this:

ACLU Sues Itself Over Origins Question

(2002-08-22) -- The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) filed suit against itself in federal district court today alleging that the ACLU was not founded by Roger Baldwin, Crystal Eastman, Albert DeSilver and others in 1920, but rather evolved from a bacterium or perhaps the giant tube worms which dwell at the edge of undersea volcanic fissures.

The lawsuit further contends that ACLU employees do not have the right to openly discuss the various theories of its origin, including the so-called "intelligent design" theory.

"The idea that some wise being or beings conceived of the ACLU in their minds and brought it into existence in a relatively short period of time within the past century is patently absurd," according papers filed with the court on behalf of the plaintiff. "The theory that giant tube worms, whose structure and habitat resemble the modern ACLU, is much more plausible. In fact, it is so substantial one hesitates to call it a theory anymore."

The timing of the lawsuit could prove a distraction as ACLU lawyers have just engaged in another origins case in Cobb County, Georgia. That case involves the right of a local school board to place the following label on a science book:

"This textbook contains material on evolution. Evolution is a theory, not a fact, regarding the origin of living things. This material should be approached with an open mind, studied carefully, and critically considered."

Here are a few more:

McDonald's To Launch Restaurants for Protestors

Stocks Down on News of Stocks Down

Science Seeks Cure for NPR Nose

The very best name I saw: Joachin Yue.

Oh oh oh, my sides hurt!

Scott Ott, why are you still working a day job? Don't they have room at The Onion?

Posted by susanna at 06:49 AM | Comments (2)

Getting the Aussies to Iraq

Whacking Day says, they support the US, they just aren't quite sure why it is they need to go too.

"They", of course, being The Average Australian. Mr. Whacking Day himself is all fired up to clean out the House of Hussein.

Posted by susanna at 06:03 AM | Comments (0)

September 20, 2002

A techie call-taker’s dream

That would be me.

I’ve been having difficulties with my Internet connection lately so Verizon, my ISP, has heard from me twice. The first techie chick was a bit of a ditz – it’s scary when I know more than they do – but the one last night was a keeper. I need her direct number. At any rate, the problem with my Internet connection is that during the evenings I persistently get “Cannot find server/DNS Error” messages only on certain sites, including, for several very frustrating evenings, both my site and my MT interface site. Susanna was not a happy camper.

But Susanna was very nice to the techie chicks. Not always happy, but always nice.

Last night was fairly typical. The call started formally, “I’m Stacy, your Verizon tech assistant, how may I help you this evening?” and off we went. We crawled around my computer, then around the Web, talking tech. Things began loosening up with this exchange (paraphrased):

Me: I’ve been keeping notes and trying to figure out a pattern with this thing. I knew that somewhere in there, in all this behavior, there was a rational pattern. This was…

Techie chick: That’s where you made your mistake.

Me: I’m sorry?

Techie chick: Computers aren’t rational. There is nothing rational about them. That’s where you made your mistake. You think they should be rational, and sometimes they seem almost rational. But they’re not.

Me: Oh. They’re all male?

Techie chick: (Startled but hearty laughter) Um, yes! That would be right. They’re men.

Me: ‘Nuff said.

It was a bonding experience. From there, we traversed a wide range of issues while I rebooted my computer, or figured out my Verizon email, or installed something. We exchanged stories - about the sayings her boyfriend picked up in Alabama, about my search for a Canadian souvenir while in Simcoe, Ontario, only to discover when I got back to the US that it was Made In the USA, about the huge Victorian house in her hometown that was featured in the Anne of Green Gables movie.

This is not usual for me. Even with the techie guys, I’m generally privy to their favorite sports teams, their goals in life and where they grew up by the time we’re off the phone. I had to talk to one guy about four times to get some problem solved, and I knew all about the ranch he lived on, even the distance to the mailbox down the driveway, before we were done. It’s fun, I think, and seems to break up their evening of dealing with deadbrains as much as it helps me remember that it is NOT their fault, NOT their fault, NOT their fault that their company makes crap.

Stacy, techie chick extraordinaire, had some interesting observations to make last night, when quizzed about her callers. A Canadian who has traveled to the US quite a bit, and has worked as a techie chick for a while, she knows whereof she speaks. Her observations:

* People in NYC yell a lot and want you to fix it NOW, what is your PROBLEM!
* People in Maine and New Hampshire are much more laid back. Oh, aye, it takes a little time for these things.
* People in West Virginia are so laid back as to be almost comatose. Yeah, that’s fine, I can wait. No problem. Uh huh.

Were the New Yorkers rude? I asked. No, she said, just highly stressed and high strung.

Do people yell at her? I asked. Yes, they do, but mostly the ones who “aren’t very educated,” she said. “They won’t wait for an explanation!”

And, according to Stacy, the full moon DOES bring out the crazies. Even on the Verizon DSL techie line.

So, I said, what do the average Canadians think about the war with Iraq, and what the United States should do? We don’t think it about, mostly, she said. We drink beer. Our beer is much stronger here. We drink a lot of beer.

I didn’t say this to her, but if I lived in a country with Chretien as the leader, I’d probably drink too. A lot. Or move.

But it seems like it would be a nice place to visit. Stacy’s advice about it, before ringing off to her next call?

“Go to Rib Fest. If you come to Canada at all, go to Rib Fest in London, Ontario,” she said. “It’s awesome. It’s on Civic Holiday Weekend, the first weekend in August, every year.”

Is it real barbeque? I asked, thinking of how skeptical Texans would be of it.

Oh yes, she said.

“It has Canadian maple syrup and beer in it. How could it anything but real?”

And there you have it, straight from the mouth of the best techie chick in Canada.

(p.s. She also told me to dump the Zone Alarm. That, she said, was more likely the trouble than anything Verizon or my web server were doing. Hmph. Men.)

[Note: To give credit where due, Dodd the domain god and Mark the server god were patient and helpful in my time of crisis, which currently seems a thing of the past. I'm keeping my fingers crossed. Well, when I'm not typing. Which is usually. Nevermind.]

Posted by susanna at 06:34 PM | Comments (9)

My latest discovery

For those of you tired of all that rolling, the dangers of stash building and the fears of damage to your lungs, I give you:

drsoda_1703_43672794 copy.bmp

Yes, I have a can of Hemp soda (pop?) even as we speak, sitting on the windowsill beside my desk. In a police department, no less, where it caused a bit of a stir yesterday. Here's a little information and review of it; here's where you too can buy it at exorbitant rates. I got mine at the Exxon quick-mart for much less.

Disclaimer: I don't think it's going to give you a buzz except for the caffeine. But then, what do I know? The only time I came close to marijuana, it was second hand smoke and I didn't even inhale. Well, maybe a little. But I was on a bus, what was I going to do? I did not enjoy it, however, especially since the whole lot of us were reported to the authorities and spent a week sitting in a grand jury waiting room being interviewed one by one about it. Quite an interesting experience for a 14-year-old. All the stigma with none of the rebellion. Geez.

UPDATE: In the interests of full disclosure:

Ingredients: Carbonated water, sucrose, citric acid, grapefruit juice concentrate, artificial flavor, caramel color, caffeine, gum arabic, hemp essence (from sterilized seed), ester gum, vitamin C, niacin, vitamin B6 and thiamine.

Nutrition facts: 154 calories, 15 mg sodium, 37g carbs, 0g protein. Daily nutrional requirements - Vitamin C - 49%, Niacin - 44%, Vitamin E - 16%, Vitamin B6 - 50%, and Thiamin - 46%.

It is, they say, "THE SPIRITUAL LIFT".

Not recommended for children and persons sensitive to caffeine. (Persons sensitive to illegal substances are not mentioned.)

Posted by susanna at 08:52 AM | Comments (9)

Right of return?

Charles Johnson links an article where Marwan Abdul-Hamid, vice president of the Refugee Affairs Department at the PLO, clearly states that the right of return is still pivotal to their view of how the conflict with Israel should be settled. A couple of weeks ago, Dan Hartung at Lake Effect posted a good discussion of the reasonableness of this desire, complete with data about the movement of ethnic groups between countries as a result of reshuffling after each of the two world wars. It puts things in context to read the two in juxtaposition.

UPDATE: Here's a good article in NRO on why Palestinians keep terrorizing, which offers some hope for change.

Posted by susanna at 08:27 AM | Comments (0)

Palestine Media Watch says Israel worse than Iraq

An article in Editor & Publisher, posted yesterday, highlights both Palestine Media Watch and the Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America, or CAMERA, both of which - obviously - review American media for signs of bias against their causes, and bring it to the attention of the media outlet concerned. The article itself has some issues - for instance, seven paragraphs including the lead on Palestine Media Watch, and two near the bottom on CAMERA - but the really startling thing is the front page of PMW. It contains the following comparison of Israel vs. Iraq:

UN Resolutions violated, ignored: 68 Countries attacked, invaded, violated: Egypt, Jordan, Iraq, Lebanon, Syria, Tunisia Countries occupied for years: Egypt, Lebanon, Syria Countries currently occupying: Syria Territory illegally annexed: Golan Heights, Jerusalem, Palestinian Territories Wars started: 1956, 1967, 1982 Possesses weapons of mass destruction: Yes Possesses nuclear weapons: Yes Most notable atrocity against civilians: 17,500 Lebanese civilians killed in 1982 invasion of Lebanon Currently under a regime of UN sanctions: No


UN Resolutions violated, ignored: 16
Countries attacked, invaded, violated: Iran, Kuwait
Countries occupied for years: NONE
Countries currently occupying: NONE
Territory illegally annexed: NONE
Wars started: 1980, 1990
Possesses weapons of mass destruction: To be determined
Possesses nuclear weapons: No
Most notable atrocity against civilians: 5,000 Kurdish civilians were killed in the village of Halabja, March 1988
Currently under a regime of UN sanctions: Yes

And here is the list of articles under the PMW's "blatant" bias section:

Is FoxNews afraid?FoxNews quietly pulls the plug on its Israeli spies story

Why is Jordan shutting down Al-Jazeera?

Gross distortions of UN Jenin report by US media

Distortions of distortions: how the Philadelphia Inquirer edits AP stories

The Philadelphia Inquirer's front page of shame

For AP only Israeli deaths deserve a chronology

The Associated Press: uprising without explanation
Washington Post panders to pro-Israeli criticism and ignores pro-Palestinian criticism

Deceit at the Washington Times (from Al-AWDA)

FOR CNN only Israelis are worth mourning

Just to do a quick random fact check, I went into the article on the Jenin massacre, which says the focus in US media was the "no massacre in Jenin" fact, which PMW says ignores "(t)he fact that a long list of abuses that clearly constitute war crimes and crimes against humanity" was apparently included in the report. The Jenin piece then lists actual comments from the UN report which they say the AP report didn't cover - comments they think support the Palestinian version of things. Here's a sample:

There were also cases of Israeli forces not respecting the neutrality of medical and humanitarian workers and attacking ambulances. [UN report]

Do you see a problem with this immediately? Such as, that ambulances from Palestine have on more than one occasion been found to be loaded with explosives and on their way into Israel? A minor point, I'm sure, in the Palestinian lexicon.

I'm open to valid criticism regarding bias, but this site makes no effort to give context or objective review - it is, frankly, rampant bias of its own, edging into propaganda (which is what I would call the Israel/Iraq comparison).

So how does CAMERA fare? Its efforts focus closely on the media - there's no open propaganda as on the PMW site. It's quite aggressive in pointing out media bias against Israel, listing specific media outlets as well as specific journalists, dating back to the mid 1990s. Its most recent posted coverage is from August 19, about NPR's unwillingness to make corrections involving misrepresentation of Israel. Excerpt:

Sometimes NPR’s instant revisionism is taken to absurd lengths, as in a June 21 newscast reporting a Palestinian home invasion and murder of an Israeli mother and three of her children. According to NPR, Israeli officials had attributed the attack to “Palestinian commandos.” Commandos, of course, usually rescue hostages rather than murdering them.

Interestingly enough, even though NPR claims to post on its website transcripts of all its Middle East coverage, this “commando” transcript was omitted, and the network ombudsman, Jeffrey Dvorkin, flatly denied that there had even been such a broadcast. Finally, almost a week later, the network admitted using the phrase “Palestinian commandos,” and posted a correction on its website claiming that a “newscaster misspoke.” This correction, however, was never broadcast.

If you're interested in media bias as a pure study, both sites are worth visiting. However, what struck me most is that the PMW site openly attacked Israel, while the converse was not true - CAMERA took a more defensive role. An echo, perhaps, of the conflict itself?

(Note: I don't have time this morning to debunk the Israel/Iraq comparison myself. However, if anyone else wishes to take up the cudgel, please do so and let me know so I can link it.)

Posted by susanna at 07:48 AM | Comments (1)

September 19, 2002

Dishing on Greene

That and other juicy tidbits pepper this little rant by Nancy Nall who, along with The OmbudsGod, think there's something more than just his sexual imbroglios going on. Because, well, according to Nall, that's not even something new (and does she ever administer a thorough fisking).

Here she is on September 16 (you have to scroll down to it):

...there are three things everyone tells you about Bob Greene. Number one: He's a hack. Number two: He's a horndog. I don't think I'm even into the penumbra of libel saying that, because I am telling you, everybody in Chicago journalism has a story about Bob chatting up a sweet young thing with a gleam in his eye...

Did I say three things? I was wrong. The third thing you learn with your own eyes: This man wears the second-most preposterous toupee in the history of hairpieces, bowing only to Jim Traficant's. They all tie together, in my mind. The horndog requires the hairpiece, which is sort of a metaphor for his hack-ness, his false, treacly, icky prose that only fools the willfully blind.

It is wrong to exult in the misfortunes of others. I keep telling myself that. Nevertheless, this was a gravy-train dismount years in the making...

And then on the 17th:

Chicago media sources passed along the column he wrote about The Girl. She was, at least at the time of the 1988 column, 17 years old. The column is unremarkable but for one passage, where she's described as a student at a Catholic girls' school, "where the students all wear uniforms." This is getting almost too sordid to believe.

Nall is a journalism "insider", a columnist with the Fort Wayne, Ind., News-Sentinel, so you know if she's saying this on her personal site, what's being said in the corridors of the country's newspapers would scorch your ears.

It'll be interesting to see where this all goes. Nall gives this as evidence that there's more than meets the eye:

one gets the strong impression there is quite a bit more to this one. Take this paragraph from the Trib's second-day story: During the last year the woman phoned Greene twice, sources said. According to the e-mail, on the day after the second time, she received a call from the FBI suggesting she may be posing a threat to the columnist. Attempts to reach the Chicago office of the FBI were unsuccessful.

Why, one wonders, would the Federal Bureau of Investigation be interested in cleaning up after Bob's booty calls, and after a mere two phone calls? Could it be someone put up to the job? That's what I wondered, anyway. And note the Sun-Times' shiv-between-the-ribs, in their sidebar today, a timeline of his career: 1984: "Good Morning, Merry Sunshine," an account of his daughter's first year, is released. Many of his colleagues didn't know he was married or a father.

Saying more would be gilding the lily.

Posted by susanna at 02:54 PM | Comments (2)

Finally, a solution for Florida

This is making the email rounds:


I think this could work!

UPDATE: SK Bubba claims in comments that this image is doctored, and has what he says is the real version here. Hmmm... I think I sense a disgruntled liberal, Bubba!

Posted by susanna at 09:40 AM | Comments (11)

NEWSFLASH: Media has liberal bias

A Dartmouth professor, Jim A. Kuypers, has conducted research on media bias in the US and, well, I'll let him tell it:

In a new book that will be released later this month, a Dartmouth College professor claims the news media ignore far-left, moderate and conservative viewpoints in favor of a "narrow brand of liberal bias."

Author Jim A. Kuypers, a senior lecturer at the Ivy League college, said he had no political agenda when conducting his research of nearly 700 newspaper articles from 116 publications. He called the results of his study surprising and warned of the consequences on American society.

"I didn't set out to look for a particular type of bias and I took steps to ensure I didn't impose my preconceptions," Kuypers said. "What I found was a narrow brand of liberal bias within the mainstream media."

Just from the brief description he gives in the article, his research methodology seems quite sound - he took several speeches on controversial subjects by liberals and conservatives, then compared the speeches and the coverage of each. I don't know what measures he used to identify liberal vs conservative, but this is one book I'll definitely be buying so I will get back to you on that; he is also author of Presidential Crisis Rhetoric and the Press in the Post-Cold War World.

The operational definitions used for the various political positions are crucial to clearly understanding the research's findings; just saying something is liberal or conservative isn't sufficient. What does "liberal" mean? What does "conservative" mean? Different things to different people (as I will note later). Earlier this year, some bloggers wrote about the relative uses of the labels "liberal" vs "conservative" or "far left" vs "far right", but while those are useful they are not by any means all-encompassing and not, in my judgment, the source of most of the trouble - in part because you don't know what the one who applied the label meant by it. The title of Professor Kuypers's book identifies what I think is the main problem:

Press Bias and Politics: How the Media Frame Controversial Issues

Framing is the issue - that is to say, the context in which the topic is placed. And framing is the mechanism for this to happen:

As part of his findings, Kuypers said liberal opinions from editorials and news analyses often found their way into straightforward news reports.

I've pointed out a lot of examples of that kind of bias, through framing, on this site. As an example, think about this situation (don't panic, I have no reason to think it's true) - Bush deciding not to attack Iraq for six months to give the UN inspectors time to do their thing. Here is how it could be framed:

Neutral: "President Bush has decided to wait to attack Iraq until the UN inspectors have had the opportunity to review the current weapons situation in Iraq."

Liberal: "President Bush acknowledged the importance of having the UN on board today by postponing an attack on Iraq until UN inspectors have completed their task. Leaders at home and internationally applauded his restraint."

Conservative: "President Bush backed off of his promise to the American people today by bowing to pressure from the UN and world leaders. He plans to allow UN inspectors ample time to inspect Iraq's weapons program - time critics feel will just give Saddam more opportunity to refine his arsenal away from prying eyes as the inspectors are diverted from the real installations."

Obviously the conservatives would be very much against the move, and the liberals in favor of it. I think you can see how the way it's presented has more impact than that facts themselves. What Kuypers is saying is that more typically, in the US media, the liberal framing takes precedence.

The article on Kuypers's research is interesting itself, quoting from both liberal and conservative media watch groups. The article author does not label either organization liberal or conservative:

[Accuracy in Media] chairman Reed Irvine said. "The journalists -- the people who are editing and writing for papers -- are still overwhelmingly liberal."
"The right-wing and conservative movements are well represented and the center is well represented," [Steve Rendall, a senior analyst for Fairness & Accuracy In Reporting] said. "What's not well represented are progressive movements."

That's why knowing the definitions Kuypers used is important, so they can be compared to the definitions others use. His research appears to support the position of Accuracy in Media, but it's challenged by Fairness & Accuracy In Reporting - which, apparently, self-identifies as liberal rather than far-left, and uses the term "progressive" in lieu of "liberal". I would venture, just from his quotes, to say that Rendall's organization would be identified by most conservatives as leftist (and looking at his website, which fawns about Chomsky, supports my conclusion). Notice that he identifies "right-wing" and "conservative", then "center", and finally his stance, "progressive". Where's the left wing? By positioning his views as liberal rather than leftist, he's framed his views in a manner that makes his stance more palatable to a broader range of people.

Fortunately for you, you're a regular reader of this site, so are trained to identify biased framing whether conservative or liberal. There'll be a pop quiz, so I hope you're taking notes.

(Thanks to Dodd for the link.)

Posted by susanna at 08:20 AM | Comments (7)

More sex in politics, this time in Kentucky

A nursing home owner in Kentucky, Tina Conner, told news media this week that she had an affair with Kentucky Gov. Paul Patton, and that he sicced the federal government on her nursing home for revenge when she broke it off. He denies it. Both were married at the time the affair allegedly occurred. The nursing home has since closed under the weight of the findings from the federal investigation, and she's filed suit against him in civil court for sexual harrassment, seeking damages as a result of the harm to her business. In addition, the Executive Branch Ethics Commission will discuss it at their November meeting.

Now a Kentucky state transportation official is saying he was pressured by Patton to give special consideration to a business of Ms. Conner's.

I heard about the sexual allegations yesterday, keeping tabs as I do on Kentucky politics. I was going to post about it, but Caleb Brown beat me to it.

Of course, as we all know, the sexual activities of our public officials are not our business; the spin was already getting out in Kentucky yesterday in an interview a friend told me about between Lexington, KY, newswoman Sue Wylie and Pulitzer Prize-winning cartoonist Joel Pett of the Lexington [KY] Herald-Leader. Pett (cartoons here), a liberal who would likely feel honored by a comparison to Ted Rall, naturally said that whether or not Patton had an affair isn't our business. But, as Caleb says, no one can deny that using influence to get contracts for your lover (if indeed she was) is a different creature altogether.

There are those who would say this is politics as usual in Kentucky. I'm not inside enough to know, on a state level, but I wouldn't be surprised to find this is true. And if it isn't, I hope that comes out too, and Connor takes a hit for it. While this is mostly a tempest in Kentucky's teapot, Democrat Patton - a two-term governor who is very popular in parts of Kentucky - plans to challenge powerful US Senator Mitch McConnell from Kentucky, a Republican, in the 2004 election, and this scandal could derail him.

[Thanks to Caleb of Quae Nocent Docent for the additional info on this, and for calling my attention to his other blog, on public affairs in Kentucky.]

Posted by susanna at 08:07 AM | Comments (3)

WTC "Tumbling Woman" sculpture "discontinued"

There was a lot of talk yesterday about the Tumbling Woman sculpture in the Rockefeller Center, depicting a woman who had jumped from the burning building just as she hit the ground. The sculpture has been hidden, which was reported by reader Jay Cantor last night. Here's the NY Post article on it: Sick 9/11 Art Yanked

UPDATE: Here's the FoxNews article on it.

Posted by susanna at 07:42 AM | Comments (2)

UN has one last chance

Indepundit Scott Koenig says Saddam is toast and the UN has one last chance - contrary to the chatter saying Bush is waffling on attacking Iraq.

Posted by susanna at 06:15 AM | Comments (0)

September 18, 2002

Not that I'm complaining...

I just received an email that I think went out to more bloggers than me, but I'm not sure. At any rate, I won't use the writer's name but I found it somewhat annoying, for obvious reasons. Here is the email and my response:

Email in:

I have been observing and interesting trend in many blog sites. though I enjoy there wit and pithy remarks to news of the day.....please advise them to read there own stuff.

I found that putting three links in a single sentence siting past and present articles is not only confusing but hard to follow. this makes for bad journalism. I understand that many bloggers are far from journalist but if they choose to write they are subject to the same rule of the your shit. Does it make sense, no, then rewrite it until it does!

When it comes to blogging the age old adage applies "less is more".

My email back:

Thank you for your email. I suggest you tell the other bloggers yourself where you find their writing difficult to follow. The nature of the blog is to link, however, so if the format does not appeal to you, then perhaps you should seek another format to read. In addition, please note that just because something is linked does not mean you yourself must go to it.

Also, if you're going to complain about other people's writing, please attend to your own in the process. "Their" is the proper term to use when speaking of people, as in "their" wit. "Citing" is the proper term for referring to a reference to another publication. From these examples, I'm sure you understand the point. Biblically, it would be called "the mote and beam" (or splinter and log) principle.

Have a nice evening.

I should have gone to bed half an hour ago. I get snarky when I'm tired.

(In the interests of full disclosure, I used "principal" instead of "principle" in my response, so I edited it for here. Hey, I'm human!)

Posted by susanna at 10:15 PM | Comments (9)

Now PETA's gone too far - they're dissing Elvis

DC Thornton shucks the whole ear, as my daddy says.

You knew I was going to use a vegan allusion, didn't you?

Posted by susanna at 06:59 PM | Comments (7)

In case you wanted to know...

My friend Melody, after listening to me tell a story while driving through Jersey traffic on my way home from work:

(In a tone of mild exasperation) Talking to you is like watching a kaleidoscope!

I believe the clinical term is high distractability.

Posted by susanna at 06:51 PM | Comments (9)

A handsome apology

Many of you have read about sexism in the blogosphere, a topic which has spread like popsicle juice on a white shirt through the blogs. The issue started with a post by Dawn Olsen, and now it comes full circle with her apology here. I was very impressed with what Dawn had to say, and her willingness to be so open and honest about the whole situation. A good example for any of us, when our time comes to make amends, which, in my experience, is typically sooner rather than later.

Posted by susanna at 02:29 PM | Comments (1)

More reasons to love The Last Page

My blogsister Page has done a yeoman's job of, um, digging up a very interesting series of articles about coffins, babes in bikinis, interrupted intimacies and anarchy which may or may not be connected. One is emphatically disconnected, as the headline indicates:

Virgin footballers can't score

You'll have to see Page for details on that one. Meanwhile, she has The Last Word on sexism in the blogosphere, including a spiffy new motto.

Unfortunately for you late-to-the-party folk who haven't discovered Page yet, she's now Gone Fishing so you'll have nothing new to read until she resurfaces. Fortunately for you her archives work, so go forth and read.

Posted by susanna at 01:05 PM | Comments (0)

Why identifying media bias is important

Instapundit links this excellent column by Janet Daley in The (UK) Telegraph; it's worth reading for the support it shows from the average Brit to the average American. But she also has important things to say about media, media and intellectual elites, and why unchallenged bias is so dangerous:

Why did I insist on taking the Guardian seriously? As one correspondent put it, these were people who talked only to and for each other...

Maybe, but the people they talk to and for happen to constitute a large proportion of the academic, arts and media establishment of the country, who propagate their views with bombastic confidence in virtually every venue that caters to the educated young. They do not see, or represent, their own antipathies as prejudices: they dispense them as enlightened truth.

And they peddle them with quite unseemly aggressiveness...

The obnoxious chatterers to whom I was referring [are] "a tiny minority" - which is statistically true enough.

So why, you ask, don't I just ignore them? Because I can't, dear reader. And neither can you. Whether you like it or not, they claim to speak for you. Unlike the diffident people who took the time to write to me, they speak with a loud voice and they invariably see to it that they are heard by those they wish to influence.

And that's why it's important. As I keep saying, it's not that anyone is biased. It's that they present their view of things as "received truth", and don't admit their bias. We have to take responsibility for digging out the truth ourselves.

Posted by susanna at 09:30 AM | Comments (0)

Benefit of a doubt

Dodd Harris, no moderate himself, has decided to give Tom Daschle and company the benefit of a doubt on their decision to vote on attacking Iraq before the November election, despite his initial reaction that it is solely a politically expedient move:

Daschle has now changed his position to one I believed he should take up. In doing so, he explictly ackowledged that Bush had in fact responded to the calls from himself and others for "seek U.N. backing, work with Congress and make his case for why Saddam poses a threat with weapons of mass destruction." That being the case, he said, "Congress should co-operate with him." That kind of comity is what we all hope for from our elected leaders and deserves a positive reponse; Daschle has earned some credit for doing the right thing no matter what his reasons truly are.

It's a good post generally on how we should approach the opposite side of the aisle - no matter which side you're on. But don't miss the comments. Brent thinks Dodd is nuts on this one.

Posted by susanna at 09:06 AM | Comments (11)

Is sculpture bad timing? I think so.

Sculptor Eric Fischl has made a sculpture of a woman hitting the ground after falling out of the WTC:

It depicts a naked woman, limbs flailing, face contorted, at the exact moment her head smacks pavement following her leap from the flaming World Trade Center.

Fischl accompanies it with this poem, which he wrote:

"We watched,

disbelieving and helpless,

on that savage day.

People we love

began falling,

helpless and in disbelief."

Fischl didn't actually see this - he was in The Hamptons on 9/11. And he's in Croatia now, while his sculpture is on display at the Rockefeller Center, right at the skating rink.

This morning on Curtis&Kuby on WABC 77's morning show, a woman who lost her husband called in about it. With wavering voice, she said what I believe:

It's too soon.

I think Fischl was in some orgasmic artistic fervor, awash in the drama while disconnected from the real human feelings. And the people who agreed to put it up at Rockefeller Center - so close to the first anniversary, in so public a place that some people cannot avoid - showed very poor judgment.

Fortunately, it will be gone after September 23. Or at least from there - I wonder where it will go next.

UPDATE: Chris of The Spoons Experience disagrees with me, in comments - he thinks we need to be reminded. I agree that graphic art serves an important purpose - Picasso's Guernica comes to mind, or this statue memorializing the Katyn Forest massacre, located in Jersey City - but I think there should be more time allowed for the grief before they go up. I don't think it would have been as offensive to me if it had gone up in, say, Houston, or Detroit, or LA. But in NYC, in a public space, right now... too much too soon.

UPDATE: An additional discussion is going on in The Black Hole at Terran BBS. One poster mentions that the woman would hit the ground at a velocity just over 77 m/s; a recent news article (I'll find the link in a bit) said it took 10 seconds to fall from the top floors to the ground. I don't think that would result in the clothes being ripped off, so the nudity of the woman isn't situational. Someone there suggested it was about vulnerability. I think it's more likely that the sculptor prefers to work with nudes. Clothes would also obscure the pure "description" of the distribution of limbs on impact. At any rate, if he was going for accuracy, that's not how she would have looked at that moment of impact anyway.

UPDATE: Reader Jay Cantor, who lives in NYC, has this report, excerpted from comments:

I wandered over to Rockefeller Center this evening to have a look at the thing in situ; however, it is no longer visible. Oh, it's still there in the Concourse, only the bronze has been shrouded with a canvas, it has been surrounded with a curtain, and no fewer than three security guards posted around it; one of whom informed me that the piece had been "discontinued".

He's not very impressed with the Rockefeller Center giving way to pressure, and asks - what do you think?

Me, I think separating it from the general concourse is a good thing. But, since it's already there, I think they should continue to keep it available for those who want to see it - either in a museum, or just in place as a "special exhibit" that requires effort to see it. I think it's good that the Rock Center folks were responsive, but as so often happens it was too much too late.

Posted by susanna at 08:17 AM | Comments (26)

Interviewing Scott Ritter

James Lileks shows why he's the Master.

Posted by susanna at 08:04 AM | Comments (0)

Terrorists are registered Democrats

I heard this yesterday on Rush Limbaugh's show, and Brian Steggeman sent me the link. In fact, I mentioned their registration earlier, noting a post by Bryan Preston.

Now, I know and you know that your average Democrat is not a terrorist and doesn't support them. Some radical leftists do, and too many Democrats are apologists, but I don't want to paint the Democrats overall with that nasty brush. However, what is true and interesting is that this fact is not getting much media play.

Can you imagine if they had been registered Republican? Wouldn't you hear that everywhere you turn? I think so. And, as Rush notes, when the bombing in Oklahoma City took place, the Clinton administration tried to connect Timothy McVeigh with elements of the right, making efforts to discredit not just the radical right (like the militia types that legitimately could be connected to McVeigh), but the more mainstream right in an effort to make them seem scary to moderates.

Pretty interesting.

UPDATE: I have caused offense with this post, so let me clarify. I'm tongue-in-cheek about the average Democrat being supportive of or an apologist for terrorists - some freako Democrat leaders notwithstanding, I think the majority of Americans regardless of political affiliation stand shoulder to shoulder against terrorism, especially in our own country. My main point was that the media treated this information differently than I think they would have in the converse case. I appreciated Jolene's commentary on my post, and also her take on the potential of war with Iraq. I don't agree with it, but I appreciated it!

Posted by susanna at 07:51 AM | Comments (4)

This man needs to be fired

Last seen claiming that all men are at heart rapists, Robert Jensen, an associate professor at the University of Texas at Austin, is now telling the Arab News that the US is out to set up an empire and their first victim is to be the Middle East:

“The US reaction to Iraq’s announcement shows that the Bush administration is not concerned about terrorism in Iraq. And I don’t even think they are much concerned about weapons of mass destruction. What they care about is a war to extend American power in the Middle East,” said Jensen. “Their goal is to replace the regime of Saddam Hussein with an American puppet government, as they have done in Afghanistan. Don’t forget that Iraq has the second largest oil reserves in the world. This is about the control of oil in the region, it has nothing to do with the security of the American public,” said Jensen.

Apparently the writer of the article could tell Jensen is a nutcase, because the majority of the article is about Steven Zunes, an associate professor of politics at the University of San Francisco - himself not precisely an objective source, given the title of a recent article of his: “Seven Reasons to Oppose a US Invasion of Iraq". The Arab News doesn't give information on where the article was published.

At least Zunes doesn't draw a bead solely on the US:

“When you are dealing a regime like Saddam Hussein’s, a level of healthy skepticism is always necessary..."

Certainly Jensen and Zunes are welcome to their opinion. We're also welcome to ridicule them. Jensen is especially pathetic - very sad to think he's teaching in a public university. I really don't care what he says; what bothers me is the legitimacy that a connection with a university ostensibly gives him, especially with an overseas audience. And I also wonder just how committed he is to teaching critical thinking in his classes - or whether he just teaches his thinking.

Posted by susanna at 07:40 AM | Comments (4)

ProJo labor dispute partially settled

Back in June I posted about a by-line strike by journalists at the Belo-owned Providence Journal. A court has now settled part of the dispute, ordering Belo to give back to its employees benefits lost over the last two years. Another set of allegations will be addressed in an October trial.

According to the article, contract negotiations are continuing between the guild representing Belo employees, and Belo representatives.

[Link via Romenesko]

Posted by susanna at 07:14 AM | Comments (0)

Showing what's wrong

Women just aren't getting the top editor jobs at newspapers like they should, according to this article in Editor & Publisher. It's a quirky article, struggling to show that women are mistreated and hard-pressed in the face of a number of women saying otherwise. The article also makes repeated disclaimers about how this decision or that decision may not have been about sexism but it's a problem anyway - kind of a "so there!" tone. A good example:

Overholser adds that she recently received several offers for editing jobs that she likely would have jumped at in the past, but now would not want to take. It's unlikely that one of the reasons she cited for that decision -- being in the final year as a parent "with someone still living at home" -- would come from a male editor.

To me the article is more about disgust at women who won't set all aside for a career than about any real "glass ceiling". Will Overholser have opportunities after she's done "being at home" with her children? Or would these top women hold it against her that she made the choice she did, and try to block her out? Maybe women are getting the top jobs less than they objectively could do them, but I don't think it's all, or even mostly, sexism.

At least not sexism coming from the men.

Another odd example:

Most publishers contend that a major requirement in choosing an editor is finding someone who shares their vision for the paper, their approach to news coverage and daily operations -- be it man or woman. In theory, that approach should put most candidates on an even playing field as they contend for the top editor's spot. In reality, however, it tends to give a man the advantage if the one doing the hiring is also a man.

"The male culture at newspapers tends to be self-perpetuating," the Media Management Center study states...

Veteran newspeople say the key is not to let it affect your best news judgment and not just imitate the man who came before. "I worry that [such pressures] cause some women to put pants on and become men," says Columbia's Morgan, stressing that a woman who just repeats the work of a man is not taking advantage of her position to exert a woman's influence. "Then you have no effect."

The two sections are not near each other in the text, but I think they're significant in comparison. Men are blamed for wanting to hire someone who follows their vision and for not seeing women as doing so, and for perpetuating a "male" culture. Then Columbia prof Morgan tells women to have a feminist agenda once they get into the top position - encouraging a "female" culture. Would I hire someone for a job where I need a specific focus if I knew that person was committed to a different focus? It's not that women shouldn't be concerned about hiring other women; it's that they should be concerned about running a newspaper, not advancing a personal political philosophy.

And the tone of the article also very clearly is critical of women for considering "traditional woman things" like home and family in making their decision - in other words, telling them to be like men are traditionally in approaching their careers, but not to be like a man in making their decisions while performing their jobs. It seems to me that you should make judgments as a journalist, not a man or a woman.

In my judgment, this article is an indication of why a lot of women aren't ready for that top job - and won't be until they let go of this sexist attitude.

Posted by susanna at 06:52 AM | Comments (3)

September 17, 2002

Train them up in the way they should go...

CPO Sparkey is a man after my own heart, raising his kids with the right attitude. I'm thinking that Barbie squad would be better than any dozen UN diplomats you could name.

I'm seriously thinking I need to move to Texas. Those folks down there get it right. I'll even forgive them Ann Richards - after all, they did repent (although I haven't seen the sackcloth and ashes).

Posted by susanna at 08:15 PM | Comments (8)

Such a sweet sound

Scott Koenig says that someone in Al-Qaeda is singing, the US is listening, and good guys are winning.

That's the kind of musical I like to see.

Posted by susanna at 07:23 PM | Comments (1)


Scott Ott has located the 200 missing nukes.

Posted by susanna at 06:04 PM | Comments (0)

Go get ‘em

Activists are trying to get PETA’s tax-exempt status revoked for funding organizations that have engaged in terrorism. I say, yank it. Any organization that knowingly supports violent activities in violation of the law, for whatever cause, should have their tax-exempt status pulled. And I’m not partisan in that matter – as much as I am against abortion, I think any churches that financially support violent activities toward abortion clinics, doctors and patients should also have their tax-exempt status pulled. Piety – whether self-righteous leftists or religious – does not mitigate such behavior.

I also think the conditions for having it pulled should be very narrowly defined, to prevent witch hunts. As reprehensible as I think PETA is, they have a right to say what they want. And if such a rule is applied to churches or religious organizations, the activist atheists will swarm to get their tax-exempt status pulled, so they need the protection of a specific and narrow definition. But none of them have a right to give money to people who blow up labs or abortion clinics, endanger lives or kill people. Period. Treat terrorists for what they are, and don’t let them cover themselves in lofty rhetoric. Wrong is wrong.

Posted by susanna at 12:26 PM | Comments (5)

Russia makes it funny

The Russian newspaper Pravda has a page specifically for "funny" news. What do Russians consider amusing?

A bar for fat people in Thailand
A rather unusual club for fat men was opened in Bangkok. A special action is held in the club once a week: if total weight of three friends is over 360 kg, they are presented with a bottle of whiskey.

Walls of the unusual karaoke bar are decorated with funny fat people from comic books, the counter is set firmly so that big people could lean against it. The chairs are made of metal for fat clubbers who weigh so much...

Chang and his partners opened the club especially for fat people to feel free. The interior is designed perfectly especially for this purpose: there is enough space for fat people to get a broad access to the counter, the floor is made of concrete, not parquet, to avoid creaking under heavy steps. [Here, they sue McDonald's. There, they get their own bar and free whiskey. Which one is "the free world"? - slc]

Argentinean senator wants sanity test for politicians

Argentinean Senator Jorge Capitanich wants a sanity test on all future candidates to political positions. His proposal for a new law stipulates that psychiatric and neurological tests should be made.

The Peronist Senator suggests that these tests will be in the 0public interest, increasing transparency. Apart from the psychiatric and neurological tests, the Senator also wants radiography of the thorax, eye test, electro-cardiogram and urine, uraemia and glycaemia tests.

He did not make it clear whether or not he will be the first candidate for the psychiatrist’s couch. [This one would go over well in the US too - slc]

How does invisible meal taste?

An unusual restaurant was opened in Berlin. Visitors of Unsicht-Bar (an invisible bar as translated from German) are offered to taste meals with their eyes closed. Owners of the restaurant say it is more important at that to concentrate on all senses except for the eyesight.

Special bands are put on the eyes of guests of the restaurant, who are served, do not be astonished, by blind waiters. Staff of the restaurant consists of 30 people, 22 of them are blind. There is no exact menu at the restaurant, guests are not offered some particular dishes. They are only asked about their gustatory passions: whether the guests would like to eat meat, fish or vegetables. [I know some restaurants that'd do better business this way too. But not much better. - slc]

There's more where that came from. Those wacky Russians!

Posted by susanna at 12:04 PM | Comments (1)

Only Tony

Who do you know that could write a post dealing with the St. Louis Arch, grits, little boys and hairbrushes, and make it work?

Only Tony.

Posted by susanna at 11:29 AM | Comments (0)

Ramping up

Fred First has low-tech evidence that things are ramping up for the coming conflict.

Posted by susanna at 07:49 AM | Comments (0)

Cantor Fitzgerald says 9/11 fund rules are flawed

The company that lost the most employees in the 9/11 attack, Cantor Fitzgerald, says the calculations done by the administrator of the federal government's 9/11 fund are fundamentally flawed. They've put together a report analyzing the rules set up by the special master in charge of the Sept. 11 Victim Compensation Fund, Kenneth R. Feinberg, which details the failings. Feinberg says he "welcomes" their input, but that he doesn't think any rules will change. A CUNY law professor, Pamela S. Falk, says Cantor Fitzgerald has a legally strong case.

I've not followed the controversies over the distribution of the funds very closely; it's a difficult thing, deciding who deserves what amount. I do see that the fairest method would be predicated on the earner's past and likely future salary. And Cantor Fitzgerald says that's the problem - Feinberg isn't doing it that way. In fact, according to them (although they don't say it in just these words), Feinberg is engaging in some social engineering at the expense (literally) of their employees' survivors:

The core of the firm's dissatisfaction with the fund and its rules concerns what it believes is, in effect, an artificial lid on payments to high-income employees... In other words, what Mr. Feinberg should not be doing, the report says, is making "value judgments about different groups of income earners."

So Feinberg is loading the fund toward the lower income earners, in C-F's opinion - playing the wealth redistribution game. I have some sympathy for C-F - the people who died in the WTC died because they were in a building seen as the symbol of American wealth. In a sense, they were targeted because of who they were, their very success. I do think it's fair, and right, to base compensation on income. And if Feinberg is making his own rules that are discordant with Congress's stated intent, then he needs to be reined in hard. Cantor Fitzgerald looks like just the company to make sure it's done.

The article says that Cantor Fitzgerald will post their report on the 9/11 fund today on their site, but I haven't found it. Here is the site for C-F families affected, and here is the C-F Relief Fund site.

Posted by susanna at 05:53 AM | Comments (2)

September 16, 2002

Daschle Dawdle Watch

Scott Koenig at Indepundit is tracking Tom Daschle to see whether he continues to try to postpone the attack on Iraq until after election. Should be interesting.

Posted by susanna at 06:02 PM | Comments (0)

It's a little disconcerting...

...when your Weather Pixie is under an umbrella, and the sun's shining outside your real window.


Posted by susanna at 01:29 PM | Comments (8)

Exercising my Constitutional right to call Jesse Jackson an idiot

As I mentioned below, I have a right, protected by the Constitution, to call people idiots. Watch American freedom in action:

Jesse Jackson is an idiot.

I can hear the faint strains of The Battle Hymn of the Republic celebrating my freedom. Unfortunately, according to Jackson, that Constitution didn't really get us off on the right track. In actual fact, we've been living a lie for hundreds of years - the US didn't begin until 1965:

The Rev. Jesse Jackson yesterday told about 600 Michigan State University students that America's democracy was 37 years old, not 200-plus, and that "democracy as we know it did not begin in Philadelphia, where a bunch of white men wrote the laws."

"These men's wives were not allowed [to vote], these laws were made at a time when only white men had the right to vote," Mr. Jackson said, noting that the Voting Rights Act of 1965 was the commencement of "true democracy."

Let me exercise my right again - it felt so good the first time.

Jesse Jackson is an idiot.

My whole day just got a lot brighter. And if you want yours to glow, don't miss breaking news on this and other important events of the day at ScrappleFace, the too-funny news source, where I found the link to the latest Jackson history lesson.

UPDATE: Eugene Volokh says we have a democratic republic, and he's pretty annoyed with the folks who keep making a fine distinction between whether we're a democracy or a republic. We're both, darn it, get it right already!

Posted by susanna at 12:39 PM | Comments (16)

If you're a blogger, you must read this

Rod Dreher has an excellent article today about the risks of libeling people on the Internet, with a particular focus on bloggers. Glenn Reynolds, truly the expert as a blogging lawyer, has additional comments here.

As a former journalist, I always write with a thought to the possibility of libel, maybe too much so. Things said in a conversation between friends in a restaurant can suddenly, when put on the Internet to be found by everyone with Google, become a much more serious thing, even though often our blogging feels like a conversation. One important consideration is the distinction between opinion about viewpoints and opinion about integrity and honesty. For example, if I want to call Noam Chomsky an idiot all day long, I can. That's my opinion and I'm legally welcome to it. If I want to say his work is riddled with factual errors and besides I've heard he (fill in the blank with some heinous activity), then I'd better have more than my venomous view ready for inspection by his attorneys.

A great example of how to take someone down legitimately is the work of those who have thoroughly discredited the scholarship of Michael Bellesiles. They have documents to back up every allegation.

I've rarely seen in my blogging rounds any examples of questionable rhetoric, especially anything like the examples given in Dreher's article. But as more and more people get involved, and the ones already here devote more resources to it, there's one area where we do well to remember that the courts won't distinguish us from "real journalists" - we're just as responsible for anything libelous.

Posted by susanna at 11:55 AM | Comments (9)

The Monday Rants

Andrea Harris shreds a deserving British columnist, as well as providing a rich list of bloggish ranting elsewhere. Something to start your Monday off with a big grin as you see the loonies and leftists falling gutless to the floor.

Posted by susanna at 10:49 AM | Comments (0)

I'm not sure what to say

Chicago Trib columnist Bob Greene has resigned following a suspension for engaging in "inappropriate sexual conduct" with a teenager. It was over a decade ago, btw, and she was of consenting age at the time.

UPDATE: On rereading my post, I thought it sounded morally ambivalent, which I'm not about this. I had written a paragraph about how sketchy the details were, which had to be deleted when I found the article in the Trib which was much more detailed. Then I had to go to work which meant I didn't have time to ruminate more right then.

I think what Greene did was bad on several levels. First he is a married man, and thus committed adultery. Bad. He was in his 40s and had sex with a high school student. Bad. He is a journalist and met the girl he had sex with through his work as a columnist. Bad. He apparently did a column about her after their sexual encounter. Bad. On all counts he showed himself to be ethically lacking.

The reason I initially didn't know what to say is, I find it peculiar that they are in such a wad about Greene when they don't seem to have concerns about journalists figuratively being in bed with politicians. And while it's not completely similar, to me Clinton's relationship with Lewinski has parallels - he had access to her because of his job, his behavior with her could have and maybe did compromise his ability to do his job properly (difficult to concentrate on national and international policy when more domestic issues are being attended to simultaneously), etc.

My other question is, is this the only time? I don't see any disclaimers that it was, which is odd in itself. There's no, "I'm so sorry, I was at a bad time in my life, it's the only time that it happened, at no other time was my professional work compromised by my private behavior." That leaves the question open - was it the only time? And if not, how deeply was his work compromised? And if it was a regular thing, why didn't someone know?

Journalists talk a lot about the ethics of the profession, and the need for objectivity. I'm glad that Greene has been called to account for this mess; it shows that there is a line that can't be crossed with impunity in the journalism profession. But I have to wonder... if the potential of public revelation wasn't there, would they have reacted the same way? I hope so.

Admitting human bias informs all discourse, including journalism; striving for a conscious fairness in all coverage; and continuing to censure journalists who are unethical, will go a long way toward restoring what perception of integrity is possible in the eyes of the public.

And here's a good quote that makes me feel better about the whole thing:

Said one longtime colleague: "There's no one in the history of Chicago newspapers with better commercial instincts. If anybody can turn this disaster into a saleable commodity, Bob's it."

I'll be able to sleep again.

UPDATE: Apparently Greene didn't sleep with his young friend until after the column on her appeared. So at least on that point he wasn't technically out of line, but still pretty pathetic to go after a girl almost 30 years his junior, and so very young. If she'd been my daughter, things would have gotten ugly in a hurry.

UPDATE: A lot of people are speaking out in support of Greene, and the Trib higher-ups are being asked specifically which aspect of Greene's behavior triggered their ire. And apparently Greene's "encounter" with the girl "stopped short of intercourse"; we aren't told if it was a change of heart or mechanical failure. At any rate, one person said something that is very true:

Eugene Roberts, former editor of The Philadelphia Inquirer, found the circumstances of Greene's departure more complex…

"My experience on newspapers is that journalists' private lives are no better, no worse than just about any other profession," he said.

So there are saints and sinners in the newsroom, just like everywhere else. And while we might not care much for the rankest sinners, we certainly need to be clear about what constitutes compromising your job's integrity and what constitutes just being a slimy dirty-old-man jerk. I won't cry any tears for Greene, but I do think, on reflection, that this whole business needs some clarification to make the Trib management seem more concerned about ethics than the bottom line in getting rid of an institution that had become dead weight.

Posted by susanna at 09:08 AM | Comments (10)

A Blogtionary

The Samizdata team has been on the job, taking on the role of Noah Webster of the Blogosphere. Here's the fruit of their labor - a Blogtionary (or Bloglossary) of bloggish terms. All you wanted to know and then some.

Pretty cool.

Note: edited to correct to Noah Webster as pointed out in comments. Oops. They're both OT guys, what do I know from Noah or Daniel? That's what happens when you think you know more than you actually do.

Posted by susanna at 08:04 AM | Comments (1)

NY Times campaigns for NJ Senator Torricelli

Or so it seems. Both Robert Musil and Jane Galt think that's the tone of this article. I would agree. Of course, Montclair - where I used to teach at Montclair State University, and where I hang out at the Starbuck's sometimes, right next to the Whole Foods Store - is not precisely your average NJ town. Like Glen Ridge and the cluster of other little towns over there, many of the residents are monied, often working in NYC or are the quintessential soccer moms. In other words, just about as liberal as the day is long.

Naturally I find Torricelli repugnant, just as I do this attitude of "anything is okay as long as the Republicans don't take the Senate". If a Republican Senator in my state had done the same thing, I would have been agitating since day one of the discovery of his perfidity to have another Republican candidate replace him. Yes, Virginia, there is something more important than control of the Senate. It's called "integrity", or at least some vague semblance of it.

Not, of course, that we would expect the NY Times to take the high road. I don't know that they are even aware one exists, anymore.

Man, I need to move. This place is making me nuts.

UPDATE: Oh, Meryl, how I love thee! I wondered when I wrote this whether Meryl Yourish would step up to the plate (see, I knew she used to live right in that Greater Montclair area, which is one reason I couldn't resist the story once I saw who they quoted). Sure enough she did! Meryl is a fine and honorable woman; go see why she'd vote for a sleaze like The Torch.

Posted by susanna at 07:56 AM | Comments (6)

An answer to Christopher Reeves from one who knows

Last week I posted about Christopher Reeves progressing beyond expectations, and while I was (am) happy for him, I was critical of part of what he said about it. Specifically, he said this:

"My recovery means everything to me, because while some people are able to accept living with a disability, I am not one of them," he said. "I want my life back."

For details, read the previous post. That post was sent to a friend by reader Bob Kile. Below is the email I received from him about it, in its entirety:

I sent your quote from C Reeve to a dear friend. He's in my Fantasy football league, he writes for a local newspaper (Sports), coaches track, parties harder than I do, and does it all from the wheelchair he's been in since a drunk driver ended his athletic career and put him there in college. This was his response to me. Too long for a "comment" but if you wanna narrow it down, please do. I think it's important to know how he feels. His language is a bit harsh at times, but it's passion. And I edited a bit.

Thank you for that piece; you just summed up perfectly why I LOATHE the man!

Everyone called him some kind of hero because he survived his accident. Now, this is not sour grapes, but anyone still alive from an SCI survived an accident and went through what he did, me included. It is about as close to hell as I care to get, and I'm glad he made the effort to get through it because so many don't try. BUT...

When he says shit like that he tells people, "Your life sucks if you're in a quad" and it just isn't so. There are times it does and I'm in the middle of about three crises all at once right now, but I survive it because I know I've been through worse.

I didn't like him at first because he was selling false hope to people when he first had his injury, and patients at every rehab hospital in the western hemisphere were intensely set on walking out of the hospital because Reeves told them there would be a cure within five years. You never give up hope, but you can't eat it, either. And, too much hope is as great an addiction as anything else--withdrawal from it is overwhelmingly difficult, often more difficult than survival to begin with. I am proud to say I haven't had to find out just how difficult.

"I want my life back." What the **** does he think he has now? What does that tell the public that saw me running around Lane Ave. & Northwest Blvd. today in 5:30pm rush hour traffic? I needed to go to Radio Shack so I went. Does it tell all those people in those cars that my life is terrible? It doesn't exactly leave them with a moving, positive image, now does it? The ****ing idiot.

Almost nobody simply "ACCEPTS" their life as a quadriplegic; they MANAGE it. I've been accused of semantics, but there's a huge difference. It can't be changed (at least not yet) so you learn your care, how to direct and teach it, get the help you need, and then it becomes as much a part of your daily routine as the proverbial "shit, shower, & shave" (all 3 of which are STILL in the routine) that everyone does every morning everywhere in America. If you want to find someone who ACCEPTED their injury find the person in the back bedroom who sits in the dark, stares at nothing, and wallows in self-pity day after day after day.

He has continued his denial, at least publicly, with inane and irresponsible statements like this one. I realize that science works in stages, building new treatments on knowledge gained from past experiments. In fact, the diaphragm pacers I use now are being used by a man to move his arms in a more voluntary way! It's still not the way the body is supposed to work, but it's ahead of what he WAS able to do, which is nothing. Even that gentleman told me it's no panacea, and he wished he had the fine motor control I use to drive my power chair. Another quadriplegic I know said he'd trade me his arm movement he uses to drive for a whole year if I'd let him have, for only one night, my light touch sensation and privacy with his wife, if you catch my drift.

Now, let's talk about exactly what Superman has done here: Absolutely nothing. His muscles were stimulated by external electrical sources out of the control of his brain. Able-bodied "life" makes it's own choices and the electrical impulses are generated and delivered by the individual's brain via the central nervous system to the specific muscle group, and then he/she moves his own muscles. His moved because somebody hooked one alligator clip to his ass and another to his dick and flipped the power switch to "on." Why did he regain sensation? Nerves, just like unused muscles or blood vessels, atrophy. Whoever said, "If you don't use it you lose it" had no idea how right they were. He also was treated with two experimental drugs (one of which is now FDA approved) to reduce the amount of permanent paralysis, so like a poor body builder, his intensive therapy missed a few spots. I am in no more control of my breathing than he is of his movement. Oh, sure, I'm breathing, but my diaphragm pacers stimulate nerves and move muscles for me; the signal does not come from my brain. I can program the control box, but it is still external and ARTIFICIAL stimulation. I traded the ventilator, a breathing machine, for a device that uses the existing breathing "machine" already in place. More efficient, lighter, and requiring less maintenance, but I'm still "ventilator dependant."

"My recovery means everything to me." No shit Buckwheat! We'd all like to recover function, rebuild bone strength and muscle mass, and pick up right where we left off, though at 38 years of age I'm not sure I want to actually turn the clock back. Hell, it took three months to be able to go all day with my pacers, and that's only a few muscles, no rebuilding bone density!

Reeves has served as a poster child for research and to that extent he has excelled beyond what any other individual could do. I suppose he can claim a right of first refusal on experimental treatments or devices; after all, it was his fundraising efforts that took research light years from where it was to where it is today. Maybe someday they will actually have a cure whose roots can be traced to late 1990's research funded by government grants Reeves went to Congress and asked for.

But in the meantime quit telling people how ****ing miserable you are because you're a quad, and don't include me or others in your damned remarks, a**hole.


There's nothing I can add.

Posted by susanna at 06:32 AM | Comments (1)

September 15, 2002

Five charged in Buffalo with Osama connection

Most of you have likely heard about the five young men (all in their mid to late 20s, so not so very young) of Yemeni descent who were arrested this weekend for suspicion of involvement with Osama bin Laden, including training at a terrorist camp in Afghanistan in the summer of 2001. Some of their classmates from that training were amongst the 9/11 terrorists.

The NY Daily News, with its trademark cleverness, ran this headline in huge type on their front page today:


Their inside article was a little more restrained.

It will certainly be interesting to see where this goes. And it's another signal that the Muslim community is going to have to help root out these terrorists or run the risk of more generalized suspicion. Daniel Pipes, who wrote Militant Islam Reaches America, says it more broadly in the introduction to his book:

We hear disproportionately from militant Islam, but there exists a credible, moderate Islam, which must play a critical role if Muslims are ever wholeheartedly to join the modern world.

My question is: Do they want to?

UPDATE: Bryan Preston notes that the five were all registered Democrats. Hmmm...

Posted by susanna at 03:21 PM | Comments (2)

The Big Walk

The Race for the Cure went well this morning, once I actually got there. This is one reason why I don't into Manhattan more often:

The morning registration began at 7 a.m., for a 9 a.m. start, so I left my apartment at 6:15 a.m. - since 72nd and Central Park was about 10 miles away, it seemed reasonable. However, since parking can run $20 or more for a day, I planned to take public transportation.

I parked at work in Jersey City, walked two blocks to Grove Street, waited 15 minutes for the PATH train, then took it into Manhattan. I planned to get off at 14th Street, but I zoned out and missed the stop so I got out at 23rd. So far, so good, because I needed to take the C uptown and it stopped on 8th Avenue at both 14th and 23rd. Since I was on 6th, I hoofed it to 8th, went into the 23rd street station, and... there was construction. So I had to take a train back down to 14th street, then caught the uptown to 72nd. As it turned out the uptown train I eventually got did not stop at 72nd, so I had to get out at 59th and get the B.

Are we having fun yet?

When I finally got to 72nd, it was after 8 a.m. Almost two hours. I {heart} NYC.

The walk itself was pretty cool, going up Central Park West, into the Park, around and down and up and over, past a pond and a ball field and myriad people on bikes, scooters, and roller blades, or jogging, walking, running, just out with the dog or the boyfriend (in some cases pretty close). As for noise? Well, try to imagine 20,000 women all together with something to say, for an hour. Yes. Deafening.

Yoplait yogurt gave out free yogurt (mmmm, blueberry!); Special K handed out its new Red Berries cereal, which is a slightly sweetened version of their usual cereal with kinda nasty looking dried strawberries. Tasted fine if you didn't have to look at it.

I did see one geniune celebrity - Emme, with her hubby, daughter and two friends. She was lovely (her eyes really are gorgeous in person) and very friendly to everyone around. A few times there were blondes in their 50s who acted as if all of us walkers should know them, but to my sorrow (not), I didn't.

I am now so sore I can't stand it, which is fairly pathetic. I'm taking aspirin and going to bed, so have a great afternoon. Oh, and thanks to all who donated - we went over $700. That's a lot of cure.

God bless you.

Posted by susanna at 02:49 PM | Comments (0)

For Dawn

I first met Dawn Hansen when I became friends with her sister Desiree, back in 1979. She was a little younger than me, a friendly, slightly shy, awkward young woman, very endearing. Over the course of the next 15 years, I saw her occasionally, even once lived with her and Desiree for three weeks while visiting them in Arizona. She liked police officers, hung out with them quite a bit, but when she eventually married it was to a man decades her senior, a physician’s assistant, who in the long run turned out to be a devastating choice.

Dawn was still a young woman, on the cusp of 30, when she learned she had breast cancer. Her husband, although a physician’s assistant, did not properly oversee her care, and her condition deteriorated. Finally she went to stay with Desiree and her husband David. Desiree, an advocate and practitioner of homeopathy, nursed Dawn for months, and her health improved. I visited them during that time, and my last memories of Dawn are of mood swings from smiling to deeply sad, as she sat with us and talked, her body thin, her nearly hairless head covered with a turban-like hat.

She returned to her husband and again her condition deteriorated. Finally she moved from California to Alabama to live with her parents – to die there. Desiree was living in Chicago and pregnant by this time, and unable to travel to see her. One sultry summer night, Desiree went to the hospital early, her husband too distracted during the long hours of labor to call their families to let them know. Yet somehow Dawn, now in a coma, slipped out of unconsciousness to whisper, “The baby is coming”. The watchers at her bed wondered what that meant; when David called them later in the day to tell them Hannah was born, weeks early, they knew. But how did Dawn know?

Dawn Hansen died in the afternoon of the day her first niece was born. She was a sweet and good young woman whose life did not bring the joy she deserved, and it ended far too soon. This morning I’m walking in The Race for the Cure, to fund research on breast cancer and to bring breast cancer screening to those who can’t afford it. I’m walking it for Dawn, and for all the family members of those who have generously donated. And I’m walking it for me, for you and for all those at risk.

I leave you with a passage selected by one of my donors who said, when asked why he donated, "I have a mother and four sisters. By contributing I am (hopefully) accumulating credits which will ensure that, when I go home next, I will be offered all the goodies that I deserve. I am Male."

And a fine one at that! Have a good day. Hug someone you love.

Song of Solomon
Chapter 7
1 How beautiful your sandaled feet, O prince's daughter! Your graceful legs are like jewels, the work of a craftsman's hands. 2 Your navel is a rounded goblet that never lacks blended wine. Your waist is a mound of wheat encircled by lilies. 3 Your breasts are like two fawns, twins of a gazelle. 4 Your neck is like an ivory tower. Your eyes are the pools of Heshbon by the gate of Bath Rabbim. Your nose is like the tower of Lebanon looking toward Damascus. 5 Your head crowns you like Mount Carmel. Your hair is like royal tapestry; the king is held captive by its tresses. 6 How beautiful you are and how pleasing, O love, with your delights! 7 Your stature is like that of the palm, and your breasts like clusters of fruit. 8 I said, "I will climb the palm tree; I will take hold of its fruit." May your breasts be like the clusters of the vine, the fragrance of your breath like apples, 9 and your mouth like the best wine.

May the wine go straight to my lover,
flowing gently over lips and teeth.
10 I belong to my lover,
and his desire is for me.
11 Come, my lover, let us go to the countryside,
let us spend the night in the villages.
12 Let us go early to the vineyards
to see if the vines have budded,
if their blossoms have opened,
and if the pomegranates are in bloom-
there I will give you my love.
13 The mandrakes send out their fragrance,
and at our door is every delicacy,
both new and old,
that I have stored up for you, my lover.

Posted by susanna at 06:02 AM | Comments (2)

Politically pop

The Agitator did the hard work on researching the significance of "pop", "Coke" and "soda", way back in July (yes, I told you before, I'm WAY late to this party). Because it's generated such discussion here, I decided to move this new information to the top - it's too important. Here is what he found:

There are some exceptions (which I'll detail after this list), but for the most part, Coke/pop states went for Bush, and soda states for Gore. It gets weirder. Florida is remarkably undecided about whether it's a Coke or a soda state. Up and down the panhandle -- which went overwhelmingly for Bush -- Florida's all Coke. But hit the Miami, Palm Beach and retirement areas -- solid Gore country -- and it's all about soda.

And there you have it. Folks, this pop 'n Bush woman is vindicated.

Not, you understand, that I think all sodas are, well, Gore-ish. Just misguided.

Thanks to Alex at RAWbservations for the heads up on this important study.

Posted by susanna at 05:16 AM | Comments (4)

September 14, 2002

Thoughts on 9/11 from East Texas

My friend Desiree (D. Watts in comments) has written a very thoughtful letter on the anniversary of 9/11 to send to the manager of a local television station near where she lives in East Texas. Her husband, David Watts Jr., was for years a computer consultant who traveled all over the country for various assignments. He was in NYC on 9/11; Desiree and their three children had spent 10 weeks the previous winter and spring staying with him there. The television station interviewed him as part of their 9/11 anniversary coverage, and her letter is in response to that. I asked her permission to run it here, and she gave it (somewhat reluctantly - she's not the attention-monger I am). So here it is.

The day after. September 12, 2002. This morning I awakened to the feeling of a cloud hanging over my head, a cloud that had been forming since you interviewed my husband, David Watts, regarding his experience in NYC on 9-11. Before the call came asking to interview him for a segment on the evening news, I had determined not to allow myself to be brought back to that horrible day through continuous news coverage memorializing it all. As I stood and listened to my husband recounting those days to your reporter, I found myself being reluctantly taken where I had previously refused to go. At the same time, however, I thought it was good for East Texas to hear what it was REALLY like to be so close to it all -- the sights, the sounds, the smells. Before the interview, I said to my husband, tell them what they haven't already heard a million times. I think he did that pretty well and I think you did a good job of combining his words with the video he had compiled in the first days after 9-11. It was as if we were seeing it all through his mind's eye. So why do I have this nagging feeling -- this cloud hanging over my head? I believe it's because throughout all your reporting on 9-11, you never really seemed to get to the core of how it touched my husband ... his family ... East Texas ... this nation ... the world. Maybe that is just my perspective because of the way I experienced that day.... I awakened that morning abruptly and with an unexplained feeling that I had just been run over by a Mack truck. I didn't want to get up but I couldn't stay in bed either. So I climbed out of the bed, dragged myself to the back door where I let my dog out and collapsed on the nearby sofa. Less than two minutes later, the phone rang. The words, which still echo in my ears to this day, were simply, "I just want to let you know that I'm all right." My heart leaped in my chest as I heard my reply, "What do you mean, you're all right?!" David explained to me that a plane had crashed into the Twin Towers. I immediately decided that I would not watch the news, but within three minutes of hanging up with him, I turned on the T.V. I still am not sure to this day if I actually saw the original footage of the second plane hitting or if it had just happened seconds before. David called again to say he was leaving his office and returning to his apartment in upper Manhattan, farther from Ground Zero. He could no longer call on his cell phone, so it was agreed that if we lost phone contact all together, we would try to stay in touch by email. Shortly after that, the first tower fell and from that point on I felt as though I was being pulled into a dark tunnel. Had David gotten far enough away? Did he, an inquisitive person at heart, decide to move closer to the site or did his better judgment prevail? Time stood still. People called from around the country to see if David was okay. Others came to my house. I only remembered one person actually being at my house until I was informed by a friend recently that other people had come, too. My children wandered in and out of the living room. I wondered if they understood what was going on. Then each one (ages 2, 4 and 6), walked into the living room wearing their New York t-shirts. You see, it was our New York that had been attacked, too. During the year my husband worked in NYC, he was only home on the weekends, so we decided to take the family to live in his small apartment in the heart of Manhattan for ten weeks in the spring of 2001. (We were actually scheduled to be there on September 11 again, but his father's unexpected death in July kept us from returning as originally planned.) I still remember the pained look in my oldest daughter's face as she tried to avoid being stepped on in the rushing crowds of NYC's streets that first night in town. I told her, "When in Rome, do as the Romans do." Over the next few weeks, she became a veteran New Yorker as she managed her way through the bitter cold and fast-moving subways, crammed in the back of taxicabs and squeezed into tight elevators. Hearing sirens coming from the fire station across the street in the early morning hours (a station that would later lose 15 firefighters in the collapse of the towers), racing across people-filled streets before the signals changed to “walk”, climbing into a taxicab on Sunday mornings to go to worship with Christians who met in a Karate Studio, and lugging home bags of groceries from the store across the street became a part of everyday life for us. We were an oddity in NYC because a couple with three small children on the streets of Manhattan is a rare sight. Any babies you did see were usually with a nanny. Even New Yorkers, however, can be softened by the sight of a child. I, therefore, got a view of the people that I had never had in previous trips to New York. There were times when I longed for the simple life of East Texas with its friendly faces and quiet ways, but at the same time, I had become a part of New York and it had stolen a corner of my heart. On that fateful day in September, I didn’t just feel for my husband -- I hurt for New York. I wondered if any of my acquaintances had been hurt. I saw the faces on the streets and in the subways and wondered how many of them had been touched by the day’s events. I felt their fear, their panic, their pain. To this day, I wonder how I would have felt as a mere observer of those events rather than one who had a stake in it. As the hours slipped by on September 11, phone service was intermittent, but word finally came from my husband that he was back in his apartment and safe. He had stocked up on food and was preparing to keep friends who might not be able to get out of Manhattan. I heard the stories, from the news and from first-hand accounts. Two different perspectives. It amazed me sometimes how different they were. Over the next two days, I tried to get back to my daily tasks. I was still unpacking from a recent move, but found it difficult to concentrate on something that seemed so trivial. I forced myself to stop watching the news, but the stories coming from my husband kept me from being able to let go. He talked of the expressions on the faces of the people in the streets and the flyers of missing people hanging from poles and walls as he walked to work. He spoke of the flowers and candles engulfing the fire station across the street and the way the wax seemed to drip down the sidewalk like tears rolling down one’s face. He recounted the horror he felt as he looked out his office window and saw people racing out of Grand Central Station and then to be evacuated from his own office building. And the flashbacks he had as he raced down the stairway while firemen were coming up. Be calm and walk slowly, he was told, but that was hard to do. After all, isn’t that what the people in the Twin Towers were told. It turned out to be a false alarm to the best of his knowledge, but it still shook him. That was what I saw and heard even though apparently some of it wasn’t being reported in the news. As I heard my husband’s voice beginning to return to its normal tone, I, too, felt better. That is, until he called one evening to tell me the smell had reached the apartment. It was so bad he had to turn off the air conditioner. Still, it permeated everything. There was no way to get away from it. It was then that I was really, really glad that the family was not in NYC on September 11. As the days and weeks passed, life began to slowly return to normal. Almost two weeks after the terrorist attack, David finally walked through our front door in Longview for the first time since it all happened. There is a permanent snapshot in my mind of his face as I saw it in that split second. As we hugged, I could feel the pent up feelings of those terrible days slip from each of us. In the early days after the attack, my husband said if he ever got out of New York, he would never return. But two days later, that is exactly what he did – because he had to. During all of that, I never stopped wondering how all of this was affecting my children, especially my oldest one because she is such a deep, thoughtful and intense, but very private child. One day, while teaching her about writing stories, I had her do an exercise where I change the end of a well-known children’s story and she finishes the story. I told the story of the three little pigs but said the wolf couldn’t blow down the house made of sticks and asked her to complete the story. She started talking rapidly, “The pig went on to the brick house and caught it on fire and the firemen came and the policemen came and arrested the big bad wolf and the house fell down and people ran and ran and ran.” I was dumbfounded, shocked, amazed, tearful and relieved all at the same time. I finally knew what she was thinking and feeling, but I knew, too, that she was going to be okay because as we continued the exercise with other stories, the story of 9-11 spun a smaller and smaller web through each story. Yes, she had been touched by 9-11, and probably in ways we are not aware of because of her 10-week experience in NYC, but she was dealing with it. As she watched television on the anniversary of 9-11, she asked me questions about what made the buildings collapse and what caused the fire after the planes hit the towers. I told her about steel and what happens when it melts and combustibles in planes and buildings. But she also asked me about grief. Who is allowed to grieve? Who gets to grieve the most -- spouses, children, mothers, fathers? I knew mingled in all that was the feeling that no one had taken note of her need to grieve on the first anniversary of her grandfather’s death. I reassured her that people often forget about the less obvious ones who are affected during times of heartache, but that it was okay to feel her own grief in her own way and not feel guilty about it. She seemed reassured by that statement, but I found myself wondering all the more why people act the way they do and how many times in her life she will have to experience the realization that the world isn’t going to stop for her broken heart. I only hope I can instill in her the same faith that sustained me before 9-11, not just during and after the events of that day. The day after. September 12, 2002. The cloud is no longer hanging over my head. Just being able to write down my thoughts after one year has helped me to make sense of the memories that have been floating around me for the past twelve months. While I still believe there was something missing from your coverage of 9-11, I now realize my feelings about that are merely the climax to a year I had never really allowed myself to contemplate. And now that you’ve heard our story, next year when people are remembering that infamous day, although perhaps with less intensity, I hope you will remember my words.

Thank you, Desiree, for sharing this.

Posted by susanna at 11:47 AM | Comments (0)

Timely thoughts, unTimely digs

I don't generally read Time magazine, but I picked it up yesterday because of the cover on Saddam. On their "highlights" page, senior editor Tony Karon is quoted saying this:

One of the most intriguing things about the current Iraq debate, he says, is how much it has been affected by the instantaneous connection of the Web. "You can see the debate play out in real time," Karon says. "Position papers posted one day are dissected on sites all over the world the next, and that actually influences policy."

I don't know that he reads blogs, but certainly they're part of that assessment and analysis, and given the overlap into the traditional media - for instance, Bryan Preston of JunkYardBlog publishing in National Review Online - I think it's not saying too much to say we have an impact. How much is still a question.

Toward the back of the magazine, Times writer Michele Orecklin, who writes the People feature, wasn't above showing herself on this week's People page [not available online]. In an item on American Idol - cleverly headlined "American Idle" - she says that the Americans who voted for Kelly Clarkson, who won, voted for "substance over style". She slides bizarrely into politics with this excerpt:

Down to the last two [of the original contestants], it looked as though the electorate might be swayed by Justin's topiary hair and solicitous smile. But in the show's laboriously drawn-out two-hour finale, Clarkson's vocal gifts prevailed. Now if only we could get Americans to be as discerning - and involved - on Election Day.

Oh, Michele, my belle, just what could you be referring to? I'm sure it was to the election of Bill Clinton twice, and I know you were heartened by the election of George W. Bush in 2000. And how clever of you to slip that comment in where it had zero relevance.

Next I'm sure you'll manage a reference to bombing Iraq in a piece on J-Lo's derriere. Do I sense a certain frustration with being limited to your fluff page?

Posted by susanna at 09:53 AM | Comments (1)

September 13, 2002

Who's that girl, the one with the King? The one with the man from Memphis?

The Last Page tells a poignant tale, a powerful and important tale.

She’s a Southern girl, born and raised in Alabama, who saw Elvis when he was just a fifth-billed yahoo out of an eight-artist country and western concert...

When asked about the woman known as Pat, her son, an extremely gifted wordsmith struggles for words...

...what do you say … what do you say … what does anyone say… about the person who loved them … most … who loved them most … who raised them … How do you articulate what you love most about the person who means the most to you as a child?"

Please read. Please give.

Posted by susanna at 11:27 AM | Comments (0)

Just when you thought it was safe to read my blog

Yes, today there's more on breasts. J Bowen at No Watermelons has posted his Personal History of Breasts (and no, he doesn't have any) in aid of my pledge drive for the Race for the Cure on Sunday in Manhattan. Fine researcher that he is, he even tracked down the documentary that I referenced in my earlier post. It's called, startlingly enough, "Breasts: A Documentary". Whoever wrote that knew the first word was all he/she needed. One of the reviewers for the tape (2 of 3 are guys, shock) managed to refer to breasts three times without using the word "breast", and even used a term I'd not heard before: the puppies with the pink noses. He also uses the time honored jugs and melons. I think it's safe to say this guy has "issues".

So. Go read J, then go donate. Please. And if you need a little light relief, check out the documentary reviewer.

Posted by susanna at 11:26 AM | Comments (0)

A pop quiz

What do you call the familiar fizzy drink that sends tingly bubbles up your nose, that must accompany hamburgers to be a Valid American Meal, that finds its highest accomplishment in Pepsi?

Hint: It’s not a homonym for a certain rising agent used in baking.

For once in my life, I’m self-identifying with the Midwesterners, the Northwesterners and (perish the thought!) the Canadians. Folks, it’s pop.

It’s not soda.

And personally, I think the follow-up question to “Do you want a Coke?” should not be “What kind?”, unless the options are Coke, Classic Coke, Vanilla Coke or Cherry Coke.

It is a culture war that must be won for the good of our country. This article led me to a site where the important work of tracking this matter is done. So far, the Cause Of Right And Honor goes passably well – “pop” has outdistanced “soda” by a few hundred votes, and both have left “Coke” in the dust. Now, I don’t know if that is because people who say “Coke” are really fewer or because they don’t know how to use computers. I suspect the latter, given their boneheadedness.


I’ve found that this is a good disguise in New Jersey, however. If you say “soda” and “coe-ah-fee” you’re pretty much assumed to be amongst God’s Chosen in the Northeast. If you say “pop”, you’ll get that knowing smirk that says, “You’re not from around here – which means you’re a hick.” They apparently didn’t get the memo that said those who use Coke are the hicks. The ones using “pop” are The Real Thing.

The ones using “soda” are generally Yanks who don’t know any better. You can tell from the map that these people have infiltrated the entire country, which is clearly a soda plot.


Obviously this is a crusade that I’ve allowed to go unsupported for too long. It’s time to reclaim the world for The Right Side. Pop, anyone?

UPDATE: Well. Alex Whitlock is one of them. He wrote about this controversy a full two months ago, and while he gets points for timeliness, he still drops into the abyss on taste. Not only does he call pop "coke", he actually drinks Dr. Pepper!

Yes, it's best not to let small children see this post. They might have nightmares about, well, (Dr. Pepper).

Posted by susanna at 10:01 AM | Comments (23)

Radioactive floor tiles?

I just heard on the radio that the Liberian ship that was backed off the NJ harbor because it had some level of radioactivity detected has been cleared as a threat - the source was radioactive tiles, and I think they said "floor tiles". Floor tiles? It was on the Curtis&Kuby show, and Curtis said, "It's not anything dangerous". Kuby said, "Unless you put them on your kitchen floor, and your kids begin to glow in the dark".

Radioactive floor tiles?

I couldn't find an article on it online, but I'll keep looking.

Radioactive floor tiles?

Posted by susanna at 08:14 AM | Comments (3)

Shooting fish in a barrel - Part II

Countdemoneyshot shows Phil Donahue in full voice on a recent show with John Walsh. Very funny - Donahue's not even trying to be subtle, and no doubt thinks he's being hard-hitting. Earth to Donahue - all you're being is stupid and has-been.

The money observation from Count:

Lie, Lie, Lie, Lie, Lie, Lie, Lie, Lie.

Count! Not Donahue! My illusions are shattered.

Posted by susanna at 07:34 AM | Comments (0)

Knitting up our nation's resolve

The memorials on Wednesday were appropriate and beautiful. President Bush's speech yesterday was exactly right. Today's task is to stiffen our backbone as a nation, get in there and do what has to be done.

I'm not the first on the Internet to say that, I hope I'm not the last. I've seen a number of comparisons to WWII, and how our nation's citizens responded to that necessity. I was struck by the thought last night, Will we respond that way too?, while browsing this (actually pretty cool) site on, of all things, celebrity knitting. It's mostly of people knitting in old movies from the first half of the 1900s, and one photo, of Joan Blondell, shows her knitting using yarn from a container that has an American eagle on it, and these words:

Let’s hit back hard

That's on a container for yarn. How deep in the nation's psyche did that sentiment go for it to appear on a container for yarn? Pretty deep, I'd say. Now you're more likely to get something that reads, "This yarn is available only through the oppression of the majority of our world by our empire-mongering fascistic industrial complex cowboy government. If you were a real soldier you'd beg absolution, sell your SUV and give this yarn to someone who needs it."

In other words, you'd be the target of commercialized whining. And that's a lot of what I see, outside the conservative warbloggers. Is it too much to hope that this country will again be full-speed ahead against those who hate and have already killed many of us? I don't think so. But it will take some knitting of resolve, not needling with whiny voices.

Posted by susanna at 06:47 AM | Comments (1)

September 12, 2002

Eat your heart out, Brent!

I just got in the mail today two CDs of The Belmont Playboys. AWESOME! In case you didn't know, the Playboys are Mike Hendrix's band. And no, you can't have one too.

I'll go find my cookbook as soon as I quit rockin' the house.

Posted by susanna at 07:04 PM | Comments (2)

Back from the baby break

Athena Runner of Leaning to the Right is back posting regularly after several weeks off to have her sweet new baby boy (congratulations, Athena!). She also has a personal journal site, where today she posted a few comments about her reaction to yesterday's 9/11 anniversary. And a photo of her new son! It's good to nod solemnly to the past, but better still to smile about the future we can see in his baby smile.

Posted by susanna at 05:22 PM | Comments (1)

Reeves has movement, sensation

"Superman" actor Christopher Reeves has recovered a lot of sensation and some movement, according to his doctor in an article in the Journal of Neurosurgery: Spine.

That's a very exciting development, and I'm glad that Reeves kept plugging away at it despite the number of years since his injury in 1995. Doctors think that intensive therapy beyond the point usually done may have made the breakthrough.

I could have done without Reeves's comment at the end of this article, though:

"My recovery means everything to me, because while some people are able to accept living with a disability, I am not one of them," he said. "I want my life back."

Laudable, except for the comparison with other people. Nobody wants to accept it, Chris - some people don't have the resources you do, or the type of injury that offers any hope. Be excited for yourself, and for what your level of recovery means more broadly, but go gently when you're making comparisons.

Posted by susanna at 04:34 PM | Comments (9)

Remembering 9/11

If you're visiting to see my 9/11 post, it's here.

Posted by susanna at 12:45 PM | Comments (0)

A few more thoughts on 9/11

E.L. Core attended the memorial service in Shanksville, PA, yesterday, and has excerpts from the governor's speech and the crowd's reaction.

Tom Maguire takes a minute to show us that small ways of helping are just echoes of the willingness to take responsibility to make things better that marked the firefighters and passengers on Flight 93 on 9/11.

It's a powerful lesson for an eight-year-old, too.

Posted by susanna at 09:42 AM | Comments (0)

Confusion about race – who are you?

Razib at Gene Expression has really been hammering on the aspects of race in our world lately, all very interesting. His latest is about the confusion over figuring out who is what race based on appearance, and how some use their racial mix as an advantage. And he also points out that there is prejudice within racial groups as well as between them, sometimes as bad or worse.

One thing he highlights is that often dark South Asians (or not so dark) are considered black by quite a few people. I first came across this when I was close friends with a man from Bombay, India, while I was at the University of Louisville. To me, he looked Indian, and his skin wasn’t very dark, but he said he’d had racial epithets more commonly used against blacks leveled at him a few times in the US. And more recently, a good friend of mine from Trinidad, whose family emigrated there from India, said she was also often thought of as black because she is so very dark. However, she also noted that the issues about darkness of skin was more a concern inside her racial group than outside – she told me the lighter you are, the more status you have in the group. Razib points out that the same is often true among blacks.

I wonder if this is something that will dissipate over time. Certainly at one time those of light skin were judged by ethnicity – people were keen-eyed about detecting whether you were Irish, or Italian, or whatever the “out” ethnicity was for the time. Now those distinctions are rarely noted in a pejorative sense (at least, as far as I see). It’s certainly a preference to note ancestry without finding it of moment in judging value. I don’t want color-blind or race-blind, because we lose a lot of richness when we try to eliminate differences. I want our criteria for judging value to shift to things that matter materially. For that to happen, the various groups have to shift their own judging criteria internally as well.

Of course, to completely give up judging means some people will have to give up their victim status. Cynthia McKinney, call your office.

Posted by susanna at 09:32 AM | Comments (8)

Military casualties

Doc at I Am Right tracked down a list of those soldiers who have lost their lives since 9/11 in Operation Enduring Freedom. It's a worthy reminder that fighting this war we didn't seek exacts a high price - we can't afford to engage it at less than maximum efficiency. We must go in to win and win as quickly as possible. We don't want Doc's list to grow and grow.

Posted by susanna at 08:23 AM | Comments (0)

September 11, 2002

Remembering The Lost

[I posted this originally on September 11, 2002.]

Inside yet outside

On Tuesday morning, September 11, I heard on the Curtis & Kuby radio show that a plane had hit the World Trade Center. They thought, and thus I thought, that some small aircraft had veered out of its flight path. Not much reason for serious concern. I dropped off my laundry, called my mom on the cell phone, and watched the towers burn as I drove to work, almost literally in the shadow of the twin behemoths. I didn't hear until I reached Five Corners in Jersey City that a second plane had hit as well.

At that moment, no one had mentioned terrorism.

The Twin Towers were New York City to me. From the first time I went to Manhattan in 1989, the WTC was my staging ground for jaunts into the city. I can see now, in my mind's eye, the PATH platform and the lower level with its newspaper stands and stop-for-a-drink-on-your-way-home bars. The first bank of escalators from the lower level was short, and advertisements lined the long landing to the next bank up. These were the longest escalators I've seen to this day, bringing people to the main shopping floor of the mall under the Towers - there was the Godiva store where I bought chocolate strawberries for my friend Desiree; the Borders where I got my ex-boyfriend a book on Renaissance architecture; and Ecce Panis, a most excellent bread store. I've always wondered – did the people behind those counters get out alive? I think it's likely. But so many, so many did not.

The last time I was through the WTC was 10 days before 9/11, when I was on my way to Willner's Pharmacy for homeopathic remedies. I remember it clearly because I took notes that day. There was a young man on the train dressed in a black t-shirt, black jeans ripped off just below the knee, black and white horizontal striped tights and army boots, his long sandy hair in braids brushed with red dye as if they'd rusted. He seemed so angry. I described him to myself, even drew a sketch. We both left the WTC center on the Broadway side.

I wonder if he's dead, or if he lost someone close to him. I wonder if he's angry about something else, now, or if real life could intrude on his self-absorption.

I work in Jersey City, and often drive on Montgomery Street. As you head east down the hill from Bergen Avenue, the Manhattan skyline is spread before you, so close you feel you could touch it. This time last year, the WTC dominated that view. Smoke dominated it for days after 9/11. Now, nothing dominates it. Somehow, that nothingness is the most intrusive of all. I want to say, every day: The WTC is still gone. Just so you know.

I sat with coworkers in the police director's office that day and watched the Towers come down, less than two miles away. But we saw it on television. One thing I regret is that I did not leave work to go help. I know they had hundreds of people helping at the waterfront. I stayed and answered the telephone. I did ask if they needed me. They said no. So I went home, and stood three blocks from my apartment and watched the smoke rise from seven miles away.

My friend watched it burn from the street below – the first plane hit just before she exited the subway many floors below. She left the building to find a world gone crazy, debris falling, people running. She hid behind something – a fruit stand? – and saw the bodies falling. Living debris. But living only for 10 seconds. She didn't see them hit. She heard it though. She ran for her life.

Because I work for a police department, I know many people who went to Ground Zero that first day, who helped search for survivors. One officer told me that as he walked through an open place near the WTC site, another officer nudged him and pointed. Lying on the ground, by itself, was a human leg.

That's one person whose family got a piece back.

Another friend of mine grew up in Hoboken. She lost several friends in the WTC. One was identified from DNA. All they found was a piece of flesh, unidentifiable as to which part of the body it came from. I wonder if that person jumped, or was destroyed in the rumbling crash of the towers.

The aftermath of 9/11 was surreal for me. I didn't lose anyone I knew personally, so I felt on the fringes of the grief, and yet I felt so deeply what was lost. I didn't know how to grieve that way. I went to a memorial, finding myself at the end crying in a hug with a Port Authority police officer, a stranger, who had lost dozens of her comrades. I gave candles to a family who lost their daughter, so they could light them beneath her photo on the Wall of Remembrance. In early October, I went to Manhattan for the first time since I followed the angry young man from the subway. I walked south from the 9th Street PATH station, and watched the world change block by block – fewer regular people, more police, more and more flyers saying, I love him, I can't find her, please help me, with photographs of handsome young men and women. I cried at the memorial in front of the church, looking at the charred remains of the shopping mall – a singed sign reading “Borders” still in the window. In November – Thanksgiving week – I went with a law enforcement friend to Ground Zero. Because she was an officer, we got a grand tour, driven throughout the site on a golf cart, by one of New York's Finest. I saw the office buildings with offices still intact, the outer wall gone, leaving them looking like a charred dollhouse. I saw the girders that landed in the shape of a cross, which workers left alone as long as they could. And I traced with my finger the etchings of sorrow in the soft wood railing of the viewing platform, left there by family and friends. One said:

Dad, we will always love you and miss you.

Every day, still, I'm reminded of 9/11. I don't see the towers as I drive to work. I don't see them when I drive down Montgomery. I don't see them when I go to Liberty Park. When I ride the PATH train, there seem to be fewer people, and I wonder – how many of those that I pressed up against as we rode this modern cattle car, before 9/11, ended up a strip of flesh as a result of terrorists who hate us? Often, I ask a friend at church how her cousin is – the cousin whose firefighter husband didn't come home that day. The answer has gotten more positive in the past few months, but I think it will be years before the shadow is gone. I don't have to work at remembering – it's there, all around me, every day.

It's hard to convey to people who aren't here just how much 9/11 runs as a thread through everything now. It's not a pervasive sadness that keeps me from enjoying life. It's not a consuming anger that drains my energies. It certainly isn't a mawkish sentimentality fed by a ratings-hungry media. It reveals itself, I suppose, as a realization that yes, it can happen here. And as a determination to see that it doesn't happen again. I can't bring back the innocent people with good lives ahead of them who instead died in the most abject terror and hopelessness, because of the hatred and megalomania of an arrogant and heartless few. I can allow their deaths to sink into my heart, and grow into a resolve that says, Never again.

Never again.
Susanna Cornett

September 11, 2002

Posted by Dodd at 12:00 AM | Comments (2)

September 10, 2002

She's unimpressed with the Saudis

Quana, amazing as always, has an inside look at dealing with Saudis. She says it's not comprehensive, just anecdotal. But what anecdotes! Start here, then go here (or scroll to the top).

Posted by susanna at 10:32 PM | Comments (0)

Why tennis players should stick to tennis

John McEnroe has a navel-gazing column in The (UK) Telegraph about the year since 9/11. Apparently thinking it's an original thought, he says:

Apportioning blame was not as cut and dried as people liked to think. I mean, didn't we arm Iraq in their war against Iran? And didn't we back that same Osama bin Laden, who wreaked such havoc and misery upon our country, in his fight against the Russians?

And then offers his solution:

We have to improve communication, to be more aware of our shortcomings as well as our strengths.

He is bemused by even his own patriotism:

We flew the American flag outside our apartment for a while - a lot of people did. I don't know why but something about doing it made us feel good, there was something right about it.

But he manages to let you know that he's not the has-been you thought he was:

But eventually things do return to normal and I have been as guilty of that as anyone because of a hectic schedule which has involved the promotion of my autobiography, seniors' tennis and television commentary.

That's right, he's been busy! I'm just surprised he didn't link his book. At any rate, he does surface from the befuddled stream for one passage:

There are very few people who lead in the way Rudolph Giuliani, the former mayor of New York, did during last year's tragedy, who have a set of convictions and don't give a hoot about the next election. In Britain, you had it with Winston Churchill during the Second World War. The world needs more people like them.

Then he finishes up with a total clunker that sets him up as Cosmopolitan World Traveler and Thinker, almost directly contradicts his earlier statement, calls the English losers and says we should be just like them:

In travelling the world as a tennis player, I have a better appreciation of other countries than most Americans. We could do with being a little less besotted with money, money, money, win, win, win. When I am in England each summer people always ask: "Why don't English players win Wimbledon? They ought to be more like Americans and play to win." To my mind, it's time Americans started being more like the English - or at least learnt to lose with grace.

Amazing to accomplish so much drivel with so little brain. Clearly, McEnroe needs to stick to tennis.

[Link via The Corner]

UPDATE: Someone should send a copy of this article to McEnroe - and his editors. Link via furtive explorations.

Posted by susanna at 04:24 PM | Comments (2)

Arianna Huffington's been sniffing exhaust again

Arianna Huffington has identified why we've not yet won the war on terror - SUVS:

There is a no more disturbing indicator of the limited shelf life of the public's commitment to make whatever sacrifices are necessary to win the war on terror than the 12 percent increase in sales of luxury SUVs this year.

OOOOkkkkk!! Her reasoning, you see, is that it means we rely on Saudi Arabia all the more. I personally can think of other ways to advance the war on terror - like, going in and slapping down all the dictatorships in the Middle East - but, no, we need to sell our SUVs instead. Or better yet, I say, deliver them to a scrap yard because to sell them means that someone else may drive them which perpetuates the problem... Oh, it just makes my head hurt, all the implications!

Ms. Huffington picked abandoning SUVs as the main sign of patriotism way back in November 2001, when she exchanged hers for Saab just to stop giving those nasty Saudis more gas money (no indication whether she actually took it to a scrap yard. Arianna, only you can prevent SUVs). Since then, she's taken additional opportunities to swipe at them - like in her February 2002 column on the silly anti-drug ads aired by the government during the Super Bowl:

...why no taxpayer-funded ad showing a soccer mom filling up her SUV and saying: "I helped blow up buildings?"

Fortunately, Dave Shiflett at NRO handled Ms. Huffington quite well back in November 2001. Maybe we should ask him to do an update.

Posted by susanna at 12:13 PM | Comments (6)

The proper way to be biased

This Christopher Hitchens article has been widely linked on the Blogosphere, and rightly so. Dodd Harris has an excellent discussion about why Hitchens, although a liberal, has the ear of the conservative and libertarian sides:

Hitchens is not hobbled with the myriad preconceptions, orthodoxies, and sacred cows that bind the thought and expression of most liberals like so many Lilluptian ropes.

In other words, he thinks for himself and presents his case cleanly and with logic, not with name-calling, partisan memes and the liberal blathering that tends to wash over us like so much soupy air pollution. While I spend much time and effort dissecting the media, I do try to point out good examples. Hitchens is one. And because he presents his case with integrity, and is willing to come down on the side of what he thinks is right rather than what the party or the media thinks is necessary to maintain power, he gains the respect of people who often oppose him in views. Dodd explains why that is important:

Leftie though he is, criticism from Christopher Hitchens almost nevers annoys or angers me. Rather, when I read his work, I find I must attend and consider.

In my judgment, being clear about your bias is the beginning of integrity, not an abrogation of it - on both the left and the right. Read Hitchens, if you haven't already, and then read Dodd's comments. Definitely worth some thought time from us all - and a reconsideration of our own approach to the truth.

Posted by susanna at 12:08 PM | Comments (1)

Reasons to love America

Tony Woodlief, that gruff curmudgeon, has gotten in touch with his... well... not feminine side, how about "less curmudgeony" side? to give us a list of Ten Reasons I Love Americans. Two reasons to love the list:

5. We are heavily armed. We have more killing power per capita than any nation in history. That, my friends, is just plain cool, especially because we are not a warmongering totalitarian state, but instead a democratic republic. However:

6. When push comes to shove, we lay down the ever-loving slap. Just ask the Kaiser. Or the Nazis. Or the Imperial Japanese. Or the al-Qaeda in Afghanistan. Oh, that's right, you can't ask them, because we ground them into powder -- biffed them, as the Brits used to say -- leaving their pathetic remnants to scurry back to the demon pits where they were spawned. If we ever decide to change our national motto from the Latin slogan that so beautifully tripped up Al Gore, I propose we adopt the following: "You want a piece of this?"

I propose bumper stickers with that last line.

Posted by susanna at 11:43 AM | Comments (3)

Core connections

E.L. Core, proprietor of The View from the Core, is a fine resource site that I think is underappreciated. Of course, this would have nothing to do with the fact that this week he's posted my rant on Jones's article in E&P as the guest column on his site. Seriously, he updates frequently with summaries of pertinent articles, and has a wide range of non-bloggish source links. He also has a weblog, which is a combination of political and Catholic information. Check it out.

Posted by susanna at 11:13 AM | Comments (2)

More on sexism in the blogosphere

I've updated and updated my post on sexism in the blogosphere, and still there's more. The latest I've found is by Megan McArdle, who proves in her post about it just why she is so successful in the Blogosphere:

It's interesting that Dawn Olsen, who stirred up the controversy, is proposing a very old feminist idea: flatten the hierarchy in the blogosphere by refusing to link the big guys. I don't think it will work, for the same reason it doesn't work for Gloria Steinem, et al; they didn't grasp the basic social science phenomenon of the distribution. Human groups do not work themselves out into nice even groups; they cluster. Someone in a network has to be in the center; someone has to be at the tail ends of every distribution. We can't all be chiefs and no Indians.

Besides, I think (my personal opinion) that viewing traffic dearth through the lens of sex is not necessarily useful for determining causation. Most bloggers have low traffic. Most bloggers don't get linked by Instapundit. Most bloggers are also (to judge from what I've seen) male. There are clearly other factors, besides sex, causing the lack of linkage.

To the extent that there is a dearth, I think it's largely because female bloggers are disproportionately represented in the life diary blog style. [Note: this is an anecdotal impression, not an Actual Fact]. It's a free choice; no one's forcing them to write that type of blog. I think they should write whatever kind of blog they want, but I'm also not surprised that the market for my news commentary is larger than the market for my commentary on what I had for breakfast. Observe comedy writers. If you want to base your schtick on the funny thing your three year old did in the bath last night, you have to be really, really good. It is a sad fact of life that most of us, including me, are not that good. Also, there are more people who have an opinion on, say, the war in Iraq that they are looking to hear someone confirmed, than have an opinion as to whether or not I should use ashes-of-roses shantung for my livingroom drapes.

There's more, check it out. For other links on it, go to my original post and scroll to the updates.

Posted by susanna at 08:56 AM | Comments (2)

NEWSFLASH: Osama bin Laden responsible for 9/11!!!

Yes, I know, I'm shocked too. I mean, we suspected it, but, you know, no proof. That video of bin Laden last December, laughing about his plans and their fruition? Well, coming from a country that has Disneyworld, and Hollywood, who could believe it? But now, just in time for the first anniversary, Al-Jazeera television has aired a video confirming that yes, bin Laden claimed responsibility and his people did as well, according to Arab News.

I'm glad to hear it. The uncertainty was causing me sleepless nights.

I've heard that the Arab world hasn't been willing to believe that bin Laden and al Qaeda were responsible; at least this video will take that problem out of the mix. Or should. Interesting, though, that this emerges the week of the first 9/11 anniversary. And look at this quote:

[O]ver still photos of the hijackers, bin Laden’s voice was heard naming some of the attackers in the Sept. 11 strikes, including Egyptian Muhammad Atta who he said "led the group which destroyed the first tower" of the World Trade Center.

Describing the attacks as "the New York and Washington raids," bin Laden praised "the men who changed the course of history and cleansed the (Arab-Islamic) nation from the filth of treacherous rulers and their subordinates."

Apart from Atta, bin Laden named Lebanese Ziyad Al-Jarrah, Marwan Al-Shehhi from the United Arab Emirates, "who destroyed the second tower" of the World Trade Center, and Hani Hanjour (from Taif) "who destroyed the Pentagon."

Intriguing that the ones named are non-Saudi, isn't it? Especially considering most of the hijackers were Saudi. Later a Saudi is identified, but just one. In case you have access to Al-Jazeera, they're supposed to air a new al-Qaeda Movie of the Week today.

And if, tomorrow, you run out of ways to honor the ones killed by Arab terrorists last year, don't miss this:

Tomorrow ArabNews will have an additional section with special articles as a memorial to the tragedy of September 11

I can hardly wait. How about you?

Posted by susanna at 07:37 AM | Comments (2)

September 09, 2002

Measures of femininity

(First in a series on breasts, leading up to The Race for the Cure next Sunday. This will move to the top all day, so look below for any new posts.)

Soft, warm, sensitive and tender, objects of desire and nurturing, breasts mean so many things to a woman. They are our most immediate and obvious sign of womanliness, a source of much pleasure, pride and angst. They are the main “size matters” issue for women from the time we’re old enough to clamor for a training bra. So much is vested in the presence, presentation and meaning of women’s breasts that sometimes it’s difficult to remember that they are, finally, just another part of our body with natural functions and a gentle beauty that transcends shape or size.

A few weeks ago I watched a documentary on women’s breasts. I turned on the television halfway through the program, so I didn’t see all of it, but I wish I had. Much of the show was interviews with women, most of them nude from the waist up, interspersed with still shots or movie clips of women that emphasized their breasts. Many of the added shots were deliberately sensual, but the tone of the interviews was very matter-of-fact – something that, oddly, was sensual in its own right.

The sexual value of breasts ran through most of the interviews. One woman – very well endowed – said her breasts were a main focus for most of her boyfriends, to the point that she became self-conscious and upset. She recounted being unable to focus on a movie because every time she glanced over at her date, he was craning his neck to peer down her shirt. When she eventually married, she refused for a long time to undress in front of her husband when the lights were on; she did finally get over it. One woman with very small breasts thought that some of her lovers liked her figure because it was reminiscent of a 14-year-old girl; she told the interviewer that in a normal, conversational way, but her body language and the look in her eyes showed sadness, and I found myself wondering, what would it be like to have someone attracted to you because, in low light, you seem not to be a grown woman? The person most enthralled with her own breasts was a “self-determined” woman – a man who had had a sex change - which I found fascinating. Was that because all the others had lived with the wondering of whether they would develop attractive breasts, whether theirs were large enough or shaped nicely or “pointing” in the right direction? (S)he got to order hers custom made.

Two of the women were professional strippers. One had undergone breast augmentation, and said she wasn’t concerned about how natural they looked. Because she is a stripper, she said, they are tools of her trade and her surgery was in aid of getting a job in one of the “better” clubs. She admitted that it was odd sometimes to think of them as “tools of her trade” when they are also a part of her body. The other stripper, an attractive young woman whose very large breasts were a gift from nature, equated her breasts with power. All men – blue collar workers, stock brokers, men in suits or jeans – are the same, she said. When she takes off her bra during her striptease, to a man they gape.

“I immediately feel completely in control,” she said. “I feel powerful.”

That seemed to me another sadness – why should a woman only feel powerful when she’s disconnected a man’s thought processes? It was obvious that she felt a good deal of contempt for what she saw as men’s weakness, and yet she enjoyed the rush of power. I think, though, that it happens a lot – women dress provocatively specifically to get men to notice, to get that rush of power, and then feel both contempt for the men who are drawn to them and a lessening of self confidence because, after all, the only way they’re able to get that attention is when they put their bodies on display.

A slender woman with small breasts – one of a few who wore bras for the interview – said she had gotten breast augmentation because her breasts were almost concave, in their natural state. She was so happy with her choice, so excited – until the implants began to leak, and the silicone affected her immune system. Then, she said, she felt betrayed and vain. Another woman pulled off her shirt to show us a shapely breast, full and soft, beside a blank place on her chest where her other breast used to be. She had had a mastectomy, and all that was left was an angry-looking vertical scar. It was ok, she said. She was alive. A third woman suckled her new baby on her breasts, and smiled a mother’s smile. For now, she said, her breasts were for her baby. Her husband could wait his turn, until the baby no longer needed them.

Such a mixture of emotion, of meaning, of roles in our lives, for globes of tissue tipped with a sensitive peak. I was struck by the ambivalence most women felt for their breasts. Few (other than the one who got to choose) were completely pleased with their size, shape, appearance – and they ranged the spectrum. I wonder why that is? Why are we so anxious about our breasts? Or were these women merely focusing on the negative, because of the questions from the interviewers?

One pair of women were the exception. A young, quite lovely woman with smooth tanned breasts sat proudly, shoulders back, obviously comfortable with the attention. Beside her sat her mother, as obviously uncomfortable with her nudity but not with her breasts – which were smaller than her daughter’s, and lay loose and soft against her chest. They talked about the womanliness of breasts and the sexuality they exude, the pleasure they can bring. It was an uplifting counterpoint to the ambivalence of the others. It was good, finally, to see someone pleased, who grew up with them, grew into them, grew old with them.

Who found pleasure in all it means to be a woman.

(If you would like to donate to The Race for the Cure, click here.)

Posted by susanna at 08:20 PM | Comments (6)

A poem of a little girl

Bigwig posts a moving poem about the little Iranian girl whose father killed her claiming it necessary for his own honor.

Posted by susanna at 08:12 PM | Comments (3)

Bring her home

The Timekeeper at Horologium wants the American woman arrested in Germany over the weekend on suspicion of terrorism to be brought back to the US for trial. She and her Turkish boyfriend are suspected of being al Qaeda sympathizers and planning to attack a US military base in Germany.

TT's logic is always clean, but in this instance it's more than logic - he is currently serving in the US military in Germany. Brings it home. And so - bring her home. We'll roll out the welcome an American traitor deserves.

Posted by susanna at 02:31 PM | Comments (0)

Is the Blogosphere rife with sexism?

I wasn't aware of this debate until someone called my attention to it this morning, but I've read several posts on it now with interest. It started here with Dawn Olsen at Up Yours (post is next to a photo of her backside so if you mind seeing it don't go), who thinks the Big Bloggers are not linking women sufficiently. She asked NZ Bear what he thought, then Meryl Yourish weighed in too. Finally, Tom at Just One Minute dived into the middle of it like beating a hornet's nest with a stick.

As far as I'm concerned, it's a market issue. Based on my comments and email, and what I see elsewhere, the proportion of male to female readers is about the same as male to female bloggers - which is to say, more males than females. And guys tend to link to stuff that guys like to read, because, well, they're guys. I've never thought my blog was dismissed or ignored because I'm a woman. Maybe because I'm inane sometimes, but that's another matter. I've built up a steady audience, with notable help from quite a few Instapundit links, as well as lots and lots of links from both male and female bloggers. If you consider blogs like magazines - which I do - each has its mix and personality, and people go there based on the total "feel", not because of the blogger's gender. It's kind of like being really ticked that more men read GQ than Vogue.

While I do go off on diary notes and woman stuff at times, I'm conscious of the fact that I want this blog to be for a general audience, and I want most of the material to address what I consider to be substantive issues that both men and women are concerned about. Trust me, I could write reams on girly stuff, no sweat. I choose not to, because I'm picking a tone to appeal to a particular audience. And I'm pleased with the results so far.

I also find it unfair to jump the Big Bloggers for their linking choices. They didn't sign on to any equality creed, and they have no obligation to any of us. If Glenn Reynolds (bless his heart, he's going to be at the center of this through no fault of his own) decided to link only men, or only sports topics, or only, I don't know, screeds by odd vampirish cult members, it's not my business to question his judgment. It's his hobby. His business. My blog is my hobby, my business. I do make an effort to link new people, although I tend not to really think about the blogger's gender when deciding whether to or not. From what I've seen, the Big Bloggers just about twist themselves into pretzels sometimes linking new stuff. I say, bravo. Leave them alone. Go find your own audience. Your talent and your topic choices determine your traffic, not gimme links for the sake of equality. It's a market thing.

UPDATE: J Bowen at No Watermelons gives his views on it, as do Godless Capitalist and Elizabeth at Gene Expression.

UPDATE: Tom took Just One Minute to correct my headline spelling - rife, not riff as I originally wrote. Well, I think I did pretty good anyway considering that I felt like death in a back alley most of the weekend. I do appreciate the correction, though.

UPDATE: Ampersand weighs in on the sexism question, agreeing mostly with Diane E.'s take, but adding some interesting statistics from another context to support her contentions.

UPDATE: This just keeps rippling outward. Richard Bennett has additional statistics, Natalie Solent has a guide to identifying the purpose of bloggish discussions of ... intimate matters and why most of us don't go there, and Media Minded... well... don't go if Dawn's butt offended you. MM, didn't you ever hear the saying, "Say no to crack"?

UPDATE AGAIN: Jim Miller comments as well, but I must say I disagree with the intent of this:

There is at least as strong a difference between the sexes on war as there is on babies; by and large, men are fascinated by it and women are, if anything, repelled by it. Given this, it is hardly surprising that one sees the sex disparities that trouble some. It is not even surprising if, from time to time, some of the men have a bit of the condescension toward women discussing war, that some women have toward men discussing babies. But does this amount to sexism? Not by my definition.

He sets this up with a hypothetical about a blogosphere organized around discussions of babies, so the comment extends from there. I object to the "women are repelled by war" part. Well, yes, we are, as humans who hate to see death. But, whether or not he means to, this implies that women's sensibilities are just too delicate for such toughness. Wrong, Jim. While I (obviously from my own post) agree that the distribution of links in the blogosphere has a lot to do with the fact that most bloggers are guys and link to "guy" stuff, I vehemently disagree that women are too delicate for the tough stuff. Yes, a lot of times I'd rather play with my little nieces than play a war game, but when it comes to our nation's policies, I'm as much a hawk as anyone. And the women in the political blogosphere are, for the most part, as unflinching in their assessment of war issues as the men are.

As for men and babies, I only have two words for you: James Lileks.

Posted by susanna at 11:51 AM | Comments (6)

All men are rapists? I don't think so.

Alex Whitlock at RAWbservations takes down a column by seriously leftist U-Texas journalism prof Robert Jensen, who's basic premise is that our society breeds rapists and men who actually do it are different from your average man only in matter of degree. That is patent insanity, and insulting to every man I've known and loved in my life, from my father right down to my last boyfriend and my male friends. I'm glad to see a man taking down Jensen's hooey, but I think women need to pile on too.

This business of all-men-are-rapists-at-heart needs to be resoundingly slapped back into the slime swamp every time it rears its ugly head, to prevent it from growing into "received knowledge". Let me say it plainly: Men are not the same as women. They are biologically wired to be more aggressive, including sexually. This is a good thing. A lot of them could use some guidance in being more in tune with women so their relationships are stronger and more fulfilling, but that lack does not translate into "men are rapists". Actually, the normal assertiveness of men is, IMHO, a comforting and appreciated trait, and I wouldn't have much truck with a guy who didn't have it. And that doesn't mean an admiration for machismo, but a deep admiration for a man being manly.

Alex deals with this next bit, but I have to bring it up. Jensen says:

When I was a teenager, I remember boys joking that an effective sexual strategy would be to drive a date to a remote area, turn off the car engine, and say, "OK, f--- or fight." I would not be surprised to hear that boys are still regaling each other with that "joke."

Any male who says something like that is not a man. He's scum. Any woman who doesn't immediately tell him to take her home is stupid. Preferably she will render him incapable of doing anything but breathing shallowly for a good period of time, while she drives the car home. The fact that Jensen even brings this up shows a) that he ran with the wrong crowd in school and b) he has no intention of making any argument based on anything but the most slanted inflammatory anecdotal data.

Somebody get Robert Jensen a life. Apparently Wal-Mart was out the last time he tried to get one.

Posted by susanna at 10:51 AM | Comments (8)

September 08, 2002


As most of you know, next Sunday I'm walking in The Race for the Cure, raising money for breast cancer research, screening and outreach. So far a number of truly wonderful people have donated or pledged $720. I hope to have $1,000 by next Sunday.

To keep the thought of breasts uppermost in your minds - which, I'm sure, will be a struggle for many of you - I will start tomorrow a week-long series of posts about breasts, with some help from friends. I encourage you to contribute what you can - even $5 is beautiful - to this excellent cause.

And between now and tomorrow, ponder this: What is the value of the pencil test? What, precisely, does it prove?

And do you even know what it is?

UPDATE: For those who care, here's the link to a few comments on The Pencil Test. I would just like to say that some people haven't passed it since puberty. And if you're a guy and you've ever not passed it, this is a very bad thing.

I also apologize up front for linking to Rosie O'Donnell's lame magazine. It was the best brief discussion I found, though.

UPDATE: CG Hill explores his inner pencil. Or somebody's.

Posted by susanna at 11:31 PM | Comments (8)


Dodd at Ipse Dixit attended the wedding of a friend this weekend where he read a selection of his choosing. It's beautiful. Everyone should walk into marriage with this in their hearts and minds - and mean it.

Posted by susanna at 11:25 PM | Comments (0)

An email to Alex Jones

On Friday I posted a sound fisking of an article by Alex S. Jones, published in the Editor & Publisher online. Several others posted their thoughts on Saturday. More than one person wondered if Professor Jones would read the blogs, so I decided to send him an email with links to the posts I knew about. Professor Jones is director of the Joan Shorenstein Center on the Press, Politics and Public Policy at Harvard's John F. Kennedy School of Government. Here's the text of my email:

Professor Jones -

Your article on "Why Do Many Readers Hate Us Again?" created quite a stir amongst the group of websites known as weblogs, specifically the political commentary blogs. Most of us, to be quite honest, found your article to be an example of one of the reasons why people *do* distrust media - namely, a lot of condescension and superiority. I don't know whether you will care, but I'm trusting that perhaps you didn't mean to sound that way, and as the director of a major center on media in the United States, you might like to read what was said in answer to your question - an answer mostly from non-journalists although some, like me, have journalism training and have worked (or do work) as journalists.

Below are some links. In case you are unaware, most of these have in the neighborhood of 500-3000 hits a day, with Instapundit regularly receiving over 20,000 hits per weekday. That's a lot of readers, although admittedly there would be quite a bit of overlap amongst the readers of the various sites. If you're not familiar with weblogs, I suggest you check out what Howard Kurtz had to say: It's not descriptive, but rather an idea of what role weblogs are playing in relation to traditional media.

I would suggest checking out all of these for nuances of opinion. They are universally critical, some more harsh than others, but if you are sincere in your desire to have additional insight into your question, you will make the time for them.

[Links listed here]

Please feel free to respond back to me regarding what was said in these weblogs, or respond directly to the writers (their email addresses are on their pages). Just so you know, any communication I receive from you will be posted on my weblog for my readers.

thank you for your time.
Susanna Cornett

cut on the bias

We'll see if there is any response. At any rate, we know he at least was made aware. If you wish to contact him yourself, his email address is:

Posted by susanna at 10:46 PM | Comments (0)

A Time for War

Scott Koenig finishes his series on Saddam with a call to war.

He's right.

Posted by susanna at 04:35 PM | Comments (0)


This wonderful article pretty much says everything about current US international relations:

The paradox is that this sweeping effect of [US] liberation and social transformation is not necessarily popular...

This paradox may be seen in the jeering response to America's first black secretary of state at last week's global summit in Johannesburg. It was on display in last week's meeting at the Arab League of foreign ministers whose regimes often rely on American support, and can constantly be encountered in the opinion pages of liberal European newspapers that should know better. And all of them seem to assume that America will continue to sit back and take it, like the good global citizen that America has tried to be in the last 60 years of defeating Fascism, Nazism, Communism and helping spread more wealth and more freedom to more people in more places than ever in human history.

They are wrong. The real effect of Sept. 11 is that American patience and tolerance for its global critics, most of whom do rather well out of America's benign hegemony, seems just about exhausted. And however it was that Osama bin Laden expected what he has called "the American Empire" to react to his murderous assault, if indeed he thought that far ahead, he seems not to have calculated that America might react by tearing up the old rule book of international affairs...

"When the Europeans demand some sort of veto over American actions, or want us to subordinate our national interest to a UN mandate, they forget that we do not think their track record is too good," a senior U.S. diplomat said recently in private. "The Europeans told us they could win the Balkans wars all on their own. Wrong. They told us that the Russians would never accept National Missile Defense. Wrong. They said the Russians would never swallow NATO enlargement. Wrong. They told us 20 years ago that détente was the way to deal with what we foolishly called the Evil Empire. Wrong again. They complain about our Farm Bill when they are the world's biggest subsidizers of their agriculture. The Europeans are not just wrong; they are also hypocrites. They are wrong on Kyoto, wrong on Arafat, wrong on Iraq -- so why should we take seriously a single word they say?"

Exactly. Read the whole thing.

[Link via Bryan Preston at JunkYardBlog, who continues to post an enviable string of excellent material.]

Posted by susanna at 01:47 PM | Comments (4)

The best correction yet

Corrections in newspapers are always a fun thing, in that they're typically buried and often grudgingly given. Colby Cosh, who has a lot of good stuff on his site today, includes this correction in a post on Mark Steyn's relationship with the Canadian National Post newspaper (the whole post is interesting):

consider this extraordinary note published by the Citizen on November 22:
The Ottawa Citizen and Southam News wish to apologize for our apology to Mark Steyn, published Oct. 22. In correcting the incorrect statements about Mr. Steyn published Oct. 15, we incorrectly published the incorrect correction. We accept and regret that our original regrets were unacceptable and we apologize to Mr. Steyn for any distress caused by our previous apology.

On November 29, Steyn returned to the pages of the Post.

Can you say, "Begging, pleading, sniveling, wrapping hands around Steyn's ankles and being dragged behind him keening in despair"? Absolutely priceless.

(You'll have to scroll down to the post on Steyn, Cosh doesn't have links on individual posts and while he says you can get links from the source code, what do I know from source code? I did look but saw nothing that leapt up and yelled I'M A PERMALINK. Failing that, I'm not going to find it.)

UPDATE: CG Hill is on the case! He figured out the link and posted it in comments, so I've added it. Should work.

Posted by susanna at 11:33 AM | Comments (6)

Reaming the 9/11 naysayers

As 9/11 moves closer, the anti-America types are in full voice. I won't link the antis, but I suggest you check out the pieces by Michele at A Small Victory, Reid at Photodude and Jeff at Warlog. They give the naysayers what's coming to them.

Posted by susanna at 11:09 AM | Comments (0)

Unrealistic expectations

Anna Song is a television reporter in a town in Oregon where two young girls were murdered, their bodies found months later under newly poured cement on their alleged murderer’s property. Song covered – and is still covering – the story. And on August 29, she spoke as a person – not a reporter – at the girls’ memorial service, even though she had not known the families prior to their deaths.

Howard Rosenberg, columnist for the Los Angeles Times, thinks she was wrong to do it. And I think Rosenberg’s attitude is precisely why the public’s attitude about journalists has plummeted back into the negatives in the past year.

His first, and most pervasive, mistake is to carry on the fiction of reporter objectivity. It just isn’t real. The goal has to be fairness and accuracy, because objectivity – even for Rosenberg – is a human impossibility, especially in small markets like the one where Song is, and most especially on a long and complex story as she has been covering. You do take sides. You do feel the pain. And it’s denying your humanity to say otherwise – or, if you don’t feel it, then you have already set aside your humanity and shouldn’t be reporting anyway. It should come down to integrity, not objectivity.

Rosenberg is unfair to Song in a variety of ways, dismissing her by saying “Song is little more than a callow youngster in the news business,” and comparing what she did – albeit admittedly as a minor example – to “the late Wayne Satz acting as KABC-TV's lead reporter covering alleged child abuse at the McMartin school while secretly sleeping with a key prosecution witness.”

Giving a eulogy at a public memorial service for murdered little girls is in some way similar to hiding your affair with a major player in a case you’re covering? Mr. Rosenberg, you need a little brushing up on your own ethics.

I’m not saying that Song should have spoken at the service – it was definitely a judgment call. But I don’t think that doing so totally erased her ability to handle news with integrity and fairness, and the fact that Rosenberg thinks so says more about him than her. He decries the fraternizing between “name” journalists and the people they cover – but that’s ignoring the fact that any reporter, regardless of the prominence of the beat or their sources, will tend to become friendly with those they deal with on a regular basis. That’s true in other professions as well – judges, police officers, doctors – who must set aside their personal feelings while doing their jobs. If you’re too close, then you recuse yourself. Journalists should do the same. But they don’t, Mr. Rosenberg, and that’s one of the reasons why we the public hold you the press at arms length – we don’t feel we can trust you. It’s not that you fraternize, it’s that you lie about it and say you’re objective when clearly you’re not. Be honest about your biases, work on your integrity and see public approval rising.

The newspapers I worked for were all in very small markets, so I know first hand the difficulty of living and working in a community where at any time you may need to report on someone you’ve become friends with. It makes for a lonely life in many ways, and especially in those markets it’s one reason why often journalists keep to themselves, socializing mainly among themselves like police officers tend to do. Even then, you get drawn into stories, and that is not a bad thing. I once did a series on death and dying, covering folk customs, funeral and burial expenses, and other issues. The series included a major article on a young girl dying of a brain tumor and her mother. I spent a number of hours with the mother, while the little girl – only five years old – lay in a coma on a bed nearby, kept alive mainly by machines. I looked through the photographs of happier days when she was a bright and happy child, the brief months she was in remission when they went to Disney World, and just listened to her mother talk about her struggles. Not many people in her life wanted to listen, because it had gone on so long and it was just more pain than they were willing to handle. Because I was to some degree outside of her life, she could talk openly to me. Did I feel a connection to her, and to her little girl? Yes. When the little girl died, I went to her funeral, even though the series I wrote was done and printed. And I cried, privately, later, after her mother pointed out that she had braided her daughter’s hair as one last loving gesture – she had always wanted braids but because of her treatments her hair had never been long enough. It grew long enough while she was in a coma.

Did I get too close to the story? No. I wouldn’t have spoken at the funeral because I wasn’t that close to the family. But I wouldn’t have objected if someone in a situation similar to that – like Song – did so. Journalists, the best ones, are human too. It isn’t the false veil of objectivity that makes a great journalist. It’s integrity. That’s what Rosenberg misses.

And he doesn’t have callow youth as an excuse.

[Link via Romenesko]

Posted by susanna at 10:26 AM | Comments (4)

How can they do this?

Some people are going to have a different kind of celebration on 9/11:

Extremist Muslim clerics will meet in London on Sept. 11 to celebrate the anniversary of the attacks on the United States and to launch an organization for Islamic militants, an organizer of the conference said Saturday. Sheikh Omar Bakri Mohammed of Al-Muhajiroun, a radical group that supports making Britain an Islamic state, said the conference will argue that the terror attacks were justified because Muslims must defend themselves against armed aggression.

The event at Finsbury Park mosque in north London, "Sept. 11, 2001: A Towering Day in History," will also mark the launch the Islamic Council of Britain.

Mohammed said the council will aim to implement Sharia law in Britain and will not exclude al-Qaida sympathizers from membership.

The conference will discuss the "positive outcomes" of Sept. 11, which delegates perceived as a battle against an "evil superpower," he said.

Sounds like Britain has a little work to do on their "Muslim problem". These radicals are as pernicious as the political leftists, as patient and in their own way more dangerous. They need to be sent a clear message that they aren't wanted. It's a difficult thing when a clever and determined enemy makes use of your own laws to aid them in their plans to destroy you. You can bet they would use whatever "freedom of speech" rights they have in Britain to protect themselves on their way to bringing total control into their own hands, with no freedoms for anyone but themselves.

I don't know that Britian is in imminent danger of becoming an Islamic state, but it seems to me that this snake needs beheading now.

[Link via The Greatest Jeneration]

UPDATE: Kathy Kinsley, who knows more about the Islamists than I do (she's been tracking them) has a roundup of blogospheric comments and her own take - she's not concerned, and her logic is sound. I hope she's right.

DC Thornton wants to know where the moderate Muslims are denouncing this. Good question.

Toren weighs in too, and links Robert at the Neolibertarian News Portal, also looking for the moderates.

Posted by susanna at 08:50 AM | Comments (10)

September 07, 2002

Mike in a New York state of mind

There's no way for me to point to this that doesn't sound silly in the face of how good it is, so I will just say: Go read Mike Hendrix on New York City.

I'm just sorry it took me so late in the day to get to it.

Posted by susanna at 09:00 PM | Comments (0)

A redneck gets it right

I've not read anything by Jake Vest of the Orlando Sentinel before, but I may have to keep track of him. In this column, he takes on people who got their shorts in a wad over a commercial depicting University of Tennessee - Knoxville fans as rednecks. I know I whined earlier about the whole "The Real Beverly Hillbillies" television show thing. But that was about a calculated mocking. This was a short, gentle... well... mocking. Vest takes on people who can't take jokes, and he's pretty funny. Some excerpts:

It is always open season on the Great Southern Redneck. This is the last recognizable group of anything on this planet that can be disparaged freely by anyone without any fear of consequences...

Television would extend the same courtesies [as they did mocking Tennessee] to Alabama, Texas, Arkansas and Florida outside of Walt Disney World and Miami. We're all hicks to them and are in the same free-fire zone. It just happens to be my village that got burned this time.

It's all in fun, but God help anybody who should happen to have the same fun portraying in anything other than an idyllic fashion any of the freakish lifestyles common around television production...

One of the funnier sidelights, by the way, is that some of the most outraged people on this issue are the good-seat season-ticket holders up in God's Country. That's the old-money West Knoxville crowd that has been referring to my family for years as East Knox rednecks.

And the best line in the whole piece:

The best bagel ever made is a poor excuse for a biscuit.

Mmmmmm.... biscuits.

Posted by susanna at 08:18 PM | Comments (7)

What do you think?

Last January, Orlando Sentinel reporter Mark K. Matthews interviewd Quawn Franklin, who admitted on tape to killing a man and beating a woman nearly to death - crimes he was already charged with. Subsequently, both the prosecution and defense in Franklin's case sought copies of the tape, the reporter's notes and the reporter's testimony. Yesterday the Sentinel posted the transcript and the full audio of the interview on their website, making all the information public record.

"Now that the newspaper has made this entire interview public, we believe it is no longer necessary for our reporter to be forced to turn over his notes or to testify in this case," Tim Franklin[editor and vice president of the Sentinel] said.

The prosecution was happy. The defense declared it irresponsible. What do you think? I'll tell you my thoughts a little later.

Posted by susanna at 08:04 PM | Comments (1)

Flagrant media bias at MSNBC

Justin Weitz at American Kaiser does a point by point listing of how an MSNBC documentary on Hamas was totally unfair. What is particularly disgusting is that it was shown on a major Jewish holiday. I see no reason to assume they didn't know that.

[Link via Instapundit]

Posted by susanna at 04:35 PM | Comments (0)

Race for the Cure

Remember that a week from tomorrow is The Race for the Cure, a three-mile race/walk to raise funds for breast cancer research. I'm walking it in Manhattan; your donation would be much appreciated. Just click here to donate. So far a group of wonderful people have donated $670; my goal is $1,000.

Remember, research on any cancer helps research on all cancers. And, as one of my donors said when thanked for his donation, "I have four sisters. This is insurance."

Expect bloggish focus on this on Monday. Avoid the rush! Donate today!

Posted by susanna at 10:40 AM | Comments (2)

Noticing race for the right reasons

The politics of race have become so knotted up in the social fabric of this country that we often miss instances when race not only does matter, but should matter. The social goal is to judge each person on their own merits, based on character, talent and actions. But, as Razib at Gene Expression points out, we cannot let our social goal get in the way of understanding that, physically, races are different. The most commonly known example would be sickle cell anemia, which is much more common among those of black African descent. But there are other implications of race in the health arena, which can result in increased deaths when either side of the affirmative action debate takes their ideology into the realms of medical aid or research.

It's understood now, after many years of focusing on white men as research subjects and extrapolating to women, that sometimes women's bodies react differently to medications or therapies because they are chemically, biologically, different. Razib makes a strong case for recognizing that the races are different in that way as well.

Posted by susanna at 08:56 AM | Comments (5)

An alternate view

Ian Wood at Astonished Head has a different take from James Lileks' recent column on remembering 9/11. While I thought Lileks' column moving, and very good, I do think Ian also has a point - you can't compare the attitudes of people in NYC with those of the rest of the country. You just can't. You might disagree with their choices, but you can't fully understand what they're dealing with. That's not to say that people who lived in NYC on 9/11 have some moral superiority over the rest of the nation - that's not true either. But they do have memories of more than television news coverage. And that matters. Ian closes with:

...don't tell me that I shouldn't be sick of hearing other people's thoughts and musings about September 11, particularly those of people who weren't there. I've been hearing about it, and looking at it, and smelling it, for 359 days. I've had enough.

And a reader sent to Ian additional thoughts on it; an excerpt:

I think all of this hair-tearing is really an attempt to FEEL something, because they don't FEEL that they are FEELING enough about it.

And I want to shout at them, Guys, it's NOT something to be jealous of! It's not COOL to be a victim's family. It's awful, more awful than any of us can imagine, even those of us who were close enough to feel personal danger from the thing and to have post-traumatic symptoms, and the whole shebang.

Something to think about as the 9/11 anniversary closes in.

Edited at 10:30 a.m., changed headline, modified first sentence.

Posted by susanna at 08:18 AM | Comments (6)

A most gentle yet opposing reply

Ampersand, that $^@%$# feminist (just kidding, Amp!), has posted a reply to my abortion post, below. While I disagree with him (of course), he is most gentle with his opposition, and logical in his argumentation. When I'm more awake and not feeling as if someone attacked my throat with sandpaper, I'll have a few comments in response.

Posted by susanna at 06:30 AM | Comments (0)

September 06, 2002

Shooting down media arrogance

It’s not very sporting to shoot fish in a barrel, but sometimes it’s fun. In that spirit, I thought I’d just make a few comments about an article on the end of the 9/11 love between the media and the public, by Alex S. Jones in Editor & Publisher on Wednesday. Jones is director of the Joan Shorenstein Center on the Press, Politics, and Public Policy at Harvard University and host of the PBS TV series "Media Matters,” which tells you most of what you need to know. But humor me.

The headline tells you immediately that Jones doesn’t get it:

Why Do Many Readers Hate Us Again?

Actually, Alex, they never stopped. They just, in a wash of patriotism, gave you a little slack, an opportunity to redeem yourselves from decades of increasing smarminess and lies. You blew it.

The newest polls about the press are discouraging enough to make even H.L. Mencken weep. The public, which had admired us in the months after Sept. 11, has turned against us again. Nearly half those responding in the most recent Pew Research Center poll seem to think that we "don't stand up for America," and a majority believe we "don't care about the people we report on." Generally, polling numbers have gone back to pre-9/11 levels.

The reason people believe those things, Alex, is because it’s true. Any day you think that journalists do stand up for America, read the NY Times. As for “caring about the people you report on”? I don’t know that “caring about” is as important as “not thoroughly screwing them at every opportunity”. It’s a case of actions speaking louder than words – I think this question would be more accurately stated as “not caring enough about the truth to present information fairly”. And of course there’s the “how did you feel when you saw the plane hit the tower and knew your husband wasn’t coming home?” questions you ask of weeping widows. Sometimes, Alex, we don’t have a right to know. And when you dig for readership or ratings by kicking the corpse…it’s hard for us to feel, you know, cared for.

This seems undeserved, given the torrent of money that has been spent by news organizations after 9/11 (despite the advertising drought).

Can’t buy me lovvve…looooovvvveeee…. can’t buy me looovvveee!!

Sorry, channeling the Beatles there for a moment. It’s telling that your evidence that journalism stands up for America and cares about “the people” is how much money you spent on 9/11 coverage. “We spent millions of dollars even when we didn’t have advertising to fill the space! We showed we cared! What more do you want from us??” If you don’t understand that “caring” means “treating us respectfully and fairly”, not “fought like hungry dogs with us as the bone for what advertising dollar was there”, then I can’t help you.

And it is in spite of the risks run by scores of reporters to cover a war in Afghanistan that was often more dangerous for journalists than for GIs.

This leaves me breathless in its audacity. We should love you because reporters died covering the Afghanistan war? I’m sorry it happened, but that is the risk they ran for a story - they made a voluntary choice to do it. I admire the courage of those who covered the story and just did their job; I can’t comment on whether the risks they took were reasonable or if they crossed a line somewhere that put them at greater risk. Certainly I don’t put Daniel Pearl in the category of “taking foolish risks”. But none of them - none of them - deserve to be mentioned in the same sentence with Mike Span, or the other soldiers who went there to serve their country. Your comment shows such condescension and arrogance , such disrespect for the military and misunderstanding of the relative roles of military and media, that really nothing I can say would give greater proof of why you and your comrades in “arms” are often vilified.

So why have we lost the public's high regard?

See above. You lost it because you’re arrogant, condescending, whiny, unfair and unpatriotic. Shall I go on?

Does the public have our number


or does the public misjudge us?


And what should we do now?

Turn over your assets to Fox News and beg absolution in the public square.

The public loved us most in November, when flags rippled on the corners of TV screens and from on-camera lapels.

That’s right. Our love for you is proportionate to the number/size of flags you display. Really. It has nothing to do with what you’re covering, how you’re presenting it or whether it’s even true. It’s all about the flags. I mean that.

It has nothing to do with the fact that for a while most of you were human, and trying to come to grips with what the rest of us were. That the liberal naysayers in your midst were reluctantly silenced by the sheer horror of what was done to us. Nope. Nothing to do with that. It was the flags. Once you were allowed to wear them, that is.

Journalists were asking few tough questions regarding civilian bombing casualties and civil liberties

Yes, while you were pandering to us and to the military by not covering the war honestly, we loved you. Once you started covering it truthfully, and forcing us to see the burgeoning casualties by the brutal honesty of Marc Herold’s accounting of the numbers, we turned on you like dogs. Dogs! We always reject tough questions. Where’s my can of mixed nuts? Law & Order is on.

and the American military was rolling to a stunning victory in Afghanistan.

At least you admit that much.

Despite the tragedy of Sept. 11, we had a lot of good news to cover, and even pieces on the tragic aspects of the story seemed to forge a common sense of outrage and purpose.

That’s right, as long as you covered the good news about terrorists killing thousands of our fellow citizens, we were fine. Thanks for caring. Want some mixed nuts?

The more thorny elements tended to be put aside until a later day.

Uh huh. Define “thorny elements”, please. Best I can tell, for you that means “questioning why the terrorists felt the need to attack us, and deciding we’re at fault”. Or maybe, “why we don’t roll over for the Euroweenies” or “why we don’t respect the fairness and statesmanship of an organization that chooses a known dictator, murderer and terrorist to oversee human rights for the world”. Alex, hon, as far as I’m concerned those thorny elements can be put aside for, well, no day at all! Just abandoned unilaterally! Oh, I forgot, you hate unilateral don’t you? Unless it’s unilateral condemnation of the US.

This spring and summer, that day came. The triumphant story ran its course, and the what-really-happened story began to be covered, with disquieting results.

You mean, you were lying to us for months? You weren’t telling the truth? Tsk.

We started to get reports that there were significant civilian casualties

From your buddy Marc Herold? You might want to check here for more info on him.

and serious questions began to be raised about the wisdom of an invasion of Iraq.

Only around the water cooler at the NY Times. And in Ivy League schools (like Harvard) where everyone sucks in the advantages of living in the US and spews out venom for our way of life. Or at a tax-supported broadcasting company. Or in the halls of Congress where the Democrats thought they found a way to make themselves seem less impotent. Sorry, boys, you’re still limp as a wet dishrag.

Darkening the news atmosphere further were the stories of Enron Corp., Global Crossing, and the betrayal of shareholders. The market fell. The news from the Middle East had seldom been worse. These past six months have not been a happy time on the news pages.

The sky is falling! The sky is falling! The winters are getting bad in Afghanistan! Help us, heellllpppp….!!!

Oh, sorry, I ran out of mixed nuts. Thankfully you haven’t. Yes, the economic stories were bad news. But we don’t really hate the messenger unless he gloats. You gloated. Scum.

So, has the public simply returned to its pre-9/11 attitude when the press returned to its normal adversarial role as the news itself turned bad?

No, the public pulled back your slack when you showed you didn’t deserve it.

When the lapdog turned back into a watchdog?

You were really sick about those months when the media toned down the US bashing, weren’t you? Lapdog indeed. The better question is, “When did the mad dog’s remission into sanity come to an end?”

No doubt that is a big part of the drop in our approval rating. But we would be letting ourselves off the hook too easily to believe that the problem lies entirely with the public's distaste for us whenever we simply do our job. There are some questions that we tend to ignore that we should, instead, take time to ponder.

Yes, yes! There are questions you should ponder! Oh, wait, for a brief, almost frightening moment, I thought you were getting it. But then I read on.

Is wanting public approval pandering or is public approval something worth trying to win? What did the public see in us after 9/11 that is worth struggling to preserve? Were we simply more human and accessible, less confrontational and negative? Can we do our job well and still be human and accessible -- and not so confrontational and negative?

You equate having public approval with pandering. That’s very enlightening, because you’re assuming that the approval comes only with your willingness to shape the news toward our expectations or preferences. What you’re not getting is that public approval comes with fairness, accuracy and a willingness to see the good in America on your part. We want to be pandered to about the same way we want what you do now – howling after stories like a pack of mad dogs, keening in your eagerness to rip up American values. You know why we are disgusted by your coverage of the anniversary of 9/11? Because there is no sincerity behind it. It’s a play, a television script written with an eye to what will draw the most viewers. The problem is not our vacuity – it’s your efforts to milk our sorrow to your own ends. The problem is not that you’re confrontational and negative. It’s that you cynically play us toward your own ends and arrogantly believe it’s not just your right, but your responsibility.

Is being overtly American in our reporting wrong?

No. What’s wrong is being dishonest. You can be overtly American and still be honest. Try it sometime.

What does it mean to be an American journalist, as opposed to being a journalist without a national perspective, such as at the BBC?

Whoa! When did the BBC become an ideal? I suppose it’s better than Reuters. All journalists have some perspective, so if not national, then what? Liberal? Global? What values do you espouse? Does moral equivalence become the order of the day? That’s the evidence I see. Separating from a national perspective means feeling you can trash the US without guilt. Be my guest. Just move to France to do it. And don’t lie to yourself that divesting your national perspective makes you any less a partisan. It just shifts your allegiance to another entity. Like the UN. Or your own liberal philosophy. Expect more hate, Alex.

Where is the line between flag waving and simply reacting as an American?

This of course assumes that flag waving isn’t “simply reacting as an American”. I would say it is. But, again, you’re illuminating your viewpoint. That’s fine – hang yourself. You’re doing better than I am anyway.

There are genuine assaults on the press now under way that make these questions especially urgent. The Bush administration is taking unprecedented steps to limit access to public records, and the Freedom of Information Act is in real jeopardy.

NOW we get to it! All this has been leading up to an assault on the Bush administration. Thank you, Alex! There might be efforts to shut down access – which you don’t detail, you just state – and many times that’s a bad thing. But you are not a privileged creature, Alex, and you don’t deserve access just because you want it. Checks and balances work both ways. And maybe some information doesn’t need to show up in our media. But you’re not done yet, are you?

Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld has made many Pentagon officials afraid to be seen speaking to journalists

Yeah, it sucks that you can’t blare our war plans to our enemies, doesn’t it?

and lately the FBI has been conducting a scorched-earth search for the source of leaks on Capitol Hill.

With the level of competence the FBI has shown lately, this might actually result in more leaks from Capitol Hill. But never mind that. The point is, you’re annoyed because, again, you can’t get your hands on our military secrets so that you can tell the world and denounce the US even more vociferously – and then smirk “I told you so” when plans fail because you leaked them. No, no, there’s no reason there for the average American family to find you deplorable, just because they may lose a son or daughter in the military because of your arrogant need to “get the story”.

Two recent best-selling books, Bias and Slander, have accused the media of everything except abducting children.

Actually, I wasn’t impressed with Bias, and haven’t read Slander, but I’ll take your word for it. They didn’t accuse you of abducting children, but we the people are sick of your selling fear about abducted children to increase your audience. Do you think that might have had an impact on your ratings? Nah, me either.

Various interest groups have tried to intimidate news organizations into tailoring their reporting to satisfy a particular political perspective.

Groups other than leftist ones, you mean. Because they don’t have to intimidate you into it, you tailor your reporting toward their agenda just as a matter of course. I don’t hold with any intimidation, but you might want to consider what you’re doing that may make these groups you’re pointing to feel that they have to use intimidation to get their side heard. Isn’t that how it’s done? You don’t decry intimidation, you try to understand what you did to cause someone to be aggressive toward you? Or doesn’t that work when the object of the intimidation is your behavior that you don’t want to change, rather than our whole country whose values you do want to change?

I suppose I would also have to know what you mean by “intimidation”. Is that, perhaps, blowing up a newspaper office? Or would that just be someone accusing you of bias because you weren’t fair in your reporting? I seem to remember that truth is a defense…

Coverage of the Middle East, for instance, has made news organizations a target of both pro-Israeli and pro-Palestinian groups.

Ah. who you mean. You’ve been a target of pro-Palestinian groups? Why, you weren’t biased enough in their favor? Maybe you should get Marc Herold on the case.

The point is that we need the public's support, now more than ever. We need for the public to understand that it is not unpatriotic to want government officials to leak information. That's how we -- and our readers -- find out about what Washington is really up to.

So now it’s patriotic for government officials to leak information. Funny how it wasn’t patriotic of Linda Tripp, when our Highest Official was conducting national affairs and, um, a more local one at the same time. Funny how it wasn’t patriotic any time Clintonian information was leaked. No, it’s only patriotic if it’s revealing information that shores up your preconceived ideas about how wrong the Bush administration’s policies are. I personally think that elected government officials need to keep their mouths shut and do their jobs, not pander to you. If they have accusations to make, there are avenues to do it. You are not the only protector of our freedoms, Alex, or often even the best one, as much as I think the media is essential to freedom.

We need the public to care about access to documents.

We do care. And when the access is used appropriately we applaud – like when a newspaper in Florida found missing children the state department for children and families had lost and been unable to locate. That was journalism as watchdog, and doing it up right. Whining about how public officials aren’t allowed to do your scut work anymore isn’t in the same league.

We need them to believe we are acting on their behalf when we fight for such things.

We would believe it, if we thought there was any chance that it was true.

And we need the public to understand that while journalism is not often perfect, that doesn't mean that it's calculatedly slanted and biased.

We don’t expect journalism to be perfect; we expect it to be fair and as accurate as possible, without limp-wristed moral equivalence. And I actually agree with you that a lot of times it’s not calculatedly slanted and biased – it’s even scarier than that. You honestly think you’re in neutral, middle-of-the-road territory when you’re actually dripping off the outer edge of leftist rhetoric. Your America isn’t my America. You might want to ponder that.

With the problems that we face, we dare not simply shrug and say, "The public's attitude be damned."

Is this an admission that you have in the past? So your coverage has generally been about what you think is right, using judgment developed within your own closed system, holding yourself up as smarter and more insightful than America as a whole? Maybe it’s your arrogance that’s part of the problem. Ever think of that?

We need, instead, to spend some time figuring out what we can honorably do to nudge those polling results back up. The stakes for us, and for the public, have never been higher.

Alex, let me make a suggestion. If you want your polling results to improve honorably, then do something truly radical: be honorable. I know it’s a stretch, and something new for many in the lofty heights of elite media, but you might find that fairness, accuracy, respectfulness and honor for the Constitution and American values will get those poll numbers up pronto. And that’s the goal, isn’t it? To get those poll numbers up. We wouldn’t want you to do it because it’s the right thing to do, now would we?

(NOTE: I’d like to make a disclaimer. This article is so full of hooey it had to be dismantled. But I do think that many journalists do an excellent job, and much of the news coverage in this country is pretty straightforward. However, the tone of the industry is skewed, and on many important subjects like national security and social policy the default position is a liberal one.)

UPDATE: Ciscley at ...on my mind doesn't think I need the disclaimer. Since she began as a journalism major in college, she does have an inside view. I agree with her on what tends to happen with journalism students. Is that why we shouldn't have a journalism major? Just a minor, and expect some other non-exclusive major? I would like to see it.

UPDATE: Media Minder links this excellent article by William Powers about the media's angst over their 9/11 coverage. He says, basically, get over the navel-gazing and do a good job. I agree with what he says. An excerpt:

But for every bit of Sept. 11 nonsense, for every instance of mawkish, over-the-top exploitation, there's a countervailing case. I say bring it all on, and let the good stuff, of which there's plenty, prevail. It always does.

Also not to be missed is Mark's comment in response to MM's post.

I told you there were some good'uns.

UPDATE: Glenn Reynolds adds his thoughts.

UPDATE: And still more ranting! Since Glenn posted his take, Misha, Andrea Harris, Laurence Simon, DC Thornton and Juan Gato have joined in.

The more the merrier, I say.

UPDATE: And now Toren brings it all together! Yay, Toren!

Posted by susanna at 11:51 PM | Comments (12)

Saddama Bin Laden

Scott Koenig nails Saddam again in this excellent outlining of Saddam's terrorist activities and possible connections with Osama Bin Laden. If you've not read his whole series, it's worth your time. And if you know people with questions about the reasonableness of attacking Iraq, forward it to them.

UPDATE: Ram Ahluwalia has more comments on his site.

UPDATE: Dean Esmay tosses his hat into the ring too.

Posted by susanna at 03:29 PM | Comments (9)


Mr. Misha thoroughly fisks some clergymen in England who are getting all self-righteous with their objections to the US attacking Iraq. Go, Mr. Misha!

I have a fiskable article sitting in a Word document right now, just waiting for my razor intelligence to start cutting. Unfortunately, that razor is a bit dull right now as my throat is swelling, my ears closing and my whole body feels like three days of riding Greyhound across Texas. And not the express run. Yes, it's a cold. I'm going to load myself up with Vitamin C, garlic pills (don't worry, the odor free kind) and homeopathic remedies, then fisk away. And I'll have some essays for you on Monday, after a weekend of whining, living off homemade soup and homemade bread, and pampering myself shamelessly. Not to worry, I'll be posting all weekend. But likely in a grumpy way.

Posted by susanna at 11:40 AM | Comments (7)

Well, he is very cute

This is a new use for a blog - tell ladies you date/want to date about you, then give them the ability to post on your site. Can you say "ouch"?

Of course, since bionicboy links to this site, at least we know he both is intelligent and has good taste. He is certainly quite handsome (if those photos are really him.) Whether he has good sense... I'll let you decide. Start at the bottom and scroll up.

[Thanks to Aaron at God of the Machine for the link. I think we agree on this one.]

Posted by susanna at 08:06 AM | Comments (0)

He's a mensch!

Stefan Sharkansky has great life - to read about, anyway. His latest travel diary about his family's trip to his sister's wedding is, well, I'll let him tell it:

This is probably the only true wedding story you will read this year that involves travel with an infant, stupid airport security, a sleep-deprived wife, a dysfunctional bi-national family, a laconic Israeli teanager, a clan of women who don't really grow old, two different kinds of artificial meat, and a very useful SleeperPeepers sleeping mask.

Go read. It's fairly long but worth a little time.

And, Stefan - I wouldn't have eaten the cheesecake either.

Posted by susanna at 07:43 AM | Comments (0)

September 05, 2002

An opposing view (and an answer)

I posted last night about my feelings on abortion. AC Douglas disagreed with me in comments, I explained further, and now he has responded at length on his site. I haven't had time to read it closely yet - I'm still at work under a deadline crunch - but I invite you to do so, if you wish. I'll be getting to it later tonight.

UPDATE: I've read it, and I've answered it - just click on the MORE button below. WARNING: It's quite long.

AC begins by setting up his own playing field. He has to define “the central argument”, which means stripping away everything he thinks I use as support. He establishes his terminology – I can’t be “pro-life” because no one is “anti-life”, so he says. He then frames the discussion as being “anti-choice” or “pro-choice” – which is to say, he makes me an anti and him a pro, turning the language to his advantage. And, interestingly, he brings up God, which I did not in my post. It’s true I’m a Christian, and that certainly informs my views, but as stated my position in the original post could be held as much by an atheist as by me. No talk of souls, no talk of God giving life, no talk of sin. But then framing is half the battle of any discussion, so naturally he gets that done right away.

(As an aside, I always find agnostics and atheists who are offended at the very mention of God to be pretty interesting. They’re all about individual rights but they get to mock and dismiss the foundation of my life as so much tripe. God bless America, and the freedom to be an idiot.)

AC goes on to detail my response to him, which he mostly doesn’t have a problem with until I dare to actually apply my philosophy to someone else. Shocking! Of course, the fact that he spent several paragraphs applying his philosophy to me is of no moment. Then he takes my points one by one, so I will do the same. I’m not going to contextualize them, so read his post first if you want to make sure you’re getting all the nuances:

1) AC says my marriage analogy doesn’t work because marriage is a matter of law. I say, of course it works because the point was the concept of passing from one state to another, not an issue of law. In any situation where you are one thing one minute and something else the next, there is a point of change that is not arbitrary – it is definitive. One minute you are single, the next you are married and can never be “never married” again. One minute you’re a virgin and the next you’re not – can’t undo it. One minute you’re alive and the next you’re sucked into an airplane engine and vaporized – very dead. So, one minute you don’t exist and the next you’re an egg nestling a sperm and things are starting to divide and grow. Definitive, not arbitrary. Trying to decide post-fertilization when a mass of cells becomes worthy of the term “human” is the arbitrary exercise.

2) AC says the hero analogy is stupid because no one unselfishly gives his or her life for someone else. I’m not allowed to use the firefighters in the WTC as examples either because “it's totally non sequitur” – although he doesn’t say why. The first thought I had was, what a sad world you live in, AC, where everyone is consumed with selfishness to the point of never being willing to suffer in the place of someone else. Since I’m not allowed firefighters, and certainly not (horrors!) Jesus Christ, how about men at war who jump on a grenade to save the others? Or go into a battlefield risking life to save a comrade? How about a mother who would fling herself between her child and a threat – be it animal, human or mechanical? How about family members who give up one of their healthy kidneys so their loved one can live? There’s a name for it, AC – it’s called “altruism”. And real people exhibit it, sometimes.

3) AC says (and this I’ll quote and do in parts ‘cause it’s too much to do collectively):

You are not permitted to foist your beliefs and assumptions on others.

If you say so. But you’re doing it. So what makes your beliefs and assumptions accepted and mine not, to the point that you can unilaterally dismiss mine without even a logical argument as to why yours are superior?

That's not an argument you're adducing. It's a fascistic imposition that has no generally accepted ethical, legal, or medical basis.

Well, I actually never claimed to be making an argument. I said I usually did, but this was my heart feelings. But no matter. You don’t make an argument either. You just call my statements “fascistic imposition”, which is a fine turn of phrase but empty. What does that mean? I’ve not made any effort to impose anything on anyone. I said this is how I feel. And “generally accepted” by whom – you and the others who are “pro-choice” and rush to frame the debate so you can then use phrases like “generally accepted”?

The pro-life position has reams of ethical acceptance, although perhaps not in your circles – again, it depends on who you ask. In some circles, Peter Singer’s ethics are widely admired – even generally accepted. Does that mean anything to me? No, other than there are a lot of stupid and heartless people in this world. As for legal, that is a societal determination – hardly objective - and again subject to manipulation by an elite group with an agenda; as you know, what is “legal” in the abortion realm has changed drastically just in your lifetime. Once a law is set, you can be objective in your application. But the decision to make a law is never an objective one.

As for medical basis, I defy you to find a source that says that a fertilized egg does not, in every instance where the fertilization was normal and the womb receptive, have the potential to develop into a fully functioning human being. I’m not saying a medical basis for when you are willing to accept that a fetus becomes “human”. I’m saying, medicine supports my contention that the moment of fertilization is a definitive move from one state to another completely different one. Your statement just dissolves into nonsense.

And further, what a woman does with what is growing inside her is not your or your fellow believers' decision -- ever. Whose decision it ought to be is, I suppose, a matter for argument, even though today, as a matter of law, it's the woman's decision alone.

Again, there you go with your fascistic impositions, forcing your arbitrary view onto me. Geez. Please note the argument, above, regarding the role of law in this. Where is your argument? So far you’ve made none – just a series of statements supported only by your verbiage and ire.

4) AC says my assertion that the vast majority of abortions find their root in selfishness is unsupported. Again, I specifically said at the outset of my original post that it was how I felt - I wasn’t making an argument. But since you brought it up…

There are three possibilities when a woman is pregnant. She can carry to term. She can have a natural miscarriage. She can have an induced miscarriage, also known as abortion. What happens if she makes the decision to carry to term, accepting all the discomfort and life changes? A new life is set on its path in the world. And there’s usually at least a little self-interest in the decision – wanting a child. Sometimes there’s a lot. But it’s always a decision for life. What happens if she has a natural miscarriage? If she wanted the baby, she’ll be devastated. If she doesn’t, she’ll be pretty happy but maybe a little guilty about it. In either case, she’s not made a decision there – she’s not an actor, she’s acted upon by nature. It’s the third instance we’re interested in here. What goes into the decision to have an induced miscarriage?

In the discussions I’ve seen from pro-choice folks, the reasons run like this: She’s too young. She’ll have to leave school. Her parents will throw her out of the house. Her friends will shun her. Her husband will leave her. She can’t feed one more person. It will damage her career. It will damage her relationship. She doesn’t want children. She is afraid of pregnancy. In any discussion where the option is any of these consequences and “the right thing” to do – when “the right thing” is what you think is “the right thing” – you would encourage her to take that hit. Get thrown out of the house rather than refuse to tell about abuse in the home. Let your career be damaged if the other option is to fire someone because of his race. Say “so long” to friends who would shun you because you turned in your boss for bilking company shareholders. It becomes apparent that the consequences aren’t the problem – it’s that sustaining a pregnancy is not enough of a “right thing” to justify such horrific setbacks. It is, apparently, a matter of the child’s life being of less value than my career, or relationship, or fear. The majority of abortions are not for medical reasons, or because of rape or incest. So what reasons do women have for getting an abortion? It would seem most fit into the above discussion.

5) AC finally defines the central issue in the abortion debate as when the mass of cells becomes developed to a point that “entitles it to be considered an individual human person, and therefore qualified for a conferring of individual human rights.” He says I haven’t established that in any definitive way. I say, wrongo, my friend. I did. I identify it as the first of three definitive points in a baby’s life – conception, able to live outside the womb, birth. There are no other objective choices – i.e., instances where an entity shifts from one state to another, and thus is open for review of its status. Any other point is arbitrarily, and thus socially, set. You can choose one of the three, AC, be my guest. Choosing either of the last two, in my judgment, is just trying to lengthen the killing time. I think the first is the most logical, the most humane, the most definitive – and I don’t think you can logically deny that a change of state does occur. What you won’t concede is that the new state is sufficiently changed to be worthy of rights. And that is an arbitrary decision, AC – why wouldn’t it be? Answer me that.
Finally, AC, I expected better of you. You did not set up a rational argument – you just tried to pull apart my non-argument. Fine. Now I’ve pulled apart your refutation. I know which one of us I think has been more rational.

And it isn’t you, my friend.

Posted by susanna at 05:22 PM | Comments (12)

How to be a good anti-American

This Aussie has nine tips on how to be a good anti-American. A must read. You have to like anyone who can work in a phrase like "The Existential Ennui of Jacques the Goat-Herder".

[Thanks to Lauren Coats for the link.]

Posted by susanna at 12:10 PM | Comments (1)

Celebrate America

Alex Whitlock wrote this post for Labor Day, but I think it's as good of a celebration of America as I've seen recently.

I've been meaning to get my Categories going on MT, but have been lazy (shocking, I know). With this link I'm going to institute a new category in honor of 9/11 - Celebrate America - and add a few others so I can start meaningfully categorizing my posts.

Posted by susanna at 09:46 AM | Comments (0)

All you need to know

It took 10 seconds for the people who jumped from the WTC towers to hit the ground. Count those seconds out - 1001, 1002... I'll wait.

Here is what they looked like:

...this one woman fell."

She fell closer to the south tower, he recalls. Logozzo saw her face. She had dark hair and olive skin, a white blouse and black skirt. She fell with her back to the ground, flat, staring up.

"The look on her face was shock. She wasn't screaming. It was slow motion. When she hit, there was nothing left," Logozzo says.

Do you remember the video by the Naudet brothers? You heard those bodies hit like watermelons off a fast-moving truck. USA Today has a deeply disturbing article on the jumpers that you need to read.

Martin Devon explains what must happen next.

We need to absorb the anniversary of 9/11 in a way that builds our resolve, with sorrow but not sentimentality, with anger but not mindless rage. Celebrate America on 9/11, with a moment of silence for those who died, then go live the lives that the Islamic extremists would rip from us, the lives those who died on 9/11 had no chance to live.

[Link to USA Today article from LGF.]

Posted by susanna at 08:24 AM | Comments (4)


Vince Ferrari at Insignificant Thoughts uncovers another teacher horror story - she used the word "niggardly" in front of an apparently borderline illiterate mom. Shoot her! Shoot that teacher at dawn, I say!

Or maybe just get the mom a dictionary.

Posted by susanna at 08:22 AM | Comments (1)

Hanania - one slick operator?

Jay Zilber has an excellent, comprehensive post on the Ray Hanania - Jackie Mason situation. Hanania, an American with Palestinian ancestry who currently does stand-up comedy, has a long and checkered history that certainly calls into question his pose of innocence about being released from opening a show for Mason.

And besides being a thorough analysis of the situation, Jay's post is just a pleasure to read. Good writing always is.

Posted by susanna at 08:20 AM | Comments (0)

The Sullivan Chronicles by Yourish

Meryl Yourish takes Andrew Sullivan and Kurt Andersen at Slate to task for their attitudes and comments on blogging. She then retrieves Sullivan from the pundit ash heap when he writes her an email explaining himself more clearly. Interesting reading.

Posted by susanna at 08:13 AM | Comments (0)

Not everyone needs college

Michael Tinkler at the Cranky Professor says something I've believed for a long time - not everyone needs a college degree. In a sense, college is vocational training, and you don't need it to be successful in many fields - especially if your high school training was adequate. I think everyone should find learning a joy, and should continue to read widely and explore his or her world, but that doesn't have to include sitting through a humanities class. College does not equal intelligence, or wisdom, or even good knowledge in your field - what it purports to do is train in specific highly complex fields (like the hard sciences), and standardize training so a set body of knowledge is attached to a specific degree, for the convenience of an employer. There's not a lot you learn in college that you can't learn on your own or with mentors. It's just a more intense program with (supposed) guaranteed access to experts in the field. I think college is a wonderful thing, but I think it needs to be put in perspective.

Posted by susanna at 08:09 AM | Comments (0)

You know how I love knives

So the fact that I loved this photo should come as no surprise.

Posted by susanna at 08:01 AM | Comments (5)

The Volokh Expose'

Well, sorta - Cathy Seipp has a fun and interesting profile of Eugene Volokh of The Volokh Conspiracy.

Posted by susanna at 08:00 AM | Comments (0)

This is unconscionable

A photograph of Ground Zero in NYC had this caption on Yahoo on Tuesday, Sep 3,12:26 AM ET:

Recovery and debris removal work continues at the site of the World Trade Center known as "ground zero" in New York, March 25, 2002. Human rights around the world have been a casualty of the U.S. "war on terror" since September 11.

By Wed Sep 4, 5:07 PM ET it was this:

File photo of the recovery and debris removal work at the site of the World Trade Center known as "ground zero" in New York, March 25, 2002.

What did they think at first, that Americans wouldn't see the photo? And guess where the photo came from.


Not that we had any illusions about their objectivity before. But that caption was just beyond horrible - it's appalling that Yahoo posted it. I hope someone got their a** kicked over it - preferably out the door.

[Thanks to Toren for the heads up]

Posted by susanna at 06:30 AM | Comments (1)

September 04, 2002

Nine months for a life

Natalie Solent does a masterful job of responding to a post on abortion by Brendan O'Neill. And she's right.

I tend to argue the pro-choice/pro-life issue from a rational standpoint of rights, of reason, of science, because that's the battlefield where the pro-choice advocates make their stand. But in my heart, truly, I just cannot understand why abortion is ever anything but the most heart-wrenching decision where a woman is lying on her deathbed and the child is all that is between her and life. Even then, I can't imagine myself choosing my life over my baby's life, but in that extremity I can see that choice being made. I cannot, in any other context.

I find myself asking, inside, what is nine months for a life? My newest niece just turned one month old today. I have two other nieces, and a nephew. Would I put aside nine months of my life now, if I knew that to do otherwise would mean their death? Absolutely. It's not even a question. I would quit my job - or work somewhere else, or do whatever it took - to preserve their lives. Without question. And they are not even my own children. What censure, what pain, what alteration in my life is so worth avoiding that I would kill innocence that depends solely on my body for life? I recognize that some people live in extraordinary circumstances where the cost to them of bearing a child would be great. But especially in our society, where so much opportunity exists to smooth over those trials, why do women continue to make that choice? Why do they kill their babies?

I have friends who are pro-choice whom I love dearly. I've never said this so directly to them, but we’ve talked about abortion and had to agree to set it aside if the friendships were to continue. But still, every time the issue comes up, that’s what is in my mind. I have people close to me who have had multiple miscarriages, and their sense of loss - no matter how short the pregnancy - is palpable. It's obvious, to me, that the pro-choice group believes a baby is a baby when you feel it is a baby - to me, to many women in my life, that's when the first bout of nausea confirms that a child is growing. It’s a baby, with all the potential for life encompassed in tiny cells multiplying rapidly. For the hardest core pro-choicers, it is when the woman decides she wants the baby. It can be a mass of cells today, a baby tomorrow, and a mass of cells again the next day if things don’t go the right way for the woman. And those who advocate for life are vilified as against women. Against women! That infuriates me too. I’m not against women. I am for babies.

Little Molly Katherine nestled so sweetly in my arms this weekend. Her life, right now, consists of sleeping, eating, crying and pooping. I held her as she yawned and stretched her little fingers, thinking about how less than a month ago she was curled inside her mother's body, and how much I was looking forward to watching her grow into the wonderful girl and woman I know she will be. What if her mother had better things to do than interrupt her life with Molly Katherine?


Haydon and Molly Katherine

The widespread abortion in this society is, to me, not about a woman's right to control her body, but rather a woman's right to practice the utmost selfishness. What is nine months for a life? Apparently, to many women, it's too much to ask.

edited for clarity and content, 9:15 p.m.

UPDATE: I received a poignant email from a man who details how he went from pro-choice to pro-life. With his permission, it's in the MORE section, if you wish to read it. The woman's name has been changed to protect her privacy.


I really appreciated your post on abortion.

When I was young, I was pro-choice as most young people are. When I was nineteen or so, we had a condom mishap followed by a missed period. It changed my view of everything. Some people are nominally pro-life until they find themselves in a situation where abortion seems advantageous. I'm the opposite.

My initial reaction was "well, we can just terminate it if we need to." I come from a conservative family where something like this could have strained our relationship drastically. In the end, they probably would have supported me, but needless to say it would be bad for all parties involved. Helena and I were both in college and if we had a child, it would have ruined both of our futures. Easy choice, right?

The more I thought about it, however, the less clear it became. I loved her and there was a good chance we were going to get married. How could I justify aborting our child and then have children later on. Because we weren't ready yet? Then there is a life in the balance, that reasoning seems awfully thin. Because we couldn't provide for it? Well, I could have quit school and gone to work. In the end, there were obviously ways that it was feasible. There usually are. Even if there wasn't, there are countless parents out there on waiting list years long for a newborn baby.

Mostly, though, it was about Helena. Helena was concieved when her mother was seventeen. Her mother and father were high school sweethearts that had been together all of six months or so. Abortion would have been the most convenient option for them, too. Instead, they chose to have Helena, get married, and start a family. I couldn't even imagine life without her. At that point, she was the nineteen year old love of my life. Once upon a time, though, she was a choice. I thank God her parents made the choice they made and I couldn't imagine making (or, in my case, supporting) the different choice. If we kept it, nineteen years from then he or she would have been no different from Helena or myself. A person. Loving and loved. Someone's friend. Someone's first kiss. Someone's first love.

Could we really take that away just because it wasn't convenient? Because we had better things to do? In the end, however, it wasn't my choice to make. Two years later Helena and I parted ways. If things had been different and we'd been parents, would we still be together? Probably, but even if we weren't is it right to say that the children of divorced parents are better off not living? Maybe we would have divorced and even if we didn't we'd probably be poor and that might not have been fair to the child. Less fair than being killed before its first breath? This isn't about convenient or inconvenient, happy or sad, or fair or unfair. It's about life and death.

I can run through questions in my mind about Helena and I. This may have been good. That may have been bad. We may have been poor. We may have had the support of our parents and done well for ourselves. We may have been happy. We may have been sad. The child may have been happy. The child may have been sad. Maybes and howevers and whatifs until the end of time. Every prospective couple (or potential single mother) would have them. In the end, there is only one certainty of the decision. It either brings life into the world or it snuffs it out. He lives or he dies. She lives or she dies. What kind of choice is that, really?

Posted by susanna at 08:14 PM | Comments (13)

Anti-military bias in The (UK) Times Online

Dodd Harris at Ipse Dixit is steaming at the military-bashing of an article in The (UK) Times. Dodd, a former Navy man, soundly debunks them piece by piece, then closes with this wonderful imagery:

...few people on Earth put themselves through as much difficulty and personal inconvenience in the service of something greater than themselves than the men (and now women) who serve aboard US Navy aircraft carriers. Certainly not the snide, ignorant, leftie gasbags who penned this unconscionable drivel for the Times Online. Frankly, neither of them is worthy to polish the boots of the lowliest Fireman Recruit in the engine room of the USS Kitty Hawk. Not even with their tongues.


Go read it all. It'll make your day.

Posted by susanna at 04:37 PM | Comments (2)

Oh Amazon, How I Love Thee

I’ve often considered just having my paycheck deposited into an account with, but so far have resisted. Futilely, it would seem. Today’s shipment:

Militant Islam Reaches America by Daniel Pipes – this is John Hawkins’s fault – I ordered the book after reading his excellent interview with Pipes.

American Jihad by Steven Emerson – this is Amazon’s fault, because they packaged it with the Pipes book and I’m a sucker. But it looks like it may be worth my time. I’ll let you know.

The Conservative Mind by Russell Kirk – I’ve been meaning to read this for a while. I’ve read some of Kirk’s fiction, but not much of his conservative non-fiction. My brother was his research assistant for a year in the early 1990s, and has always encouraged me to read more Kirk. This promises to be a book of substance that lends itself to being read in chapter-sized bites.

Confessions of a Failed Southern Lady by Florence King – another book recommended by my brother. As a failed Southern lady myself, I anticipate enjoying it thoroughly. However, from what I’ve heard about the book, Ms. King (also an NRO contributing editor) and I didn’t always fail in the same way. It’s nice to know that even in failure one can be an individualist.

I won’t, of course, mention the steamy romance novels delivered while I was in Kentucky. You’re too young to read those. Back, BACK!

Posted by susanna at 02:06 PM | Comments (4)

Wrong hill to die on

Ann Coulter isn’t Bill Dennis’s favorite person, but he still thinks The Centre Times Daily picked a provably stupid reason for dumping her column. Pretty funny. My favorite line is his defense of John F. Kennedy’s reputation for infidelity:

John F. Kennedy is alleged to have had affairs with too many women to name, although I suspect not as many as people believe. The man did have a bad back.

Bill, maybe JFK just went the Monica route. But, wait, that’s not sex – so can it be infidelity? At any rate, it does get around the bad back problem.

Posted by susanna at 01:12 PM | Comments (6)

Gun locks endanger children?

I just came across this July 8 article about John Lott, a prominent researcher on gun issues, saying it's true - because it makes the guns inaccessible when the families are threatened. And gun locks and gun safes are protecting against an eventuality that is highly unlikely:

Lott [says] that the number of gun accidents among law-abiding citizens is remarkably low given that about 90 million Americans own firearms. Far more children die each year from drowning and poisons.

And when tragedy does strike, Lott said, it usually happens in a home where there is a criminal history.

"You're having these law abiding households lock up these guns where the risks of accidental gun deaths is essentially zero," he said.

Emphasis mine. Another example of leftists causing harm in an effort to do "good", because of a refusal to see the truth. If you (like me) missed the article in July, make time for it now. And then go read Glenn Reynolds' August 8 column about the history of gun control in England, if you want to see what's in our future if we don't fight this incrementalism.

Just to remind yourself.

Posted by susanna at 12:33 PM | Comments (5)

Quote of the Day

From the country music group Blackhawk:

I paint my Heaven but it looks like hell
---Jeff Black, That's Just About Right

That's how I feel, about too many things. I guess we rarely get to where what we do fully lives up to what we see in our heads. But there's a lot of joy in trying, isn't there?

Posted by susanna at 11:50 AM | Comments (1)

Saddam as psychopath

Indepundit Scott Koenig outlines why Saddam Hussein is a classic psychopath. It's an excellent post, taking a different tack from my ranting on terrorists as sociopaths. In case you're wondering, the term sociopath replaced psychopath a number of years ago in the official psychological lexicon, but they're still both used interchangeably. If you want to get really picky, the right term is "anti-social personality disorder".

Here's a good discussion of the three terms..

UPDATE: Scott has added the second of his series - Saddam and the Bomb. Keep it up, and I'll have to enlist!

Posted by susanna at 11:15 AM | Comments (0)

More trauma in West Virginia

I'm not the only one having quirky experiences in (almost) heaven, West Virginia.

I must say, though, that it is truly a gorgeous state, and many wonderful people live there and are from there. It's just... well... read it.

(John, I think she was auditioning for "The Real Beverly Hillbillies.)

Posted by susanna at 09:04 AM | Comments (0)

First moving at last!

Fred First, a thoughtful observer of life with a wonderful talent for nature photography, has moved his Fragments From Floyd off Blogspot. Check his new patch of ground here.

Note: If you get stuck and can't scroll past the end of the right column of his page, hit F-11 twice - that will give you access to the full page.

Posted by susanna at 07:06 AM | Comments (0)

Dowd, Iraq and Game Theory

Dean Esmay finds that Maureen Dowd doesn't get it. Which doesn't surprise us. Fortunately, Dean does get it.

Posted by susanna at 07:01 AM | Comments (2)

More on Jackie Mason and Ray Hanania

Al Barger at Culpepper Log has all you want to know about the Jackie Mason - Ray Hanania situation - where Hanania, a comedian who is Palestinian-American, was dismissed as an opening act for Mason, who is Jewish. Some have claimed racism on Mason's part. Barger has an email exchange with Hanania posted on his site, plus an extensive list of links on the situation. Interesting stuff. And good reporting, Al.

Posted by susanna at 06:55 AM | Comments (1)

Remembering 9/11

A week from today is the first anniversary of 9/11, and the media is circling to find where the meatiest audience is. Stephen Gordon at Pundit Tree thinks they're missing the story - it's not about healing, it's about remembering so it doesn't happen again.

He's right, but they can't say that when they're against the war with Iraq, can they?

Posted by susanna at 06:46 AM | Comments (1)

Newsflash: LA Times shows ignorance

David Mecklenberg has caught the LA Times in a case of raging ignorance. My first reaction: Ohhhhh, that's embarrassing! Clearly no one on the LA Times editorial staff has neither a) lived in the country (really lived there, not just had a weekend hideaway there the better to watch wildlife gamboling in nature), nor b) thought about actually researching something.

Posted by susanna at 06:36 AM | Comments (0)

Only in France

Will Warren gently mocks a foolish Frenchman in his latest verse.

Posted by susanna at 06:21 AM | Comments (0)

September 03, 2002

Net bias

WorldNetDaily, a news website, has been trying to get Senate press credentials for over a year and a half; they’ve yet to be granted, and WND has now decided to file a lawsuit against the Gallery for the refusal. WND has been all over the Gallery, busting both its selection committee for arrogance and misrepresentation of WND’s situation, and its deputy director for lying about his credentials – apparently he doesn’t have the journalism credentials necessary for the Director job, for which he seems to be a shoo-in.

It’s an interesting situation in itself, but it has implications for other online news sites. Something to keep an eye on, definitely.

And thanks to Ty Clevenger, who dug out the links and sent them to me.

UPDATE: Ty sends the latest link, where WND outlines who does have press credentials - news agencies from socialist countries.

Posted by susanna at 10:45 PM | Comments (0)

I'm back, mostly

I'm finally home from the afternoon hiking trip that turned into a three day jaunt to Kentucky. The trip back was uneventful - thank goodness - save for stopping every few hours to pour more oil in my greedy old car, which made it a 13 hour trip. I'm now officially so tired I can hardly see straight. Naturally, though, I'm blogging a little before hauling my aching body to bed. Aren't you happy?

A little more on the trip down. As you know, it was a spur of the moment thing (literally), so I didn't have reservations anywhere. I got tired about 12:30 a.m. Sunday, stopped in Weston, WV at a Super 8 Motel there; no rooms and, she said, no hope for one anywhere because it was Labor Day weekend. So I bedded down in my car for an hour, falling asleep only after figuring out how to react if someone tried to break in the car. Somewhat refreshed, I took off again only to have my battery and brake lights come on when I stopped for gas at 3:30 a.m. in Dunbar, WV. While waiting at the GO Mart to pay for gas, I had ample time to observe the way guys who wear pants below their butts manage it - tight belt, boxers and then (on this guy, anyway) briefs underneath to fill in the boxer's rips. It speaks of both my tiredness and degree of boredom that I figured that out, since - trust me - the rear on which these pieces of clothing were displayed was not worthy of such attention on its own merits. The owner of said rear at one point asked me if I was high or very tired, and discerned from my expression that "tired" was the correct answer. It was not, I believe, the correct answer in his case.

I asked a woman with a tow truck crew what it meant that my lights had come on and stayed on. She said, sensor problem or alternator going out. I said, can I drive on? She said, no. So I went to a hotel - another Super 8 - and now it wasn't Labor Day weekend, but something called The Regatta, which by the clerk's tone I SHOULD HAVE known about, that netted the same answer as at the other Super 8: No rooms. Ack. So, back to my car for about 20 min before the clerk came out and told me he had straightened up the room of someone who had left early and did I want it? YES! YES! And he meant it when he said, "quickly" - the commode wasn't flushed. So I found myself cleaning a hotel commode at 4 a.m. on Labor Day Sunday in Dunbar, WV, and was happy for the opportunity!

The place where I had my car fixed was the only 24/7 car repair place I found in the phone book, with Visa and Mastercard decals displayed in the advertisement. So off I went, and by early afternoon they were done. I handed the owner my Visa... and he said, we only take cash. I said, but in your ad in the telephone book...?? He said, that's old. So off I went to an ATM, got the cash, handed it to him, and said, it was a new phone book. He said, I have signs posted about CASH ONLY! I turned around and said where? where?! You understand, by this point I had paid cash already. I was just being either a) a crusader or b) very annoying. Guess which one he thought it was.

We argued about it for a couple of minutes while he showed me the two (poorly placed) signs, then he said, "Most people are just happy to have their car fixed, and get back on the road! They don't argue!!" I said, "Someone else might not have the cash like I did." He grumbled, gave me the wrong change (kept $15), I pointed it out to him, he gave it to me and claimed it was a "rounding error". Ha. He said, how did you get your car here? I said, I drove it. He said, most people have to pay $150-200 for a tow truck! I could tell he wished I was one.

So that was the trip down to Kentucky - so aren't we all thankful I had an uneventful return trip? I know the service station guy is... not.

Posted by susanna at 10:27 PM | Comments (3)

September 01, 2002

The road trip from Gehenna

Well, when I got in the car, overnight bag in the back seat, I was going to Delaware Water Gap for a hike and maybe, just maybe, spend the night at some little roadside hole left over from the 1960s before the interstate came through. About an hour into the drive, I thought... it's only about 11 hours to Kentucky, why not? So, 25 hours, two stints sleeping in Super 8 Motel parking lots, an 11 p.m. dead-stop traffic jam in rural West Virginia and $345 for a new alternator later, here I am! Writing you from God's country - Kentucky.


Specifically, I'm at my Van Zant-channeling friend Melody's house, typing on her new computer with an AWESOME flat panel monitor that is just... amazing. The computer is very fast too, but she knows me too well - she's sitting close enough to rap my knuckles when I try to reconfigure her screen, add buttons to the browser or any other shenanigans with her computer. Rats. I'm known to do it even in libraries. It's my secret vice.

My niece Molly Katherine, 3 1/2 weeks old, is absolutely precious. I rocked her to sleep at her parents' house before coming to Melody's, and folks, those few minutes were worth the drive. And money. Her sister Haydon invited me to a tea party, and things were going well until I dumped the "apple juice" (actually half a toy apple) on the stuffed rabbit also invited to the tea party. Haydon informed me that she DID NOT like that, she wanted the apple juice in the glass. I was soundly chastised.

I wish I had time to cruise around to find more things to blog about, but somehow my friends and family get testy when I drive 700 miles to visit them for 36 hours and spend 15 of it blogging. I don't know what their problem is. Sheesh.

Anyway. It's been a very interesting weekend so far, and when I get time I'll tell you about the smoking tow truck driver, the guy who told me I was either very tired or high (I think he was wantin' some weed), and the argument I got into with the guy who fixed my car.


So have a nice weekend, and I'll tell you more later!

Posted by susanna at 09:47 PM | Comments (9)