Friday, April 30, 2004


Is it my imagination or does General Jasim Muhammad Salih look vaguely familiar?

"Oh, and sorry about the mess General. Why don't you call my friends over at Halliburton and see if they can rent you a couple of dumpsters?"


Thursday, April 29, 2004


Two perps, one murder. Whose idea was it? Who pulled the trigger? Whose gun? Anyone order up the hit? Who’s going to talk?

In all cop shows set in New York, there’s a simple answer. It’s the perp/skell/lowlife/ who’s first threatened with “the needle.” The most hardened criminal immediately bugs out his eyes and turns into a Chatty Kathy when informed by detectives that New York is a death penalty state.

Can this have any basis in reality? First of all, do criminals not know this already? They don’t read the papers or watch TV themselves? All work and no play?

So, the supposition is that they missed the news. They are grateful to have the updated niceties of the penal code pointed out to them by the friendly detectives. Although, ironically, it’s usually bad cop who delivers the message.

So, the supposition is that they missed the news, and they also missed the news that there have been no executions in NY for over 40 years, death penalty or no.

The lesson: The death penalty is most effective as a deterrent to one’s being a recipient of same, but only after the fact, as most murderers get their news from local law enforcement agents, on a need to know basis.



Tuesday, April 27, 2004


Jonathan Alter was on the radio this morning, discussing the ongoing controversy over the Bush administration’s fight to keep pictures of soldier’s coffins out of public view. Alter put this in the context of the administration’s unwillingness to trust the people. He feels the administration believes that the public would be unable to handle the sight and turn against the president.

This characterization is, of course, accurate, but a little late. In hindsight, it should be easy to see the an administration that takes power by fiat, not by the will of the people, may have a rough time trusting those very same people in many other situations.

Of course this mindset is a catastrophic one, best evinced by the events, or non-events leading up to 9/11. All during the summer of 2001 alarm bells went off about possible terrorist attacks. Warnings poured in from FBI field offices, from the CIA, from informants, from foreign intelligence services. We presume the government was doing something (handicapped though they were by the terrorists’ oversight in not providing exact dates, times, and targets) to thwart these attacks.

We know, however, that they did so in secret. The airlines weren’t notified. The public wasn’t notified. They couldn’t be trusted. They might panic.

(And of course, rumors persist that the warning were specific enough that several members of the administration stopped flying on commercial flights in the weeks preceding 9/11. John Ashcroft is often mentioned. He was asked about this during the 9/11 hearings and denied it.)

The actual events of 9/11 show how wrong this decision was. The first hijacked plane hit the WTC at 8:46. At 9:57 passengers on UA 93 stormed the cockpit and fought the hijackers. The plane went down in a field, rather then into the White House.

So, in slightly over an hour, regular American citizens were able to communicate, absorb what was happening, realize the rules had changed, and joined together to stop the hijackers. They were successful in diverting the plane from its intended target. They acted decisively in an attempt to save the lives of the very same people who didn’t trust them enough to warn them of impending danger.

In belated response to this we have, courtesy of the Dept. of Homeland Security, a terror alert system which functions akin to a “Danger, Will Robinson, Danger” device, (see, or here ) programmed to go off at holidays and high travel days. Now we get it. Now we can’t say we haven’t been warned.

Meanwhile, as we are taking off out shoes at airports, the administration continues on a need-not-to-know policy about issues big and small.

War With Iraq? Done. Now let’s come up with some reasons the people will buy.

Energy Policy? None of your business. How’s $2.50 a gallon sound?

Howard Stern? Enough of that guy. You people need to be protected from him.

And on and on.


Saturday, April 24, 2004


While inching my way to work the other morning in my piece of Jetta, I heard an interesting teaser on the radio news: “A new study shows that there may be differences in the brain structures of Democrats and Republicans.”

It wasn’t news to me. It fits a theory I’ve been working on for some years now. My latest proposal is to get nationwide IQ data organized by state. Shade the states who have a larger proportion of higher scores a certain color, say blue. Shade the states with a higher proportion of those scoring in the lower ranges another color, say red. Overlay the results on one of those election results maps of the blue and red states. Think there’d be a correlation?

News radio was back to a commercial. If I needed a fine driving machine, I could go to Westchester BMW. The best thing about Westchester is that there are no pesky auto salesman on the premises. One’s experience is enhanced by “fully empowered client advisors.” I like Guido’s philosophy the best.

The only problem with Westchester is that their service team may not be up to snuff.


When I got to work, I quickly went to the New York Times to read about politician’s brains. The article, and the study it cited, was a big disappointment. The study was being done for the benefit of political consultants, admen, who were having subjects MRI’ed so that their brain responses reactions to various political advertisements could be evaluated. So far, they’d studied eleven people.

Eleven people gets you a lead on CBS NewsRadio and the front page of the New York Times? Well, I’ve got my own ongoing study about the brains of professional Democrats and Republicans, and I’m ready to report some preliminary findings.

I’ve been looking into the techniques used by politicians to pander to prospective voters by pretending to be regular people themselves, and I think I’m on to some highly relevant (at least by the standards of the major media) uh, stuff.

I’ve found that there are significant differences in the approach that politicians take when dumbing themselves down to appeal to the great unwashed.

Republicans play the trash food card:

Richard Nixon - Cottage Cheese and Ketchup
Ronald Reagan - Jelly Beans
GHW Bush - Pork Rinds
Present Bush - Pretzel Choking

And to give these results some historical context, check out this horror.

Democrats go for repulsive music:

Clinton/Gore - Fleetwood Mac morass
Al Gore - Macarena
John Kerry - “I Love Rap and Hip-Hop”

We do have some problematic findings to report:

Jimmy Carter – Allman Brothers supporter &
Jimmy Carter – Boiled Peanut lover

Just three or four more examples and I should be on my way to national press coverage.


I was mulling this over when my office phone rang. It was my wife.

“Have you heard about this new study that’s out?” she asked. “It’s all over the news. Apparently, people who get up during the night and stuff their faces are more likely to become obese than those who stay in bed.”

“Let me catch my breath,” I said. “I’m just drowning in information.”


Thursday, April 22, 2004


“General….decided that he could safely spread his forces across the countryside, so that he could maintain order and protect the loyal population. (161)

“The pacification policy was running into other troubles, which rose indirectly from a problem of supply. … requirements had increased and supplies were running low.” (172)

“As acts of violence by occupying troops increased, the people…took up their weapons and began to fight back.” (179)

General…proclaimed a peace, but there was no peace. The pacifiers found themselves at war with an infuriated population.” (181)

“The … commanders were coming up against a hard … reality, on the sheer size of the country that they were trying to control.” (188)

“They commanded the forward posts of an embattled empire and felt exposed to attack…. “(188)

Read the rest of the story here.

Santayana had something to say about situations like these. I wish I could remember exactly what it was.



My neighbor, the big fat obnoxious guy, the guy with the chainsaw on Saturday morning, the guy working on his trucks on Sunday afternoon, the one with all the doors slamming and cars pulling in and out at all hours, the guy who walks his dog on my side off the lawn when he thinks I'm not around, yeah, that guy. Well, I just found out; he's the new leader of Hamas. Not that is any of my business.

"All politics is local." Tip O'Neill



When they were slow-chasing O.J. Simpson on an endless night some years ago, I uttered a silent prayer that he would do the right thing.

Then I said it right out loud: "I wish that son of a bitch would kill himself right now, otherwise we're never going to hear the end of this."

We all know how that turned out.

Michael Jackson was indicted today. He will almost certainly stand trial.



From today's New York Post: Ex-police commissioner.... Bernard Kerik took a huge swipe at Sen. John Kerry yesterday, suggesting another 9/11 attack is more likely if the Democrat wins the White House:

"If you put Sen. Kerry in the White House, I think you are going to see that happen."

I'd been waiting for a sign.



Sid Casperson, Director, New Jersey Office of Counter-Terrorism:

"If it was not for 9/11, do you think the public would accept the fact that to get on a plane, you would have to take off your shoes, you have to be scanned, you can't have nail clippers? " (The Times, A12, 4/18/04)



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