July 10, 2007

Anybody Remember What Number I Was On?

I just checked and found that Richard Cohen still has a column at the Washington Post.

Posted by Charles Austin at 11:13 PM | Comments (1)

June 12, 2005

The Scourge of Richard Cohen, Vol. CX

(Ed. -- The following is a bit of mean spiritedness that will be an on-going feature of this blog. Normally the author will endeavor to be reasonably fair, but this is an exception.)

Whenever reality starts to intrude upon an illiberal’s world view and the carefully constructed house of cards that is their utopian dream house begins to collapse, one of the primary techniques used to restore peace and tranquility to the tender-souled and good-hearted is to loudly begin repeating as a mantra one of the rhetorical talismans they are given at a young age. The most powerful of these rhetorical talismans is “Richard Nixon.” There are no inconvenient facts or unintended consequences that cannot be brushed aside or ignored when the name of the avatar of all that is motivationally questionable by what the DNC Chair might call the white Christers is invoked. Why, whenever doubts start to creep in to the mindset where man’s inherent nature is good, peaceful, altruistic, globally thinking, locally acting, and vegan, uttering his name and appending any manner of vile intent to his deeds, no matter how ludicrous, can serve as a Masonic handshake or passcode to identify fellow travelers who can help restore the blessed state of willful ignorance that passes for an enlightened, post-modern, raised consciousness amongst the true believers.

Of course, such doubts rarely surface in the priestly class of the fourth estate, but their pedagogy constantly reinforces a nostalgic view of things that never were. Their invocation of “Richard Nixon” has less to do with reassuring themselves than with proselytizing and transcribing an unquestioning belief in the myths of the past on the Rousseau-like blank slates of their noble savages. Which brings us to today’s lesson in the catechism of illiberal dogma, in which Richard Cohen drops names and promotes his very minor part in the reporting of Watergate in a self serving manner…, I mean, in which Richard Cohen celebrates the greatness of disloyalty and the integrity of lacking integrity when it comes to the bringing down the foul beast of the nether regions that is any Republican president in A Brave Friend:

A long time ago…

… in a galaxy far, far away…

… I wrote a magazine piece about how Bob Woodward's famous source, "Deep Throat," could have been a mere Secret Service technician -- any one of several people detailed to keep Richard Nixon's secret White House taping system operating.

Because in Richard’s universe, everyone should violate the trust of their employers – at least when their employers are Republicans.

I figured that anyone with access to the system could quickly learn all that mattered about the Watergate burglary: The president's men had done it and the president was covering it up.

Anybody but Rosemary Woods perhaps.

I showed the piece to Woodward, who would not say whether it was right or wrong, just that it made sense.

Mr. Woodward wouldn’t say whether it was right or wrong, but that it made sense. Fake but accurate has a fine pedigree, does it not?

We both knew, though, that "Deep Throat" was Mark Felt.

Wow, Dick knew Deep Throat’s identity and kept it quiet all these years. Who knew Dick could display such strength, integrity and single-minded purpose.

Woodward's knowledge was firsthand, up close and certain.

Woodward, firsthand, up close, Deep Throat, Dick, trench coats, secret 2 AM rendezvous in parking garages – what is this, a Beavis and Butthead joke?

Mine was different.

And thus we come to celebrate Dick’s diversity!

It came from having worked with Woodward early in his career.

Taught the kid everything he knows, eh?

I was looking into rumors that Nixon's vice president, Spiro Agnew of Maryland, was under investigation by the U.S. attorney's office in Baltimore. Somehow -- I can't remember exactly -- I worked a bit with Bob on that story.

And yet, bizarrely, Mr. Woodward did not later march into Ben Bradlee’s office and demand that he be allowed to work with his mensch, Richard Cohen, on this threat that could only be stopped through the diligence and self-sacrifice of the self-appointed guarantors of America’s freedom.

His source, a person he used to call "my friend," had terrific information -- stuff that, looking back on it, not even the prosecutors in Baltimore had yet learned.

And we wonder why information that might have prevented 9/11 isn’t just automatically known by all the people in government that need to know.

Woodward would refer to his notes, and I could see the initials "M.F." They stood either for "my friend" or Mark Felt, whose name almost instantly surfaced.

Uh huh. And M.F. certainly wouldn’t be an abbreviation for a rather insulting term used to describe an incestuous relationship, would it?

I thought it didn't matter.


The two were the same.

But accurate.

There was a single source.

I missed the syllogism that produced this conclusion.

Now we know it is Mark Felt.

Now we know? I thought Richard said he knew it was Mark Felt all along?

He has confessed, if that's the right word -- although given his age (91) it's not exactly clear what he was intending.

When it comes to committing felonies, perhaps confessed is the right word.

Suffice it to say, though, that he is the man.

The man that brought down The Man.

He was No. 2 in the FBI back in the Watergate days, and he just could not abide the way the bureau was being abused by Nixon and his White House colleagues.

Like Avis, he tried harder. Hmm…, I wonder how many FBI files of political opponents with unedited agent inputs and interviews could be found in the Nixon White House? Or was this a new tradition started by the Clinton administration, but unworthy of further discussion because their hearts are pure. And besides, Hillary Clinton assured us there was nothing to it.

They wanted to use the FBI to block any real investigation into the Watergate burglary.

Yes, they were wrong

Felt simply would not permit that.

So what my mom taught me about two wrongs not making a right isn’t quite right. Right? I’d feel a lot better about what Mr. Felt did if he had come out immediately and disclosed his role. I remain uncomfortable not with what Mr. Felt did so much as with his own cover up of his role. I can understand wanting to fight corruption from the inside, but you have to remember what Nietzsche said, “and if you gaze for long into an abyss, the abyss gazes also into you.” Or why exactly is it that he felt it necessary to stay anonymous when performing such a valuable service to our country?

I applaud.

That sound you hear is self-congratulatory back-slapping.

We all applaud, or we should.

That sound you do not hear is dissent being suppressed.

Here was a man who put his career -- and it was a truly great career -- on the line.

That right wing nonsense about being passed over as J. Edgar Hoover’s successor had nothing to do with it. None. Whatsoever.

Here was a man who took seriously all that stuff about duty and loyalty and -- permit me, please -- the American Way.

He took all that stuff about duty and loyalty seriously right up to the point he stopped doing his duty and became disloyal. Perhaps Mark Felt was one the first people for the American Way. But why the need to be apologetic about the American Way? Are you ashamed of it, or is it just not popular with your friends, Dick?

He was, to say the least, no showboater. He did not rush out to write a book or appear on "Larry King Live" or sell his story to the movies, which he could have done.

And effectively what he and his children are trying to do now.

No, he did what he thought was right.

“He did what he thought was right” is apparently the new “I was just following orders.”

The reason I loved my theory about the nonexistent Secret Service technician is that he was the proverbial little man.

And I thought Richard loved his theory because it was his theory. I never would have guessed that it was because of his love for a little man.

He was the guy you don't notice who is appalled by wrongdoing and wants to do the right thing.

The mythology is getting deep in here now.

He asks no reward and he demands no fame. He wants only to show the big boys that the little guys, in the end, cannot be taken for granted. He is always there. He has to be taken into account.

Note that Richard has already acknowledged that his theory, which he loves, is wrong, and yet, he can’t let go of it. Gosh, does this sound familiar?

He can always go to the media.

Like I wrote above, the self-proclaimed guarantor of our rights. I, for one, do not welcome our new Big Media overlords.

Felt was too important to be "the little guy." That made what he did even braver. He was always an obvious suspect. He clearly knew too much.

No, he clearly talked to much. There is a difference.

For more than 30 years I have had people tell me that Deep Throat did not exist.

For more than 45 years I have had people tell me that the United States of America is responsible for all the things wrong with the world, that we would run out of oil within 10 years, that mass starvation would occur the day after tomorrow, that peace is more important than freedom, and that Social Security is solvent.

He was invented, made up. Or he was a composite -- a piece of this person and a piece of that person with some fiction thrown in.

No fiction. None. Nothing to read, just Move On.

I knew better.

So now you know again?

I had seen the notes and, besides, I knew Woodward and Carl Bernstein.

And you don’t.

They would not lie.

Because… they are in the media?

We live in a cynical era.

Like, duh. This isn't called the Scourge of Richard Cohen because it rhymes or contributes to World Peace.

The press has been knocked off its Watergate-era pedestal and prosecutors are rounding up anonymous sources because it is more important to seal a leak than to get at the truth.

Yeah, that’s it. Big Media's hearts are pure and anybody who doesn’t agree with them is evil. Keep on telling truth to power, Dick.

The public either applauds or does not give a damn.

Or cares and does what it can while it can until the FEC shuts down the blogosphere.

Everything is the same.

Same as it ever was... (sorry, can't resist any opportunity to drop in an 80's Talking Heads reference).

Big government. Big media. What does it matter?

The common denominator here is “big.” Maybe there’s an argument for limited government crying to get out here somewhere, if it can ever get past Richard’s false dichotomies.

But Mark Felt knew that it mattered.

Sha doo bay, mattered, mattered... (or an 80's Rolling Stones reference either). And, of course, his heart was pure.

Remember: He was No. 2 in the FBI.

And we all know how much Richard respected the FBI, especially when Mark Felt was No.2 to J. Edgar Hoover.

Remember: He carried a gun.

So maybe he was the one who was putting Robert Redford’s and Dustin Hoffman’s lives in danger! Sorry, but I'm still laughing at this one because try as I might I cannot figure out the relevance of this fact to anything else Richard has written.

And remember, too: Despite all that, when he was afraid for his bureau and for his country, he went to a reporter and told his story and changed history.

Like all cultures, Big Media has its own mythology for the creation of the universe.

Richard Nixon resigned and countless White House officials went to jail partly because of what Felt told that reporter.

And all this time I thought it was because of the crimes they committed.

That's how it started, anyway.


Now that I know for sure that Mark Felt is Deep Throat, nothing really changes. I always suspected it was him.

So now you didn’t know again?

And I knew, no matter who (sic) it was, that I could always paraphrase Woodward: For what Felt did for us all, he was "our friend."

And, he forgot to add; he made us very wealthy and cemented our oligarchy as the fourth branch of government. I still find it humorous that sunshine is considered a great purifier and antiseptic for ills and foul conspiracies of the government, but not for a press which believes it is the ombudsman for our liberty. My view of our new overlords is best summed up by paraphrasing an old aphorism, “I’m from the press, and I’m here to help.”

Posted by Charles Austin at 12:26 PM | Comments (1)

February 18, 2005

The Scourge of Richard Cohen, Vol. CIX

(Ed. -- The following is a bit of mean spiritedness that will be an on-going feature of this blog. Normally the author will endeavor to be reasonably fair, but this is an exception.)

The following is a dark, dark scourge. Some of it is probably in poor taste, but Dick brings that out in me. For the record (again), as a libertarian-minded conservative, I don’t care a whit about anyone’s sexuality or what they like to do for fun so long as everyone’s of age, they behavior is consensual and nobody’s getting hurt. I’m still opposed to gay marriage though I favor civil unions. But, I digress.

I mention this because some of the commentary below can, and probably will, be used against me to label me a homophobe or worse. Read properly, if anyone’s a homophobe here it is Richard Cohen. When you get to the end of this Scourge, look at who is condemning gay men for being gay men. I thought about not writing this out of sensitivity to the issues involved and not a little concern that my intent will be misconstrued, but ultimately decided that Dick had to be spanked. Not that there’s not anything wrong with that.

And so Richard Cohen comes out of the closet with A Warning, From Gays to Gays:

Or, My Eyes Gays Over:

Much of life's wisdom is contained in a single piece of dialogue in George Bernard Shaw's "Saint Joan":

And thus the prime motivating factor behind the paucity of wisdom in Dick’s remarks is revealed.

… the exchange between the Inquisitor and the Chaplain during the trial of Joan of Arc. The Inquisitor orders the Chaplain to sit down. When the Chaplain indignantly refuses, the Inquisitor says, "If you will not sit, you must stand." To that, the Chaplain says, "I will not stand," and flings himself into his seat.

Brilliant! Now where’s my Guinness?

Often, as Shaw knew, the best reason to do something is that someone else doesn't want you to do it.

Isn’t this an absolutely perfect summation of the Left, whether today’s moonbats or the Shavian Fabians?

Tragically, this juvenile reasoning partially accounts for the apparent upsurge in HIV infections among gay males –

Not to mention the decline and fall of the Democrat Party.

… and the emergence of a virulent new strain that has health officials plenty worried.

Not just health officials, Dick.

Simply put, it is the determination of some gays -- a minority, but a substantial one -- to disregard all the rules for safe sex because being gay, they think, means you don't have to follow any rules at all.

Somehow, I can only imagine the flack I’d catch if I phrased something so carelessly. As only Dick Nixon go to China, apparently only Dick Cohen can speak truth to the powerless. Tricky Dick. So tricky.

That's just plain dumb.

Stupid is as stupid does.

My guru in such matters is Charles Kaiser, the author of "The Gay Metropolis."

You need a guru for this?

For a long time now, this writer of both renown and common sense has been pleading with his fellow gays to -- my words here -- grow up.

How terribly insensitive – must be a Republican.

Unprotected sex is reckless, and unprotected sex between gays who are already HIV-positive will sooner or later produce a super strain of the disease. That may already have happened.


Kaiser is not alone in his apprehension. Larry Kramer, maybe the most famous of the gay writer-activists, and HIV-positive himself, has also been calling for restraint -- to no avail, it seems. The emergence of drugs that have vastly expanded the life span of men who are HIV-positive has given some gays a sense of invulnerability. That, coupled with a Shavian determination …

Ha, I used Shavian first.

… not to be told what to do, …

And we all know how much the Left loves to tell people what to do. No wonder Dick’s all bent out of shape.

… leads too many gays into unsafe sex practices.

Oh, please. So it’s not really their fault that they so casually disregard common sense rules of, uh, engagement.

A common philosophy, according to Kaiser, goes like this: "I am not subject to the rules."

But just let some Rethuglican dare to say that careless promiscuity in the gay community is a problem…

For too long now heterosexuals have kept out of this debate.

Hmmm…, now why would that be?

Many of us have been protective of gays, seeing them primarily as victims of discrimination.

Uh huh. I rest my case.

We have been encouraged in our protectiveness by the calculated homophobia or pathetic ignorance of several Republican administrations, which continues to this day.

Damn, I’m scourging this as I read it but it’s eerie how well I’m anticipating what comes next – except, of course, that I’ve been doing this on and off for nigh on three years now, and there’s nothing new under the sun when it comes to Dick.

Just recently, for instance, the new secretary of education, Margaret Spellings, warned PBS against airing an episode of the children's show "Postcards From Buster" because it showed a family headed by a lesbian couple.

You know, Dick, there’s a huge difference between preaching to the choir on POV and preaching to the pre-pubescent on “Postcards From Buster.” Gee, and I thought you were all against trying to sell things to kids – or was your self-righteous indignation limited to Joe Camel?

She undoubtedly will get a medal from the president for this.

Or not. But yeah, how dare those Neanderthals try and maintain what’s left of what they consider to be the last shreds of traditional family structures while resisting the proselytization of their children. Tell you what Dick, if she gets a medal from the President for this, I'll apologize and give up blogging; and if she doesn't get a medal for it you apologize and quit writing your columns. How about it?

Other medals will be awarded for the continuing effort to keep young people as ignorant as possible about sex and, especially, contraception.

Not to mention the total lack of idle time they’ll have constructing strawmen to torch – Devil’s work and all that. With all due respect, and believe me it ain’t much, Mr. Cohen is sadly confused. Wasn’t he just lamenting casual promiscuous sex amongst gay males? Is it really so wrong to think that the promotion of some types of sex education and the ready availability of contraception to 15-year-olds might be justly construed as promoting casual promiscuity amongst those least prepared to deal with the consequences?

While it is not remotely possible that any gay man over a certain age is not conversant with AIDS and its consequences, that may not be the case with, say, a 15-year-old about to become sexually active. He or she needs to know about risky sex and how to avoid disease.

Or, everything you always wanted to know about risky sex but were afraid to ask because your parents might kick the #&*% out of you. As the father of a 14-year-old daughter, allow me to say that Richard Cohen can go &%@$* himself.

Think of it as driver's ed for the body.

Yes. No doubt. That’s exactly the image I was thinking of as most appropriate for 9th graders.

But while gays clearly have their enemies, that should not mean they are immune from criticism.

What insight! I find it utterly amazing that anyone gets paid to write crap like this.

The fact remains that a portion of the gay population -- maybe 20 percent, Kaiser estimates -- conducts itself in ways that are not only reckless but just plain disgusting.

Who’s being judgmental now?

Unprotected, promiscuous sex in bathhouses and at parties and using drugs such as crystal meth to prolong both desire and performance are practices that should be no more acceptable for gays than for heterosexuals.

Who said they were?

Gays don't get some sort of pass just because they're gay.

Brilliant! More Guinness! But why not? It works for Democrats.

About 40,000 Americans a year continue to be infected with the AIDS virus. While their lives can be prolonged, it can be only at considerable cost -- and not forever, either.

This is a tragedy for so many, but last time I checked, none of us are living forever.

An increasing number of AIDS victims are heterosexual black women …

NY Times: AIDS Epidemic! Women, Minorities Hit Hardest!

… but most are gay men.

Somehow, this seems to border dangerously close to wishing some other unfavored group was afflicted instead.

Whatever they are, they are first and foremost human beings.

At last, something we can agree on.

They are entitled to their own sexuality, but not to behavior that endangers others, costs us all plenty and, too often, entails a determined self-destruction that too many heterosexuals overlook.

Doh! Darn overlooking heterosexuals.

Back in the 1970s William Ryan of Boston College popularized the term "blaming the victim."

And Richard Cohen is still struggling to figure out what it means.

It gave voice to a needed concept, but it also silenced critics who saw that sometimes the victim needed to be blamed.

Real victims never need to be blamed. Politicized, institutionalized victimhood is another matter. Dick sure has some weird ideas about “need.”

This is the case now with gays when their behavior is both stupid and reckless.

I don’t normally equate stupid and reckless with victims.

When they're victims of discrimination, they need to be defended.

As long as they are victims.

When they're victims of their own behavior, they need to be condemned.

Condemned? My goodness, this sounds as though it could have come right out of the mouth of Pat Robertson or Alan Keyes. Perhaps Mr. Cohen has heard, “hate the sin, love the sinner.” Or perhaps he hasn’t.

Posted by Charles Austin at 12:07 AM | Comments (5)

November 10, 2004

The Scourge of Richard Cohen, Vol. CVIII

(Ed. -- The following is a bit of mean spiritedness that will be an on-going feature of this blog. Normally the author will endeavor to be reasonably fair, but this is an exception.)

Sisyphus was (is?) a wimp. Greg tempted me last week to once again slide up against the rough-hewn stone with the post-election rhetorical brain droppings of noted fecal-encephalite Richard Cohen, but I successfully resisted the siren’s song and shunned the always futile labor of tactfully traversing the tangled webs of deception so carefully woven by the Shelob of Sheboygan (yes, yes, I know he’s from New York, but Shelob of New York doesn’t scan), always knowing that another column, more insipid than the last, would be coming out in less than a week. Having instead put my energies since the election into paying work, riddling paper targets with extreme prejudice, home maintenance, and familial opportunities and obligations (I am the pater familias, after all), I felt quite chipper knowing that the monkey of a shrieking red-faced blue-state flunky was off my back.

And then today, Martin goes and suggests that I, the Scourge of Richard Cohen, would have to admit that yesterday’s bedpan contents comprise a “pretty good column.” Without challenging the necessity of “admitting” anything, eschewing the gamut of subliminal connotation that carries, let me just say that I shall do no such thing. I can, and will, be baited into bating this admixture of acerbic half-truths and semi-serious punditry as it so poorly deserves. And so, without stepping in further a doodoo, I shall take up my non-Herculean duties at least once more, suppressing the flashbacks of high school chemistry lectures on the difference between adsorb and absorb, and the fear and loathing that brings on, long enough to properly hold up to ridicule the dissembling Dupes and Dopes Of Campaign '04:

A phrase from a press release struck me:

Doubtless, with good cause. But isn't it amazing how clear everything has become after the election?

"In voting for George Bush, religious Americans were duped into voting against their best interests."

“And by best interests, we mean what we decide is best for you, the little people.”

The operative word is "duped," and it explains, almost by itself, why the Democratic Party is in the pits and John Kerry is not the next president of the United States.

Well, technically, John Kerry could still be the next president of the United States – in 2008. But don’t hold your breath or you’ll turn all blue-state, or something, waiting for it to happen. And as for the Democratic Party being in the pits, well, if you are open to some gentle advice -- stop digging! Or is Richard Cohen merely advocating that the Democratic Party needs to get better at fooling people?

Only a dope thinks these voters were duped.

Why do you think we call them dopes? (Man, this stuff just writes itself if you’ve lived through the same 45 years of PSA’s I have.)

The press release comes from an organization called "Retro vs. Metro America," which -- par for the course nowadays -- is also a book and a Web site and soon, probably, a breakfast cereal.

Or, Stix Hix Nix Blix-loving illiberal utopian statists. But don’t worry, those rubes in flyover country will never figure out the irony laden name.

It is Democratic, …

But, of course!

… and consists of some pretty impressive people, including the pollster Celinda Lake.

Hmm…, it doesn’t seem right after the election to have the words “pollster” and “pretty impressive people” in the same sentence.

And while a press release is, after all, just a press release …


… the one from Retro vs. Metro does represent the fairly common view that cultural conservatives have no idea what they are doing.

How commonly unfair! Thank goodness the cultural progressives are here to save us from the enemies of enlightenment.

For a little piece of heaven, they will sacrifice a better standard of living, health insurance and a chance to live their retirement in splendor.

Whereas, for a chance to engineer a little piece of heaven on earth, the sophisticated will sacrifice your freedom, your money, and your future. Splendor is so bourgeois.

In some theoretical way, this may be the case.

And when theory conflicts with reality, well, we know who trusts the exit polls more than the actual vote tallies, now don’t we Mr. Olbermann?

But in the real world, as they say, you tell me what Democratic program would have improved the economic well-being of your average family so that, even for a moment, it would have to weigh trading off a cultural conviction.

I can’t name any. Does that mean I win?

Is there a single American out there who really thought that Kerry's program to end or limit or whatever the outsourcing of jobs overseas was going to amount to anything?

Well, yes there are. Or is Mr. Cohen stating unequivocally that John Edwards was lying?

If so, that person should have been deprived of the right to vote on the grounds of insanity.

Um, ok. Though I have to admit that letting Richard Cohen decide who can vote, or who is sane does worry me a bit.

And tell me, is there anyone out there who thought you could narrow the deficit and fund all sorts of programs merely by eliminating the tax breaks President Bush gave the very rich -- people who make more than $200,000 a year?

Well, yes there are. But please, $200,000 a year isn’t anywhere near “very rich.” And anyway, being rich has a lot more to do with your assets than your income, though I would note that the real “very rich” like to punish those of us who may be earning a lot but can’t hope to compete with the assets they can live off of without ever having to work again. Helps to keep the hoi polloi out of the club, don’t you know?

I voted for Kerry, but I didn't believe that for a second.

Ok, but it’s us cultural conservatives that are all, like, stupid and everything.

So just how, precisely, were all these cultural conservatives duped?


It seems to me that they saw through the promises for what they were -- empty -- and voted on what mattered most to them.

In other words, cultural conservatives realized that John Kerry was, at best, an empty suit and voted accordingly. Whereas, Richard Cohen realized that John Kerry was, at worst, an empty suit, and voted accordingly.

They knew, just as we all know, that nothing in the Democrats' oh-so-moderate program was going to make much difference to them -- or, even if it did, it was not worth what they would have had to give up in exchange.

Whoa, dude! That makes sense. You’re freaking me out here.

Sometimes a voter may actually decide to vote against his or her economic self-interest.

Alas, this is the Democrat’s real problem, but until all those damned trees are cut down they won’t be able to see the forest. In other words, it’s not the economy, stupid! Sure the economy matters, but not so much when there are people trying to kill you, and another very large, and very loud, group of people are telling you it’s your own damn fault somebody wants to kill you, you freakin’ Jesusland morons! My personal economic self-interest demands that I be alive to have an economic self-interest. Or maybe, just maybe it could that a large swath of people in Middle America do not worship mammon over all else.

In an Oct. 26 column I cited Jewish voters as an example. As a definable group, they are among the wealthiest in the country, and yet time and again they vote overwhelmingly Democratic. In the 2004 election, Bush got only about 20 percent of the Jewish vote. In that column, I cited the power of culture, which is not simply inherited, like hair color, but can be the product of thought as much as tradition.

Is there a point here? And couldn’t it be made without the simplistic caricatures of the good Jew who earns lots of money but thoughtfully assuages his guilt for doing so by spending his money (and my money) on those less “fortunate” than he, and the money-grubbing “very rich” Republican who thoughtlessly would rather see people starve than part with the ill-gotten gains he has achieved by exploiting the downtrodden?

Most Jews are not voting Democratic out of mere habit.

Oh? Many of my Jewish friends seem to think they are.

They are making a conscious decision to forgo an economic benefit for something that matters more -- a cultural imperative for social justice.

I’m not entering this fever swamp. The miasma has taken its toll on me already. But you gotta love the track record of those cultural imperatives.

They believe in social welfare programs.

So do I. But believing in social welfare programs is not synonymous with advocating unconstrained and unaccountable spending on every hare-brained scheme that is proposed. Especially those whose unintended consequences are ignored, despite overwhelming evidence that they have had deleterious effects on families, self-reliance, and independence.

They believe in redistributing wealth (some of it, anyway)…

Especially mine, apparently. It really bothers me that people are so anxious to spend my money to do their good works. Here’s a real kick in the ass – find the first blue state in this list of which states are the most charitable with their own money. Here's a hint, don't look in the top half of the list.

… and they believe firmly in civil rights and civil liberties.

And, of course, I don’t. Is that it Dick?

What are these rights worth?

Well, that depends on what you … wait for it …, value.

Anything you can name, because history teaches that without them even the pursuit of happiness is futile.

Wow, so it’s not all about money and economic self-interest then. If only we had known.

It behooves Democrats to understand that Christian conservatives can make the same, hard choices.

You mean Christian conservatives can be as smart as the Jews? Isn’t it sad that Richard Cohen believes he has to tell Democrats that?

Of course, real economic privation can change the equation -- would you rather have a job or stop gay marriage? -- but barring that sort of choice, culture wins out.

But, of course, cultural conservatives are all about barring choice. Although I have trouble imagining a scenario that has someone choosing between a job or stopping gay marriage.

That does not mean that liberals have to feign agreement or abandon their values.

Of course not, but naturally those cultural conservatives should.

When it comes to gays, for instance, the Republican Party has engaged in unconscionable demagoguery -- and the president knows it.

Yeah, the Democrats have a patent on unconscionable demagoguery – and the president better damn well start respecting it. After all, John Edwards has a lot of free time on his hands.

In the short run, gay rights may be a losing issue, but this is a matter of human rights, not to be traded away.

Privileges, Dick, not rights. People who think and act like Mr. Cohen have so debased the concept of human rights that it has little meaning left for me anymore, but I’m too tired to go into it any further at this point. And while all gays are human, not all humans are gay, whether we are swapping anything or not, not that I was aware anyone was offering you anything in return for gay marriage.

With all due respect to the voters of most of the states, on certain issues, I'd rather be right than red.

And we all just know that red is wrong. A profound sense of one's moral superiority is such a tricky thing, eh Dick?

Still, what matters most is attitude, a mind-set that does not convey the message that people who vote the "wrong" way are dupes.

Oh, I don’t know. I think the Angry Left has plenty of attitude. Note that Dick didn’t say the Angry Left is wrong to think that these morons voted the “wrong” way, just that they shouldn’t convey their true feelings so that they can be properly “duped” next time.

These people know exactly what they are doing and why they are doing it.

Yes, you see they don’t vote the “wrong” way because they are stupid or deceived – they do it because they are evil!

It is the people who insist otherwise who are the true dupes in this case -- not of some political candidate, but of their own wishful thinking.

In other words Angry Left Democrats, you’re stupid.

Posted by Charles Austin at 10:30 PM | Comments (5)

September 15, 2004

The Scourge of Richard Cohen, Vol. CVII

(Ed. -- The following is a bit of mean spiritedness that will be an on-going feature of this blog. Normally the author will endeavor to be reasonably fair, but this is an exception.)

Wow, it’s been almost four months since I’ve done this, but perhaps it’s something about coming down slowly from Versed that has me in the mood to take on another column by Richard Cohen. I don’t know how long this feeling will last, so I better get to my pedagogical attack on Ted Kennedy's Lesson for Kerry:

At an event in New York some months ago, I went over to Sen. Edward M. Kennedy and told him precisely how I felt about him: Sorry.

What a coincidence, sorry is how I feel about Senator Edward M. Kennedy too!

I was sorry that I had not listened to him about George W. Bush and even sorrier that I had not listened to him about the war in Iraq, which he had opposed.

Well, I’ll give Ted that at least he’s consistent. Ted opposed the first Gulf War led by President George H.W. Bush, predicting massive casualties. But I suppose being wrong about massive casualties is somehow better than being wrong about WMDs, if in fact, President Bush was wrong about them.

If it is not too late, I recommend that John Kerry do what I am now doing: Pay attention to Teddy Kennedy and what he has to say.

Please Senator Kerry. Please do what Richard Cohen is advocating. It is the only plausible way the Republicans can get a filibuster-proof Senate.

On Friday Kennedy delivered a Senate speech that's worth a gaggle of campaign consultants of the sort Kerry has been hiring in lieu of plumbing his own gut.

Plumbing his own gut? Is that anything like what I’ve been through the last day preparing for a colonoscopy?

Kennedy accused the Bush administration of "arrogant ideological incompetence."

And if anyone would know about arrogance, ideology, and incompetence, and all the combinations and permutations thereof, it would be Ted Kennedy.

It's hard to be either more succinct or more on target.

Unless, of course, you actually make an effort to be more succinct or more on target.

The little phrase sums up all that ails both Bush and his administration -- everything from a misguided crusade to liberate Iraq (and the Middle East) from despotism to the strut of the president himself.

I could be wrong, but I’m quite certain that Richard Cohen was all for the liberation of Iraq, up until the point it actually happened, of course. Is Mr. Cohen now saying that we should abandon Iraq (and the Middle East) to despotism? As for the strutting, well, I thought the President handled that complaint in his Republican National Convention nomination acceptance speech.

It fingers the reason why Bush and his boys ...

M u s t ... r e s i s t ... o b v i o u s ... c o m e b a c k ...

... went to war in Iraq, expecting what Kennedy called "a cakewalk."

“Bush and his boys,” ol’ Dick’s got his limp epithets down pat. But please note that it was Senator Kennedy who called it a “cakewalk,” not President George W. Bush.

This was the triumph of ideology over common sense, a belief propounded by neoconservatives within and without the administration that beneath every Iraqi lurked the Music Man, and U.S. troops would be greeted by, at a minimum, 76 trombones.

Uh, Dick, in the musical The Music Man, the Music Man was a con man who comes to a Midwestern town with a scam using a boy's marching band program, but things don't go according to plan. Is this really what you meant? If so, I doubt that the dreaded illiberal boogie-man neo-conservatives would have been so quick to strike up the band. Then again, there are efforts afoot in liberated Iraq by Jim Hake, the Spirit of America, and the Armed Forces of the United States that would make John Philip Sousa proud.

A predisposition to believe your own fantasies makes a very sweet sound indeed.

Their playing your tune, Dick.

In his speech, Kennedy several times mentioned Bush's "mission accomplished" mentality, which "left our armed forces in Iraq underprepared, understaffed and underled for the mission that was only just beginning."

Nonsense, and what a tremendous slander against the men and women America has in uniform. Name another war in history that was as large, as significant, and over as quickly with so few casualties for our forces.

Kennedy quotes Don Rumsfeld, who, with his characteristic bluntness, refused to say precisely how long the war might last.

Well, politicians predicting the length of wars in the past have generally been wrong by orders of magnitude. Thank goodness Secretary Rumsfeld refuses to fall into this trap.

But it would not, he assured us, be more than "six months."

Seems to me it was three weeks. The aftermath is a different issue.

As for Vice President Cheney, Kennedy has him on the record, too. American troops would "be greeted as liberators," Cheney said.

And they were. Naturally, they are some who preferred the old despotism and you shouldn’t expect them to welcome us. You really need to check out Arthur Chrenkoff and his weekly roundup of good news in Iraq. It does help provide some perspective that you are unlikely to get by listening to Senator Kennedy. But if some professional journalist pajama-phobia prevents you from visiting any URL with “blog” in the name, you can also find him each week at the Wall Street Journal’s OpinionJounal.com website.

This is the man Bush took on his ticket for his wisdom.

Good call, IMHO.

The virtue of Kennedy's speech is that it makes clear that all the missteps leading up to the war and all the blunders afterward were not mere mistakes but the product of an ideology that had seized the administration and rendered it inept.

I don’t normally expect to see virtue and Kennedy in the same sentence, but somehow I seriously doubt that Senator Kennedy was actually able to connect the dots to clearly show any such thing. Sometimes I think I go a little too far and leave out too much in explaining the connections between events, but I can’t hold a candle to these guys.

The Bushies operated on an expectation of how things should be and not, as governments should, on empirical knowledge seasoned by strong cynicism.

Governments should be based on empirical knowledge and strong cynicism? Jeez, no wonder I don’t see eye to eye with Mr. Cohen. It is strange to see such a clear admission of what can only be considered a seriously warped motivation for a basis of governance combined with an abdication of the worldview I normally expect from illiberal utopian statists.

They so much believed that things would be as they wanted them to be that they embarked on a latter-day Children's Crusade.

This is so patently ridiculous and intentionally offensive to almost everyone that it beggars belief. Do you know anything at all about the history of the Children’s Crusade, Dick? Or do you just enjoy trying to claim that Bush is on a crusade to piss off the Arab-American demographic? Did you hit a water main down there in the hole your digging?

Where, oh where, were the adults?

Certainly nowhere near Senator Kennedy.

Liberals, too, can be blind practitioners of "arrogant ideological incompetence."

Like, duh. (I’ve documented, oh, I don’t know, CVI instances of these instances previously.)

The dreamy belief in the hidden virtues of all the poor or in the idea that money makes the difference between good and bad schools are examples of ideology smothering common sense.

Why stop there?

I suppose, too, you can throw in the Vietnam War, which started with arrogance, proceeded to incompetence, and managed to straddle both liberal and conservative ideologies.

Unlike Dick, I’m not interested in fighting the Vietnam War again, and again, and again.

The Bush administration, though, proceeded in spite of the lessons of Vietnam, so certain was it of its course.

Maybe it wasn’t that they were certain of their course so much as it was that they realized it wasn’t another Vietnam. It's not in spite of the lessons of Vietnam, it's because of the lessons of Vietnam. Jeez Dick, usually you can be accused of fighting the last war, but now you’re stuck about three wars back.

For it -- and, yes, for those of us who supported it -- that was indeed arrogance.

Whatever, Dick.

Once I wrote a column disparaging Sen. Chuck Robb.

His turn in the barrel, I guess.

Later he stood in the Senate and delivered a gutsy speech against gay-bashing and I gladly had to eat my words.

You’re such a great guy, Dick.

Years later, I ridiculed Sen. Bob Graham for the diaries he kept.

Ok, but there are much better reasons to ridicule Senator Graham than the fact that he keeps meticulous diaries.

Now he has written a worthy book damning the Bush administration for its many intelligence blunders, and again I bow in regret.

Non sequitur alert! What has that got to do with Senator Graham’s diaries? I’m never going to waste my time reading Senator Graham’s book, but I have seen him on Meet the Press and I’m damn glad that nut is never going to be president.

Finally, I long ago stopped paying hard attention to Ted Kennedy, …

Too little, too late to get on my good side now.

… but now I find him a typhoon of common sense and intelligent indignation.

I wouldn’t think now is the best time to use metaphors involving typhoons and hurricanes. Then again, I’m not sure when common sense and intelligence would have ever been appropriate adjectives for Senator Kennedy.

He has not lost the gift of outrage.

The gift that keeps on giving, and taking in his case.

Kennedy did not vote to authorize George W. Bush's war.

Listen Dick, it’s America’s War. And Senator Kennedy’s vote is still wrong, though, again, I’ll give him credit for remaining consistent, which is more than Senator Kerry can do.

Kerry's problem is that, whatever else he intended, he did.

Before he didn’t.

Had he Kennedy's zest for boldness, he would have admitted a mistake and moved on.

Kennedy admitted a mistake? Like leaving the scene of an fatal accident?

But he chose a supposedly safe and overly nuanced route that has left him tongue-tied.

If opposing the war had been the right political choice for the Democrats, it would have been Howard Dean losing badly to President George W. Bush right now, not John Kerry.

Kennedy, who was right from the start,…

Kennedy was right? From the start?

… is not similarly burdened, but his formulation of "arrogant ideological incompetence" can be used by Kerry anyway.

Why stop making shit up now? Keep flinging it against the wall, maybe something will stick.

In three words,…

The last time Kerry used three words it was, “Bring it on!”

… it answers the question of why we are -- still and in coming years -- in Iraq.

I’m sure Dick believes that John Kerry’s Secret Plan™ will solve everything in less than one election cycle, but I’m not buying.

All the rest is commentary.

And commentary on commentary. Here endeth the lesson.

Posted by Charles Austin at 03:00 PM | Comments (0)

May 28, 2004

The Scourge of Richard Cohen, Vol. CVI

(Ed. -- The following is a bit of mean spiritedness that will be an on-going feature of this blog. Normally the author will endeavor to be reasonably fair, but this is an exception.)

Note: This was much better, but MT lost the whole damn thing so I've had to recreate it while drunk, tired and frustrated. Enjoy.

All I want to do is get back to you
Connection, I just can't make no connection.
But all I want to do is to get back to you.

Everything is going in the wrong direction.
The doctor wants to give me more injections.
Giving me shots for a thousand rare infections
And I don't know if he'll let me go

Connection, I just can't make no connection.
But all I want to do is to get back to you.
Connection, I just can't make it, connection
But all I want to do is to get back to you.

My bags they get a very close inspection.
I wonder why it is that they suspect 'em
They're dying to add me to their collection
And I don't know if they'll let me go

Connection, I just can't make no connection.
But all I want to do is to get back to you.
Connection, I just can't make no connection.
But all I want to do is to get back to you.

Rolling Stones or Richard Cohen in Consistently Disconnected?

On a recent Sunday four men, stripped to their underpants, were paraded through the city on the back of a pickup truck. They were escorted by scores of masked men shouting "Allahu Akbar" (God is great) and their backs were bleeding from the 80 lashes each had received for selling alcohol. Later, they were treated at a hospital and released -- another example to the populace that things had radically changed.

Or perhaps that we are being far, far too lenient with this medieval monsters.

Where has this happened, you're probably wondering?

Well, no, actually, because I read the papers and cruise the blogosphere. I know exactly where it happened, but I’m fascinated to see how this is going to be President George W. Bush’s fault.

Well, …


… it's Fallujah,

Like, duh.

… the Iraqi city described by George Bush in the most serene terms in his address at the Army War College the other night.

Something to do with Muqtada al-Sadr leaving, if I remember correctly, after our troops successfully applied careful force where necessary, incorporated new Iraqi security forces into their maneuvers, and avoided leveling large areas as every other conquering imperialist power has always done in the past. Perhaps it is hard to find a way to twist this to benefit John Kerry since there weren’t any free fire zones.

He mentioned the city when he said military commanders had exercised commendable restraint in not leveling the place after American contractors were killed and their bodies mutilated and hung from a bridge.

Yes, and your point is what exactly?

"We're making security a shared responsibility in Fallujah," the president told the nation. "Coalition commanders have worked with local leaders to create an all-Iraqi security force, which is now patrolling the city."

You know, Dick, at some point Iraqis will be performing all these functions without American troops to back them up, and I’ll bet that even then there will be something above a crime rate of 0.0%. Hard to believe isn’t it, especially for someone who lives in Washington D.C.

But an Associated Press dispatch by Hamza Hendawi offers a different picture.

Well, there’s a surprise. As we all know, they wouldn’t print it if it wasn’t true.

The president's "all-Iraqi security force" has allowed Fallujah to become "an Islamic mini-state" -- complete with floggings and the usual restrictions on women.

Considering the usual need to respect multicultural diversity and Islam, I’m having some trouble understanding why this is a problem for Richard Cohen. It’s not as though he’s been concerned about floggings and the treatment of women throughout the Arab world before now.

In this manner, it has been liberated from both the secular Saddam Hussein and the democratic Americans.

Is this supposed to be clever? Are secular and democratic now in opposition? What do either of these adjectives have to do with anything? Would it have been better if we were talking about the people of Mecca being rescued from the religious House of Saud or the non-democratic Chinese? The days of wine and roses (assuming that’s what it was when Saddam Hussein was in charge) have been spoiled by whom? American troops? Iraqi security forces? What an asshole.

The contrast between what the president said and what the AP reported is jarring, but it is also somewhat typical.

Yes, we have come to expect this of the press.

There was something detached about the president's address.

Not to mention the media reports from Fallujah.

Once again, for instance, he made Iraq the centerpiece of his war on terrorism when, as we all know by now, there was never a proven link between Hussein and al Qaeda.

“As we all know.” I suppose this is supposed to inhibit argument or crush my dissent, but um, sorry Dick. The links between Al Qaeda and Saddam Hussein keep becoming more and more obvious every day. (Interestingly enough, that hyperlink is from an article in The Weekly Standard named “The Connection”.) And have you noticed how “never a link” has now become “never a proven link” in the same manner that “no WMDs” became “no stockpiles of WMDs”? Or as Roger L. Simon wrote: “Have they been conclusively proven? Maybe not (though I tend to think so). But anyone who can assert they are ‘blatantly false’ is either a liar or a fool. Or both.” Since we are talking about Richard Cohen, I vote for both.

He went on in this vein nonetheless, not mentioning that it was weapons of mass destruction we were once after but, …

Still after Dick. Maybe we should start looking in Syria.

… aside from a single trace of sarin …

Actually, it was substantially more sarin than all the anthrax powder mailed within the United States the last couple of years. Is Richard Cohen therefore saying that being scared of white powder arriving in the mail is just another overblown risky scheme launched by John Ashcroft, who as we all know, is always looking to take away our freedoms?

… uncovered recently and dating to before the Persian Gulf War,

Whoa! It has been dated to before the Persian Gulf War? And who’s word do we have for this besides the discredited Scott Ritter?

… none have been found.

Aside from the mustard gas. Actually, it was substantially more sarin than all the anthrax powder mailed within the United States the last couple of years. Is Richard Cohen therefore saying that being scared of white powder arriving in the mail is just another overblown risky scheme launched by John Ashcroft to take away our freedoms?

As for terrorism, the president made no mention of the apparent fact that the war in Iraq has proved a boon to terrorists.

Yes, apparently Allah is having trouble making virgins fast enough for them. This particular argument, a variant of “whatever you do, don’t do anything to make them mad,” makes me especially angry. At some point we will have to finally stand up to terrorism. Whenever we do, there is bound to be an redoubling of effort by the bad guys. I can only assume that Richard Cohen has never played poker -- for money.

According to the International Institute for Strategic Studies, the war has been a recruiting tool for al Qaeda and other terrorist groups.

Bill Clinton’s “peace” was so much more effective.

Foreign fighters -- maybe as many as 1,000 of them -- have infiltrated Iraq, where they have been able to inflict casualties on American forces.

Um, don’t forget that they are dieing rapidly. And I much prefer that they are facing our armed and trained troops than the soft civilian targets here in the US. Aren’t you?

They have made it even harder to bring Iraq under control

Of course they have. That’s the plan, Dick.

… and, in effect, have suckered the United States into the sort of guerrilla war we tried to avoid.

Of course, but cut and run isn’t exactly how we should respond.

In this respect, Iraq could wind up being an ambush.

Just like Tet!

On another matter, the president also talked as if he has been spending the past several weeks under the bed covers.


He mentioned Abu Ghraib prison as "a symbol of disgraceful conduct by a few American troops," when it now seems that those "few" were either following orders or were operating with the silent approval of superiors who simply looked away from torture and abuse.

Oh, please. Is Dick suggesting that “I was just following orders” is now a valid defense? Please name the superiors you are talking about Dick, aside from Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld and President George W. Bush. Say, Dick’s not jumping on the let’s-make-General-Karpinski-a-scapegoat bandwagon is he?

The International Red Cross complained of this early on -- only to get a shrug from the military brass.

Unfortunately, The ICRC and so many others have turned into such anti-American propaganda machines that it’s tough to know when they have a point anymore.

America is trapped.

Don’t throw us in that briar patch!

Having gone into Iraq, we cannot now pull out. In its own region, the country is more important than Vietnam ever was -- and not because it can become a democracy that will be emulated by others in the Middle East.

Vietnam! There, he said it.

It's rather that without an American military presence, Iraq will almost certainly fall into chaos, a bloody civil war that might well draw in its neighbors.

Bring. It. On.

Bad could turn out to be much worse.

For instance, we could have had Al Gore as President.

But having said that, it's hard to feel confident that the Bush administration is prepared for the challenge ahead.


It has been unforgivably incompetent so far, …

Only by utopian standards.

… going to war for one reason, staying for another and layering contradictory facts with Sunday-school rhetoric.

What exactly would Richard Cohen know about Sunday-school rhetoric? Oh, I get it, it’s about those fundamentalist Christains.

Fallujah, a compromised compromise, becomes a sterling success in the president's mouth.

No, just a success. But “in the presiden’t mouth” is a very strange phrase.

A systemic failure to abide by the Geneva Conventions becomes the kinky work of a few.

Wrong. First of all, so far as any of us know right now, it was just the work of a kinky few. Second, I haven’t yet seen anything that indicates that those abused were allowed the protections of the Geneva Convention. If they were terrorists then they certainly were not. I’m not saying that what was done was right, but only that Richard Cohen is leaping to conclusions which cannot be proven.

The war over WMDs becomes one over terror.

Was it ever otherwise? God, what an idiot.

And Ahmed Chalabi, the erstwhile George Washington of Iraq, becomes Benedict Arnold virtually overnight.

Perhaps, though I certainly would never have called him the George Washington of Iraq. And if he is what he is now being accused of, it didn’t happen overnight. Say, who hired George Tenet anyway?

One moment he's Laura Bush's guest at the State of the Union speech; the next he's ranting anti-American screeds in Baghdad.

So, once he’s discovered to be two-faced and possibly feeding information to Iran, he should still be treated with respect?

The Bush administration's rap on John Kerry is that he is inconsistent.

No, that’s humanity’s rap on John Kerry. It comes from paying attention.

The president's virtue, on the other hand, is supposedly his consistency.

Supposedly. And tax cuts.

But to stick to the same rhetoric when the facts have changed, to insist on what is palpably false, to render black as white and to say it all with a childlike faith in civics class bromides is not commendable consistency.

Kind of reminds me of all those columns Richard Cohen wrote supporting Al Gore and ill Clinton, come to think of it. But didn’t Dick just complain that Chalabi was thrown out on his ear when the facts changed?

It is instead the mark of a narrow mind overwhelmed by large events.

Whereas, Dick’s wide mind seems incapable of grasping even small ones.

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

May 02, 2004

The Scourge of Richard Cohen, Vol. CIV

(Ed. -- The following is a bit of mean spiritedness that will be an on-going feature of this blog. Normally the author will endeavor to be reasonably fair, but this is an exception.)

I don’t normally do this, but I’m going to reach back a bit into my Scourging sojourn and pick a previous column that is of interest to me. The particular column I've selected gives me the opportunity to vent not only at Richard Cohen, but also at the institution that does more to inspire road rage in me than any of the drivers I encounter each day who run the gamut from self-absorbed incompetence to dangerous, criminally negligent aggression, sort of like the journalism practiced by NPR now that I’ve mentioned it.

I’m sure the headline writer at the Washington Post was severely chastised for setting the tone for this Scourge by titling Richard Cohen’s paean to Bob Edwards, Empty Talk at NPR.

The other morning, as is my wont, …

Oh great. Does Mr. Cohen really get paid to tell us about Dick’s wont.

… I woke to the music of the blessed Mozart (on disc) and then switched quickly to National Public Radio's "Morning Edition."

I never listen to NPR at home, because life is too short and so many better options are available. Alas, when I’m in my car, the options available to me are somewhat more limited and as it happens NPR is about the only thing worth listening to over broadcast radio in St. Louis. Mind you, it’s not that I particularly enjoy the reporting of everything through the prism of a transnational progressive worldview leavened with DNC talking points. I do have a CD player in my car but I need to hear the weather and traffic reports each day since I have to cross the Missouri river to get to work and every other station in St. Louis chooses to cater to morons. I’m not implying that the fine citizens of the area are morons – far from it – just that Big Media (or what passes for such here) refuses to elevate their conversation and reporting above a 6th grade level. Anyway, it helps keep me sharp by deconstructing the newage (rhymes with sewage) as it seeps from my speakers.

This has been my habit since 1979, when the show was created and Bob Edwards took to the air and said, "This is 'Morning Edition' from NPR News." Now the news from NPR is that Edwards will soon be gone.

Bye Bob.

Maybe I'll just stick with Mozart.

Perhaps the most sensible thing Richard Cohen has ever written.

It's not, mind you, that I cannot abide change or that I think "Morning Edition" could not be improved.

No, of course not.

Some mornings, in fact, I gag at the very NPRness of its report, yet another in-depth piece proving once again that life is unfair and that many poor people live in poverty.

Like …, well …, duh. But Dick forget to mention that there always you know who to blame for it.

But day in and day out it is the best thing in broadcast journalism and so superior to television news that you might as well be comparing Shakespearean theater with burlesque.

Perhaps this says more about the current state of broadcast journalism than NPR. I agree that in a relative sense, it is probably the best around, but the bar is awfully low.

NPR brings you the news.

Unfair and unbalanced.

Now, though, there are intimations that all that will change.

We can only hope.

The firing of the mellifluous Edwards, my morning companion through all these years, portends bad things.

Why? Is it not possible that there might be someone else just as good, if not better, than Bob Edwards? This sounds like just so much Boomer nostalgia to me.

The telling sign was not just that he was axed as the program's host but that no one can tell you why.

Perhaps because they are looking forward and do not wish to say or do anything to diminish the contribution that Bob Edwards has made in making NPR what it is today. Or maybe Dick’s pissed because he didn’t get a personal phone call explaining it. Who knows? Who cares?

At NPR, clearly the most erudite of the networks, …

And nuanced, let’s not forget nuanced. And full of gravitas, or something.

… various officials descended into the juvenile babble of TV executives, empty words spilling out of their mouths, as if they were determined to fill airtime yet say nothing.

Big Media, like a fish, rots from the head.

NPR Executive Vice President Ken Stern told The Post that the firing of Edwards was part of a "natural evolution" that had "to do with the changing needs of our listeners."

So perhaps, some things have changed since 1979.

What "natural evolution"? What does that mean?

Well, Boomers are now retiring and the rest of us really don’t see everything filtered through the dung-colored glasses of Vietnam.

And what "changing needs"? Listen, Ken, my needs haven't changed.

Oh goody, we not only get Dick’s wont, but also his needs.

I still want news in the morning. I still want smart features. I do not want interviews with air-headed celebrities a la Matt and Katie or, worse, interviews with the latest humorless person Donald Trump has just fired from "The Apprentice."

Concur. But it would be even better without the “Kerry good, Bush bad” slant.

In explaining why Edwards had been given the boot, Stern said it was "about the right sound." What sound is that, Ken? Too loud? Too soft? Too much bass?

Bias, not bass. Maybe the fish rotting from the head isn't as much of a reach as I thought. But far be it from me to defend NPR executives who probably use Steve Keaton as their image of how they should act and think.

I always thought that Edwards had just the right "sound" and that, anyway, NPR and "Morning Edition" were not -- to use a Sternism -- about "sound" but about information -- facts and such things.

I assume that’s Ken, and not Howard, Richard’s referring to. But what about Bob?

"It's not about Bob," Stern continued with the standard line of any boss who has ever fired anyone, it's about "who are the right people to meet these needs."

As long as they aren’t named Bob.

Ah, sound. There was a morning, April 10, 1981, when a space shuttle launch was scheduled and "Morning Edition" had lined up as its commentator Chuck Yeager, the legendary test pilot. It was Yeager's voice -- cool, understated -- that became the model for all pilots everywhere, and which Tom Wolfe memorialized as "the drawl of the most righteous of all the possessors of the right stuff." Back then, "Morning Edition" was also using Red Barber, the magnolia-brushed voice of the old Brooklyn Dodgers from time immemorial. The Ol' Redhead had finished his segment, but the space shot was delayed and so someone had the sweet idea of having Yeager chat with Barber, two American originals.

I was ready to leave for work, but instead I sat down on the bed and listened, transfixed. I remember nothing of what was discussed, except that Barber asked Yeager if he was "kin" to Steve Yeager, the Los Angeles Dodgers catcher from 1972 to 1985, and Yeager said he was. Nothing momentous there, I admit, but it was a moment -- Norman Rockwell in sound -- that only NPR could bring you and it is, still all these years later, cherished. That, Mr. Stern, was sound.

Is Dick trying to imply that Bob Edwards is most effective when he just keeps quiet?

The audience for "Morning Edition" has steadily grown. It now has 13 million listeners per week and, I'm sure, if I got hold of the demographics, the audience would be a lot like the people who read op-ed pages.

That’s about 2.6 million listeners a day, or less than one percent of the population. If that’s all that read the op-ed pages, why are there so many damn many columnists?

So "Morning Edition" is an important outlet, valued for its seriousness of purpose and its respect for its listeners.

Well, for the “not right” listeners, anyway.

Given those values, neither "Morning Edition" nor its evening companion, "All Things Considered," is ever going to get the mega-numbers of commercial broadcasting and its heroic attempt to plumb the depths of pander.

Or even the depths of Air America!

But the firing-cum-transfer of Edwards (he may become a senior correspondent) is nonetheless disquieting. Maybe my fear is misplaced, and maybe the end of the Edwards era will turn out to not be a bad thing.

But, that would mean that Dick’s instincts were wrong. Again.

Still, it will be jarring to wake up in the morning with a stranger.

You wish.

Goodbye, Bob. Get some sleep. You've earned it.

Yes, goodbye Bob. You are a consummate professional and very good at what you do. I won’t let you off the hook for the slant of Morning Edition’s editorial decisions, but you have set the bar very high for whoever follows. Good luck with whatever the future holds for you. In the meantime, I’ll hold out hope that a professional presentation of the news that is fair and balanced will no longer be an exclusive attribute of Fox News.

Oh, if you are wondering, I don't give a dime to NPR radio. I can't stomach funding any program that appears on NPR, or PRI. I have contributed in the past, and did again recently, to PBS since I do enjoy some of their programming. My recent contribution was inspired primarily by KETC promising two tickets somewhere in the first twenty rows to see The Great High Mountain Tour with Alison Krauss & Union Station, featuring Jerry Douglas, Ralph Stanley, The Whites, The Cox Family, Norman & Nancy Blake, Nashville Bluegrass Band, Tim Eriksen, Riley Baugus, Dirk Powell, Reeltime Travelers, Ollabelle, and the Sacred Harp Singers at the Fabulous Fox Theater on May 12. I'm sure I'll enjoy this show a lot more than the visit with Bob Edward in person that KWMU was offering for a contribution.

Posted by Charles Austin at 06:26 PM | Comments (0)

April 29, 2004

The Scourge of Richard Cohen, Vol. CIII

(Ed. -- The following is a bit of mean spiritedness that will be an on-going feature of this blog. Normally the author will endeavor to be reasonably fair, but this is an exception.)

I don’t think Richard Cohen should have drank all that Kool-Aid this morning…

Psycho: The name's John F(rancis) Kerry, but everybody calls me Psycho. Any of you guys call me F(rancis), and I'll kill you.
Bush: Ooooooh.
Psycho: You just made the list, buddy. Also, I don't like no one touching my stuff, or medals, ribbons, whatever. So just keep your meathooks off. If I catch any of you guys in my stuff, medals, ribbons, whatever, I'll kill you. And I don't like nobody touching me. Any of you neocons touch me, and I'll kill you.
Richard Cohen: Lighten up, F(rancis).

John Kerry has a "batman."

To go along with stately Wayne Manor and Teresa’s five other mansions. I wonder if Teresa also has a Robin in tight tights?

This is a British military term for what amounts to a servant, someone to take care of an officer's personal needs.

I wonder how many batmen Bill Clinton has?

In Kerry's case it's Marvin Nicholson Jr., …

“I’m Batman.”

… who keeps the Massachusetts senator in peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and bottled water.

Adam Ward, Michael Keaton, Val Kilmer, George Clooney, Christopher Bale, and now Marvin Nicholson, Jr. Batman sure ain’t what he used to be. But it does explain F(rancis)’s hair.

This, though, is the wrong man for the wrong task. What Kerry really needs is someone to slip him gags.

F(rancis) doing standup. Yea, that’ll work.

He may be the presumptive nominee, but he is an objective pill.

How exactly are presumptive nominee and objective pill in opposition to justify Dick’s big but?

Take the apparently endless flap about Kerry's Vietnam War record and his antiwar activism afterward.

That’s ok, you can keep it, Dick.

Did he really deserve all three Purple Hearts?

Don’t know. Don’t care. Just wish F(rancis)’d shut up about it.

Did he really throw back his medals, or was it ribbons?

Tu quoque? It doesn’t really matter whether F(rancis) threw his medals, ribbons, whatever. It does matter that he can’t seem to tell the same story from week to week about it, and that trying to get to the bottom of his inconsistency amounts to questioning his patriotism. It also matters that the patriotism of many F(rancis) ran with then can be questioned and that F(rancis) can't quite seem to come to terms with it either.

The questions themselves border on the ridiculous, ...

And a fellow in F(rancis)’ position cannot be made to look ridiculous. Just ask Mr. Wolper.

... especially when they are posed -- in a six-degrees-of-separation sort of way -- by a presidential ticket of George Bush and Dick Cheney, ...

Well, technically, that would be by President George W. Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney. Say it a few times to yourself, Dick.

... the former a no-show during some of his National Guard tour, ...

I think the pyschological term your looking for here Dick is projection.

... the latter an anticommunist hawk ...

He says this like it's a bad thing.

who, wisely, delegated the fighting to others -- the mark of a budding CEO.

Damn capitalists.

The situation was ready-made for humor, for an arid dismissal.

To anyone with half a brain, but were talkin’ ‘bout F(rancis).

Kerry was the hero -- Silver Star, Bronze Star, three Purple Hearts -- and the president had nothing to show for the Vietnam years except some nights he would like to forget.

And learning to pilot a fighter. Oh, and don’t forget learning how to put on a flight suit. You just never know when that might come in handy!

His formulation about those days was always, "When I was young and irresponsible, I was young and irresponsible," which is not exactly the citation that comes with a medal.

True, no medals are generally awarded for common sense and a clear perspective on one's past.

The senator has the better of the argument. He should get a fourth Purple Heart for being fragged by the GOP.

Hmm, where to start?

1. What argument? F(rancis) served his time in Vietnam admirably by almost all accounts and received several medals. Good. F(rancis) should be proud of his service, and I don’t particularly care whether any of his purple hearts came from a hangnail or not. But F(rancis) should also be humble about his service, at least out of respect for those who didn’t come back. Many men endured much, much worse and proved themselves as leaders in substantially more difficult situations than F(rancis) faced. Geroge W. Bush has readily acknowledged the mistakes of his youth. F(rancis) is too proud or too stupid (or both) to acknowledge his.

2. Fragging is done by your own troops, not by your opponents.

3. Who exactly is supposed to award F(rancis) his fourth purple heart? If F(rancis) can’t stand the heat he needs to get out of the kitchen. If F(rancis) can be so easily intimidated by what so many his friends regard derisively as an uneducated baboon, tell me again why I might want to vote for him to stand up to America's enemies?

4. Charlie Gibson, card carrying member of the GOP since …, um …, never mind.

But instead of dismissing Bush and Cheney with a lighthearted putdown of the sort that would prompt Bush to seek therapy, Kerry got angry.

“Bush=Hitler” didn’t send George over the edge, but a witty bon mot just might!

He waxed indignant.

F(rancis): Whacks on. Whacks off.

He said, in the manner of Rumpelstiltskin stomping the ground, "I'm not going to stand for it!"


In doing so, he mimicked Bob Dole, who lost it entirely during the 1988 New Hampshire primary when he scowled at George H.W. Bush and snarled, "Stop lying about my record." For Dole, this was not good television.

Must sleep TV.

As any angry person can tell you, expressing rage shows a loss of control.

Well, they can tell you after they’ve calmed, of course.

It both seems and feels juvenile.

Sort of like Michael Jackson.

It borders on the tantrum, which is not presidential, and it is pretty close to downright un-American, since we in this country do not express our emotions, except on daytime television.

Or when stomping on the ground like Rumpelstiltskin.

Much more important, anger makes a television viewer uncomfortable, and I don't think this is how a presidential candidate wants us to feel. This is why politicians have aides: to express -- anonymously, of course -- their anger.

F(rancis)’ aides, apparently.

This is what the aforementioned Mr. Nicholson should be doing.

Beats keeping F(rancis) in peanut butter and jelly and bottled water.

Stop! Do not e-mail me, dear reader, on how I should not be constructively criticizing Kerry ("bashing," it is called nowadays) but instead should be saving the nation and the world from another four years of Bush and Cheney.

Rest easy, Dick.

That latter, though, is truly my intention.

We’re doomed! Doomed! DOOMED! Bush wins with 52.5% of the popular vote this November. And it is only the popular vote that matters, right?

I am told that this is the presidential preseason, a period when only the cognoscenti and the mentally unhinged are paying attention to presidential politics, with everyone else waiting until after the World Series.

Richard Cohen is therefore cognoscenti or mentally unhinged. Hmmm…

It is now, therefore, while no one much is looking, that I can critique Kerry in an effort to make him a totally unbeatable candidate.

Like, totally.

He needs to lighten up.

Yes, F(rancis) is not nearly white enough.

I say that with a total lack of levity.


My candidate is a dour man.

Man, is he a dour candidate.

At least that's the way he seems on TV. Sometimes he seems angry, which is not good, but most of the time he just seems gloomy. It does not help that he has a face that hardly needs to be enlarged for Mount Rushmore, but what really matters is that he seems as if he is no fun.

And did Dick mention that he is dour?

No one would call Kerry, as FDR did Al Smith, "the happy warrior" or discern some impishness in him.

(W)impishness, perhaps.

Bush has that quality and so, of course, did Bill Clinton. About the only recent presidents who were decidedly un-impish were Jimmy Carter, who came to Washington to take the fun out of politics, …

I knew Jimmy Carter came to Washington for something other than leading America. Thanks for clearing that up, Dick

… and the first George Bush, whose joke is only now becoming apparent.

A parent? Nah, Dick’s not that clever.

Both got the gate after just one term.

One was accused of having the worst economy in the last 50 years, the other one actually did.

The attacks on Kerry's war record are contemptible, and the criticism for his own criticism of the war itself shows that the Bush-Cheneys of this world have, as was said of the Bourbons, learned nothing and forgotten nothing.

Yea, but Bush is trying to start another Children’s Crusade, or something.

But the way to handle such attacks is with ridicule, with nonchalance, with a confidence that the American people know a low blow when they see one.

In other words, a Richard Cohen column.

Smile, John -- you're always on candid camera.

How “F(rancis)” and “candid” made it into the same sentence is something the Washington Post’s ombudsman needs to look into post haste. If this happens again, F(rancis) might lose his reputation for nuance. And then where would his attempts at humor be?

Posted by Charles Austin at 09:37 PM | Comments (2)

April 24, 2004

The Scourge of Richard Cohen, Vol. CII

(Ed. -- The following is a bit of mean spiritedness that will be an on-going feature of this blog. Normally the author will endeavor to be reasonably fair, but this is an exception.)

It is time once again to don the whites and lamé and assume the position and phrase, parrying the dull, rusty spoon-like thrust of Richard Cohen’s bland retorts, responding rapidly with a riposte worthy of the great sport of fisking. You, my four dear readers, may act as the jury and score this bout. Watch Dick lunge for Bush but miss badly, pulling strawmen from his ass with America's Ayatollah:

En Garde!

The term of the moment in Washington is "the wall."

All in all, he’s just another prick in “the wall.” Would it be unfair to point out that “the wall” was constructed by Clinton appointee Jamie Gorelick, since Dick the Gore-lick won’t mention it?

This is the legal barrier that once separated the CIA and its investigators from the FBI and its investigators, and which may have contributed to the confusion that enabled the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

Enabled? So, now President George W. Bush, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, Attorney General John Ashcroft (and, of course, his jack-booted dissension crushing brigades), Paul Wolfowitz, etc., are co-dependents with Al Qaeda, enabling their erratic, destructive behavior? Will the insidious meme that “the government” could have prevented the attacks of 9/11 ever die? Not that death can keep a bad meme, or Richard’s communist grandfather – who’s due for another appearance any week now (maybe he’s been waiting for me to return?), down for long. Hell, I’d settle for the death of the meme that anybody other than Osama bin Laden and his merry band of murderers were responsible for 9/11.

A more interesting wall, however, was on view Tuesday evening in President Bush's prime-time news conference. It's the one between him and reality.

Bush is dumb. A brilliant press! Though one that is easily parried as it has been used far too often and to such little effect.

Never mind that even for Bush, this was a poor performance -- answers that resembled a frantic scavenger hunt for the right (or any) word or, too often, a thought.

A redoublement. Try again.

Never mind that he really had very little to say -- no exit plan for Iraq, …

Why does running away always come to mind first for illiberals?

… no second thoughts about Sept. 11, …

None, aside from the regret for not pushing harder to profile suspicious Arab or Islamic terrorists in airports, allowing CIA agents and FBI agents to share information, starting fresh by firing all of Bill Clinton’s straphangers who had failed for eight years to address the growing threat, and not liberating Iraq sooner perhaps.

… no wonderment, even, at the apparent disappearance of Saddam Hussein's weapons of mass destruction and how that might have happened.

The key word here is “apparent.” I guess Richard must have missed the 60th annual dinner of the Radio and Television Correspondents' Association.

Like a kid who has been told otherwise, Bush persists in believing in his own version of Santa Claus. The weapons are there, somewhere -- in a North Pole of his mind.

Or as Blondie sang, “One way or another I’m gonna find you. I’m gonna gitcha, gitcha, gitcha, gitcha. One day, maybe next week.”

Why is it that illiberal utopians who demand the US go hat in hand to the UN over Iraq never mention the utter uselessness of the eighteen UN Security Council resolutions that Saddam Hussein was in perpetual violation of, or the UNSCAM scandal which only came to an end because of the liberation of Iraq. But while Richard is repeating his missing WMD mantra, let’s not forget the gassing of Kurds at Halabja, the destruction of the marsh Arab culture, the mass graves, the children’s prisons (right Scott?), the funding of homicide bombers in Gaza, the legacy of the invasion of Kuwait and its aftermath, providing a home for Abu Nidal, Abu Abbas and who knows what other terrorists, and all Saddam's other war crimes? Hard to believe that Richard Cohen used to advocate the overthrow of Saddam Hussein, isn’t it? That merits a yellow card.

What matters more is the phrase Bush used five times in one way or another: "We're changing the world."

Why this statement would bother an illiberal utopian is somewhat beyond me. They spend their entire lives trying to do this.

He used it always in reference to the war in Iraq and he used it in ways that would make even Woodrow Wilson, that presidential personification of naive morality, shake his head in bemusement.

Dick’s passé is so passé. No, I think Jimmy Carter is the presidential personification of naïve morality, and he’s got the Nobel Peace Prize to prove it! It’s true that Woody has one of those too, but he got his when it still meant something rather than being used as an opportunity to stick it to a Republican President – and Woody actually had to win a war to get his. I’d say George is a lot closer to Woody than Dick thinks.

In Bush's rhetoric, a war to rid Hussein of his weapons of mass destruction, a war to ensure that Condoleezza Rice's "mushroom cloud" did not appear over an American city, has mutated into an effort to reorder the world.

It’s a strategery thang. Once again, you have misunderestimated what’s going on, Dick.

"I also know that there's an historic opportunity here to change the world," Bush said of the effort in Iraq. But the next sentence was even more disquieting. "And it's very important for the loved ones of our troops to understand that the mission is an important, vital mission for the security of America and for the ability to change the world for the better." It is one thing to die to defend your country. It is quite another to do that for a single man's impossible dream. What Bush wants is admirable. It is not, however, attainable.

Obviously the illiberal part of Dick’s character is stronger than the utopian part. The urge to run away in the face of a dangerous challenge is strong!

Shortly after Sept. 11, Bush used the word "crusade" to characterize his response to the attacks. The Islamic world, remembering countless crusades on behalf of Christianity, protested, and Bush quickly interred the word in the National Archives or someplace.

Yes, crusade was one of many words used and then quickly retired out of sensitivity for those that lack the ability to differentiate between the 21st and the 12th centuries. Of course, it is so easily remembered by the Islamic world since so many of them are stuck in a time warp where the twelfth century crusades are more relevant than anything that has happened in the western world since the renaissance. Well, that and the constant prodding by the postmodern political proponents of victimization as a way of life. Would Dick be happier if the President resurrected the use of the word “crusade” and used it five times in a press conference?

Nonetheless, that is pretty much what Bush described in his news conference -- not a crusade for Christ and not one to oust the Muslims from Jerusalem but an American one that would eradicate terrorism and, in short, "change the world."

Works for me.

The United States, the president said, had been "called" for that task.

Uh oh. Now he’s “done” it. That “know-nothing” President has broken down “the wall” between “church” and “state.” Are they running a special on “irony” this week at Barnes and Noble?

Some people might consider this religious drivel and others might find it stirring, but whatever it is, it cannot be the basis for foreign policy, not to mention a war.

Some people might consider Richard Cohen’s anti-religious commentary drivel and others might find it stirring, but whatever it is, it cannot be the basis for intelligent criticism of foreign policy, not to mention intelligent criticism of a war.

Yet it explains, as nothing else can, just why Bush is so adamantly steadfast about Iraq and why he simply asserts what is not proved or just plain untrue -- the purported connection between Saddam Hussein and al Qaeda, for instance, or why Hussein was such a threat, when we have it on the word of David Kay and countless weapons inspectors that he manifestly was not.

Put the sword of Damocles back over our heads right now! Illiberal utopians demand imminent danger before acting, damn it! This yellow journalism predicated on yellow straw men merits another yellow card.

Bush talks as if only an atheist would demand proof when faith alone more than suffices.

Isn’t that something like the definition of an atheist?

He is America's own ayatollah.

Jeez, what’s Richard going to write about for the next seven months? There cannot be any worse insult to the President for the “in” crowd. This fleche merits a red card as Dick continues to talk past his opponent rather than to his opponent.

Several investigative commissions are now meeting in Washington, looking into intelligence failures -- everything from the failure to detect and intercept the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11 to the assertion that Iraq was armed to the teeth with all sorts of awful stuff.

I guess somebody must have sprinkled some of that IBM pixie dust around Fallujah to create all those weapons and explosives in Iraq sometime after the end of major hostilities.

But what really has to be examined is how a single man, the president, took the nation and part of the world to war because, as he essentially put it Tuesday night, he was "called" to do it.

Dick. Dick. Dick. Dick. The vote in the Senate was 77-23 and in the House it was 296-133. And last time I checked Afghanistan, Albania, Angola, Azerbaijan, Bulgaria, Colombia, Costa Rica, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Eritrea, Estonia, Ethiopia, Georgia, Honduras, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Japan, Kuwait, Latvia, Lithuania, Macedonia, Marshall Islands, Micronesia, Mongolia, Netherlands, Nicaragua, Palau, Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Rwanda, Singapore, Slovakia, Slovenia, Solomon Islands, South Korea, Spain, Tonga, Turkey, Uganda, Ukraine, and Uzbekistan were all sovereign countries not commanded by President George W. Bush. And, of course, the UN Security Council threatened serious consequences. Little did we (or Secretary of State Colin Powell) realize that “serious consequences” is French for “screw you.” All President Bush did was realize that we were already in a war and that we had to start fighting back. Bomb me nine times (the Lebanon Marine barracks bombing, the Khobar Towers attack, the attack on the USS Cole, the first attempt to bring down the WTC in 1993, the Kenya embassy bombing, the Tanzania embassy bombing, and then, of course, 9/11 -- WTC II, the Pentagon, and flight 93 for a target unknown) shame on you, bomb me ten times, shame on me.

If that is the case, and it sure seems so at the moment, then this commission has to ask us all -- and I don't exclude myself -- how much of Congress and the press went to war with an air of juvenile glee.

Glee? I understand juvenile as an adjective with respect to the press, but glee?

The Commission on Credulous Stupidity may call me as its first witness, …

Too easy. A self hit.

… but after that it has to examine how, despite our vaunted separation of powers, a barely elected president …

There he goes again. The 2000 (s)election – the gift that keeps on giving. Can’t we just get rid of this pesky constitution thing?

… opted for a war that need not have been fought.

There’s always surrender. It’s the most simplisme option.

This is Bush's cause, a noble but irrational effort much like the one that set off for Jerusalem in the year 1212. It was known as the Children's Crusade.

The original bad idea done For the Children™. That merits a black card.

Posted by Charles Austin at 10:29 AM | Comments (2)

January 01, 2004

The Scourge of Richard Cohen, Vol. CI

(Ed. -- The following is a bit of mean spiritedness that will be an on-going feature of this blog. Normally the author will endeavor to be reasonably fair, but this is an exception.)

Sigh. We’re off on to the next hundred Scourges as Richard Cohen supposes that someone would be interested in the Confessions of a Retrosexual:

Am I a metrosexual?

If you have to ask…

I've been asking everyone that question ever since I apparently became the last person in the world to discover the term.

Apparently everyone was laughing too hard to answer Dick.

This happened last week when I came across the word seemingly a dozen times in various newspapers and wondered, if you'll pardon my English, what the hell it meant. As an old Washington hand, I was doubly perplexed since Metro is what the subway is called in the nation's capital.

And we all know that every word can only have one meaning.

Is a metrosexual someone who has sex on the subway?

Could be.

Somehow I knew this could not be the case -- you can't even eat on the Washington Metro -- but knowing what it could not be still left me wondering what it is.

Lordy, lordy, the double entendres that cross my mind.

Having spent the weekend with some young people, …

I’m not sure I want to hear any more.

… I asked them all and they all said they were not sure.

There are young people who are clueless, and they hang out with Dick. What a surprise.

It seemed that a metrosexual was a heterosexual man with certain homosexual characteristics -- such as cleanliness, I was told, or neatness, I was told, or a compulsion toward good grooming.

Heterosexuals cannot be clean or neat? Was Felix Unger (the original metrosexual) necessarily gay?

I then plunged into a computer database and discovered that the word "metrosexual" has appeared in print more than 1,000 times in the past year …

Then it must be true!

-- where was I when all this was happening? --

Listening to the ghost of his communist grandfather, who, incidentally, I don’t think would have been all that sympathetic to metrosxuality?

… and that, true enough, it has something to do with going to the gym and having facials and caring about things that real men are not supposed to care about, like their appearance.

As Joe Jackson once sang, “But now and then we wonder who the real men are.”

By now I was confused.

By now?

It is true enough that I care about my appearance …

Dick's pix in the Washington Post notwithstanding.

… and that I pay a king's ransom for a haircut

Limousine illiberal.

… and that I have my shoes shined almost compulsively and that I go to the gym, not every day, but often enough so that with any luck I will live forever.

Clearly, I am cursed.

In all those ways, plus the narcissistic self-regard that is essential and common to all columnists, I am definitely and maybe even highly metrosexual.

Dick is oversexed.

On the other hand, I have never had a facial.

Please God, do not tempt me so. It is a very good thing that I do not have Photoshop.

It is simply out of the question and most definitely not why my grandfather came to this country.

As I noted earlier.

I also have never had a manicure, and while I feel less strongly about that than I do the facial, I don't see it happening in the near future.

Thanks for sharing.

Howard Dean pronounced himself a metrosexual and then characteristically said he wasn't sure what that was -- but whatever it was, he wasn't.

Metrosexuals do not roll up their sleeves and scream at people. Even if there may be a few votes to be had.

Among politicians, Arnold Schwarzenegger may be the most metrosexual of them all, since no man ever paid more attention to his body -- except maybe Richard Simmons, another category altogether.


Ronald Reagan is a metrosexual …


… and so was Kemal Ataturk, a regular clotheshorse and ladies' man who single-handedly modernized Turkey.

Metro, Dick. Think metro. Constantinople, I mean, Istanbul, doesn’t really count. Anyway, whether or not Kemal Ataturk was a metrosexual or not is nobody’s business but the Turks.

Saddam Hussein, a dapper dictator in his salad days, was a metrosexual but emerged from his hole a pure heterosexual.

Any idea where this is going?

Tim Russert is not a metrosexual, George Stephanopoulos is, Bill Clinton is an omnisexual, Ann Coulter is a psychosexual and Strom Thurmond was just a pig.

So clever, so witty.

As for myself, I am still perplexed.

This is news?

I am a fervid fan of the late Cary Grant, who was the best-dressed actor ever to appear on the screen. (Just watch how his trouser pleats don't open when he crouches on a rooftop in "To Catch a Thief.")

Perhaps, though I’d go with Fred Astaire.

All Italians are metrosexuals and some French are, but not the British, because, among other things, they can't keep their socks up.

Celebrating the diversity of stereotypes, there is unity in his bigotry.

For vacations, I prefer the Metrosexual Belt.

As Clint Eastwood once said, “A man’s got to know his limitations.”

Still, what this makes me I cannot say.

If only I were as clever and witty as Dick when it comes to insults.

In going around and asking people, I got various answers until one young woman flat out told me that I am too old to be a metrosexual.

As if she’d know!

That makes me a seniorsexual, I suppose -- a metrosexual on Lipitor -- and explains why I never got a facial.


I forgot.

I’m trying to forget.

Posted by Charles Austin at 06:14 PM | Comments (1)

December 18, 2003

The Scourge of Richard Cohen, Vol. C

(Ed. -- The following is a bit of mean spiritedness that will be an on-going feature of this blog. Normally the author will endeavor to be reasonably fair, but this is an exception.)

At the speed of light, here’s the big C, which more properly should be the little c since, as Albert Einstein first posited, E=mc2. And using roman numerals, that would mean that E = 10,000,000. That will come in handy in about 9,997,997 years for those who script copyrights for movie credits and other arcane users of roman numerals who still appreciate and delight in the semantics of such antiquated numerological semiotics. Of course, there are a lot of assumptions inherent in such a statement, not the least of which is that there will still be humans around who will still remember the meaning of the ancient symbols in 9,997,997 years, much less that there will still be movies as we understand them today. Given the pace of technological change, and the evolution that can take place over that time span, who knows what sort of entertainment our descendants will enjoy then? Thinking about something like the library on Terminus, I’ve often wondered what historical research would be like once there was more material than could even be queried adequately in one lifetime, no matter how sophisticated and efficient the Googolplex search engines might be by then. But, I digress.

Although I am pressed for time, I thought I’d save you the trouble of responding to some of those spam e-mails we’ve all been getting lately and give you a little more Dick for the holiday season. Frankly, I don’t know if I deserve acclamation for scourging Richard Cohen for so long (though admittedly, with decreased frequency of late), or condemnation for failing so miserably to stop the inanity offered up twice a week by the Washington Post’s most predictable partisan hack. This is necessarily the shortest headline you’ll see on a Scourge the rest of my natural life since it is hard to imagine that Richard will still be publishing his column long enough for me to scourge enough of them to get to M, or worse, that I would still be stuck in the non-creative rut of writing Scourges nine years from now. Oh the humanity! After all, at some point, even the publishers of the Washington Post will realize that at least half his columns are oh-so politically correct, recycled, boilerplate talking points from the DNC.

Speaking of regurgitated tripe, Dick’s back to whacking his favorite trope – his opposition to capital punishment. I’ll give Mr. Cohen a little credit for consistency, even when it means standing up for Saddam Hussein. Of course, Emerson’s oft-misquoted aphorism seems apropos here:

A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds.

While jumping on the rickety bandwagon of those who choose to defend Saddam must be more than a little challenging, I can only observe that this seems to be taking the whole the-enemy-of-my-enemy-is-my-friend meme just a little too far. But why? What motivates Richard Cohen’s dislike of capital punishment, beyond the opportunity to call those of us who support it Neanderthals? The only thing I’ve been able to discern thus far about Mr. Cohen’s beliefs is a utopian idea that somehow the criminals can be reformed or that we must not stoop to their level. I wonder why utopians have so much trouble accepting that most of us have no interest whatsoever in seeing Saddam Hussein reformed and we don't think it's possible to stoop to his level no matter how hard we might try. I certainly can’t believe that anyone takes seriously the argument that being caged for the rest of his life so he can reflect upon his crimes is a harsher punishment that taking his life from him.

Now, there are some legitimate concerns about the application of the death penalty within our current system of justice. If it is true that it is better that one-hundred guilty men go free than an innocent man be convicted, then it must also be true that it is better that one-hundred heinous murderers are sentenced to life without parole than one innocent man be put to death. Unfortunately, it has become difficult to work to improve our system of jurisprudence when it comes to the death penalty since opposition to it has become so dogmatic. The actions of former Illinois Governor George Ryan in commuting all the death sentences in Illinois stem more from an almost fervent religious belief in our fallibility than any attempt to try and improve the system. Some of the men who got a new lease on life from Governor Ryan are amongst the most wicked men on earth. But when Governor Ryan through out the baby with the bath water, he made no attempt to distinguish between any cases that perhaps merited further discussion and investigation and those cases where the right decision had unequivocally and unambiguously been made.

Which brings us to Saddam. At least Mr. Cohen spares us the existential hand wringing about whether Saddam can get a fair trial and acknowledges that he is a beast that, well, deserves the worst punishment we should offer. We just happen to disagree on what that punishment is. Watch in shock and awe as Mr. Cohen attempts a Clintonian conflation of morality and legality meant to confuse the simple and confound the concerned in Let Saddam Live:

That title is funny, in a sad sort of unfunny way, isn’t it? Industrial strength irony has been resurrected since this is exactly what France, Germany, Russia, and all his buddies at the UN had been doing for a long time – letting Saddam live, while so many died.

This column may be the most futile of my long career.

The competition is stiff.

I am about to plead for Saddam Hussein's life. I do so not because I have the slightest doubt that he is a killer, responsible for taking the lives of many thousands, but because sparing his life would send a message to the world that judicial death -- so often abused -- is no longer acceptable.

It is always a highlight in my day when the actions of a nation to depose and dispose of the most brutal madmen of the last fifty years are considered the moral equivalent of some third world execution following a show trial. The Iraqi Governing Council is apparently no better than Robert Mugabe in Dick’s eyes. Of course, the question as posed by Mr. Cohen could be addressed by trying to eliminate the abuse of capital punishment where it exists, but that’s a little to obvious to a mind that thinks like Dick’s.

Such a day will come, no doubt about it.

Perhaps by E AD. Or E CE if you prefer.

The death penalty is already illegal in most of Europe, and renunciation of it is required for admission to the European Union.

See, all the kool kids aren’t doing it! Poor Dick has Euro-envy. Again. If Dick gets a bump on the head do you imagine that twelve little yellow stars circle his noggin against a light blue background? Of course, the EU won’t even consider letting Turkey in to its Franco-German-we’ll-abide-by-the-rules-we-want-to-abide-to club, so why should Iraq care what Europe does or doesn’t do.

Many other countries keep the death penalty on their books but have not had an execution in so long that the prospect of one is remote.

Unless, of course, someone within their borders manages to be responsible for the deaths of perhaps one million people. Then we’ll see if the situation is comparable.

This, of course, is not the case in the United States. Here, the death penalty not only remains on the books but executions are common.

Common? That’s a relative term, and I’m not sure I would concur. But I’ll accept that the some parts of the US still believe in holding all of its citizens fully responsible for their actions.

Along with such pariah nations as Sudan, the United States still executes children (under 18) and the mentally feeble -- and, inevitably, the innocent.

More moral equivocation with the US being compared to Sudan. It’s not pretty, is it? But I’m curious, when is the last time a person under 18 was put to death in the United States? I don’t know, but I’m guessing it has to be at least 50 years ago – and even most of Europe still allowed the death penalty 50 years ago. Sure, some criminals have been convicted and sentenced to death for crimes they committed before they were 18, but given an activist judiciary and publicity-seeking politicians like George Ryan, there’s always the possibility that those sentences will be commuted before they are carried out. Anyway, it takes a long, long time to exhaust all the mandatory appeals on the books to carry out any death sentence, so I’m quite certain that it is unlikely that anyone under the age of 18 will ever be put to death in the US. And last time I checked, the Supreme Court made it illegal to carry out the death penalty on the mentally feeble. But let’s not let facts get in the way of a poor rant.

President Bush has already endorsed the death penalty for Hussein. "I think he ought to get the ultimate penalty," he told ABC's Diane Sawyer. But Bush, a primitive in such matters, was somehow not the first to call for Hussein's death.

Primitive. Jeez. But Dick’s right about one thing, I think the Iraqi citizens in Ambassador Bremer’s briefing were probably the first to call for Saddam’s death after he announced, “We got him.”

That honor may belong to Joe Lieberman, who, in the manner of John Ashcroft with the Washington snipers, said the United States ought to shop for a jurisdiction that permits the death penalty.

It’s not often you’re going to see Joe Lieberman slandered by a true believer with a guilt by association reference to John Ashcroft, whom we all know would be the Devil incarnate, if the Angry Left were to believe there was a such a thing as the Devil.

For some reason -- probably an oversight -- he did not suggest Virginia or Texas.

Maybe because he’s a Senator from Connecticut? Or because Saddam’s trial and subsequent execution will happen in Iraq, where, incidentally, all the states that border it still do utilize the death penalty, sometimes rather commonly.

Instead Lieberman merely ruled out the International Criminal Court in The Hague, because it is not empowered to impose the death penalty.

As if that’s the only reason to rule out the ICC.

The court is now trying the former Serbian leader Slobodan Milosevic -- and has already convicted others from the wars in the former Yugoslavia -- but it sorely lacks a gallows, and for that matter a torture chamber.

Is this an implication that there are torture chambers in the United States? Or at least in Virginia and Texas?

"So my first question about where he's going to be tried will be answered by whether the tribunal can execute him," Lieberman said in response to a question from Tim Russert on "Meet The Press." Calling Hussein evil, the Connecticut senator said, "This man . . . has to face the death penalty."

Joe Lieberman continues to be the only Democrat running for president who can be taken seriously.

Probably most of the Democratic presidential candidates agree.

Probably? Are you sure?

In the United States the right of the government to take life is almost universally accepted -- if not applauded.

Applauded? We don’t rejoice in the application of the death penalty, Dick. But we don’t shy away from it either where it is appropriate.

In Europe there is no such consensus.

Huh? I thought Richard had just said that there was such a consensus in Europe in the opposite direction.

That's because in the past century, much of the continent suffered under fascist or communist governments that routinely murdered their own citizens, often "legally."

And these are the people we are now supposed to admire and follow? When “Europe” has had a democratic government for oh, let’s say 200 years, then we’ll talk.

It's true, of course, that these governments also jailed and tortured people without killing them, but only death is irrevocable.

I think Senator John McCain might note that some of the effects of torture are just as irrevocable. Last time I checked, I don’t think chopped off tongues, ears, or hands grow back either. How can Dick so casually dismiss the physical pain, mental anguish, and the damaged and destroyed families of all those tortured and killed by Saddam Hussein? Silly question.

Life in prison is a lifetime of punishment.

Sorry, I was wrong in the rambling preamble. Apparently Richard Cohen does still try to argue that life in prison is worse than death. I guess he never saw the videos of Richard Speck.

In many ways Iraq was the equivalent of a European totalitarian country.

Huh? Not even Hitler killed as many of his own citizens so routinely. But then again, I guess we can consider Stalin as a European. And anyway, what’s with Dick’s fixation on Europe? Why not compare Iraq to, oh, I don’t know, Sudan?

Call it Baathist if you will, …

Or if you want to be correct.

… but Iraq under Saddam Hussein was essentially fascist, with the death penalty meted out willy-nilly, sometimes for serious crimes, sometimes for trivial infractions such as possession of a cell phone.

Is there a point here? Saddam’s not going to be tried for a defined code of punishment that was out of line.

The Iraqis no doubt expect to treat Hussein as he treated them.

How ridiculous is that?

It would be marvelous if they were disappointed.

After all, the Iraqi’s have had nothing but disappointment from the international community for the last 35 years. Why change now?

We can do better than an eye for an eye.

But only once for Saddam.

We can establish the principle of limited government that should be so dear to American conservatives such as Bush: Among the things government should not do is take a life.

Richard Cohen is an idiot. There, I said it. To state that you cannot have limited government unless you do not allow capital punishment is to be willfully ignorant of the entire history of the United States. The US Constitution, the embodiment of limited government that Europe just can’t quite get the hang of, explicitly allows for capital punishment. Always has, let’s hope it always will.

Except for the principle, I don't care about Saddam Hussein's life.

Like any card-carrying illiberal utopian in good standing, Dick cares about mankind, but not men. Saddam’s eventual execution serves two purposes. One is punishment and a small measure of retribution for his crimes. The second is as a message (which Dick is so fond of sending) that everyone can and will be held accountable for their crimes now and in the future.

I care about him the same way I care about your more prosaic murderer -- not at all.

Message: I (don’t) care.

But the principle is important.

I agree. The principle is important, which is why I’m making the effort to respond.

The death penalty vindicates the killer's mentality: Life can be taken.

Taking life is part of nature. One of the primary attributes of civilization is that we try to temper and mitigate it as much as possible, especially with respect to other people. The “killer’s mentality,” if there is such a thing, is that the rules of civilization that apply to everyone else do not apply to him or her. This is not a subtle difference.

When a California killer named Hung Thanh Mai, who had murdered a cop at a routine traffic stop, faced the jury during the penalty phase of his trial, he said he was prepared to die. "Personally, I believe in an eye for an eye," he said. "I believe in two eyes for an eye. If you take down one of my fellows, I'd do everything to take down two of yours."

And your point is what Dick? That one amoral anecdote can condemn the motivation for justice that is as old as the history of mankind?

President Bush, Joe Lieberman and much of America will probably have it their way. Saddam Hussein will be tried -- probably in Iraq -- found guilty and executed.

Gee Dick, I guess that means you’re out of step with America. Again.

In his reptilian brain, he will understand. He would have done the same thing himself.

See, those of us who still believe that capital punishment is a valid response to certain crimes used to be Neanderthals, but now Dick thinks we have devolved even further in our thinking into reptiles. No doubt, in Richard Cohen’s low estimation of our thinking we will continue to devolve until we are nothing more to him than prokaryotic cells. But, is that any worse than implying we are morally no different than Saddam?

Posted by Charles Austin at 10:27 PM | Comments (2)

November 20, 2003

The Scourge of Richard Cohen, Vol. XCIX

(Ed. -- The following is a bit of mean spiritedness that will be an on-going feature of this blog. Normally the author will endeavor to be reasonably fair, but this is an exception.)

Vive la non-difference!

Full frontal disclosure: I am in favor of civil unions for gay men and women, but there is something about gay marriage that doesn’t seem right to me. I’m not doctrinally or ideologically opposed to it, but it just doesn’t feel right. I can’t really explain my reservations about it any better than that. If that’s not good enough, well, my explanation is worth every penny you paid for it.

As you might have guessed by now, Richard Cohen has fallen head over heels in love with gay marriage and he’s prepared to knock anyone who isn’t ass over tit. Watch in rapturous awe as Dick swings from an uncertain statement of hoping he’s right in the title to a growing rock-hard certainty in his manly conviction (Ed. – I’ve never heard it called that before) to see justice done, with gratuitous ad hominem attacks and slanders thrown in for good measure. Perhaps you will be able to see farther and clearer than I why This May Be Good for Marriage:

If Tom DeLay had half a brain…

Multiple choice:
a) He’d be twice as smart as Richard Cohen!
b) He could be the other bad guy in the next bad sequel to Silence of the Lambs.
c) He couldn’t be the Scarecrow in the next Wizard of Oz revival.
d) Being ambidextrous would be right out.

As fond as Richard Cohen is of straw men, I’m going with c.

… (if pigs had wings), …

(It would pose even more serious problems for Muslims everywhere. Unless, of course, said hallucinated pigs remained flightless like ostriches, penguins and many other birds, but then Dick would be making even less sense than usual, if that’s possible.)

… he would have cheered the news that Massachusetts may legalize gay marriages.

Let me see if I understand this correctly. If Tom DeLay were half as smart as he is, then he’d support gay marriage. But since he’s twice as smart as Richard Cohen thinks, he doesn’t. This is supposed to be an insult? Of course, from a purely political perspective, how do we know that he didn’t cheer this news?

The institution for which the House majority leader has such concern, traditional marriage, is both wobbly and wheezing -- the butt of cynical jokes, a gold mine for divorce lawyers and, even for the non-initiated, the triumph of hope over experience.

Sort of like a drunk Bill Clinton. Or would that be the triumph of Hope over experience?

Gays, bless 'em, may wind up saving marriage.

Gays, or the courts? Dick’s confused about cause and effect here. Or is it cause and affect? Well, there is certainly a cause. But how will it affect the desired effect? Or is it the desired effete? (Yes, I know I’m converting an adjective to a noun. And I could also go a lot further than this, but to do so would be in really bad taste.)

In ways that DeLay and his conservative cohorts seem not to recognize, marriage itself is on the rocks.

It’s only missing the twist.

Twenty percent of all first marriages don't make it past five years, and after a mere decade, one-third of all marriages are kaput. Married couples, once dominant in both life and sitcom TV, have gone from 80 percent of all households in the 1950s to 50 percent today.

Yes, and out of wedlock births have skyrocketed, our inner cities have deteriorated, high school dropout rates for black males have reached historically catastrophic proportions, church attendance has declined, Arnold Schwarzenegger is now the governor of California, and the ozone hole has disappeared. Hmm…, could any of this be related?

If you peek into the average home,…

Perhaps you should be arrested.

… the chances of finding a married couple with kids are just one in four.

Maybe, just maybe, there are other sociological forces at work here. And what’s more, maybe some people legitimately think that this is exactly what’s wrong with society -- and marriage -- and that further weakening marriage as in institution is not the answer.

DeLay, don't delay, marriage needs help.

Jeez, that’s weak use of his name. How’s this? If Richard were a lesbian, maybe he’d be looking for a co-hen to marry.

Now along come gay couples to rescue marriage from social and economic irrelevance, casting a queer eye on a straight institution.

But, no matter how you dress it up, isn’t it just a little premature to make this claim?

They seek it for pecuniary reasons -- issues such as estate taxes, etc. -- but also because they seem to be among the last romantics.

No stereotypes here, no siree bob.

(No shotgun marriages here.)

(Well, duh. I will assume that Richard Cohen knows the etymology of this phrase.)

The odd thing about the opposition to gay marriage is that if the opponents were not so blinded by bigotry and fear, they would see that gay men and lesbians provide the last, best argument for marriage: love and commitment.

There are many things I love and to which I am committed, none of which I am going to ever marry. No doubt, lots of people are blinded by bigotry and fear, but if the foolishness of your opponents is your best argument, may I therefore assume that President George W. Bush is the greatest man in the world? Anyway, if gay marriages started to fall apart faster than non-gay marriages, would Richard Cohen then think they are a bad idea?

There is scant reason for marriage anymore, …

Then why advocate it for others?

… which is why it has become a dicey proposition -- and why 86 million adults are unmarried.

Huh? I’m going to have to start inventing new Latin terms for these new errors in logic.

Women don't need men to support them or defend them from saber-toothed tigers -- and they can, I have read, even have babies on their own.

And what other possible reason could there be to get married?

Men, of course, still need women, if only to bear children and to remind them that they are uncommunicative.

I am beginning to feel sorry for Mrs. Cohen, if she exists.

(Is a marriage between two men a zone of total silence?)

(Gosh, I don’t know? Is a marriage between two women a cacophonous shouting match where no one can ever get a word in edgewise? Well, you sexist pig? Is it?)

But single guys can adopt kids, and sex is readily available almost anywhere, or so I am told by various city magazines.

This is a very strange collection of words that brings you know who to mind.

There is an analogy here -- I think.

Or not -- I know.

Just as gays are renowned for moving into urban areas that others have fled, for refurbishing whole neighborhoods and making them attractive, so they might rehabilitate and renew marriage.


Of all people, they need it the least. They have already shattered convention with their lifestyles, and demolished our comfy and parochial notions of sexual categories -- heterosexual male, heterosexual female and nothing else.

We must destroy this tradition in order to preserve it. (Hmm…, where have I heard that before?)

But when it comes to marriage of all things, some of them want to veer toward the traditional.

Well, technically, the non-traditional.

They want commitment and love -- a universal truth in a manner that Jane Austen never envisaged.

You can have commitment and love without marriage. Just ask some of those 86 million unmarried adults. Or is Richard implying that love and commitment can only be found within holy matrimony? Holy matrimony? Holy separation of church and state, Batman, what am I saying? Richard’s quite right about one thing though. I cannot imagine Jane Austen envisaging this.

The dour Republican Party, …

Dour? (Ed: Is there any other kind?)

… with DeLay and others promising a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage …

Fortunately, neither Tom DeLay nor any other wannabe dictator can just will constitutional amendments into being.

… (can Elizabeth Taylor be included, too?), …


… is once again willing to stand athwart history, yelling stop.

Well, let’s be fair, that is what good conservatives do.

In the short term, it will work, since little in politics has the power bigotry does -- certainly not reason.

Bigotry certainly runs roughshod over reason in Richard Cohen columns. But I do take great offense at the idea that all opposition to gay marriage is motivated only by bigotry. You know, Dick, not everyone is an Episcopalian.

The many GOP politicians who have gay children will have to stifle all that their kids have taught them and fall behind DeLay in his backward march toward a vanished world.

[Many remarkably crude comments deleted at this point.]

Some, though, may succumb to knowledge and empathy and suggest -- softly, of course -- that love and commitment are universals and not confined to a single category of sexual orientation.

Conservatives must succumb to knowledge and human feelings. They are, after all, so unnatural to conservatives. But again, love and commitment do not necessarily imply marriage.

Gay marriage will not and cannot weaken the institution of marriage.

Q.E.D. No argument necessary. At least, I haven’t seen one yet.

A heterosexual is not somehow less married because a homosexual has tied the knot.

But that’s not the point now, is it?

On the contrary, the institution will be strengthened, bolstered by the very people who for conservatives represent everything loathsome about modernity.

And conservatives are just bigoted idiots not to realize that what they believe is just totally, completely wrong. They just cultural Luddites, eh Dick? I mean, they don’t even know any metrosexuals.

Gays are not attacking marriage. They want to practice it.

Actually, I think they want to practice that most postmodern pastime of redefining the language to mean whatever they want it to mean as a means to power.

"Love. Of course, love. Flames for a year, ashes for 30." So says the prince in Giuseppe di Lampedusa's classic novel, "The Leopard."

Sorry, never heard of it. But I do live in flyover country, had a public education and attended a state university, so maybe that explains it.

This cynical observation, attributed to a 19th-century man by a 20th-century writer, is hardly out of date.

But I’ll bet “The Leopard” is out of print.

Love is as much a recipe for failure as it is for success, and yet we cling to it because it ennobles us.

What in the hell is he talking about?

Love is our emotional opposable thumb, what differentiates us from lower animals, and why we vow -- sometimes over and over again -- a lifetime's commitment, marriage.

Oh that’s what he’s talking about. “Love is our emotional opposable thumb.” No wonder Dick gets paid to write and I don’t. I never could have come up with that.

If gays can do it …

I think they can, or so I am told by various city magazines.

… and maybe do it better, …

I wouldn’t know, though I am told so by various city magazines.

…then Tom DeLay could do us all a real public service by just stepping aside.

And, after all, getting Tom DeLay to step aside is what is really important here, isn’t it.

A whole lot of wonderful people want to come down the aisle.

Such a poor choice of words. Someone without my well-practiced restraint might be tempted to make some truly crude remark about this sentence as well. Fortunately, I can restrain my inner juvenile delinquent. I will, however, note that Mr. Cohen has studiously avoided the concerns that most conservatives do have about gay marriage in favor of his well-worn straw men. I don’t particularly subscribe to most of the conservative arguments, but I don’t casually dismiss them out of hand as being ignorant and motivated by bigotry and hatred either. And anyway, if marriage sucks so much, why is Richard Cohen trying to sucker gay men and women into it? Sometimes, I think Dick would have trouble selling ice cubes to the denizens of the nether regions.

Posted by Charles Austin at 10:09 PM | Comments (2)

October 31, 2003

The Scourge of Richard Cohen, Vol. XCVIII

(Ed. -- The following is a bit of mean spiritedness that will be an on-going feature of this blog. Normally the author will endeavor to be reasonably fair, but this is an exception.)

With more apologies to Danny Elfman, here goes!

What have I done?
What have I done?
How could I be so blind?
All is lost, where was I?
Spoiled all, spoiled all,
Everything's gone all wrong.

What have I done?
What have I done?
Find a deep blog to hide in.
In a million years they'll Google
And find dusty old bits
That read, "Here Lies Poor Old Chuck"

But I never intended all this madness, never!
And nobody really understood, how could they?
That all I ever wanted was to bring them something great.
Why does nothing ever turn out like it should?

Well, what the heck, I went and did my best!
And, by God, I’ve really written something swell.
And for a moment, why, I even touched the sky.
And at least I left some stories they can tell, I did.

And for the first time since I don't remember when,
I felt just like my scourging self again,
And I, Chuck, the Scourging King!
That's right, I am the Scourging King, ha, ha, ha!

And I just can't wait until next Tuesday eve,
'Cause I've got some new ideas that will really make Dick scream.
And, by God I'm really gonna give it all my might.
Uh oh, I hope there's still time to set things right…

Vietnam It Isn't, hmmm…

In 1965 Lyndon Johnson gave a speech at Johns Hopkins University titled "Why Are We in Vietnam?" Two years later, Norman Mailer offered a somewhat different version in his book "Why We Are in Vietnam." Today, this column could be called "Why We Are Not in Vietnam."

Well, that’s quite an admission coming from Mr. Quagmire himself.

That some people think we are is evident from a quick scan of the Nexis database.

A simple scan of this blog would locate numerous instances (here and here and here and here and here and here and here) of Richard Cohen in fact claiming that Iraq is a quagmire just like Vietnam. (Sorry folks, but the old permalinks don’t work too well anymore, but if you hit the old BlogSpot site you can search the archives for Scourge XXVI on 23 May 2003, Scourge XLIII on 25 July 2002, Scourge L on 10 September 2002, and Scourge LXXXIII on 3 April 2003; and the archives of the Spleenville site for Scourge XCIV on 21 October 2003, and Scourge XCVII earlier today. And don’t miss the original BlogSpot spooky vision quagmire in Scourge LXXXVI on 5 June 2003.)

It shows more than 800 links in the past week alone where the words "Iraq" and "Vietnam" appeared together. Some of them are surely my own since in certain limited respects, I, too, have made the comparison.

Some of them? Could a mea culpa be coming on?

Some similarities do exist.


As with the war in Vietnam, the one in Iraq has been plagued by questions of candor.

Especially on the part of those who are seemingly still opposed to the liberation of Iraq.

Vietnam was triggered by the Gulf of Tonkin incident, an attack on two American warships that may never have occurred.

Only if you ignore the fact that President Eisenhower had put advisors into Vietnam five years earlier and that President Kennedy had increased their number substantially.

The war in Iraq was justified by Saddam Hussein's WMD, which turned out to be Weapons of Mass Delusion. In the case of chemical and biological weapons, they may not exist. In the case of nuclear weapons, they certainly don't.

Aaarrrggghhhhh!!!! Do we have to keep hearing all the variants of the imminent threat big lie over and over ad infinitum? Can't we get at least a mention of Saddam's refusal to comply with a seemingly endless number of UN Security Council resolutions?

There are other similarities.

A lot of people who live under the protection of America wanted to see America lose?

Once again the government is whistling in the dark.

Like I said, a lot of people who live under the protection of America wanted to see America lose.

President Bush sees progress in every terrorist attack. "The more successful we are on the ground, the more these killers react," he said recently.

This is a fiendishly ignorant interpretation of what President Bush said. Aside from Dick confusing cause and effect from the President’s statement, the simple – and I do mean simple – fact of the matter is that this is a necessary step in the War on Terrorism. Anybody who expected the terrorists to go quietly was fooling themselves just as much as those who thought America would cringe and beg the terrorists to please not attack us again. We are on the offensive! I damn well expect them to fight back. This is life and death for them and they know it. And the harder they fight back, the sooner they will all be dead. That is progress.

In that case, recent events put the United States on the lip of victory.

That’s one big lip. Or perhaps Dick keeps missing every statement by the President and his staff that this is going to be a long war. Iraq is only a battle in that war.

Suicide bombings killed or wounded more than 250 Iraqi civilians, and a Baghdad deputy mayor was assassinated. Another week like this and the enemy will have had it.

As I noted with CBSNews.com editor Dick Meyer earlier this week, sarcasm in the hands of professional Dicks is a sorry site.

But while the similarities to Vietnam are always worth noting, …

Noting, ignoring…

… the differences may be more important.

Oh? They may be more important?

Among them is the nature of the insurgency.

In Vietnam, Big Media were naïve tools. In Iraq, the Big Media are leading the charge.

The Vietnamese independence movement was both long-standing and widespread. (Ho Chi Minh lobbied for independence from France at the Paris Peace Conference of 1919.)

(Shhhh… let’s leave Ho's conversion to communism out of the discussion.)

That cannot be said about whoever is behind the Iraq terrorism attacks -- bitter-end Baathists or Islamic zealots taking a short cut to heaven. Neither embodies Iraqi national aspirations.

What? Is that an admission from Richard Cohen that there are, gulp, foreign terrorists engaged in Iraq?

Another difference is that Iraq has no "North" -- as in North Vietnam. In Vietnam, the war on the ground was waged in the South, but supplies and manpower came down the famous Ho Chi Minh Trail from the North.

Au contraire! Iraq has a South (Saudi Arabia), a West (Syria), and an East (Iran and Pakistan) from which supplies and manpower have been pouring in.

Iraq has no triple-canopy jungle to screen a supply line. It's an arid, desert country where a goat can be spotted from the air.

Well, it’s true that there isn’t much jungle, but the Iraqi people of the Tigris and the Euphrates river valleys and the Kurdish people of the mountainous north might find this statement patently ridiculous.

Iraq is not Vietnam.

Well, duh.

In a way, Vietnam was not "Vietnam" either. The communist victory did not precipitate a falling of dominoes all across Asia. In fact, it hardly mattered.

Sometime, I hope Richard Cohen gets an opportunity to ask any of the Vietnamese boat people or their children that are numerous in the Washington, D.C., area if the fall of Saigon and the communist takeover hardly mattered.

Communism all over the world imploded, corroded by its inefficiencies, idiocies and contradictions. Vietnam is communist today -- and who cares?

I care, and so should Richard Cohen. It gets easier to understand how little he cares about the people of Iraq all the time.

To be there is only to feel a profound and sad sense of waste. What did 58,000 Americans die for?

Duty? Honor? Country? I can assure it was for definitely for something more than the opportunity to put another monument on the Mall, even if Richard Cohen can’t quite figure it out.

Iraq in a way is much more important. It is not on the periphery of Asia but dead in the center of the oil-rich Middle East.

Oh God, not another it’s all about oooooiiiiilllll!!!!!

If there is anything to the latter-day domino theory the Bush administration propounded -- a democratic Iraq would be emulated throughout the Middle East -- then its converse must also be true: The failure to establish some sort of civic regime in Iraq would also have consequences throughout the Middle East.

And some people think Richard Cohen can’t reason at a fifth grade level. Shame on you.

What's more, a reversal in Iraq would surely show -- as Somalia did once before -- that the United States lacks the stomach for a fight. It can fight from the air and with precision-guided missiles launched from the sea, but on land it has a glass jaw and cannot take a punch.

At the very least, as Richard Cohen seems to measure the importance of things, Vietnam sure showed that we could take a punch. The problem there seemed to be that we were unwilling to throw enough to win.

I realize that those metaphors disguise loss of life -- 231 American combat deaths, more than half of them since Bush proclaimed the end of the fighting.

No! President Bush proclaimed an end to major combat operations – which it was. President Bush has never proclaimed an end to fighting. Stop making shit up or willfully misquoting the administration. Maureen Dowd has a corner on that market.

And I realize also that in some respects, that is not the significant figure. It's the number of Iraqi dead, which can, if the number grows, become the basis for a wider insurrection.

It’s not an either/or situation. Our dead matter and so do theirs.

As Sept. 11 proved, the world is a lot more dangerous now than it was in the Vietnam era.

If that’s true (an arguable point – at least until North Korea or Iran decide to use a nuclear weapon), then maybe it was because of America’s (and the rest of the Western World’s) self-defense fatigue that we collectively endured after Vietnam until 9/11 shook us from our slumber.

The danger is not just "over there" but right here as well.

Such penetrating insight from Dick.

So it was all the more stunning that the Bush administration went to war with a cockamamie plan for what was to follow, a muddle of wishful thinking that history will judge criminally stupid.

I.e., a Republican is President.

Finally, where Iraq is really different from Vietnam: There can be no premature, chaotic and shameful withdrawal.

Did I just understand Richard Cohen to say that our withdrawal from Vietnam was premature, chaotic and shameful? Maybe there’s hope for him yet. Nah.

In the end, Vietnam didn't matter. Iraq does.

As usual, Dick is half right.

Posted by Charles Austin at 06:34 PM | Comments (3)

The Scourge of Richard Cohen, Vol. XCVII

(Ed. -- The following is a bit of mean spiritedness that will be an on-going feature of this blog. Normally the author will endeavor to be reasonably fair, but this is an exception.)

There are few who deny at what I do I am the best,
Though my talents aren’t renowned far nor wide.
When it comes to a fisking of a Cohen slight
I excel without ever even trying.
With the slightest little effort of my blog-like charms
I have seen straw men give out a shriek.
With a mere hyperlink and a well-placed pun
I have swept Dick Cohen’s straw men off their feet.

Yet week after week, it's the same routine,
And I grow so weary of illiberal schemes.
And I, Chuck, the Scourging King
Have grown so tired of the same old thing.

Oh, somewhere deep inside of these posts
An emptiness began to grow.
There are blogs out there, far from my home
A readership I've never known.

I rely on the might of conspiracies right
And I'll call Dick right out on his rants.
My esteem of Dick's small, like a paper-trained Rall,
Though he travels throughout England and France.
And since I’m well read, off the top of my head
I’ll insert Shakespearean quotations.
No animal nor man can Scourge like I can
With a flurry of my pop citations.

But who here would ever come to think
That the Scourging King with the hypertext link
Would tire of his crown, if they only understood,
He'd give it all up if he only could.

Oh, there's an empty place in my posts
That calls out for readers unknown.
No fame or praise comes year after year,
There’s nothing for these empty tears.

All right, enough of my terrifying abuse of Danny Elfman’s lyrics, for now. Happy Halloween! Now read on as I get all slappy with the hollow weenie. The thoughtless horseman of Illiberal Hollow is up to his usual tricks as I treat you to a Scourge of Master of Fiction:

Dick Cheney is the most powerful vice president of modern times -- more powerful than the seasoned Gore under the callow Clinton or the experienced Poppa Bush under the inexperienced Reagan.

Reagan was inexperienced? Compared to whom, Clinton? Carter? Gore was seasoned? Compared to whom? Cheney? George H.W. Bush? Maybe Dick is the most powerful vice president of modern times because the War on Terrorism demands a more engaged vice president. But apparently, being well seasoned wasn’t enough to get Al a real job in the White House, despite the lack of adult sophistication on the part of Clinton.

Cheney, in fact, is sometimes referred to as George W. Bush's brain or, to be even more mocking, his ventriloquist.

Mmmm, brains. But wow, throwing your voice from an undisclosed location takes ventriloquism to a whole new level.

It would be fitting, then, for this most powerful of all vice presidents to be the first in American history to be censured.


He has it coming.


It won't happen, of course.

Maybe because there would need to be a reason?

But Cheney ought to be made to account for his repeated exaggerations of the Iraqi threat. I am referring specifically to his dire warning that Saddam Hussein's Iraq was working on a menacing nuclear weapons program and the United States had to do something about it. We know now that such a program did not exist.

I don’t know that it didn’t exist. In fact, I tend to think it did, even if they were thankfully not as far along as we feared. And even so, maybe they were. For the twenty-third time, an absence of evidence is not an evidence of absence.

We know it because it cannot be found.

Wow, I guess the searches are all over then. Or is Dick alluding to some epistemological conundrum concerning the search for weapons of mass destruction that has eluded us all thus far.

We know it because it is impossible to hide such a program because, among other things, traces of it can be detected in the air and in the water.

Traces of programs can be detected in the air and water? Programs?

We know it because the experts -- Americans and others -- have now said so. They have told my Washington Post colleague Barton Gellman that Iraq, in his words, had "no active program to build a weapon, produce its key materials or obtain the technology . . . needed for either."

Ah yes, the always reliable unnamed experts. It must be true since it has been cited by that paragon of objective journalism, Joe Conason.

That, inconveniently, is what U.N. weapons inspectors maintained all along.

As if we can trust the UN to shoot straight on such matters.

But those inspectors were not only dismissed by Cheney as Hussein's useful idiots, they were actually bullied by him.

And rightly so. The stench of hind-sighted historical revisionism is growing very strong here. Maybe it comes from having his head so far up his ass.

Former assistant secretary of state James P. Rubin wrote in Foreign Affairs that when Cheney met with Hans Blix and Mohamed ElBaradei, the two most prominent U.N. inspectors, he bluntly told them that if the Bush administration found fault with their judgment, "we will not hesitate to discredit you."

So, is Dick is suggesting that Cheney discredited them in the absence of any faulty judgment?

It now appears that it's Cheney who's been discredited.

You wish. Sorry Dick, this is just another conclusion stated without any argument.

Cheney did not limit his bullying to U.N. inspectors. His growling impatience with dissent pervaded the Bush administration, especially the intelligence agencies.

Ah yes, the early inspiration for John Ashcroft’s jack-booted dissent crushing brigades.

In the New Yorker, Seymour M. Hersh reports that Cheney dismissed intelligence that did not fit his preconceived notions and seized on reports that validated his views.

Saying it doesn’t make it so. Don't forget, Sy’s got a lot invested in the quagmire thesis.

He basically short-circuited the laborious process for vetting intelligence -- one that worked well -- and instead reached down into the CIA and elsewhere to mine the particle of information that suited his purposes.

Uh huh. After all, the procedures used within the intelligence community had worked so well in predicting and preventing terrorist activities up to that point. No reason to change the procedures while you’re sitting in some bunker eighty feet under ground waiting for the next attack to occur.

Cheney, of course, was not alone. He had Donald Rumsfeld, Paul Wolfowitz and Condoleezza Rice on his side. All three, including on occasion Bush himself, made preposterous statements about Iraq's nuclear potential, Rice once saying, "We don't want the smoking gun to be a mushroom cloud."

What exactly is preposterous about that statement? The problem with the smoking gun, as I have noted before, is that a gun only smokes after it has been fired.

No, and we don't want the national security adviser saying things that are not true, either.

What did Condoleezza Rice say that wasn’t true? What?

But Cheney was in a class of his own.

A bunker of his own, actually.

Not only did he trample traditional intelligence procedures -- helped, incidentally, by the compliant CIA director, George Tenet -- but he repeatedly issued Chicken Little warnings about Iraq's nuclear potential.

Oh yea, those traditional intelligence procedures that had worked so well up to 9/10. How dare he? As for Chicken Little, sorry, but he’s been checked out and choked up by the Angry Left for so long that we wouldn’t know how to use him on the right if we wanted to.

He characteristically put things in absolute terms. "We do know, with absolute certainty, that he [Saddam Hussein] is using his procurement system to acquire the equipment he needs in order to enrich uranium to build a nuclear weapon," he said a year ago.

I haven’t seen anything that would contradict this statement.

We knew no such thing -- not with certainty, absolute or otherwise.

Dick is quite epistemologically challenged with all these assertions throughout this column about what is knowable and unknowable.

In fact, intelligence officials had grave doubts about Cheney's assertion. Ultimately, a version of this fiction wound up in the president's State of the Union address.

If I remember correctly, it would up there because CIA Director George Tenet passed it through. Gosh, and I thought Dick was just complaining about not following the vaunted intelligence procedures that were working so well. Spooky.

Cheney was a University of Wisconsin graduate student during the Vietnam era and, by his own admission, took little notice of the antiwar movement on campus.

What in the Hell does Vietnam have to do with this? (Ed. -- Remember this for the next Scourge.)

If he had, he might have discerned that it was animated not just by opposition to the war but by the incessant fudging, lying and misrepresentations of the Johnson administration -- everything from concocted body counts to the discredited domino theory.

The domino theory has been discredited?

Now Cheney has become a key player in yet another dismal effort to mislead the American people.

Of course, I would say the same thing about Richard Cohen.

As with Vietnam itself, issues of candor and judgment are beginning to obscure worthy war aims, such as the elimination of Hussein's murderous regime. It's good that Saddam is gone and Iraq is free. It's not good that the road to Baghdad was paved with deception.

Yea, yea, yea. Bush lied, people died. But it was all in a good cause. If only it had been led by the right guy. Is that it Dick?

It is hard to know whether Cheney's repeated assertions about Iraq's nuclear program were purposeful misrepresentations or the product of a true believer's faith in his own misconceptions.

Or perhaps, the truth.

Either way, the always smug and contemptuous Cheney has much to answer for.

Smug and contemptuous? Dick Cheney?

He has failed as George Bush's brain.

Mmmm, brains. In order to believe that, you had to buy into the whole Krugman-Rall-Dowd-Ivins-DNC-A.N.S.W.E.R position that Bush is a moron, Haliburton is pulling the strings, it’s all about oooooiiiiiilllll, kill the brown people, distract the proles from the sorry economy, and Bush stole the election conspiracies well documented at Democratic Underground and IndyMedia.

Let's hope he is not his conscience, too.

At least Dick has one. Dick Cheney, I mean.

Posted by Charles Austin at 09:56 AM | Comments (0)

October 23, 2003

The Scourge of Richard Cohen, Vol. XCVI

(Ed. -- The following is a bit of mean spiritedness that will be an on-going feature of this blog. Normally the author will endeavor to be reasonably fair, but this is an exception.)

I have learned from one of my blog friends that perhaps the Scourges are a bit long, if not long in the tooth. Well, as Barney Miller once said, "I don't have enough friends that I can afford to lose them," so I'm going to avoid Richard Cohen's advice one more time in How To Lose a Friend:

Oh brave and maybe foolish man that I am...

Well, Dick's half right. Hey, that's more credit than I usually give him.

Is that better?

Posted by Charles Austin at 11:33 PM | Comments (4)

October 21, 2003

The Scourge of Richard Cohen, Vol. XCV

(Ed. -- The following is a bit of mean spiritedness that will be an on-going feature of this blog. Normally the author will endeavor to be reasonably fair, but this is an exception.)

Sometimes I wonder why Paul Krugman has several bright people who refuse to let him get away with nonsense and slander while I toil away in relative obscurity, with only an occasional assist from James DiBenedetto, fighting the partisan silliness of Richard Cohen. Oh well, no rest for the wicked as we Return to Wannsee

BERLIN -- Last night I played Schubert. I put his String Quintet in C Major on the disc player in my room and went to sleep thinking, of all people, of Mahathir Mohamad, Malaysia's prime minister.

Well, it’s going to take some effort to top Paul Krugman’s use of Mahathir’s slander, but let’s see if Dick is up to it. (The antidote for Paul Krugman's attempt to excuse Mahathir's blatant anti-Semitism can be found here.)

Across the lake from where I am writing, hidden in trees streaked with the colors of autumn, is the Wannsee villa where the Nazis in 1942 held a conference on how to dispose of Europe's remaining Jews.

So, Mahathir is a Nazi? Oh, and after young Alex's experience, I have become quite leery about associating any particular music with Nazis.

The stunning HBO movie "Conspiracy," re-creating the Wannsee Conference, ended with Adolf Eichmann playing the same inexpressibly lovely Schubert piece on the phonograph.

Stunning? I thought it struck the right chord as being the artistic embodiment of Hannah Arendt’s observation regarding the banality of evil, though I doubt that HBO sets out to produce movies best thought of as banal. Just because a movie is well done and reminds us that Nazi’s are evil doesn’t make it stunning. Indiana Jones certainly didn’t like Nazi’s, but I wouldn’t call those movies historical. Jake and Elwood didn’t like Nazi’s either, but at least their movie was entertaining as well as having good music. I am very careful, and usually highly critical, of taking history lessons from any movie, but I would accept that “Conspiracy” had a reasonable amount of truth to its representation of the Nazi efforts to commit genocide. I do recommend seeing it, though I found it neither entertaining nor stunning.

Things have changed.

And yet strangely, they seem the same.

We have gone from the phonograph to the disc player but as Mahathir shows, for too many people the thinking remains the same.

Of course, Richard passed up a primo opportunity to make a Led Zeppelin reference here, what with Germans, gas bags, and “the humanity.” But, I digress.

Addressing a summit of Islamic leaders in Malaysia last week, Mahathir said some ugly things about Jews. "The Europeans killed 6 million Jews out of 12 million, but today the Jews rule the world by proxy," he said. "They get others to fight and die for them," he continued, and then went on to say that Jews "have now gained control of the most powerful countries and they, this tiny community, have become a world power."

So, what’s Europe’s excuse for not being a superpower?

Mahathir did not call for violence…

This time. (Hat tip to Robert Musil.)

… but essentially asked his fellow Muslims to outthink the Jews.

So they could build the weapons necessary to finish the job?

Mahathir is a bit of a nut, given to extravagant, sometimes repellent statements.

Hmm…., he’s not running for president as a Democrat, is he?

Yet in his 22 years in office, he's been seen as a progressive, moderate leader.

That would seem to be an oxymoron.

He is also so far removed from the Western tradition of Jew-hatred that it's possible he did not even know his remarks would be deemed insulting and bigoted.

Bloody wogs can’t be expected to appreciate the nuances of Western genocidal rhetoric, no matter how progressive or educated they are, eh Dick?

In the West, most anti-Semites refrain from publicly saying what they believe.

I sense an implication that Mr. Cohen thinks there are anti-Semites everywhere here in the West, even if they don’t walk around yelling “Sieg Heil!” all the time. Bloody Republicans.

When I wrote that not much has changed since the Wannsee Conference, I was referring not to Mahathir but to his audience. They gave the Malaysian a standing ovation.

As I recall, there were no standing ovations at Wannsee. But there was the very model of a modern genocidal general in the person of Adolf Eichmann there. And once again, if the jackboot fits...

Asked afterward what they thought of the speech, the luminaries in attendance -- including some of our most cherished allies -- thought they had heard nothing untoward.

Uh huh. I have no doubt that some of our “most cherished allies” heard nothing untoward based upon their own words and actions.

Mahathir's claque included Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Abdullah, Pakistan's President Pervez Musharraf, our guy in Afghanistan, Hamid Karzai, and even Russia's Vladimir Putin, representing his country's large Muslim minority.

The US did not install Pervez Musharaff (our guy) in Pakistan any more than we installed Prince Abdullah in Saudi Arabia or Vladimir Putin in Russia. Gee, does that make Pootie-Poot our man in Moscow? And isn't Hamid Karzai our guy in Afghanistan? After all, we certainly did install him there.

Either they chose to overlook the rank anti-Semitism in their midst or they took no umbrage.

Or both.

Islamic unity comes first.

Vladimir Putin places Islamic unity first?

Yes, indeed.


But what ails part of the Islamic, especially Arab, world, is both anti-Semitism, which is rampant and state-tolerated, and the sort of thinking that underlies it. The belief that Jews have some sort of mystical powers -- that they are smarter and, of course, more diabolical than others -- provides the Islamic world with a handy explanation of why more than 1 billion Muslims cannot seem to cope with little Israel.

Honestly, I missed the intellectual leap of faith from Arabs to Muslims here. While I can comprehend, though not fully understand, the historical Arab hatred of Israel, why Malaysian Islamists should hate Israel is, well, too bizarre for me to figure out.

But what corrupts and enfeebles large parts of the Islamic world is not Jews in either New York or Tel Aviv but its own self-serving and inept leadership -- in other words, some of the very people who stood and cheered the speech.

The really sad thing is that “better” leadership would probably only result in catastrophic atrocities attempted against Israel.

Sadly, throughout the Islamic world, anti-Zionism has been corrupted into anti-Semitism.

I assume that there’s no point in noting that Arabs are Semites as well, though perhaps this would go some ways towards explaining the self-hatred and self-loathing necessary to inspire homicide bombers.

Saudi clerics preach that Jews use the blood of non-Jewish children to make their Passover matzos. That classic forgery, the "Protocols of the Elders of Zion," can be found throughout the Arab world.

So Mahathir can’t appreciate the subtleties of Oriental genocidal rhetoric either?

The tenets of traditional European anti-Semitism have been adopted in the Islamic world -- the globalization of crackpot conspiracy theories. Governments either look the other way or offer support.

And one of them (Syria) currently chairs the UN Security Council!

The use of such language, the support of such ideas, is too often a precursor to violence.

That’s one clever Dick to pick up on that one so quickly.

The scenario of Germany and the rest of Europe cannot apply. Islamic countries have next to no Jews.

Sheer bloody coincidence, eh Dick? Come to think of it, a lot of European countries have next to no Jews now either, compared to their populations in 1930. Never again, indeed.

But it does transform the opposition to Israel from a political-nationalistic dispute into a kind of vast pogrom in which compromise becomes increasingly impossible.

Generally, this is where Dick reminds us that it is all Sharon’s fault, though.

In the end, such language could justify the use of the so-called Islamic bomb, an atomic weapon such as the one Iran is now developing and Pakistan already has.

No Dick, it cannot justify it. Such language may be offered up as a rationale, but it cannot ever justify it.

The Europeans were quick to denounce Mahathir's remarks -- the Germans with their customary and admirable swiftness.

Germans are known for their efficiency. At least they seem to have their hearts in the right place this time.

But the European Union itself demurred.

But don’t draw any parallels! It’s not the same because …, um …, because …, uh …, well …, because Dick says so.

French President Jacques Chirac maintained it was not the EU's place to issue a condemnation (though he did later write a letter to Mahathir criticizing the remarks).

Yes, not the EU’s place – just in case anyone was still wondering why the Balkans exploded. No doubt Jacque used stern words in his criticism. Maybe he even wagged his finger as he wrote it.

He apparently reserves moral condemnations for the United States.

No, Jacque does reserve moral condemnation for the US. There’s nothing “apparent” about it.

The Wannsee house is now a museum, its walls covered with the usual, horrific pictures of the Holocaust. They seem of the past, but Mahathir's remarks, especially the way they were received, are very much of the present -- and maybe the future.

As I’ve written before, “Never Again” seems kind of hollow right now.

The house still stands, Schubert is still lovely -- and good men still do nothing.

No Dick, good men and women are doing a lot in Afghanistan and Iraq right now. Gee, just one Scourge ago, Dick was complaining about President Bush and the liberation of Iraq, so we seem to be damned if we do and damned if we don't. But then again, if Dick thinks Jacque Chirac is a good man, that does tend to explain a lot.

POSTSCRIPT: I added a couple more thoughts, and, alas, I couldn't find an appropriate place to add this: While we're on movies and Nazis, another couple of degrees of free association takes us to the most infamous Nazi of all, Adolf Hitler, who just happened to be Austrian. And you know who else is Austrian, don't you? That's right, Kalleefornya Governor-Elect Arnold Schwarzenegger. This particular tack (attack?) has been tried and fortunately it failed miserably. Of course, had it succeeded and Gray Davis remained Governor of Kalleefornya, perhaps some admiring student of Leni Reifenstahl might have made a movie about it called Triumph of the Swill. If Arianna Huffington had won it would have been called Triumph of the Shrill. Or if Mary Carey had won it would have been called Triumph of the Thrill. As we all know, Will Smith declined to run for elected office, so we will probably never see Triumph of the Will II. That's probably a good thing, although it would be fun to be the first to see the fresh prints, listening to some cool jazz with my freinds DJ and Jeff. But, I digress.

Posted by Charles Austin at 09:25 PM | Comments (1)

The Scourge of Richard Cohen, Vol. XCIV

(Ed. -- The following is a bit of mean spiritedness that will be an on-going feature of this blog. Normally the author will endeavor to be reasonably fair, but this is an exception.)

If it feels like you’re reading a Richard Cohen column, then it must be because you’re Not Getting the Truth:


On the road again,
Richard’s places that I’ve never been.
The life I love is writin’ Scourges for my friends,
Oh I can’t wait to get on his case again.

In 1967, following the ambush and mauling of an American unit in Vietnam, …

Don’t worry; I’ve retired the extended quagmire motif -- for now.

… Gen. William Westmoreland awarded Purple Hearts to the wounded. One of them was Bud Barrow, a top sergeant with plenty of experience, who politely told the general that his outfit had "walked into one of the damnedest ambushes you ever seen." Westmoreland corrected him. "Oh, no, no, no, that was no ambush," the general told the man who had been there. Rank has its privileges -- and one of them is to turn black into white.

Say, Dick’s not implying that General Wesley Clark is something less than completely forthright and truthful here, is he?

I cite this incident, taken from David Maraniss's magisterial and brilliant new book, "They Marched Into Sunlight," for a reason.

Pray tell.

It is not because I think that what is happening today in Iraq is necessarily what happened in Vietnam decades ago.

Not necessarily, but hey, if the jackboot fits, eh Dick?

It's because once again we have a government that baldly insists on telling us what we know is not true.

"I did not have sexual relations with that woman!"

Take, for instance, Vice President Cheney's recent speech. In it, he repeated the now-discredited charge that the war in Iraq was "an essential step in the war on terror."

Discredited? In what sense? Has the echo chamber induced tinnitus the Angry Left seems to be suffering from made it impossible to hear anything that is vaguely uncomfortable to their sheltered world view that might imply President George W. Bush and his puppeteers aren't evil morons?

He trotted out the old bugaboos of weapons of mass destruction and links to al Qaeda and, of course, reminded us that Saddam Hussein was a beast, a fact that not even critics of the war dispute.

Bugs, Dick, not just bugaboos. Sarin, and toxins, and germs, oh my!

"They must concede . . . that had their own advice been followed, that regime would rule Iraq today," he said.

A non sequitur, but true nonetheless.

Hear, hear. But also, wait a minute. We now know -- as we did even before the war -- that Iraq's links to al Qaeda and therefore to the events of Sept. 11, 2001, were so tenuous as to be nearly nonexistent.

And that would be important if anyone ever claimed that Saddam Hussein needed to be deposed because of his links with Al Qaeda, but so far as I know, that claim was never made – no matter how many times the Angry Left repeats the Big Lie.

The celebrated meeting between an Iraqi official and one of the Sept. 11 hijackers happened only in the minds of administration propagandists.

Czechoslovakian administration propagandists. Right. Link courtesy of that other den of administration propagandists, CNN.

There is no proof of it. In fact, the terrorist in question is now believed to have been somewhere else that day.

And again, this would only matter if it was used as a rationale for the liberation of Iraq. But let’s not let logic cloud the issue.

Weapons of mass destruction have not been found.

Sigh. Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence.

It now seems possible that the much-abused United Nations inspectors did a credible job.

Oh, please. A credible job of what? Giving Saddam Hussein the chance to hide or export his WMD so it would be extremely difficult for allied forces to find them later? Of course, Saddam probably assumed he would just have to ride out the storm. Nothing before could have led him to believe that the US or the UN would really depose him.

Of course Hussein once had such weapons and used them, ...

Gas me once, shame on you. Gas me twice, shame on me.

... but sanctions and inspections -- not to mention the looming threat of war -- may actually have done the trick.

That’s right; I forgot that Richard believes in the efficacy of the stern finger-wagging threat. The unyielding hold on the utopian mind that pointing a finger at someone and squinting will do the trick is something to behold. Hmmm, where have I heard this before?

If these weapons programs still existed, particularly the nuclear one, they did so in the most rudimentary form.

And we knew that before hostilities began because of the fine job the UN inspectors were doing, right Dick?

This was no just-in-time program.

Thank God. I can only assume that Mr. Cohen would be more pleased if Saddam's weapons programs had progressed somewhat farther from this sentiment.

President Bush now says the American people "aren't getting the truth" about Iraq, and so he has taken his pitch to regional media outlets that are thought to be more compliant than the national newspapers and television networks.

Maybe it wouldn’t be necessary for the administration to seek out alternative outlets for reporting the news if Big Media deigned to offer something approaching a balanced view of what has actually transpired in the liberation of Iraq, instead of the endless doom and gloom, which somehow wouldn't be so bad if only Al Gore were in charge.

He forgets that many of the national outlets originally supported the war in Iraq -- my own Washington Post and yours truly come to mind.

Non sequitur alert! The fact that Dick supported the war before it happened doesn’t give him carte blanche to ignore or distort reality now. Not that Dick has ever needed a reason to ignore or distort reality before.

Now the president says that great and wonderful things are happening in Iraq but that the media are unaccountably fixated on the daily suicide bombings and the general chaos.

Perhaps, because it’s true. But who's General Chaos?

But there are plenty of reports about progress in Iraq -- the opening of schools, etc.

Thank goodness for blogs. I sure haven’t seen many of these stories in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, where I live.

Still, both the press and the American public are entitled to wonder whether these numbers add up to anything more than wishful thinking.

And if they do, then what?

Vietnam –

Flashbacks of the glory days of marches and protests 35 years on must be a bitch.

… that awful analogy …

Yes Dick, it is truly an awful analogy.

– also produced its hopeful numbers, enemy body counts and the like, and while they were often wrong and sometimes just plain lies, even when they were true, they were largely beside the point.

You see truth is a subjective construct used by those in power to oppress those without it. Truth is whatever Big Media, uh, I mean, Big Brother wants it to be.

A school could be opened -- and the students still fight you at night.

Yea, all those massacres involving 10 year-old girls who now have a place to study and plan their ambushes have been tragic. Students? Yea, whatever, Dick.

More to the point is the administration's Westmorelandish insistence on asserting the insupportable -- that Saddam Hussein was a grave threat to the United States because he was linked to terrorism and armed to the teeth with those awful weapons.

I smell the other Big Lie of imminence nearby.

There is no truth to that -- none. And yet Bush continues to insist on it.

Yep. I can smell it a mile away. Dick can try and cover up the smell with a rhetorically perfumed rephrasing, but the stench remains.

Once, it was possible merely to argue the matter, as some of the Europeans did. Now, though, questions about facts have become questions of judgment -- and candor. How can we believe what Bush says about the reconstruction of Iraq when we no longer believe the rest of what he says?

I missed the part where the Angry Left had ever believed the administration concerning Iraq.

I am ensconced here at the American Academy in Berlin. I came to see my country from abroad, to defend it and what it did in Iraq (to the extent that I can), but the task has become increasingly difficult.

“See your country from abroad?” No wonder Dick’s task is difficult.

No one specifically mentions Vietnam –

Except you, Dick. No one except you.

… that's my own point of reference …


– but they wonder about an administration that has been ambushed by the facts in Iraq and insists it has been vindicated.

Read the Kay Report. Vindication complete.

It's one thing to be an Ugly American.

So, believing in pre-emptive self defense make one an Ugly American? It would certainly seem that way in the circles jerks like Dick run in.

It's another to be a dumb one.

Oh yea, Bush is a moron, just in case anyone forgot.

Posted by Charles Austin at 08:07 PM | Comments (1)

October 08, 2003

The Scourge of Richard Cohen, Vol. XCIII

(Ed. -- The following is a bit of mean spiritedness that will be an on-going feature of this blog. Normally the author will endeavor to be reasonably fair, but this is an exception.)

I wonder if all his efforts spent protecting Bill Clinton is what drove Richard Cohen to develop the habit of blaming the victim in Israel Is Losing.

I talked recently with an American who had just returned from more than 20 years in Israel. We did not talk for the record, so I will withhold his name and what he does for a living. But I will say he is somewhat well-known in Israel and that he loves it dearly but he has left, probably permanently, because he cannot take life there any longer. He is a nonstatistic -- a living victim of terrorism.

Mr. Cohen’s friend is still a statistic, by definition. And we are all victims of terrorism today. Thank God it’s not as bad here as it is in Israel, but it could be.

How many others there are like him I cannot say. He has the most valuable of all commodities in this world, an American passport, and with much regret and with questions about his courage, he used it to get out. His business had gone to hell, his life was always in danger and he simply could not take it any longer.

I sympathize with Mr. Cohen's friend. I think I would struggle with the situation in Israel today. I’d like to think I could deal with it for myself, but I don’t think I could deal with the threat to my family on a daily basis.

In the perpetual war against Israel, its enemies are winning.

I suppose that may be true, as long as we list all of Israel’s enemies, and not just its pathetic Arab neighbors who could not survive without the support of all of Israel’s enemies. But note the phrasing – the war AGAINST Israel -- and yet, it still is all Israel’s fault!

The economy is awful.

Terror will do that, except in the United States if it can be used against President George W. Bush.

Parents do not want their children to go out. The beach is presumed safe, but not a cafe or restaurant. A commute on a bus (I have done it) is gut-wrenching. You watch everyone.

So Dick’s lived it and still doesn’t understand. Amazing.

What does a suicide bomber look like? The last one, the one who blew up a Haifa restaurant, was a 29-year-old woman, a law school graduate. She killed Arab and Jew alike. Even safe places are no longer safe.

Safe places? Richard just said that cafes and restaurants weren’t safe.

So I cannot blame Israel for striking back.

Give Dick another paragraph or two, he’ll find a way.

It assassinates Hamas and Islamic Jihad leaders and militants. It razes the homes of suicide bombers. It has Yasser Arafat bottled up and may deport or kill him. It has bombed purported terrorist camps in Syria.

All justifiable, right Dick? Poor Yasser, it’s as if he is an innocent bystander. Uh oh, here it comes…

But nothing Israel has done has brought it peace and security.

See! See! It’s Israel’s fault for not figuring out how to live in peace with homicidal maniacs.

If you read the Israeli press, the despair is palpable. To some, especially those on the left, Israel has become virtually a dysfunctional society.

Sounds like the United States as well, or Iraq, or Afghanistan – at least to the Angry Left.

The government can't protect its people. Corruption is endemic. Religious zealots have inordinate influence, …

Like I said, it sounds like the United States, or Iraq, or Afghanistan -- at least to the Angry Left.

… and their vision, a Greater Israel, compels the building or thickening of West Bank and Gaza Strip settlements. With every suicide bombing, the rational course -- a withdrawal from Palestinian areas -- seems like weakness rather than wisdom.

See! See! Israel is irrational!

Israel must return to the so-called Green Line -- the border before the 1967 Six Day War.

See! See! It’s Israel’s fault for winning the 1967 Six Day War and refusing to leave their nation in the same vulnerable position again. I mean, it’s not like the Arabs would attack Israel again six years later.

It must dismantle most of the settlements. It must do this because occupation is corrupting and, in the long run, impossible.

See! See! It’s Israel’s occupation that is the root cause. Why, it was the root cause before their even was an occupation!

The more Israel expands or retains settlements, the more it gets stuck in a quagmire where the enemy is everywhere.

Quagmire. Quagmire. Quagmire. Quagmire. Quagmire. Quagmire. Quagmire. Quagmire. Quagmire. Quagmire. Quagmire. Quagmire. Quagmire. Quagmire. Quagmire. Quagmire. Quagmire. Quagmire. Quagmire. Quagmire. Quagmire. Quagmire. Quagmire. Quagmire. Quagmire. Quagmire. Quagmire. Quagmire. Quagmire. Quagmire. Quagmire. Quagmire. Quagmire. Quagmire. Quagmire. Quagmire. Quagmire. Quagmire. Quagmire. Quagmire. Quagmire. Quagmire. Quagmire. Quagmire. Quagmire. Quagmire. Quagmire. Quagmire. Quagmire. Quagmire. Quagmire. Quagmire. Quagmire. Quagmire. Quagmire. Quagmire. Quagmire. Quagmire. Quagmire. Quagmire. Quagmire. Quagmire. Quagmire. Quagmire. Quagmire. Quagmire. Quagmire. Quagmire. Quagmire. Quagmire. Quagmire. Quagmire. Quagmire. Quagmire. Quagmire. Quagmire. Quagmire. Quagmire. Quagmire. Quagmire. Quagmire. Quagmire. Quagmire. Quagmire. Quagmire. Quagmire. Quagmire. Quagmire. Quagmire. Quagmire. Quagmire. Quagmire. Quagmire. Quagmire. Quagmire. Quagmire. Quagmire. Quagmire. Quagmire. Quagmire. Quagmire. Quagmire. Quagmire. Quagmire. Quagmire. Quagmire. Quagmire. Quagmire. Quagmire. Quagmire. Quagmire. Quagmire. Quagmire. Quagmire. Quagmire. Quagmire. Quagmire. Quagmire. Quagmire. Quagmire. Quagmire. Quagmire. Quagmire. Quagmire. Quagmire. Quagmire. Quagmire. Quagmire. Quagmire. Quagmire. Quagmire. Quagmire. Quagmire. Quagmire. Quagmire. Quagmire. Quagmire. Quagmire. Quagmire. Quagmire. Quagmire. Quagmire. Quagmire. Quagmire. Quagmire. Quagmire. Quagmire. Quagmire. Quagmire. Quagmire. Quagmire. Quagmire. Quagmire. Quagmire. Quagmire. Quagmire. Quagmire. Quagmire. Quagmire. Quagmire. Quagmire. Quagmire. Quagmire. Quagmire. Quagmire. Quagmire. Quagmire. Quagmire. Quagmire. Quagmire. Quagmire. Quagmire. Quagmire. Quagmire. Quagmire. Quagmire. Quagmire. Quagmire. Quagmire. Quagmire. Quagmire. Quagmire. Quagmire. Quagmire. Quagmire. Quagmire. Quagmire. Quagmire. Quagmire. Quagmire. Quagmire. Quagmire. Quagmire. Quagmire. Quagmire. Quagmire. Quagmire. Quagmire. Quagmire. Quagmire. Quagmire. Quagmire. Quagmire. Quagmire. Quagmire. Quagmire. Quagmire. Quagmire. Quagmire. Quagmire. Quagmire. Quagmire. Quagmire. Quagmire. Quagmire. Quagmire. Quagmire. Quagmire. Quagmire. Quagmire. Quagmire. Quagmire. Quagmire. Quagmire. Quagmire. Quagmire. Quagmire. Quagmire. Quagmire. Quagmire. Quagmire. Quagmire. Quagmire. Quagmire. Quagmire. Quagmire. Quagmire. Quagmire. Quagmire. Quagmire. Quagmire. Quagmire. Quagmire. Quagmire. Quagmire. Quagmire. Quagmire. Quagmire. Quagmire. Quagmire. Quagmire. Quagmire. Quagmire. Quagmire. Quagmire. Quagmire. Quagmire. Quagmire. Quagmire. Quagmire. Quagmire. Quagmire. Quagmire. Quagmire. Quagmire. Quagmire. Quagmire. Quagmire. Quagmire. Quagmire. Quagmire. Quagmire. Quagmire. Quagmire. Quagmire. Quagmire. Quagmire. Quagmire. Quagmire. Quagmire. Quagmire. Quagmire. Quagmire. Quagmire. Quagmire. Quagmire. Quagmire. Quagmire. Quagmire. Quagmire. Quagmire. Quagmire. Quagmire. Quagmire. Quagmire. Quagmire. Quagmire. Quagmire. Quagmire. Quagmire. Quagmire. Quagmire. Quagmire. Quagmire. Quagmire. Quagmire. Quagmire. Quagmire. Quagmire. Quagmire. Quagmire. Quagmire.

From September 2000 until recently, some 17,400 attacks were recorded in the territories -- and 40 percent of all fatalities. Even when terrorists struck in Israel proper, they invariably came from the West Bank.

But how come the attacks weren’t happening between 1967 and 2000? Could it be that this is just another failed strategy of a desperate despot whose time is running out?

Yet Ariel Sharon recently decided to include two major settlements on the Israeli side of the fence that is being built to separate the Jewish state from the West Bank. By extending the fence to encompass the settlements, Sharon is only ensuring the continuation of his problem.

See! See! It’s Sharon’s fault. I find it amazing that Arafat is only mentioned twice in this column, and both times as a passive victim of Israel.

For a people of the book, for a country created by history as well as by men, Israel acts as if nothing that went before has any bearing on what is happening now. But history admonishes Israel.

See! See! Israel, why are you so hated?

The only places where a Western culture has successfully transplanted itself are those where great population pressure and genocidal methods were used to extirpate the indigenous peoples. This is what happened in the United States.

See! See! We are all guilty! Bad Western Civilization! Bad!

Genocide is out of the question.

I would have been embarrassed to even bring it up, but not Dick.

Neither the world nor Israeli morality would permit it.

Are you sure Dick? The genocide of the Jews is openly called for by its enemies, and yet that doesn’t even merit a stern look from the sophisticated countries of Europe.

Yet Israel keeps lengthening the odds against itself.

See! See! It is all Israel’s fault. If Israel would just quit trying to draw to an inside straight everything would be fine. Israel’s enemies are not unreasonable people who would never pass up an opportunity to pass up an opportunity.

Instead of withdrawing to where Jews are a clear majority, it continues to cling to settlements where Jews are outnumbered.

Terrible Jews! Get back to the ghettos where you can be amongst your own kind.

Every settlement, every day of occupation, puts Israel in greater and greater danger.

See! See! If Israel will only capitulate then everything will be as milk and honey.

Each settlement is a provocation.

See! See! Israel is the aggressor!

The deportation or killing of Arafat will do nothing but make him a martyr and exacerbate the chaos.

Maybe the bastard will hurry up and die of natural causes first.

The man himself is only a symptom of Israel's problem.

Yasser Arafat is only a symptom of Israel’s problem. That’s a rather amazing statement, isn’t it? See! See!

The idyllic Zionist dream is in tatters. No one wants to go to Israel. On the contrary, people want to leave. For every suicide bombing, countless others are thwarted -- 22 in the past month, according to Zeev Schiff, the esteemed military correspondent for the newspaper Haaretz.

And yet, somehow it’s all Israel’s fault.

Israel lashes out.

See! See! Israel lashes out!

It has now bombed Syria.

See! See! Out of the unprovoked frickin’ blue, Israel bombed Syria!

What next? Iran?

Be careful what you ask for, Dick.

This is not strategy.

It’s strategery.

It is fury.

Rather restrained fury if you ask me. After all, Arafat and Assad are still breathing.

I can understand.

I’d like to believe that, but Dick's words make that a difficult proposition to swallow.

But I can understand, too, why, after more than 20 years, that man I met left Israel. You could say he lost his nerve. He would say he lost hope.

Shove it, Dick. Fortunately the government of Israel and most of its people are not going to give up. Being on the receiving end of a genuine attempt at genocide will do that to you. I don’t bear any ill will or ill feelings towards Mr. Cohen’s friend at all. But I cannot abide Dick’s blaming of all these problems on Israel and his desire for that “shitty little country” to capitulate to the murderers and terrorists who oppose them.

Posted by Charles Austin at 01:07 AM | Comments (1)

October 07, 2003

Birds of a Feather

Bill Clinton, the gift that keeps on giving:

Former Illinois Congressman Mel Reynolds wants his old job back.
A short time ago Reynolds announced that he's running for re-election in the 2nd Congressional District.

Reynolds lost his seat in Congress in 1995 when he was convicted of sexual misconduct with an underage campaign worker. He was also convicted of lying to obtain loans and of illegally siphoning campaign money for personal use.

What's this got to do with Bill Clinton?

In 2001, President Clinton commuted Reynolds' federal sentence.

Posted by Charles Austin at 11:49 PM | Comments (0)

September 18, 2003

The Scourge of Richard Cohen, Vol. XCII

(Ed. -- The following is a bit of mean spiritedness that will be an on-going feature of this blog. Normally the author will endeavor to be reasonably fair, but this is an exception.)

Right on cue, Richard Cohen jumps into the fray with the DNC flavor du jour, proving once again that Dicks dig a man in uniform. But which Wesley Clark are we to learn about today? The unreal Wesley Clark? The surreal Wesley Clark? The Israel Wesley Clark? (Sometimes these free-word association stream-of-consciousness homophones take us to strange places.) No, feet of clay planted firmly in the phenomenologically knowable universe, Richard gives us The Real Wesley Clark:

All around Washington last week -- and before and after on the phone -- I've been busy asking people about Wesley Clark.

That is a strange sentence from a strange man. Oh, you don’t think Richard’s strange? Well, how about this?

I talked with people who worked with him, some of them very closely, asking over and over again a variation of the same question: Is Wesley Clark too weird for prime time?

And, presumably, getting the same puzzled expression from everyone whose next call was to General Clark to inform him that some strange man was asking the same strange question about him over and over.

Let me first tell you why I asked the question:

Lack of imagination?

It's because Clark in effect got fired from the Pentagon.

That was my second guess. Hmm, would that mean that Linda Tripp, former Secretary of the Army Thomas White, and Admiral John Poindexter are also too weird for prime time?

Not to put too fine a point on it, ...

Say I'm the only bee in your bonnet. Sorry.

... then-Defense Secretary Bill Cohen, joined by many of Clark's colleagues, came to just plain dislike him.

Tickers to Evers to Chance they weren’t.

Some of this had to do with policy -- the Kosovo campaign -- and some with their suspicion that Clark went over their heads to the White House. But some of it was deeply personal.

The Clinton White House, the complete embodiment of the personal being the political.

Clark is sometimes compared to Eisenhower, another general who went into politics.

Only by people that know nothing about Eisenhower. Most other generals that entered politics at this level didn’t fare too well.

But Ike was beloved.

For good reason.

That's a word that never comes up when Clark is discussed.

For good reason?

He is undoubtedly brilliant -- a Rhodes scholar and first in his class at West Point. He is a fine athlete and a Vietnam combat veteran who was decorated for bravery. He won the respect, even the awe, of his colleagues, but too much of the time he did not win their friendship.

There’s undoubtedly a lot to respect in the accomplishments and success of General Clark. Anybody who knows any 3- or 4-star generals knows that they are people of enormous capability and drive.

The rap on Clark is that he lacks precisely those qualities that define a politician, particularly warmth and affability.

That could be a problem when our commander-in-chief must also be our empathizer-in-chief.

David Halberstam, in his book "War in a Time of Peace," writes of Clark that even his most steadfast champion in the army, Gen. John Shalikashvili, recognized that Clark was too brash, too cocky, too driven, too self-absorbed, too hard on subordinates, too dismissive of critics and criticism -- but also too brilliant and talented to be overlooked. Shali promoted him.

Shali? A little more respect here might be in order for General Shalikashvili.

Shalikashvili's bottom line is precisely what I kept finding in the people I talked to. To a person, they acknowledged Clark's flaws but said they were minor compared with his assets. One former Clinton administration official described Clark as "a little arrogant ... not beloved by his colleagues ... self-centered ... high-maintenance" but said he would support him in a heartbeat.

Those don’t exactly sound like the qualities that get someone to that rank.

Clearly, some of the palpable excitement about Clark in Democratic circles comes from an equally palpable yawn about the rest of the Democratic field.

Come on Dick, you can say it… he towers over the dwarves.

The only candidate who has so far generated any excitement is Howard Dean.

But now that the minstrels have been eaten, what are they to do for sustenance?

But if the Bush team could digitally create the perfect patsy candidate it would be Dean. He's gaffe-prone, defensive when criticized and, fairly or not (mostly not), will be characterized as an elitist liberal. Besides, he is the governor of a virtual quilt -- a state (Vermont) with 114 covered bridges and fewer minorities than the DAR.

Dick is still firmly in the Clinton camp, and the knives are out for Howard.

Clark is a different story altogether. Like Dean, he opposed the war in Iraq -- but it's hard to hang a peacenik label on someone with a Silver Star.

No it isn’t. That’s like saying it’s hard to hang a lunatic label on former Attorneys General, though Ramsey Clark would be Exhibit A. Say, they aren’t related are they? Anyway, there is another General currently serving as the Secretary of State who has been famously reluctant for not wanting to engage, though to his credit, when the decision has been made he executes it to the best of his ability.

His "state," the Army, is far bigger than Dean's and far more diversified. Still, it's a reach to say Clark has any experience with domestic issues -- schools, welfare or, in Iowa, ethanol.

Ethanol in Iowa. Hmm, that might explain the strange pronouncements from Senator Harkin’s steak fry last week. At the very least, it might explain why they were frying steaks.

That is bound to matter. What will matter more is whether the American people feel at ease with Clark. In a television era, sheer likability is essential. This is why the spectacularly qualified Al Gore lost to (or tied) George Bush, who was ill prepared for the job and has since repudiated just about everything he said during the campaign about foreign affairs.

Spectacularly qualified. Snort.

People liked Bush.

I like Bush.

The rest is commentary.

And Scourge.

Much about Clark is both intriguing and exciting.

Uh oh, here comes the hagiography.

On paper he is almost a perfect general election candidate for the Democrats -- a southerner (Arkansas), moderate, pro-choice, smart as a whip and inoculated against talk-radio demagoguery that equates thought with treason.

The word “treason” gets thrown around casually an awful lot these days by the Angry Left. I guess John Ashcroft’s Jack-Booted Dissent Crushing Brigades™ aren’t doing their job thoroughly enough.

The man, as it happens, has taken a bullet.

General Clark’s service to his country merits nothing but admiration and respect. But it has nothing to do with his fitness to be President.

Nonetheless, Clark warrants special scrutiny. It's not that I don't trust those who know him best -- although some boost his candidacy out of self-interest -- but rather that the personal qualities that bothered his critics would be intolerable in a president.

Why? Sounds like he treated his subordinates the same way Clinton did and we all know what a great president he was.

We like our presidents as we like our morning TV hosts -- comfy.

What’s the “we” stuff Kemosabe? Comfy is not what I’m looking for in a president when we are at war.

"He can run, but he can't hide," Joe Louis once said about an upcoming opponent -- and a bit of that is true about a presidential campaign as well.

I wasn’t aware that General Clark is trying to hide from anyone. What the hell is Dick talking about?

The wearying nature of the slog to the White House, the quaint intimacy of campaign events in New Hampshire and Iowa and especially the omnipresence of television will ultimately tell the American people what they want to know about Wes Clark.

Boxers or briefs?

It will not be, as some would have it, whether he knows much about domestic policy but whether he knows much about himself.

I hope for General Clark’s sake that his suit isn’t as empty as this column.

Posted by Charles Austin at 11:32 PM | Comments (0)

August 03, 2003

The Scourge of Richard Cohen, Vol. XCI

(Ed. -- The following is a bit of mean spiritedness that will be an on-going feature of this blog. Normally the author will endeavor to be reasonably fair, but this is an exception.)

Richard Cohen was a little late with his last column, so it took me a day or two to catch up to it. I still find it strange that in a column whose statements and conclusions I generally agree with, I can find so much to take issue with. Come with me as I consider Richard Cohen Considering the Kobe Bryant Case:

On the matter of Kobe Bryant, I am agnostic. It could be that he raped the woman who came to his hotel room or it could be that he did not. I state these possibilities with certainty because I, as opposed to so many other commentators, have no idea what happened that night behind a closed hotel-room door.

I am pretty much in complete agreement with Richard thus far, though it should be noted that not knowing the facts is not usually much of an impediment for Richard when the motives of his political opponents are to be questioned.

I do know this, however: Bryant has terrific timing.

But isn’t there an implicit assumption of guilt here? I cannot imagine any time being thought of as terrific if Kobe is innocent.

The zeitgeist -- not a basketball term, I know -- has changed. Just a few years ago, Bryant would have been dead meat.

A few decades ago in some locales, this might have been even truer than Richard realizes.

A sexual assault charge would have presumed him guilty, not innocent.

Actually, I think Kobe is pretty much assumed to be guilty even now. It’s just that he seems to be getting a pass because of his celebrity. This is a very, very bad thing.

Instead, it is his accuser who's been presumed guilty -- of fabricating the charge or being unbalanced, or both.

I don’t follow all the pre-trial publicity because Big Media’s obsession with it doesn’t merit my attention, but I’ll accept that Kobe’s accuser/alleged victim has probably been treated roughly by the uninformed. But Kobe has been slandered as well if he is innocent. The real problem is the propensity of so many to pontificate in the absence of any real information.

On the Internet, on talk radio and in the press, Bryant's accuser has taken her lumps.

I find it interesting that Richard considers the press somehow different than the Internet and talk radio, don’t you?

We know her name -- or, with minimal effort and access to Google, you can find it out. A search will come up not only with her name but pictures of her as well -- hundreds of listings. You can learn quite a bit about her, none of it necessarily true, but what the hell, in an Internet-cable news era, literal truth, like fair play and balanced coverage, is considered oh-so 20th century.

Oh, please. But then again, I know that Richard prefers his lies with the patina of truth conferred by the imprimatur of officialdom.

Remarkably, there's been little backlash. In the old days, television talk shows and op-ed pages would have bristled with reminders that no matter what a woman's mental state or her past, she could still be a rape victim.

No, for somebody who’s pushing 60, Richard has an odd idea of “the old days.” In the old days, she wouldn’t have had a chance. It is only in recent years that the pendulum swing of “all sex is rape” feminism went too far. Perhaps we are entering a time where the pendulum is swinging too far the other way. I don’t know.

"No" means no, remember?

No. This is at the core of the many problems with the interpretation of sexual relations the last few years. No has never always meant no any more than yes has always meant yes. It’s funny to me that people so hung up on nuance in, say, international affairs, suddenly lose the ability for chromatic discrimination when it comes to human affairs.

Every man knows that the difference between persuasion and coercion can be a thin and moving line.

Unfortunately, not every man knows this. But don’t women know this as well?

"No" always means no -- except when it doesn't. Men and women alike also know that a kind of extreme feminism -- really a parody of the movement -- has resulted in ridiculous sexual harassment suits that embarrass women in general and convince men that having a young female colleague accompany them on a business trip approaches embezzlement as a career ender.

So Andrea Dworkin and Catherine McKinnon are parodies? Won’t Camille Paglia be surprised.

This, of course, has hurt women.

I concur. This is another of those unintended consequences that utopians are blind to. But it should be noted that it has also hurt men.

In a way, the old Victorian notion of women as hysterics has its contemporary equivalent in the examples of women as humorless prigs who have substituted lawsuits for smelling salts. Mention sexual harassment and women, as well as men, roll their eyes.

Well, Richard ought to know.

If the charges against Bryant prove unfounded, then I feel awfully sorry for him. He's gone through hell and may be guilty only of violating the writer Nelson Algren's rules for life: "Never play cards with any man named 'Doc,' never eat at anyplace called "Mom's' and never, never, no matter what else you do in your whole life, sleep with anyone whose troubles are worse than your own."

That’s a pretty low bar for “moral” behavior. Hmm, I’m beginning to get a sense of déjà vu here.

But while Bryant may have been targeted for his celebrity, he also has benefited from it. He's known and liked.

His enablers are legion. My sense of déjà vu is getting stronger and stronger.

His accuser is unknown and increasingly disliked.

Wow, this is getting spooky. Imagine how weird this might be if were about something other than sex.

For a long time -- since the William Kennedy Smith case, actually -- I've thought that the press is wrong in not revealing the names of purported rape victims.

Well Dick, you’re wrong. I think it is much better to protect victims of rape – purported or otherwise -- and those accused as well until they are convicted. The fact that not everyone acts honorably is not an excuse for all of us to jump on the media bandwagon to pump this story for everything its worth.

Why should this crime be the sole exception -- different, say, from a mugging that reveals the male victim to be a closeted homosexual?

The only exception? So Richard has the name of all the people held incommunicado at Guantanamo?

The Bryant case has not changed my mind -- especially since with the Internet and talk radio, the old gentlemen's agreement about not naming victims in sex cases has broken down.

The gentlemen’s agreement. Careful Dick, your sexism’s showing.

But naming someone and vilifying her is a different matter. If the woman is a phony, then that will come out in court.

Maybe. But then again, I still think O.J. is a murderer, so what do I know?

If, however, she is truly a crime victim, then she has been assaulted twice -- once by Bryant and again in the way she's been treated.

I think it’s wrong to equate any amount of verbal abuse with the physical abuse of rape. But, then again, I’m not a professional journalist who believes words given under oath don’t matter when it’s only about sex -- as long as you’re famous.

Posted by Charles Austin at 05:29 PM | Comments (2)