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So, you say there's not a left wing bias in the media?

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Saturday, June 22, 2002
Chairman Mao rolls over in grave

People's Daily:





Shanghai Comp.


Shanghai 30


Shenzhen Comp.


Shenzhen Sub.


Shanghai B


posted at 4:52 PM
Friday, June 21, 2002
I'm Spartacus

The Paul Trummel case is one of those test cases that makes me feel good because it irritates me.

My opinion, admittedly not the product of education in any law school, is that the First Amendment is as close as we get in this country to the right way to do things. Truth will overcome falsehood if we let it. If everyone has the right to say any damn foolish thing that comes to mind, then we will all get the chance to sort it out, take what we can use, and let the rest go.

But if we accept the pre-sorting of censors who can punish those they don't like, then we're going to have a much tougher time getting at the truth.

According to HobbsOnline, Paul Trummel, a really obnoxious person, is being deprived of his first amendment rights.

We don't have to let that happen. What Trummel has to say is not very important. It's just a list of names, addresses, phone numbers and email addresses of people he doesn't like. If it were truly offensive, I wouldn't help out this way, but it's really no big deal. Someone else has done it here. Now it's my turn. If enough of us do it, they can't arrest us all. Besides, I don't live in judge Doerty's jurisdiction. So, "I am Spartacus," too.
posted at 4:43 PM
Amtrak . . . Shutdown or Showdown
Wash.Post reports
Amtrak May Begin Shutdown in Days
. "Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) . . . said the first step to reform should be to fire the entire Amtrak board of directors."

Amtrak President David Gunn has been on the job for 5 weeks. He's not playing around. If we want him to run the railroad, we're going to have to give him some money. He's found a $200 million hole in the budget that his predecessor didn't notice(!!!!!). If Congress and the President can't get their act together to support the railroad, he'll put it into bankruptcy for them.

I don't think he should use this tactic as a bluff. He should be willing to follow through on his threat for the good of the country. Amtrak cannot support itself. No one in their right mind would try to privatize it. It can not make a profit. There is no market for its services. It's time everyone gave up on the romance of the railroad.

Need to go from Boston to Washington? Get a plane, car, bus, horse. The train done gone.
posted at 4:01 PM
Thursday, June 20, 2002
Anything beats a blank

Nothing new in the news tonight.

Not in the mood.

Some other excuse.

It's only been a little more than a week, and I'm already running dry.

No, that's probably not it. It's just negative enough to masquerade as not-an-excuse.

Filling the blank screen with words is easier than the blank sheet of paper. Is anyone else out there old enough to remember when writer's block meant staring at paper?

I'm already tired of the predictable right-wing/left-wing positions that must be defended at all costs.

Blogging is supposed to be more creative than that.

Tapped comes close to being unpredictable today. There's hope.

And Volokh points out a truly well thought out piece by Richard W. Garnett on the Supreme Court's decision that executing retarded criminals is cruel and unusual.

So, there's more hope for reasoned commentary. Let me try again tomorrow with more enthusiasm.
posted at 10:32 PM
Wednesday, June 19, 2002

Harsh words

With all the violence in the Middle East, you might think that cutting back on harsh words is less important than cutting back on blood letting.

OK, no argument here about what's more important. My earlier rant about how the U.S. is conducting its own anti-terrorist operations and how rhetoric takes a back seat to emotion should color today's rant, but I'm not sure it will.

The fact is that almost everyone on both sides in Palestine/Israel has lost family and friends in the continuing feud over the last 50+ years. It's not sensible to counsel the combatants to try to understand each other. They're way beyond that.

On the other hand, we who sit on the sidelines in the U.S., Europe, and elsewhere outside of the Middle East owe it to ourselves to try to keep the anger we feel from coloring everything we say about the conflict. Right here, I should probably indicate my own bias. I believe that Israel not only has a right to exist but has a right that is prior to that of Palestine. When I read about suicide bombings, I want to cry and to retaliate. When I read about "Israel's brutal and unyielding policy of colonizing the occupied territories" in the West Bank, I feel insulted — not angry with Israel but with those who accuse her of brutality.

My own reaction provides the clue to clearer discussion. We should endeavor to remove the harsh words from our rhetoric. Calling Israel brutal or calling Palestinians fanatic doesn't help anyone to understand anything. It simply stirs up the emotions on both sides. Those who are inclined to be sympathetic become more so; those who are inclined to be antagonistic become more so, as well.

It's easy for me to see why Sharon doesn't trust Arafat, less easy for me to see why Arafat has no reason to trust Sharon. In order to see any valid point made by the other side, each side must read past a lot of angry, insulting harsh rhetoric. I can't change the style that advocates use. But I can try to see past the words and emotions to the justice of each side's position. It's a lot like reading past the phony claims of advertisers to see which products are actually useful. It's like that but desperately more important.
posted at 11:00 AM

Tuesday, June 18, 2002
Gay Parents
'Nick News' to Air Show Despite Protest

"Seldom has a milder-mannered television program caused a more inappropriate hullabaloo than Linda Ellerbee's "Nick News" special about children who have gay parents." -- Tom Shales, Washington Post

The half-hour report is produced by Linda Ellerbee, whose understanding of kids and kids' issues has made her one of the country's most sensitive and courageous journalists.

Who do you hate? Rosie O'Donnell and the Rev. Jerry Falwell are both on the show.

My daughter and I will be watching.
posted at 4:02 PM
Today my daughter graduates from
Sligo Middle School. Her step-father and I will be the only family at her graduation ceremony. Mom has to work. Little sister has to be in school. Harry and I will sit together. We will both be proud. We'll both have reason to be proud.

Talk about learning to live together! Whew!
posted at 8:57 AM
Gay Conservatives
Andrew Sullivan, Camille Paglia and Norah Vincent are the hot gay pundits, and they owe their success to liberal publications," says Richard Goldstein in the July Nation. True enough. But why is the title of the article Fighting the Gay Right?

Do we not have enough enemies? My thought was that we commie pinko fairies had found an opening on the right. I'm glad that conservatives are learning to listen to gays. Gays might even learn something by listening to conservatives. Who knows? We could learn to live together.
posted at 7:05 AM
Monday, June 17, 2002
Don't believe the hype

The usual suspects (Noam Chomsky, Staughton Lynd and other old leftists) have signed
this complaint against the U.S. prosecution of the war. They take a slap at everything else the Bush administration is doing while they're at it.

Get over it, you guys. So, the U.S. holds a few people without making it crystal clear as to why. Big deal. This isn't Sunday school. We're at war here with people who killed our friends and families. Oh, you didn't lose anyone personally close to you? Then you really don't understand, do you?

Let's face it, in spite of all the surface talk about the rules of war, we're going to do some really horrid things before we achieve a victory. And we're not likely to stop short of a pretty decisive victory over a lot of groups that march to the same drummer. So, how about if both conservatives and liberals take a break from self-righteousness?

War involves propaganda. U.S. propaganda is no more honest than anyone else's. Of course, Bush is using the war to facilitate other projects. Sure, there are those in the administration who think that 'rights' are technicalities used only by criminals to thwart the destruction of the axis of evil. Yeah, there's no good excuse for killing Saddam Hussein, but this is close enough for government work.

The fact is we're going to murder Saddam Hussein if we get the chance. We're going to be pretty tough on anyone who gets in the way, too. Are we right to do this? Of course not. But we are angry enough that it is going to be done. And, in spite of my objections, we're probably going to use as much self-righteous rhetoric as everyone else to cover our tracks.
posted at 7:35 PM

Clinton years
Good or bad? You decide.

Mickey Kaus relays this statistic from WSJ:
"The median U.S. household income rose almost 8% faster than inflation during the booming 1990s."

So Clinton presided over more income in your pockets than any other president in your lifetime. And he's the bad guy?
posted at 7:09 PM
Scoop Cleans Up for Sign Off Day
Keep Washington, DC Beautiful, Inc. and the DC Mayor’s office of Clean City Coordinator held the first annual Great American Cleanup Sign Off Day on June 15, 2002. The award celebration was held at Jemal Gateway at P Street and North Capital Street. That decrepit and rundown area is now undergoing a renaissance with over one billion dollars in capital improvements built, in progress or scheduled for construction.

The festivities included music by Emery Elementary’s Drum Corp, dancing by the Harry Thomas Cheerleaders and an appearance by Scoop, Dupont Circle’s dog with a message, who danced to the drums and welcomed everyone.

Clean City Coordinator Vince Spaulding gave out awards to city employees in recognition of their efforts to clean up our city, to private groups for organizing residential cleanups, and to residents for removing the most illegal posters in public space.

The illegal notice Cleanup Sign Off count was:

Third place……….730 notices

Second place...1,000 notices

First place…….1,269 notices.

First place went to Dupont Circle resident Phil Carney. About ten years ago he decided that the neighborhood was looking like a dump with everyone putting up illegal notices and no one taking down any notices. So he started pulling down notices as he walked. Eventually he started using a bicycle to cover more territory. What started as a temporary cleanup of the neighborhood has turned into a long-term case of tenacious stubbornness and a really weird hobby.

There has been significant progress made in cleaning up Dupont Circle. In order to gather more illegal notices for the Sign Off contest, Phil had to go up to Adams Morgan. Still several problems remain. Nineteen of Phil’s posters were stapled into trees. About 10% of Phil’s contest notices were from one ABC licensee illegally advertising for just one event-using taped, pasted and stapled posters on light poles, utility boxes and trees.

And while everyone loves yard sales, many holding yard sales still don’t understand that they are legally required to remove all their signs after the yard sale or be subject to a $35. fine per sign.
posted at 11:08 AM
Sunday, June 16, 2002
Cardinal to be Outed
A source within the staff of The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops revealed to me that an American Cardinal is gay and is about to be publicly exposed as such by a political group.

The Bishops' committee on sexual abuse received a communique from some members of
Dignity, an organization of gay Catholics, disavowing any connection with the outing. It is said that Aids Coalition To Unleash Power (ACT UP) has the information and intends to make it public some time soon. The Dignity members, while not exactly on friendly terms with the Conference members, wanted the Bishops to be prepared for the controversy.

My source was unable (or unwilling) to give me the name of the Cardinal. We shall have to wait for ACT UP to act.

There are 11 American Cardinals, 9 in the U.S. and 2 in Rome. One of them is gay. Ho Hum.

Simple math makes this news unsurprising. If one in ten Americans is gay, as Kinsey's controversial report suggested in 1948, then we shouldn't be shocked to find one of 11 Cardinals, or one of 11 anybody, to be gay.

Aside from that, gay priests never have been a large part of the current controversy. They are sometimes offered up as the "real" problem, but we all know that's not the case. Child abusers and their accomplices are the problem.

Andrew Sullivan points out in his recent essay that it's really a crisis of trust:

"Now I wonder. For the first time in my life, I look at this institution and ask myself how it can have done what it has done. How can it ever have been blithe about the sexual abuse of children and minors? How could it have covered it up? How could it then have compounded the hurt by scapegoating good gay priests for the crimes of others? These questions have not gone away. And they resonate far more widely than on the question of sexual abuse. I think it's fair to say that very few people in my generation of 40-year-olds and younger can take the church's sexual teachings very seriously again. When so many church leaders could not treat even the raping of children as a serious offense, how can we trust them to tell us what to believe about the more esoteric questions of contraception, or homosexuality, or divorce? What shred of credibility do these men have when they look out at the pews and see those of us living in a world where our failings cannot be easily covered up by ecclesiastical power, or bought off with other people's money, or simply ignored? This gulf between us and them cannot now be concealed. We kneel and pray; we donate our time and money; we have attempted to explain the moral lessons we have learned in the real world of family and sex and work and conflict. But so many church leaders - from the Pope on down - do not seem to hear or even care. And why should they? They are not answerable to us."

When I was closeted, I lied a lot. A closeted Cardinal has a lot more to protect than I ever did. Outing may hurt him. But there will also be a large information fallout. I'm anxious to learn more.

If you have contacts within ACT UP, please fact-check my a**.

posted at 10:51 PM
Welcome to the club
Recognition feels good. It feels especially good when it comes from someone you admire. One of my favorite bloggers, Susanna Cornett of
cut on the bias, dropped me a note to say she checked out my blog and liked it.

Yay! I'm in the club.
posted at 1:16 AM


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Tom Gallagher is
the web editor at He has been Webweaver for Bet Mishpachah Synagogue and headed web related operations at ELS Language Centers in Washington, DC.