published by Tom Gallagher

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Saturday, August 03, 2002

My friend
aceyamapola tells me that I should leave politics to the pundits and concentrate on the things I know more about.

I'm getting the feeling that most of the pundits don't know all that much about politics, economics and world affairs either. They're just more opinionated. More opinionated than me? Wow. But maybe they are.

At least I would like to learn what's really going on. The regular suspects (many of whom are listed on my bloglist in the left-hand column) don't really want to know what's really going on. They want to find other people who agree with them or to find idiots who disagree with them. That way they can make juicy attacks and get applause from each other.

If your blog is listed on the left here, you are under suspicion but not proven guilty simply by association. One or two of those folks are as honest and upright as you'll find on the web. Make your own judgments. And check your own shoe size.

Meanwhile, there are some stories that I need to tell. Perhaps I'll start telling them and see how it goes. I wonder who it will attract. Is there an audience for the Adventure of Ardis Waters? Does anyone want to know what I did in the war, Daddy? Who is Lawrence Ferlinghetti, and how does he fit into my life? And last but not least, will any of these tales be told sequentially?

posted at 9:38 PM
Uncle (Clarence) T(h)om(as)

Sunday Magazine story for Aug. 4 examines why people hate Clarence Thomas. I must admit, I love to hate him, too. He's such a perfect example of why people sell out. Because they get stuff.

A comment from Leonard Small puts it in perspective. Small went to high school with Thomas but didn't associate with him much then. Small has carved out his own rugged career with some detours. With a PhD in psychology, he is a minister, antidrug counselor and one of Savannah Georgia's leading community activists. Small helped arrange for buses full of hometown supporters to go from Savannah to Washington during Thomas's confirmation hearings. Now he regrets it.

"People don't understand why we call people Uncle Toms," he concludes. "But in the novel [Uncle Tom's Cabin], Eliza ran from slavery and Uncle Tom stayed. While we are trying to run for freedom, Clarence Thomas is not only staying, he's telling."

The reporters Kevin Merida and Michael A. Fletcher do an excellent job of gathering opinions from Thomas's friends as well as his enemies. Their report is scrupulously unbiased, perhaps because Thomas has told them directly of his disdain for the press.
posted at 8:55 PM
Friday, August 02, 2002
Note to my own publishers

People pay for content. Find out where and why.
cut on the bias makes it clear.

posted at 7:43 PM
Oh, you mean that Canada.

When CEOs claim they didn't know what was happening at their companies with regard to financial shenanigans, maybe we should believe them. Railroad CEO John Snow, testifying before Congress, didn't seem to know even such basic information as where his company operates.

Traffic World reports:
At a July 31 Senate rail shipper hearing, it was pointed out that arbitration is used as an effective means by Canadian shippers to solve disputes with the railroads. When asked by Sen. John Breaux, D-La., what he thought of such a process, CSX Chairman and CEO John Snow replied he wasn't sure what to make of such a process because CSX "doesn't operate in Canada." Look again, Mr. Snow. According to his own testimony supplied at the hearing, CSX operates "in 23 states, two Canadian provinces and the District of Columbia." In fact, one of CSX's customers, Basell North America Inc., which owns a CSX-served facility in Sarnia, Ontario, testified at the same hearing. "You'd think someone would have briefed him on his own lines - or that his company serves one of the shippers that would be testifying at the hearing," said one observer present at the hearing. "Obviously it was some sort of slip up," another observer commented. Or maybe it was the heat - it's been known to cause train derailments as well.

posted at 12:31 PM
Thursday, August 01, 2002

comes from
The Palestine Monitor. The lead story today, Aug. 1, is still dated July 29. The quote may have changed when you get there. Here it is:
"Israelis must abandon the myth that it is possible to have peace and occupation at the same time, that peaceful co-existence is possible between slave and master"

Marwan Barghouti

OK, now let's try to understand why the Palestinians consistently reject offers of an unoccupied Palestinian state.

posted at 9:37 PM

[29 Jul 2002|11:59am]
aceyamapola says:
I have a new definition for poetry.
Oh yeah?
A wise old man in a velvet gown carrying a violin.
Are you going to write a poem about that?
I don't know. It's a wise old man, meaning a human being who appeals to everybody...[music] presented gently. I don't like poetry that wants to blast you. It should have rhyme and rhythm. That's the violin. A solid worthwhile idea dressed up and singing. That's poetry.

posted at 8:17 PM
Wednesday, July 31, 2002
Hamas takes responsibility for
attack at Hebrew Univ. in Jerusalem

Responsibility? Credit? When does someone start accepting blame?

7 people are dead. There was no particular person targeted, no Israeli arch-enemy of Palestine. Whoever was unlucky enough to be eating lunch in the wrong cafeteria at the wrong time got it.

This is not an eye for an eye. It is a random, blind retaliation against innocent victims. They didn't even hurt those who had hurt them.

Maybe I'm being somewhat less than impartial in my commentary. OK, give me another way to view it.

Ha'aretz carries too many stories to select only one. Here's the whole front page. I've got Israel's side of the story.

Palestine Monitor is generally a day or two behind the news. Their lead is a July 29 story about the Israeli settlers riot in Hebron. Electronic Intifada has a dozen links to Western reports on the latest attack and even a link to Ha'aretz.

I haven't found a first hand account from Hamas because there seems to be an interdiction of Hamas sites. This is a frustrating and suspicion engendering development.

Google's first two search results for "Hamas" are from the U.S. Navy and from the Institute for Counter-Terrorism in Israel. is a "reserved domain name." The nearly blank site carries the announcement, "A w e b s i t e m a y b e C O M I N G S O O N !" carries the announcement, "Forbidden
You don't have permission to access / on this server."

Is it paranoid to think there's a single reason behind the lack of information here? I really wish the people who were running our "security" apparatus could have a little faith in the principles they are defending.

In fairness to the CIA, FBI, Homeland Defense, etc., perhaps we should distinguish between the defense of principles and the defense of people and property. We can't ask them to believe in America and to keep us safe at the same time. Can we?

UPDATE: A Missed Opportunity

Ali Abunimah writes in Electronic Intifada a criticism of the Hamas attack in terms of its damage to the Palestinian cause. I'm surprised, but encouraged.

posted at 3:19 PM
Tuesday, July 30, 2002
Citizen Corps E-News

No kidding, that's what they called it. I'm not going to post every email they send me, but here's the first one from TIPS and the Citizens Corps, which I signed up for
last Thursday:

Citizen Corps E-News - Vol. I, Issue 7 (July 30,2002)

Today President Bush launched the newly redesigned USA Freedom Corps Web site and the new USA Freedom Corps volunteer network while celebrating the six-month anniversary of the USA Freedom Corps. The USA Freedom Corps network brings together the resources of clearing houses – including Citizen Corps programs -- in one place to offer potential volunteers opportunities to get involved with more than 50,000 organizations through a landmark e-government initiative and public-private partnership.

To help make a difference in communities across the country and around the world, the President also launched a new public service advertising campaign designed to start people thinking of what they can do to help others.

The ads send viewers, listeners and readers to

Please check out the new web site and the public service announcements and consider passing this information along to friends and family members to offer them a new way to get involved. If you pass it along to five people, you can make a real difference in the life of a child or a senior. If you pass it along to ten, you may start to change a community. And if you keep going, you'll be making a difference in the effort to change America – one heart at a time.

Sounds like a chain letter there at the end, doesn't it? Maybe that's the level of intelligence they're trying to reach.

The real bad news is at the web site they send you to. Wouldn't you know, somebody's making money off of it. Two further links from the Freedom Corps web site tell us 1) that the Corporation for National and Community Service announces first homeland security grants
and 2) that Businesses announce plan to respond to President's Call to Service

If you want to get in on this, you'd better hurry. Executives from some of the largest corporations in America met on June 13 to map out with the President how they'd profit from -- oops how cynical of me -- how they'd help the volunteer effort. Among the corporations represented at the White House meeting were AOL Time Warner and Citigroup, both currently under investigation for accounting irregularities. Wonder how President Good-for-business is going to treat them?

It's also interesting to note in light of Jeb Bush's current campaign for reelection in Florida that Florida is the state where the 2nd largest amount of grant money is being spent: $1.4 million out of a total of $10.3 million for the whole country.


posted at 7:15 PM
Sunday, July 28, 2002
A word, but not The Word

Pope Laments Sexual Abuse by Priests but still misses the point.

Saying a few words in defense of "the vast majority of dedicated priests and religious whose only wish is to serve and do good," Pope John Paul II sounded a lot like George Bush II defending the vast majority of business leaders. The 'few bad apples' approach seemed to go over with most of the attendees at World Youth Day in Toronto. It didn't make much of an impression, however, on one young man:
David Clohessy, U.S. national director of the Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests, called the pope's comments a "missed opportunity,'' saying they seemed to focus more on suffering priests than victims of clerical abuse.

"A few words of apology from someone of his stature could help perhaps hundreds of people to feel some sense of healing,'' he said.

posted at 6:25 PM
Bush Biz-isms

Remember Bush-isms? Stupid comments or malapropisms by Dumbya went out of style when it looked like we might need to stand behind him to fight terrorism. Now that Al Qaeda is on the run and it looks like the country is more or less united, we may be able to get along with a Democrat or some more believable Republican in the Oval Office.

So where's the harm? After all, George W. Bush is just about the dumbest president we've had since
Warren G. Harding, that other puppet put in place by crooked business interests.

David Corn reports on his recent conversation with billionaire George Soros (who owned a chunk of Harken Oil when it bought out Bush's failing Spectrum 7 oil company):
. . . When I saw the billionaire almost alone, I sidled up to him. "Nice offices," I said. "But can I ask you about some ancient history?" Sure, he said, with a good-natured smile. What was the deal with Harken buying up Spectrum 7? I inquired. Did Soros know Bush back then?

"I didn't know him," Soros replied. "He was supposed to bring in the Gulf connection. But it didn't come to anything. We were buying political influence. That was it. He was not much of a businessman."

posted at 5:12 PM


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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.