The Encyclopedia of the Absurd
A certain amount of good stuff is bound to sneak into the papers in spite of
the editors. Often its buried where you cant find it, and so Bad
Attitudes finds it for you. Most of the following essential items come from
The New York Times, the only newspaper I read daily. This limits me, and I
will be grateful for contributions. The email address for Bad Attitudes is at
the bottom of the page.
Earlier items are stored in Archives of the Absurd. Some very ripe specimens
are there, many dating back to the days when we still had an elected president.
Build It and They Will Come . . .
The number of black men in jail or prison has grown fivefold in the past
20 years, to the point where more black men are behind bars than are enrolled
in colleges or universities . . . The increase in the black male prison
population coincides with the prison construction boom that began in 1980. At
that time, three times more black men were enrolled in institutions of higher
learning than behind bars.
(The New York Times, August 28, 2002)
Sayings of the Chairman:
Let One Flower Bloom
President Bushs late-summer economic photo op in Waco consisted of eight
panels whose members represented diverse points of view, a White
House official told The Washington Post. Questioned further, he said,
I dont think theres any point in picking someone who has the
opposite point of view.
(The Washington Post, August 9, 2002)
A Man Never Stands So Tall As
When He Stoops to Help a Boy
Indiana high school wrestling coach Aron Bright, explaining to the Wayne
County School Board why he bit the head off a live sparrow to inspire his
team: If I can kill one sparrow, one time, and it has a positive impact
on 15 kids, in my mind its worthwhile.
(The Washington Post, May 5, 2002)
Ford Appears Humped
A California jury ordered Ford to pay $290,000,000 in punitive damages to the
survivors of a crash that killed three when the fiberglass roof of their 1978
Bronco collapsed in a rollover. The roof featured a hollow hump to suggest a
rollover bar that did not exist. The Times reports that A Ford
document called the hollow hump a rollover bar appearance theme.
(The New York Times, August 26, 2002)
The Voice of Experience from a Certain
Wholly Owned Subsidiary of Wall Street
President George W. Bush at the Argonne National Laboratory on July 22: My
attitude on Wall Street is theyll buy you or sell you, depending upon if
its in their interest
(The New York Times, July 23, 2002)
Citizen Harvey Pitt Refuses
To Think the Unthinkable
Securities and Exchange Commission chairman Harvey L. Pitt told an interviewer,
This will inevitably sound self-serving, but the fact is it is an enormous
advantage to the public to have somebody who knows about the securities business
and the securities law as I do, and it would be unthinkable to deprive people of
(The New York Times, July 18, 2002)
And Hitler Was a Victim
Of Jewish Persecution. . .
Speaking at the First Baptist Church of Pearland, Texas, on April 12, House
Majority Whip Tom DeLay said God is using him to promote His worldview in
American politics. As a result:
They come after me like you wouldnt believe. Im the most investigated
man in America. Especially when we impeached Bill Clinton. It was incredible
. . . If I wasnt walking with the Lord, I would have been destroyed.
(The Washington Post, April 20, 2002)
Real Men Dont Sit Around
Analyzing Global Warming.
Real Men Make
Japan has built a computer twenty times faster than the fastest American machine.
Heres how come:
The accomplishment is also a vivid statement of contrasting scientific
and technology priorities in the United States and Japan. The Japanese
machine was built to analyze climate change, including global warming, as
well as weather and earthquake patterns. By contrast, the United States has
predominantly focused its efforts on building powerful computers for
simulating weapons, while its efforts have lagged in scientific areas like
(The New York Times, April 20, 2002)
I Owe My Soul To the Company Store
The Wall Street Journal reports that hundreds of big companies buy
life insurance on low-paid employees without telling them, then pocket the
money after the worker dies. It works as a complicated tax dodge, of course,
and the companies can also borrow against the policies.
This is known in the insurance industry as janitors insurance, or, in at
least one instance, dead peasants insurance. I want a summary sheet that
has the dead peasants in the third column, one of Winn-Dixie Stores
Inc.s insurance consultants wrote in a 1996 memo.
(The Wall Street Journal, April 19, 2002)
Takes One to Know One
Q: Will you go on the public record and stand by a statement you made earlier
this morning, which was that Sharon is a man of peace? Which some Israelis
might not even agree with. Do you stand by that, that he's a man of peace,
considering his record?
A: The President believes that Ariel
Sharon is a man of peace.
(Briefing by White House Press Secretary
Ari Fleischer, April 11, 2002)
Salt Lake City Shows Us How to
Laissez Rouler les Bons Temps
From Betty Plotts letter to the editor, deploring Mayor Rocky
Andersons habit of drinking a glass of red wine with dinner once a week:
As near as I can see it, we dont need a little bit of beer and a
little bit of wine to have a good time. All it takes is a couple of nice
casseroles, some green Jell-O salad, some punch and homemade apple pie à la
mode, and we can have a very nice party. (The Salt Lake Tribune,
March 10, 2002)
Authentic Hero Slain at Last,
Mourned by Authentic Moron
Jeane J. Kirkpatrick, Reagans United Nations representative: Linguist,
philosopher, poet, politician, warrior, Jonas Savimbi has admirers the world over, and I
have long been one of them. He is one of the authentic heroes of our time.
Professor Gerald J. Bender on the late philosopher-poet who plunged Angola into 27
years of civil war: When the first Unita rep in Washington went back
home, Savimbi killed him. The second guy was put under house arrest, and
was later killed in a suspicious shootout. Savimbi personally beat another of his
representatives, Tito Chingunji, and his wife and children to death with rifle
butts. (New York Times, March 3, 2002)
Good News for Vegan Martyrs!
Christoph Luxenberg, a scholar of ancient Semitic languages in Germany,
argues that the Koran has been misread and mistranslated for centuries ... For
example, the famous passage about the 70 virgins is based on the word hur, which is
an adjective in the feminine plural meaning simply white.
Islamic tradition insists the term hur stands for houri, which means
virgin, but Mr. Luxenberg insists that this is a forced misreading of the text. In
both ancient Aramaic and in at least one respected dictionary of early Arabic,
hur means white raisins.
(New York Times, March 2, 2002)
Its Because Lack of Badness
Is Remembered as Goodness
Glenn Engel, aviation analyst at Goldman, Sachs: Southwest doesnt offer
food but in surveys it is consistently rated as serving good meals. How much can
customers care about airplane food when they cant even remember that Southwest
doesnt offer any? (New York Times, February 10, 2002)
Its Like Leona Helmsley Said:
Taxes are for the Little People
Stanley Works, like many other corporate patriots, is incorporating in Bermuda
to avoid taxes. Their accountant, Kate Barton of Ernst & Young, describes the
wrenching decision Stanley faced: Is it the right time to be migrating a
corporations headquarters to an offshore location? And yet, that said, we
are working through a lot of companies who feel that it is, that just the
improvement on earnings is powerful enough that maybe the patriotism issue needs
to take a back seat to that. (New York Times, February 18, 2002)
Mans Ploy to Avoid Jury Duty
In Dallas Goes Horribly Wrong
Seven out of eight blacks were excluded from the jury by Dallas prosecutors
in the 1986 murder trial of Thomas Miller-El, also black. The sole black
jurist was selected after he told the court that the thing to do with
murderers was to pour some honey on them and stake them out over an
ant bed. (New York Times, February 13, 2002)
Ariel Sharon, Philosopher-King,
Shares Ponderings on Democracy
More than 100 Israeli army reservists are refusing to shoot into occupied homes,
bulldoze houses and kill civilians in the occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip. Prime Minister
Ariel Sharon: It will be the beginning of the end of democracy if soldiers
dont carry out the decisions of the elected government.(New York
Times, February 2, 2002)
Gun Nut? Moi?
Since January 1, Utah schools and colleges have been resisting a law that requires
them to let guns in the classroom. The Republican attorney general, Mark Shurtleff, said,
People want to paint me as a gun nut. I dont make the policy.
Im just enforcing the law ... Im not saying we ought to arm the
entire student body, but there is plenty of evidence to suggest that more
guns equals less crime. (New York Times, January 25, 2002)
He Can Spell Bankruptcy, Too
Kenneth L. Lay, the fiscal fantast, wrote a note last spring to one Donald
Sanders. Mr. Sanders employs a Houston financial analyst named John Olson who had been
raising doubts about Mr. Lays company for a long time. John Olson has been wrong about
Enron for over 10 years and is still wrong, Mr. Lay wrote. But he is
consistant. On seeing the note Mr. Olson told his boss, You know that Im old and
Im worthless, but at least I can spell consistent. (New York
Times, January 21, 2002)
Punxsutawney Fights Back!
Ground Hog Day festivities in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania, will be
heavily guarded by soldiers, policemen, and bomb-sniffing dogs on February
2. Sponsors of the annual event, which uses a groundhog to predict the
weather, said that they had considered canceling it in the wake of the Sept.
11 attacks but decided that the show should go on to demonstrate the nations
resiliency. (New York Times, January 17, 2002)
Real Men Watch TV
Ron Pobuda, 61 and divorced, just got through spending $2.3 million buying
and redecorating an apartment on Central Park South. The apartment is
wired throughout for music and outfitted with televisions in every room--
four in all. When his decorator asked why one person needed so many sets, I
would say, Because Im a man, Mr. Pobuda said. That was
my answer, and that was sufficient.
(New York Times, January 6, 2002)
And to Think That All This Time
We Thought It Was Rehnquist!
I do think, Mrs. Bush, that there was some divine guidance in the President
being elected. I do.
(Mayor Rudy Giuliani on the Tim Russert show
They Say a Garlic Necklace
Works Pretty Good, Too . . .
George W. Bush to Labor Department employees on October 4, 2001: We need to counter the
shock wave of the evildoer by having individual rate cuts accelerated and by
thinking about tax rebates. (White House transcript)
Simple Fisherman Explicates
Bushs Environmental Policy
Its global warning, dude, said Pito Robles, 28, an auto
mechanic who on Thursday was dangling his fishing line into the Hudson River
near West 66th Street in Manhattan. I dont care if the whole planet burns
up in a hundred years. If I can get me a fish today, its cool by me.
(New York Times, December 23, 2001)
Its Only a Short Step
To Military Tribunals
John Ashcroft: The deeply conservative son and grandson of evangelical
Christian preachers, a man so punctilious that he likes to bake chocolate chip
cookies uniform enough to be stacked in a Pringles potato chip can.
(New York Times, November 18, 2001)
How Come They Get Lord Carver
And All We Get is Curtis LeMay?
Field Marshal Lord Carver, Britains top military man in the mid-1970s,
died December 9. He once said, The destructiveness of nuclear weapons is so
great, and their use so catastrophic, that they have no military utility against
a comparably equipped opponent other than the belief that they deter such an
opponent from using his nuclear weapons. Therefore, their elimination would remove that
justification for their retention. Their use against a nonnuclear opponent is politically
and morally indefensible.(New York Times, December 17, 2001)
You Know Who You Are!
The Human Blockhead, Melvyn Burkhart, died November 8 in Florida, aged 94. He made
his living in sideshows, hammering five-inch nails up his nose. Todd Robbins, a New York
magician, remembers him: Anyone who has ever hammered a nail into his nose owes
a large debt to Melvyn Burkhart. (New York Times Magazine)
The City Water
Reeks of Chlorine
While the Afghans have insistently denied the presence of American combat
forces and the American troops have tried to hide from sight, their clandestine
presence was betrayed today by a tell-tale trail of piles of plastic Poland
Spring mineral water bottles in the mountains. (New York Times, December 15, 2001)
Cops Dont Profile People,
People Profile People
Law enforcement officials also said that many arrests of Middle
Eastern men have been made not as a result of profiling but from a flood of tips
pouring in about suspicious activities. And in many cases, the focus on Arabs and
Muslims simply reflects the publics perception of where the current dangers
lie. (New York Times, November 25, 2001)
What It Means To
Be an American
I dont think its unpatriotic to use so much gas, Sue
Smith said, loading her silver Chevy Tahoe with groceries. Its very
patriotic. Its our way of life. (New York Times, November
At Least As Long As You
Dont Leave Any Marks...
Israels delegate to the United Nations, Yaakov Levy, defending his country
from Amnesty International charges that it violates the 1987 Convention Against
A careful reading of the convention, Mr. Levy said, clearly
suggests that pain and suffering, in themselves, do not necessarily constitute
torture. (New York Times, November
Yeah, But Those Folks Are Too
Dumb To Inspect Baggage Anyway
Kenneth P. Quinn, chief lobbyist for the Aviation Security Association, reacts
to the new law giving government jobs with pensions, good wages,
and full benefits to airport security personnel who currently have none of
People may think the work force will transition to the federal government,
but they could well be dead wrong. There are lots of folks who dont want to
work for the federal government. . .
(New York Times, November 16, 2001)
What If the Airline CEOs Had
Half The Class of Steven Brill?
Mr. Brill declined to blame the sour advertising climate or the economic aftershocks
of the terrorist attacks for the demise of his magazine, Brills Content.
He said, The current economic
climate, let alone Sept. 11, is no excuse for us. If we had built a vibrant, independent,
successful magazine, which is what I told the world I was going to do, we would have
survived the economic climate we were in.
(New York Times, October 16, 2001)
GOP Biggie Defines American Spirit
The model of thought that says we need to go out and extend unemployment
benefits and health insurance benefits and so forth is not I think one that is
commensurate with the American spirit here, said Representative Dick
Armey of Texas, the majority leader...On Friday, Congress approved the bailout for
the airline industry to help it recover. The bill included a provision allowing
airline executives to keep collecting their large salaries.
(New York Times, September 26, 2001)
Well, That Clears That Up!
Suggestions of partisan influences on the Supreme Courts ruling in last
years presidential election are off base, Justice Clarence Thomas told a
conference of federal judges and lawyers in St. Louis. I think one of the ways
our process is cheapened and trivialized is when its suggested we have sort of
a way to make decisions that have more to do with politics, Justice Thomas
said. (New York Times, July 14, 2001)
Restoring Honor to the White House
Elliott Abrams...was appointed to President Bushs national security council
on Thursday as director of its office for democracy, human rights and international
operations...Mr. Abrams pleaded guilty in 1991 to two misdemeanor charges of
withholding information from lawmakers who were investigating the Reagan administrations
clandestine efforts to support Nicaraguan contra rebels despite a Congressional ban...
the White House spokesman called Mr. Abrams an out-standing diplomat and said
the president considered Mr. Abrams legal troubles a matter of the past, no worse
than snorting a little coke. (Okay, I made the coke part up.)
Times, June 30, 2001)
China Shows Mr. Bush
How a Real Man Does It
China executed more people in the last three months than the rest of the
world did in the last three years, Amnesty International reported...It said it
had counted 1,781 executions.. (New York Times, July 7, 2001)
We should never execute anybody who is mentally retarded, President
Bush said, according to a transcript of the remarks provided by the White House...
...When Mr. Bush was governor of Texas, he opposed legislation to bar executions
of the mentally retarded and he maintained that position during his campaign for
president. Texas has executed seven mentally retarded defendants since the death
penalty was reinstated in 1976. (New York Times, June 12, 2001)
...Explained by the Great Montini
The art of selling conservatism as compassion is taught here, a few miles
from the White House, at boot camp for young conservatives who aspire to power. Class
was in session...a teacher cut off a 20-year-old who was delivering a speech about
taking cynicism out of politics.
How do I know you are genuine? shouted the teacher, Mark Montini,
at the Leadership Institute.
Without hesitation, Doug Tietz, a University of Michigan junior with a pressed
white shirt, a short haircut and a burning desire to be a campaign strategist,
shouted back, Because I appear genuine.
The words you say are important, but they are much less important than
the visuals and the vocals, Mr. Montini told Mr. Tietz and seven other eager
Republicans in their early 20s. He advised them to elongate words to show compassion
and bite them off to show anger. He said 93 percent of the impression that any
politician made on an audience came from how he looked and how he sounded---not what
he said. (New York Times, June 11, 2001)
...But Rejected by Bill Ratliff
...George W. Bushs lieutenant governor, who took over after Mr.
Bushs levitation to the presidency and recently dropped out of the race
to become the next governor of Texas. Lt. Gov. Ratliff explained that he
would either have to abandon his moderate beliefs to raise money from the far
right, or be badly outspent.
He chose to do neither....If there was one thing my father could
not tolerate, it was a hypocrite, recalled Mr. Ratliff...I think
he may have ingrained that too deeply in me. (New York Times,
June 9, 2001)
Stupid Cig Execs
Blow Billions on
The fears among consumer advocates and some longtime staff members have
been stoked in part by the senior staff assembled by Mr. Muris. The new head
of the (Federal Trade Commissions) consumer protection bureau, for
instance, is J. Howard Beales III, an economist who has asserted that there
is no link between cigarettes advertisements and smoking among
teenagers. (New York Times, June 12, 2001)
I heard somebody say, Well, you know, the death tax doesnt
cause people to sell their farms, Mr. Bush said from a stage set up in front
of a colossal green combine. I dont know who theyre talking to in
Maybe Harold and Lilla Barrett, the heads of the family whose 3,500 acres of
farmland Mr. Bush was visiting. When Mr. Barrett was asked by reporters if he had ever
known someone forced to sell a family farm in order to pay estate taxes, Mr. Barrett,
80, said that he had not. Mrs. Barrett added that she did not think many children
these days really wanted to go into farming. (New York Times, June 9, 2001)
(For more on this particular rural myth, see If It Aint Broke, Congress Will
Fix It, in the Archives of the Absurd.)
Mister Smiley Face
Goes to Washington
New York Times reporter Frank Brunis June 5, 2001, interview with
President George W. Bush:
Q: The Jeffords day. Was that one of your
bluer days in office?
A: I havent had any blue days. Every day
has been chipper.
Q: That was a chipper day?
A: Every day is a
great day when youre the president.
So Why Didnt Al Gore Just Say No
Like the Birmingham Thirteen Did?
A week after the Supreme Court ruled that federal judges in Birmingham
must pay an occupational tax like other taxpayers, 13 judges are still
refusing to pay that tax in Jefferson County. The judges contend that
the federal judiciary should be exempt from business taxes that are efforts
to regulate them. But the court ruled that the tax was an effort to raise
revenue and not a regulation. (New York Times, June 6, 2001)
The Greening of the Klan
National Alliance stickers and pamphlets appear regularly in state
trouble spots, said Ann Van Dyke (civil rights investigator for the
Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission), along with provocations from a wide
assortment of other groups seeking to exploit local frustrations. Even
the environmentalist Ku Klux Klan, with green stripes on their sheets,
she said...noting that the states high number of waste dumps is an
endless source of local fears. (New York Times May 27, 2001)
Governor Pataki Cracks Down Hard...
Governor George E. Pataki signed a bill yesterday that bans gifts and
gratuities to juries following a case in which a wealthy defendant offered
jurors $2,500 each after his acquittal...The law is a response to the case of
Abe Hirschfeld, who offered checks of $2,500 last year to each of ten members
of a New York City jury after they deadlocked over whether he was guilty of tax
fraud. (New York Times, Page B4, May 25, 2001)
...While in an Unrelated Development:
A charter airline company that was awarded about $30,000 in no-bid contracts
to fly Governor George E. Pataki to events throughout the state is owned by two
Westchester County developers who have been big donors to Republican committees
and candidates...Summit Aircraft is owned by Louis R. Cappelli and Jon L. Halpern,
Westchester County developers. Over the last six years, they have given generously
to various Republican state committees and to the governor through their companies.
(New York Times, Page B5, May 25, 2001)
...And in Two Other Supremely Related Developments:
President Bush nominated Janet Rehnquist, daughter of Chief Justice William
H. Rehnquist, to be inspector general of the Department of Health and Human Services.
She is currently an assistant United States attorney in Virginia and was associate
White House counsel under President Bushs father. Eugene Scalia, son of
Justice Antonin Scalia, was previously nominated to be solicitor of labor.
(New York Times, June 2, 2001)
Olson Never Had Sexual Relations
With That Man Either, Although Hale
May Seem to Have Stiffed Him
Senate Republicans said today that they would push for a final vote this
week on the nomination of Theodore B. Olson as solicitor general, while
Democrats said they were unsure if they had been given enough time to examine
accusations that Mr. Olson had misrepresented his role in anti-Clinton
activities...Democrats and Republicans on the Senate Judiciary Committee also
released documents to shed light on one of the questions raised about Mr.
Olson: whether he was truthful when he said he had never been paid to
represent a Clinton critic...Mr. Olson said he had never been paid for his
work, which involved helping Mr. Hale deal with a Congressional
subpoena...The report disclosed today concluded that Mr. Olsons firm had
sent a bill of $140,000 to Mr. Hale but had never received payment.
(New York Times May 23, 2001)
Eschew the M Word, Too.
Remember the Sin of Onan?
The morning devotionals are not the only sign that Ashcroft approaches
religion differently from his predecessor, Janet Reno, who ran a strictly
secular office...The Justice Department also issued new style guidelines for
correspondence carrying Ashcrofts signature. They forbid, among other
things, the use of pride, which the Bible calls a sin. (Washington
Post May 14, 2001)
Sex Slave Suit:
The United States is seeking dismissal of a lawsuit filed in Washington
against Japan on behalf of women forced into sexual slavery during World War II.
The statement prepared by the State and Justice Departments argues that when the
slavery occurred, sovereigns--including the emperor of Japan--enjoyed immunity
from prosecution in the United States. A lawyer for the women said that position
signals that no government that forces women to be sex slaves will be prosecuted
in the United States. (New York Times, May 15, 2001)
And God Bless Us,
Each and Every Exxon
The American way of life is a blessed one, and we have a bounty of
resources in this country, said Ari Fleischer, the presidents
spokesman. The American peoples use of energy is a reflection of
the strength of our economy, of the way of life that the American people
have come to enjoy. (New York Times, May 11, 2001)
In Court Cafeteria
Accused drug lord Tommy Edelin faces the death penalty for conspiring to
murder 11 people in the District of Columbia. Assistant U.S. Attorney Stephen
J. Pfleger told the jury that much of the testimony in the case will
involve accounts of conflicts that Edelins group had with other
organizations...One feud subsided for a while after a meeting that was
arranged in the cafeteria at D.C. Superior Court, he said. They do it
there...because of the metal detectors. Its the one place in the city
they know they can go where nobody has a gun. (Washington
Post, May 10, 2001)
Big Sugar Offended by
American sugar producers are protected from the free market by a government
program that costs taxpayers some $2 billion a year. But now trade agreements
like NAFTA could open the U.S. Market to sugar from abroad. We
dont believe we ought to sacrifice the American farmer to bring in sugar
that is subsidized by other governments, said Judy Sanchez, a spokeswoman
at U.S. Sugar. (New York Times, May 6, 2001)
Im Terrible on Faces
But I Never Forget an Eye
New Delhi correspondent Barry Bearak: Generally the top Taliban
leaders...have banned depictions of the human form whether in photographs,
films or paintings...but photographs are actually required when
applying for a passport or visa, though in the case of women only the eyes
are allowed to show. (New York Times, May 6, 2001)
A: Stuff Fairies in Lockers
Q: What Would Jesus Do?
A bill intended to stop bullying in public schools has stalled in the
Washington state legislature, in part becaue of opposition from the Christian
Coalition, which called it a gay rights measure in disguise. Under the bill,
school districts would have to write antibullying policies and train
teachers, students and others to help stop such harassment. The Christian
group said the measure could be used to prevent students from speaking
against homosexuality. ( New York Times, May 4, 2001)
Straight Talk on Stocks
Stockholder suits have charged that many fund managers and stock underwriters
have collaborated in running up the price of initial stock offerings, while
making sure to sell their own shares before they tanked. If a fund
manager did not want to be a long-term investor, he would sell the stock
after a few days, sometimes trading through a different firm. The practice,
another money manager said, is referred to as puking a stock back to the
market. (New York Times, May 2, 2001)
One Clinton Initiative
Bush Wont Roll Back
Since new rules signed by President Bill Clinton went into effect at the
end of 1996, welfare rolls have plummeted here and all over the state. Unlike
other New York counties, Delaware County is able to offer a rare glimpse into
life after welfare...
The study found that after leaving welfare, families in the county continued
to fall behind on rent. They were just as likely to have their lights shut off,
almost as likely to live without a phone and more likely to have no food in the
house. After welfare, survey respondents said, they were more likely to turn to a
food bank, a church or friends. Or, they said, they simply ate less.
...The median income of those who left welfare in 2000 was about
$11,000, and 70 percent remained below the poverty line, a little over
$14,000 for a family of three. Those who had left welfare a year earlier were
slightly better off: 45 percent lived in poverty. Only half of those who had
left the rolls were working at the time of the survey. Around 30 percent
depended on disability benefits. (New York Times, March 29, 2001)
A Great Newspaper Demonstrates Its
Editorial Independence, or Something
New York Times Digital...operates The Times Companys
Internet properties, based in Manhattan. Around 70 employees were laid off in
January; several found out from articles in The New York Times and on its Web
site. Lisa Carparelli, a spokeswoman for The Times, said: While it was
an awkward and unfortunate circumstance that some of our employees learned of
the news from an article in The Times before we had a chance to tell them in
person, it demonstrates the editorial independence of our news-gathering
operation and the objectivity with which it goes about covering
itself. (New York Times, March 18, 2001)
In Case Youre Thinking of Going
Strictly speaking this item doesnt belong here, not being from a newspaper. But
you should know that there exists a Disney World for Dummies. It is a chapter book
with 384 pages, and literally practically a gazillion words in the thing. Its full title is
Walt Disney World and Orlando for Dummies.
The CIA Brings in the Grownups
The new executive director of the CIA is A.B. Buzzy Krongard, 64, a former
Baltimore moneylender. He is a cigar-smoking soldier-sniffer who has a shooting range
on his estate, trains with police SWAT teams, and practices kung fu:
The purpose of his exercise regime was not just to stay fit, he once said, but
to increase toughness and discipline. To that end, he would thrust his hands repeatedly
into buckets of dried rice or absorb blows to the stomach from a heavy medicine
One former agency official said yesterday that he found it absolutely
astounding that CIA director George Tenet installed Krongard in such an important
job. When you meet him, he tells you to punch him in the stomach to see how tough
he is, the former official said. (Washington Post, March 17, 2001)
Levity Among the Lutherans
The Reverend Michael Bray of the Reformation Lutheran Church in Bowie, Maryland,
runs an annual benefit banquet for imprisoned murderers, bombers, arsonists and
other criminals in the anti-abortion movement:
For example, he said, Paul Hill, convicted for the 1994 killings of a doctor
who performed abortions and his escort in Florida, sent along a letter listing
the ten commandments. Mr. Malvasis contributions to the charity auction, Mr.
Bray said, included the watch he used as a timing device in a bombing attempt in
You can understand the level of levity here, Mr. Bray said. He added
that the items sold for amounts up to $100. (New York Times, March 31, 2001)
...as Opposed to Being Misled by, Lets
Say, VISAs 3.2%
Republicans, their warm hearts keenly tuned to the anguish of the usurer, are
about to make it harder for the poor to duck their debts by going
This, for the Party of Integrity, is elementary Morality 101. Lawful debts
entered into in good faith must be paid, and that, my friend, is simply that. Well,
in most cases, anyway:
Wealthy American investors in Lloyds of London, the insurance
concern, have managed through their lobbyists to insert a provision in the
bill that would block Lloyds from collecting millions of dollars that the
company says is owed by the Americans...
The issue involves liabilities
incurred by Lloyds...when it was forced to pay off claims on several
disasters, like the Exxon Valdez oil spill. Investors in Lloyds are expected
to share both its profits and its losses, but the Americans have refused to
settle the debts, claiming they were misled by Lloyds. (New
York Times, March 13, 2001)
Same to You, God
From a Washington Post story of March 12, 2001, on Mr. Bushs new
White House Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives: The message
for after-hours calls provides the business hours and then says, May God
bless you, and have a nice day.
Aw, I Dont Know. I Guess My Own Personal
Victim-Philosopher Has Still
Got to Be Jesus
It is sometimes thought that we must all have some great insight into life
and the intellect of the great philosophers. Obviously, it is quite important
that we have people of ideas and intellect. It is awe inspiring to read the
works of Gertrude Himmelfarb, Michael Novak, Michael Ledeen, Judge Bork, and
others in this audience. But as much as great works of genius are necessary,
they are insufficient. This is particularly so when the responses are not of
the intellect. It does no good to argue ideas with those who will respond as
brutes. Works of genius have often been smashed and burned, and geniuses have
sometimes been treated no better.
(From the remarks of Clarence Thomas, a U.S. Supreme Court justice, before
the American Enterprise Institute, February 13, 2001. Interested parties may find
the complete text at http://www.aei.org/boyer/thomas.htm, which is not a clickable
link. When the American Enterprise Institute links to Bad Attitudes, Bad Attitudes
will link to them. Meanwhile, heres a clickable link to
annotated excerpts from the speech.)
Alan Greenspan Tries His Best to Say,
You Sure Got That Right,
(Dodd of Connecticut suggests to Greenspan of the Banks that the presidents
proposed $1,600,000,000,000.00 tax cut might come too late to kick-start a faltering
Federal Reserve chairman:)
Except for the low probability that the--any recession that might occur
is prolonged. Its only under those conditions that I envisage it to be
an insurance premium, in effect, because we use insurance for low-probability
events and, in that regard, it would act positively. But aside from that, I
have not been able to find a useful means of employing it to fend off a
recession. In other words, if a recession is going to happen--and I must say
to you, its not happened yet--its unlikely to be affected one way
or the other by what tax policy is going to be because the determination of a
trigger as to when--I shouldnt use the word trigger--the
determination of the point at which the markets determine whether were
flattening out or stabilizing or falling, thats way before the
implementation of any tax cut I can envisage happening. (New
York Times, February 14, 2001)
Bush Recounts Re-voting Developments
Bush: ...This is how Id describe it: Id survive any recount,
I couldnt survive any re-vote, and they were re-voting...
In a World Totally Lacking
Q: A couple of days before that Gore had gone out and proposed a statewide
recount if you wanted that...Did that cause you any concern?
Bush: I cant even remember what it was about. It was nothing new, really...
Q: Why did you not ask for recounts of your own in different places?
Bush: Because theres a difference between recounting and re-voting.
We survived the recounts. I didnt mind a recount.
Q: But you could have asked for a manual recount.
Bush: Because theres no standard. The problem was that we were
dealing in a standardless world. The only area where we urged and fought hard
for to make sure people got their ballots counted was the overseas ballots...
(Washington Post interview with George W. Bush, in which he recalls the
tumultuous days preceding his appointment to the presidency)
Bushs Top Strategist Explains
Why His Man Lost the Election...
Karl Rove, President Bushs chief political adviser, regrets that he
allowed his boss to take a Sunday off 10 days before the election. In fact,
he said, he should have added one event a day in Wisconsin and New Mexico in
the closing week of the campaign, a move that he said may have averted
narrow Bush defeats in those states.
Mr. Rove also wishes that he had recognized earlier that Mr. Gore was a
threat in Florida. I should have shored up the ground game in Florida
earlier, he said, citing that lapse as one of a whole series of
little tactical miscues. (New York Times, February 12, 2001)
Meanwhile, Back at the Ranch...
While President Bush is lobbying Congress to pass his $1.6 trillion
tax cut proposal in Washington, lawmakers in his home state are struggling
with budget problems that some critics are tracing to tax cuts Mr. Bush
passed here as governor...
After a legislative hearing last week on rising Medicaid costs,
State Senator Chris Harris, a Republican from Arlington, criticized the tax
cuts. We made tax cuts because we thought we had this huge surplus,
he said, according to the Associated Press. I might have voted a little
differently on all those tax cuts had I realized...(New York
Times February 12, 2001)