Out here in the cultural
wastes of Weimar, Germany, I’ve been neglecting Jim Knipfel. But another
Jim, Romenesko, at www.poynter.org/medianews, dragging MUGGER’s blast at
Al Hunt and other registered libbies (11/7), led me to Jim Knipfel’s glorious
tout of Professor Corey ("Who Am the World’s Foremost Authority,"
11/7), who was a mental band-aid for me during the McCarthy proceedings. I guess
I’d better stop neglecting Knipfel.
Lose the Kid
Toward the end of Knipfel’s
piece on him, Professor Corey mentions that he "had to get downtown"
to do another show. Knipfel should tell him he would be ill-advised to have
his son Richard accompany him.
A Dagger to the Heart
I know he’s everybody’s
favorite wastrel, but it’s time to cut Jim Knipfel loose. Or perhaps put
him out to pasture would be more accurate. His accounts of the hardship and
general weirdness in his life used to be interesting and sort of heartwarming,
but now they’re just treacly. His life seems to have fallen into a pretty
staid routine these last few years. How many times does anyone need to read
about how cute it is when the blind guy has a few too many beers and stumbles
over the sidewalk?
The articles and sidebars
he does that aren’t first-person accounts have never been interesting.
He seems to delight in choosing very obscure subject matter simply because he
can. There is very little of interest to anyone else in these topics, and his
"regular guy" writing style doesn’t do anything to help expand
upon why some of this crap is supposed to be interesting. You would think a
guy with a doctorate in philosophy (or whatever degree he has) would be able
to out-reason a 12-year-old. No offense, Jim, but you used to be good.
Two Against the Hunt
MUGGER: I share your view
of Al Hunt (11/7). I have a visceral dislike for him.
Bales, Kingsport, TN
MUGGER: Just read your column
on Al Hunt. Gosh, we liberals really get under the skin of you armchair anticommunists
and sunshine patriots.
I agree with Scott McConnell’s
recent article ("Taki’s Top Drawer" 11/7), 100 percent. People,
at least those in our so-called intelligent media, do not seem to notice that
countries like Denmark, Norway and even the Czech Republic do not seem to be
bothered by terrorists, nor are they hated by other countries in the world.
Could it be that these three countries I mentioned, and many more like them,
do not go around trying to solve the problems of the world?
Who was the meathead who
told America that it has to be the policeman of the world? We are trying to
settle problems in other countries that have been going on, in some cases, long
before those guys met in Philadelphia in 1776 to declare us free from England.
Frankly, I am sick of it. Let the people in other parts of the world deal with
their own issues, and that goes for our so-called buddies in Israel. I still
recall the Israeli attack on the USS Liberty in 1967. I understand we
emerged from World War II as a strong nation. Did we emerge to become strong
and smart, or strong and stupid?
As Good As Jolt
MUGGER, thank you for the
enjoyment I get in reading your column. Your mix of politics/sports/family is
Mr. Smith: Great article
on Maureen Dowd ("MUGGER," 11/7). One question: was that really a
current picture of Ms. Dowd, or one of her granddaughter?
Cedar Park, TX
Talk About A Slur
In his 10/24 "Wild
Justice" Cockburn cites a thousand civilians dead in Afghanistan. Before
he wrote that, Agence-France Presse was only able to tally 26. God knows
if they could have found a thousand they would have cited it. Cockburn appears
Podhoretzian in his knowing deception, only from the left. I caught him.
Alexander Cockburn replies:
It’s the same as it was with the bombing of Yugoslavia. A building here,
a building there, a bus or two and suddenly you’re up to a hundred. A couple
of weeks later you’re up around a thousand or more and the Pentagon is
still saying that the numbers can’t be verified, same time as it says it’s
carpet bombing what it calls "Taliban villages."
Look, you drop high
explosive and cluster bombs in inhabited areas, you kill civilians. And I’m
not even mentioning the kids dying of malnutrition because the war and the bombing
have interrupted the food convoys. To be frank, I think this business of denying
or discounting the reality of civilian casualties is as disgusting as saying
the Jews in the WTC knew what was going to happen on Sept. 11 and stayed away.
As for AFP, each news agency has a number for what its people have seen; you
take those numbers, you look at the Taliban’s claims and you make your
own estimate. I think mine was on the conservative side.
Dumb and Dumber Both Lose
I’ve got 25 cents riding
on this. My friend Don says the shemales that advertise in your paper are hermaphrodites,
I say they are transvestites. Who’s right?
Taki on Top
Taki: Thanks for a wonderful
article ("Top Drawer," 11/7). There are millions of Americans who
feel as you stated in this article. The American mainstream press pretends this
has not happened, it is unbelievable how they have covered for the Clintons
who have done more to weaken and harm this country than any two before them.
It’s nice to see that someone else feels their threat. I’m e-mailing
your article to many friends.
Sun City West, AZ
Taki Down Low
I think it would be a worthwhile
investment if New York Press hired a cartoonist to illustrate
Taki’s column. Granted, Taki already has a cartoon-level worldview, clearly
attributable to his empty existence as a wealthy playboy and cafe-society fascist
whose only talent is invective. So perhaps a cartoon version of his writing
would be redundant. But since he specializes in low invective and you insist
on publishing it, a cartoonist who can illustrate the "pigs," "morons,"
racist and ethnic slurs he regularly issues might be compensation for that utter
lack of insight, information or useful commentary.
Curiouser and Curiouser
Here’s a copy of the
letter to the editor I recently sent to the Village Voice:
After reading the most recent
issue of the Voice, I am astonished by the similarities in your article
by Chris Parker "A Scene Grows in Brooklyn," and an article we ran
in September. Our story "A Scene Grows in Brooklyn," written by Grant
Moser, (um–note the similarity) also discusses the thriving music scene
in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. Grant’s piece discusses in some detail three
new clubs–Luxx, Warsaw and Northsix–that have recently opened in Williamsburg.
Curiously, these three clubs are the focus of Parker’s piece as well.
Our piece also discusses
the new Arena Rock label. You guessed it–Parker chose to write about the
label too. Their most recent compilation included 40 artists, two of which (Les
Savy Fav and Champale) we selected to feature in our publication. Chris decided
to name five artists featured on the label and similarly cited Champale and
Les Savy Fav as being integral to the rising music scene. Granted, we have a
significantly smaller audience than the Village Voice and only reach
20,000 people per month, but it seems unlikely to me that anyone doing research
on the Williamsburg music scene would not stumble across FREEwilliamsburg.
Is it the general policy of the Village Voice to cut and paste ideas
and stories from other publications without giving credit where credit is due?
One last thing: They directly
quoted us comparing Club Luxx to "a Coney Island bumper car ring"
without giving us credit.
Kill Em All, Etc.
Cockburn is, as always,
interesting to read. Regarding the Predator unmanned plane that arguably could
have killed Omar of the Taliban ("Wild Justice," 11/7), I remain somewhat
confused. Cockburn’s point seems to be that the capabilities of the weapon
system, as usual, have been oversold by the Pentagon (Quadragon?) and that we
really couldn’t have read the license plate of Omar’s vehicle in the
convoy as recounted in media reports. If Afghanistan is the stone age theocracy
that is reported in the media, who but the Taliban or Al Qaeda have the resources
for a vehicle convoy in Afghanistan? And if any vehicle convoy must be either
the Taliban or Al Qaeda, what does it matter if we can identify the occupants?
They clearly aren’t our friends and they clearly aren’t neutral civilians.
If there is any reason why we shouldn’t be zapping any convoys outside
of areas controlled by the Northern Alliance, I haven’t heard one yet.
There may be one, and Cockburn
can probably supply it if there is. I’m all ears.
Alexander Cockburn replies:
I’m not sure what was confusing about my Predator story, and O’Brien’s
first paragraph shows he caught my drift. As for his endorsing the notion of
bombing anything on the roads in Afghanistan, maybe he should glance at a story
datelined Chowkar-Karez, Afghanistan, by Nickelsberg and Perlez in The New
York Times at the start of November, concerning a guy called Mehmood who
had enough money to evacuate his entire family from Kandahar to his ancestral
village in order to get away from the bombing. "Perhaps that is what made
Chowkar-Karez an attractive target: those cars, that light, the sudden activity,
all suspiciously occurring in the middle of nowhere. It could have been a Taliban
encampment. It could have been a guerrilla training camp. ‘I brought my
family here for safety, and now there are 19 dead, including my wife, my two
children, my brother, sister, sister-in-law, nieces, nephews, my uncle,’
Mehmood said, speaking of what had befallen him a [little] more than a week
Why Not Hitch?
Alexander Cockburn should
know that Nancy Oden’s story about her "persecution" by evil,
jack-booted National Guardsmen ("Wild Justice," 11/7) is listed as
nonsense on Snopes.com, the "Urban Legends Reference Pages." Too bad.
As far as I’m concerned, these latter-day Copperheads deserve whatever
they get, and life on a Greyhound bus is too good for the likes of her.
Alexander Cockburn replies:
Copperheads? Bill, you seem to have the same attitude to feisty women as does
Mullah Omar. As for Oden’s being banned from flying out of Bangor that
day, it’s all true. If you want to read Bruce Kyle’s update on the
episode for the Bangor Daily News, go to counterpunch.org and
check it out. You can also find Oden’s own account there in full.
The main group claiming
Oden blew the story up is the Green Party US, better known as GreenPuss. These
are the Naderite Greens, whose deadliest foe is Green Party USA, of which Oden
is a prominent member. The thought that Oden might be bringing attention to
the Green Party USA was more than the GreenPussers could bear and so they’ve
been trashing her ever since. I actually described this grotesque orgy of sectarianism
in my original column, but it ended up on the cutting room floor for space reasons.
You Mean Like the Strokes?
Re: Bobby Conn ("Music,"
11/7) Who the hell is this guy? Is he a guy? (Not that it matters.) Maybe
I’ve been sleeping, but having lived in Chicago for seven years and two
years in San Francisco before that, and New York City before that, I just don’t
get it. Never heard of him. Is this creep a street performer? I can’t imagine
New York City being suckered by a two-bit sham artist.
Strokes Bomb in Queens
Thank you, Tim Hall, for
having the nuts to speak the truth about the Strokes ("Music," 10/31).
Every time someone starts blathering about them, I cringe. If these guys are
the hope for or future of rock music, we’re in deep shit. Critics and listeners
alike have apparently made a conscious effort to blind themselves to the fact
that on a basic level this is the same garden-variety tripe that Lou Pearlman
has been shamelessly hammering out in his Disney-assembly-line music factory
for the last five years. Only this time it’s dressed differently to sneak
under the radar of idiotic critics (Rolling Stone’s Joe Levy: "This
is the stuff of which legends are made").
With regard to the recording
quality, they clearly used the best technology that money can buy to get that
bad sound–that’s no 4-track they’re using. Instead of working
it in bars and clubs, they’ve been working on a look and a business plan.
When they do play, they’re pretty short on material. Let’s hear that
next album. Then we’ll be able to finally answer the question so many critics
love to conclude their reviews with. Is This It? You bet.
With His Li’l Pilot
MUGGER: I guess the liberal
news media couldn’t control themselves any longer. Now one can’t turn
on CNN, Rather, Jennings and their ilk without hearing the usual whinings about
"civilian casualties." I guess the media has, predictably, decided
to do for this war what they did for Vietnam. It didn’t take them long–all
the bodies from the World Trade Center haven’t even been accounted for.
After the liberal media and their comrades in academia are finished, the schoolchildren
of the future will believe that it was George W. Bush who crashed those planes
into the World Trade Center.
MUGGER: You miss the whole
point of rooting for a team (10/31). You can dislike anyone who puts the NY
on his hat, that’s the fun of being a fan. But when you elevate it to hating
the person and looking for reasons to dislike them (the Yankees not showing
up at the concert in Madison Square Garden) you are showing your meanness. I
noticed you did not respond to the reader who refuted you about Paul O’Neill
(11/7). Why don’t you take another vacation, and make it an extended one.
Russ Smith replies: Why
don’t you learn how to read? I didn’t respond to the O’Neill
letter because the correspondent had just suffered a tragic loss. If you’d
taken the time to read my remarks on the Yankees carefully, you’d have
seen that I wrote about hating the franchise, not the players in particular.
The only criticism I made of the current Yanks is their not showing up at the
celebrity show at Madison Square Garden after a loss to the Mariners. That was
pitiful. Joe Torre showed up, as did 30 other New York City sports stars.
Mets Got Dibs on Vlad
MUGGER: Knowing you’re
a baseball fan, this has to be a sad time. The Montreal Expos, if they go, probably
wouldn’t be missed too much. But the Minnesota Twins? They’ve won
a pair of World Series over the past 15 years, have a core group of players
who just might pull it off again if given the chance, and a sizable group of
loyal fans. Not to mention that the team isn’t losing money, but making
an okay profit. Baseball without the Twins and even the Expos, but with the
Devil Rays and the Marlins, just does not seem right. And all this happening
after one of the great postseasons in history. It’s absolutely disgraceful.
More on Microsoft
Russ: In trying to defend
your ludicrous claim that the federal government’s prosecution of Microsoft
caused the recession, you refer to: "…the absurd and punitive prosecution
of Microsoft, which hurt almost all entrepreneurial high-tech firms…"
("The Mail," 11/7). So I suppose that’s why business collapsed
for, say, Sun Microsystems, Oracle and Apple Computer, all of whom fight Microsoft
tooth and nail every day for market share, and supported the government’s
And it must be the government’s
prosecution of Microsoft that caused people to buy far fewer cellphones, thus
killing business for the thousands of companies that supply that side of the
tech industry? And it was the government’s prosecution of Microsoft that
caused thousands of no-revenue dotcoms to go bust, thereby drying up demand
for new servers, routers and additional long-haul broadband infrastructure,
thus killing that sector of the tech business, right? And, of course, it was
the government’s prosecution of Microsoft that forced the car companies
to go to zero-percent financing in order to move some iron on a new car-sated
public? You’re worth reading far more often than not, but on this one,
give it up already.
This Ain’t No Summer
Josh Gilbert is a good writer–I
enjoyed his article about watching a homemade porno in a bar afterhours ("New
York City," 6/20) and his other story about his feelings for his
deli clerks ("First Person," 10/24)–but he should toughen up
and adopt a realistic attitude. Josh, why do you feel like you must get along
with or "love" your deli clerks? Haven’t you ever been disliked
by anyone before, or disliked anyone yourself? Do you feel an obligation to
love every individual in the world?
Those guys are working there
for the money, same as your girlfriend with her job selling soap. You’re
going into their store and doing a business transaction, that’s all. Just
take your coffee and enjoy it. You don’t have to get too personal with
these guys, or think of them as your friends. Maintain some distance from them,
that’s the respectful way to treat your deli clerks. Asking Abdul to give
you a hug was extremely embarrassing; it sounded absurd and I felt sorry for
you when I read it, as well as for Abdul. You’re also stereotyping him
and using him as a token Arab to try to dissolve hatred between Jews and Palestinians.
Like any sensible person Abdul is not interested in such a b.s. gesture. Get
over being sentimental and stop foisting your feelings on other people.
The Next Four Years?
brings to mind my one and only interaction with the man. I was temping as a
reception assistant at a company that shall remain nameless. Mr. Bloomberg’s
business was a major part of the firm’s income, and so he would call the
office on the "Bloomberg Hotline" on a daily basis.
One day, with the regular
receptionist in the bathroom, the phone rang and I picked it up. "Is (name
of the CEO) there?" Mr. B. shouted. I said, "No, he’s out on
an err–." He interrupted with an even louder and more irate, "Then,
is (name of CEO’s assistant) there?" I had to answer that, no, she
wasn’t in, either. His charming mode of reply was to scream, "Well,
is anyone fucking working there?" I don’t remember how I got through
the rest of the call, but I’ve never forgotten the man’s casually
Just Keep Reading
Alexander Cockburn: Your
column about assassination and torture ("Wild Justice," 10/24) was
a great article, thank you. It was interesting, informative and I agree with
your sensibilities. I also found you on the Hitchens website, where your reaction
to his mention of Zinn, Chomsky, Finkelstein, et al., was included with responses
from, among others, Ed Herman and Tariq Ali. I’m looking forward to more
of your writing.
Taki and Netanyahu
Taki: Right on about Clinton!
("Top Drawer," 11/7.) I voted for him the first time even though I
am a combat war veteran. But I really had no idea what a phony he is. Thanks
for reminding us. Please watch out for Netanyahu. I don’t trust that guy
influencing our agenda. He has his own, and should be sent packing by Washington
and all the cloying media.
Panama City, FL
of Osama" was a great article. The best I’ve read.
Donna G. Buckley,
Does Mrs. Finkelstein Vote
MUGGER: I have a theory
about why Al Hunt espouses his goo-goo liberal line (11/7). I posit that he’s
uxorious: excessively fond of wife Judy Woodruff. My guess is that she is the
true believer in the family and that he is constantly trying to win her favor
(and perhaps that of her circle of women friends) by tirelessly demonstrating
his liberal credentials.
Just Gets Better and Better
MUGGER: The World Series
had so many tremendous moments in those seven games that it is hard for me to
quit talking about it. Baseball is a game of failure as much as it is a game
of success. The law of averages demanded that Mariano Rivera would eventually
fail in a postseason save attempt. Rivera had 23 consecutive postseason saves
dating back to 1997 coming into game 7 Sunday night. His downfall began when
he failed to get Mark Grace leading off in the ninth, and make a play on Damian
Miller’s sac bunt after Grace had singled to lead off the inning. Had Rivera
made the throw to second and gotten the lead runner, the inning would have necessitated
an entirely different strategy from Bob Brenly.
Jay Bell’s sac attempt
that resulted in the lead runner being forced at third was in large part meaningless,
but the error let Womack get to the plate with a man in scoring position with
less than two outs, and drive in the tying run. Loading the bases after hitting
Counsell forced Torre to bring the infield in, gambling on a force at home and
a possible 2-to-3 double play. Gonzo’s game- and Series-winning flare single
would have been caught by Jeter in the air had they been playing at normal or
double-play depth. "Woulda, coulda, shoulda," what a great game, and
what a great Series! And by the way, the artwork by Pecker on the link to your
online article is great. Joe Torre’s eyes…very cool.
Make ’Em White and
MUGGER: Have you noticed
that the media and the Democrats are trying to portray these new baggage handlers
as on a par with customs inspectors, INS agents and U.S. marshals (all highly
trained professionals)? When in fact what we are ultimately going to get if
the Democrats prevail is something on the order of the U.S. postal workers or
California DMV workers (many of whom are affirmative-action recipients and are
less than qualified). The public needs to be brought up to speed on what will
be the training, competency and ability of those who will be entrusted to protect
us from the domestic terrorist. By the way, I really enjoy your articles, keep
Orvil D. McKinnis
Jr., Madera, CA
In the Gutter with Bill
I agree with the comments
on the Clintons in Taki’s recent article ("Top Drawer," 11/7).
What I do find to be excessively crude and objectionable is the reference to
Sen. Joe Biden’s parents. While I don’t agree with Sen. Biden’s
views on many things, that crack about "the clap" was definitely over
the line. You owe him an apology, but I don’t expect he’ll get it.
The amount of class shown by New York Press, in leaving that remark
in the article, put you on a par with the Clintons. You, too, do not deserve
Taki and Powell
Hooray for Taki. He says
it all about the Clintons and he says it so well. And MUGGER, so you’ve
finally got the message that Colin Powell is an arrogant, naive critter who
obviously thinks he is better and smarter than our President? He is a disaster
for State, and I hope that someone of more quality will take over. He is the
Achilles heel of the administration.
Jean Van Etten, Port St. Lucie, FL
Try Our Archives
of Osama" is a very good article. He should have also mentioned the pardoning
of the Puerto Rican terrorists.
Life’s Looking Up
I am not a New Yorker and
do not know much about New York Press, but got to it by reading
Taki. Just want to let you know that I very much appreciate your intelligent,
insightful writing. The New York Times maddens me, as well as
most of the broadcast media and all of academe. But there is a slightly hopeful
tone in your writing and you are closer to real information than I am and I
take your tone seriously. Keep it up, please, there are so few things worth
reading these days.
Not So Green
Not to be too rude or anything,
but is there like any evidence supporting the travails of "organic farmer
and Green Party organizer" Nancy Oden, as recounted in Cockburn’s
latest column ("Wild Justice," 11/7)? It’s a nice rant and all,
but aren’t journalists supposed to try to find some corroboration? I mean
I don’t wanna get too picky here– Alex is pretty entertaining as Stalinist
apologists go, so his column deserves some slack when it comes to bias and accuracy–but
this story had about as much substantiation as the descriptions of alien encounters
in the Enquirer.
Alexander Cockburn replies:
Stalin? Who mentioned him? It’s true that back in the late 1970s I was
a Brezhnevite so far as Afghanistan was concerned. Meaning, I thought the Afghans
would be better off without huge U.S. backing for feudal forces such as the
Muj and bin Laden. Turns out I was right. As for Oden, see my answer to Birmingham
A Fan Objects
Mr. Cockburn, I read you
faithfully in the New York Press and would like to proclaim myself a
huge fan of all things Cockburn (and St. Clair). I am also not a fan of the
military, or flag-waving, and I fear a national ID card program as both totalitarian
and useless in preventing Sept. 11-type hijackings.
But as for Ms. Nancy Oden:
If you are honest with yourself, you must know that her airport story is the
story of a petty snob who lives to flatter herself for her "radical"
politics. What strikes me most about her encounter at the Bangor airport is
not the overbearing security presence, but the fact that this person could not
handle, in fact, had no idea how to handle, dealing with police or military
and obviously considered any such personnel completely beneath her. Again, if
you can be honest with yourself, is there any doubt that when Ms. Oden entered
the airport, she had her mind already made up to be actively uncooperative with
authorities? This just after the horror and brutality of Sept. 11, the events
of which centered on airports. At the very beginning of her tale, Ms. Oden says
"You know how they are when they’re all puffed up with themselves,"
describing the men, and by her account women, ordered to prevent deadly attack
on Ms. Oden herself. Later, these soldiers are "untrained, ignorant, don’t-know-how-to-deal-with-the-public,
machine-gun-armed young guys."
Well, hooray for the all-inclusive,
enlightened left! Ms. Oden thought the soldiers could use some help with a stuck
zipper, incompetents that they are. Hey guys, why so edgy? I’m just reaching
for my bag! When called on her obviously recalcitrant attitude, Ms. Oden "slowed
down some more." How charming! She’ll show the fascists! "It
was almost like they were expecting me." You wish. The list of examples
of Ms. Oden’s offensive condescension and apparently chronic cluelessness
is about as long as your entire piece. I must ask you gentlemen, why are you
taken with her story? Yes, we all have very good reasons to be wary of armed
authorities and to grab hold of our rights and freedoms when they’re challenged,
but are you proud to defend Ms. Oden’s behavior? Would you tolerate any
Village Voice writer who chose this time in history to stick it to the
man with the gun in her face, man? Or would you promptly cut them down to size?
I would greatly appreciate a response.
Alexander Cockburn replies:
Joe, I don’t know Oden. I don’t know if she’s a "petty snob."
I don’t know the National Guard guy either, but what I got from the story
was the familiar theme concerning authority, which is that life goes smoothly
if you keep your demeanor low-key and your eyes cast down, but if you cop anything
approaching an attitude or simply retain your dignity the jackboot mentality
cooks up and you’re in trouble.
Philly’d Eat Ya Alive
Jeez. Neal Pollack again
("Culture," 11/7). What is it with this guy? He’s got a hard-on
for Brooklyn, that’s for sure. Yo, Pollack: Shut the fuck up about Brooklyn.
Just come to Brooklyn, Pollack. Really, motherfucker, talking that shit
about working men. You something else, man. Brooklyn is a soul saver, don’t
you know that? Boy, I can stroll from East New York to Bensonhurst to Greenpoint,
same down heart all around.
Dig it chump, we in Brooklyn
have found salvation for the angst that plagues the human spirit; indeed, a
true example to be emulated elsewhere. You know what I’m talking about.
And it do scare you, don’t it? Yeah, the gut roar of momentary fury expended
"harmlessly" in colorful manifestations of gestures and exhortations.
I ain’t talkin’ ’bout physical violence, see the difference there?
Call it "gettin’ in your face," to use current idiom. See, motherfucker,
this is how we deal, even with little punks like you. Put a fear in your belly.
Make you, for once, talk truth to your own self. Hence comes enlightenment even
if it’s only in the dull corridors of what passes for "your id."
I’ll bet you wore motley when you penned your missive. Really Pollack,
where did you grow up? So yeah, keep on using a Brooklyn set to establish credentials.
I guess we understand why you doin’ it. So shut the fuck up.
James S. Gagliardi,
And He’s Got It, Too
Once again, Taki has hit
every nail square on the head. This guy is worth his weight in gold. Keep going,
Drapeau, Tsuchiura, Japan
A Greek Bearing Gifts
I enjoy reading Taki. I
am an American of Greek descent, both of my parents were born in Greece. I enjoy
sending his columns to all our Greek friends.
But It’s Not
Scott McConnell’s "Stay
Away, Joe" ("Taki’s Top Drawer," 11/7) has to be one of
the worst pieces I’ve read recently. Where do I start? So Iraq is the Middle
Eastern state with "the largest middle class." Really? What statistics
do you use, Scott? I disagree, but it gets worse. "Egyptian hijacker Mohamed
Atta met with an Iraqi diplomat/spy in Prague," but McConnell says "Iraq
lacks a plausible motive." Nice reasoning. I’m sure Atta and his friend
from Iraq were out discussing Prague bars.
Incredibly, it gets still
worse. McConnell tells us that our friends are our enemies, and our enemies
are our friends. "Israel stirs up enormous ill will toward Washington by
sending American-made tanks to kill Palestinians on the West Bank," but
"the Palestinian Authority…makes sober public statements, while Arafat
has himself been photographed giving blood to American victims." Has McConnell
missed a few decades’ worth of Palestinian violence? Admittedly, Palestinian
violence doesn’t make the front page of The New York Times;
Israeli retaliation does. Did McConnell miss the pizza parlor attack? Did he
miss the recent murder of Israeli schoolchildren? Did he miss the recent political
assassination of an Israeli leader? But if McConnell mentioned those things,
he would be fair. Instead, he mentions a cheap Arafat photo-op.
When the WTC towers were
destroyed Palestinians were cheering. I guess everyone saw that video but McConnell
and Arafat. Then the Palestinian Authority issued the "sober public statement"
that it was only "a few" people. McConnell’s conclusion, "Stay
Away, Joe," is dead wrong. Let Iraq and Al Qaeda develop their weapons
of mass destruction in peace, and they won’t bother anyone. If the Press
were my newspaper, I wouldn’t want McConnell writing another column.
A MUGGER In Every Pot
MUGGER, you are absolutely
the best writer in New York, or anywhere in this country. Too bad the Press
is not as widely read as other papers. Would you please get your stuff syndicated?
Ft. Wayne, IN
Russ, Torre must have fallen
asleep in the seventh inning, or maybe as a going away present to O’Neill
he let Number 21 call the last two innings. Bringing Rivera in for the eighth
and ninth with a rested Mendoza went against 99 percent of the way the whole
season had been played. To top it off, bases loaded, one out, bringing all the
infielders in rather than keeping shortstop and 2nd out for a double play ball,
well, I was taught that in Little League!
I said throughout the Series
that these people had better beat the Yanks this year ’cause that Rotweiller
playing second base is going to push the Golden Retriever at short to play even
better. Meet me at Spring Training in Florida unless the next plague kills us
He’s With the Eagle
Mr. Smith, I’m taking
issue with your little swipe at the U.S. Postal Service in last week’s
Press ("MUGGER," 11/7). For some reason it’s become almost
a cliche to speak of how poorly the Post Service is run, but for the life of
me I can’t figure out the beef. I think the Postal Service is one of the
coolest things in this country. I’m consistently amazed at how most letters
I drop in a mailbox will be in the recipient’s hand the next day. I mean,
I’m spending 34 cents to send a parcel across the United States by plane
with a guarantee that it will arrive in a very reasonable time frame. Let me
know if there’s a better way.
Sure, some lines in the
post offices are a bit ridiculous, but I’d have no problem seeing a stamp
price increase to 40 cents so we could hire some more workers in there.
None of the many Arabs I’ve
known "hate us" for our "freedom" and "way of life,"
as the lying media would have it as they try to make us believe that the attack
on 9/11 was merely a case of loser’s envy. On the contrary, Arabs admire
us for those things.
Nor was the attack based
on religion, another theory pushed avidly by the professional liars, warmongers,
and Armaggedonists intent on getting us into a 100-year religious war. Jews
and Christians have always been respected by Muslims as "People of the
Book," and in the past have fared better in Muslim lands than Jews and
Muslims did in Christian ones. Muslims are not racists, as Malcolm X found out
when he made the hajj. Muslims did not genocide their conquered foes, as did
the Jews and Christians.
No, the Arabs hate us for
the millions of deaths, the untold suffering, the awful misery that we and Israel
have inflicted on them for decades; deaths, suffering and misery that not many
Americans, happy and prosperous, knew of or cared about. But enough’s enough.
They’re beginning to fight back and because they don’t have tanks,
planes, or missiles, they’re forced to use "terrorism." As bin
Laden put it, "If we can’t sleep securely in our beds at night in
our own cities, why should you?"
T. Weed, Hoboken,
The History of Air Safety
It is scary to observe how
a few conservative Republicans in the House of Representatives have transformed
the issue of how to improve airline security into their usual political arguments,
and how they have gained the mindless support of some of New York Press’
columnists and letter writers, all without any reference to the facts and history
of airline security.
In late 1970 President Nixon,
in response to the wave of skyjackings carried out for profit by some domestic
misfits and for political reasons by some Cuban and Palestinian terrorists,
decided to recruit a federal force to stop the skyjackings. The mission was
given to U.S. customs, which quickly recruited approximately 2000 people to
serve as customs security officers, or CSOs, which the public called sky marshals.
The CSOs usually flew two months as undercover, armed guards on U.S. airline
flights, and then worked for one month in uniform in the airports doing preflight
security. They did airport security until late in 1973, when the airport security
duties were turned over to the airlines, which hired private contractors for
the job with the results we saw on Sept. 11.
The CSOs were treated like
other federal hires in that it was very easy to fire them in their first year
of probation, somewhat more difficult to fire them in their second and third
years of probation and after their third year they had tenure and it became
difficult to fire them. Many of them were fired during their first year, a smaller
number during their second and third years. The probation system remains in
With regard to unionization,
the CSOs based in New York tried to unionize. Customs management immediately
informed them that because they were in "national security" positions
they were not permitted by law to form or join unions. They did not unionize.
That law also remains in place today.
As for creating another
massive federal bureaucracy, those CSOs who remained when the program ended
in 1973 were mostly absorbed into more traditional customs or other federal
jobs. There was no massive or other bureaucracy left when the air security program
Those opposed to having
the federal government do airport security have been showering praise on the
private corporations that are supposed to be doing such a great job in Israel
and some European countries. What they forget is that in those countries, the
central governments are able to tell the corporations what they can and cannot
do. In the U.S., it is usually the corporations that tell the government what
it can and cannot do. And finally, though totally ignored as irrelevant by Republican
conservatives, the CSOs did stop the skyjackings.
Eric J. Francke,