April 01, 2004,
You might not have caught this little item from the AP. I will retail:
"U.S. weapons hunters in Iraq have found more evidence Saddam Hussein had civilian factories able to quickly produce biological and chemical weapons, the CIA's top weapons inspector told senators yesterday."
I realize that's not good enough for the world, but it's good enough for me. Is it good enough for you, too? I suspect so.
The line following the sentence I quoted is, "But they still have not found any weapons."
Again, what they have found is good enough for me. If they'd found Little Boy and Fat Man themselves, sitting right in the kitchen of Saddam's favorite palace, it wouldn't have been good enough for Dominique de Villepin.
But that's okay.
Months ago, I declared a moratorium on Al Sharpton, but this is not quite a Sharpton item. It's more a Democratic-party item.
Sharpton was there, at that Democratic bash in Washington several days ago the one featuring Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton, Al Gore, John Kerry, John Edwards, and others. Said Sharpton afterward, "It's unprecedented for me, an activist, to be standing there with two presidents and four presidential candidates. I've come a long way from when I was ostracized. When the people who want to marginalize me saw that picture [a photo of Al with all those bigs], I guess they were a little disappointed."
No, not really: For me, it said much more about the party than about Rev. Al. For me, the Democratic party itself has been marginalized if you can say that about a party that has about half the country (which, of course, you cannot!).
Every now and then, I write something hailing Michael Bloomberg, the mayor of New York, and many readers write to say, "What the hay?" (See how I can clean it up in Impromptus?)
Well, this is another one of those items. The guts that the mayor has shown on the schools and the teachers' unions is extraordinary. (I hold that "guts" should take the singular, but that's a whole "'nother" item.) He is putting an end to "social promotion" to the practice of moving kids up the grades, even if they haven't made the grade and he is telling parents that in no uncertain terms.
He has just mailed a letter to the parents of all 81,000 third-graders in the New York public schools. He said, "For too long, schools have been shortchanging our children. Each year, students are promoted to the next grade without mastering the basic skills they will need to succeed." But no more. It's a new day and a new way, to quote one of my favorite expressions (from my "youf").
Go, Bloomie, go.
Koch showed guts; Giuliani certainly showed guts. Bloomie is showing guts of his own. I guess you don't make a billion dollars by being a wuss.
As my co-workers know, one of my favorite stories in recent weeks has been lovingly related by the New York Post, that great City tab. It concerns that old devil, race. There is a supreme-court justice in New York named Donna Mills no, not the dreamy actress from Knots Landing and she is on trial for drunk driving.
Boy, was she drunk. Justice Mills slammed her dad's vintage Rolls-Royce into two parked cars; she was so drunk, she couldn't get out of the Rolls. When the cops came, she said of course, because this is America! "Are you arresting me because I'm black?"
No, they weren't. They were arresting her because she was drunk as a skunk and had plowed into two cars.
But here's the beauty part (or a further beauty part): The two cops arresting her a man and a woman were themselves black.
But that doesn't matter: The justice's principal defense at trial is still racial.
Post columnist Andrea Peyser has been on the scene. She reports the words of Mills's lawyer, Paul Gentile: "They [police commanders, apparently] selected two officers to handle the case. They chose the most inexperienced person on the scene . . . That person was a black female. She's partnered with a black male." My goodness, it sounds like a science program.
And why did "they" do this? According to the lawyer, they did it "so that one day . . . they could put people of color on the stand."
Peyser asks, "Will this laughable ploy work?" It might. It might. Stay tuned.
But remember that classic phrase: "Are you arresting me because I'm black?" So American, and so sad.
Speaking of black, American, and sad: Jesse Jackson is getting a new radio show, on Clear Channel. It will be called "Keep Hope Alive with the Rev. Jesse Jackson." Right.
This reminds me of one of the most delicious things Mayor Marion Barry ever said (and he has said many). Will Jackson actually run for mayor of D.C.? No: "Jesse don't want to run nothing but his mouth." So true, and beautifully put.
In a recent Impromptus, I cited my friend and colleague Mike Potemra's Jacksonian Theory of the Democratic Party (formulated in the mid-1980s, when I first met Mike): The party has gone from Andrew to Scoop to Jesse.
A reader wrote in to say, "Don't forget about Janet!"
Speaking of Janet: I'm a little confused. I thought there was one Jermaine in the world: Jermaine Jackson, one of the Jackson brothers. But now I read, with the rest of the breathless world, that Janet is marrying a man named Jermaine. Not her brother: one Jermaine Dupri.
So there are two? And Jermaine Jackson's sister the breast girl is marrying the other one? What are the odds?
Or maybe I'm just out of it. (If I receive letters from 100 different Jermaines, I'll let you know.)
A friend of mine from Arkansas writes the following: "Thought you'd appreciate this little anecdote. A co-worker of mine has a daughter in public elementary school, here in Pine Bluff. They're still doing Black History Month stuff, apparently, because the kids were told to come to class dressed as a famous (and presumably accomplished) African-American. My co-worker's kid was told to come as Tina Turner. My co-worker informed the teacher that her child would come as Condoleezza Rice instead. The teacher refused to allow it, on grounds that Rice 'is for white people.' Nice, huh?"
Disgusting and, again, very American. Sadly so.
Okay, I'm super-late on this, but I wanted to hail Aaron Schneider for his remarks during the Oscar ceremony. He and Andrew J. Sacks won Best Short Film (Live Action) for their Two Soldiers, based on the Faulkner short story. Schneider thanked "our American treasure, William Faulkner, who wrote 'Two Soldiers' in 1942 after the first unprovoked attack on the United States. It's the story of two brothers who fight to preserve their family and country. Like a sibling's love, a soldier's devotion is selfless and unconditional and need not concern itself with the politics of war. I dedicate this [the Oscar] to my family and the soldiers who protect our loved ones and the freedoms we celebrate. Thank you."
No, thank you, Aaron Schneider. Wow. A lot. Geez.
That was the Oscars?
A correspondent of mine attended a conference at the University of California, Berkeley a conference that included Christiane Amanpour, the CNN lady, and Hans Blix, the inspector guy. According to my correspondent, Amanpour asked Blix in front of a capacity audience "Any advice for how to defeat Bush in 2004?" Blix answered only, "Next question."
You will perhaps be interested in reading the letter sent to the Financial Times by Richard Pipes, the great historian of Russia and Cold Warrior (which is not a term of abuse, in my book believe me):
"Sir, So, according to your headline, Israel is 'condemned for assassination of Hamas leader' (March 23). I wonder whether the US and/or Pakistan will face similar 'widespread condemnation' if and when they succeed in assassinating Osama bin Laden. Or is the killing of Sheikh Ahmed Yassin so outrageous because he called for the murder only of Zionists (read: Jews), whereas bin Laden is inciting the murder of Jews as well as non-Muslims in general?"
Well, we were waiting for this at least I was: Rahul Gandhi has entered politics. He is running for parliament (on the Congress-party line, in case you were wondering!). Rahul is the son of the late Rajiv; grandson of Indira; and great-grandson of Nehru. The one I was really looking for, however, was Priyanka, Rahul's sister. She looks a lot like Grandma. I'm still waiting for her. For some reason, I have high hopes for her.
And remember in a twist I like a lot that Rahul and Priyanka are half-Italian. Their mother, Sonia, was born near Turin.
Ladies and gentlemen, once in a while I reprint a little item, with no comment whatsoever. I invite you to make your own comments (privately), to arrive at your own points. This is one of those times:
"AMSTERDAM (Reuters) Two Dutch political parties called Wednesday for laws prohibiting sex with animals after a man suspected of having sex with a pony was set free.
"Wearing nothing but a T-shirt, the man was arrested by police in Utrecht Monday after the pony's owner caught him by surprise in his stable. 'He was caught in the stable, busy with the pony, and was arrested for animal mistreatment,' Mary Hallebeek, a prosecution spokeswoman said. The prosecutor set him free because there was no evidence of a crime. Dutch law does not prohibit bestiality [of course not oops, a comment]. 'There were no wounds or traces of violence. The man may have had sex with the animal, but there is no article in law which says this is liable to punishment,' Hallebeek said.
"Both List Pim Fortuyn and the Socialist party called for an amendment to the penal code to make bestiality punishable. 'Sex with an animal is a far-reaching infringement of its physical integrity, and the animal can never consent to it. It is pure maltreatment and should therefore be punishable,' LPF member Joost Eerdmans said in parliament."
Finally, a missive from my hometown:
"Jay, I am not a wealthy person. Getting the opportunity to go to the symphony is a treat. Getting to see an orchestra like the Israel Philharmonic with Pinchas Zukerman is a rare treat. They were playing at Hill Auditorium in Ann Arbor, your old stomping ground. I am quite sure you can see where this is going. I was greeted at the steps of Hill by protesters. Protesters, Jay, at the symphony. I had always believed that music transcended politics [are you nuts?]. I guess I was being ignorant [yup]. There is nothing like spending good money to go to the symphony only to be greeted by overpaid, overweight, under-worked, white-bread liberals harping about the Middle East. I am disgusted and embarrassed. This is the state of your old town, Jay. It makes New York City look conservative."
You're tellin' me, brother! And, hey: You're lucky Ann Arbor allowed an appearance by the Israel Philharmonic (founded as the Palestine Orchestra, of course, by the great Polish-born violinist Bronislaw Huberman).
Later on, dear ones.