Readers Weigh in on Dr. Mark McMahon and, of course, MUGGER; Plus the Usual Venom, with a Little Bit of Praise

| 16 Feb 2015 | 04:57

    MUGGER: Bush should make a deal with Bill Gates: I'll get Microsoft off the hook if you buy The New York Times.

    Morris Roberts, Los Angeles

    Bearing Down

    As I understand his projections, James Grant thinks the market will fall less than shares have fallen (Peter Eavis, "Opinion," 7/26). What's outlandish about that?

    Gary North, Winslow, AR

    Federal Reservations

    Inflation's NOT low! The doctored figure does not include "food and energy," and does anyone NOT use "food and energy"? Also, Alan Greenspan should not set interest rates and there should not be anything known as the "Federal Reserve," which happens to be privately owned!

    Name Withheld, Manhattan

    Chances Are

    RUSS SMITH: "Whether or not the First Lady called her husband's campaign manager a 'f?-ing Jew bastard' is beside the point: chances are she did" ("Editorial," 7/26).

    Whether or not you are a child molester is beside the point: chances are you are...

    Gee, I can be a "journalist" too?

    Tom Boggioni, San Diego


    Regarding George Tabb's last article ("Music," 7/26), being his stepdad, if I'd known he had Viagra in the house, I'd have flushed it down the toilet with no second thought. He doesn't need another swollen head.

    Nick Gurwitz, Manhattan

    Punk Started in NYC, You Know

    I really enjoyed George Tabb's baseball story ("The Parkway Pirates," 7/19), but what does that say about me? I have been reading George's stuff for a while now, firstly in Maximumrocknroll and more recently on the New York Press website, and I must admit that I have grown quite fond of him. So why do I delight in these stories of what a terrible childhood he endured, full of disappointment, injustice and sometimes even blatant cruelty? There are no happy endings, he's not the hero and he doesn't always triumph against the bad guys.

    So why do I enjoy George's stories so much? Is it because I'm a sadistic bastard? No, it's simply because he's so fucking good at telling them.

    Carmen McCarter, Lancashire, England Pulling His Poesy

    A fistful of poon A ripe pair of tits my legacy is fine as long as there's peace between yasir and the fucking jew bastards ?Bill Clinton Name Withheld, Manhattan

    Memo from the DNC

    I am offended that an insignificant ant like Dr. Mark McMahon would challenge someone like Hillary Clinton ("Hillary Killer?," 7/26). She can do New York much good being as politically savvy as she is, and her morality is not any less than the Republican scum that have occupied that office.

    It is a well-established fact that medical professionals, in general, are not gifted with upper-level intellects, and, in Dr. McMahon's case, the degree in political sociology confirms the fact. That type of curriculum is set aside for feeble-minded nincompoops who need something to put on their resumes.

    Here's looking forward to Hillary sending the good doctor back to butchering people instead of the country.

    Reading between the lines of this "zero" article, one can only come to the conclusion that we should never underestimate the craftiness of totally corrupt political sum like George W. Bush, who carries more stolen baggage than Gore or Clinton will ever amass. He is, indeed, the strongest crooked moron the Republicans have fielded since the preadolescent decayed mind of that thief known as Ronald Reagan.

    S.R. Winn, Manhattan

    Word to the Wise

    Great article on Mark McMahon. This guy deserves a chance and at least he sounds honest, although misguided, about Gore. But please, tell him to watch his back and get his tax records in order.

    Name Withheld, Staten Island

    Advice for the Doctor

    While Dr. Mark McMahon seems like a well-meaning enough individual, I believe that if he's to be a viable contender in the primary, he must quickly, very quickly, address his one major flaw. Namely, his public persona.

    Having recently witnessed him twitching and stuttering his way through a 30-second news blurb, I initially (and even sympathetically) attributed his evident awkwardness to garden-variety stage fright. However, he didn't seem fare any better during his interview with Bob Grant a few days later, where practically every other syllable he uttered was interjected with a nerve-wracking "ummm."

    I shook my head and sadly thought, "Hillary has nothing to fear from this individual."

    My advice to Dr. McMahon is that he immediately employ a crash-course personal instructor to tutor him on posture, hand gestures and photo ops (your cover photo of him was absolutely hideous). Above all, he should prescribe himself a low dose of Inderal for his stammering.

    A little grooming can go a long way.

    Albert Reyes, Manhattan

    The Scales of Justice

    Christopher Caldwell writes in his "Hill of Beans" column of 7/26: "This is the attitude behind hate-crimes laws: Sure, everyone kills people from time to time, but if you call someone a fag or a nigger while you're doing it, you're gonna be in real trouble."

    That brings up a point I've been pondering for years. Exactly when was it that racism officially became worse than murder in Western society? Ask any college student in America if you don't believe me: the holding of offensive ethnocentric opinions is far more heinous than, say, killing a gas-station attendant in the course of a robbery. Already our laws are beginning to reflect this shift in perception, but has anyone traced this trend to its origin?

    Oops, I see Taki answered my question in the same issue. My bad.

    Lou Manzato, New Orleans

    Shut Up, You Fool

    MUGGER: Your column was much shorter than usual this week ("'Objectivity' at the Times," 7/26). I hate it when that happens!!!

    Joan Parker, Fort Worth

    A Cunning Plan

    It's easy to dismiss Alexander Cockburn's latest attempt to convince liberals that it's okay for conservative Republicans to win ("Wild Justice," 7/26). All you have to do is look at one phrase that Cockburn quotes with approval. In reporting on the Robert Pollin article that tries to explain what's bad about the American economy, Cockburn quotes Pollin as writing, "If low rates of unemployment have been a positive feature of the 1990's..."

    Did you get that? If!

    If Pollin, whom Cockburn calls "a very good economist," has doubts that low rates of unemployment are positive, then any rational person must doubt both Pollin's and Cockburn's sanity or, more likely, their motives.

    By the way, your efforts to boost Ralph Nader in a fairly obvious attempt to assist the Republicans keep increasing. It used to be a weekly plug by Cockburn in which he explains why Nader's fourth or fifth run for president (I've lost track) is the serious one. Then MUGGER started putting in a complaint each week about how the press is treating Ralph. Then this week you have Cockburn, your editorial and the interview with Mark McMahon. It makes one think that Russ Smith's expressed certainty about the win of the Bush-Ridge ticket (oops) might be less certain than he let's on.

    Jerry Skurnik, Manhattan

    Lou the MacArthur Recipient

    Taki's 7/26 "Top Drawer" column reminds me of why I don't read New York Press anymore: while bitching about declining educational standards while on a "Greek tour" (guess he didn't meet Circe, but he's a pig already), he writes about shit that was news 13 years ago when Allan Bloom published The Closing of the American Mind. Hey Taki, I liked to make fun of it the first time around. The problem about education is much more complex than that, but I have to leave on a Pacific cruise to Tahiti, so why should I bother explaining?

    What's with you guys? Did you get some queer neoconservative pills in the water cooler some time ago? Did you kiss too much conservative ass and now have the results of flatulence overload on your faces/feces?

    Who cares, your paper sucks and you should just change the name. Here's an idea: how about The New York Neocon Press? Keep writing those Bush articles and you could change the masthead to The New York Neocon (we're really from Baltimore) Press. Keep up the crappy writing!

    Oh yeah, always include in every article the personal pronoun "I." That way articles don't have to be objective at all. Why bother?

    Louis Cigliano, Brooklyn

    Russ Smith replies: Quite a trick Cigliano has managed. He doesn't read New York Press anymore yet he's still able to criticize Taki's last column! I wish we had more nonreaders of the paper who follow our writers so closely. What a wonderful world it would be!

    Oh, He Will

    Russ Smith: I love it when you go after The New York Times. Could you flick your towel at Tina Brown just once more, for old times' sake?

    Judith Willms, Omaha

    A Cult Is Born

    Three cheers once again to Lionel Tiger ("Human Follies," 7/26). His call for a Biological Fabian Society is long overdue. If he has not already, he should familiarize himself with the synthetic philosophy of Herbert Spencer, a much maligned (when not downright neglected) figure. There are some who contend that Spencer coined the term "sociology" (somewhere around the 1860s/1870s), yet it is thoroughly grounded in his study of the natural sciences: human behavior as an outgrowth of animal behavior as an outgrowth of evolution. I'm sure Tiger's familiar with Edward O. Wilson's Sociobiology. Wilson would be a real contender for such a think tank. If Mr. Tiger is willing to translate his vision into action, I pledge my full support.

    Trav S.D., Brooklyn

    Lionel Gets a Lecture

    Re: Lionel Tiger's "Inner Environmentalism." Humans all share 99 percent of their genes, ergo there must be human nature? Huh? Did I miss a field trip or something? The existence of such massive cultural differences among human populations in spite of their overall genetic similarity is the best argument I've ever heard for deconstructionist thinking. However, I don't entirely disagree with the idea of core human nature. I imagine that if we look we may find something not unlike "deep structure" in linguistics: a shared framework, the basic hardware that runs psychological/ social/political software.

    You're right that the search for a central human nature may get a jump start from the human genome project?I just hope it doesn't swing the nature/nurture pendulum so far back that we end up in the 19th century.

    Aaron Shapiro, Boston

    Lionel Tiger replies: To the extent I understand his argument, it appears that Mr. Shapiro is saying that the cup is either 99 percent full or 1 percent empty. Being a thirsty lad, I take 99 percent full.


    Taki: Wow! Did you ever misread Natural Born Killers ("Top Drawer," 7/26). I thought it would be a bunch of useless violence. Got the message after watching it.

    Mike Papp, Glennie, MI

    True Fan

    If Everett True told me to jump off a bridge, I wouldn't do it. But I'd think about it for a second. Very pleased to see his reviews in your publication/website.

    Dave Foster, Manhattan

    No Justice

    Hey, I just got the 7/19 baseball issue. I could have contributed something: my grandfather Joe Judge is not in the Hall of Fame because of an article he wrote in a 1959 Sports Illustrated. The piece slammed the Hall, claiming that it let in "personalities" that didn't deserve to be there. They never let Gramps in. He played for the Senators from 1915-'32, hit over .300 nine years, led or tied the AL in fielding seven times, held the record for assists by a first baseman until 1955 and had the most profitable day given to a player at the time: $10,500 from fans on Joe Judge Day, June 28, 1930. That's also why I hate the Orioles. Oh, and he saved Walter Johnson's only no-hitter by knocking down a line drive for the last out.

    For anyone interested, I wrote a much fuller exploration of granddad's career in the Oct. 19, 1990, edition of the Washington City Paper. Sadly, the great first-sacker died in 1963, one year before I was born.

    Mark Gauvreau Judge, Potomac, MD

    Work It, Mama! Mm, Yeah

    Jill Morley has trouble with men ("First Person," 7/26)? I don't believe it. I saw her Off-Off-Broadway show. She's not a very convincing stripper. She doesn't have the required fake breasts, piercings and tattoos. She is a very convincing writer and performer. Anyone can see that. Even men.

    Barry Popik, Manhattan

    Norman's Extremism

    Charles Glass' column, "Stormin' Norman" ("Taki's Top Drawer," 7/26), reinforces John Strausbaugh's "Publishing" column called "The Holocost" (7/12) in supporting Norman Finkelstein's new book, The Holocaust Industry.

    Yes, there probably is a great deal of self-interest being served by the World Jewish Congress and other Jewish organizations involved in the recent spate of reparations negotiations. And attorneys do indeed seem to be benefiting in an unseemly way from their cut at the expense of the victims. That this rises to the level of extortion and other varieties of skullduggery as vehemently claimed by Finkelstein is far from clear.

    What is obvious, however, is that Finkelstein has made a career for himself in denigrating Jewish feelings and interests, regarding Israel and the Holocaust, in the most venomous and provocative ways possible. In his writings on the Middle East, Israel never does anything right, even when it came to defending itself in the 1967 war. Even on the day of Yitzhak Rabin's assassination, I recall, Finkelstein declared on WBAI radio that this martyr for peace was nothing more than the moderate face on a "racist" ideology.

    The case for the uniqueness of the Jewish Holocaust is not ironclad. The Rwandan genocide of Tutsis in 1994 is a close modern parallel. But what makes the Jewish experience in World War II different from most other instances of mass slaughter is that, to paraphrase Elie Wiesel, while there were many other victims of the Nazis, each and every Jew was intended to be a victim. This is the point of intersection with what happened to the Tutsis. Even the Nazi extermination of the Roma, or Gypsies, was not consistently followed as a policy in all countries under Nazi domination.

    If Finkelstein wanted to be constructive on this complicated and highly emotional issue, he would weigh in with the liberal and left elements within Israel and the organized Jewish community around the world, who argue against the hardline right-wing use of the Holocaust as a weapon against making concessions to the Arabs in the quest for peace. Instead of scorning Rabin, for example, he should have praised him (even if only faintly) for explicitly arguing that Israel and world Jewry need to transcend their sense of themselves as perpetual victims, and recognize that they have the power to be generous to former enemies. Yet Finkelstein's extreme anti-Zionism requires that he ignore all facts that counter his one-sided pronouncements.

    Ralph Seliger, Manhattan

    Smoke & Mirrors

    John Strausbaugh's editorial (7/19), arguing that the big jury verdict against tobacco "infantilizes" Americans, is all wrong, on its facts and in its values.

    Tobacco marketers, like drug pushers on the playground, targeted teenagers while concealing tobacco's addictiveness, and, indeed, spiking it to make it more so.

    Government, corrupted with campaign contributions, moves too slowly and inadequately against the reckless and greed-driven harm that corporations massively inflict. Our centuries-old tort law, like our civil liberties, is a birthright of Americans, part of the best legal system in history. That law enables the little guy to stand up to these rapacious corporate pirates, drag them screaming and kicking to justice, and maybe even financially extinguish those who so deserve. Abridging the individual's rights and powers to enhance centralized power is what is detestable about communism and fascism. Tort reform? Baloney!

    Ralph J. Temple, Ashland, OR

    John Strausbaugh replies: I wonder if Temple has ever been a smoker. I smoked for 30 years. Every smoker knows, every morning when they wake and "hack their lungs up," that it's hurting them. They've known for decades that in fact it was killing them. They smoke anyway. That's their right, and it's also their responsibility. When they get sick, some smokers try to shirk that responsibility and pretend they didn't know. That's baloney, Mr. Temple, and any smokers who don't admit it are lying to themselves, period. Blaming the tobacco companies is like drunk drivers blaming Anheuser-Busch for brewing that 10th beer, suing GM for making the car and asking for punitive damages against the highway commission for putting that curve in the road. At the same time, I agree, as I wrote, that if in fact the tobacco companies are dealing deadly drugs, then why won't the government act? Why not ban it, put them out of business and make criminals of the addicts, as it has with other illicit drugs? We could have a whole separate discussion about tort reform; Temple's vindictive and excitable description of the process is a good indicator of exactly how a basically useful system can go haywire and become nothing but an act of fiscal vigilantism that should, in my opinion, now be up for review.

    Now, On to the Fur Industry

    The tobacco industry is expert at "framing" issues to its benefit. So John Strausbaugh's outrage is focused on the Engle plaintiffs, rather than the defendants?even though the jurors' verdict was all about the industry's conduct, not the smokers.' The industry works hard to focus attention on the Engle verdict as "lawsuit abuse," and not as what it was?a shocked and purposefully shocking reaction to what they had learned of the industry's own outrageous conduct.

    Why Strausbaugh should dive headlong into an area he obviously knows nothing about is anybody's guess, but his is the typical tobacco-fed response to the Engle verdict among the ignorant.

    To put just a few things straight: The canned "We always knew" defense is simplistic and effective for the ignorant. In reality, tobacco was often considered healthy:

    ?The Indians used it for a wide variety of ailments for millennia.

    ?In the 1560s, France's envoy to Portugal, Jean Nicot, believed it to be a panacea, and sent it to Catherine DeMedici for her son's headaches.

    ?In 1571, Monardes wrote a treatise on it as an almost universal cure. He said Spanish doctors were using it to cure at least 36 maladies.

    ?In the 1600s in Europe, it was used to ward off the Black Death.

    ?In many cultures, it was considered great for asthma.

    ?Even today, "smokers' rights" groups accentuate the evidence that nicotine is good for certain brain functions, while denigrating the literature on its more adverse effects.

    For most of the last 400 years, as much as people joked about "coffin nails," there was no concrete, scientific evidence of tobacco's ills. Strausbaugh may as well have said people have always known tobacco would stunt your growth, or even that tobacco was good for you, since they heard this too.

    You wouldn't expect Strausbaugh to know these things, because industry propaganda?his apparently sole source of information?leaves them out. But back in reality, six ordinary citizen/jurors sat through two years of tobacco education, hearing information that New York Press readers would never have seen. The jurors heard of a massive, devious, ultimately devastating misinformation campaign, and saw secret documents that detailed that campaign, and showed what the industry knew internally. The industry had every opportunity to substantively explain the discrepancy between their activities and their knowledge. They failed. As has been their pattern, they now leap to attack their attackers?including the very foundation of our legal system, often through the funding of "tort reform" groups (they've already bought off the Legislative branch in our system of legalized bribery; now for the Executive and Judicial).

    And yet it's the jurors who spark New York Press' outrage! We've known of the industry's conduct for the last two years now. Yet in all that time, not a peep of outrage from New York Press. Well, this sort of regurgitation of the industry's line is typical for publications with tobacco ads. And Strausbaugh's received-knowledge reaction is only natural; after all, the industry's "it's their own fault" propaganda has been deluging the society for 40 years (the best time to present your argument to jurors is before they're even called).

    This is a deadly serious issue. Don't you think that before you write an editorial that parrots your advertisers' line so faithfully, you could look into the verdict a little? See what they saw? The verdict has brought attention, for those not blinded by propaganda, to what has really been happening in this country for the last 50 years, and its true impact will not be the money damages; it will be the education of the public, and, I hope, of unthinking tobacco propagandists like Strausbaugh.

    Gene Borio, Manhattan

    And You Haul

    MUGGER: How dare you be honest, factual and humorous? You must be one of "them." Must I remind you that there are thems and us? Us means well and good; thems mean bad. You bad.

    Robert Miers, Dallas

    Cokie's Audience Writes

    Gee, I was really pulling for MUGGER to be right in his certainty about Tom Ridge for veep so he could end his 0-for-287 punditry losing streak, but, sadly, it did not transpire. Does MUGGER ever win in any of those "death pools"? As to the pick of Dick Cheney... Heck, what do I care? I am amused, however, as I sit here watching Lynne Cheney with Cokie and observe Lynne's confidence that she will be able to confine her comments in this campaign to educational issues and avoid answering virtually all other questions of any kind. Good luck with that, Lynne!

    James Webster, Dobbs Ferry, NY

    Rather Be Fishin'

    MUGGER: I had my hopes when I first heard. I was dreaming of 16 years' worth of Republican White House dominance. But, now, considering, I wouldn't be surprised if Dan Rather was lying when he "scooped" that Colin Powell was a serious contender. Just like Clinton's reputed explosion on the grand jury tapes. Suggest Powell?raise expectations among Republicans?so that anyone else seems a disappointment.

    Rather is a partisan who is probably terrified at the possibility that the Repubs might win another election. Ye gads, what did we ever do as a nation to deserve such malignant, meddling, media mavens?

    David Ferguson, Baltimore

    Soup Bones

    I'm not surprised that there weren't many companies trolling the so-called hacker convention looking to recruit people ("New York City," 7/26). The main people who would be interested in hiring "crackers," as they should be called, are the feds. The only thing those guys are likely to be useful for is security issues, and that's not a prime concern for most companies. Put it this way: it's part of defense, not offense.

    In order to be useful to a company, you need specialized knowledge. Most laymen think that if you're "good with computers," computer companies will be rushing to hire you. That is nonsense. There is a lot of specialization within the field, and people usually don't know a whole lot about areas outside their specialization. Knowing how to break into computer systems and how to rip off the phone company are worthless skills to companies that are trying to develop products or software for their customers.

    The other problem with hiring these geeks is that they are usually immature and untrustworthy. People outside of the Democratic White House are very wary of hiring someone who has a history of sleaze, even if they seem to be pretty smart. And I would dispute Alan Cabal's assertion that these people "happen to be the brightest and the best when it comes to working with computer systems." There are a lot of really smart guys in computer science, and they're not going to waste their time breaking into computers when they could be a technical lead somewhere, with all the toys they want, for $120,000 a year. Get real.

    Joe Rodrigue, New Haven


    Alan Cabal: The whistling blind guy you mentioned ("New York City," 7/26) legally changed his name to Joybubbles and now resides in Minneapolis. There was an interview with him in the Minneapolis Star Tribune around nine years ago. Anyway, his name is in the phonebook, or was at least as of a few years ago when I mentioned him to someone who then immediately called him up on the spot. They spoke for a few minutes, but Joybubbles had to go as it was Sunday morning and he was on the other line listening to the Sunday paper being read to him (blind perk). 

    Jeffrey J. Houchins, Minneapolis

    See Cover

    I very much appreciated the article written by Alan Cabal about hackers and H2K ("New York City," 7/26). It's the only article that I've seen recently that's been of any interest to me. He did a very good job of describing the hacker community, without destroying its whole reputation. It was well thought out and highly respectable. So I thank you for the article "Keeping HOPE Alive." I hope to see more work from him in the future!

    Name Withheld, Manhattan

    Mr. Peabody Writes

    If you could go back in time, would you rather kill Hitler or see the dinosaurs? I know Hitler was an evil man who killed millions, and there are many who would say, "Kill Hitler! Forget the dinosaurs!" But, never having seen dinosaurs, I can't. What if they were simply so huge and mighty that, compared to seeing them, Hitler's crimes would seem unimportant? No man has ever seen a living dinosaur, so we can't say it couldn't happen.

    Killing Hitler would change history, and would certainly make the people he would have killed very happy. But then again it might have unforseeable consequences, a nuclear war that would wipe out the whole human race, to give one example.

    On the other hand, just looking at dinosaurs wouldn't change anything at all. Unless you stepped on a fern that subsequently became extinct and humankind never evolved, or something.

    I have no great love for Adolph Hitler. But, given the choice, I think I would rather catch a glimpse of those mysterious prehistoric beasts, than kill him.

    Fortunately, since there is no such a thing as a time machine, humankind has never had to confront this thorny problem. Even if one were invented, it could probably be used more than once, so the question would be moot.

    But who can be sure?

    Tom Gallagher, Elizabeth, NJ

    Nuff Said

    I hope you're going to devote a few words, very few, to James Traub's "unbiased" take on Lazio's weak character in the 7/30 Sunday Times Magazine, ignoring the fact that the sinister Mrs. Clinton has no character at all.

    Jim Lehan, Manhattan

    Sixer vs. Spliff

    RE: Russ Smith's 7/26 editorial ("'Objectivity' at the Times") quoting the Times' 7/24 editorial. How can we be sure which of the presidential candidates is the student body president and which is the slacker? Aren't they interchangeable, based on attire and demeanor?

    Also, on the 7/27 Today show, amiable Matt Lauer asked vice-presidential hopeful Dick Cheney his opinion of the federal court's ruling on the Napster issue. Cheney admitted that he was totally unaware of any Napster issue. Lauer changed the subject. The writers on The Tonight Show, noting Cheney's history of health problems, said that if Bush were elected, Cheney would be "just an irregular heartbeat away from the presidency."

    I rest my case.

    Stuart Taubel, Manhattan

    His Pleasure

    Russ Smith: I'm wondering whether the media is dropping all pretense at being "objective." The last op-ed piece by Ms. Dowd was especially shrill. Also, my copy of the 7/31 Newsweek, which I just received, seemed to go after the Republicans and Bush in no uncertain terms. (See Jane Bryant Quinn's analysis on estate taxes, for example, not to mention Jonathan Alter's idiotic piece on Bush and Gore.) I believe that Rush Limbaugh also touched this subject.

    I'd appreciate some comments in your next article on whether this is, in fact, true?that as far as the mainstream media is concerned, the gloves are off. (Jeff Jacoby?) If it is true, what has changed?

    By the way, your articles are great. They are a sanity check for me.

    David M. Schneider, Spring, TX

    Not Far from Goose Prairie

    MUGGER: As a former newspaper publisher, I find your columns fascinating and look forward to reading them. It's neat that you do such a fantastic job when you take on The New York Times.

    I worked for several different newspaper groups during my 46 years and four months in the business. My last stint was for the Seattle Times; I was there when they purchased the Yakima Herald-Republic in 1992. Their instructions made me "a born-again publisher." I was informed that it was my newspaper and that editorial decisions would be made in Yakima, not Seattle. We were moderately conservative, while I think it's safe to say the Times was leaning toward the liberal side. Never once in four years did they imply, suggest or fret about our editorials. I'm sure they were taken aback when they learned we had endorsed George Nethercutt, who defeated Speaker of the House Tom Foley, for the congressional position in Eastern Washington. We were the only medium-to-large daily paper in Washington state not to endorse Foley.

    Keep up the good work. I also enjoy the variety and spice you sprinkle throughout your column.

    James E. Barnhill, Yakima, WA (as we like to say, the real Washington!)

    Beware the Fannie Pack

    Peter Eavis, much like his associate Jim Griffin from, manages to touch on pertinent subjects without having an inkling about the core system of beliefs ("Opinion," 7/26). Just because Grant had blown his calls doesn't mean that other Austrian School economists, like Dr. Jim Walker at Credit Lyonnaise, can't be right on target in their predictions.

    The sites that are usually much more succinct on the subject are and Even the muddling lefty Jim Griffin had posted a very interesting article on the aforementioned two weeks ago, quoting famed financial theorist Hyram Minsky amid the warnings about the overextended economies.

    What is happening right now isn't just a boring economic dissertation, however. Something much more sinister may be at hand. In summary, while the Fed is trying to drain liquidity out of the market by hiking up the interest rates, Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae have been acting to subvert it by buying outstanding mortgages at a frenzied pace. So much so, in fact, that the money supply had hardly subsided and consumer debt is at all time high. So are the valuations.

    Whenever the slowdown may occur, it won't happen before the elections. The Treasury will see to that. After the elections though... Do you remember what happened in Mexico after Zedillo won in the mid 90s? It could happen here as well.

    Dan Leo, Hollywood Hills, CA

    Actually, We Mostly Avoid the Place

    Well, another plane crash. I, for one, have grown tired of seeing news commentators and other personalities taking personal umbrage at what they make out to be a quasi-tragedy of soulful (and doleful) proportions. I know that Americans are now very good at living vicariously, but must we continue to listen to the varied likes of people as disparate (or not) as Katie Couric, Matt Lauer and their ilk proclaiming their near-personal hysteria over this simple plane crash? If so, why? As far as I know, in the big picture, it affected, perhaps, 200 people all told. Why must we, as outside observers, have the crunching burden of this occurrence thrust in our faces for days?with endless angles, redundant reports, investigative histories, interpretations and on-scene eyewitness blather? To have to listen to adjective-laden prose of "the near-atomic force explosion of the engines" is pure hyperbole. What do they know of anything, anyway? The real atomic force here is the trite relieving of pressure from the gases of their own rhetoric as newsmakers pumping a story. I'm tired of it.

    Now, on to the important stuff: Russ Smith's editorial was perfectly on the money ("'Objectivity' at the Times," 7/26). A nicely done and aptly put effort. The odd thing is, the more they do this stuff, the more the editors at the Times seem to think that no one notices or catches what they're doing. The offshoot of that, of course, would be?why do it? The Timesmen, alas, cannot carry a thought that far.

    Also, Andrey Slivka's "Profanity-Free Baseball: An Atlantic League Notebook" (7/19) was interesting. It seems cool how you guys, Alan Cabal included, keep ending up with articles that somehow encompass New Jersey as wonderland or, at least, somewhere to wish to go. Firstly, I think you apparently left out the New Jersey Tpk., for that is what takes one from the mid-town exiting toward Woodbridge/Perth Amboy. Secondly, the Joisey Shore ain't nothing to really get fired about. It's a slugfest amphitheater for reflected images of Jersey self-hood, nothing more. It's not worth the froth it takes to get there.

    The Somerset Baseball Stadium, notwithstanding its homoerotic baseball played within, still roils the veteran locals. It's an obscene intruder on a landscape and area already overdosed with consumption-oriented scum and antsy newcomers seeking suburban paradise?which they then define as shopping. It should be (a) dismantled, (b) burned posthaste. It does nothing for the area it's in except, as you portrayed, allow the jerks and yuppie geezers to do their thing in a circus-family format while exhausting their appetite for secondary sport. New Jersey is mired in the same deficiencies the rest of the nation is in, only worse and more concentrated. You guys seem to like that. We're dying to leave it. Why, then, have we become your stage for pleasure? Could it be jaded New Yorkers need the yokels to portray as the butt of all their jokes? If that's so, may the Jersey Devil, Somerset Division, take you.

    Gary Introne, Metuchen, NJ

    Hillary's Loose Lips

    In "Rupert's Hillary" ("Taki's Top Drawer," 7/26), George Szamuely writes that the assertions made of Hillary's alleged slur calling Mr. Fray a "FJB" "are not exactly resonant with credibility, but then neither are Hillary's denials." However, if you look at the history of racial, ethnic and cultural slurs made by the Clintons, I would sooner err on the side of Mr. Fray.

    Before she became first lady she attacked another first lady, Tammy Wynette, the "first lady of country music," on 60 Minutes when she said, in 1992, "I am not sitting here as some little woman standing by my man like Tammy Wynette." On nationwide television, she publicly denigrated the singer's lifestyle to defend candidate Clinton's affair with Gennifer Flowers. But worse than that, we later found out she was lying; indeed, she did stand by her sexually obsessed husband and allowed him to walk all over her, playing the role of a victim.

    Some of the most adamant antiprejudice people are also the biggest bigots. There is a litany of Clinton associates who have fallen on the sword for them, by public humiliation or by resignation, because of improprieties, all used, abused and by coincidence, most from minority groups. Tossed aside like a used kleenex are: Bernie Nussbaum, Josh Steiner, Maggie Williams, Lani Guinier, Hazel O'Leary, Joycelyn Elders, Dick Morris and of course, Monica Lewinsky. And how demeaning for Betty Currie and Vernon Jordan to be used as personal lackeys.

    Christopher Caldwell writes in "HRC & FJB" ("Hill of Beans," 7/26) that the reason the incident probably didn't happen is that Paul Fray, the campaign worker who claims Hillary addressed the slur at him, isn't Jewish. Sometimes the "Jew" is used as a pejorative against one who has taken advantage of another in a deal, just as the word "Catholic" is used for someone who is conventional. It may have nothing at all to do with the percentage of genetic material in his DNA. Used in this context, it may not have been anti-Semitic, but it was a poor choice of words.

    Before jury selection in the Diallo case, Hillary referred to the actions of the four police officers as "murder" and later apologized. As a lawyer she should be aware of the nuances of words. Apparently, she shows the same disrespect for the English language as she does for people. Do we want this as a senator?

    Della Reiman, Manhattan

    Father Hood

    Just finished Alexander Cockburn's article on why "Gore Can't Be Trusted" ("Wild Justice," 7/12). While not a Gore fan, one sentence in the article bothered me as I thought it was a cheap shot. "The first duty of a father standing on the sidewalk is to make sure his child doesn't run into traffic, though why exactly Albert III should have elected to tear himself free from his dad (if indeed his dad was actually holding his hand) and run across a busy highway is another question one can ponder." I am not, repeat: am not, disputing that the first duty of a father is to make sure that his child doesn't run into traffic, nor am I questioning the supposition on Mr. Cockburn's part that the father in question may indeed not have been holding his child's hand. What I thought was cheap was this apparent speculation on why the child would "tear himself free from his dad...and run across a busy highway is another question one can at least ponder." Why ponder this? The child is six years old, according to the article?extremely young, distractable and inexperienced. The tone of this particular sentence seemed to me at least to imply something more sinister when all that was apparently going on was the innocence and foolishness of a child.

    Name Withheld, Peekskill, NY

    He's Not a Confederacy Buff

    In Norman Kelley's otherwise fine editorial, "Black Politics in the Age of Clinton" ("Opinion," 7/19), I found a small, media-driven, universally pervasive error. The Confederate flag everyone is in such a huff over is NOT the Stars and Bars. It is the Southern Cross. The Stars and Bars was the first CSA national flag, later abandoned because of its similarity to the Stars and Stripes. The CSA had three (or four, depending upon which historian you listen to) national flags in its brief life.

    Jeff Soroka, Los Angeles

    Mildred Pierces

    Taki is still tacky and completely wrong about Henry Kissinger, Vietnam and the whole nine yards. And how he loves to drop names! Yuck!

    Mildred Perry Miller, Chattanooga

    Let's Not Go into That Again

    I wish you had kept the former paper style, similar to The New York Times, Herald Tribune, etc. I think it set you apart from the Village Voice and similar radical papers.

    Nevertheless, I enjoy your articles.

    Frank Higbie, Bound Brook, NJ

    Lighten Up, Pasta Boy

    In your 7/19 issue, on p. 42, the capsule review of Babbo contains an ethnic slur that must be brought to your attention. Your reviewer states "...proof that a man could eat dago for the rest of his life and want for nothing." (Emphasis added.) The gross insensitivity of using that word is not only politically incorrect, it is blatantly stupid. I looked in the other reviewed ethnic restaurants thinking that I would see a comparably disgusting ethnic slur. Nothing. It seems we have a double standard going here. One can be cleverly smartassed in reviewing anything but being pointedly cruel and stupid is totally unacceptable. Words do hurt and offend, especially when one group is singled out as your restaurant reviewer did. We will never learn, will we?

    John Fontana Jr., Huntington, NY

    Turned Off

    Taki: Every Tuesday I go to your "Top Drawer" to get my weekly fix! You say it exactly how it is! Last year I was playing piano on a cruise ship for four months at the time of the Kosovo war. Every night I would hear from CNN and the likes of Amanpour how 100,000, maybe 200,000 Albanians had been massacred by the Serbs and how righteous the retaliatory NATO war was against Milosevic. We were shown pictures of the holocaust ad nauseam to compare. Later, when I got off the ship and onto the Internet, I discovered that perhaps 2000 Albanians had been killed. That did it: I canceled all cable and have watched tv maybe three hours in the last year. I sent e-mails to people like CNN president Rick Kaplan and all the other garbage like Jennings and Brokaw and told them. Hopefully, a few million others did the same. This last year I have read about 30 books.

    You are absolutely right: turn off that ugly toad that sits in the living room or wherever and let the advertisers know.

    I have read you for years, Taki, ever since the "High Life" days in The Spectator.

    Peter James, Los Angeles