Drooling on the Pillow

Friday, April 15, 2005

Oh, No, Dr. Bill! 

According to the New York Times, Bill Frist has "agreed to join a handful of prominent Christian conservatives in a telecast portraying Democrats as "against people of faith" for blocking President Bush's nominees."


Keeping in mind that this is, after all, the Times reporting and that we have to keep our eyes open for a more positive coloring of this event, if the story bears much correlation to reality then I'll have to join others who have condemned this move.

I'm perfectly well aware that this is a tried and true strategy of the Democrats who are comfortable condemning Republican policy as "racist" or "anti-woman" if factions of blacks or females oppose it (for political reasons). I think Senator Frist should consider the possibility that the Republicans are the majority party because the technique is associated primarily with the opposition. We do have a bigger tent, but some of the flaps are fraying and need more attention than does the Christian right.

I'm absolutely okay with the nuclear option as a last option. The Dem's strategy with regard to judicial nominations, I believe, is phoney, unconstitutional and, ultimately, self-defeating. I'd like to preserve the filibuster as long as Democratic abuse doesn't leave us with a choice between it and majority rule. If that's the case, by all means, overboard it goes.

Just to be clear, I'm not sure Frist and DeLay are wrong about this. There may well be anti-Christian bias animating some of the opposition to some of the judicial nominees. But I think that pretty much speaks for itself. I just think the issue is simpler than that and the right of the president to get a vote on his nominees whether they're Christians, Jews, Muslims or Wiccans is the essential point and DeLay and now Frist are wrong to make defense of the faith a policy issue.

We're right on the issues. Let's not mess with it.

Links from Instapundit.

Glass Half Full 

The Daily News went one for two today.

On a positive note they gave their readers a heads up to expect more Britny Spears more of the time now that she's spawning.

On the down side they put the odds for the American Idol competitors on the sports page.

Come to think of it, that glass is not nearly half full.

Thursday, April 14, 2005

Jersey City Business Curfew 

Tris McCall has a long, intelligent look at JC on Lockdown. I haven't seen much on the idiotic business curfew since it went into effect. City officials should be having to answer questions constantly about which is taking the bigger hit, the crime rate or local businesses.

UPDATE: The link to Tris McCall's piece seems to have gone awry. I'll see if I can fix it.

UPUP: Tris has fixed it.
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His Serene Majesty, Sluggo I 

The things you find out after sixteen years of marriage.

We were watching the news last night and after a story about Jordan, the Goddess observed that she and Queen Noor, the widow of King Hussein, were pals in high school.

"You mean you knew her?"

"No, we were close friends."

I would have called her a liar, but I seemed to recall her mentioning something about it years ago. Besides, I hate sleeping downstairs.

It didn't make me happy, though. I started to catalog my brushes with greatness.

I was a tackling dummy for Art Thoms in high school.

Thinking . . . thinking . . . thinking

I lived next door to Rachel Carson as a kid. Not something to brag about.


I played Will Parker to Larry Drake's Jud in a production of Oklahoma! in Little Rock.

Starting to feel pathetic.


Not thinking of anything good.

Not thinking at all.

I speak.

"That's cool, honey."

Wednesday, April 13, 2005

Get Your Popcorn and Jujubes 

Steve Kornacki's account of the wheeling and dealing surrounding the upcoming Jersey City mayoral election and the state senate and assembly seat competition has more plot than a season of West Wing and 24 combined.

He offers this as a summation of the game as it's played in this county:

"The toes you're stepping on today," Vincent A. "Buddy"
Cianci Jr., the former mayor of Providence who is now
serving time in a federal prison in New Jersey, once
cautioned, "may be connected to the [rear end] you
have to kiss tomorrow."
What makes the story line somewhat Shakespearian is the way the death of Mayor Glenn Cunningham set all the carefully arranged deals and expectations of the players spinning. Allies are enemies, new faces emerge and old plot lines are doggedly pursued in the teeth of new realities. Tragedy, comedy, pathos, catharsis and farce. Folks, we've got it all.

The thing that makes New Jersey politics such a spectator sport is that what would in another state be backroom deals and secret cabals are carried out more or less in the open, as if it were, in fact, a movie. Just as you know if the heroine's best friend sleeps with the football star the monster will get her, you know Lou Manzo is going to run for mayor.

I'm a novice at this, but even I know if you're going to check out the creepy sounds in the basement with a flashlight, you better bring extra batteries.

Breathing a Wee Bit Easier 

Yes I'm glad they indicted these guys since they were allegedly trying to blow up my building. I'll be even gladder to get they heck out of here when we move our office in January. For the past few years it's not been hard to imagine a big target target on it. The security was intense last year when they raised the threat level to 'high' because of this plot, but it's still the hardest building in New York to get into and out of.

Part of it is an elevator system where each elevator has an upper and lower chamber. How it works in practice is a client comes in the street level and is told he has to go to the lower level to access even numbered floors (us). At the lower level he's told he has to go upstairs to have his picture taken and to call us to verify he's expected. That can take fifteen minutes. Then he has to go back down to the lower level to get in the elevator. From the time the lobby calls us to tell us a client is here to when he walks in the door is not uncommonly a half an hour. And they walk through the door angry.

Combine that with more automatic weapons than a Jerry Bruckheimer movie and you have a less than ideal business climate.

Tuesday, April 12, 2005

Blue Blood 

I've been enjoying reading Blue Blood, an engaging memoir of a cop's life by Edward Conlon. Here, he's talking about the importance of listening as opposed to believing:
When a robbery victim told Angel, Osvaldo [his partners]
and me that three white men in white suits broke into her
apartment, locked her in the bathroom, and made off with
her cigarettes, I felt I had to question her further before I
put out an APB for the Bee Gees.

Sgt. Moore Comes Home 

This article by Greg Moore, a soldier returning home to Saranac Lake, NY, was featured in the WSJ today, but I'm linking to its origin in The American Enterprise.

Grab a hankie. It's remarkably moving.


I'm not real Jersey City. I moved here going on twenty years ago. I gave up an apartment in Washington Heights because I thought I was getting a job that would have me out west for a year or two. The job disappeared with the theatre and when I started looking around for a new place to live I could find nothing I could afford. I decided to return to my roots in New Jersey and lived on a nice block up around St. Peters College for five or six years which suddenly started going south. About that time the Goddess joined me. After I was held up at gunpoint the second time on my block we moved downtown and had a great deal for five or six years. Then real estate prices went nutty, the building was sold and I was offered a lease for about twice what we had been paying. So we bought a house in the Heights.

But I'm not real Jersey City. As opposed to the Goddess, I am real Jersey, but, even after more than 15 years, my Jersey City cred is minimal.

I'm always amazed at how interconnected the cultures are here. The people who grew up here in the second largest city in New Jersey all know each other. Across class, race, religious, cultural and political lines everybody knows everybody. If I need to have a word with someone in city hall, or need to find out who I need to have a word with, I talk to our real estate lady, Brigit, who is as Jersey City as it gets. There was an old stoop-sitting Puerto Rican guy next door when we lived downtown who was an encyclopedia of the Frank Hague era. He'd lived in the same building since the '30s and had done his share of numbers running. He knew a lot more about the Irish mob, the Jewish mob or the Italian mob than he did about Spanish gangs.

Here's a little cultural curlicue that had gotten completely past me. I read this morning in The Hudson Reporter (Union City) that for at least the past 20 to 30 years Jersey City has had the nickname "Chilltown." No one really knows why, though it probably has something to do with the early days of Rap. While it lacks the specificity of "Beantown" or "Chi-town" or the casual grandiosity of "The Big Apple" or "The Big Easy", its ambiguity expresses something real about this city. It can be a cold place, a rough place, but its not as hard or neurotic as the jungle across the river.

Monday, April 11, 2005

Who Says the Times Doesn't Have a Sense of Humor? 

Two items, side by side on page A14 in the Times today, illustrate the heart-break of self-delusion.

One is a photo essay of the freak show outside the Michael Jackson trial. The most striking is a shot of B.J. Hickman, an eighteen year old young man who quit high school in Tennessee so he could "show support" for Jackson. He's a chubby fellow with a gambler's hat and a Superman t-shirt sitting on some step stools with a "We've had Enough! Michael is Innocent!" sign. He has what looks in the paper like credentials strung around his neck, which is a little disturbing, but if you go to this page on the Times' site, go to the bottom and click the Slide Show button, you can see it's just a picture of Michael in full Ruritania regalia.

Immediately to the right is a story about John Kerry speaking to the League of Women Voters of Massachusetts complaining about the trickery that foiled voters in the recent election.
"Last year, too many people were denied their right to
vote; too many who tried to vote were intimidated," Mr.
Kerry said at an event sponsored by the League of
Women Voters of Massachusetts.

He cited examples of trickery. "Leaflets are handed out
saying Democrats vote on Wednesday, Republicans vote
on Tuesday," Mr. Kerry said. "People are told in telephone
calls that if you've ever had a parking ticket, you're not
allowed to vote."
More evidence of the bullet we dodged last November.

UPDATE: As Tim Blair says: "No wonder Kerry is upset. Those tactics were clearly designed to reduce the stupid vote."

One Step Forward . . . 

Mark Feffer at PropertyTaxNJ links to a story at NJ.com showing that Acting Governor Codey's proposed cut of 500 public sector jobs will be amply compensated by 700 new jobs associated with his proposed new programs. The net benefit for New Jersey voters is 200 new jobs available for future budget cutting.

More good news. ". . . the Assembly heard state pension officials say that the cost of pension benefits for state employees will triple over the next four years, to account for more than 20 percent of New Jersey's budget.

Full Force and Credit 

The kerfuffle surrounding President Bush's remarks last week at the Bureau of Public Debt illustrate perfectly the definition of 'gaffe' as 'telling a truth no one wants to hear.' The Times editorialized thunderously and if you Google "bush iou" you'll find newspaper after blog after media outlet trying to make the case that Bush was 'disavowing' the debt and that the financial world was trembling over his rash and inappropriate words.

This is the phoniest of ginned up scandals and the reaction indicates that he's struck a nerve and ought to go right on mining it.

For the adults in the room, Bush has neither the power nor the intention of disavowing any debt. The notion is absurd on the face of it. He was merely pointing out a simple, plain truth. Too many people believe their FICA taxes go into a vault somewhere awaiting their retirement. Isn't it important for people to understand that they're going to have to raise our taxes to pay us off?

Emily Kerner of Belvedere, California, says in a letter to the Times today:
[Your] editorial states that "casting aspersions on a
basic obligation of the United States government is
insulting and irresponsible." Sad to say, President
Bush has in fact shown himself to be just that: insulting
and irresponsible. When I think of the next four years
with this president and this administration at the helm,
it certainly doesn't fill me with equanimity.
Perhaps because she's already full of something else. Calling something by its name is not an aspersion.

If I give you an IOU, you have an asset whose value is the amount of the IOU and your estimation of my ability to pay. If I give myself an IOU I have a memo. Since I'm backed with "the full force and credit" of the U.S. government, I can be confident that it will be paid. It's still not my money.

Sunday, April 10, 2005

Ponch and Jon 

Yesterday Lane got a residual check for an episode of CHiPs she did back in 1981. These come in every month or so as she did a lot of television back in the '80s. The best thing she did back then was Roots where she played Brad Davis' wife. They were the only nice white people on the show. Put all the checks together for the last five years, though, and they wouldn't get us to Aruba. Barely to Atlantic City. This one was for $12.17.

My residuals are the stories she tells about the shows I watched and the actors who were hot a million years ago. Every time she gets a check for CHiPs I'm reminded that the trousers for the stars were never tight enough for the producers. By the time she was on the show they were being sewn into them for the shoots. I enjoy picturing Eric Estrada being lifted by a couple of large Teamsters and the motorcycle being wheeled under him. They actually hired guys for that.
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