Thursday, August 01, 2002

america isn't the andy griffith show

skippy was pleased to find this editorial in the atlanta constitution (the paper, not the legal document). what was pleasing was that it argued against the ill-advised tips program, that mr. bush wanted to use to pit americans spying on americans. but what was most pleasing about this editorial was that it was written not by a pundit or talking head or think tank minion, but by a regular guy, a normal american, a delivery man.

mr. traylor speaks of being bothered that "those charged with defending our freedom would so cavalierly foster such an atmosphere of fear and suspicion." he, very cleverly, i may add, likens john ashcroft's attempt to deputize americans in the war against terror to "deputy sheriff barney fife," of the andy griffith show. he writes, "if there was even a hint of crime or danger in mayberry, the ever vigilant barney was eager to spring into action, lay a dragnet around the city, form a posse and deputize everyone from otis the town drunk to floyd the barber." [editor's note: floyd was our favorite!] "always on the ready, barney would pull out his lone bullet, chamber it into his side arm and inevitably fire it into the ground, barely missing his own foot."

finally, mr. butch traylor, a ups delivery guy, no pundit, no constitutional scholar, no big-bucked corporate talking news head, makes such a clear and beautiful point: "part of being free in america is knowing that the people who live and work in your neighborhood are not reporting on your activities. to surrender that freedom is to give a victory to the terrorists..."

this, friends, is what america is really about.

mr. traylor astutely points out that "the same people who last summer thwarted an fib field office investigation of zacarias moussaoui, the alleged 20th hijacker in the Sept. 11 attack, want to enlist every goober who installs phone lines or delivers pizza to be the next ace ventura terrorist detective."

happy ending for kidnapped girls, lousy ratings for cable news

we are so happy to report that those two mojave desert teenage girls kidnapped at gun point this morning are free and safe. the daily news reports that man who abducted tamara brooks, 16, and jacqueline marris, 17 "was shot and killed thursday after a shootout in neighboring kern county."

thank goodness, this kidnapping had a happy ending (except, of course, for the guy who got shot, but he knew the job was dangerous when he took it). but all morning long the screeching heads on cable news were talking about another "child" kidnapping. now, not to make light of the poor girls' ordeal, but they were in no way able to be considered "children." for cryin' in the sink, they were old enough to drive, and jacqueline could even join the armed services, if she wanted to!

this brings up a good point made by michelle cottle in the new republic on line. ms. cottle likens this summer's plethora of child abduction news stories to last summer's shark attacks. always looking for explotative headlines, the news networks have latched onto these families' tragedies to get your attention.

"the national center for missing and exploited children estimates that," ms. cottle explains, "even in a non-epidemic year, 100 children nationwide are abducted and either murdered, held for ransom, or simply never returned." so, without sounding grim or flip about this terrible phenomenon, this summer doesn't seem to be any worse (perhaps even better) than the norm.

so why are we constantly watching parents give press conferences? well, for the parents, we would imagine it's one possible way to keep hope alive, and perhaps to reach out to somebody that knows something about their poor abducted child. but don't kid yourselves, folks, for the cable news networks, it's a whole nother issue. ms. cottle opines:

"don't talk to me about the media's duty to 'inform the public.' The public didn't need to watch little samantha's funeral 'live ... in its entirety' on cnn. the public didn't need to listen to larry king bloviate about this topic night after night...with celebrity hack dominick dunne. It's fine to alert the public when a child is missing or there's a serial killer on the loose in the neighborhood, but that's largely a job for local news. what larry king, bill o'reilly, and the rest are doing is something else entirely: It's sensationalizing other people's tragedy."

we couldn't agree more. and while we hope that all child abduction cases are resolved happily, we think there's some dignity to be had by not exploiting the news. sheesh, if worse came to worse, let's hear about those stupid shark attacks instead.

perhaps possible progress in the anthrax case, maybe

the fbi seems to appear to be making some possible progress perhaps in the anthrax case maybe. at least, they are looking at a man as a possible suspect. well, not really, but they're back at his house looking around again. that's progress, isn't it? cbsnews is reporting that the feds are searching through the garbage cans outside of, as well as the inside of stephen hatfill's apartment. again. and, while hatfill is not really a suspect, he's "the chief guy we're looking at" according to law enforcement sources. cbs goes on to say "the sources were careful not to use the word suspect, but said they were 'zeroing in on this guy' and that he is 'the focus of the investigation'." zeroing in? yeah, that's progress, sure!

meanwhile, fox news reports that mr. hatfill "worked for two years for the army medical research institute of infectious diseases, center of the nation's biological warfare defense research." ick! and the foxnews report says that "hatfill...commissioned a study of a hypothetical anthrax attack in february 1999."

not a smoking test tube, to be sure, but still, it makes one wonder.




more trouble for the man who would be governor

poor bill simon can't get a break if he sold his stock options for one! this story in the san francisco chronicle tells of a recent court judgement against mr. simon's company in a fraud liability case. apparently paul hindelang's phone company pacific coin was seized by banks after a risky public offering, so he sued william e. simon & sons, who had taken over controlling interest of the firm.

"a los angeles superior court jury awarded hindelang $22.2 million in general damages tuesday," the story says. "on wednesday, jurors added $65 million in punitive damages." this decision against mr. simon's business cannot be good for his candidacy, especially when he's running on the platform of being a "successful business man." this doesn't sound so successful to us.

the chronicle story postulates that "the decision puts a spotlight on simon's financial dealings," as well as "a series of damaging stories [that] has raised questions about simon's corporate background and personal finances, including the candidate's income taxes."

mr. simon "called the decision 'fundamentally flawed,' saying hindelang was a convicted drug dealer"

the story goes on: "the lawsuit by hindelang claimed that simon and other investors destroyed his company by misleading him -- suggesting that they would abide by his conservative business plan, while secretly racking up debt with an aggressive strategy to maximize profits for a public offering." hm, sound familiar, anyone?

due to technical difficulties

skippy is forced to come to this web site. we are unsure why the original skippy site is no longer publishing. our emails to blogger go unanswered (oh well, what do you expect for free?) until then, please direct your browsers to this site. hopefully can fix the problem before long.

the staff at skippy

we didn't make a profit so it doesn't count

while congress decries the "unpatriotic" use of off-shore tax havens, the new york daily news reports that harken energy set up an off-shore subsidiary while mr. bush was on the board of directors. "harken registered harken bahrain oil co. on sept. 1, 1989, according to cayman islands government documents," the article states. but in defense of our beleaguered president, "a spokesman for bush said the offshore company did not save any taxes because it failed to find oil or make a profit." well, then i guess that's all right, then!

a big skippy thanks and tip of the kangaroo hat to the note at abcnews.com for the link to this story!

will wonders never cease

skippy is wondering if this is a sign of the coming apocalypse, but here is a commentary by phyllis schlafly that we agree with. its seems that ms. schlafly is as opposed to operation tips as we are, and for much the same reasons.

"operation tips calls on americans...to monitor and report 'suspicious' activities to a central reporting center," ms. schlafly writes. "you can bet that all those 'suspicious' activities will be entered on a national database available to the prying eyes of federal bureaucrats." we were waiting for another reference to big brother and 1984, but instead found this well-articulated arguement: "if u.s. troops are to defend us against terrorists, they should be used to prevent suspicious aliens from coming across our borders, not for police work against u.s. citizens. gen. ralph e. eberhart...said we should review the posse comitatus act of 1878 'if we think it ties our hands.' but tying the hands of the military over civilians is what posse comitatus is supposed to do."

skippy agrees with ms. schlafly's commentary so much, he's beginning to wonder if he should become a stay at home mom.

you'll be sleeping with the fishes, or at least scott hamilton

in a development that shows just what a rank amateur tonya harding was, the associated press is reporting that the russian mob was behind the skating judge gold medal scandal in the last winter olympics.

"an alleged russian crime boss was arrested in italy on u.s. charges he tried to fix the ice dancing competition at the 2002 olympics," the report says. and this report from cnn, says "[alimzan] tokhtakhounov is accused of brokering a deal in which [the russian skaters] would be awarded the gold medal in the pairs competition in return for a french pair...winning the gold in ice dancing."

the cnn report says that the canadian skaters who originally lost the gold, much to the world's dismay stated that "they were not surprised by charges that their competition...in salt lake city was fixed."

we at skippy are crest-fallen that the olympics are no longer pure. next you'll be telling us the atheletes use steroids!

plugging the holes

united press international reports that our favorite republican senator, john mccain, introduced his own legislation to "close major gaps in the federal firearms background check system that in a 30-month period allowed some 10,000 felons and others prohibited from gun ownership to obtain weapons." apparently the nation's data bases are in terrible shape, allowing people guilty of numerous crimes to slip through the cracks and get guns. theoretically, this bill by sen. mccain will put some caulk into those cracks. "on the issue of domestic violence," the report quotes mccain as saying, "twenty states lack a database for either domestic violence misdemeanants or temporary restraining orders or both."

once again skippy is reminded that, if al gore really wants to win in '04, he should name mccain as his running mate...just a thought!

put it all on 22 black, uh, i mean, worldcom!

harley sorenson of the san francisco chronicle writes a pretty entertaining essay comparing the stock market to las vegas. "from what I've seen, the stock market is the world's biggest casino," he says. "its most salient feature is that it provides off-track betting. all you need to place a bet in the market is a telephone or a mouse."

that's not bad enough, he goes on, but the so-called media "experts" telling us about it, cannot be trusted. "almost every reporter, every anchor, every news-outlet owner has money invested in the market. thus, they're involved in the market story." mr. sorenson goes on: if you really want to see a journalistic charade, you should watch the cable program featuring the editorial board of the wall street journal...i haven't seen such a collection of virtual pimps and whores in one place since willie brown kicked the real hookers out of the tenderloin." and he concludes: "we're riding a very prolonged, very nasty cold streak. and we're gambling in a casino that's not very honest."