Sneaking Suspicions
Archives-- September 5-11, 2004

This page includes posts from September 5-11, 2004 in the usual reverse order. Each posting on the home page is perma-linked to these archive pages.

September 11, 2004

In the immediate aftermath of the attack on America on September 11, I wrote a column about the connections among thousands of us caused by our family, friends, and acquaintances at the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.

On the one-year anniversary, I wrote a post here about the upcoming military conflict caused by that attack, in which I expressed appreciation for those whose skill at arms help permit the rest of us to keep to our daily routine.

Last year I wrote another post here, suggesting that the need for a vigorous defense continues.

This year's September 11 remembrance is colored by the current presidential campaign. The more bitter elements of this election cycle remind me of Lincoln's re-election fight in 1864. Victory was nowhere near imminent at that time, but the signs were there for those inclined to face reality. Those same signs were denigrated by those attempting to unseat the incumbent.

It looks much the same way to me now. As another Democrat recently said,

It is not their patriotism, it is their judgment that has been so sorely lacking.

For those folks, I respectfully suggest that they take another look at what happened three years ago. There's no need to search the Internet for photographs of falling bodies--just click over and watch the Blue Man Group's Exhibit 13, instead.

For as much as I am impressed by that particular memorial to September 11, I have no wish to see anyone compelled to create similar artworks in the future. Taking the fight to the Islamofascists who wish us dead continues to be the proper course of action.

September 10, 2004
In defense of Dan Rather

The ranks of those defending Dan Rather's use of obviously forged documents to attack President Bush are growing:

In an interview today, Baghdad Bob said,

"I know this man Rather. I have talked to him many times. He is as trustworthy as I am. Anyone who says differently shall die a thousand deaths."

Well, alright then.

September 10, 2004
What part of “Post No Bills” didn’t you understand?

I enjoyed reading the Washington Supreme Court’s decision this week that upheld Seattle’s ordinance against posting signs on its utility poles.

The court majority properly held that the city’s infrastructure is not a public forum which anyone can use, be they for political, commercial, or theatrical purposes: 

[W]hile utility poles can be used to post signs, the mere fact that government property can be used as a vehicle for communication does not mean that the Constitution requires such uses to be permitted. ***

There must be some point at which the government's relationship to things under its dominion and control is treated in the same manner as a private owner's property interest in the same kinds of things….


City Council made the legislative determination that a prohibition against all private signs and posters on utility poles is the best way to protect worker safety and promote the other public interests at stake.***


[T]he Seattle ordinance does not prevent the public from exercising free speech rights on the public streets and in other public places.  The public is free to picket and parade, to distribute handbills, and to carry signs.The public is also free to post signs and handbills on designated kiosks and poster boards designed by the City for that purpose.  Thus, there are alternate channels of communication sufficient under the standard applicable to nonpublic forums.

Each month my clients remove thousands of illegal signs from the state’s rights-of-way.

Right now DelDOT's roadside control agents are in their busy season, with a primary election tomorrow and the general election less than two months away. Under the state’s Clear Zone law (which I drafted), any such non-official signs placed within a short distance from the pavement are subject to immediate removal as a safety hazard. Signs that don’t present such an immediate danger are also illegal, but the law permits their continued existence on the taxpayers’ property for up to 30 days before DelDOT can remove them.

This arrangement is an appropriate compromise among competing interests. Nonetheless, one man’s urgent communication is another man’s litter, as suggested in this post.

I assume that most folks who are indiscriminate in placing their political signs must believe that the number of voters who are turned off by seeing these signs spread out on the highways is far fewer than the ones who appreciate them.

From what I’m hearing up and down the state, I wonder about their judgment.

Hat tip: Howard Bashman

September 8, 2004
On one small condition

I’ve been reading about a little policy idea floated by Speaker Dennis Hastert and some others to create a national sales tax, allegedly as part of a plan to abolish the Internal Revenue Service.

As with Bruce Bartlett and several others, I’m more than a little dubious, especially considering how high the sales tax rate would need to be to match the revenue from the current income tax system:

A current proposal by Rep. John Linder (R., Ga.) says that a 23 percent rate would be adequate. But such a low rate can only be sustained by making completely absurd assumptions about what would be taxed. Every serious economist who has ever looked at this question has concluded that a vastly higher rate would in fact be needed. ***

Somehow or other, Linder has gotten 54 House members to co-sponsor his proposal. They should all pray that their opponents overlook their poor judgment. When last the national retail sales tax was a major campaign issue — in the 1996 senate race in Louisiana — the Republican sales tax supporter was crushed by his anti-sales-tax Democratic opponent. That may explain why only two senators support Linder’s plan, one of whom is retiring this year.

With all due respect to Speaker Hastert, trying to eliminate the IRS by adopting a national retail sales tax is a very dumb idea.

From my perspective, beyond the fundamental problem of setting a revenue-neutral sales tax rate is a small matter of trust.

I just don’t believe Congress would abolish the income tax code permanently. Even in the unlikely event that the Linder plan or something like it becomes the Federal government’s primary revenue-raising system, I fully expect some future Congress to return to the income tax whenever it felt the need for more cash.

I would be happy to spend more time thinking about the difficult issues raised by a national sales tax proposal, but only on one small condition--if it was accompanied by the repeal of the 16th Amendment.

Otherwise, I’m just not interested, thankewverymuch.

September 7, 2004
Terrorists succeed where others have failed

The Chechen terrorists, aided by their friends in Al-Qaeda, have managed to succeed where others have failed in the past. 

Their attack on school children spurred the Russian government to seek a new ally against terrorism, a source of assistance previously thought unlikely—namely, the Israelis.

As reported by Abraham Rabinovich in the Washington Times, the horrors of the past week have significantly reduced the traditional Russian squeamishness at having much of anything to do with the Middle East’s fully-functioning democracy:

An Israeli spokesman said yesterday's memorandum with Russia aimed to "encourage in every possible way the development of broad bilateral, regional and multilateral cooperation in fighting international terrorism."

Israeli radio said cooperation is expected to move quickly into operational areas, with exchanges of intelligence information, mutual visits by anti-terror teams and the joint development of models for dealing with different kinds of terror threats. ***

In Jerusalem, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, who signed the cooperation memorandum with Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom during a long-scheduled visit yesterday, welcomed Mr. Sharon's offer of help while striving to hold the door open to Russia's Arab allies.

"We appreciate the very strong readiness of the Israeli people to help Russia at this hour, and this will certainly strengthen the counterterrorist coalition these days," Mr. Lavrov said.

Naturally, the Russians also made some cooing noises toward their Arab allies at the same time, who might not be so happy to hear this news. Nonetheless, this latest development in promoting cooperative defenses against Islamofascists is the one bit of good news resulting from this tragedy.

Surely this is not what the Chechen or Al-Qaeda terrorists had in mind. On the other hand, evildoers that would shoot children in the back were probably blind to this possibility.

Eventually they will face the consequences of their inadequacies.

September 7, 2004
Traffic Report

September 6 marked the 32d month of this site’s existence. Thus far 241,621 visitors have viewed 309,879 pages. 

Thanks very much for your patronage, and visit again soon.

September 6, 2004
That title works

Well, that didn't take long.

In yesterday's post, I asked for a suggested name for the chicken/sausage recipe it described.

Janis Gore, the Miz Mamselle Hepzibah of the blogosphere, showed herself to be a careful reader of the long list of ingredients:

[L]ooks like a chicken and sausage etouffee to me, except for the basil. Ok, etouffee Italian.

There it is, then.

Thanks once again, Miz Gore.

September 5, 2004
More futzing with wine and cream sauces

We had a Mardi Gras open house this spring, and I knew from past experience that our guests would drink a fair amount of wine during the festivities. I therefore bought several 1 ½ liter bottles, mostly white varietals.

Naturally, our guests then refrained from quaffing anywhere near as much as they had on similar occasions.

Over the last few months, the leftovers have provided several opportunities to explore the potential cooking uses for pinot grigio and chardonnay. I’m happy to report that most of these experiments, usually requiring a cup and a half at a time, have been well-received.

I’m not sure what to call this most recent attempt, but the test subjects liked it very much.


1 lb. boned skinless chicken breast, cut into pieces about 1 ½ inches each
1 lb. andouille sausage
¼ lb. butter
¼ cup olive oil
¼ cup flour
1 bunch green onions, chopped fine
1 vidalia onion, chopped fine
2 cloves garlic, chopped fine
½ red bell pepper, chopped fine
½ green bell pepper, chopped fine
1 stalk celery, chopped fine
4 medium white mushrooms, roughly cut
12 oz. white wine
1 tbs. parsley flakes
1 tsp. basil leaves
½ tsp. thyme
1 cup heavy cream
½ tsp. fil
é powder
creole seasoning


Brown the sausage, 4-5 minutes a side, in a large skillet at medium-low heat. Remove from pan and cut links into ½ thick pieces, but reserve drippings in the skillet.

Melt 2 tbs. butter in the sausage drippings. Season the chicken pieces with salt, pepper, and creole seasoning, and then brown the pieces in the butter/drippings, 3 minutes a side, at medium-low heat. Put the sausage pieces into the pan with the browned chicken, and set aside.

In a large sauté skillet, heat the olive oil and 4 tbs. butter at medium/low setting. Add the flour and cook, stirring constantly for about 5 minutes or until the mixture turns a light gold/brown. Add the onions and garlic, and cook them for about 5 minutes until soft. Add 2 tbs. butter to the skillet, and then stir in the peppers and celery. Cook over low heat for 5 minutes.

Add to the mixture the mushrooms, white wine, parsley, basil, and thyme. Cook over low for about 10 minutes, stirring as the wine reduces. About half-way through this step, stir in the chicken and sausage pieces, along with the drippings from the browning.

Stir in the cream and filé powder, and continue to heat for 5 minutes or so.

Serves 6.

We served it over small shell pasta, but I think it would also go well with rice.

And if you can think of a name for this dish, let me know.


Contact Information:

Fritz Schranck
P.O. Box 88
Nassau, DE  19969


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© Frederick H. Schranck 2002-2004