The Sore Spot


Friday, March 08, 2002

STEEL, AGAIN Is it only myself, or does there seem to be a choir developing? Timothy Noah, in Slate, exposes the administration's shiftiness on steel.
posted by Robert 2:47 PM

MISJUDGED? This story caught my attention this morning:

FORT WORTH, Texas (AP) -- A woman accused of hitting a homeless man with her car, driving home with him lodged in her broken windshield and ignoring his pleas as he bled to death in her garage, is not the monster being portrayed by prosecutors, her attorney says.

Now, though I believe strongly in the machinery of justice, I must confess it's my usual tendency to side with victims over the accused in a case, as I've found that the criminal mind often deserves little sympathy.

But this one gives me pause. The police say that the woman, Chante J. Mallard, "waited two days for the man to die, ignoring his pleas for help, and then dumped his body in a park with the help of friends," according to the Associate Press.

But she protests that "her friends advised her not to call for help and suggested dumping the body."

As you well know, I am not one to look fondly upon the peer-pressure defense; one's will power ought to be more rigid than that. But friends have curious pull over the soul, as I know too well. If, as she says, her friends caused her to err, is Mallard still personally guilty of murder?

I'd say no. Perhaps she's only to be chastised for feeling a little lonely, somewhat confused, and wary of crossing her associates.
posted by Robert 2:19 PM

MY WAY ON ASHCROFT So it seems that others are finally starting to see the light on the former Senator from Missouri: Mark Morford, in the San Francisco Chronicle, has a wry piece on AG Nero.
posted by Robert 12:22 PM

MASTER OF MY DOMAIN In the oft-detestable physical world, Robert Sore is, as you know, homeless. But an online registration service of good repute tells me that www.robertsore.com, .org, and .net are all available, though for the dear sum of some $29 per annum.

If you would like to help a homeless man find an online home, I'd appreciate a donation of any size. (Now, you all well know my abhorrence of charity, and I will reject any pity money; give me money only if you appreciate this website and you consider my words a valuable service.) Give what you can, or at the very least advise your friends of the situation.

Thank you dearly.
posted by Robert 11:56 AM

STEELY CHORUS Paul Krugman, George Will, Andrew Sullivan, Rob Walker, and surely others of disparate ideology agree with my stance on Bush's attempts to save U.S. Steel.

Now, if only a similar horde saw it my way on Ashcroft...
posted by Robert 11:26 AM

Wednesday, March 06, 2002

STEEL YOURSELF It's difficult to think of a more unjustifiable tax than the vaunted "import tariff." This is a tax, after all, that is levied simply for crossing a geopolitical line; no actual work is done by the receiving country, no marginal cost borne to handle the incoming good.

So why, in human history, did such an absurd tax emerge? The only answer I can find is this: fear. A less charitable fellow might even call it xenophobia.

American steel concerns are weak as balsa wood, cracking under the cost pressure applied to them by the more efficient Europeans and less coddled Asians. The steel market is glutted, steel prices are low, and American steelmen, who are apparently better crafters of policy than of ore, have sought -- and now found -- temporary protection in the White House and much-influenced Congress.

The steelers did this only because they are scared of competition, which, in America, a country founded on competition, is rascally. (That's not to mention the fact that the new tax on foreign steel will do more harm to U.S. consumers of steel-derived goods than foreigners, which means that this is more aptly called a domestic tax increase.)

What might it have cost U.S. steelman to stand in the fire and fight the Frenchmen? The Englishmen? The Chinamen? Perhaps it might have cost them their jobs, and perhaps it might have cost the country its steel industry -- which, in our diversified economy, would not have meant so much. Alternately, it might have saved the steel industry from itself by forcing the steelers to make themselves better, cheaper, more efficient than the Koreans.

Either way, the steelmen -- and all Americans, by extension -- would have kept their dignity, which, more than any mere job, is the real prize. I say if the steel melts, fine, we'll survive; pride, unalloyed, girds this nation, not steel.
posted by Robert 7:49 PM

WIRELESS FIDELITY The Frenchman Paul Boutin tells a good story, in Salon, about browsing the Internet wirelessly. Perhaps someday, a fellow like Robert Sore will have a machine that can browse the Internet from anywhere -- a small, affordable device that would unshackle me from this blasted library.

But there is a darker side to the wireless Internet: sloth. Look no further than Adam Curry's puerile use of the technology to see what I mean.
posted by Robert 6:10 PM

Tuesday, March 05, 2002

ASHCROFT: A NERO FOR OUR TIMES Our nation's top law enforcement official, John Ashcroft, has taken to finishing up his speeches with an a cappella serenade of a patriotic "tune" he wrote himself. Now, according to the Guardian UK, some of his staff are complaining that he has begun to distribute copies of the lyrics so they can join in as their boss belts his little heart out.

To find a similar example of misusing public office to fulfill misplaced troubadourian fantasies, one must return all the way to the Roman Emperor Nero. Nero loved art, singing, and poetry, and would often force whole stadiums full of spectators to endure his performances under penalty of death. For each performance, he would dress as a different Roman Diety.

Nero was despised by Plebes and Patricians alike as a psychotic and barbaric ruler. He was even known to light his orgiastic gatherings by setting Christians ablaze as human torches. Nevertheless, on his deathbed, his final words were, "What an artist dies in me."

One wonders if the same phrase will not slip out with Mr. Ashcroft's final breath.
posted by Robert 12:05 PM

SAPIENTIA.VERITAS.LIBERTAS.

Joe Pesci
This isn't me, but it looks like me.
The library doesn't have those scan machines. And I don't have a camera.

----

My name is Robert Sore. I am a homeless man in San Francisco, scraping out a living from trash cans and odd jobs. But don't think that I need your pity. If you see me on the street, keep walking, buddy. I don't need your money and I don't need you, in fact -- but I'd be willing to wager that you need me.

I have lived a long time, and I spend a lot of time in the library. A lot of time. I know what's wrong with this world. Why the politicians have it wrong, why the fancy professors have it wrong, why the United States has it wrong. Why the liberals are wrong and why the conservatives are wrong.

But I damn sure know what's right, too. And I'm going to tell you what.

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