An Inclusive Litany


Perhaps inspired by over 60 years of dubious agricultural policy, the federal government has decided to pay 42 New York hospitals $400 million over the next six years not to train doctors.

The plan's proponents cite the $100,000 Medicare already pays to hospitals to train each resident in its support of graduate medical-education programs, often in specialties experts say are pursued by too many doctors who order up too many expensive procedures for too few patients. By steering doctors away from specialties into primary care and by encouraging other hospital personnel to perform routine medical procedures often passed off to medical trainees, advocates say the plan will save taxpayers money in the long run.

Many of the plan's critics seem to have been caught off guard. "A real coup for the New York teaching hospitals," is how Bruce Siegel, president of Tampa General Hospital, described the plan, which was originally proposed by the Greater New York Hospital Association. But he and organizations such as the Association of American Teaching Hospitals would have preferred to see a demonstration project open to other states as well as New York.

California Rep. Bill Thomas, chairman of the House Ways and Means subcommittee on Health, voiced concern not only about the plan itself but about the way in which it was approved. "I am concerned that what [the Health Care Financing Administration] has developed is not a 'true' demonstration, and the draft proposal could have benefited from increased planning and analysis." Thomas noted that California, in partnership with the University of California, already agreed to reduce 452 nonprimary-care residency positions between 1997 and 2001, without the benefit of bonus payments by the federal government.

[Ed.: A 1998 study by the American Association of Medical Colleges found that, contrary to what was previously thought, there was actually a surplus of primary-care physicians.]

Given a ten-day deadline, a Deltona, Florida, couple capitulated to IRS demands by sending in a check for exactly one cent.

In a move that stunned even hardened postmodernists, embalmed singer Pat Boone released a new album titled Pat Boone in a Metal Mood: No More Mr. Nice Guy. The album features covers of heavy metal classics of groups such as AC/DC, Judas Priest, and Guns'n'Roses.

The Portland Oregonian:
Democratic House candidate George Kelley has been through various troubles with the law, including both a 1991 charge of failing to pay child support and a 1993 arrest for menacing his wife with a handgun. He now says he has overcome these problems, and notes that "we need people in the Legislature who have a broad range of experiences."


The Washington Post, May 30, 1997:
The Federal Election Commission yesterday levied fines of $15,000 against President Clinton's first presidential campaign ... among 19 recently closed cases, dating back as far as the 1990 congressional election, announced by the FEC yesterday.


At the Presidents' Summit for America's Future, chaired by former military leader Colin Powell, President Clinton repeatedly extolled the AmeriCorps program as a spirited volunteer effort much in the American tradition of charity and resourcefulness. But a 1995 General Accounting Office audit of the $400 million program showed that the average cost per AmeriCorps member, who are in fact paid real wages, was $26,000 to $32,000—nearly double the initially projected cost. One AmeriCorps project, the Casa Verde Builders, cost more than $100,000 per "volunteer" who completed the program. The GAO also compiled much evidence to suggest that "volunteers" regarded their work as a job like any other. Also, the independent accounting firm Arthur Andersen twice has examined AmeriCorps books, finding them to be unauditable and incomplete—grounds for criminal prosecution in the private sector. A follow-up study concluded that the program could not account for $38 million in federal funding.

In 1994, Congress passed the Energy Policy and Conservation Act, mandating that the size of toilet bowls be reduced from the standard 3.5-gallon capacity to 1.6 gallons to conserve the amount of water lost in each flush. But opponents of the measure argue that the smaller toilet bowls clog up more easily, requiring frequent flushing and perhaps wasting more water in the long run. Representative Joe Knollenberg (R-MI) has introduced legislation to repeal the ban on larger toilets, leaving states and municipalities to set their own toilet-bowl limits. Other critics note the emergence of a black market to meet demand for the older model of toilet.

Still, proponents of the mandate argue that some designs of the smaller toilet work better than others. [Ed.: They're the ones that sound like a jet plane taking off.] Edward Pollack, deputy director of the Office of Codes and Standards at the Department of Energy, argues that in addition to abandoning the goal of water conservation, the repeal would also mean manufacturers would have to scrap all their work on the smaller model and be forced to spend additional money to revert to the older model.

Great Britain's new prime minister, Tony Blair, has also championed revised toilet standards. A Labour party campaign document, "Ending the Waste," blasted the Tories for failing to promote the latest technology in flush toilets. England must be "leading the world" in water use, and failure to adopt European Union standards for water use is "not good enough." Current EU standards mandate the following:

  • Toilet bowls must have a 1.6-gallon maximum capacity

  • Sawdust dropped in a damp bowl must not stick to more than 5,000 square millimeters.

  • A ball of twelve sheets of toilet paper has to go down four times out of five.

  • A mass of resin with the same approximate density as human fecal matter also has to go down four times out of five.

[Ed.: Reacting to Rep. Knollenberg's proposal to rescind the 1992 toilet mandate, Newsweek's Eleanor Clift called it "loony in the sense that you can't have every locality decide what the water standards are and I don't think the people of one state should be allowed to flush three times at whim while the people of California have to conserve water."]

California State University at Monterey Bay now offers a course in "Equity," requiring students to produce "an informed historical interpretation and analysis of contemporary issues of struggles for power as related to the oppression of various racial, cultural, social, and economic groups of people in the U.S." To satisfy the requirement students must demonstrate "an understanding of culture and cultural diversity; an understanding of social, political, and cultural tensions among various groups in the U.S.; a understanding of the different and unequal treatment of people of color, females, gays and lesbians, the poor, and others from historically oppressed groups in the U.S.; an understanding of strategies and policies such as affirmative action which are intended to address inequities in institutions such as schools, governmental agencies, and businesses; how you, the student, have worked towards building a more inclusive and equitable society."

Hollywood celebrities intending to donate luxury goods to a fund-raising auction to benefit the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals were rebuffed by the highly principled organization. An offer of an expensive silk gown from actress Susan Sarandon was rejected because silkworms lost their lives in the process of making it. Restaurant-chain owner Rocky Aoki offered a 1974 Rolls-Royce Silver Shadow, but the offer was rejected because the car's interior had "the skin of a cow in it."


Black Panther Party founder Bobby Seale lost his lawsuit against makers of the 1995 film Panther, who he accused of depicting him unfairly and downplaying his commitment to nonviolence in an otherwise sympathetic film. But as fellow Panther leader Elaine Brown wrote in her memoirs, on one occasion she failed to meet an editorial deadline at the Black Panther Party newspaper, so Seale ordered her stripped and flogged.

In October, 1996, the Environmental Protection Agency agreed to purchase 158 homes, empty 200 apartments, and relocate the inhabitants of Escambia, Florida, due to the presence of dioxin-like chemicals in the soil of a former wood treatment plant. Concerned that the chemicals would contaminate the area's ground water, the EPA dug up the soil, heaped it into a pile, and covered it with a thick plastic blanket. Nearby residents dubbed the heap "Mount Dioxin" and demanded that their homes be purchased and that they be relocated—despite their flat refusal to be examined by U.S. Public Health Service doctors for manifest signs of health problems. The election-season timing of the decision, coupled with the fact that Escambia is a minority community and that the concentration of dioxin at the Escambia site was tiny and had been deemed well within safe limits by the EPA at other sites, led many EPA officials to believe that the White House had more to do with the decision than the EPA itself.

Dioxins, a class of compounds that are byproducts of pesticide manufacture, have had a particularly fatal reputation following the evacuation of New York's Love Canal community in the late 1970s and the Missouri town of Times Beach in 1983. A San Francisco television news show dubbed it "a synthetic chemical so powerful that an ounce could wipe out a million people." Ralph Nader gave a more conservative estimate—that three ounces could wipe out the same number of people. The Washington Post declared, "The evidence is overwhelming that dioxin is carcinogenic in humans," and other journalistic sources dubbed it "the most toxic chemical created by man." Dr. Irving Selikoff (also a proponent of the widespread removal of asbestos insulation from buildings that was soon found to be far more hazardous than leaving it in place) told Time magazine in 1983: "No doubt about it, dioxin is harmful to humans. It is man-made. As a result, the human body doesn't know how to break it down [sic]. We store it in our bodies and accumulate it [sic]."

It turns out that dioxin is indeed fatal in tiny doses—but only to guinea pigs. Hamsters, on the other hand, can tolerate a dose about 1,900 times as high before achieving the same mortality rate. A test on prisoners found that a dose proportionally 100 times as high caused chloracne, a mild skin condition. Likewise, a huge industrial accident in the Italian town of Seveso in 1976, which exposed its residents to a cloud containing about 4 pounds of dioxin, resulted only in temporary cases of chloracne and nausea. In no case have epidemiologists detected an increase in the incidence of cancer, birth defects, or any other health problems among those exposed.

The EPA has now revised dioxin's safety threshold dramatically downward, calling into question the recent decision to evacuate Escambia. In 1991, Vernon N. Houk, the official who originally ordered the evacuation of Times Beach, said that he would not have done so had he known then what he since learned about dioxin. Home buyers eagerly bought up the vacated Love Canal properties, but Times Beach is still surrounded by a large fence to keep out trespassers, inside which wildlife flourishes.

Village Voice columnist Nat Hentoff notes that the Tennessee chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union physically removed would-be leafleteers standing outside its Bill of Rights dinner.


As part of its "Just Do It!" advertising campaign, Nike chose author William S. Burroughs for a cameo spokesman role in a television spot. This is the same man who, while vacationing in Mexico in 1951 prior to achieving fame, shot and killed his wife in a drunken haze while attempting to shoot a glass off her head at a party. At the time of the incident, Burroughs had been scouring the country for drugs and homosexual liaisons.

Nike later received flak from Muslims over one of their sneakers' logos that resembled the word "Allah" in Arabic script. "The placement of this holy symbol on shoes which will be soiled, walked on and disposed of is very offensive," said Houston Rockets' center Hakeem Olajuwon, who is a Muslim as well as a spokesman for another brand of shoes.

Reebok made a far more startling gaffe when they named a whole new line of sneaker "Incubus," apparently before looking up what the word meant: a mythical demon who rapes women in their sleep.

The town of Vernon, Connecticut, received $40,023 from the Federal Emergency Management Agency for snow removal—in June. The town simply failed to budget enough for snow removal during the previous winter.

Russian performance artist Oleg Kulik opened a show in New York in which he stayed confined to a cage for two weeks while wearing only a dog collar and behaving like a dog. Visitors could enter the cage to play with him, but only after donning protective padding in case Kulik bit them.

At a different New York performance, audience members sat in mobile pens while cast members observed them and moved the cages from one place to the next. The New York Times reported that the goals of the piece were "blurring the line between artist and audience, and the ever-popular audience discomfort."

From a set of complaints sent to the Texas Cosmetology Commission by customers of various small salons throughout the state, excerpts of which were reprinted in The Texas Observer, February 14, 1997. In January, Republican State Senator Jane Nelson announced that in response to "thousands" of complaints received by the commission she would introduce legislation to "crack down on 'manicure mills.' " Nelson said that her bill would "protect women who go into a nail salon expecting a treat, not a painful nightmare that could threaten their lives."
On Wednesday, January 24, 1996, I had a 5:30 P.M. appointment for a "fill." I was attended to by a girl known as "Melinda." However, her license stated a Vietnamese birth name. I had three nails that needed to be repaired. Melinda grabbed my hand and looked at my nails and said in a very authoritative and scolding manner, "You broke three nails!"

I have been getting my nails done for years now, and I can truly say that this was the worst experience I have ever had. Not once did Melinda strike up a general conversation, or introduce herself, or even offer me her business card. While working on me she received personal phone calls. In addition, one of her friends was in the salon and literally hung over her workstation, invading my personal space.

When Melinda gave me my fill, she glopped the acrylic compound all over my nail. It was running all down the nail. I realize that the procedure for doing a fill can be messy, but to say that it was ridiculously sloppy would be an understatement. At that point in my frustration, I knew that this person was either an amateur or unlicensed. I asked her politely, "How long have you been doing nails?" She replied, "One year." I thought to myself, "It shows."

Melinda finally began to shape and file the nails. My normal shape is the squared-off tip, which gives the nails a rectangular look. By the time Melinda was finished, my nails looked like uneven, multiple-sized triangles. While I was still sitting in my seat, she asked me, "What color do you want?" Well, she was not done with my nails yet, so I could not even get up and look at the color selection. The proper way to say it would have been, "You can select a color now." It is my belief that sometimes it is not what you say but how you say it.

I would like to reiterate that I have been getting my nails done for a very long time, and never have I experienced such rudeness and unprofessionalism.

—Andrea S. Davila

Top Nails is filthy! I was completely shocked when it was time to do my pedicure to find that they had only one towel. It was a dirty pink towel that they expected you to put your clean feet on. The bathroom where clients must wash their hands looked like a roadside bathroom that had not been tended to in months. There was a car hood in the back room. One of the manicurists had caught a very young wild bird—I'm sure it was a rescue, since we have had many sever storms of late. However, this animal was hopping around all over the place. While I was there, one of the manicurists got tired of the bird and decided to put it out. She left her client, caught the bird, and did in fact put it out. She never gave a thought to washing her hands before returning to her customer. The customer had to tell her to go wash her hands!

It is awful. Please do something about these dirty conditions.

—Debra Creasy

I'm writing to you concerning my left index finger. The problem started at ProNails. I went in to get my fill on a Saturday, and the following Monday my finger began to throb intensely. I've had swelling and discoloration in the finger, and severely bad, bad pain, nonstop. It continues to this day. This problem keeps me from writing or doing anything else, especially at work. I've had to take time off from work with no pay. Enclosed are some pictures of the injured finger.

—Trina L. Smith

On a Saturday afternoon my sister and I went to P.L. Nails to get a full set of nails. It took four hours to get my nails done. I have been to other salons and it usually takes only one hour. When the manicurist was done my nails looked horrible, and I mentioned it to him, but I was so tired and frustrated that I just paid so I could go home.

I returned to the salon Monday and asked for Kim, the owner, to show him how badly my nails had been done. He laughed and said they would fix my nails for $10. I told him that I was not going to pay anything, because my nails were not done right in the first place. You could see (after one day) that each acrylic nail was separating from my nail at the cuticle.

Kim asked me where I usually get my nails done. I told him off of Buckner, and he told me I should go there next time. This remark offended me, so I gave him a piece of my mind. I told him that in America we can go anywhere we want, when we want. He yelled at me to get out of his store, so I left to gain control of myself.

—Gwen Chambers

Excerpts from the taped conversations of phone calls on June 6 and 7, 1994, between Rep. Mel Reynolds (D-IL) and former campaign worker Beverly Heard, age 16, as reported in the Chicago Tribune. The first call begins with Heard telling Reynolds she can't make a rendezvous because she is baby-sitting and the children's mother hasn't returned home. In fact, Heard is sitting in the Cook County state's attorney's office during the conversation.
What you gonna wear?
Well, my peach underwear, like you told me to. I was hoping that we could do something really special but I see that's not gonna happen, I guess.
I was definitely gonna (slang for intercourse).
Right in my office. I was gonna masturbate too.
I was looking forward to it.
Yeah, I been thinking about a lot [of] times we had together. We had some really good times.
Uh-huh, that summer when I used to (vulgarity for intercourse) you out south in that Riverdale apartment.
Right, right. Remember that one, when I wore white lace underwear. I think it was like the summer of '92 over in the apartment—
. . .
I want you to do me a favor, all right?
What's that?
I want you to, I want to you—first of all, I want you to think about sex.
And I want you to think long and hard. I want you to tell me about a sex thing you did, that I don't know about.
Oh, let me see.
Like when you (performed oral sex) or something, but it was a time that I wasn't there for it.
Oh, so you don't want to talk about any of our stuff, you want me to talk about something that you don't know about?
Right, a sex thing you did with some person, either a woman or some guy or something. And—cause I want to—cause I'd like to think about you in those little panties that I used to (vulgarity for intercourse) you.
(Prompted by Reynolds, Heard graphically describes her first and most recent sexual encounters with her lesbian lover. Reynolds asks if Heard's lover is willing to do a "threesome," and Heard says she has never expressed such an interest. But Heard says another girl, "Theresa," who is 15 years old, might be interested. There is no such person.)
She's only 15?
Yeah, she's only 15, that's it.
You sure?
Uh-huh, I know how old she is.
(Reynolds asks what specific sex acts Heard thinks Theresa would be willing to perform and if Theresa will watch him while the two of them have sex.)
Why don't you try to set it up?
Yes, I will.
Now you—you're just telling me that, aren't you?
Uh-uh. I'm serious.
You are? You think she's going to like this (slang for penis)?
Yeah, I believe she would.
Yeah ...
What you gonna say to her?
(Heard and Reynolds discuss which details of their relationship will be shared with Theresa.)
I'm gonna tell her that I used to go with you when I was 16.
Yeah, and that, you know, we've been lovers, we were lovers then, and we been, you know, I've been with you and—
You may not want to tell her that, that age thing.
(Reynolds asks where Theresa goes to school.)
I think it's Our Lady of Peace, something like that.
Lady of Peace? A Catholic school!
Huh? Yes.
Jesus, a Catholic—
A Catholic school girl, right?
Did I win the Lotto?

[Ed.: Just before leaving office, President Clinton pardoned Reynolds for his various federal charges of bank fraud, wire fraud, filing false statements to the Federal Election Commission, threatening a witness, perjury, and obstruction of justice. (Reynolds served a concurrent sentence for soliciting the underage girl.) Soon afterwards, Reynolds was hired for a position in Jesse Jackson's Rainbow/PUSH Coalition, marking a first in American history: an ex-Congressman who had sex with a subordinate, winning clemency from a President who had sex with a subordinate, being hired by a clergyman who had sex with a subordinate.]


The Associated Press reports from Springfield, Massachusetts, May 7, 1997:
Clammy hands and cold sweats—there's nothing that p-a-l-p-i-t-a-t-e-s the heart as much as a spelling bee.

That's why the Springfield School Volunteers have scrapped the annual citywide spelling bee in favor of a Scrabble tournament—much to the annoyance of parents, students and educators....

The group, which had support from schools Superintendent Peter Negroni, said the bee provided too much stress and too few rewards.

"We found that the spelling bee for young children was very difficult. They're up there on stage, all by themselves. It's very high pressure," said Teresa Regina, assistant to the superintendent.


San Francisco, which used to require firefighters to be able to carry a 150-pound sack up a flight of stairs, now only requires them to be able to drag a 40-pound sack across a smooth floor.

In 1986, a federal court ruled against a Columbus, Ohio test in which would-be firefighters had to carry a 125-pound sandbag along a twisted course. Judge Joseph Kinneary said it was unfair to count off points against recruits who chose to drag the sandbag instead of carrying it, especially since it is often safer to stay close to the floor in smoky rooms. The court also disallowed the city's practice of rewarding credit for speed when accomplishing various rescue tasks. Kinneary reasoned that some recruits preferred to pace themselves rather than expend all their energy at once, and characterized arguments in favor of speedier rescues as "anecdotal."

The Massachusetts Supreme Court ruled that a Boston Police recruit had the right to lie on his job application to conceal a record of repeated hospitalizations as a psychiatric in-patient.

The Environmental Protection Agency recommended requiring talking computer chips to supplement printed warning labels on cans of pesticides.

A New York Times news article covering a statement made by presidents of 62 universities in favor of "diversity" and defending affirmative action programs featured an unusual headline: "62 Top Colleges Endorse Bias in Admissions." But the next morning's edition featured an editor's note which called the headline "an editing error." According to the correction, " 'Bias,' as a term for affirmative action, was neither impartial nor accurate. It should not have appeared." The preferred way to describe what the university presidents endorsed would have been: "the right of colleges to use affirmative action in their admissions procedures to achieve diversity," a phrase that probably would not have fit neatly within the column.

Our Stolen Future, a 1996 book by Theo Colburn, Dianne Dumanoski and John Peterson claimed, based on measurements of alligator penises and observations of lesbianism among seagulls, that synthetic chemicals in the environment were causing a drop in men's fertility worldwide and that the human race was well on its way to extinction. Vice President Al Gore penned the foreword.

Scientists who blasted the book pointed to research indicating that sperm counts have been known to vary wildly across regions and ethnicities for quite some time—longer than can be explained by the recent widespread introduction of synthetic chemicals. At any rate, lower sperm counts have failed to suppress a worldwide baby boom.

Gore also promoted Paul Ehrlich's 1990 book, The Population Explosion, a follow-up to his 1968 bestseller, The Population Bomb. In his book-jacket blurb, Gore announces that "The time for action is due, and past due. The Ehrlichs have written the prescription...." Ehrlich's prescriptions include encouraging abortion, restricting family choice, increasing foreign aid, doubling the price of gasoline, and even dumping toxic chemicals into the water supply to control population. The alternative, Ehrlich has long believed, is worldwide famine, war, and human misery. A trained entomologist who likens global population trends to the uncontrolled growth of test-tube microbes, Dr. Ehrlich has been consistently wrong when offering predictions on human population growth.

Gore also wrote the introduction for a re-issue of Rachel Carson's anti-pesticide tract, Silent Spring. Visitors to his home have noticed signs on the lawn warning of pesticide use.

[Ed.: The February, 1999 issue of the Journal of Urology reported on research determining that the apparent decline in American sperm counts since the 1930s was only a statistical illusion that arose from the fact that sperm counts vary widely from one city to another, and most of the earlier studies used volunteers from the city with the highest measured sperm counts in America, New York, which happens to be my hometown.]

A commemorative stamp issued by the Postal Service honored the legendary delta blues musician Robert Johnson. The 1920s photograph on which the stamp was based showed Johnson with a cigarette dangling out of the corner of his mouth while playing guitar. On the stamp the cigarette was removed, giving Johnson's face an odd, twisted look.

[Ed.: Other prominent Americans whose images have been cleansed of their cigarettes or cigars: Edward R. Murrow, George Meany, James Dean, Thornton Wilder, and Jackson Pollock. A book by C.S. Lewis, published by HarperCollins, featured a dustjacket picture of the author holding his hand in an odd way, surrounded by a large cloud of mysterious smoke. Lewis smoked a pipe.]

The Washington Post, April 8, 1997:
In January, a former truck driver for Ryder Systems, Inc., won a $5.5-million jury verdict after claiming, under the ADA [Americans with Disabilities Act], that Ryder unfairly removed him from his position after he suffered an epileptic seizure, claiming his health condition could be a safety hazard. During the time he was blocked from his job at Ryder, the driver was hired by another firm, had a seizure behind the wheel and crashed into a tree. Ryder is appealing the verdict.

From a report prepared in January 1996 by the White House's African American working group, then headed by Deputy Labor Secretary Alexis Herman, who is now the White House's nominee for Labor Secretary. According to the White House, the hiring objectives listed in the report only represented "a wish list."
Staffing Recommendations

  1. African Americans should be hired for the following senior management positions with the campaign:

    • Deputy Campaign Manager for Constituent Affairs
    • Assistant Deputy Campaign Manager for Finance
    • Assistant Deputy Campaign Manager for Communications
    • Assistant Deputy Campaign Manager for African Americans
    • GOTV [Get Out The Vote] Director

  2. African Americans should also be well represented in senior field positions. The following table presents our recommendations for the placement of African Americans in key positions throughout the campaign:
State Clinton/Gore
State Director
Press Secretary
Coordinating Campaign
State Director
CC Political
Field Director
Ark.     Black    
Calif.       Black Black
Colo.         Black
Conn.   Black      
D.C. Black   Black Black Black
Fla.       Black Black
Ga.       Black Black
Ill.       Black Black
Ky.       Black  
La.     Black   Black
Md. Black       Black
Mich.   Black     Black
Minn.       Black  
Miss.     Black   Black
Mo.   Black   Black Black
Nev.       Black  
N.J.   Black   Black Black
N.Y.     Black   Black
N.C.     Black    
Ohio Black     Black Black
Pa.       Black Black
S.C. Black       Black
Tenn.       Black Black
Tex.   Black     Black
Va.   Black   Black Black
Wash.       Black  
Wis.       Black Black

We are not ready to recommend specific names to fill the field positions in the table above, since local politics, the makeup of the state steering committees, and other such issues will affect who is eventually hired. However, identifying qualified African Americans should not be a problem.