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Cue the Fat Lady, soon. In case you weren't sure exactly how serious President Bush is about this war, he and British Prime Minister Tony Blair pledged their resolve again on Thursday. The war will last "however long it takes to win," the president said. Meanwhile, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld waved away the idea of a cease-fire like it were a meddlesome fly. A few Arab countries and France have been promoting the idea in the U.N. "Oh, I have no idea what some country might propose. But there isn't going to be a cease-fire," Mr. Rumsfeld told the Senate Appropriations Committee. So there. Thanks for considering it, Rummy. Meanwhile, Iraqis are dead, Brits are dead and Americans are dead, with no end in sight and the expectation of increasing casualties. Humanitarian aid is slowly moving into Iraq, but there's simply not enough to go around yet. Protests around the world continue and, at times, result in violence and/or arrests.


This is still illegal? The U.S. Supreme Court heard arguments for and against a Texas sodomy law on Wednesday. Texas regards "deviate sexual intercourse [Read: In the butt] with another individual of the same sex" to be illegal. Everyone else regards it as none of your damn business. Houston District Attorney Charles Rosenthal defended the law, saying that the people of Texas "have a right to set moral standards." Speaking for the gay couple charged with breaking the law, attorney Paul M. Smith told the high court that the law violates privacy rights and the Fourteenth Amendment because it does not apply to heterosexual couples. (The Fourteenth Amendment guarantees "equal protection.") The court has treaded here before; as recently as 1986, a similar Georgia law was upheld by the Supreme Court, which ruled that the right to privacy did not apply to "morally reprehensible" acts like sodomy. We've come a long way since … 1986. In a rare moment of humor for the austere court, Justice Antonin Scalia suggested that anti-sodomy laws in Texas were part of a "200-year tradition" and should therefore be considered constitutional. He was joking, right?

In other butt news… Three months from now, the state of New York will be a lot less smoky. Minutes after receiving the bill from the legislature, Gov. George Pataki signed a ban on smoking in the workplace, meaning that nearly all bars and restaurants in the state will be smoke-free in 120 days. The law is even stricter than the ban that will begin in New York City on Sunday and will overturn even its minor allowances, such as smoking in owner-operated bars. The hypocrisy of it all is that New York compensates the gaps in its budget with high cigarette taxes and settlement money from tobacco lawsuits. Oddly, the state law allows bars to have two "promotional" tobacco nights a year, nights when it's all right to smoke. Hey everybody, it's Cancer Night at Al's Tavern! Yeah! Stay tuned for other states to follow suit.


Forget not drinking the water -- just don't breathe. Hong Kong quarantined more than 1,000 people Thursday and closed all primary and secondary schools for the next nine days as a severe acute respiratory syndrome, or SARS, continues to infect hundreds. The first cases turned up in the Guangdong Province of China, an area that is adjacent to Hong Kong. The Chinese government failed to alert Hong Kong health officials that 729 cases of the disease had been reported by the end of February and that 31 people were dead. Singapore also quarantined all 800 people who have come into contact with the 69 infected patients. There is no known cure for SARS, but the symptoms, including pneumonia, can be treated. If you're unwilling to cancel that trip to the Far East, just don't forget your mask.


Bush: "Death? Check. Taxes? Check..." The Senate approved a $2.2 trillion budget for next year, but halved President Bush's proposed tax cut. Bush requested $726 billion in tax cuts, but the Senate approved only $350 billion. The House gave the president exactly what he wanted. What's next is the fun part - the House and the Senate must overcome their differences and agree on budget. The Senate's budget forecasts a $300 billion deficit and a balanced budget in 2012. The Senate's vote was largely along party lines, with all Republicans except John McCain (Ariz.) voting for it. With the way things are going, no one is even going to remember how to spell "balanced budget" in 2012. Time to start hiding money under the mattress again. You know, next to the pornos, where it'll be safe.


Because we really need fewer smart guys right now. Heralded as one of the few true intellectuals in recent Senate history, former New York Democrat Daniel Patrick Moynihan died Wednesday after complications following a burst appendix. Moynihan worked for four presidents, including Nixon, and spent more than 20 years in the Senate. He also authored dozens of books and sported bow ties. In a world that can get awful scummy, Sen. Moynihan was a class act. He will be missed.

So why won't she go away? Yoko Ono opened John Lennon's childhood home to the public Thursday. The home, called Mendips, (The Black Table's childhood home only had an address, but that's why we're not bigger than Jesus), has been restored to look as though it did when Lennon lived there from ages 5 to 23 (at least the we had moved out of the house by then). At the opening ceremony, Yoko said Lennon would have been "totally upset" with the war. Like, yeah.



Aileen Gallagher, author of three children's books, writes Weekly Rundown every Friday.