Jewish World Review Sept. 27, 2002/ 21 Tishrei, 5763

Marianne M. Jennings

Marianne M. Jennings
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Consumer Reports

Hosers rise again | Jack Welch, Dennis Kozlowski, David Westerfield, the Lackawanna 5 terrorists, Saddam Hussein, and Scott Ritter. Hosers. They drench us with doublespeak. Using the irrelevant, they deflect attention from rogue behavior. Hosers play verbal shell games that distract us from real issues and their misdeeds.

Jack Welch, former CEO of GE, is in the midst of an adultery-induced divorce, and his soon-to-be-ex-wife, bemoaning a paltry existence on $35,000 per month, now plays hardball. She let the world know, via divorce pleadings, that the charismatic Jack had perks during his GE days that could make a dictator blush: wine, laundry, dry cleaning, flowers, toiletries, Knicks tickets, cook, housekeep staff, postage, newspaper subscriptions, Red Sox tickets, Yankee tickets, restaurant tabs, jets, helicopters, and limousines. Oh, my! How did he spend his $16.9 million in salary? Yu-Gi-Oh! cards?

Jack was all over news programs, reeking of charm. Jack says he'll pay for things in the future. Obsequious anchors ignored the GE tab as well as the underlying cause of his divorce: an affair with the former editor of Harvard Business Review begun while she was interviewing him for a story, which got a kick start at dinner at a Manhattan restaurant, paid for by GE shareholders. Banish this ill-behaved industry titan to pasture. Jack Welch - six-sigma hoser.

Dennis Kozlowski, former CEO of Tyco and under indictment for sales tax evasion and fraud, had Tyco pick up the tab for a $15,000 umbrella stand, a $6,300 sewing basket, a $2,200 waste basket, $2,900 in coat hangers, $1,650 for a notebook, and $445 for a pin cushion. Wal-Mart has $1.79 pincushions and Pier One has tacky poodle umbrella stands for $10. This hoser's ex-wife posted his $10-million bond knowing Kozlowski threw a $1 million Grecian birthday bash (Tyco paid) for his new trophy wife.

David Westerfield, convicted of killing his 7-year-old neighbor, Danielle van Dam, flummoxed a jury twice. The young girl's blood was found in his van and her hair in his bedroom, but it took the jury a week to convict him. Westerfield and his defense lawyer used Danielle's parents' swinging lifestyle as the apparent cause of death. A hoser theory: if your parents are wild, your killer walks! In the sentencing phase, the defense pointed out that except for this one murder, Westerfield was a good guy. The jury took another five days to impose the death penalty.

Katie Couric came to the defense of the 5 Arab males arrested in the Buffalo suburb of Lackawanna by inquiring of the FBI what kind of evidence it had that the men were terrorists other than the fact that they had trained at al-Qaeda camps. Katie and others fell for these Middle East hosers' stories, wrenched from them only when inconsistencies emerged. It was the Pattty Hearst hoser defense: they were forced to stay in training camps. Apparently the terrorist brochures on Afghani al-Qaeda training experiences were a bait-and-switch deal. They thought they were going on a pilgrimage. They also fell for some time-sharing condos in Uzbekistan.

Speaking of Middle East hosers, Saddam Hussein, killer of his own people, got a standing ovation at the U.N. this past week when a flunky read his words there. Hoser by proxy. The frou-frou delegates condemned the U.S. and praised Hussein even as this hoser extraordinaire cobbles together nuclear firepower.

Scott Ritter, former U.N. weapons inspector, had us up in arms, as it were, from 1991-98 with his condemnations of the U.N.'s work and fear mongering about Iraq. Now he demands peace for his newfound friend and fellow hoser, Saddam. On September 8, 2002, he became the first American to address the Iraqi National Assembly and he accepted $800,000 from a friend of Saddam's to make his documentary on Iraq, 10% of which he paid himself. He says there is no conflict because, "I am waging peace." Treasonous hoser.

When it comes to hoser ability, you either have it or you don't. The same acts committed by non-hosers get them ousted even as hosers escape unscathed. Bob Greene, long-time Chicago Tribune columnist, resigned last week following the revelation of a fling with a 17-year-old (the age of consent in Illinois) over a decade ago. The ménage a youth occurred when the cherub was in the midst of a school project at the Tribune offices. Greene, a columnist enamored of families and the 1950s and 60s purity, is not hoser material. He was forced out unceremoniously.

The Tribune and other newspapers once subscribed to a notorious hoser's theory that personal lives are no one's business, even when they involve young interns and occur at the office. Greene, however, is the antithesis of a hoser. Non-hosers, when confronted with bad behavior, stop, confess and go about mending their souls. Hosers proceed to another day, another misdeed, and another tale that defies logic, common sense and truth. Mr. Greene should shout with pride, while forming an "H" above his head, "I am not a hoser."

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JWR contributor Marianne M. Jennings is a professor of legal and ethical studies at Arizona State University. Send your comments by clicking here.


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08/30/02: The Shakespearean tragedy of affirmative action
08/23/02: Hollywood Joe's admission
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08/08/02: Ode to a coal miner
08/02/02: Sarah Brady's gun gift
07/26/02: Don't do it, Tiger
07/18/02: Reality Muppets
07/09/02: We're all going to die, live with it
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06/27/02: Nick not right
06/20/02: Behind the music
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06/06/02: Where was Agent Rowley when the FBI needed her?
05/30/02: Of big hair and sanity
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04/18/02: Claire's life
04/15/02: Harvard takes off its pants one leg at a time
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03/31/02: Oscars' subtle bigotry was embarrassing
03/22/02: Blame Oprah, Rosie, Sally, Ted, David
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03/08/02: Botoxic faces
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02/25/02: Don't take the gold
02/14/02: Ease up on the brothers and sisters
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09/20/01: No tinhorn terrorists can frighten us
09/06/01: If there is no honor in youth sports, it is because of the adults
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08/23/01: Lowering expectations and flying high
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09/09/00: Why rich folk don't bother me none
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08/18/00: Resenting the accusations of racial prejudice
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04/25/00: Life's circle and tenderness
04/18/00: Womyn who want it both ways
04/11/00: The monsters we're raising with the ergo proposition
04/05/00: Endowing the Hooters Chair for Literature Appreciation
03/28/00: Dr. Laura: The passive/aggressive kid's mom
03/21/00: Dough and campaigns
03/14/00: The volunteerism of conscription and pomp
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01/04/00: Struggling mightily amidst the comfort
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12/14/99: Drop-kicking the homeless
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06/17/99: True courage is more than just admitting troubles

© 2002, Marianne M. Jennings