Strutting and fretting in an insane world.
Thursday, May 15, 2003
Andrew Sullivan reviewing Sid Blumenthal's new book:
There�s no one like Sid. Not even in Washington. I�m still immensely fond of him, although it�s quite clear by now that, in some respects, he is completely out of his mind. Those jokes that no one else in the universe got; those pauses at the end of anecdotes, while he grinned and puffed and waited for you to assent to his latest impenetrable concoction; the sweet-natured way in which he assassinated characters who violated his sense of manifest destiny and the tenets of his secular religion: Nope, there is no one quite like Sid.I guess that's what makes you a real writer--you can read stuff that turns your stomach and make fun of it. What makes you a really good writer is when someone reads what you've written, they don't think "I'd like to see how James Lileks would have covered that."
Tuesday, May 13, 2003
InstaPundit is hyping blogs as having better factchecking than the Times, but that's pushing it somewhat. Blogs need news media. They can and do add counterspin and the kind of commentary that most news outlets are too blind to see the need for, and they glean from sources that few of us could scan on our own, but they can't provide the original reporting in most cases. Of course, we're not really sure that we get that all the time from reporters, but most of the time we do.
The NYTimes has become a laughingstock, but I suspect it will all blow over, because, you know, its heart was in the right place.
The little I've read about it suggests that Blair's race was just seen as icing on the cake of his apparent collegiality--what most of us would call "sucking up" to management. (The term "brown nosing" being particularly inapposite.) I'm not impressed that Blair really added much to real diversity, since he seems to have been about as Black as Colin Powell, if you know what I mean.
I've thought more than once about how most white males have dealt with discrimination all their lives, but not the kind the law cares about. Discrimination based on looks, family connections, not having the gift of being one of the guys, etc. This phenomenon is not talked about much. It's sort of like the fact that Ivy League Colleges give preferences to "legacies;" its basically just something that no one can do anything about, because it's a fact of financial life.
And then there's the fact that Blair, the son of a federal official, knew the Liberal Mind of the top brass at the Times better than they did themselves. Most of us, reading an intern applicant's statement that "my kindred spirits are the ones who became journalists because they wanted to help people," would write him off immediately as spreading it on a bit thick. Apparently, however, in the case of the Times, he knew his audience and this bull scat just warmed the cockles of someone's heart. And now we all know the rest of the story, and can add to the list of known ways to get ahead at the Times:
1. Be a gifted writer with a deep interest in the language and usage.
2. Be more arrogant than most self-respecting people could tolerate in themselves, and
B. be a thick leftie economics professor who looks like a Bolshevik.
When I figure out why Bill Keller has a column, I'll let you know.
Paul Krugman's pontificating seems to have gone a little too far for Neal Cavuto's patience. It's particularly bad timing for Krugman to be wrapping himself in the Times' mantle of infallibility.
Sure, there's this, BUT THEY STILL HAVEN'T FOUND THE WMD!
Sunday, May 11, 2003
This story makes my heart hurt. It should be shoved in the face of every self-righteous bleep who prides himself on opposing war. But what good would it do? They don't oppose war because of any real principle, but because it's considered "progressive" in the circles they run with.
I wonder if there will be an Iraqi reconciliation committee like the ones in South Africa. I'm reading A History of the Arab People by Albert Hourani, feeling every minute how foolish it is to try to learn much about such a subject in a single volume. As I read about the intellectual developments and culture developed in places like Iraq a thousand years ago, I struggle to understand how these people could have come to be subjected to a regime that made the Nazis look like rank amateurs. I suppose that this is nothing new. Russia, China, Cambodia all descended from hign cultures to genocide and oceans of blood. For all the belittling of religion, even apostate religions haven't wallowed in gore to the extent of modern mechanized murder. Wars are grim, to be sure, but there are often good reasons for them. When they are justified, it is better to go sooner, with overwhelming power and to destroy the source of the infection, than to dither and moralize while the latest version of Stalin, Mao, Pol Pot or Saddam compounds the slaughter.
Margaret Drabble's drivel about hating America has been all over the blogosphere. It really is a screed, no metaphor. She sounds truly fevered, like Sherlock Holmes talking about Dr. Moriarty.
But Peter Beinart doesn't sound much more rational that Drabble, as he argues that Bush relied on lies to justify going to war in Iraq. Apparently the fuss over Bennett's betting supposed to prove that everyone who expects moral standards in leaders is a hypocrite.
It didn't work. Bennett's points about virtue are still as valid as they ever were. I never considered him to be holding himself out as a model for everyone else. He was making a political argument, that standards of behavior are important, especially in a democracy, and that we should be passing them on to our children. We see daily the disasters that lack of honor or even basic honesty cause. The story of Arthur Andersen and Enron are all about honesty and the effects of coveting and greed. Clinton's problems were no cause by his enemies. They were behaving perfectly predictably. The one who had the last clear chance to prevent the whole thing was Bill Clinton, by putting his office ahead of his lust.