Saturday, May 31, 2003

Matt Welch nails the New York Times story:
Readers -- not to mention the legions of quality reporters at the nation's other 1,500 dailies -- can be forgiven for finding this notion laughable and borderline offensive. Since when does a meritocratic country of 276 million weirdos need a single council of wise men to decide what stories are important?

Yet some people act as if our very democracy depends on this essentially undemocratic notion.
This is exactly the reaction I had when I subscribed to the Wall Street Journal for about 6 months about 30 years ago and realized that nearly all the stories I heard on NPR had started life in one of the large eastern daily papers. It was the beginning of my contempt for the liberal media. The current passion play is just another example of the amazing arrogance and ego of these people.
"America's readers need The New York Times to re-establish its credibility," warned Mike Clark, the "reader advocate" for The Florida Times-Union. "America's journalists need the Times to regain its status as a journalistic role model."
These are the people who keep insisting that the media don't have even the slightest hint of a breath of bias.

Friday, May 30, 2003

So I went to and the first thing that comes up is this ad:
The Moon Landing was a hoax.

There was once life on Mars.

The Raelians cloned a baby.


I wonder what they paid for that.

Tuesday, May 27, 2003

Enron's new brand name is "Pipeco." Good move. Of course, "Flushco" would probably have been just as good. I associate "pipe" with lead, sewers, plumbing, tobacco and crack, not energy.

While InstaPundit is focused on the reeling NYTimes, others are wondering at the idiocy of the European Union in asking its members to accept a constitution that will give it a government every bit as effective as the U.N.

Monday, May 26, 2003

Memorial Day

I've never really thought much about what Memorial Day is about. Maybe you have to feel your own mortality, and that comes with age. Maybe I just didn't have a direct connection with men and women who made me feel it. Maybe it was Viet Nam.

I grew up assuming that I would be drafted. That's what happened in the fifties in Utah. You turn 19; you serve a mission for 2 years, then you get drafted for 2 more years. It all changed in the sixties. As U.S. military involvement in Viet Nam became controversial, the media image of the military itself became uglier. By the time I was old enough to go,soldiers were the dregs of society, drug addicts, baby-killers. Think of Apocalypse Now or Platoon. All the talk about honor and fighting for freedom was seen to have been cynical hype. So, when I came home from my mission, I didn't sign up, but I didn't try very hard to avoid service, either. My birthday came up out of the running (deoending on how you looked at it) when the draft lottery was held, so I didn't get drafted. When I finished law school, I applied to the Navy JAG, but they didn't want me. I was pretty scrawny, underweight with bad eyesight, so I guess it was a good thing, but I've always felt that I didn't do my duty. Being excused didn't feel like much of an excuse.

In all the years since then, I've carried the old image of the military depicted in M*A*S*H and Catch 22. I had an image of a pathetic bureaucracy that tied its own shoelaces together and then tripped on them. I'd had friends who had been in the Marines, and I knew they were tough and took on the tough assignments, but I still kind of envision their officers as idiots like Dilbert's boss.

Now I know I was wrong all along. Our military was getting better and better. When it went to all volunteer, it had to. It had to amplify the power of fewer soldiers who were of higher quality, through better training and high tech weaponry. I don't think I really understood it though until Operation Iraqi Freedom. These weren't the doped up defectives I'd seen depicted during Viet Nam. These were men and women with good training, good discipline and awesome firepower. (unfinished)

Sunday, May 25, 2003

InstaPundit is linking to a lot of stuff about the suspension of Rick Bragg who, like Janet Cooke, has received a pulitzer. Bragg wasn't guilty of making up a story, but having his stories ghost written by stringers. The sample of his writing reminded me of the beginning of a short story rather than a news report. Is this what journalism is about? I find this kind of newswriting inherently suspect--it suggests a self-conscious attempt to imitate creative writers and it is seldom compelling as, for example, the crime reporting of Edna Buchanan. One gets the feeling that most reporters are closet novelists or the next Bob Woodward, David Halberstram or Tom Wolfe. Some of them will be, but most won't and this won't get them there any faster. Michael Kelly is a better model. Otherwise you could end up like Paul Krugman or Maureen Dowd.