Father's Day in the Fray.

Father's Day in the Fray.

Father's Day in the Fray.

What's happening in our readers' forum.
June 15 2003 2:34 PM

A Wise Child that Knows His Own Father

Father's Day in the Fray.

In Memoriam: Fathers Day evokes the memories of Michael Ryerson who, with one of his signature essays, recalls his Los Angeles childhood at the feet of his father, Lyle, "the least affected man I've ever known." Now, years later, Michael wishes:

I could remember the last time I sat on the counter with my Dad, drinking a cold soda. That's the way it is with last times, they happen and you don't know it and you just go on until, one day, you look back and they're hard to remember.

We buried my father on a Tuesday. The cortege stretched out two miles. He was just a grocer.

In a heartrending reply, zinya writes that she "grew up in these same LA streets" where "that Helms Bakery was a waft away."

In later years, the faithful treks to Dodger games each summer after they miraculously moved here (cuz they'd been our team even in Brooklyn) and Dad taught me to score, and his love of the game inspired my learning things like ERA averages as well as loving our PeeWees and Juniors and Sandys and Dukes…

My dad's been gone 16 yrs now, and that too was evoked by your story and by the approaching Sunday.

"This will be the first Father's Day without my father," laments andkathleen, who titles her top thread with the deceptive header "Father's Day is a non-day now."

My father never made a fuss about Father's Day. Gifts and cards meant little to him; it was our presence that meant the most. He considered the best gift being able to sit down and discuss topics ranging from religion to the environment to the changing roles of women (and we often disagreed on that subject). One topic on which he spoke most poignantly was what he wished he'd been able to do with his life. He'd wanted to study for his doctorate, but it wasn't a feasible career choice when he was in college and he ended up with a career in sales managing for manufacturing companies. His true love was academia and higher education; I think he would have been supremely happy to have taught psychology or philosophy, burying himself in analysis, research, and talk.

Don't miss andkathleen's rich catalog of "Things that my father loved," and her Father's Day poem here.

My Speech to the Graduates:Historyguy's father is "ten years gone now," but historyguy posts a commencement address delivered by historydad to the graduates of the College of Staten Island where Dad served on faculty here.

In the Name of the Son: Finding profound curiosity in Palestinian Prime Minister Mahmoud Abu Mazen, zinya asks the Fray:

Does that strike you too as a rather stunning and intriguing anomaly of sorts? To rename a man after his son (of course, since he's given his son his name, it's a bit circular, and a way of picking his own renaming, but it says so much, it seems, about at least one of those several cultures where having a son and especially a first-born son, is tantamount to life itself, a veritable raison d'etre.)

Whatever your raison d'etre, FrayDads, a healthy Father's Day to you and yours. … KA 11:20 a.m.

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Friday, June 13, 2003

Taxonomy of the Trade: Pols vacillate, but so do pundits. And Geoff, empiricist that he is, launches a study

comparing pundit positions before the war with their positions today. The hypothesis guiding the theory? That the changes of heart in the chattering classes might be broadly indicative of the potential fallout of the ongoing lack of WMD discoveries.

Among the genera of scribes, you'll find Paul Krugman as a Lonesome Dove ("They claimed the WMD were a lie before the war. And now they're starting to look vindicated.") and Thomas Friedman as a Regal Eagle ("supported the war for non-WMD related weapons, leaving them free to cast thunderbolts into the WMD debate from their lofty positions of total vindication."), among others.

For an ornithological reading of a pundit, submit the name of the writer and a sampling of before-and-after war commentary here

As Nimble Jugglers that Deceive the Eye: JumboBurrito takes on WaPo monthly columnist and author Robert Kagan for "A Plot to Deceive," in which he posits, "There is something surreal about the charges flying that President Bush lied when he claimed Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction." 

Jumbo's first rebuttal is to Kagan's unequivocal claim that "Iraq possessed weapons of mass destruction and the ability to produce more…has never been in doubt." Jumbo follows by charging Kagan for resorting to the ol' rhetorical straw man ploy. Finally, he takes umbrage at Kagan's attempt "to mitigate Bush's lying by placing him
in the company of Hans Blix and Joseph Cirincione." 

AdamMorgan wants "to add one more point of rebuttal":

I think Kagan makes a logical leap when he compares lying to a conspiracy. A lie is a willful attempt to deceive. A conspiracy is an agreement to commit a subversive or illegal act.

…As does zinya here: 

[H]is last paragraph sets up the false dichotomy that seems to be Kagan's ace in the hole. Just in case we haven't believed all his other rebuttals, well, then how about setting up a (false) dichotomy where the choice is a simplistic either/or – 'Dear Reader, you get to choose: either Bush is telling the truth or else Saddam is.' More of the black-and-white world. Dare to find fault with Bush and you sanctify Saddam, he seeks to threaten.

You can read the Jumbo's studied counter-Kagan treatise here, followed by the several addenda from KF regulars…KA8:55 a.m.

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Wednesday, June 11, 2003

Yiddish Theatre: Exactly what is Christopher Hitchens implying in his Fighting Words column, "The Boy Who Cried Wolfowitz"? FrogExaggerator pulls no punches and curbs no enthusiasm here:

"It's nice to be affectionate to something German."
- Larry David, Curb Your Enthusiasm (when petting a German Shepherd)

If you want to demonize someone, make them German … Propaganda is served in all forms from all sides, and pronouncing Wolf-o-witz as Vulf-o-vitz when you know better is propaganda.

LubanJ adds, "And if you *really* want to demonize someone, make them German *and* Jewish. Presumably this is what Hitchens was getting at, though his implication was perhaps too subtly stated."

Self-professed to be "pretty far left," mbb was

against this war, not because I like Saddam, but because I mistrust my own government's motives in choosing to displace at this moment one of the many murderous dictators they were formerly in bed with. But I am sick to death of the anti-Semitism on the left. I am only grateful that there are now some Jewish organizations that have formed that are opposed to Israeli policy vis-à-vis the Palestinians, so that I can go to a rally or a lecture … and not have to hear the same old disgusting anti-Jewish crap, blood libel even, that one has to listen to if one goes to a rally put on by the 'American left.' (I can only imagine how much worse it would be to go to a rally put on by the European left!)

More from mbb on the heartbreak she and others on the left share here, and more general concern about coded "demonizing" from LionFromZion here.

Double Vay Doubletalk: Hooked on the phonics of the issue, AmazonFox claims that

if you're pronouncing "Wolfowitz" phonetically, especially if you're from the Continent and are aware that there are other languages besides English, then you would say "Vulfovitz". It's how his ancestors would have said their own name, after all.

To which kulthur responds, "bullshit … If you're on the BBC and talking about the Assistant Secretary of Defense for the USA, know something about English … and are corrected on air, you do not continue to make an obvious mistake unless it makes a point in some fond fucking way—and you know it."

Could the BBC mouth have been clueless and not nefarious? Pokey-O suggests as much: "Quick, name the British equivalent of the "Assistant Secretary of Defense."

Gevalt, A Pogrom: Larry2 is armed with the Jewish canon and proposes that

Hitchens should be hit over the head with a copy of Malamud's story 'The Jewbird' for even suggesting that the complaint against the Hawks who have hijacked the government is attributable to 'anti-semeets.'

The_Bell agrees that "to portray what may very well be simple mispronunciations as targeted slander and innuendo … is at worst a cheap means to deflect attention from the real debate and pathetically weak at best." And here, Zathras will

put off getting alarmed about anything deeper than this until I see something more than deliberate mispronunciations by ill-intentioned but ineffectual BBC hosts and denunciations of Wolfowitz by longtime terrorist sympathizers like Edward Said. Wolfowitz himself might agree that he has many more consequential enemies in the State Department, even if all of them always take care to pronounce his name correctly.

The Defense Never RestsGeoff hits the periodicals room and answers Hitchens' implication that Wolfowitz is taking it from the so-called liberal media. Geoff's evidence, including excerpts from The Nation and the New York Times, can be found hereTheNewSnobbery concedes Hitchens' point on the Guardian snafu, but then allows, "let's be fair: the press is swinging towards nailing Wolfowitz after giving him and his ideological allies a free pass of nearly unprecedented magnitude."

But his friends call him LSD: An adaptation from doodahman here, "Springtime for Wulfenfitz." … KA3:20 p.m.

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Tuesday, June 10, 2003

Meta-vyld? There's some debate in Press Box Fray as to whether Jack Shafer is pulling our legs in demanding the head of Times interim executive editor, Jim Lelyveld. Zathras lets Shafer have it here:

Jack Shafer has felt compelled to jump up and down, yelling 'look at me, everyone! I'm a jerk.' Fray posters do this on a regular basis, some of them anyway, but Fray posters do not get paid. Loss of perspective and composure at the same time on the part of a professional journalist is not a pretty thing to watch. When the subject is the performance of a newspaper's interim editor after four days on the job, all one can do is avert one's eyes and hope that Shafer snaps out of it.

To which Joe_JP responds, "I was ready to say the same thing, but I was worried that the column was meant to be satiric. After all, he couldn't be serious, right?" Newly starred MatthewGarth asks, "Could it be meta?"  If so, MG scoffs, "The Onion has nothing to worry about." Kurosawa, upon first look, takes Shafer to task because:

The new post contradicts large portions of his previous one. I'm sure he won't be satisfied with Raines' successor either. I wonder which 'Golden Age' of the Times he harks back to. ... And the argument expecting a rapid change in the NYT's content. ... that's just childish!

But then, kurosawa decides—as do many readers—that Shafer's piece is a "Trojan Horse article" here.

Insider Baiting: Then there are those who suspect it's satire, but think Shafer does C- work. SlipperyPete laments living in a rectangular state here:

Is this something that only people who have Poynter bookmarked can understand? Will somebody explain this? Ah, the hazards of living in flyover country. You have to get translators to decode all this snarky adolescent inter-journalist bullshit.

James, who seems to fall on the earnest side of the ledger, nevertheless scores a direct hit at Shafer:

in future columns, watch for such lines as 'Lelyveld has been eating a lot fewer TV dinners as of late, and has switched the brand of coffee he's drinking; can it be he's girding himself for the long haul?'

For more on James' impressions of Shafer's "obsessive-compulsive fixation" with the Times, go here

Alternative Press: This gem from BTC News, courtesy of Betty_The_CrowKA10:35 a.m.

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Monday, June 9, 2003

The Cook, The Thief, The Knife and Her Broker: The Martha Stewart ordeal (chronicled in Thursday's Moneybox by Daniel Gross) prompts Sissyfuss1 to raise two questions:

First, are celebrities being singled out for prosecution? If so, is that fair?

So, while discouraging crimes by influential people, doesn't this increase the incentive for ordinary folks to engage in unlawful activity?

PhilfromCalifornia runs the numbers and concludes that

It turns out that she could be sent to jail for 35 years. It looks like it might have been a smart move to just kill her broker to shut him up.

S1 responds that, "If she killed him, I'm sure it would have been done tastefully!" In addition, S1 agrees with Phil's assertion that "there needs to be a serious review of penalties which can be meted out for different crimes":

I always found Gary Becker's theory of crime (to create disincentive, increase penalty) naive, one of the reasons being what you outline. Spillovers and switches are important. If you impose a severe penalty on pickpockets, they may simply switch to bank robbery. Good rationale for making the "punishment fit the crime", without even invoking moral reasons.

Pere waxes metaphorically on the allure and perils of fame here, and reminds readers that prosecutors are so likely to lap at the "golden chalice of Celebrity" as anyone else.

Late Returns: Good pop criticism is a treasured commodity. Everybody's doin' it, but few execute it with a precision and panache that get FrayEditor laughing aloud from his patrol booth in Echo Park. MatthewGarth's Ad Watch commentary ("A Puma May be a Big Pussy", "Will Blog for Swag") and his general musings (from Sandbox here) warrant a gold star, particularly after a politicized week in the Fray during which volume preceded wit as the weaponry of choice. Matthew, please report to the customer service desk in BOTF to claim your prize. … KA9:25 a.m.