This post, at Nancynall.com, would seem to be the definitive take on the Bob Greene scandal, barring further developments (and assuming it's accurate). [Link via Lucianne.] Nall's post beats out John Scalzi's excellent earlier effort, which has the additional virtue of offering a more ... well, male viewpoint. Both think Greene's a hack who got a raw deal, unless there's more to the story than the Chicago Tribune has let on. ... [Scalzi link via Instapundit ] ... Why has the blogosphere done such a much better job on this story than conventional, professional media? a) In stories about other journalists, there seem to be extra layers of caution and artifice that prevent reporters in the mainstream press from saying what they really think, and b) what journalists really think on the subject of colleague/competitor Bob Greene's troubles is likely to be a lot more pungent and inside-y than what they really think about, say, Steve Case's troubles. So with Greene the gap between the truth and what you got to read in your daily paper is especially large. Blogs eliminate that gap. ... Plus the blogosphere can direct you, the reader, to the best take on Greene among hundreds of thousands of blogs, as opposed to dozens of newspapermen. Maybe Nancynall is a one-hit wonder who will never write anything this good again (though I doubt it). But thanks to the Power of the Web, you get to read her hit. ... Still there's one last level of artifice, even in the blogosphere: Why do men -- like Scalzi here, or Warren Beatty in Shampoo (or whoever wrote Warren Beatty's lines in Shampoo) -- have to explain their desire to have sex with attractive women in terms of a struggle against mortality ("middle-age-death-denying" in Scalzi's words)? You mean they wouldn't have sex with young women if they were in good shape and knew they were going to live to be 300? They didn't want to have sex with young women when they were young themselves? It's sex! Millions of years of evolution have designed men to want it and enjoy it.. It's stupid to try to explain this urge in some highfalutin' literary way -- and revealing that even relatively no-BS men like Scalzi (or Nick Hornby in High Fidelity, to name another) feel that they have to. ....9:33 A.M.
Monday, September 16, 2002
The unsophisticated NYT: When is Sen. Pete Domenici of New Mexico a "hard line conservative"? When the New York Times Magazineneeds to hype a story (on Domenici's support for "mental health parity") for its apparently uninformed readership, to whom almost any mainstream Republican seemingly is "hard line." ... This is not a mistake the Washington Post could get away with, because its readers know. Domenici is conservative, but hardly "hard-line." He's a budget-balancer who often bucks ideologues in his own party because he's willing to forego tax cuts in order to avoid deficits. When he didn't get a GOP leadership position recently, it was considered a victory for the real "hard line" conservatives and a blow to more moderate Republicans. Domenici got a "D" from the Gun Owners of America in their most recent survey, and gets relatively mixed reviews from Grover Norquist's Americans for Tax Reform. And he not infrequently adopts pet goo-goo causes -- raising barge fees was a big Domenici crusade in the '70s, for example. Just four years ago, the editorial page of the New York Times had this to say:
Moderates in the Senate, especially veterans of past budget battles like Pete Domenici and William Roth, refuse to go along with the big tax cuts advocated by the budget-cutters in the House.
[Emphasis added.] ... P.S.: The "hard line conservative" characterization appears on the cover of the NYT magazine. In the actual piece, Deborah Sontag is more careful -- while still leaving the impression that Domenici's mental health crusade is more surprising and out of character than it really is. The point isn't that Sontag is a blindered Upper West Side rube. But her editors .....1:48 A.M.
Sunday, September 15, 2002
Even people who care passionately about the civil rights of non-citizen terrorists are willing to throw out the constitutional rule book when it comes to consumers of child pornography. Steve Silberman's Wired takeout on this topic suffers from the usual conventional-journalism defects, but does give an effective overall impression of a publicity-driven FBI investigation that's either out of control already or close to it. ... P.S.: What are the usual conventional-journalism defects? 1) Too long! 2) Too much real human interest! -- the poster-boy victim, his childhood, the ponderous scene-setting; etc. 3) Too much time spent on issues that are relevant to defense lawyers -- i.e. whether the FBI had "probable cause" to search the accused's computers -- rather than on the issue we care about, which is whether those accused are in fact guilty of anything they should be prosecuted for. 4) Silberman buys into some anti-prosecution arguments -- like the argument that kiddie porn doesn't encourage molestation -- that are highly implausible. Better to argue that the First Amendment protects many things, such as fascist propaganda, that can encourage horrible behavior. ... Silberman also never takes on the central argument of FBI kiddie-porn theorist Kenneth Lanning -- that the evil in child porn is what it does to the children in it, and if you look at it you create demand that encourages the abasement of more children. Couldn't you make the same argument about a lot of images? (Snuff films, most obviously, but also images of lesser crimes where Lanning's case might lose its power. Suppose some people liked to watch videos of robberies. Or highly dangerous and illegal car chases. Luckily nobody would be crazy enough to broadcast those.). Updates: Law prof Eugene Volokh adds what Dan Rather would call "context and perspective." The crunch comes with "crush films," it turns out. ... Silberman emails to say he didn't critique Lanning's theory in the piece (after discussing it at length) because he agrees with it. Aha! .... But then his poster-boy victim belongs in jail, no? ... 11:58 P.M.
Friday, September 13, 2002
Are the Dems Getting Nervous? Hmm. It seems like only a few weeks ago Democrats were acting as if they didn't care whether Congress reauthorized the 1996 welfare reform law this year or put off the issue until next year. The Dems seemed to believe they were going to retake Congress and could get a better deal next year anyway. But now Democrats are urging Majority Leader Daschle to take up the welfare issue and emitting let's-make-a-deal cooing noises. Why? Possible theories: Theory #1: Democrats (as predicted in this space) realize they are now in a bad position going into the election. The Republican House has done its work and passed a bill. The Democratic Senate has not, in part because the Finance Committee's version veered off to the left --by, for example, allowing education to substitute for work. ('Go on the dole, and we'll pay you to go to school!') That leaves Daschle legitimately vulnerable to the charge that he's obstructed a popular bill. Worse, it leaves Democratic House members on record as having voted against the Bush-supported welfare reform in the House. (Many may have assumed they'd get a second chance to support a compromise bill, but they won't if there's no deal.) Theory #2: Maybe Democrats are no longer so sure they're going to retake the House and hold the Senate. ... 1:45 A.M.
Thursday, September 12, 2002
Wednesday, September 11, 2002
Less Mawk, More Action? The semi-official party line on the right, regarding the 9/11 anniversary, is to disdain blubbery mawkishness in favor of clear-eyed action -- as Lucianne.com puts it, "Remember and move on. There is work to be done." Jennifer Harper echoes the theme in a forceful Washington Times essay and Peggy Noonan says "a certain coldness is in order." But the news here, I think, is that Noonan, in a cold and clear-eyed way, is remarkably noncommittal on an Iraq War:
This is the year when the president and his advisors will or will not make the case, as they say, on Iraq. The president thinks a key part of the war on terror will be moving against Saddam Hussein and liberating Iraq from his heavy hand. But if Mr. Bush is to make the case it will not be with emotional rhetoric, with singing phrases, with high oratory. It will not, in this coming cooler time, be made with references to evil ones. ...
"Saddam is evil" is not enough. A number of people are evil, and some are even our friends. "Saddam has weapons of mass destruction" is not enough. A number of countries do. What the people need now is hard data that demonstrate conclusively that Saddam has weapons of mass destruction which he is readying to use on the people of the U.S. or the people of the West.
Sen. Zell Miller's WaPo essay turns out to have been another important expression of the Skeptical Patriotic Center, despite Miller's posturing "Aye-aye-sir" introductory set-up. ... P.S.: Harper digs up a good Eleanor Roosevelt quote about Pearl Harbor: "It is not a date for a holiday. It is a date that should make us work." ... P.P.S.: I admit to blubbering myself when I read about Dave Karnes, the ex-Marine accountant who unaccountably drove from Connecticut on 9/11 in his Porsche and found two of the only survivors in the WTC rubble. But, of course, one of the reasons Karnes' story hasn't been hyped on TV around the clock is precisely that he's not a blubbering victim. He's an obsessive, super-religious straight-arrow type -- bad TV! -- and, worse, he doesn't seem to have lost any buddies or loved ones on 9/11. TV producers these days generally prefer heroes who are victims too. ... 12:15 P.M.
I agree with Instapundit that his 10:30 A.M. post of a year ago holds up pretty impressively, especially the paragraph on "antiterrorism" legislation. ... 1:00 P.M.
Tuesday, September 10, 2002
NYT reform in resting mode: Blogger Eugene Volokh blasts Raymond Bonner's NYT dispatch on the Bush Administration's post-9/11 policy of requiring that "officials in Washington approve visas for every male between the ages of 16 and 45 who is a native of any one of 26 countries." As Volokh notes, Bonner spends 21 paragraphs pissing on the new policy ("The delays are interminable ... At a time that the United States is trying to improve its image .." etc.) and repetitively quotes "American diplomats" and "officials," plus one frustrated applicant, who oppose it. But he doesn't even try to let readers know the other side's arguments. ... Maybe the Bush policy is stupid. Undoubtedly, many diplomats hate it. But couldn't the Times have found one "American official" -- or non-official -- who thinks the policy is a good idea and could defend it? Maybe those officials aren't in Jakarta, Indonesia -- Bonner's dateline. That's why big media organizations have Washington bureaus. ... It's not a completely implausible guess that those "interminable" backlogs, which have the effect of keeping Muslim men of prime terrorist age out of the U.S., are not considered by everyone to be such a bad thing. ... 2:37 P.M.
Tapped -- the lively and widely-read blog of the generally unlively and little-read American Prospect -- is back, after a disturbing period of dormancy. ... Rumors persist, however, that the lead-handed Prospect powers may kill their embarrassingly popular feature. All those annoying hits! ....It reminds you of that old story about the shopkeeper in the Communist Soviet Union who said, "We don't carry that item any more. It kept selling out and we couldn't keep it in stock." ... 2:15 P.M.
Links Drudge Report--80 % true. Close enough! Instapundit--All-powerful hit king. Joshua Marshall--Escapee from American Prospect. Salon--Better click fast! Andrew Sullivan--He asks, he tells. He sells! Washington Monthly--Includes "Tilting at Windmills" Lucianne.com--Stirs the drink. Virginia Postrel--Friend of the future! Peggy Noonan--Gold in every column. Matt Miller--Savvy rad-centrism. WaPo--Waking from post-Bradlee snooze. The Liberal Death Star--Registration required. NY Observer--Read it before the good writers are all hired away. New Republic--Left on welfare, right on warfare! Jim Pinkerton--Quality ideas come from quantity ideas. Tom Tomorrow--Everyone's favorite leftish cartoonists' blog. Ann "Too Far" Coulter--Sometimes it's just far enough. Bull Moose--National Greatness Central. John Ellis--Forget that Florida business! The cuz knows politics, and he has, ah, sources. "The Note"--How the pros start their day. Romenesko's MediaNews--O.K. they actually start it here. Center on Budget and Policy Priorities--Money Liberal Central.. Steve Chapman--Ornery-but-lovable libertarian. Rich Galen--Sophisticated GOP insider. Man Without Qualities--Seems to know a lot about white collar crime. Hmmm. Overlawyered.com--Daily horror stories. Eugene Volokh --Smart, packin' prof, and not Instapundit! Eve Tushnet--Queer, Catholic, conservative and not Andrew Sullivan! WSJ's Best of the Web--James Taranto's excellent obsessions. Walter Shapiro--Politics and (don't laugh) neoliberal humor! Eric Alterman -- Always annoying, occasionally right. Joe Conason -- Bush-bashing, free most days. Nonzero--Bob Wright explains it all. [More tk.]
Drudge Report--80 % true. Close enough! Instapundit--All-powerful hit king. Joshua Marshall--Escapee from American Prospect. Salon--Better click fast! Andrew Sullivan--He asks, he tells. He sells! Washington Monthly--Includes "Tilting at Windmills" Lucianne.com--Stirs the drink. Virginia Postrel--Friend of the future! Peggy Noonan--Gold in every column. Matt Miller--Savvy rad-centrism. WaPo--Waking from post-Bradlee snooze. The Liberal Death Star--Registration required. NY Observer--Read it before the good writers are all hired away. New Republic--Left on welfare, right on warfare! Jim Pinkerton--Quality ideas come from quantity ideas. Tom Tomorrow--Everyone's favorite leftish cartoonists' blog. Ann "Too Far" Coulter--Sometimes it's just far enough. Bull Moose--National Greatness Central. John Ellis--Forget that Florida business! The cuz knows politics, and he has, ah, sources. "The Note"--How the pros start their day. Romenesko's MediaNews--O.K. they actually start it here. Center on Budget and Policy Priorities--Money Liberal Central.. Steve Chapman--Ornery-but-lovable libertarian. Rich Galen--Sophisticated GOP insider. Man Without Qualities--Seems to know a lot about white collar crime. Hmmm. Overlawyered.com--Daily horror stories. Eugene Volokh --Smart, packin' prof, and not Instapundit! Eve Tushnet--Queer, Catholic, conservative and not Andrew Sullivan! WSJ's Best of the Web--James Taranto's excellent obsessions. Walter Shapiro--Politics and (don't laugh) neoliberal humor! Eric Alterman -- Always annoying, occasionally right. Joe Conason -- Bush-bashing, free most days. Nonzero--Bob Wright explains it all. [More tk.]