Neocon Schism Ahead?
Plus: Don't Rush Me V
Rix: Who Trix Blix? From Sunday's Tom Ricks WaPo piece on U.S. war plans:
The pace of Special Operations forces will also be stepped up. Their main focus will be denying Iraqi forces access to certain chemical and biological weapons sites that cannot be bombed for fear of setting up toxic plumes, according to people familiar with their missions and training.
Hmmm. If we really know where these chemical and biological weapons are, aren't we supposed to send an e-mail to Hans Blix? Or was Fareed Zakaria right when he said, on This Week a month and a half ago:
I think the fear that the Administration has, the reason it is not sharing intelligence is that the inspectors will find something. Let me read to you something Rumsfeld said to The Washington Post. "If the inspectors have found something, the argument might then be that inspections were working and, therefore, we should give them more time." This is the view of the inspectors, that they are not getting American intelligence because there are people in the Pentagon who fear that giving them intelligence will make them find things.
I thought at the time Zakaria's version couldn't be true. Looks like I was wrong. ... No wonder Blix hasn't come up with much. ... 11:53 P.M.
Unity Doesn't Last Like It Used To:
March 3, 2003
Democrats Pulling Together United Front Against G.O.P.
By DAVID FIRESTONE
ASHINGTON, Feb. 28 — Out of power, groping for a voice in an unfamiliar wilderness, Democrats in Congress have begun to put aside their differences and coalesce around a sharpened new criticism of President Bush's domestic policies. ...
Democrats On Hill Split On Agenda
Divisions Weaken Attacks on Bush
By Jim VandeHei
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, March 4, 2003; Page A01
Nearly four months after unexpected election losses prompted a reevaluation of their priorities, congressional Democrats are conflicted over their party's direction, deeply divided over Iraq and struggling to agree on a domestic agenda. ...
"Tight Job Market" Update: NEXIS Don't Lie! At the instigation of alert reader D.T., kf has done what it should have done all al -- I mean, kf has gone the extra mile and consulted NEXIS to see how the phrase "tight job market" has been used and misused by the NYT in the past. The evidence confirms kf's crude paranoid view that the Times has only recently switched to the incorrect use of "tight job market" as meaning a market where it's hard to find a job (as opposed to hard to find workers to hire). Specifically, there are 44 uses of the phrase "tight job market" in the Times in the past five years. Before November of 2001, it was used 26 times to indicate a good, hot, easy-to-find-a-job economy, and only five times to indicate the exact opposite. But a November 18, 2001 story marked a sharp break -- since then, the phrase has been correctly used zero times to mean a good, hot economy and 13 times to indicate lousy employment prospects for workers.
Is this because in mid-2001 the economy suddenly turned sour, and the NYT 's editors decided to reverse by 180 degrees the meaning they'd previously given to the term in order to spice up their gloom-'n-doom coverage? Or was it because in late 2001 the Times got a crusading new editor, and somehow standards started to sliip? You get tenure if you can answer that one! ... Tenure bid:WaPo, in comparison, at first seems to show a similar pattern, with the correct usage beating its exact opposite 27-1 before late 2001, and the incorrect usage predominating after late 2001. But as the economy soured the Post, unlike the Times, also, quite properly, stopped using the phrase so much. There are only four incorrect WaPo usages after October, 2001, and one correct usage -- compared to the NYT's string of 13 straight incorrect uses, 14 counting Saturday's headline. ... Caveat: But I was wrong to blame only the NYT's headline writers. It's a deeper NYT problem! The misuses don't just occur in the heds. ... 9:02 P.M.
How bad are NYT headline writers? Times readers are familiar with heds that mischaracterize the stories they're supposed to summarize, almost always by spinning them a couple of degrees to the left. Now Howell's Hed Hacks (sorry) are abusing well-accepted economic terms. The headline on Alex "Bad News" Berenson's Saturday economy piece was
"Tight U.S. Job Market Adds to Jitters Among Consumers"
But of course a "tight" labor market traditionally means a market where labor is in short supply, and jobs are easy to find. Tight labor markets are good. They're what we want. Berenson's piece was trying to make exactly the opposite point, that Americans now think jobs are hard to find. [But the NYT said "job market," not "labor market."--ed. At best, the hed was confusing. Labor is the thing being purchased in this market, not jobs. It's a labor market.] ... P.S.: Berenson also hits the Times' save-get key that calls this "the worst slump in two decades, according to statistics from the Labor Department" -- in theory because the U.S. "has lost more than two million jobs since March 2001." But isn't that highly misleading? In the ultra-hot economy of the late 1990s, after all, all sorts of people were lured into the labor market who hadn't been working before -- e.g. young people, semi-retired people, married and unmarried mothers. Now those extra "gravy" jobs have been lost. That's not good, but it doesn't make the downturn the "worst slump in the last two decades," which is the impression the NYT gives. The unemployment rate in June, 1992, was 7.8 percent, remember. It's now 5.7 percent. Even accounting for discouraged workers, etc., it's very hard to argue that we're now in worse shape than in 1992. .... P.P.S.: I do owe Berenson an apology for something I wrote a couple of years ago, implying (if I remember right) that he was rooting for a recession. He'd written an article, in December, 2000, declaring incoming president Bush "lucky" because "the economy could enter a recession" early in 2001. That seemed silly at the time and looks even sillier today. But I had no evidence Berenson himself was rooting for a recession. In Saturday's story, though, he certainly seems to be striving to paint as grim a picture as possible. ... 12:41 A.M.
Why did we find out about the capture of Khalid Shaikh Mohammed almost immediately after the event? Wouldn't it have been better to keep the arrest secret while the U.S. and its allies rolled up those al Qaeda operatives whose whereabouts could be traced through Mohammeds' cell phone and computer, etc.? Why send out a worldwide alert, through CNN, to his co-conspirators, telling them it was time to scatter? Did the need for good publicity trump sound anti-terror techniques?... 11:11 A.M.
Wolfowitz v. Perle -- Neocon Schism To Come? After an Iraq war, if Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz moves to try to force Israel to curtail its settlements in the occupied territories -- as he's suggested he'll do -- how long do you think it will take his fellow neocon Bush adviser Richard Perle to turn on him? Not very long, I'd guess. ... 2:04 A.M.
The Forward, galvanized by Tim Russert's "startling" questioning of Perle on Meet the Press a week ago,takes a statesmanlike middle ground on the Likudnik issue. ... The Forward's Ami Eden notes Lawrence Kaplan's misleading statement on Crossfire that he "didn't use the word anti-Semitism" in his bullying Washington Post op-ed piece. Kaplan instead used the phrase "socialism of fools," which is the classy way of saying anti-Semitism --it means "anti-Semitism" -- when you want to be able to later say you didn't use the word "anti-Semitism." (Robert Novak was equally disingenuous, of course, in denying he'd ever "talked about dual citizenship." Dual loyalty is the issue he's accused of raising.) ... 1:50 A.M.
Sunday, March 2, 2003
"Lawless," who is columnist Stuart Taylor Jr., takes issue with my view of international law in The Fray. There's a response and a response to the response. Taylor's ahead on points, but the night is young. ... 8:25 P.M.
Saturday, March 1, 2003
The Washington Post again raises an outrageous charge of dual loyalties!
For many of those troops, serving in the U.S. military is a source of pride, but also of deep personal conflict. They wrestle with the weight of culture and a tradition in which Mexican nationalism has long been measured by opposition to its powerful northern neighbor. Mexican public opinion is overwhelmingly against a war with Iraq. President Vicente Fox has said Mexico, which holds a seat on the U.N. Security Council, will oppose unilateral U.S. military action against Saddam Hussein. In a country with a deep reluctance to get involved in conflicts outside its borders, the antiwar sentiment is raw and passionate.
Obviously, Lawrence Kaplan's work is not done. ... 11:25 A.M.
Friday, February 28, 2003
Likudnik update: Veteran neocon Elliott Abrams, now in charge of the Israeli-Palestinian portfolio at the National Security Council, is firming up the neocon/Likudnik presence there, according to this UPI report. Three NSC staffers appear to have been moved out. ... 3:39 P.M.
You can't say WaPo's Dan Balz didn't think the Shrum/Kerry story was important. ... Have I mentioned that kausfilesscooped the world on this epic event? ... 1:47 A.M.
Don't Rush Me V: Michael Kinsley's latest column helps clarify the Iraq issue, in my mind, by defending the hack, popular view of "'I'm for it if we have U.N. approval, but not if we act unilaterally.'" Call it the proceduralist position -- where "unilateral" is defined as acting with allies but without the Security Council's explicit blessing. As Kinsley notes, this proceduralism is profoundly annoying to hawks -- if the war's a good thing to do, they argue, are you really going to let France stop it? Well, yes, maybe:
The test of a country's commitment to international law—and the measure of its credibility when it accuses other countries of flouting international law—is whether that country obeys laws even when it has good reasons to prefer not to.
Just like specific instances such as the rule against using human shields, the general regime of international law depends on a willingness to sacrifice short-term goals that may even be admirable for the long-term goal of establishing some civilized norms of global behavior. It sounds naive, and maybe it is. But you're either in the game or you're not. You can't pick and choose which rules to take seriously.
In this case, the rule is you generally don't attack another country across a border without Security Council blessing. (Sure, self-defense wins in a case of imminent danger -- but Iraq doesn't seem to present an imminent danger so much as a danger that needs to be dealt with over the next several years. If self-defense justifies an attack on any nation that might pose a grave threat a few years down the road, the result could be just as destabilizing as if there were no general rule against trans-border attacks.)
But hasn't Saddam repeatedly violated UN resolutions, violations that are ongoing? Yes. The U.N. should act to enforce its resolutions, as President Bush says. But the issue is what we do if, thanks to a French veto, the U.N. backs off an immediate, direct attack as a method of enforcement. Do we then enforce the U.N.'s resolutions ourselves by going outside the U.N.? It would be an odd thing to wage war to defend the edicts and honor of an institution that we are, by the very act of defying it to wage war, effectively derogating as "irrelevant" and obsolete.
I'd even take proceduralism a step further than Kinsley, who seems to suggest that if
we knew for sure it would be as easy and cheap as the administration hopes, few folks would object
I'd object. The whole point of the rule against trans-border attacks is to stop nations from thinking "Gee, if I attack my neighbor it will be easy and cheap and well worth the cost, so let's do it." We don't ban murders except when they're easy and cheap and justified according to some utilitarian calculus. It's truer to say we ban murders because they're often easy and cheap and justified according to some utilitarian calculus.
The seemingly sophisticated focus, among antiwar types, on the difficulty of administering postwar Iraq actually undermines the anti-war case, in this sense, because it suggests that without those difficulties a war outside the U.N. would be justifiable. In fact, those difficulties are largely irrelevant to the initial question of procedural legitimacy.
It's also true, though, that following procedures in this case will make an attack a lot easier and cheaper than it otherwise might be. Kinsley says this is "not just" because a multilateral attack would ease "concern about an anti-American backlash." But itis mainly because a multilateral attack would ease that concern -- and dilute the blowback by spreading it among our U.N. partners.
Under this view, if France vetos an attack, it would be legitimate for the U.S. to try to change the U.N. rules -- to deny France a veto, or to replace France on the Security Council with a nation less committed to anti-Americanism (or even to try to replace the U.N. with a new organization with better procedures). It would be legitimate to continue beefed up inspections, perhaps along the lines suggested by Robert Wright or Jessica Tuchman Matthews, in the hope of eventually marshalling enough evidence and Security Council support for regime change by force (and in the meantime, to keep Saddam off balance enough to prevent his development of nuclear weapons). It would be legitimate to keep hundreds of thousands of U.S. troops on Iraq's borders threatening an attack. It just wouldn't be legitimate to attack -- unless the U.N. approves, or the clock somehow runs out and we have good reason to believe Saddam is shortly about to get the bomb.
That course might well be worse for the United States than if the French relent and allow an attack. But that's what the international rules mean -- that we sometimes have to do things that are worse for us, including things that increase the risks we face. That's the price of having an international structure of law -- a New World Order, someone once called it -- which will be a handy thing to have when we're combatting terrorism (which we'll be doing for the rest of our lives).
Well, it's a position, anyway -- one I'm perilously close to embracing. I'll try it on for a few days and see how it feels. Feedback welcome, as always.
P.S.: Democracy, which we hope to bring to the Middle East, is basically a bunch of formal procedural rules too, no? We don't ignore them when we don't like the outcome. [Insert cheap shot about Bush actually losing the election?--ed. No! He won by the rules, with the Supreme Court playing the role of France.]
P.S. -- Note to Karl Rove with forbidden thoughts about timing: Suppose we do have to wait through the summer without attacking, with trooops camped in Kuwait, Turkey, and Qatar, while we talk the French into at least abstaining. Taking a repulsively crass political view of it (which, unfortunately, you don't seem to be taking), isn't it politically better for Bush to attack next winter than now? For one thing, the actual popularity-boosting war would be closer to the elections -- and right in the middle of the early primary season, making the anti-war Democrats highly uncomfortable. Plus, given the possibility of post-war chaos and anti-American blowback over the mid-to-long term, an Iraq iintervention is likely to look a lot better, in November, 2004, if it's only 12 months old than if it's 18 months old. ... 12:51 A.M.
Thursday, February 27, 2003
Not so fast! The New York Times may have stopped advertising the dangerous diet supplement ephedra on its site, but (as an alert reader points out) kf was incorrect in reporting that all ads, even questionable ones, have stopped. If you look for articles with the keyword "steroids" on the NYT search engine, you still get served ads for steroids, the controversial muscle-builder ("Break through your natural limitations, and build a freaky, extremely muscular physique."). ...Update: Kaimi Wenger thinks he's figured out what is going on. ... 11:15 A.M.
Kf's favorite quote of last week, from an NPR interview with Amazon Brooks, Chicago's oldest voter. She is 105 years old:
I always felt like I should exercise my rights as a citizen even if I wasn't lookin' for no favors. I've never had to ask for any favors so far ....
Wednesday, February 26, 2003
The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals has struck down an Arizona state law requiring that political action committees give candidates 24-hour notice before running ads about them in the last 10 days of a campaign. The mysterious blogger "Edward Boyd" thinks this bodes ill for the outright ban on last-minute independent ads in the new federal McCain-Feingold law. ... Boyd notes that the Ninth Circuit three-judge panel included Richard Paez, one of President Clinton's more liberal appointees. ... The opinion in PDF form is available here. ... 1:52 P.M.
Times Caves, Wenger Gets Results! As predicted, the mighy New York Times appears to have rapidly surrendered in the face of lone blogger Kaimi Wenger's criticism of its ephedra ads. Good for the Times. ... Wenger claims victory here. He appears to have killed not only the ephedra ads, but all of the NYT's Google-served ads. ... Total elapsed time between Wenger's first post and the Times' capitulation: under 94 hours. But it was over a weekend --otherwise it wouldn't have taken so long! ... Update: Not so fast! It turns out the NYT is still pushing steroids. See above. ... 12:21 P.M. Tuesday, February 25, 2003 Kerry: He's On Your Side! Kf hears that the winner of the Shrum Primary (i.e. the candidate consultant Robert Shrum will work for) is .... Sen. John Kerry. ... Aargh! Wrong choice, Bob! ... Kerry's "on your side!" or soon will be -- "I'm on your side!" being the near-inevitable message of a Shrum candidate. ... The Kerry campaign now has a critical mass of perennial kf targets -- Kerry himself, Shrum (a great guy, but tragically a true believer in an inappropriate"populism"), and overspinner Chris Lehane. Time to send in the inspectors. ... Update: You can't say The Note doesn't think this is an important story! [Didn't you beat the NYT's Adam "Deep Six" Nagourney on this by, like, hours?--ed. Thanks for noticing!] .. For Joe Klein's Slate Shrum critique, click here. Klein presciently argues that Kerry makes a poor Shrumian "populist," but is "a cinch for Shrum's other eternal riff: the Next Kennedy." ... As if "J.F.K." needed Shrum to tell him that! ... 5:45 P.M.
Tuesday, February 25, 2003
Kerry: He's On Your Side! Kf hears that the winner of the Shrum Primary (i.e. the candidate consultant Robert Shrum will work for) is .... Sen. John Kerry. ... Aargh! Wrong choice, Bob! ... Kerry's "on your side!" or soon will be -- "I'm on your side!" being the near-inevitable message of a Shrum candidate. ... The Kerry campaign now has a critical mass of perennial kf targets -- Kerry himself, Shrum (a great guy, but tragically a true believer in an inappropriate"populism"), and overspinner Chris Lehane. Time to send in the inspectors. ... Update: You can't say The Note doesn't think this is an important story! [Didn't you beat the NYT's Adam "Deep Six" Nagourney on this by, like, hours?--ed. Thanks for noticing!] .. For Joe Klein's Slate Shrum critique, click here. Klein presciently argues that Kerry makes a poor Shrumian "populist," but is "a cinch for Shrum's other eternal riff: the Next Kennedy." ... As if "J.F.K." needed Shrum to tell him that! ... 5:45 P.M.
'Florocchio' Redux? The New York Post reminds readers of another recent credibility-enhancing statement from Conde Nast's Steve Florio. When rumors circulated in the past few weeks that veteran GQ editor Art Cooper was about to retire, Florio declared:
"It is so much b.s. ...It keeps rearing its head. I'm sure some day it will happen and it will be a mutual decision, but it's not today and it's not tomorrow."
It wasn't b.s., of course. Cooper announced his retirement yesterday. ... For more on Florio's rep (including his inspiring minor league baseball career!) here's a relevant Fortune article. ... Hey, isn't this the same Florio who tells us that the New Yorker is now making a profit? I think it is! ... [Maybe Cooper just spontanteously decided to retire, the way Conde Nast says--ed. You believed that? It's not what Sridhar Pappu reports.] 4:25 P.M.
Powerful David Ignatius column likening Donald Rumsfeld to Robert McNamara. But Rumsfeld's such an appealing figure, you say? Well, McNamara's appealing too -- one of the most impressive people I've ever met. Too bad about the path of devastation he's left in his wake. ... 4:11 A.M.
Don't Rush Me IV -- Tough Dove Tough Love: The LAT's Ron Brownstein makes a noble effort to clarify the Iraq debate -- and, I strongly suspect, promote a position with which he can agree -- by distinguishing two schools of Iraq hawks.
On one side are those who consider international cooperation the key to confronting new threats to global security. On the other are those who see Iraq as the opportunity to prove that the surest way to a safer world is for America to lead through assertive action, even if that increases friction with allies in the near term.
The first position -- the so called "tough dove" school -- is highly appealing to those of us who fear establishing a precedent under which any country can lead a "coalition of the willing" to enforce a treaty obligation or take out an enemy it thinks can't be trusted with powerful weapons (India and Pakistan come to mind). A precedent allowing a structured international body to remove dangerous rogues seems far less risky. Plus a multinational structure seems the most fruitful way to suppress the terrorist threat without having the U.S. take all the blown-back heat. Brownstein names Gen. Wesley Clark, Sen. John Kerry, Sen. Chuck Hagel and Tony Blair as tough doves.
The problem is figuring out what difference, exactly, tough-dovism would make in practice. Sure we should "[work] through international institutions" (Clark) and avoid "actions that could produce the unintended results of fracturing those very institutions" (Hagel). We should refrain from belittling France and Germany, for example, just because they disagree with our battle plans. And we should give "a higher priority" to "building international support," perhaps delaying an attack to get it. But all that, as Brownstein realizes, is "a matter of degree" and emphasis.
The "tough dove" position would have more utility, as an alternative, if its practitioners would clearly identify the situations in which we'd actually let our allies stop us from taking military action. If the French veto the U.N. Security Council Resolution now being deliberated, would we hold back? Tough Dove Kerry specifically voted against requiring U.N. approval. Tough Dove Clark, on Meet the Press, seems to agree:
TIM RUSSERT: Has the president drawn the sword where he can no longer back down?
GEN. CLARK: I think that's right. I can't quite imagine that he could create a scenario in which it would be OK to just implement an enhanced so-called containment regime with inspectors on the ground; not with all the troops there, not with the determination. ... So I think we can all debate alternative strategies and theories and, yes, maybe containment was possible a year or so ago. Now it's too late. Saddam Hussein has to understand his day is over.
The temptation, of course, is for tough doves to avoid the need for such decisions, to portray their position as the best of both worlds, as in, "We can get our allies to do everything we want to do if only we'd try harder." Sometimes that will be true. (It seems worth waiting through the summer, for example, if that would actually get the French and Russians on board.) But sometimes, surely, it won't be. Then what? If every time the "tough dove's" position is to go ahead and do what we want to do anyway, their vaunted deference to international institutions becomes something of a sham. "[T]he tough doves join the neo-cons in believing the United States can't wait indefinitely for U.N. authorization before moving against Iraq," Brownstein writes. Unless there are actions we would wait indefinitely for -- actions we'd really like to take -- the international structure is not really a structure at all, and can't serve its purpose of preventing future unilateral actions by other nations that decide they "can't wait indefinitely" for our approval.
Clark did outline a strategy he says he would have pursued a year ago -- a strategy that avoided an Iraq attack and (presumably) pleased all our allies, France included. Specifically, Clark would have
focused exclusively on al-Qaeda, said, "Here's our target, set Iraq aside, strengthen containment. ..."
But what could this "strengthened" containment have achieved -- especially since Clark is highly skeptical of inspections as a means of uncovering Saddam's weapons? ("I don't have any confidence that the inspectors are going to find anything. This stuff is extremely well- hidden.") Like the tough-dove war strategy, Clark's alternative non-war strategy has a free lunch, best-of-both-worlds quality. We get everything we need and a multinational New World Order too! (Another obvious question: If strengthened containment without inspectors would have worked last year, why can't strengthened containment with inspectors work this year, avoiding a possible non-U.N.-approved war?)
I'd be happy to be a "tough dove." It sounds so New Democrat. My kind of position! If only I knew what it meant. ...3:36 A.M.
"The fourth quarter belongs to us" says NYT Managing Editor Howell Raines, declaring that people like him "who work for fair-minded publications have been too passive in pointing out the agendas" of their critics. Reactions:
1. Does he think he lost the first three quarters? Did I miss the halftime pep talk?
2. Why lash out? Is he in trouble? Luskin thinks so. I'm not so sure. True, the Augusta Spike was humiliating for both Raines and the Times. But Raines' statements are in line with equally self-righteous, ad hominem, blindered declarations of his own saintly objectivity he's made over the years -- most notably when he attacked James Fallows and The Washington Monthly's Charles Peters in the NYT for what Raines said was their argument that reporters should "see themselves as civic stenographers dedicated to promoting worthy policies." Back then, Raines also claimed that he, by contrast, was part of a "tradition that calls on reporters to forswear partisan advocacy ... to be agnostic as to public policy outcomes ...."
3. Did Raines have no "agenda" when he was in charge of his paper's editorial page? Was he "agnostic as to public policy outcomes"? That would have made for pretty dull editorials, and Raines' page wasn't dull. The whole point of an editorial page is to have an agenda! Did Raines then turn off his agenda, and turn on his agnosticism, when he got promoted? Where is that switch?
4. Something's getting to him! 12:02 A.M.
Monday, February 24, 2003 How'd The Note miss this quote?
How'd The Note miss this quote?
"The country is clearly ambivalent about Iraq. Kerry has been exactly where the country is."
Well, he's our leader then! ... 3:20 P.M.
How is the NYT like CBS? Who said the New York Times, isn't advertising package tours to the Masters! ... The Times has righteously called on various institutions (CBS, Tiger Woods) to "choose not to support" -- i.e. boycott -- the tournament and the all-male golf club that runs it. But that doesn't mean the paper isn't above making a few bucks letting SportsTravel.com sell "Masters Golf Packages" (including "Tickets, Hotel, and Private Houses") on the Times Web site. Does Gerald Boyd know about this? ... In the NYT's editorial world view, isn't that a bit like running ads for Woolworth's Greensboro, N.C. lunch counters in January, 1960 (or the Montgomery Area Transit System in early 1956)? ... It's hypocrisy, I tell you! ... 11:08 A.M.
Blogs advance the story, I: Antic Muse would appear to have a scooplet in the Bloomberg L.P. vs. NYU flap. ... 10:52 A.M.
Ginger-greasers: If you're sympathetic to the "nothing new to buy" explanation for our current economic doldrums, it's not crazy to think of this as a possible solution, rather than simply a case of hypocritical corporate welfare-seeking. ... 2:18 A.M.
Is Slate's Robert Wright a Buddhist? ... 2:02 A.M.
Send Less Chuck Berry? Was it worth reading 100 inches of Bernard Weinraub's prose just so I could attack the NYT's ongoing front page Remedial Rock and Roll for Menopausal Yuppies series? No! Too high a price to pay for a cheap blog item! ... But I read it anyway. To my horror, I enjoyed it. After reading Weinraub on Hollywood, I can't trust him as my musical guide -- for example, is it true that in the 40s Berry "discovered that the harmony of many popular songs was derived from the chords of George Gershwin's 'I Got Rhythm,' and were known as songs with rhythm changes"? Seems oddly oversimplified. But Weinraub makes it clear that Berry's rock and roll -- i.e., rock and roll -- was multiracial at its inception, with clear white (country and western, "hillbilly") as well as black (Muddy Waters, Nat King Cole) influences. Much more complicated than a simple case of the white man copping the black man's music. ... Was the beat of Berry's first single really "derived from Bill Haley and the Comets"? I'd always just assumed the borrowing went the other way. ... Bonus Bo-Skipper: Weinraub's first profile, of Bo Diddley, was drearier and more PC. If you saw Diddley open for The Clash in 1979, you don't think it's a mystery why "he has never enjoyed quite the success and recognition" of Chuck Berry or Little Richard." Diddley's set was fifteen seconds of excitement, and then an arrogant, crushingly tedious jam for half an hour. But even the Diddley profile had tidbits: Diddley inventing his famous beat after listening to a song by Gene Autry; Diddley these days spending his time listening "mostly to classical music" and repairing "hearses and vintage cars." ... 1:26 A.M.
Sunday, February 23, 2003
"The stimulant ephedra is banned from Olympic sports, college sports and the N.F.L.," wrote George Vecsey in the NYT last week. "It may soon be banned from sale in Suffolk County on Long Island. But it was not banned from the locker of the late Steve Bechler." And, Vecsey might have added, it's not banned from the NYT's web site, which still runs ads for "Ephedra Super Caps: 850 mg. pure ephedra extract." ... Blogger Kaimi Wenger catches theCrusading Liberal Newspaper in a bit of presumably-inadvertent hypocrisy -- campaigning against the dangerous dietary supplement in its news space while making money from ephedra in its ad space. ... The key NYT Web Page of Shame is here. ... The mighty Times will probably cave to lone-blogger Wenger fairly quickly. They can't be making that much money off of these ads. ... P.S.: At least they didn't advertise, you know, something really awful like a trip to The Masters! ... Update: The links seem to be served up by an automated program that keys off the relevant search words. Search for "ephedra" and you get ads for ephedra (and for outfits trolling for ephedra victims). Still, isn't the Times ultimately responsible for what appears on its page? If you search for "cigarette" or "escort service," for example, you don't get cigarette and escort ads. Presumably there's a reason for that. ... 7:35 P.M.
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--Born to blog. Joe Conason--Bush-bashing, free most days. Lloyd Grove--Don't let him write about you. Arianna--A hybrid vehicle. Tom Paine.com--Web-lib populists. Nonzero--Bob Wright explains it all. [More tk.
Photograph of Arnold Schwarzenegger on the Slate home page from Reuters.