‘The Era of Distortion’:
David Brooks has, so far, been a mild disappointment as the new official NYT Conservative in Residence. This morning’s column doesn’t help.
In an attempt to debunk distortions about neoconservatives, Brooks promotes an equally loony distortion that there’s no general intellectual coherency and history to neoconservativism and suggests criticism is rooted in anti-Semitism. ... The ‘Planet Chomsky’ types most certainly fall into the conspiracy-minded category Brooks talks about. They don’t understand anything to the right of their far-left views. But to suggest there isn’t/wasn’t a somewhat coherent neoconservative movement is ludicrous and, well, a distortion in itself. ...
Of course, I’ll stand corrected if someone proves to me that my avid reading of Commentary in the 1980s was merely an illusion.
Update - 01.07.04
-- Dan Kennedy
has some more on the Brooks column, coming at it from the left. My criticism is coming at it from the right. What is Brooks going to assert next? That there's really no Christian Right on the right? Or no William Buckley/Michael Novak Catholic conservativism? Brooks all but dismissed the notion of the existence of neoconservativism -- a vitally important and very real intellectual movement that saw many former left-leaning intellectuals (many of them Jewish) switch allegiances in the 1970s in the face of the Soviet threat. They proudly called themselves 'neoconservatives.' The sons of neoconservative pioneers such as Irving Kristol and Normal Podhoretz are now fighting the fight of their fathers. I happen to admire the intellectual contributions of neoconservatives in the 1980s, the true heyday of their movement. I have less admiration for today’s selective Wilsonian neoconservatives. Am I anti-Semitic for saying that?
‘Uncivil discourse blights online debate’:
This story on ‘uncivil’ chat rooms
hosted by/linked to municipal-run web sites seems so dated. The pre-blog terminology is almost painful to read. ... Behold government agencies trying to run and regulate ‘chat’!
To defrock or not to defrock?:
Sounds simple: Priests caught up in the sexual abuse scandal should be defrocked.
But others wonder if the church is merely foisting its problems on society. ... Interesting quandary. They should be defrocked. We all know that. But now the church, after statutory limits have conveniently passed due to repeated church cover ups, wants to toss priests out on the streets and let us deal with predators the church itself nurtured and coddled? No way. We already saw what Paul ‘Thailand’ Shanley did after he ‘retired,’ i.e. he sought earthly paradise at a sex camp in Southeast Asia. Another ended up as a ‘greeter’ at DisneyWorld etc.
... Conclusion: Defrock the bums, but force the church to continue paying for the basic livelihood and monitoring of perverts it helped create. ... Ah, the church’s concern about ‘the children’ is always so merciful.
‘It will change things if implemented ...’:
Actually, the new Afghan Constitution
changes things simply by being adopted. ... This is a big victory because, whether there’s a civil war four-score-and-seven-years hence or sooner, the document will flicker hope for generations of many Afghans. ... Interesting point: It was language, not gender representation, that was the final hurdle. ...
'I . . . I can't explain it': Tim Wakefield:
"I was terrified ... that I would be remembered like [Bill] Buckner.” ... One can sense the cold-sweat trembling in his voice, like he’s still waking up with a jolt each night, his wife caressing his forehead, gently whispering, "It's OK, Tim. It's OK. ..." ... Red Sox Flashback Syndrome. Pure and simple. ...
Tim on researchers desperately trying to find a cure for Red Sox Flashback Syndrome: "Our new ownership has turned the organization around 180 degrees. ... They are by far not only the best ownership group but the best people. Tom Werner is just a super guy. Mr. [John] Henry is a super guy. Larry Lucchino is a great guy. They make you feel like coming to work is fun.”
'I'll go out on a limb and predict 2 upsets':
Reader No. 1 with some New Year questions and short-term NFL predictions:
"When do the A-Rod trade talks start again?
"What is the next Boston institution to be sold to an out-of-towner? Are there any left to be sold?
"Got a feeling the Howard Dean campaign will make Red and Blue America redder and bluer than ever before... also that he will lead to many confirmed cases of Clinton Nostalgia (capital websites will be kausfiles.com
and Talking Points Memo
-- don't get me wrong, I like both of those sites very much). Time heals all wounds. But will Hilary be able to capitalize?
"NFL playoffs: I am very rusty on the pointspreads but:
" -- The NFC are easy picks: The Pack and Carolina. (But I am impressed with how Parcells brought the Cowboys back in December from their mid-year dip).
" -- The injury list will mean a lot in the other games. I'll go out on a limb and predict 2 upsets: Baltimore and Denver. The Ravens are a bit better than most think... "
‘Speaking of ecstasy ...’: Christopher Lydon
perhaps goes overboard by saying the web “might be as big as the development of spoken language.” But, in a Happy New Year post, he does nail it in terms of the lessons he’s learned from average readers and listeners in the context of his own big-media background:
“Lesson #1: the country observes media more astutely than media observe the country. Lesson #2: that the country is hipper, flipper, more constructive, more democratic, more articulate than the one-way media ever deign to acknowledge.” ...
As an added bonus, here’s a ‘Christmas bon-bon’ interview with Gore Vidal
, who Lydon describes as someone who “can't be taken straight, but it's hard as well to shake his scathing contempt.” ... FYI: I gleefully can't shake Gore's scathing description of 'that cheerleader from Andover,' but I'm still trying to figure out which one of the Bill of Rights the cheerleader allegedly swiped from me.
Howard Dean enters Mars' orbit:
I’ve figured it out: John Kerry spends too much time covering up what he said yesterday. Howard Dean spends too much time covering up what he thinks you’re going to be saying tomorrow about yesterday.
‘Pulp Fiction by Women With Protofeminist Roots’:
It’s hard to make a story boring when it's about pulp fiction writers focusing on a serial killer stalking a femme fatale, lesbian love circa 1950s, and a sassy gold digger in the heart of Wall Street. But the NYT manages it.
How? By letting college professors deconstruct their meaning. ... Maybe ‘theory’ isn’t dead. See Monday post.
FYI: A Herald editor recommended I read Mickey Spillane to bone up on my muscular verbs. So I went to a local bookstore and found ‘The Mike Hammer Collection.’ The following is a blurb from Mickey:
“She twisted away and there was a loud whispering of cloth and the gown came away in my hands. She went staggering across the room stark naked except for the high-heel shoes and sheer stockings. She rammed an end table, her hands reaching for the drawer, and she got it open far enough for me to see the gun she was trying to get at.
“I had mine out first.”
‘A response to cancer forged by Vietnam’:
The first line out of John Kerry’s mouth
after being asked how his prostate cancer effected his outlook on life: "The cancer, frankly, was -- it's strange. I think it's a reflection of the experience that I went through in Vietnam ...” ... The guy is becoming a parody of himself.
Oh dear. My alma mater is in the news.
... Tufts is going to get the crap beaten out of it for this one. ... FYI: The story is the Page 1 splash in the Herald's print edition; the online story doesn't carry the 'Tufts love' headline, which must be small consolation to the Jumbo PR meisters. Emphasis on 'small.' ...
‘Confidence in the technology of theory has faded’:
An oh-so-serious article in the Globe about Marxist critic Terry’s Eagleton’s partial rejection
of academic ‘cultural theory’ on the grounds it's “shamefaced about morality and metaphysics, embarrassed about love, biology, religion, and revolution, largely silent about evil, reticent about death and suffering.” ... Hmmmm. Sounds like a tardy post-Berlin Wall rejection of Marxism in the making, if only Eagleton would pull on that string a little harder. But the whizbang kids in academia -- including Eagleton -- can’t quite bring themselves to that
‘Decade of the Bus,’ Part III:
The MBTA’s ‘Decade of the Bus’ -- i.e., the bus-line-that-should-have-been-a-trolley-line Silver Line -- gets off to a typical start
: “It's behind schedule, over budget, and won't be fully operational when it opens later next year.”
‘Time to get behind the awesome Patriots’:
The shift in attention from the Sox to Pats is now official: Boston Dirt Dogs
, the frontline of Red Sox Nation, devotes its entire page to the Pats.
'Christmas Eve in Boston': JJ Daley
has some splendid Dickinsonian shots of -- and commentaries on -- Boston from Christmas Eve night.
He's updated the site to show some shots of the Central Artery coming down -- on Christmas weekend, no less. Bechtel must really want to get out of town.
‘We can't miss this one as we did the silicon revolution’:
The more I study the historic ebb and flow of the Massachusetts economy, the more convinced I’ve become that we’re always going to pioneer and then blow leads in various industries. First there was textiles. Then finance and, to a degree, mutual funds. Then high-tech. And now it’s biotech.
... Am I worried? A little. But not overly so. Sure, we need to fight back to protect our industries, etc. etc. That’s just good business sense. ... But we’re never going to match the cost of labor and land in other states, let alone other countries. R & D and entrepreneurship are/have been ultimately the keys to the Massachusetts economy, not protectionist industrial policies promoted by backward-looking pols and civic boosters. ... Put another way: Would we really have been better off if generations past had succeeded in artificially propping up and keeping the textiles industry here? Sometimes it’s better to move on. ...
-- Ten bucks says the biotech manufacturing jobs now being outsourced to the Carolinas will be outsourced within ten years (and probably sooner) to India or elsewhere.
-- Bemoan the loss of the 'silicon revolution'? Let's check out the condition of Silicon Valley these days.
Ah, yes. They'e outsourcing jobs from there. ... Stand by my prediction: It's only a matter of time before biotech manufacuturing jobs are also outsourced to other countries. So why waste time and effort trying to keep them here? OK, we should try a little. But let's be realistic about the future. ...
‘There is no political message here’:
Oh, yes there is. The federal jury’s dramatic decision in Boston yesterday to sentence Gary Lee Sampson to death
has plenty of subtle and not-so-subtle political messages imbedded in it, U.S. Attorney Michael Sullivan’s assertions to the contrary. Here are two messages that jump immediately to mind: A.) The federal government obviously is trying to ‘nationalize’ the death penalty and B.) The sentence is yet one more piece of evidence confirming that the stereotyped hyper-liberal Massachusetts population really isn’t as hyper-liberal as many pundits have long proclaimed. The nine women and three men took a mere 11 hours to render the unanimous verdict. Dems take note. ...
Having recently switched my position on the death penalty issue (I’m now against it), I’m not quite sure what to make of the federal jury’s decision, on a more personal level. The reason why I now oppose the death penalty is because I’ve lost faith in the ability of the criminal justice system to sort out the guilty from the innocent in these and other cases. The dramatic events in Illinois -- where a slew of death-row inmates were found to be innocent, as a result of investigations by lowly journalism students doing the job judges, prosecutors, cops and the media should have performed -- confirms this. But there is NO doubt Sampson brutally killed those poor people. ... So in an odd sense, I feel a tinge of, well, pride and respect for the way the jury handled the Sampson case.
Are they just screwed up? Part II:
The NYT’s John F. Burns
comes the closest -- with a little help from T.E. Lawrence, aka Lawrence of Arabia -- in explaining the ‘complexities’ of the Arab mindset that condemns Saddam, praises the liberation of Iraq, and then spews hatred at America for the ‘humiliation’ of it all. Excellent piece.
Time magazine’s continuing descent into irrelevant fluff:
Time magazine’s Man/Person of Year award for 2003: The American Soldier.
... Fine. Can’t argue with it. But that’s the point: They don’t want you to argue with it. They want to play it safe. Can you name last year’s winner? Oh, yeah, it’s Coleen Rowley, Cynthia Cooper and Sherron Watkins. The year before it was Rudolph Giuliani. ... Not a big fan of George Bush, but, I mean, c’mon. He just took this country into a controversial frigging war. He’s either praised by half the world or damned by half the world. He’s Churchill to some, Hitler to others. He is a colossus straddling the world or strangling it. For three picks since 9/11, Time magazine has had a chance to jump into real history as it unfolds during dramatic times. Instead, it’s opted for cuddly fluff. ... FYI: Instapundit notes Tim Blair
scooped the boobs at Time. ...
... Now back to Rick Atkinson’s superb ‘An Army At Dawn.’ Good-bye.
The Big Media isn’t reading blogs?: Try this one out.
... Dan Kennedy
has discovered the same thing.
‘Head Scarf Isn’t Haute Couture?’:
Nice editorial in the Boston-based CSM
on France’s new laws banning students from wearing Muslim head scarves, Jewish skullcaps and large Christian crosses at school. The French are simply wrong. As a Bush administration official gently put it in this NYT article
: Such displays are “a basic right that should be protected.” ... But, before we engage in my favorite sport of French bashing, one should remember France’s very rocky relationship with religion, i.e. the Catholic Church. One of the more surprising things about French history is how long it took them to establish a free public education system. The church used to be the primary provider of schooling in France, well into the 20th Century. It took pitched battles to pry this cultural and political power perk away from clerics. So the French are quite sensitive to any religious group taking over schools, by storm or by stealth. The new laws are clearly aimed at radical Muslims. But, as the CSM editorial notes, the restrictions are likely to boomerang on the French. They’re addressing the wrong problems. ... And that’s Hub Blog's haute couture post of the week. ...
-- Oh, what the hell. After being nice to the French, might as well skip over to Merde in France
to cleanse myself of any misplaced sympathy. ...
... Via Merde in France, I found this magnificant blog on France
by Roger Simon, who's just back from a visit there. If even a fraction of what he says is true, well, ...
Are they just screwed up?:
Even Iraqis who hated Saddam say he should have killed a few Americans for honor’s sake.
Does this strike you as profoundly nuts? ... Tom Friedman’s questions:
“Is Iraq the way it is because Saddam was the way he was? Or was Saddam the way he was because Iraq is the way it is — ungovernable except by an iron fist?” ...
And the ‘October Surprise’ Award goes to ...:
I could have sworn it would go to Jim McDermott.
But Madeleine Albright
came out of nowhere to win it. ...
Have they been to Alewife?:
I suppose this is a decent idea to promote development near T stops.
But the concept has been overly idealized by the smart-growth types. ... Has anyone seen the new apartment complex built next to the Alewife Red Line station in Cambridge? Not my idea of a quaint it-takes-a-village development. There’s a nearby Bertucci’s and Jasper White’s seafood restaurant, true. But there’s also: Electric transmission lines, ugly surface parking lots, the giant T parking garage, commuter train tracks, a train bridge, the Route 2 intersection, drab office buildings -- and that’s before
you cross the four-lane street to get to the wind-swept Fresh Pond mall. Alewife is an isolated, depressing ‘neighborhood,’ if you can call it that. ... But it probably looked swell on paper. ...
is dissing my dissing of his non-neighborhood neighborhood. He said it's war. ... $asdfjdasfad;72 ... Sorry. That was me trembling at my keyboard. ... Where does Coz get off making fun of where working people live on the working-class side of Beacon Hill? Can't we all just get along? ... Coz just reminded me that Romney's campaign headquarters is still located at Alewife. As I was saying about the neighborhood ...
Update II --
Reader No. 1 sends along a Mark Steyn column
on the ‘Bike Path Left.’ ...
I knew there was a connection between Saddam and You Know Who.
Read the comments. ... Hub Blog's Manhattan-based WMD spy has been uncovering similar leads, I'm sure, but he hasn't checked in for a while. I hope he's safe. ... The great showdown for Middle Earth approaches. ... ('The Bastard' via Instapundit.
'What, did I get better since then?'
: Where is Danny 'Bleeding Green' Ainge taking the Celts with this trade?
It looks like an old sideway-step-into-the-salary-cap-morass move mastered by Rick Pitino. ... The Celts continue to sentimentally milk the Glory Days, retiring Cedric Maxwell's number.
Even Cedric is scratching his head over this one. But I'm not. It's a cynical marketing move. ... A style-over-substance distraction for fans who aren't buying it.
P.S. -- Hank Finkel also used to be a nice guy who probably deserves to have his number retired -- if being a nice guy is now the standard for Celts Immortality. ... Hank's a personal favorite of mine dating back to the '70s. He once showed up at a CYO basketball pizza party, banging his head on a basement ceiling and signing autographs for us awed kids. ... Rex Morgan, on the other hand, was somewhat of a jerk at the pizza party -- and definitely doesn't deserve a Celts ceremony.
Snow job! Snow job!: Joseph F. Casazza
underestimates last week's snow storm, delays deployment of the snowplow fleet -- and then blames the snowplow drivers. ... Do GPS phones help commissioners make the right initial call?
‘I can think of a very good reason why anti-war activists ...’:
Reader No. 1 writes in, in part due to the item immediately below:
“I can think of a very good reason why anti-war activists and glumfaced TV anchors such as I saw yesterday and last night (other than on Fox stations) can't sort out their feelings. It means this war has had an undeniable good outcome! Here's another reason: it would appear to boost Bush's reelection chances. (I say ‘appear’ because we should all remember what happened to Winston Churchill after WW2... and Bush 41 after Desert Storm...) ...”
And Reader No. 1 sends along this link to bolster his case.
-- I initially responded to Reader No. 1, but zapped what I wrote after sobering up.
-- I suggested below that it's only a matter of time before someone accuses the Bush administration of hatching an 'October surprise' over the capture of Osama. My money's on Jim McDermott
to wade first into this muck, if only because he's already saying the same thing about Saddam's capture. ... OK, so it's not such a bold prediction. ... Via Andrew Sullivan.
‘The piece that makes it more complicated for me’:
Local anti-war activist Grace Ross
can’t sort out her feelings over Saddam’s capture. ... Even if you were lukewarm about the war’s necessity (like moi), how can you not be happy about his capture? There’s really nothing complicated to sort out.
We got him!:
No, not Saddam
. ... Rather, Keith Foulke
. ... The Sox Special Forces performed magnificantly. Next up, Osama, and, well, either A-Rod or Nomar. ...
-- Saddam's capture is obviously big news. My quickie observation is that, for George Bush, this is not unlike Sherman's timely capture of Atlanta before Lincoln's re-election. Not that I'm comparing the War on Terrorism to the Civil War. Nor am I suggesting Saddam's (or Atlanta's) capture was an act of staged political cynicism. But good battlefield news is good political news. And George Bush -- and the nation -- needed some good battlefield news. ... Next up is indeed Osama. If he's not captured or killed soon, there probably will be ugly political accusations of a coming 'October surprise' next year, blah, blah, blah. Personally, I don't believe this administration thinks that way. I have a gut feeling -- just a gut feeling -- we're closing in on Osama, assuming he's still alive, and that yesterday's dramatic events give the hunt for him more momentum.
‘The big question is why’:
The big question really is why. Why does the Globe cover Nantucket
and Martha’s Vineyard so closely? ... Similar ‘skyrocketing’ housing-cost trends are happening in blue-collar and middle-class towns across the commonwealth. The dollar amounts and lack of flashy names are different, but the price pressures are proportionately the same. Throw a dart at a map of eastern Massachusetts, hit any town, and you’d have the same story. ... So the answers to the ‘big question’ posed in the story and the twisted Hub Blog question in this post: Because they’re FILTHY RICH and ENVIOUS...
... I assume Lou Gerstner has a new stainless-steel refrigerator he’s going to install in his Nantucket ‘cottage,’ or whatever he calls his new trophy abode. Same with Abigail. ... Our 401(k) money at work. Again. ...
News Flash from The Onion!!!!! ‘Report: Poor People Pretty Much Fucked’
... Read it. It’s a classic. ... 'The big question is why.'
Francis Farrell Coppolla?: I’m impressed.
Congrats to fellow Boston blogger John Farrell!
Now I’ll have to get the DVD. ... I demand an invite to the Film Festival Somewhere/Beautiful-Person red-carpet treatment at the Somerville Theater! ... John, remember me? Your old friend from 2002?
The Hub’s secret world-conquest scheme, revealed (sort of):
It’s not really about the UK being forced to hire foreign managers.
As we all know, it’s really a secret plot by Boston to extend and firm up its place as the hub of the universe. ... Why do you think Hub Blog has a WMD spy in Manhattan? Why else did we plant an avowed Yankees hater as the new ombudsman of the New York Times?
Okrent’s coded message: ‘I’m with you. I’m in position.’ ... The noose tightens by the day. Steinbrenner knows it. More spies and weapons are being rolled into place
for the final climactic offensive.
‘It's a kind of pandering to a group he sees as hip’:
No moralizing objection from this quarter about a pol using profanities. But the Brookings Institute scholar just nails it when describing John Kerry’s use of profanities
in an interview with Rolling Stone: "In a way it's a kind of pandering [by Kerry] to a group he sees as hip.” ... Exactly. ... Rolling Stone, Harley’s on Jay Leno. Kerry seems so old and tired. ... Via Instapundit.
It’s a ‘northeaster,’ not a ‘nor’easter’:
It’s stunningly beautiful outside, the liquor stores are open and the Pats play at 4 p.m. Does it get any better than this? ... A quick reading of the Globe
main snow stories this morning show an encouraging sign -- no use of the silly “nor’easter” phrase. Growing up in Boston, I never heard two things: a snow storm referred to as “nor’easter” or the Curse of the Bambino. They’re both totally manufactured modern-media hyped/phony terminology. ... And that’s my profound thought for the day.
Update - 12.8.03
-- And, yes, the liquor stores did open yesterday, despite the blizzard, and boots-on-the-ground intelligence sources say sales were brisk on Beacon Hill.