Sunday, April 30, 2006

Sunday Times at a glance

The New York Times at a glance. (Non-main section. C.I. will note at least one article from the hard news section at The Common Ills after we finish this edition.)

The Sensenbrenner bill is a folly. It does not take into account the needs of the American work force. You would pay heavily for the absence of these immigrants. The country would come to a standstill. You wouldn't have people driving buses, tending restaurants, taking care of gardens and taking care of babies. You wouldn't have people enterprising.
-- Carlos Fuentes, from Deborah Solomon's "Novel Politics," page 19 of the Sunday magazine

Peter Beinhart contributes a long essay entitled "The Rehabilitation Of The Cold-War Liberal" (also in the Sunday Magazine).

C.I.: I know Peter Beinhart. Here's the condensed version of the article. Even though he's not gotten anything right, Beinhart wants you to listen to him as he dresses up the same ideas in slightly different clothing (the ones preached by The New Republic for some time) and tells you that they're different now! It's the reason hula hoops like "framing" exist. If there weren't new toys, the threadbare nature of so many pundits' ideas couldn't be dressed up and resold. There are many ways to pick apart Beinhart's article. The easiest one is the obvious one. He speaks of foreign policy and how it's become so important, presumably to elections since that's what he's writing of. Where's the proof? There is none. Foreign relations didn't figure heavily in the 2004 election. No one asked for a plan of how we would interact with Europe or with China. A war was waging, actually two, Iraq, of course, and Afghanistan. If "stay the course" and "smarter" -- sap tossed out to mollify voters and pundits -- qualifies as a foreign policy then God help us. Presidents and pundits love foreign policy. There's a belief that a presidency is remembered for what it does or doesn't do with regards to other nations. Though insiders love to jerk off over that nonsense, reality is that foreign policy wasn't an issue in the 2004 election, in the 2000 election, in the 1996 election, in the 1992 election . . . But it's the sort of nonsense that pundits love to spout and debate with one another so it means excessive airtime and too much print, as in The Times today. The media isn't interested in other countries and the public may be, probably are, but they're not given the information they need, by the media or by candidates running for office. Beinhart will probably run the chat & chew, gas bag circuit off this article. Don't mistake it for anything other than his own attempt to get exposure. For the record, though I disagree with every stand he's ever taken, even on something as basic as to salt or not salt a dish, when he drops the gas bag, he's not a hideous person. That doesn't mean listen to him politically. And he doesn't drop the gas bag all that often.

Kat and Rebecca say drink a strong cup of coffee before looking at the arts section: "The crypt keeper, looking like an old cow girl who's seen far too many rodeos, is on the front page." They're referring to Bob Dylan. (They authored their statement jointly by the way.) What does it take for Dylan to get a huh-huh from the paper of no record? Turning dee jay. Cedric notes that LL Cool Jay has recently made himself a bigger joke in the world of rap; however, someone apparently forgot to tell Dylan who's singing his praises. Elaine notes that Dylan is mentioned at the top of our roundtable so look for that when it goes up. She also says Ruth's point about who gets annointed is even more pertinent considering that the paper wastes time giving Dylan exposure for "doing nothing." Wally notes there is news inside the arts section. It comes in the form of advertisment (one page, page 2): Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young are performing. August 20th at the PNC Bank Arts Center, August 22 at the Nikon at Jones Beach Theater. The tour is dubbed the "Freedom of Speech '06" tour.

The Week in Review? Where the gas bag hits the pedal? Mike notes that Frank Rich has returned and wonders if this is his first column back? (C.I. says, "I really don't read the op-eds or the editorials very often. Ask someone else." No one else knows. So we'll say, "Welcome back, Rich, we missed you." Except C.I. who really doesn't read the op-eds.) (Betty adds, "Not true! C.I. reads Thomas Friedman to act as a sounding board for me when I'm thinking through a chapter." C.I. says, "Only for you, Betty, and, honestly, I read through those right before I call you.") Jim notes that Nicolai Ouroussoff dismissed Jane Jacobs (recently deceased) without ever appearing to grasp what she was addressing in her work. (C.I. notes that the paper has traditionally opposed Jacobs.) Jess wants the following letter read into the record:

To the Editor,
We are deeply concerned that without serious debate, the United States has crossed the limits of acceptable practices in the treatment of prisoners at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and other sites. The secrecy and the disdain for international law and opinion are contrary to the very ideals that our country has long stood and fought for.
We are told that our country is being protected by locking up dangerous terrorists in isolated facitilites in order to make us accept a breakdown of our own laws. But we do not know -- indeed, we have not been allowed any way of finding out -- if the individual prisoners are enemy combatants. Al Qaeda suspects or innocents unlucky enough to have been caught in a blind sweep.
It is one of the most fundamental principles of a democracy that all accused should be tried without unreasonable delays and freed if innocent. In no case do our moral principles permit humilating and degrading treatement.
The administration has cynically used fear to justify behavior that the civilized world has long considered criminal.
Although this is not a scientific issue in the usual sense, we feel that to ignore it would be to abdicate our responsibility to the truth. Therefore, we have felt compelled to speak out against human rights violations, including those committed by Americans. We are asking all people of good will to join us in demanding a quick return to our country's great traditions.
Leonard Susskind [prof of physics at Stanford University]
Freeman Dyson [prof of physics at at the Institute for Advanced Study]
David Gross [prof of physics at UC Santa Barbara; Nobel Prize winner in physics, 2004]
Walter Kohn [prof of chemistry at UC Santa Barbara; Nobel Prize winner in chemistry, 1998]
Palo Alto, Calif., April 19, 2006

The paper notes that "15 others" signed this letter and you can find the names online. Why it appears on April 30th may be a good question. We support the professors goals and sense of justice. That's page 13 of the Week in Review. Dallas is hunting down links for another piece and we're not linking in this. Be big boys and girls and use the print version or navigate the paper's website all by yourselves.

Finally the book section. One thing worth noting. Jacob Helibrunn reviews Cobra II, a book put out by war pornographer Michael R. Gordon and former military guy Bernard E. Trainor.
It's not universal praise. Helibrunn notes, page 9, that Gordon and Trainor's "quest for detail at times threatens to overwhelm the narrative." And that the writers "don't really capture the broader political context in which Rumsfeld and company were operating." Helibrunn, we don't disagree with you. We will, however, note that political context is beyond war pornographer Michael R. Gordon's abilities. As he told Amy Goodman on Democracy Now!:

Well, that's a policy judgment and a political judgment that’s really beyond the scope of our book.

Helibrunn, when he calls to complain, just say, "Uh-huh." Or try, "Well that's too bad, Michael, I like you." But don't argue, he lives to scream and argue.

And that's your Times at a glance.
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