Hung over after a brutal night. Random notes from today's issue, which I actually read cover to cover as I waited for a plane to visit relatives in Wisconsin:
* Bishop is out of the papers completely today.
* The Times appeared to miss a classic Bushism on its own front page (A1, "U.S. Marine Plane in Pakistan Crash"). In a statement about the crash of a Marine plane in Pakistan, Bush mixed up two cliches -- the CIA/Pentagon pacification euphemism "hearts and minds", and the classic sports clich? "our thoughts and prayers go out to his family." Bush's version: "Our hearts and prayers go out to the families of these soldiers." Disturbing image. The Times didn't blink a narrative eye around this interesting quote.
MONDAY, JANUARY 14
A quick review of today's front page headlines:
INDIA WELCOMES PAKISTANI STEPS, BUT STAYS ALERT
Impending dueling-towelhead war is too big a deal to leave off the front page -- but let's keep it on the left, single column.
AMID FISCAL CRISIS, MEDICAID IS FACING CUTS FROM STATES -- PRESCRIPTION COSTS SOAR
They never say, "Amid fiscal crisis, Pentagon faces cuts." Weapons are always necessary, medicine is an indulgence.
A BUBBLE NO ONE WANTED TO POP
Lead Enron story. They are already trying to keep this one bottled into an internal company scandal by doing the post-mortem before the investigation has begun. Will be cast as tale of greed and human weakness with unwitting political accomplices.
FALL OF ENRON ENDS ITS DANCE WITH HOUSTON
Typical NYT color feature. The paper's way of adding "pertinence." A giant money-fuck like Enron with government fingers rammed in its every orifice explodes in public, and the Times does a story about... how this affects the ballet in Houston.
KABUL TRIES TO DISARM ITS CITIZENS IN A STEP TOWARD LAW AND ORDER
A "democracy is a hard road" story about the difficulties whoever the hell we have installed in power in Afghanistan will face in taming that savage, hairy country.
SEEKING EDGE ON BUSH, DEMOCRATS MAY ADVANCE DATES OF PRIMARIES
Another "illusion of two different parties" story, which seeks to reinforce the idea that the Democrats and Republicans are actually fierce competitors. This seems to be about the Democrats changing the primary schedule for some important reason.
KELLY SEEKS INCENTIVES TO STEM POLICE EXODUS
Token local news story. The Times faithfully throws these in spots low on the front page to maintain its literary residency requirements. About commish Raymond Kelly's plan to let cops raid their nest eggs early in exchange for staying on the job.
TUESDAY, JANUARY 15
Columnist Nicholas D. Kristof outdid himself today with his revolting p.21 offering, "Why Do They Hate Us?"
Of all the horrible ways that America has revealed itself since 9/11, this whole "Why Do They Hate Us?" debate, already a kind of cliche of our post-bombing national pathology, is among the most disgusting. Americans just seem to be incapable of understanding why the rest of the world doesn't think they're as wonderful as Americans themselves do. It's that same part of American culture that automatically thinks that a foreign politician is smarter and more progressive if he speaks good English.
Kristof's piece is a classic in this school of cultural myopia. Listen to his second paragraph:
"Travel from Argentina to Japan, Russia to Senegal, and you run into huge numbers of people who snarl about America appointing itself the world policeman, squandering the world's oil or undermining global treaties and institutions. We're accused of inflicting Big Macs, Microsoft Windows and Julia Roberts on the helpless masses. (These are crimes?)"
In no less than four instances in this one very brief passage, Kristof actually describes, compellingly, the central reason the rest of the world hates America -- because we rely on force. It's part of human nature not to want to be forced to do anything. When Huck Finn talks about hating being forced to wear his Sunday best, with that itchy collar, we understand him completely and wish along with him that his old aunt Polly would go drown herself somewhere.