Media & Politics
Brooks vs. Krugman, Tuesdays in the New York Times
Enter the cage. The right has been flapping and bleating about Paul Krugman ever since the 2000 election. It was then that the Princeton economist turned his sights away from anti-globalization protestors and dug in behind a howitzer, flipped the safety switch off and started raining hellfire onto the Bush administration and everything it stands for. Almost three years on, his knuckles are still white from trigger-grip.
As Krugman's profile has risen, his critics have rallied and are currently led by the National Review's feisty little "Krugman truth squad," which does its best to pick apart the bearded professor's twice-weekly, clinical and vicious 700-word deconstructions of everything White House.
Meanwhile, neither Tom Friedman nor William Safire have defended Bush's fiscal and foreign policies with anything near the focus, expertise and pure rage with which Krugman has attacked them, and the result is that Krugman is now the Times op-ed star emitting the most heat. One of the GOP's biggest thorns going into the 2004 campaign, Krugman damn near burns a hole in the page twice a week, blasting administration claims and logic with titanium-tipped columns. Never in our lives have we seen a columnist go after an administration so hard and so ruthlessly.
In response to Krugman's ever-more violent grip on his victim's neck, the Times this month felt compelled to offer the other side a regular space to meet the challenge. And so, to the sound of Survivor's "Eye of the Tiger," the Weekly Standard's David Brooks now enters the ring with Krugman every Tuesday. The question is: Can the witty, even-keeled conservative defend the Bush administration with enough force to neutralize Krugman's journalistic napalm?
Not likely. If their debut Sept. 9 face-off was any indication, Brooks doesn't own war paints and hates to mess up his shoes. The morning after Bush's televised request for $87 billion and plea for U.N. help, Brooks meekly praised the administration's ability to learn from experience while feigning frustration over its inability to "admit mistakes." As standard op-ed gruel it was fine, but next to Krugman's sword-wielding Samurai wrath, it flickered and died on the page.
Best Reason to Recall Bloomberg
He's right, we're wrong. We don't believe in recall elections, and any rational person who's followed the current California Cartoon would agree. When voters elect a candidate, they ought to be stuck with that person for the duration of his or her term unless criminal activity is proven. Otherwise, elections have no real meaning.
So this is purely a hypothetical exercise in explaining why, if such a legislative provision existed in New York, Mayor Mike ought to be sent packing.
Let's start with this absurd statement, published in the Sept. 9 New York Times, from the press secretary of the city's Nanny-in-Chief. Edward Skyler said: "Mayor Bloomberg was elected to lead New York through a crisis? Because of his leadership, the best days for New York are yet to come."
This fantasy was contained in an article focusing on a Times poll that showed Bloomberg has a 32 percent approval rating from his constituents. Even Rudy Giuliani, in the month before he became a national hero two years ago, registered a 55 percent mark; and this was when Giuliani's popularity was melting down.
Mike Bloomberg was elected not to "lead New York through a crisis," but through a fluke of history. Had the terrorist attacks of 9/11 occurred three months later, Democrat Mark Green would now be mayor. Trying to buy an election is a 50-50 proposition: New Jersey Sen. Jon Corzine was successful; Ron Lauder was not. Sen. John Edwards hit the jackpot in '98; Steve Forbes blew much of his family's fortune in two futile presidential bids. Bloomberg's moolah was the deciding factor in the '01 election because he could dominate the airwaves with commercials starring Giuliani as his patron. It also helped that the Yankees-Diamondbacks World Series that year lasted seven games: more prime time for Mike's ads.
While it may be true that New York's "best days" are "yet to come," it's unlikely they'll be during Bloomberg's short, accidental tenure.
Bloomberg, of course, is a fake Republican-he ran in the GOP primary because it was easier to win-who believes that Sen. Hillary Clinton is doing a swell job for New Yorkers. Strike One.
He is a slave to the city's unions, caving in to their demands while inflicting economic duress on the rest of the citizenry, regardless of income. Strike two.
He thinks that part of his job description includes imposing his morals upon those under his charge, so he bans smoking from all bars and restaurants and slaps an extraordinary tax on a pack of smokes, crippling not only the tobacco-addicted but every deli and bodega in the city that has lost customers who now cross state lines or use the internet to find cheaper prices. Oh, and he's also damaged the nightclub business not only with the cigarette ban but by additionally imposing "noise pollution" fines. Strike three.
No fair-minded person would deny the entrepreneurial skills that earned Bloomberg untold billions-he worked like a dog and deserves every cent. That makes him an unlikely candidate to skim from the public till, but it also leaves him entirely isolated from 99 percent of his constituents. When the mayor declares that no one would ever leave New York because it's the greatest city in the world, that's coming from a man who can afford a hike in subway fares, sales, corporate and property taxes.
Bloomberg tried to pull a mini-Rudy during this summer's blackout and performed admirably, traveling throughout the city and issuing bulletins on the status of the crisis-lucky he wasn't in Bermuda at the time. Unlike '77, there was virtually no crime, which may or not have had something to do with the fact that the electricity died in the afternoon rather than night. But he didn't blow it, which is nothing short of amazing.
Best Daily News Photo Caption
Blog is a four-letter word. Time was-and what a glorious time it was-we could update our website with personal anecdotes, stories, bits of miscellaneous writing, and it hadn't been given a name. Wired was still interesting, the Electronic Frontier Foundation was fighting the good fight and we early adapters were going to change the world. That's right, change the world. We were laying the foundation for a lush creative paradise.
Sometime around 1999, our internetal offspring pulled up in their RVs and turned the web into a wasteland of irrelevance, indulgence and hackery. The weblog had been created, and the entire construct was ruined for everyone who'd inadvertently birthed and championed this "new form."
No, no, go ahead, bloggers and bloglovers, call it a publisher revolution. Just know that like Magic: The Gathering, fantasy football and rehab programs, blog culture is a circle jerk. Like missing a rerun of Friends, when you stop reading any given blog, life is no worse for it.
Blogging is not the new journalism. It's the new zine. They will disappear when some of the more high-profile bloggers-those who came up from nothing with a will to write, not those high-vis journos who slummed in the freeform-find jobs in the mainstream press, where they clearly thirst to be. Their sites will atrophy, and the left-behinders will become bitter, scream "sellout" and lose interest.
The blog is a dead form within two years. On the outside.
Under the Age of 25
Some things matter. This slightly built, self-promoting 23-year-old resume-enhancing machine and celeb-sucker first came to our attention by way of his terrible little Holden Caulfield impersonation act, Important Things that Don't Matter. We never would have noticed it, but Amsden's friend qua informal agent J.T. Leroy tried to plant a buttery author Q&A in these pages, and we did some sniffing. A little birdie soon informed us of the true scale of Amsden's biographical deceits, not the least of which is his bravado regarding non-existent working-class roots. In 2003, Amsden milked such lies-with some success-in a frenzied reach for the title of Next Hot Young Suburban Memoir Thing.
Not only is this kid without talent, he is without shame, and deserves whatever life awaits the kind of people that want desperately to be Bret Easton Ellis but never are, no matter how much they lie and try.
Everyone's churning. Gossip writer Ian Spiegelman introduced himself shortly after we took over the helm of this ship. He contacted us for two reasons. One, to plug his debut novel, Everyone's Burning, a slim volume that's been written about by other gossip scribes more than it's been read. Two, he wanted us to whack a young writer with whom he'd had a failed sexual relationship. (The sex part's not true, so far as we know, but it would make sense, he was so apoplectic with hate.) Not exactly fans of the little hack in Spiegelman's sights, we gladly accepted several hundred words that lambasted-and possibly libeled-the author.
Since he has connections at Page Six and Details, b-list-fucker Spiegelman thought he was doing us a favor by skewering another b-list fucker-thus his insistence that his hands remain unsullied and face hidden. We must allow him use of a pseudonym (against our policy) and guarantee that nothing would be traceable to him.
"It can't even sound like me," he whined, as if he bore a strong authorial voice in the first place.
This is why we keep a safe distance from the incestuous circle of dimbulbs who think they're contributing with their gossip pages and idiotic blogs. They're cowards and hypocrites, happy to mock and deride as long as they don't have to take responsibility for their actions. Ian Spiegelman, nice as he may be in person, is as useless as a stopwatch at the Special Olympics.
Best New York Post Lede
Methods of Expository Writing and Styles of Cultural Criticism, Co-Taught by Christopher Hitchens
Can assholes get tenure? We could hack through a lecture course taught by Christopher Hitchens. We might even enjoy it. Yeah, that's us, sitting in the back, taking copious notes, timing his whiskey shakes like birth contractions, documenting his hangovers. When things get slow, we shout "Kissinger" as a fake sneeze, and after class we bust out snide impersonations for our friends, saying "Islamo-fascism" every third word.
Years later, when his wheezy near-corpse is rolled out onto MSNBC for one last shouting match with Chris Matthews, we moan lazily: "That guy's still alive? Yeah, took a class with him. Total cock-knocker. For a term paper once, I turned in one of his Atlantic Monthly pieces as my term paper. His T.A. gave me a B-minus."
But it's not a lecture course. It's a seminar, which amps it way beyond our threshold for pain. In seminars, students are expected to take an active part in class discussions. In this class, they'll be expected to argue with a guy who prides himself on being the world's most contrary contrarian, who thinks he has the world's most caustic wit and deft language skills, who believes he has never lost an argument. Just look at the toxicity he directed at the jellyfish of the Nation.
Just consider this, please. Christopher Hitchens teaching an undergraduate Liberal Studies class. According to the New School catalog, in this class, "Mr. Hitchens will analyze several exemplary cultural critics, and discuss his own experience as a leading public intellectual." Imagine the poor little Sylvia Plath-quoting girl who signs up because it both fits a core requirement and looks like fun. She doesn't know from Hitchens, she's never heard of the Nation, neither knows nor cares about his political trajectory. One day, she lets slip that she thinks war is bad for children and other living things.
Seconds later, she's rushing from the room in tears after Hitchens announces that her "semi-coherent ad hominem attack on my argument is an admission that you would rather not engage with my arguments and would rather suck off academia's tit!" Et cetera, et cetera.
Too bad. If only she had the staying power-and the good judgment to keep her tofu-hole shut-she could've witnessed Hitchens dressed up in George Orwell's skin, Silence of the Lambs style, muttering, "Would you revere me? I'd revere me." We expect this class to focus on two things: George Orwell's writing (specifically his famous "Politics and the English Language" essay) and how Christopher Hitchens is George Orwell reborn, despite the fact that Hitchens' Earl Grey skin and desk-jockey pudge grant him a passing resemblance more to the titular animal of "Shooting an Elephant" than its author.
Orwell strenuously advocated surgically precise language and argued that unclear writing muddles thought. Hitchens practically chortles with joy in his gushy prose. Of course, mention that during class and the hungover giant may wake, throwing down upon you all of his fury. And no, those Paglia quotes will not save you.
Under the Age of 25
Ciao ciao, darling. "Hiya, I can only do that for $1 a word. That is a lot more work. what I can do an intro in my own words and then a Q&A if y'all aint payin $1 a word. yers, Jt"
Thanks for the new vocabulary word. Buh-bye. "You may be under pressure, but I'm not quite sure why you feel it necessary to adopt the tone of a Prussian gauleiter, and I very much resent the hectoring tone, as though I am some errant schoolboy, to be dosed with heavy breathing about squirrels. I don't know about 'inflexible,' but you certainly come off as rude. With your phrase 'I need to get things in line' the intimation seems to be that things have been way out of line."
2004 Republican National Convention
Here we go. You know that grainy 1968 footage of Tom Hayden running through tear gas in Chicago's Grant Park wearing a wig and an oversized football helmet? For better or worse, New York 2004 is going to put all that to shame. When the GOP gathers to re-nominate George Bush in August, it will be hard to remember that SDS and the Yippies ever cared about some guy named Hubert Humphrey. (But we'll never forget that Norman Mailer holed up like a coward in his hotel suite when the shit hit the fan, while Genet and Burroughs were in the smoke.)
It's 11 months away, and already the buzz around the country is making this feel like the Convention of the Century. Optimistic activists are promising more Seattle than Chicago.
One of the reasons so few protestors showed up for the '68 Days of Rage was geography. Chicago is in the middle of the country. Another reason was the deathwish lurking behind the radical calls to "kill the pigs." Everyone's a lot smarter and more serious this time around (right?), and the Republicans are walking right into one of the larger bellies of the anti-Bush beast. Don't expect a fizzle.
Those New Walk Signs
And talk this way. It seemed to start slowly. You'd see one here and there. But suddenly by the end of the summer-whoosh-they were everywhere. It was like a flash flood. Every last "Walk/Don't Walk" sign in the city had been replaced with those Lite-Brite LED pictograms of a hand and a pedestrian. Why?
With New York in such a financial mess, with basic services being cut left and right, why is the DOT wasting millions on the equipment and manpower it must have taken to replace all those walk signs with the fancy new Lite-Brite jobs? Sure, the bulbs in the old ones tended to burn out regularly, but for godsakes, there was nothing fundamentally wrong with them. Replacing a few bulbs every day has got to be cheaper than throwing the whole damned thing away and hooking up a new one.
The NYCDOT isn't saying, but our guess is that the reversion to pictograms instead of written English is just the city's own, quiet first step toward admitting that the public schools just aren't going to get any better over the next few generations.
"Fight the pow-oh, wait, that's me!" So we're looking into tales that a minor rock mag is trading positive reviews in exchange for advertising dollars. (We've already confirmed that reviewers routinely give good reviews to one another's bands.) We start with the publicists, which may seem laughable to real journalists, but we're not looking for a Pulitzer here. We want access to that supercool new wave of publicists who are really into the music and care about both their acts and the kids on the street.
Two publicists, though friendly and helpful, have no good dirt to dish. The third, however, is more than friendly. She ignores our inquiry, but quickly contacts the magazine in question-Magnet, if you care-to let them know that we're asking about their editorial policies.
Our first thought is to wonder why proud punk publicist Tris Laughter is invested enough in Magnet to want to protect them. Then we remember that this is the same lady who, inspired by her strong feminist sensibilities, refused to alert the Donnas that Playboy was interested in talking to the band about a photo layout to promote The Donnas Turn 21.
You have to respect a gal like Laughter-that is, if you're selling out your editorial to corporate interests. Or, if you're a band who wants a prudish publicist to make moral decisions as to what you should and shouldn't do with your own fucking career.
This whole punk thing is working out quite well, isn't it?
Close Indian Point
No one here gets out alive. We first saw the Indian Point Safe Energy Coalition poster taped to the side of a pay phone on 1st Ave. It depicted a map of NYC in crosshairs, with the words: "EVACUATION: IMPOSSIBLE" (referring to some official statement on the odds against a timely evacuation of Manhattan, in the event of a larger disaster than the WTC attacks) emblazoned over it in a pseudo-military stencil font.
Since then, on NY1, we've seen commercials produced by Riverkeeper-the Coalition's foremost member-as well as their fallout-orange ads on the sides of bus kiosks and their postcards ("What exactly do WEAPONS of MASS DESTRUCTION look like?") in the wall racks of restaurants and bars. The card-created by something calling itself Think Tank 3 and preprinted with the smarmiest of form letters-is addressed to the wife of the chairman of the "Nuclear Regulatory Commision" [sic]. It begins, "Dear Mrs. Diaz, My name is ______ but you can call me Joe Public." It goes on to implore Mrs. Diaz to explain to her husband the dangers of keeping Indian Point power plant open in a "post 9/11 environment" and closes with "I don't mean to be pushy, but since this is urgent maybe you could talk to him at dinner tonight?"
They don't mean to be pushy? The point of this obnoxious, scatterbrained campaign, we gather, is to get the power plant shut down. This is a reasonable cause with which we absolutely empathize; none of us wants a nuclear plant in our backyard. What we can't get behind are the manipulative scare tactics Riverkeeper and its associated "think tank" are using to get their point across to the residents of New York City.
History has shown us that nuclear power plants are enough of a threat all on their own. Look at Three Mile Island. Look at the meltdown at Chernobyl, popularly accepted to be the greatest nuclear catastrophe in the history of mankind. But while you're at it, look at what was behind them: Accidents. Human error. Clearly, we pose more of a threat to ourselves than any foreign agents could, but somehow, this doesn't stop Riverkeeper from hopping on the terrorist bandwagon to achieve its ends.
We actually appreciate Riverkeeper's vigilance in other areas, like educating us on GE's dumping of PCBs in the Hudson, or pushing through 1997 legislation to protect the NYC Watershed. This is why it disappoints and sickens us to see them stoop in this new campaign. There are more responsible, more effective methods of educating and motivating New Yorkers in regard to Indian Point. Poking at open wounds that are only marginally related to the cause is little more than psychological terrorism.
Daily News (Sept. 12, 2003)
Best Stealth Smut in a National Advertisement
Mature Invitation to Loin-based Fraternization
Mom, get off my friends! "The dating world has changed?" the little black booklet informs us. "Women, and lots of them, are throwing themselves at men."
So say the makers of Axe deodorant, whose advertising campaign suggests that wearers will become so irresistible that they'll need the Axe Wearer's Handbook for guidance.
Inside are tips for men unprepared to be so pussy-laden:
How to Turn a Fivesome into a Manageable Threesome
How to Slip out Without Waking Her Up
How to Remove a Hickey
How to Gain Access to a Janitor's Closet Without a Key
All of which are middlebrow boy humor, on par with a good pull-my-finger moment. Worthy of note, however, is How to Escape a Friend's Mom:
It is not uncommon for a young man wearing Axe to be approached by a friend's mother who can't control her arousal. This is known as a MILF (Mature Invitation to Loin-based Fraternization). When confronted with a MILF, take a minute to consider the implications of fulfilling a MILF request-e.g. violent husband or awkward social situation-then quickly execute your escape plan.
What MILF actually stands for, as Axe's target audience knows, is Mother I'd Like to Fuck. Factcheckers may consult milf.com, milf.net, milf.org, even milf.de ("M.I.L.F. - Willst du die Mutter meiner Kinder sein?").
We don't know if the ad agency responsible for the Axe Wearer's Handbook told their client the true meaning of MILF, or if they snuck it past a boardroom of old men. Either way, we applaud the oblique use of offensive profanity in a national advertising campaign.
Chuck Klosterman on MediaBistro
YOU ARE SUCH AN ASSHOLE. Two weeks after our Chuck Klosterman cover story ran, the hot critic took part in Q&A with Chris Gage for MediaBistro. The resulting article opened with this ungodly lede: "Chuck Klosterman is an incredibly talented yarn-spinner. He knows so well how to build a story and wring out its punchline and significance that you'd think he was raised by an ancient tribe of devoted oral historians."
As a MediaBistro production, the interview was intended as a lesson for aspiring pop-culture journalists. When the interviewer eventually tired of the "How can I, too, parlay my masturbatory obsessions into a book deal?" line of inquiry, he turned his attention to the house that Russ Smith built:
MB: Clearly other people seem to find you entertaining as well-though perhaps not the New York Press.
CK: That was really weird, a very weird thing. I got an email that day that said, "This guy you've never heard of has written a piece for a publication you've never read and is attacking what you look like and claiming you're the anti-Christ." I still have a hard time understanding how I would warrant that. But, I don't know. It wasn't hurtful, it was just strange. I've been asked about this constantly, and I compare it to how if you're walking down the street and some schizo guy comes up to you and vomits on you: You wouldn't be hurt by that, you'd just think it's weird. I keep saying the word "weird" over and over again, but it's the only way I can describe it.
Actually, Chuck, that's not quite right. If your "schizo guy" were vomiting at random, then the vomit could have landed anywhere, on anyone. But it didn't. It landed on you. For a reason.
Here's how that exchange should have read:
MB: Clearly other people seem to find you entertaining as well-though perhaps not the New York Press.
CK: I compare it to how if you're walking down the street and some schizo guy comes up to you and says, "Hey, are you Chuck Klosterman?" And you say, yeah, and he says, "Your book sucks and you make me sick and I hate everything about you, your culture, your approach to writing, your smug face and the mediocrity you bring into this world that we're forced to share with you." And then he sticks his fingers in his mouth and vomits on you. You wouldn't be hurt by that, you'd just think it's weird.
Saudis Consider Going Nuclear
Gulp. The Saudis-you know, that shaky oil dynasty with al Qaeda connections-have been talking about joining the club for decades. Now, faced with the near-term prospect of a nuclear Iran, they're said to be considering it seriously at the highest levels in Riyadh. So it's worth taking a hard look at what would be required to stop Saudi Arabia and Iran from joining the club: A security architecture guaranteeing a nuclear-free Middle East. And that means you, too, Israel. Until the world reckons with Israel's 200 atomic warheads, the logic of proliferation will unfold in the region no matter how much Washington huffs and puffs. Nor will Israel be able to freeze history with its warplanes forever.
Israel has been the nuclear power that dare not speak its name for 40 years, but faced with the prospect of a fully nuclearized Middle East, the world may finally be ready to confront the consequences of its ongoing double standard. It's time.
Gillette Venus' "Now in Pink"
Sink the pink. First, we assumed Gillette was indulging in campy nostalgia when we saw the Pink ad featuring four bathing-suit-clad models assuming silly action poses while driving down the street in a pink convertible.
But this was no clever throwback. It was a ham-fisted attempt to convince women to trade in their perfectly suitable blue Venus razor for the newest model. Does the pink upgrade possess the power of Gillette's mighty Mach3? Does it, perhaps, sport a new pivoting head system that reduces nicks while shaving? How about a built-in shaving- cream dispenser?
Nope again. Gillette's ad campaign is based around a question: "What is it about pink that makes you feel so good?"
We have yet to think of an answer, because every time we see the ladies of Pink partying away-be it on a building or in the pages of a glossy-we consider not shaving ever again.
Gillette may be the best a man can get, but when it comes to women, they have a long way to go, baby.
Same as it ever was. The first time a magazine approached us for coverage was when the horrid L Magazine hired a very sweet but clearly inexperienced woman to beg us for a story. We declined politely, noting that the L would probably be out of business before we went to press. Our turnaround is measured in hours.
Wendy Coleman, director of marketing and promotions for Razor Magazine (a publication of Razor Media LLC), became number two. In a letter from the company's Scottsdale, AZ headquarters, we were told that Razor is the "logical choice on newsstands today for the twenty-something 'post-lad' reader." The Razor "formula" is one of "sophistication with sex appeal," a formula that Playboy and GQ are "striving to emulate." Unlike Maxim, FHM and Stuff, Razor wasn't yanked from the Wal-Mart shelves-clear proof that it's nothing like the "typical 'laddie' book."
How cute. We don't dispute that GQ may not offer your average twentysomething what he's looking for in a magazine. But the Razor "formula" of half-naked women, dating advice, video game reviews, gadget reviews, a light smattering of "serious" articles, Details dropout Anka Radakovich and a 34-year-old publisher posing with a cigar hardly warrants coining a new marketing term.
Nice try, Wendy, but "post-lad" is a very weak, very silly attempt to be "lad" without the cloying stink of the reprehensible Maxim and Stuff and the countless knockoffs that were pee in the pool of our corner newsstand. Try relaunching Razor as something original, and we'll consider assigning that story.
West Side Spirit (May 15, 2003)
Best Press Release for a Christian Magazine
Tell us, what is God doing? "Filling the need for media that effectively reaches God-hungry, mainstream savvy twentysomethings, RELEVANT magazine is gaining recognition not only in the Christian marketplace, but in the mainstream market as well?
"RELEVANT covers God, life and progressive culture with a fresh perspective not found in any other publication. Each issue offers in-depth features, columns and reviews on issues that affect this generation. It examines what God is doing and saying today and spotlights the people and events shaping culture. The magazine pushes boundaries, asks questions, spots trends and challenges worldviews-all while helping readers pursue God in everyday life."
New York Observer
We thought you people had money? We at New York Press occasionally make a mistake with an illustrator, too. But the key is, guys, to learn from those mistakes.
"NOW's Woman Problem"
Half a loaf's better than none. Whenever the Times' editorial page prints something sensible, we immediately suspect a hidden agenda. It's no secret that the paper longs for Sen. John Kerry to challenge President Bush next year; absent, of course, an entry by Hillary Clinton or possibly Al Gore.
Still, for those who don't read between the lines, the Times' spot-on ridicule of both the National Organization of Women (NOW) and footnote presidential candidate Carol Moseley Braun, the ethically challenged former senator from Illinois, was a refreshing respite from the usual fare of "quagmires" and "tax cuts for the rich."
NOW is an institution in serious disrepair, challenging Jesse Jackson for another category we can think of, "Best Anachronism." Who, besides the Nation's Katha Pollitt and perhaps a few herbal-tea drinkers in Greenwich Village, takes NOW seriously anymore? The group's steadfast defense of the lecherous Bill Clinton-because he's in favor of abortion, the only issue that matters-in the 90s was a disgrace, especially considering its hysterical attacks on Clarence Thomas. The Supreme Court Justice, you see, was accused of watching pornography and, of course, was a Republican. A far worse sin, in NOW's warped thinking, than Clinton's public humiliation of his wife and daughter.
NOW, a parody of itself, has endorsed Moseley Braun for president in 2004.
The Times had it right on Sept. 14: "[I]t is hard to see a principle that distinguishes Ms. Braun's candidacy, other than perhaps the right of a tarnished former official to seek the nation's highest office. By racing to assist Ms. Braun's candidacy, the leaders of NOW showed loyalty to someone with a long relationship with the organization, going back to the unsuccessful struggle to enact the Equal Rights Amendment. But they also trivialized the important role women will play in the coming election, and made themselves look silly to boot."
One caveat: Do the Times editors believe that women haven't played "important" roles in past elections? Tsk, tsk.
William Bunch of the Philadelphia Daily News
Loose ends. If ever a day commanded a prolonged, nationwide head-hanging moment of silence, it's Sept. 11. But two years later, we're not yet at a point where we can be satisfied with a nod, a flag and a prayer. As William Bunch of the Philadelphia Daily News reminded us, there are still a lot of unanswered questions hanging uneasily over the memories of the dead.
On Sept. 11, Bunch listed 20 of these questions, among them:
Who made a fortune on Sept. 10, 2001, when the trading ratio on United Airlines was 25 times greater than normal at the Pacific Exchange?
Why were Rumsfeld and others in the administration so quick to link the attacks to Saddam Hussein?
Why did the Bush administration lie about dangerously high levels of toxins and hazardous particles after the WTC collapse?
What's in the 28 blacked-out pages of the congressional Sept. 11 report?
Bunch isn't the only journalist asking these questions, but we thank him asking them so pointedly on a day when so many others were busy scoring points with easy, maudlin remembrances.
You're a Meta Tag for a Porn Site
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New York Sports Express
Best Ignorant Banshee of a Pundit
Is this ding on? This walking self-parody should be the shame of the right, but somehow isn't. In 2003, Coulter treated the reading public to Treason, the third of her semi-literate screeds, whose theme bears a startling resemblance to the previous two-namely, that everything wrong with America is the fault of liberals, while everything right about it is the work of conservatives.
One needn't be a communist to admit that maybe those crazy labor radicals were on to something when they suggested having weekends, or that the silly black people might have had a point about riding in buses and sitting on benches. And never mind the feminists who spent the 1990s vainly calling attention to the depravities of the Taliban.
Somehow, Coulter gets a pass. Her more centrist apologists call her "provocative," as though that alone warrants her being taken seriously.
Pulling down your pants in Grand Central Station and screaming, "Hey ladies, come and get it!" is provocative. It is also boorish, juvenile and insipid, and, come to think of it, is an apt-enough metaphor for Coulter's work: Her books are acts of indecent exposure. Reading them is like watching someone scream at a cash-register clerk for no good reason-you start to wonder if they were born without the mechanisms that give most of us
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