Archive for The Lileks Zone

Huh? That can’t be so.

I’ve started to keep a file of stories I find on the web, kept in a folder called Huh? To quality for the Huh? folder, something must appear to be the exact opposite of what you think your government should be doing. Every day you read something like the stories below. Such as:

Tucked away in the August 11, 2010, Federal Register (page 48,626) is a way arcane U.S. State Department proposal to allow “third-country nationals,” including Chinese, Syrian, and Iranian citizens, much greater access to U.S.-controlled military technology.

And you think, well, that can’t be so. You’d like to think your government regards U.S. controlled military technology as something that ought to be in a Fort-Knox style building, patrolled by grim-faced men who shoot first, ask questions later, like “are you dead? No? Here. Have some more.” But no. Even if it’s a case of a company begging the government to let them sell our whizbang gadgets to anyone with a briefcase full of money, you’d like to think the authorities would give them the gimlet eye and say “we’ll forget this conversation ever happened. Bring it up again, and I’ll press treason charges.” But I live in a world of old black-and-white movies where the G in G men didn’t stand for Globalist, I guess.

Well, click on something else. Hey, it’s MSNBC:

The imam behind controversial plans for a mosque near the site of the Sept. 11, 2001 terror attacks is being sent by the State Department on a religious outreach trip to the Middle East, officials said Tuesday, in a move that drew criticism from conservative lawmakers.

And you think, well, no, that can’t be so. Did I miss the moment when the Bush administration sent James Dobson to Europe to foster greater understanding between the American Evangelical community and the post-Christian France and England? Because that would gave raised eyebrows. People on the left might have been forced to bring up that separation-of-church-and-state point, albeit with their usual reluctance.

It’s his third trip, by the way. Let me tell you how much this will move the needle on relations between America and the Middle East: one nanometer. There are pragmatists in the Middle East who are content to get along, because there’s money to be made, but the real problem are the energetic fellows who would look at the imposition of Sharia on American culture and say “well, it’s a start.” Imam-mollification programs will not change their minds.

Well, click on something else. Hey, it’s a union blog:

I came across a really interesting article written by InformationWeek editor Paul McDougall. This article is all about a multi-million-dollar program in which the U.S. will help train a variety of workers in Sri Lanka. In addition to fostering partnerships to educate workers and create jobs in the construction, garment and textiles industries, USAID is also focusing on training 3,000 specialists in IT and related functions.

And you think, well, that can’t be so. Surely we’re not taking money from American taxpayers and using it to underwrite the education of cheaper labor offshore. Well, it’s just Sri Lanka, who cares. No: the program also includes Armenia, and is intended to make them more attractive to Indian firms, since they’ll move their call centers.

This is really what the upcoming election is about: now that spending and the deficit are front-and-square in people’s minds, voters will ask our betters to defend a system that borrows money from China to fund the development of call-centers in Armenia to take business away from India – then tells us they only way they can fund the First Lady’s eat-your-spinach educational initiative is to take money away from food stamps.

Remember when the president said he was going to go through the budget, line by line? I believe he did. And he concluded: hey, it’s all good.

Krugman has it all figured out

Two major intellectuals on the left are insisting we have to raise taxes during a recession. They would also insist we have to raise taxes during a boom, of course. Yet conservatives who have a low-tax approach for everything are always derided as inflexible ideologues. Go figure! Andrew Sullivan is one such hiker; he also wanted to jack up gas taxes a few years ago, utterly ignorant of the effect it would have on the economy. (People who live in big cities and take the subway everywhere often believe that goods are delivered to the city by giant ninja storks, at night.) Now Krugman takes to the pages of the New York Times to warn us that the lights are going out all over America, roads are being dismantled, public education is being underfunded so our kids won’t be learninating anymore, and it’s all because we don’t tax more. Specifically, THE RICH:

But isn’t keeping taxes for the affluent low also a form of stimulus? Not so you’d notice. When we save a schoolteacher’s job, that unambiguously aids employment; when we give millionaires more money instead, there’s a good chance that most of that money will just sit idle.

“Good chance” is a way of saying “I have no idea.” “Give Millionaires more money” is a way of saying “not taking it away from them in the first place.” (The assumption seems to be that government has a claim to 100% of your property, and when less is taken away this year than the previous year, this is a “gift.” “Millionaires” is a way of saying “anyone who makes more than “$250,000.”

Matt Welch at Reason makes a fine point about the Times piece Krugman uses as his source:

I mean, sure, we learn that Colorado Springs “shut off a third of its 24,512 streetlights this winter to save $1.2 million on electricity,” and cut its police force from 687 to 643, but aside from that down-to-the-last-digit specificity we learn nothing about the city’s (or even its police force’s) budget, and how it compares to one, two, five, or 10 years ago. We read on three separate occasions that the state of Hawaii closed school down for 17 Fridays, but the only clue we have about either the state’s or the education department’s budget is the aforementioned $110 million in stimulus money.

In other words: the Times neglected to put these numbers in context, which might be useful for readers keen to know if they’re down to Ramen and Kool-Aid at the state cafeteria. When you don’t supply context, someone might wonder why. Perhaps they feared that the innumerate wingnuts would just assume the entire budget consisted of waste and pork, and this would further embolden their support for dangerous, light-snuffing acts like this.

By the way: our lights have been going out around here for years. The bulbs regularly tick off at certain intervals, either because they’re hot, or timed to go out to save money while still providing illumination. You can’t get around my part of town with ease for the number of roads being ripped up and repaved. As for school, they’ve decided to start at the end of August, before Labor Day, which is wrong and cruel – and school goes into June, where the kids spend the last week watching movies and playing kickball.

But that’s anecdotal, and hence useless. On a macro scale, everything’s doomed. But how did this happen?

It’s the logical consequence of three decades of antigovernment rhetoric, rhetoric that has convinced many voters that a dollar collected in taxes is always a dollar wasted, that the public sector can’t do anything right.

Uh huh. “Always a dollar wasted.” Meaning, “sometimes, if it’s not addressing core needs of citizens, and isn’t being spent on building green roofs for City Hall to stop global warming.” Of course the public sector can do some things right. It’s when they do things they don’t have to do at all that some folks get a mite tetchy. Put another way: any town that has the money to send a bureaucrat around to shut down a kid’s lemonade stand because she doesn’t have the proper permit has at least one too many employees.

By the way: does Krugman believe that the money collected from the rich would actually go to turning on streetlights? Of course not, unless the Federal government has taken over that as well. He might think the government would give grants to cities to turn on the lights, but he knows the Fed would find a way to spend the money in their own special way for something we need terribly. So the municipalities would have to raise taxes, too. This would be fine, because it would be a defeat for “Antigovernment rhetoric.”

Krugman also writes:

We’re told that we have no choice, that basic government functions — essential services that have been provided for generations — are no longer affordable.

If that’s the standard – essential services that have been provided for generations – then you have to assume that what we’re doing now is the same we did 130 years ago. I suspect the concept of “basic government functions” have expanded somewhat since 1880. Just a thought. Of course, back then only big bad robber barons lived in mansions; things change. A reminder of Krugman’s personal pad: here

He can live in a house like that while others are losing their modest shacks? Of course he can; he’s earned it, and it’s not his job to give people housing money. It is the government’s job to take money from others, and his job to cheerlead the efforts.

Odd how the jobs that require you to advocate taking more money from strangers seem to pay more than the ones where you argue for taking less.

Oakland Police decide against that whole “policing” thing

Oh, great, just fine: Oakland police have released a list of crimes to which they will no longer send a cop. Herewith a partial list. Mind you: partial.

grand theft
grand theft:dog
identity theft
false information to peace officer
required to register as sex or arson offender
dump waste or offensive matter
discard appliance with lock
loud music
possess forged notes
pass fictitious check
obtain money by false voucher
fraudulent use of access cards
stolen license plate
embezzlement by an employee (over $ 400)
attempted extortion
false personification of other
injure telephone/ power line
interfere with power line
unauthorized cable tv connection
administer/expose poison to another’s

Administer poison to another’s what? Well, assume it’s bad writing. This means they won’t send anyone around if you’ve been poisoned by someone who is standing right there – not even if the person has just burgled your house, stolen something, and is still holding in the non-poison-giving hand a spray-paint can he used to scrawl gang signs on your wall. You could be suffering every single one of the crimes on the list, and you’ll have to report the crime on-line. But you’re dying, and they cut your power! (That’s on the list, you’ll note.) You’ll have to get to a public computer, like the ones at the library. But the library’s closed. What to do?

Before it happens, you move, that’s what you do. The reason? Budget problems, of course. Makes it sound like some Evil Christie has put the hammer down, but it’s a bit more nuanced. It’s a wrangle over a contract.

The sticking point in negotiations appears to be job security. The city council asked OPD officers to pay nine percent of their salary toward their pensions, which would save the city about $7.8 million toward a multi-million dollar deficit. The police union agreed, as long as the city could promise no layoffs for three years. No dice, says city council president Jane Brunner.

Every private-sector company has slashed payrolls and done the same or more with less. Not the police union: unless they are guaranteed three years employment, they will simply redefine their job downward.

One suspects that they put the power of the union above the health and safety of the citizens, but that would be more of that reflexive union-bashing conservatives love to engage in.

One more note: if a police officer suffers any of those crimes while off-duty, think he’ll pick up the phone, or wait until tomorrow to report it online?

Patriotic Fireworks

During WW2, they sold decals for urinals printed with the face of Axis leaders. Matchbooks had the abrasive strip across Hitler’s backside, so you could give him hot-cheeks. The tradition has mostly vanished, but I was pleased to see it return in firework form. Ladies and Gentlemen:

The Exploding Bin Laden Noggin.

The Reverse Groucho Rule

On the way back from the coffee shop – sustainable shade-grown fair-trade coffee served by a twentysomething hipster with a metal bone through his lip – I was listening to Michael Medved. (It all averages out at the end of the day.) The subject was the Supreme Court decision that required the Christian Legal Society to accept, oh, Atheist Anarchist Hermits for leadership positions. A young woman called in, announced she had graduated law school, and with the familiar voice of someone who had been raised by parents who ensured all her toys were empowering toys, she said that anyone who got school money should be required to accept everyone.

There you go! Simple enough. On one hand, it’s the usual logic: we will require you to pay for something, and then we will require you to follow the rules. If you pay the king his shilling, you have to do the king’s bidding, I guess. In her mind this just made sense because it was Fair, and no one was Excluded. (One of the self-flattering concepts on the left is the dedication to Inclusion, which usually means bringing in people who believe exactly as you do but have a different skin pigmentation or eye color.) When Medved asked her if an Orthodox Jewish Legal Society should be required to have a leader who doesn’t keep Sabbath, there was a pause, just as there’s a pause when Kirk is confronting a computer with its illogic and makes its circuits smoke. She restated her original position. And that was that! There you go. Simple enough.

The manifest absurdity of the position can be summed up with a parade of Straw Men, each of which is equally Fair:

Men in charge of Women’s Center for Women’s Issues

A Young-earth believer heading up a group of Evolutionary Science majors

An openly gay Jew on the board of the Muslim Students Association

You can say some of these hypotheticals are different, because . . . because they are, dang it, but also because they’re ridiculous. The Reverse Groucho: no one would want to belong to an organization that wouldn’t have him for a member. But it’s precisely because there aren’t any such examples that the Christians get smacked and no one really cares. Since Christians are bigots, what with their believing things and thinking that others who don’t believe them are wrong, then forcing them to accept different viewpoints advances the cause of Inclusion. Muslims are not bigots because they are a race, sort of, well, kinda, and African-Americans are certainly a race and historically entitled to group solidarity, and putting men on a woman’s group would create a hostile environment. Rock-solid arguments; loophole proof! But now that the CLS has had its right of free-association shredded, there’s no legal justification for anyone seeking to define their membership, if they’ve taken the money everyone was forced to cough up.

The situation cries out for campus pranksters to push and prod and poke every group on campus to violate its own standards, but it won’t happen, because the rights were denied to a group no one cares about. The left cares little for the rights of the wrong people, so they can be spit upon all day. The soft bigotry of low expectorations, if you will.

Either he knows, or doesn’t care. Neither is comforting

As Hugh noted Monday, Rahm Emanuel floated a new carbon tax on the Sunday talk shows. (The Times has more.) Doesn’t sound right, coming from him; Rahm Emanuel just doesn’t strike me as a fellow who cares deeply about global warming. Whatever spasms of conscience drove his politics as a youth have been long replaced with love of power, money, influence, and just the sheer joy of being a big schwingin’ honcho in the firmament of Dudes What Has the Juice. Eco-wusses worry that their neighbors are using ethically incorrect bulbs and taking immorally long hot showers; opportunistic pols take an evaluating squint at the green racket, figure there’s a good percentage, push it hard, and see how much coin falls out at the end of the day. If Al Capone was alive today, he’d be selling organic beer. It’s the Chicago way.

So when Rahm talks about cap and trade, you know he couldn’t care less what it does to the economy. It’s an angle. For others on the left, though, the depressing effect is a feature, not a bug: people consume too much, drive too much, have big homes in the suburbs instead of Euro-nooks in a condo on a light-rail line. These are bad things that make Mama Gaia cry and produce hurricanes; they’re morally suspect as well, since they feed into some perverse American idea that we’re entitled to drive cars and eat meat. No one on the left ever suffered a loss of support from their core audience insisting that Americans had to do less, have less, be less. Unless the subject is public service unions.

Still, the crafty minds at the Obama White House may have deduced by osmosis that the dunderdolts out there in Bitterville and Clingistan are not in a mood to pay seven dollars for gas, so cap-and-trade is being rebranded as “regulations” on utilities. If they hike utility rates by making electricity generators pay indulgences, well, rates may spike, the cost of everything that uses juice may increase, but it’ll be vague and indistinct. The base will be happy because there will be less evil carbon, and giant bird-dicing propellors may be built somewhere, possibly. (But not somewhere that would intrude on the peace and sanctity of, say, Ted Kennedy’s grave.) Jobs will not be created, but no one was ever fired from a job that didn’t exist in the first place.

It’s just the first step, though – once the utilities are bent to the will of the eschatological fanatics and their gimlet-eyed political expeditors, gas taxes are next. Which makes me think of something my family does. We have a gas station, but we also sell lubricants and oils and av-gas and other ichors that might as well be Liquid Tobacco. The company is sustained in part by a contract to fill trains that roar across the prairie at night, bearing goods. Food, furniture, gizmos, clothes – container after container is borne from port to depot, and that takes energy in its most useful form. Petrochemicals. Every night a truck from our company goes to the waiting trains, chuffing in the yard, and every night they’re fueled up and sent on the next leg.

Every cent you add to the cost of fuel adds to the cost of the items on the train.

They can’t not know that.

Which means they simply do not care.

Rahm may not give two twigs for global warming, but one suspects the President does – either because it’s what all smart people believe, or because it’s just one of those deliciously amorphous crises that strengthens the things that have made America great, like treaties with the EU. The fact that most people don’t want – the fact that most people have the peculiar fixation on jobs and the economy, not bleeding more money out of the private sector – is mere proof it’s the right thing to do, since that’s what leaders do. Right? They persuade, argue, enlighten, and move us together as a nation towards our new common goals.

Or, just pass some regulations and get it down over the people’s objectives; same thing in the end, right? Easier, too.

You suspect that if 9/11 had happened under Obama, would have been an opportunity not just for rote prostration before the jihadist justifications, but a perfect time to rethink why we, as a nation, feel compelled to build tall buildings. Not only would we have left Afghanistan alone, we would have banned any structure more than 20 stories tall. Or as tall as the Eiffel Tower. Rahm wouldn’t have cared; he could get a nice office in the top of an old-style skyscraper in Chicago. That’s what his class is all about: working the rubes so he can have a seat at the table. The carcass of Western Civ will keep him fed. After it’s gone, well, you’re all on your own.

WaPo tackles the Etheridge matter

The WaPo can dig, and dig hard. In the “Reliable Sources” column they cover the affair of the swingin’ pol what ain’t like to be asked tough questions, and they find the perfect angle:

Rep. Bob Etheridge gets vicious in viral video — but who filmed it and why?

Gosh, that was Etheridge’s question, too, although he didn’t get around to the “why.” The WaPo charitably calls them “students,” with scare quotes, and that seems wise; lacking independent confirmation of their student status, that seems wise. You just can’t let anyone call himself a “student.” You could say they were “students of the human condition,” but that might make everyone a student, and suggest that education is an on-going, life-long process that does not require huge amounts of debt and dozing off in stuffy rooms while a teacher’s assistance drones on about the difference between schist and mica.

But let’s say they were Republican plants, chosen for their ability to enrage anyone with a simple word – a word so powerful it would make Gandhi cold-cock a nun. Obamagenda. Do you support the Obamagenda? It is a potent word that makes some people turn into Tea Party lunatics who will set fire to the White House any day now, and makes Democratic congresspeople up for reelection snap as though they’d just heard the code word that reawakened their “Manchurian Candidate”-style programming. That would explain a lot, and would certainly make the WaPo writers nod: they saw that movie, the one with Denzel Washington? He’s so cool. And it would let Etheridge off the hook, too. This assumes that if the students had asked if he supported “The general tenor and objectives of the administration of the 44th president of the United States,” Etheridge would have stopped, chatted, and perhaps offered a pull from his flask.

But no: we got WHO ARE YOU? WHO ARE YOU? WHO ARE YOU? and some lunging and some grabbing, and the aggravated servant of the public stalked off. The subsequent and inevitable apology was sullen and churlish in substance, with remarks about the “intrusive” nature of modern politics – it’s apparently okay to grab a kid and give him a headlock, but intrusive to ask a question on a public street – and the “partisan” mess the poor widdle dears must experience when they roll up their pant-legs and step into the sewers where the Moorlocks, aka the common people, dwell in filth and shadows. This would be apt if the kids had shouted “hey, Lurch – any new plans to cripple the economy with taxes or debt, or are you just going with the old ones? Because we called Lenin and the copyright’s lapsed, if you’re worried about that.” But even that wouldn’t merit the WHO ARE YOU treatment; these people are paid to pretend to listen to the voters, not act like a hungover actor who goes nuts on the paparazzi.


He declined to say if parts of the exchange were edited out or speculate if conservatives had staged the clash for … well, a viral video. “I’m not going there,” he said.

Translation: I just went there, and would like everyone to now assume the event was staged. Class act all the way.

Everyone wants to know if he’ll be charged with assault and battery: no. He’s a Congressman. These guys can be caught in the cloakroom sawing kittens in half and it won’t draw a censure.

Oh: the WaPo piece said “Anything happen that’s not on the tape? Unclear, since no other version of the encounter has emerged.” Wrong. Breitbart has it. Perhaps it was unavailable when the original piece was written, but c’mon: webpages can be updated, you know. Unless you’re really not interested in the story, and have moved on to something else, like whether the President’s dog gets organic kibble. America wants to know!

Of Course it’s Israel’s Fault

Of course it was Israel’s fault. It was always Israel’s fault. Imagine if Hamas lobs a rocket into Israel, hits a school, kills five. The international community’s reaction? Nil, probably; call us when it’s fifty. So let’s say it’s fifty. The UN might meet, if they didn’t have the afternoon blocked out to pass a resolution to declare July “International Guava Month,” and they would pass a Strongly Worded Statement that condemned the violence on all sides, urged restraint, called for a resumption of the peace process, and recommended the burgundy with the stroganoff, providing it’s the ’75 burgundy. Man, that was a year for French reds, wasn’t it? What were we discussing? Right: something something regret, strongest possible concern. How many kids? Pity, that. Well, send out the resolution on the extra-thick paper. The good kind. Not the time to stint.

Ah, but what of Gaza’s humanitarian crisis? Well, it’s Israel’s fault there are “refugee” camps in Gaza in the first place. It was Israel’s fault when it occupied Gaza after the Department of Stealthy Jews silently overran Gaza positions while Egyptian generals were sitting down for weekly Yiddish classes, learning to say “shalom” as part of the Arab world’s unceasing effort to coexist with its thorny neighbor. Israel used its secret Squallor Ray to turn Gaza – the Monaco of the Levant while it was under Egyptian control – into a hellhole. So that explains the rockets.

Sure, they left, but it was still Israel’s fault; because they didn’t give them the secret formula for raising golden geese and turning the eggs into technology patents. It was Israel’s fault when the Gazans elected Hamas to run the joint, because Israel had radicalized everyone by not leaving earlier. If they’d left during the height of Intifada 2, then their opponents would have realized “hey, violence works. Well, let’s never do that again.” It was Israel’s fault when it began the blockade to keep more arms from pouring into Gaza, because this crippled the local economy, which consists of hiring people to fire rockets that cripple Jews. It wasn’t Egypt’s fault; the blockade on the Egyptian side is just one of those inexplicable things that no one quite remembers or understands, but well, they probably have their reasons. The Middle East! It’s like that! But not impossible to understand: shrug your shoulders with world-weary exaggeration, and speak knowingly of “The Street,” and you too could have a column in a major newspaper.

It was certainly Israel’s fault for stopping a flotilla aimed at busting the blockade, because A) the ships were full of peace activists who had pots of honey and Thomas Kinkade pictures of sunsets and kittens and also drugs and milk and DVDs of “Lost” – okay, they’re bootlegs, but people in Gaza don’t have enough broadband to get it on Hulu, and don’t think the UN isn’t looking into that, and B) if the ships had gotten through, they would have changed their minds about the conflict, held a press conference, praised Israeli constraint, and demanded some sort of symbolic concession from Hamas. They wouldn’t have asked Hamas to strike the “kill the Jews” rhetoric from their charter, though – heck, that’s just there for the base, you know, red meat, like an abortion plank in a Republican platform. No, something like a promise not to aim missiles at schools. Little things first.

If one looks at the video of the activists chanting kill-the-Jew slogans before they set sail on their noble cruise, one might think they were motivated by anti-Jewish sentiment, but you have to realize these things are metaphors. When they refer to an event in the Koran that involved wholesale Jew-killing, it’s a ritualistic means of expressing the desire for personal struggle. (Against Jews.) When the ship is stopped, and the commandos beaten, it’s a regrettable sign of Israel’s inexplicable desire to deny wheelchairs and shelf-stable pudding containers to Gazans. When a ship gets through with rocket parts, and one of those rockets hits a school, it’s still Israel’s fault, for all the reasons cited above.

So if you want to be taken seriously in the proper circles, always leap to the conclusion that it’s Israel’s fault. You will be praised for your nuance, your ability to understand complexity, and your willingness to see all sides. You might even win a date with Helen Thomas.

Borders, schmorders

Thus spake the President on our relations with Mexico:

“In the 21st Century we are defined not by our borders, but by our bonds.”

Even for an administration that regularly gusts such gaseous banalities, this was remarkable. It requires immediate Godwinification, really, just to take the argument to its logical extreme: that was Hitler’s justification for the Anschluss.

Sorry, but you see the point, no? Austria had a bond with Germany that meant more than a silly ol’ line on a paper. Hitler meant it, of course, but Obama may just be reading a trope his speechwriter didn’t think through. It would be possible to say we are defined by our bonds as much as our borders – still nonsense, still cloud-cuckoo-land transnational drivel, but you could pass it off as honeyed words to say while a the Mexican president is standing next to you wearing the look of International Concern. But apparently in the mind of the left, the argument has already been made: our bonds are already equal in importance to our borders, because we are bound by international causes we cannot solve alone, like global warming and reducing salt in ketchup. Any fool knows that. With confident strides, then, they take the next step: the bond more important definition than the border.

Once the border isn’t the most important thing, the border isn’t important at all. It’s like telling your next door neighbor that your common block defines you more than your front door. He would conclude that if needs your hedge trimmers for communal beautification, he can just come in and take them. (And then give them to an illegal immigrant to use, because he’s not doing his own yard work.)

You could almost construe it as another apology: sorry about being a separate nation, but it’s what we’re still stuck with in the 21st century. You go with what you have. Until you find out you don’t have it anymore, and then? Oh, we’ll figure that out. Europe has lots of good ideas on that front.

Newsweek for sale. Ho; hum

Newsweek is up for sale. Hope the company sells better than the product, which couldn’t even move half its issues if it ran a “Win a Date with Obama” contest. We called it “Newsreek” in high school, clever speech-and-debaters that we were. (There was also “Useless News & World Distorts,” and “Slime.”) I grew up in a house that didn’t take newsweeklies; there was the paper, and the evening news, and that covered it. Even then, in the 70s, a newsweekly seemed a bit superfluous. If a friend’s family had Newsweek around the house, it meant they were one of those Parallel People – Hunts Ketchup instead of Heinz, RC Cola instead of Coke. Even then I knew Time was the leader, and Newsweek was the Avis of magazines.

Flash ahead a few decades. I’m waiting for my car to be repaired. Forgot to bring reading material, so I’m reading Newsweek. The ads: old-folk pills, mostly. Half the ad space was taken by legal disclaimers warning people that this drug for nausea might cause heartburn, and this other drug for heartburn might give you nausea. Or a nine-hour erection! Consult your doctor. It felt like every other issue of every other newsweekly, a recitation of stale news fed through the digestive system of the mainstream media. There wasn’t anything it did that other mags didn’t do better, either by specializing or by applying a cheerfully up-front ideological bias.

This was before Newsweek decided to go full-liberal on everyone, an act that must have shocked the staff: we’re going to be write from a proudly liberal stance? Good heavens, where will be find liberal writers?

Somehow they found enough to put the book in the graveyard. It’s not dead but it’s not looking hale, either.

Can’t imagine why anyone would buy it. Newsweeklies are dead – in print form, anyway; they can live on the web or iPad apps, but then they’re a brand, not a species. It could survive if Murdock bought the title, and ran it like a Weekly-Standard-flavored newsmag, but why not start that one from scratch? Issues would land in current subscribers’ mailboxes with covers like WHY SOLAR POWER ARE INFERIOR TO NUKES, and half the subscriber base would clutch their chest and topple off the stoop.

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August 2020