The Prim Perfidy of the Gray Lady

 

My second conclusion about the Wikileaks scandal?  That the New York Times has reached a new level on the smug-and-smarmy-hypocrisy-o-meter.  This seems obvious just as soon as you hear someone make the point.  But it took Scott Johnson, our friend at Powerline, to make the point–and so far as I can tell, Scott’s the only one to make it.  Read this slowly, taking it in.  And if you’re ever tempted to suppose that the mainstream media is merely silly, or callow, but essentially harmless, remember it:

The New York Times is participating in the dissemination of the stolen State Department cables that have been made available to it in one way or another via WikiLeaks. My friend Steve Hayward recalls that only last year the New York Times ostentatiously declined to publish or post any of the Climategate emails because they had been illegally obtained. Surely readers will recall Times reporter Andrew Revkin’s inspiring statement of principle: “The documents appear to have been acquired illegally and contain all manner of private information and statements that were never intended for the public eye, so they won’t be posted here.”

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Does the public have a right to know? If so, how much does the public have a right to know? Julian Assange, for one, would seemingly argue that the public has a right to know everything. Certainly, and at the very least, the public has a right to know that he is the great defender […]

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Hey, King Abdullah, Okay With You if We Shine Your Shoes?

 

Sorry to be weighing in on the Wikileaks matter so late in the day.  After taking the kids to school, I got myself a cup of coffee, sat down, opened my laptop, and, as I had promised Claire I would–if you think she’s compelling onstage, you should see the way she drives us back here in the wings–began to compose a post.  Whereupon my cell phone rang.  Whereupon one thing began leading to another.  Do you have days like that?  Days during which you feel frantically busy but that, by bedtime the same night, almost seem never to have taken place?

Anyway, in all my quick Googlings around on Wikileaks at stolen moments, I came away from the whole affair with a couple of strong feelings, one of which I’ll share right here:  I’ve had it up to here with Saudi Arabia.  Excuse me.  The Saudis, I suppose, are merely being the Saudis.  What I really mean is that I’ve had it up to here with our own government for failing to put the screws to those people.

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Drudge is reporting the site has been hit and apparently is inaccessible in the U.S. and Europe, but only for a few hours. I didn’t think Obama had it in him. Seriously, I don’t understand why the NSA or whoever can’t just something right up their servers and shut the site down. We know they […]

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Speaker-Elect to Meet President Today. Please Ignore.

 

In his Wall Street Journal column today, our own Bill McGurn.  (The column is behind a paywall, and I’m intent on sneaking out as much of Bill’s prose as the “fair use” doctrine, and the indulgence of his editors, will permit.)

John Boehner knows that today’s White House get-together with Barack Obama is a distraction….The [real] story is this: Democrats remain in charge for the next few weeks, they have some big decisions to make and, at least for now, Mr. Boehner’s relations with Mr. Obama are of far less moment than the president’s relations with his own party…

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I am in major crafting mode getting ready for Christmas and therefore am required to sit still for long lengths of time in order to get the work done.  To while away the time, I like to curl up to my laptop and watch TV shows on the internet.  The most recent show to catch […]

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Novelist Salman Rushdie gave an interview today with Big Think.  He makes a lot of good points throughout his talk, then Rushdie says, “I often think that the best way to liberate Iran is just to drop Nintendo consoles from the air. And Big Macs.”  It’s a plan at least.  http://bigthink.com/ideas/25138 Preview Open

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Steny Hoyer, ostensibly one of the leading lights of the new Democratic minority in the House, beclowns himself with his statements concerning the President’s proposed Government pay freeze and including the US military… “While I appreciate that the president reduced the length of his proposed pay freeze from three to two years,” Hoyer said in […]

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All over this website, in the podcasts and the posts, everyone talks about the Kindle like it’s the only ereader out there, or even the best. I’ve had a Nook now for several months and love it. I thought it was better than the Kindle, especially the new one coming out. So what’s the deal? […]

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The History of Edmund Morris

 

What’s up with Edmund Morris? With a new volume on Teddy Roosevelt, I was all ready to forgive the man for botching one of the greatest opportunities of all time, the official Reagan biography. The last two days he has made some of the blogs for having caused CBS to bleep out part of a quote from Marissa Tomei in My Cousin Vinny.  As it happens, I agree with him on the larger point he was making, about how you can’t just pluck someone out from history and declare what they would have made of some event today.

However what caught my ear was what he said later, about Americans. Again, there’s a germ of truth here, in that we can be complacent about the competition from people in other countries. I don’t know, though. The way he says it here — “I’m aware of the– the fact that people elsewhere in the world think differently from us. I can sort of see us, us Americans with their eyes. And not all that I see is– is attractive. I see an insular people who are– are insensitive to foreign sensibilities, who are lazy, obese, complacent and increasingly perplexed as to why we are losing our place in the world to people who are more dynamic than us and more disciplined” — just seems snotty. (Full Transcript here)

Tis the Season, For Panhandling?

 

I sometimes wonder whether the Savior’s remark that, “…the poor shall be with ye always,” was actually made at a truck stop.  As a Christian, I celebrate this season when the Word became flesh and also observe that, judging from the above quote, in addition to being the Prince of Peace, Christ is also the undisputed King of Understatement.

Pandhandlers are an almost daily fact of life for an over the road trucker.  I don’t know if they think we are loaded with cash, or if maybe it’s the “captive audience” nature of truck stops (we can only park and rest in certain places).  But after maneuvering The Beast backwards into a parking spot, I’ll often look up and see them approaching, eyes darting about, maybe with a sachel of “gold” chains they’re ready to sell, or a forlorn look that cues the violins for the sob story I’m about to hear.  I like to think I’ve achieved a certain level of discernment and can distinguish the truly needy from the thoroughly seedy, but I’m not always sure. 

It’s Like, a Communicative Stupor

 

“See you again,” said the merchant of a store in Kunsan City, Republic of Korea, as I was leaving his business. Apparently, he was saying goodbye, but I didn’t know that at the time. “Maybe,” I said, “or maybe not,” and walked out. It was 1994, and I was starting a one year tour of duty in South Korea, where I also took a part time job teaching English to classes of Korean adults and children. It was an amazing year as I came to appreciate their culture and their devotion to education in general. I’ve been thinking a lot lately about how so many of the people I met in that part of the world wanted desperately to master the English language.

I particularly missed my old students while at a truck stop in Tuscaloosa, AL, yesterday. Three young ladies were standing behind the cash register. I think they were being paid to talk amongst themselves, because they paid precious little attention to the customers who were trying to make purchases. I waited in line until it was my turn to stand next to the counter and listen to them for awhile. From the front of the line, I could see that two of the young women were listening intently to the third, nodding their heads in unison as she explained the following story: “I was down wit ma home boy, and he was like pphhhhttttttt. And I was like, for real? And he was like, I dunno. And I was like, na-unnh.” And then, fearing that rigor-mortis would soon set in, the young lady accepted payment for my coffee so that I could like, leave and the next person in line could like, listen to this captivating tale of like, utter incoherence.

Taking Down North Korea: Would These Ideas Work?

 

Christian Whiton proposes the following program for bringing down the North Korean regime. What are the pros and cons? 

1. Dramatically increasing defector-led radio broadcasting from outside North Korea. The truth is Kim Jong Il’s greatest foe, and dissent movements thrive on factual information that undermine the dictators’ propaganda. Defector broadcasts exist but need real resources.

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What does it take to have a political epiphany, or at least an eventual change of heart?  The recent Republican rout shows that losing jobs and potentially (if not actually) losing freedom did it for many, but my own story is more of a slow awakening rather than a sudden revelation. My political journey took […]

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The Federal Pay Freeze: Pleased With the Election Yet?

 

For those of you who were in a funk because the election results weren’t even more decisive, I present to you Obama’s proposal for a federal pay freeze. You think that would be on the table if we hadn’t won? Yes, I know, it’s a miniscule percentage of the federal debt. But let’s rejoice at this hint that at last the Reality Principle is beginning to mediate the spending Id. 

The One Big Secret Wikileaks Really Did Reveal

 

Pretty much the whole world has been forced grudgingly to acknowledge one thing: Our diplomats possess a remarkable reserve of unrecognized literary talent. The Caucusus Wedding cable has justly become an instant classic. But really, it’s one gem after the other. The lapidary description of Turkey’s main opposition party as “no more than a bunch of elitist ankle-biters” couldn’t be a better use of nine words.

I’m as surprised as everyone else to discover the prose mastery of the State Department. Who knew? Can you imagine how the authors of these cables must be thrilled? One day they’re laboring in unacknowledged obscurity, the next the whole planet is writing about their literary genius and comparing them to Evelyn Waugh and Graham Greene. (If you think any diplomat’s outrage over the harm done to our national security would prevent him from taking delight in that, I have important news for you about human nature in general and literary vanity in particular.)

What’s Your Baseball Hall of Fame Ballot Look Like?

 

Today the 2011 candidates for induction into the Baseball Hall of Fame were announced. Who are your Top 3 and why? Inductees will be announced on Jan. 5, 2011. Here’s the list:

Newbies: Jeff Bagwell, Carlos Baerga, Bret Boone, Kevin Brown, John Franco, Marquis Grissom, Juan Gonzalez, Lenny Harris, Bobby Higginson, Charles Johnson, Al Leiter, Tino Martinez, Raul Mondesi, John Olerud, Rafael Palmiero, Kirk Reuter, Benito Santiago, B.J. Surhoff, Larry Walker