Blogito, Ergo Sum
by Gregg Calkins

22 September 2007 a silent Saturday

...after the dogs barked all night long, it seemed.  I think there was a prowling cat, amusing himself by tormenting the dogs who were unable to get after him.  The barks sounded as frustrated as I was.

This is front-page headline news for the New York Times today:

Candidates are seeking out wealthy Americans overseas, especially in financial centers like London and Hong Kong.

Back home in the United States they'll take money from foreigners, Hillary says.  And if you get caught, she adds, you only have to give back as much as they can find.  First I gave back only $23,000.  That didn't work, so I upped it to $850,000.  Now we wait and see...did they spot it all, or not?  You see, if they never spot it all then you get to keep the balance.

And first you ask the people if they really want the money back or not.  Some don't.  Some people we can't even find...it's uncanny, it's almost like they never even really existed, some Twilight Zone thing...  And in my case, since I didn't receive the money directly from the donors but from Mr. Hsu-goes-there, he's the guy I have to give it back to.  And if he can't take it...well, I can always give it to my favorite charity...you know, the one Algore runs...carbon something...

Wow, weren't the SF Giants classy in the way they told Bonds they didn't need him any more now that they could put his name in the record books wearing their uniform?  The "sports" writer sniffs:

It is difficult to gauge who might be interested in signing Bonds, who is 43 and has become a defensive liability in left field. If Bonds signs for next season, it will probably be with an American League team so he can be a designated hitter.

The Los Angeles Angels, the Oakland Athletics and the Texas Rangers are teams that may consider signing Bonds at a reduced salary from the $15.8 million he made this season. There is always a chance Bonds may not find a job at all.

Oh, I'm reasonably sure the Yankees could fit him in somewhere.  As Bonds notes:

“Although I am disappointed, I’ve always said baseball is a business — and I respect their decision,”

It's a sensible business decision for the Giants, of course, but the manner they chose to release him still lacks any sign of class on their part.

Howard Kurtz says he's surprised at Rather's lawsuit against CBS:

But that the man who succeeded Walter Cronkite, who was the face of CBS News for 25 years, would turn around and sue, rather than moving on with his life -- that was one heck of an eye-opener. For Rather is not just taking his old bosses to court, he is reopening all the wounds from that National Guard story, which even his friends would tell you was not his finest hour.

His re-run isn't so hot, either.  From what little I've read so far it looks like he's blaming everybody right down to the bat-boy for his strike-out.  Has he indicated even the slightest degree of responsibility yet?  Well, it will make for fun reading and the journalists can keep occupied with this instead of writing good news stories from Iraq.

The debacle over the National Guard story, which the suit says became known as "Rathergate," turned on 30-year-old memos said to have been written by Bush's late squadron commander. Several newspapers, including The Washington Post, and conservative bloggers gathered evidence that the documents were unlikely to have been typed on government typewriters of that era.

Well, if you say so, Howie...but I don't remember the Washington Post leading the charge, somehow.  Sounds to me like you are pulling a Hillary, running around quickly trying to get back in front of the parade.

CBS aired the story on Sept. 8, 2004, at the height of the presidential campaign, hours after White House official Dan Bartlett did not challenge the authenticity of the memos when asked about them by CBS. Bartlett said later that he had no way of knowing on such short notice whether the memos were real.

Gold, Rather's lawyer, maintained that "nobody's proved the documents were forgeries. The way we look at it, it's more than likely the documents are authentic."

Very amusing, I think.  The words on the paper were produced by a system which did not exist at the date shown on the paper, so how could the document possibly be authentic?  But lawyers think like that.  Nobody, for instance, has proved that Rather is a dinosaur, either.

In the suit, Rather says he "played largely a supervisory role" in producing and vetting the story because he had been instructed to concentrate on his anchoring duties and covering a Florida hurricane and the Republican National Convention in New York.

Fair enough.  Except what are a supervisor's responsibilities?  Dan?  Dan...

In other non-news...

The cherished dinner hour void of telemarketers is scheduled to vanish next year for millions of people when phone numbers begin dropping off the national Do Not Call list.

Having done a little telemarketing, myself, I wonder why people think that we enjoy disturbing people during their dinner hour?  Since the purpose of our call is to sell you something, why would we want to start off by annoying you?  Your name did not appear on our list of prospects straight out of Zeus' forehead, after all...it got there essentially because you put it there.  You either asked for some information, dropped your business card into a bowl trying to win 2 free drinks at a sales convention, or did something overt which makes us believe that you might be interested in what we have to sell.

Trust me: we don't like making calls to people who are not interested.  Most of u s work on commission and if we don't find buyers then we don't make any money.  And we aren't likely to find a buyer at the dinner table.  None of us enjoy hearing "no" any more than the other members of the human race, so we don't go out of our way trying to hear another one.

Victor Davis Hanson writes about what Osama really wants:

The truth is that bin Laden and al Qaeda want power for themselves, and use religious grievances and shifting political demands to try to achieve it.

In their worldview, Islam's chance for a renewed united Muslim caliphate was shattered into impotent warring nations by sneaky 19th century European colonists. They now want to reunite modern Arab nations into an Islamic empire run by the likes of bin Laden and his sidekick, Ayman al-Zawahri. And they think they can pull it off for a variety of reasons:

(1) Al Qaeda claims its jihadists drove the Soviet Union out of Afghanistan, leading to the Soviet empire unraveling. It doesn't matter that al Qaeda's terrorists numbered only a few thousand and played a minor role in the Afghan warlords' victory. Instead, according to al Qaeda's propaganda, this tiny Arab legion would become the vanguard of a world-conquering army that would move next against the United States.

 (2) Bin Laden believes we will ultimately prove weak and suffer the Soviets' fate. That's why he keeps talking about breaking up our own states on the model of the now-defunct Soviet Union.  Past American hesitation in the face of attacks on our embassies, military assets and diplomats convinced bin Laden as he plotted September 11 that we would leave the Middle East to his jihadists. He sees us now squabbling over the costs of Iraq, our counterterrorism measures and Guantanamo Bay. So he still holds out hope Americans will soon leave the region in defeat and let down their guard at home.

(3) Oil is now sky-high at $80 a barrel. In bin Laden's view, the longer he is at war, the higher the price of petroleum climbs. That impoverishes Western infidels and ensures plenty of Middle East petrodollars can be siphoned off to madrassas, radical mosques and terrorists.  Bin Laden also sees how the rival Muslim theocracy in Iran has turned its oil profits into a nuclear-weapons program. He would like to replace the present Gulf monarchies with self-professed imams and jihadists. Such a single, united Wahhabi theocracy could dole out oil to subservient importers and use the profits to acquire enough weapons to unite the Arab world and prepare for the final war against us.

(1) It doesn't matter if this is true or not as long as other Arabs think it is.  (2) If the Democrats get their way he will be correct.  (3)  Well, he's definitely right about that.

Bin Laden's problem then is not really tiny Israel or global warming or mortgage interest rates, but an all-powerful and free West led by the United States. It alone has the military and economic power to stop radical Islamists. Plus, we bring the more powerful message of political freedom. And American popular culture, with its informality and egalitarianism, is sweeping the globe, seducing far more adherents than does rote memorization of the Koran.

So, despite bin Laden's bragging, America remains the big stumbling block, the stronger horse. The United States alone ensures that bin Laden stays a sick man babbling in a cave — and not a Muslim caliph in flowing robes, with billions of dollars in oil under his feet and weapons merchants lined up at his palace door.

Sound absurd? So once did the notion of a crater in Manhattan and $80 a barrel oil.

Unfortunately, Hanson is right, too.

This from OpinionJournal:

Here is a story to brighten your weekend: Early this afternoon we received an email from one of our most loyal readers. We'll withhold his name, because our purpose here isn't to make him look silly. Suffice it to say that he writes us several times a week, his nickname for President Bush is "Chimpy," and the following message, which we quote verbatim, is actually quite a bit more temperate than his usual fare:

"No wonder the entire world sees this fool for the complete moron that he is."

"I now see that his supporters, such as your august self, have truly, really, fundamentally no shame and no sense of embarrassment. Bush makes us all look like dopes--after all he was elected twice (ooops, make that stole the election twice--my bad)"

"If only his idiot gaffs were the worst of it..."

"He is truly worthless as a president and as a man!"

Our correspondent sent us a link to a blog called First Draft, in which someone styling himself "Holden Caulfield" says of the president, "Christ, what a dumbass," and links to the following Reuters dispatch:

Nelson Mandela is still very much alive despite an embarrassing gaffe by U.S. President George W. Bush, who alluded to the former South African leader's death in an attempt to explain sectarian violence in Iraq.

"It's out there. All we can do is reassure people, especially South Africans, that President Mandela is alive," Achmat Dangor, chief executive officer of the Nelson Mandela Foundation, said as Bush's comments received worldwide coverage. . . .

"I heard somebody say, Where's Mandela?' Well, Mandela's dead because Saddam Hussein killed all the Mandelas," Bush, who has a reputation for verbal faux pas, said in a press conference in Washington on Thursday. . . .

References to his death--Mandela is now 89 and increasingly frail--are seen as insensitive in South Africa.

So, what did President Bush actually say? Here's the quote in context, from the White House transcript:

Part of the reason why there is not this instant democracy in Iraq is because people are still recovering from Saddam Hussein's brutal rule. I thought an interesting comment was made when somebody said to me, I heard somebody say, where's Mandela? Well, Mandela is dead, because Saddam Hussein killed all the Mandelas. He was a brutal tyrant that divided people up and split families, and people are recovering from this. So there's a psychological recovery that is taking place. And it's hard work for them. And I understand it's hard work for them. Having said that, I'm not going the give them a pass when it comes to the central government's reconciliation efforts.

In this context, it is clear that the literal meaning of "Where's Mandela?" is "Where is the Iraqi who will play the role in his country that Mandela played in postapartheid South Africa?" This was a pithy metaphor, not an "embarrassing gaffe."

Now, how did Reuters get the story wrong? There are, it seems to us, three explanations:

Stupidity. The reporter was so bone-headedly literal-minded that he simply did not understand the rhetorical device Bush was employing.

Laziness. The reporter wasn't actually at the press conference and didn't bother to check the context of the quote.

Dishonesty. The reporter knew full well that Bush was speaking metaphorically and deliberately twisted his meaning in order to fit the stereotype that Bush "has a reputation for verbal faux pas."

In the case of the particular Reuters dispatch "Caulfield" links to, laziness is the most likely answer. It's datelined Johannesburg, so the reporter surely was not at the press conference. But ultimately the explanation for the "worldwide coverage" this "gaffe" has received is either stupidity or dishonesty. Some journalist either failed to understand or deliberately misrepresented Bush's remark. And the joke is on people like our Bush-hating correspondent, who gullibly eat this stuff up.

But isn't even OpinionJournal missing the point?  Let's try the entire sentence again:

I thought an interesting comment was made when somebody said to me, I heard somebody say, where's Mandela? Well, Mandela is dead, because Saddam Hussein killed all the Mandelas.

The first words of Bush's sentence are: "I thought an interesting comment was made when somebody said to me..." (My emphasis)

In other words, Bush didn't even say it originally, he was quoting another person.

Well, people who call others fools and morons (even though they themselves are unable to correctly spell 'gaff', although OJ did not make this point 'sic' out) often aren't careful readers.

Another excerpt from OJ:

Mike Kinsley Human?
The question is prompted by the Slate founder's latest Time magazine column, in which he accuses critics of MoveOn.org's McCarthyite attack on Gen. David Petraeus of insincerity:

"...  Whatever your interpretation of the ad, all the gasping for air and waving of scented handkerchiefs among the war's most enthusiastic supporters is pretty comical."

"It's all phony, of course. The war's backers are obviously delighted to have this ad from which they can make an issue."

Let's assume Kinsley is right that the ad's critics are "delighted to have this ad from which they can make an issue." It does not follow from this that their outrage is phony. To the contrary, it seems far more likely that their sincere outrage at the ad informed their analytical judgment that MoveOn had gone too far and thereby hurt its own cause, a realization that in turn delighted them.

Kinsley is treating emotional reactions as if they were logical propositions. He thinks he has caught his ideological opponents in a contradiction by pointing out that they are (or at least have reason to be) happy about one aspect of a situation, as if that precluded their being unhappy about another aspect of it.

Clever as he is, Kinsley appears to lack the slightest understanding of how emotions work. For his wife's sake, we hope he's faking it.

Oooh, Taranto, a wee bit low there, but your point is made.  Of course he's faking it, Kinsley's job is to spin even when the task is Herculean, as it is in this case.  He can't afford to stand up and condemn the ad because that's not his job, his job is quite the opposite.  Of course he knows better.

And, frankly, I was delighted with the ad.  See, you cannot really damage Petraeus with this kind of childishness, only yourself...as well as all others who associate themselves with you, not only before but especially afterwards.  It was delightful to see them scurrying around trying to avoid the light they were unhappy to find suddenly focused their way.

Another good OJ item:

"A top campaign adviser to Hillary Rodham Clinton says Rudy Giuliani's stormy personal life will be fair game should he win the Republican nomination for president," the New York Post reports:

"There's a lot that the rest of the country is going to get to know about Mayor Giuliani that the folks in New York City know," said Tom Vilsack, former Iowa governor and a co-chairman of the Clinton campaign.

"I can't even get into the number of marriages and the fact that his children--the relationship he has with his children--and what kind of circumstances New York was in before Sept. 11," Vilsack said during an interview on NY1 last night.

"There are lot of issues involving Mayor Giuliani . . . He's got a very interesting past."

Giuliani is just lucky Mrs. Clinton doesn't practice the politics of personal destruction.

And, finally, this item:

They met online, where he called himself "Prince of Joy," and she called herself "Sweetie." Their real names were Sana and Adnan. "The pair [each] thought they had found a soulmate with whom to spend the rest of their lives," reports Metro.co.uk:

[They] poured their hearts out to each other over their marriage troubles. . . . Sana, 27, said: "I was suddenly in love. It was amazing, we seemed to be stuck in the same kind of miserable marriages. How right that turned out to be."

Finally they decided to meet in person, and they discovered that they were married to each other:

When it dawned on her what had happened, she said: "I felt so betrayed."

Adnan, 32, said: "I still find it hard to believe that Sweetie, who wrote such wonderful things, is actually the same woman I married and who has not said a nice word to me for years."

Too bad they didn't like piña coladas.

Taranto also reminded me to look at this item again...I'd missed the last line the first time I read it.

Here you go with a headline example...from the New York Times, who else?

Scientists Report Severe Retreat of Arctic Ice

And in the text...

Mark Serreze, a senior researcher at the snow and ice center, said it was increasingly clear that climate change from the buildup of greenhouse gases was playing a role in the Arctic warming, which is seen not only in the floating ice but also in melting terrestrial ice sheets, thawing tundra and warming seawater.  (My emphasis added)

“We understand the physics behind what’s going on,” Dr. Serreze said. “You can always find some aspect of natural variability that can explain some things. ... You can’t dismiss this as natural variability,” he said. “We’re starting to see the system respond to global warming.”

So far so good.  Oh, wait...there's one final line at the very end...yes, I know, that's where final lines typically appear...

Sea ice around Antarctica has seen unusual winter expansions recently, and this week is near a record high.  (Again, my emphasis added)

Tell me, Scientist Serreze, how do you explain Antarctica if it is "increasingly clear that climate change from a buildup of green house gases was playing a role in the Artic warming"?

...he and other scientists acknowledged that both poles were extraordinarily complicated systems of ice, water and land, and that the mix of human and natural influences was not easy to clarify.  (EA yet again)

Hey, he pouts, I've figured out global warming at the north pole, what more do you expect me to do, explain everything else, too?

Here's an interesting item for you!

http://www.poodwaddle.com/realage.swf

My real age is 72 but my biological age is 59.4, which would be in keeping with the way I feel.  And, yes, I put down the true answer about drinking alcohol, thanks for asking.  Interestingly, my life expectancy is 95.6, which would put me about on a par with Dad.

From Power Line:

Cliff May presents some encouraging poll numbers in support of his thesis that the left's "Iraq summer" has failed to create momentum in favor of accepting defeat and that, in fact, the left is further from accomplishing this goal than it was in the spring.

A Gallup poll reports that 61 percent of Americans have a favorable opinion of General Petraeus, up 9 percent in just one week.

Fifty-four percent of those surveyed said they believe Petraeus' plan for removing troops is the right pace or too quick. By contrast, only 33 percent view the withdrawal as moving too slowly.
Pew reports that nationally “57 percent of Americans who read or heard about Petraeus' testimony approved of his recommendations for Iraq, while only 28 percent of respondents said they disapprove.

US News & World Report’s “Political Bulletin” highlighted polling that found when “[a]sked, ‘If General Petraeus asks for the troop level to remain in place for another nine months, would you approve or disapprove this proposal,’ 54% approve it; 43% disapprove. Independents track the overall response, with 53% approving the proposal and 43% disapproving it. 80% of Republicans back the idea while 67% of Democrats oppose it.”

You would think that Reid would be embarrassed at this other Power Line item:

"We're not changing our strategy," Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said shortly before the vote, adding that the tactic succeeded in making Senate Republicans claim responsibility for the war.

"We are united," the Nevada Democrat said. "We vote together all the time. And the Republicans vote together all the time, with rare exception. And as a result of that, it's very clear to the American people who supports President Bush's war."

But wait! Twenty Democrats voted against the amendment, compared with 28 who voted for it. So the Dems aren't exactly "together all the time."

You can see how a moron like Bush can fool him, right?

Important post from Captain's Quarters:

Diyala Tribes Begin Their Own Awakening

Most of the major tribes in the Iraqi province of Diyala have signed agreements to support US and Iraqi forces against extremists, a development that has already resulted in a sharp improvement in intelligence flowing to security forces in the region. Just as in Anbar, the surge in the key province has resulted in a significant shift in allegiances. Unlike Anbar, however, it doesn't just involve Sunnis:

"Most of the major tribes in a strategic province northeast of Baghdad have signed agreements to support U.S. and Iraqi forces, a sign the alliance-building initiative that started in Anbar province is spreading.

"In Diyala province, tribal leaders representing 20 of the province's 25 major tribes have signed agreements brokered by the local government, said Army Col. David Sutherland, a brigade commander there.

"The shift has led to more tips from citizens and a reduction in violence, the U.S. military says. Weekly attacks in Diyala province have declined from an average of 125 three months ago to 70 last week."

Diyala, as some might recall, became the center of the new al-Qaeda in Iraq caliphate after the surge displaced AQI from Ramadi and Fallujah. When they ran out of Anbar, they headed for Diyala and Baqubah, closer to the Iranian border where they could keep their lines of communication open with the mullahcracy in Teheran that supplies them with weapons. The surge forces only recently shifted their attention to this key province, and violence has dropped as AQI looks for another caliphate center.

This province has more strategic value to the US and Iraqi forces than Anbar. The mix of Sunnis, Shi'a, and Kurds makes it more of a challenge to unite against the extremists. AQI exploited sectarian divisions there and prompted a Shi'ite extremist reaction. The new agreement with the tribes applies to extremists in both directions and acknowledges the Iraqi army and government forces as the ultimate authority, a rather significant step for Diyala.

The success with the agreements, made within local government structures, shows yet another success from the new, aggressive American policy in Iraq. While the space it has given Iraq's central government has not yet produced the reforms we demanded, it has allowed the local tribes some room to see that they do not have to live in fear of violence, as they did in these areas while the extremists attempted to spark a civil war. The "ground-up" strategy of working with tribes to gain unity on security issues will create a more permanent stability, within which the people of Iraq can demand those kinds of reforms through a normal political process.

It's good news that we have made allies in Diyala. It could mean more effectiveness at curtailing Iranian infiltration and influence, which will lead to less violence and death. The Diyala "awakening" would create an even better model than Anbar, if it holds.

If it holds.  I note there wasn't a lot about Iraq on the front pages today.  Which provoked this complaint from Dan Gerstein in Politico:

For many in Washington, the biggest unanswered question from Army. Gen. David Petraeus’ high-profile, low-satisfaction testimony last week was not about military strategy but about political tactics. Why has the anti-war movement been unable to translate the clear public mandate they claim into any clear change in our government’s Iraq policy?  ...

They may not say it publicly, for fear of arousing the grass roots’ wrath, but the realist wing of the party seems to think the Democrats’ biggest problem on Iraq these days is not that there’s too much Bush Lite but that there’s too much Bush Left.

Under this view, too many anti-war activists, not satisfied with berating the president, have too often wound up behaving like him. They have gone beyond fighting back and holding the Decider accountable to adopting the same divisive, dogmatic and ultimately destructive style of politics that Democrats have been decrying for the past seven years, with the same counterproductive results.  ...

The anti-war movement has rightly castigated Bush for his reflexive inflexibility and, specifically, his maddening decision to stick with the same failed strategy in Iraq.

So what did AAEI and its allies do once it became apparent their pressure campaign was not succeeding in peeling off moderate Republicans? Just like the president — and just as some modest signs of success were emerging from Iraq — they doubled down on their bet and countered with an escalation of their own.

The problem is that he's fallen for his own talking points and thus can't see what happened.  Bush did NOT stick with the same failed strategy, he shifted gears remarkably. 

Specifically, Petraeus changed the entire strategy from what it had been.  He wrote the book on counter-insurgency and now he's reading it back.  Democrats who failed to recognize this shift for what it was are unable, as a result, to understand what is happening.  Both in Iraq and to them.

When your talking points don't work then the thing to do is examine YOUR points, not continue to unthinkingly grump about your opponent's inflexibility. 

And no matter how you want to talk down the other side's achievements, calling something only "modest signs of success" does not make it so.  Regardless, the time to double-down is when you are winning, not losing.  It's the common mistake of losing gamblers, not recognizing that.

You talk about not being able to recognize things, though, try this:

...the short-term goal for Democrats, as MoveOn’s own Washington director says, continues to be to separate moderate Republicans from Bush.

MoveOn could not possibly, on its best day, attract a moderate anybody, let alone a moderate Republican!  I'm closer to a moderate Republican than I am anything else and I consider MoveOn to be a group of irresponsible children.  If they were on the far right fringe instead of the far left fringe I'd still be turned off by them.

Well, then I got to this laugher!

The fact is, the swing Republicans whom Democrats need are even less inclined to support a hard deadline post-Petraeus, and they are never going to vote to cut off funding. But they will be hard-pressed to reject the political lifeline that Reid wants to offer them...

Oh, YEAH!  Reid wants to offer them a political lifeline!  Why, so more of them can get reelected?  Ahahahahaha...  Come on, Dan, Reid is not in business to offer lifelines to Republicans and most of us know that.  My goodness, no wonder you don't understand what's happening to you.

Then there's Bob Herbert:

It’s panic time in Republican circles. The G.O.P. could go into next year’s election burdened by the twin demons of an unpopular war and an economic downturn. The party that took the White House in 2000 while losing the popular vote figures it may have to do it again.

Three problems, Bob. 

One: the unpopular war will suddenly turn popular once more signs of victory appear.  After all, the goal--a pro-American democracy in Iraq--is not exactly something most Americans don't want to see.  Right now the entire anti-war goal is to produce the idea that victory is impossible, the war cannot be won.  But if this is no longer perceived to be the case...you lose.  I think it's more likely that the Democrats are the ones in panic here.

Two: there may be no economic downturn by election day.  In which case, Democrats panic again.

Three: the Republicans won the popular vote by significant numbers in 2004, regardless of what happened in 2000.  In fact, the trend wasn't good for Democrats.  They hope to reverse this, but who knows if they will be successful yet?

Quite a lot has been made out of this comment by Petraeus:

Sen. John Warner (R., Va.): Are you able to say at this time if we continue what you have laid before the Congress here as a strategy, do you feel that that is making America safer?

Petraeus: Sir, I believe that this is indeed the best course of action to achieve our objectives in Iraq.

Warner: Does that make America safer?

Petraeus: Sir, I don't know, actually.

But very little has been printed about what he said after that cut-off point.

Petraeus: ... I have not sat down and sorted out in my own mind. ...

Candidly, I have been so focused on Iraq that drawing all the way out was something that for a moment there was a bit of a surprise. But I think that we have very, very clear and very serious national interests in Iraq. Trying to achieve those interests--achieving those interests has very serious implications for our safety and for our security. . . .

So I think the answer really, to come back to it, is yes.

However, the second half of this response comes form a later question by Senator Bayh, in which he reprises Warner's question expecting to get the same answer.

As Petraeus puts it:

Petraeus: Well, I thank you, actually, Senator, for an opportunity to address that, frankly.

Bayh wished he had kept his mouth shut, but it didn't matter...the media already had the part of the quote that they wanted and the rest was superfluous.

Well, so far it looks like they made a big mistake trying to nail Petraeus to the cross.  Big time mistake.

In our local news, here in Costa Rica:

Many Costa Ricans and expats are not aware that there are four floors of museums under the well-known Plaza de la Cultura. And few who were not here then know that the whole arrangement is only 25 years old.

This is true.  I knew there was one, I had no idea there were three more.  In fact, I have a really hard time believing this item.  We're a seismic country and four basement floors from 25 years ago seems out of the question.

I liked this OpinionJournal item:

A very entertaining Washington Monthly story on New York Times columnist Bob Herbert brings this comment from Andrew Sullivan:

"My two cents: once I know the topic of a Herbert column, I can predict every single self-satisfied, self-righteous platitude that is about to come. He's also a terrible writer--there's no character to his prose, never a felicitous turn of phrase. He's the kind of columnist who gets journalism awards. Even when he's right he's so insufferably self-righteous and humorless it's a pain to read him. So I don't."

Aside from the bit about journalism awards, has there ever been a better example of the pot denigrating the kettle?

Nonsense, says Sullivan...you never can predict which way I'm going to jump.  I don't even know, myself, until the last second.


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